Address by Ambassador Daniel Taub to We Believe in Israel Conference 2015 – Sunday 22 March
“After traveling all over the country speaking about Israel, I cannot tell you how wonderful it is for me – and to be honest how unusual! – to come into a hall like this and see so many proud, passionate people prepared to stand up, to speak up, to say loudly and clearly: “We Believe in Israel”. Thank you all for being here.
Thank you to all the different organisations that have come together today. There are far too many to mention – that’s Jewish democracy for you: one man, one organisation! But I must express a very special thank you to BICOM, to Poju Zabludowicz , Edward Misrahi, Dermot Kehoe, and most specially to Luke Akehurst, for making it happen.
With Pesach just two weeks away there is one question we have to ask: Why is this conference different from all other conferences?!
I think it is different in a very important way, and you can see it in the title: We believe in Israel.
Debates about Israel are usually titled: This House believes that….
Today is not about “we believe that….”, about some assertion or statistic. It’s “we believe in…” It’s about our relationship with Israel, about the spirit of Israel, the potential of Israel.
And that is the crux of the issue. It is this spirit that the delegitimizers who want to turn Israel into a pariah state are trying to destroy.
Whatever they say, whatever the pretext, this is the core of the battle.
It’s not about human rights. We have to be concerned about human rights, but the delegitimizers aren’t. Since I came to the UK nearly four years ago there have been more brutal deaths in Syria than in more than a century of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Have we heard anything from the so-called human rights protesters against Israel about this? Not a word.
It’s not about Palestinian rights. Do we hear concern about the rights of Palestinians incarcerated in Gaza, or forcibly subjected to Sharia law, or those Palestinian residents of Sajieh in Gaza who protested that their homes were turned into a military zone by Hamas, and were summarily executed? Not a word.
And it’s not about Israel’s borders either. Remember the protesters who called for a boycott of the Sodastream factory which was employing 500 Palestinians in Mishor Adumim, because it was over the green line? Well the factory moved to within the green line. Did the protestors stop? No. Same campaign just a different pretext. It’s not about the borders of Israel, it’s about what lies within those borders, the very existence of a Jewish State.
It’s a fundamentally dishonest campaign. It relies in presenting false premises, false choices, and a false reality
False premises. Like the premise that the party which is weaker is always in the right, the side that is stronger is always in the wrong. But the question isn’t how much power you have but how you use it. Do you see every human casualty on either side as a tragedy, or as a success? Are the models you hold up to your kids as heroes those who saved lives or those who destroyed them?
False choices. Like the assumption that the choice before Israel is a choice between occupation and peace. Halevai – if only! Anyone who looks honestly at the Middle East knows that the alternative to Israel maintaining control of the West Bank at the moment is seeing what happened when Israel pulled out of Gaza and South Lebanon, and what has happened in every other part of the region where a vacuum has been created; seeing another extremist jihadist stronghold take root, this time on the doorstep of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
And of course a false reality. A reality where we did not actually uncover today yet another Hamas cell operating in the West Bank. A reality where there is no terror, no tunnels, no incitement, no Palestinian rejectionism.
That of course is why it is so important to these delegitimisers to try to cut off channels of communication, and to break down cultural and academic dialogue, or other any human interaction that might reveal the true reality.
It’s dishonest campaign, and it’s dangerous.
Dangerous for Israel. Strategically it’s part of a pincer movement: To attack us physically in our region, and across the world to try to deny us the legitimacy to defend ourselves.
But it’s dangerous for others too. Because this campaign it pollutes and betrays the core values of every institution or society it penetrates.
When the Human Rights Council passes more resolutions condemning Israel than every other country in the world combined, it’s not just a problem for Israel, it’s a betrayal of its responsibility to all those victims in the world who never get the spotlight of international attention.
When Southampton University hosts a conference to undermine the legitimacy of one single state in the community of nations, claiming this is freedom of speech, yet just months ago that same university prevented an Israeli academic from speaking simply because he is Israeli, yes it’s a problem for Israel, but far more so it’s a betrayal of its own academic integrity.
When a trade union threatens to sever ties with the Histadrut, the only democratic trade union in the Middle East, it’s a betrayal of the progressive values that union claims to uphold.
So it’s a battle for Israel, but it’s also a battle for core British values, and the values of all free societies.
What can we do? The truth is, the question isn’t whether we believe in Israel. I know that everyone in this room does. The harder question is, do we believe in ourselves? At the end of the day it’s up to us. We are the people we have been waiting for.
I think that means doing three things:
First, raise your voice. I have hardly ever met a political leader or a news editor who hasn’t said: “I can’t be biased against Israel, I get a lot more complaints from the pro-Palestinian side”. So write that letter or that email, send three a week – it really makes a difference. And look around you, look outwards, to your professional circle, your elected officials your faith leaders. Engage with them. Educate them. Even better, invite them to visit Israel with you. You don’t need to be a defence attorney for Israel. Be a character witness. Share the Israel you know, and make your voice heard.
Second, raise your kids – to love Israel, to know about Israel. Don’t rely on their school or youth movement. Don’t rely on the fact that they had a great time on Israel tour. They’ll go off to campuses, to work environments that can be extraordinarily challenging. They need to be prepared, educated, inspired. If you can, help send them to Israel for a gap year. If kids in your community are going to Uni, give them a voucher to buy 10 books about Israel, so as their minds grow so will their relationship with Israel. The battle isn’t just for today, it’s for tomorrow too, and they will be the ones on the front line.
So, raise your voice, raise your kids, and most importantly raise your head with pride. This is a critical battle, and we need your help. But don’t let your relationship with Israel be defined by your defence of Israel. Find your passion, and use it to connect with the best of Israel, the people of Israel. You know, when you look at headlines about Israel, they can be depressing, but meet the people of Israel and they’re inspiring, full of energy and vision. And that’s our real strength.
When you see a demonstration against Israel, it’s usually a bizarre coalition of what is sometimes called ‘the red-green alliance’: radical leftists and extreme Islamists. If you want to break up that coalition, it’s extraordinarily easy. You just have to say to them: I know what you stand against, but what do you stand for? Are you for women’s rights? Or gay rights? Or freedom of expression. And of course that feeble coalition, which only stands against things, never for, disintegrates before your eyes.
Our strength is that we stand for, we believe in, we believe in Israel.
Ultimately that’s what this battle is about. Yes, Israel has faults and we have to work to correct them. But remember that, at its core, this hostility to Israel has nothing to with Israel’s failings. In fact, to the contrary, it has to do with Israel’s success.
The fanatics who interrupt Israeli dance troupes and orchestras, or try to shut down Israeli factories employing British people here in the UK, they don’t care about Israel’s faults. What they simply cannot accept is that, despite all their efforts to the contrary, Israel is alive and well and flourishing – economically and culturally; inventing and creating; winning Nobel prizes, exporting TV series, and aiding the developing world in agriculture and medicine and disaster relief; helping people rise from their wheelchairs with REWALK, helping diagnose illnesses with Pillcams, helping avoid traffic jams with WAZE; with more patents per capita, more museums per capita, more new trees per acre, more milk per cow, than any other country, and, unbelievably, one of the 10 happiest places in the world.
This is the Israel that our opponents cannot stand. This is the Israel we believe in. And this is the Israel which, with your help, will continue to thrive and to live the inspirational story of a people that has finally come home to its land.”
Originally posted by the Israeli Embassy – Here