Open Letter to PM Blair: Doing a Northern Ireland in the Middle East

Dear Prime Minister Blair,

“Giving the impossible a go” in Israel-Palestine

I write to you with the warning words of Yehoshafat Harkabi reverberating in my mind. (He was, before your time, Israel’s longest serving and most enlightened Director of Military Intelligence. I’ll get to his warning words in due course).

After you cease to be burdened by the constraints of high political office, you could secure for yourself a place in history as the leader above all others (in all of human history) if you could do for the Middle East what you’ve done for Northern Ireland.

You didn’t start the peace process in Northern Ireland (on the British side John Major did that after the Provisional IRA bombed London and demonstrated that it could bring UK plc’s economy to its knees); but you did push that peace process to a successful conclusion. And I think nobody else could have done it.

So yes, the Middle East needs you, but to do what, actually?

There is not a Middle East peace process to be managed to a successful conclusion. So this time you would have to starta process. And to do that I think, if I may say so, that you need to be much better informed than you are about why, really, a solution to the “Palestine problem” has remained, and seems set to remain, beyond the reach of politics and diplomacy. (I put Palestineproblem in quotes because although it’s a convenient label, the problem is really a Jewish one, not an Arab one).

In my view there are four keys to understanding.

The first is knowledge of the difference between Judaism and Zionism and why they are total opposites. Judaism is the religion of Jews and, like Christianity and Islam, it has at its core a set of ethnical principles and moral values. Zionism is not only a secular, colonialist ideology, it makes a mockery of, and has contempt for, the ethical principles and moral values of Judaism. Which is why those most often described as “ultra orthodox” religious Jews say, and I believe they are right, that Zionism is destroying Judaism. (I wonder if you know, dear TB, that the return of Jews to the land of biblical Israel by the efforts of man ? one possible but woefully inadequate definition of Zionism ? was proscribedby Judaism?)

For your education under this heading, the book I recommend is A Threat From Within, A CENTURY OF JEWISH OPPOSITION TO ZIONISM. Its author is Yakov M. Rabkin, a Jewish Canadian who is Professor of History at the Universityof Montreal. Some months ago in LondonI put an explicit question to Yakov for inclusion in a DVD. The question was: “Could it be said that the Jews of the world now have a choice to make ? either to reaffirm their commitment to Judaism and renounce Zionism, or to reaffirm, or affirm, their commitment to Zionism and renounce Judaism?” He answered with one word. “Yes!”

The second key to understanding is the fact that Israel was created, mainly, by Zionist terrorism and ethnic cleansing. For your education under this heading, the book I recommend is the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Its author is Dr. Ilan Pappe, Israel’s leading “New” or “Revisionist” historian. For new or revisionist read honest. (Various Israeli agen

cies ? you’ll know the ones I mean ? have made it impossible for Ilan to work in Israel, and he is shortly coming to take up a post at Exeter University, this despite the best efforts of the Zionised Board of Deputies of British Jews to block his appointment).

In other words, the Zionist state of Israel was founded on a massive injustice (not to mention war crime) to another people. If peace is to have a chance, a last chance, it follows that the wrong done to the Palestinians by Zionism has got to be righted on terms acceptable to the Palestinians.

Because of the pragmatic and courageous leadership of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinians (almost all of them) have long been prepared to settle for a genuine two-state solution, one that requires an end to Israel’s occupation of land grabbed in the 1967 war, with Jerusalem, preferably as an open city, the capital of two states.

In passing I’ll add that there is no mystery about Hamas’s real position. If tomorrow Israel said and meantthat it was ready to negotiate a full and final peace on the basis of a genuine two-state solution, Hamas’s leaders would say,Let’s do the business“.And they would say that and mean it because they are not stupid. They know they would have no choicebecausea genuine two-state solutionis still what the vast majority of Palestinians are prepared to settle for. (But for how much longer is a good question).

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