Israel is the Middle East’s only true liberal democracy, it is an essential ally against terrorism and, contrary to what the far left and Islamists would have you believe, it has always been a strong partner for peace.
Britain had a proud, leading role in the creation of Israel. As early as 1921, Winston Churchill wrote that “It is manifestly right that the Jews, who are scattered all over the world, should have a national centre and a national home where some of them may be reunited. And where else could that be but in this land of Palestine, with which for more than 3,000 years they have been intimately and profoundly associated?”
On 29 November 1947, the United Nations accepted that right by passing Resolution 181 that called for the creation of a Jewish state and a Palestinian state. All the land earmarked for a Jewish state contained a Jewish majority. The offer was accepted by the Israelis and rejected by the Arabs. The one-day-old state was forced to defend itself against genocidal invading Arab and Palestinian armies. Yet Israel survived, and while its legal right to exist is legally enshrined in Resolution 181, it has been forced to defend itself against three Arab-initiated wars and countless battles against Islamist terrorists, all of whom have aimed to wipe it out in acts of genocide.
The state itself was formed out of three predominant groups: Jews who had always lived under foreign occupation in Palestine and had been forced to endure severe legal and theological discrimination under the Ottoman Empire and the Islamic majority. The second group were Jews fleeing the Holocaust and European antisemitism. The third were Jews forced from their houses in almost every Arab country.
They came from democracies and theocracies, they came from capitalist countries and socialist countries. Many only spoke the Yiddish they had learned in the ghettos of eastern Europe, others only the Arabic from their villages in Iraq. However, despite their differences, they revived the ancient language of Hebrew and created a state that has excelled at every level. I suppose the question is: does Israel have the ability to wage lasting peace?
After their defeat in the 1967 war, the Arabs rejected the Allon peace plan and met at Khartoum where they signed their famous three noes. “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiation with Israel”. What was Israel supposed to do? In the face of massive terrorist campaigns that involved aeroplane hijackings, assassinations of Israeli diplomats, bombings, shootings and the tragic massacre of Israeli athletes at the Olympics. Israel relinquished the entire Sinai peninsula, an area of land bigger than the State of Israel itself, with huge oil and water reserves at a time when oil prices had peaked. So, whilst Israeli settlement building outside of the major blocks has been a concern and has been criticised strongly by the UK government, Israel has also made unprecedented peace initiatives.
Subsequently, at both Camp David II, Taba and under Ehud Olmert, the Israelis offered the Palestinian leadership everything they demanded. 95% of the West Bank for their own state, land swaps for the major settlement blocks and a removal of all those outside these agreed upon blocks, East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine and compensation for the Palestinians who lost their houses in the 1948 war. Yet, the Palestinian leadership said no to all three and responded with waves upon waves of suicide bombers into Israel. This resulted in Bill Clinton and his Peace Envoy, Dennis Ross, laying the full blame on the Palestinian leadership. Clinton later said to Yasser Arrafat, “I am a failure and it is you who has made me one.”
Israel has also made peace with Jordan – despite the fact that the country continuously praises terrorism against the Jewish state. It has also withdrawn from Southern Lebanon. The result? Hezbollah now controls southern Lebanon and is committed to Israel’s destruction.
Similarly, Israel completed a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip which was, for all intents and purposes, supposed to be a test case for any future Palestinian state. Hamas was immediately elected. An Islamist terror organisation that responded to Boris Johnson’s calls to recognise Israel with: we will only discuss “when to wipe out Israel”. Hamas still believes that the only way to ensure that the Day of Judgement occurs is to inspire a second Holocaust. It was no surprise, then, when we recently saw Hamas fly Palestinian flags alongside a swastika on the Gaza border fence.
Furthermore, in the West Bank, Palestinian incitement has reached fever pitch. A Senior Aid to Mahmoud Abbas has said “Wherever you see an Israeli, slit his throat’. Palestinian media and the education system regularly calls for the destruction of Israel and declares that Jews are pigs, apes and the descendants of monkeys. Buildings are covered in posters calling for a one-state solution and honouring martyrs. The Palestinian Authority has spent millions of British taxpayer’s money on erecting statues, and paying the salaries, of terrorists as part of a so-called “martyrs fund”. All of this whilst refusing to negotiate with Israel unless the Israeli state releases hundreds of terrorists – not political prisoners – but terrorists who have slaughtered Israeli children in kindergartens, blown up hospitals and stabbed to death people of all faiths in the holy city of Jerusalem. The Palestinian leadership has, therefore, done little to show the world that the West Bank would not be transformed into another terrorist state like Gaza if Israel does indeed withdraw. In the immortal words of Benjamin Netanyahu, “If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.”
Yet, despite the constant adversity they face, if you look at their domestic success, it is not difficult to see why Israel has a friend in the United Kingdom. This tiny state of just under seven million people has been at the forefront of technological change. Almost all of Intel Pentium and Celeron computer processor chips were either developed or manufactured in Israel. Technology for the new iPhone was developed in Israel. The voicemail system, Windows operating system, cutting-edge Pharmaceutical Research: treatment of Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, the list of Israel’s success is endless. Israeli security intelligence has prevented untold numbers of Islamist terror attacks and its military hardware has ensured that many British Soldiers have returned alive from combat operations.
Since its leading role in the creation of Israel, the United Kingdom has always been a fierce, but fair, friend. Some people, indeed even figures within the Labour Party, ask why we hold them as allies, to which I respond with the following. Supporting Israel is a thoroughly liberal principle: it remains the only democracy in the region, a bastion of freedom, tolerance and equal rights for all – indeed the gay capital of the Middle East at that. So, as long as Israel remains that shining example of a free society, it will always have a friend in the United Kingdom.
Harry Mayo is a graduate of Kings College London.