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April 23, 2012 2:06 pm

Israel’s “Settlement” Activity in the West Bank is the Cause of Anti-British Sentiments in Pakistan

avatar by David Ha'ivri

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Julian Brazier TD MP Member of Parliament for Canterbury. Photo: Cantuar.

Many leading professional Israel-bashers are so off the wall and obnoxious with their ridiculous claims that at times, it’s hard to figure out where to start. Last year in Washington, I debated Hussein Ibish, who has a PhD in obnoxiousness. His strategy is to use his academic rhetoric to make nonsense sound important.

On a recent visit to the UK, I had the opportunity, along with Shomron Governor Gershon Mesika, to meet with one of England’s most prominent anti-Israel activists, Member of Parliament Julian Brazier.

MP Brazier has recently gone on record to speak out against the light rail train in Jerusalem, claiming that it is a tool of Israel’s apartheid policies, and that it connects “illegal settlements” to recognized areas of Israel. On one hand, he claims that he has never called for a boycott of Israel, while at the same time, he calls for an investigation of local UK municipalities working with the French waste management company Veolia, because of their involvement in the light rail project in Jerusalem.

Beyond that, MP Brazier claims that Israel’s “settlement” activity in the West Bank is the cause of the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as well as anti-British sentiments in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This takes us back to my opening question: where do you start, when claims so detached from reality are leveled at Israel by academics and elected officials in modern Western countries? I can understand those who say that it’s no use, and suggest ignoring the accusations. But I would argue that these bashers need to be confronted and not allowed to get off so easily.

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So I welcomed the initiative of the British Israel Coalition, who asked leaders in Judea and Samaria to meet with Mr. Brazier in an effort to set the record straight. BICPAK also organized a letter writing campaign to the British Parliament and local newspapers, to speak out against these outrageous statements.

I am glad to work with leaders like Gershon Mesika, who is an effective municipal administrator with a clear pragmatic vision to building the Jewish communities of the Shomron. But I am also not ashamed to say in any forum (including the UK’s House of Commons) that the land of Israel is the birthright of the Jewish people, as stated in the Bible. This is not “occupied” land – it belongs to no other people but Israel. The development of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria is not the cause of the Arab Spring in the Middle East or anti-Western sentiments in Islamic societies, but rather, fundamentalist Islamisation is the cause.

Also attending this meeting was Jordanian writer and activist Mudar Zahran, who reminded MP Brazier that the Palestinians already have a state in Jordan and called for his assistance in replacing the Hashemite monarchy with their own leadership.

I do not think that we succeeded in changing Brazier’s anti-Israel outlook, which (as he pointed out) is based on three generations of his family’s involvement in the region. Both his father and grandfather served in the British army during their occupation of the land.

But supporters of Israel also do not need to sit back and take this kind of assault as a “given.” We should stand up and state the simple truth. This is our land. Those who wish to live with us in peace stand to enjoy great benefits from our friendship and ability to bring the region forward in all aspects. Israel is not the cause of anti-Western sentiments; at best, it is a convenient excuse and meeting place for anti-Western and anti-Semitic types who pose as liberals and human rights enthusiasts. The suffering of the people in Syria, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Egypt have nothing to do with the light rail in Jerusalem, or with the number of Jews who live in Judea and Samaria.

Julian Brazier might not have been convinced to stop his accusations against Israel, but after the letter writing campaign and the meeting with Shomron leadership, he knows that if he wishes to continue on the path of confronting Israel, his work will only grow more demanding; he will need to work harder and conduct better research if he doesn’t want to be exposed as a fool. All of this might bring him and his like to reconsider how much time and effort they can invest in dealing with an issue that is far from their constituency’s real needs and interests.

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