I’ve recently written to Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Khaled Mahmood MP to complain about their positions on the massacre in occupied Palestine. I’ve also written to Gerald Kaufman and Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, to praise their calls for an arms embargo on the apartheid state. And I walked into the office of my local MP, Russell Brown, and spoke to Mr Brown’s assistant. A few days later I received a letter from Mr Brown which repeats the usual rubbish about ‘peace’ and the need to disarm the resistance so the oppressor can sleep more soundly at night. At least he bothered to send me a letter. I received responses from Brown, Cameron, Clegg and Kaufman too, but none from Khaled Mahmood. Mr Mahmood was quoted by the Guardian as “dismissing” calls for sanctions and an arms embargo. Mahmood is a Birmingham MP who no doubt receives a lot of votes because he has a Muslim name. Not only is he betraying his Muslim voters who would like to see their representatives develop a peaceful strategy of resisting the murderous British-Zionist alliance, he isn’t even capable of replying promptly to letters.
Here’s my response to Russell Brown’s letter. I won’t publish his letter because I don’t have permission and because it’s on paper, but I quote some of it. You can imagine the rest – it’s the standard New Labour magical incantation.
Dear Mr Brown
Thank you for your letter in response to my conversation with Cameron concerning the situation in occupied Palestine.
You write: “It is not difficult to understand the frustration, fear and anger of those Israelis who are the targets of Hamas rocket attacks, and the pressure on Israel’s democratic government to take action.” You then state the government position, and that of the European Union Presidency, that Israel’s use of force is “disproportionate.”
With respect, I believe that your analysis of the situation is plain wrong. Firstly, the Hamas rockets almost entirely stopped during the six-month ceasefire. The ceasefire was broken specifically by an Israeli incursion into Gaza which killed six people, and more generally by the siege of Gaza. Before the latest massacre, a Red Cross report described “progressive deterioration in food security for up to 70 per cent of Gaza’s population.” It went on: “Chronic malnutrition is on a steadily rising trend and micronutrient deficiencies are of great concern.” The reason for this seige is that the Palestinians voted ‘the wrong way.’ It’s a bit rich in these circumstances for you to talk about the pressures on Israel’s ‘democratic’ government. What about the pressures on Palestine’s democratic government? And I question your description of Israel as a democracy. Israel is an apartheid democracy, in which Jews have full democratic rights, the ‘Arab Israelis’ are third class citizens, and the people of the West Bank and Gaza are under de facto (and very obvious) Israeli rule but only able to vote for a non-existent authority.
The massacre in Gaza was not a disproportionate response to rockets. The rockets could have been stopped by a renewed ceasefire and the opening of border crossings, as the head of Shin Bet confirmed. But Israel didn’t want this. The massacre was all about “searing into Palestinian consciousness that they are a defeated people.” Israel began its attack when children were leaving school, it bombed UN food stores, schools, hospitals and ambulances. This is not an accident, and it is not new. In Qana in south Lebanon in 1996 Israel massacred civilians in a UN shelter, and it did exactly the same thing at exactly the same place in 2006. I strongly recommend a book by the Israeli scholar Avi Shlaim called “The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World.” The book shows how terrorising civilians and rejecting peace negotiations has been basic to Zionism from the very start.
You write, “Violence is not the answer.” For more than six decades, the ancient Canaanite-Palestinian people have been ethnically cleansed, made the victims of apartheid, and repeatedly massacred. Anyone who tells them not to resist must offer an alternative path to liberation. In brief, what has been called in the West a ‘peace process’ is in fact a pacification process in the old colonial sense. Not for one day in the Oslo years did settlement expansion, cantonisation and confiscation stop. The Palestinians would not need to fight by all means necessary if people around the world boycotted and sanctioned Israel. Yet you reject these peaceful methods of protest.
You write, “The UK does not approve any defence related exports if it is judged that there is a risk that they will be used for external aggression or internal repression.” What an Orwellian sentence! In terms of external aggression, Israel illegally occupies Syrian and Lebanese territory. In 2006 it launched a blitzkrieg against Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure. As for internal repression, I don’t need to repeat myself. Yet the UK still deals in arms with Israel. This reality, and the bureaucratic use of strange sentences like yours, reinforces Britain’s growing reputation around the world for hypocrisy and short-sightedness.
I’m sure I’m tiring you, so I won’t go on. Thank you again for responding to me. I must say, however, that your response is profoundly unsatisfactory. Standing by and repeating propagandistic narratives while an eastern Mediterranean population is slowly (and now quickly) murdered is immoral, bad for the UK, bad for the Jews, and of course bad for the Arabs. As a result, I won’t be voting for you. Instead, I will vote Liberal Democrat, and encourage my friends to do the same, as Nick Clegg has bravely called for an arms embargo on Israel.