OPINION: Hilary Benn’s bad advice on resolving an intractable conflict

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OPINION: Hilary Benn’s bad advice on resolving an intractable conflict

Benn, who is widely acknowledged to have made one of Parliament’s finest speeches when advocating action against ISIS in Syria this month, was
making only his second international visit outside Europe in his role as shadow foreign secretary.
Benn, who is widely acknowledged to have made one of Parliament’s finest speeches when advocating action against ISIS in Syria this month, was making only his second international visit outside Europe in his role as shadow foreign secretary.
Roslyn Pine
Roslyn Pine

By Roslyn Pine

Open letter to Hilary Benn, Shadow Foreign Secretary, following his recent Jewish News column: “I’ve seen two possible futures for the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

Dear Hilary

Thanks for your advice as how best to resolve the intractable Israel/Palestine conflict. Forgive me saying so, but it should be consigned to the bin.

Entirely absent from your article was the core reason for the continuing war between Arabs and Jews in the Holy Land, on-going since the Jews began their return to their ancient homeland in Zion over a hundred years ago.

The real reason and inconvenient truth is that Jews are seen as an illegitimate presence in what the Arabs regard as exclusively Islamic lands, whether in Israel ’proper’ or in the “illegal” settlements.

The distinction between the two is only in the minds of the politically correct, anti Zionists, anti Semites and those who see their ‘interests’ as being with the Arabs.

We know that because Palestinian Arabs, supported tacitly by the wider Arab world, incessantly repeat it, in Arabic to their own audience if it’s the savvy ‘moderate’ Palestinian Authority, or openly if it’s Hamas, Hezbollah, et al.

Just look at the Palestinian Charter of Abbas’s PA, calling for Israel’s destruction and replacing it with a Palestinian state as a non- negotiable goal. The Oslo Accords called for its revision, yet nothing has changed.

Did you raise this with the Palestinian leaders on your recent visit? Unlikely!

Hilary Benn  visited Israel and the Palestinian Terrotories in December.
Hilary Benn visited Israel and the Palestinian Territories in December.

Your article about the “two possible futures” you’ve seen draws on Hebron as an example of “what can happen if the conflict isn’t resolved” in which you talk of “checkpoints, no- go areas and a pervasive tension created …by a cycle of killing”..the latter being the in-phrase to create a false moral equivalence between aggressor and defender.

You’ve removed all context so giving the impression that the checkpoints are there at the whim of the cruel Israelis, rather than to protect the few Jews living there today in Judaism’s second holiest city, following a 4,000 year old almost continuous tradition.

You say that “it could be so different with people of different faiths living alongside each other and worshipping freely…it was the history of Hebron for many years” and could be again.

This history ended with the 1929 massacre of Hebron’s peaceful, ancient Jewish community at the instigation of the Mufti, Haj Amin al Husseini, who spread false rumours that the Jews wanted to take over the Al Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem, just like today’s incitement. It began with Arab mobs murdering Jews in their places of learning, despite the noble efforts of some local Arabs to protect them.

The surviving Jews were ethnically cleansed from Hebron, which became Judenrein until Israel re- took it in 1967.

Families who lost their homes in 1929 and who were promised their return in 1967 still haven’t received them. These are people you describe as ‘settlers’ living in an ‘illegal settlement’.

Can you explain why in Israel today only Muslims enjoy true freedom of worship, and why Jews (and followers of other faiths) aren’t permitted to pray at their holiest shrine, the Temple Mount?

Looking to the other future you saw, the one of Israeli start-ups, concert venues, youth programmes etc, you say it’s “all about people coming together to provide jobs and opportunities. It can be done”.

It is being done beyond the Green Line by ’settlers’ creating industries and employment for the Palestinians, in the absence of such enterprises by the PA, whose main achievement is a bloated, unproductive and corrupt public sector.

Before 1967 there were no colleges of further education in the West Bank under Jordanian control. Now, thanks to Israel, there are nineteen.

Yet you want a racist, Jew-free future state of Palestine in the interests of peace!

In calling for the two-state solution as the only route to “achieve justice for the Palestinians and security for Israel” you say that “all that is needed is for courageous political leadership to compromise in the interests of peace”.

The reality is that it’s only Israel from which concessions are demanded, the only party to the dispute that has ever compromised.

Thanks to Western politicians infantilising the Palestinians by expecting nothing of them, itself a racist position, they remain as intransigent as ever.

If the huge sacrifice you are demanding from Israel to relinquish land for peace, (land under Jewish sovereignty in real international law), backfires, and in line with every precedent, instead of a peaceful Palestine living alongside a secure Israel, there will be a Hamas run terrorist enclave on the West Bank, a mega Gaza, what is your plan B to save Israel from destruction?

We need to know.

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