Sunday, 12 December 2010

Squaring the Circle: London 13th December

On Monday 13th December 2010 the Henry Jackson Society and Just Journalism are holding a ‘Panel Discussion’: “Squaring the Circle? Britain & the De-legitimisation of Israel”
The panellists are: Israel Ambassador to UK Ron Prosor; Baroness Ruth Deech;
Daniel Finkelstein; Nick Cohen; Rafael Bardaji; Stephen Pollard.

More details on:
- reproduced below

Any criticism of Israeli policies seems to stimulate a bombardment of largely ad hominem abuse in which Gentiles are categorised as ‘anti-semitic’, Jews as ‘self-hating’.

My own heritage: according to the National Geographic research project, my maternal DNA is associated with Ashkenazi Jewish descent.

The current round of peace talks initiated by President Obama has foundered with the impasse over the freeze in settlement construction.

The BBC’s Today programme, Radio 4 Saturday 11th December 2010 featured an interview with Martin Indyk Vice President for Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, former United States ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs during the Clinton Administration.

[Vice President for Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. Indyk served as United States ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs during the Clinton Administration. He is arguably best known as one of the lead U.S. negotiators at the Camp David talks - Wikipedia]

His biographical data indicates that he is firmly pro-Israel.

He said:
‘If there are going to be 2 states, the border between them has to be defined’
‘so “it’s the borders, stupid”’ is the new mantra’
He suggested that the way forward should be:
Upfront: Mutual recognition of the 2 states: then state-to-state negotiation.
Revert to the language of the 1947 UN resolution.
Revert to Resolution 242: Borders based on the line of June 4 1967
Settlement blocks: The 1993 Oslo Accords followed by the Camp David negotiations between Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak provided agreement in principle that the settlement blocks which hold about 70% of the settlers but exist on about 3-4% of the West Bank territory would be absorbed into Israel with swaps of territory from Israel to compensate the Palestinians.

So to the questions I hope to put:
Do you agree with Martin Indyk’s proposals?
Is it realistic?
There are probably some 350,000 settlers in the West Bank so this implies that there are either c. 100,000 relocations or that these people join the Palestinian state.
(‘As of July 2009, 304,569 Israelis live in the 121 officially-recognised settlements in the West Bank’ – Wikipedia)
Is Israel prepared to publish an indicative map?
Ow would this compare that published currently on the internet with Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

You might also wish to comment on the negative image which Israel presents exemplified by:
1) Its studied nonchalance on the possession of WMD despite independent evidence from South Africa (1975), Mordechai Vanunu (1986), Jimmy Carter (2008).
2) The casualty figures in Operation Cast Lead; the use of phosphorus munitions; supporting testimonies of Israeli combat soldiers.
3) The interception of the Mavi Marmara.

Other references:-
Defense Minister Ehud Barak's expressed support for partitioning Jerusalem along Jewish and Arab lines according to an initiative presented by former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2000 is not official Israeli policy, an official in Jerusalem said Sunday,
In his address to the Saban Center for Middle East Policy seventh annual forum in Washington, the defense minister said that Israel should retain control of all Jewish neighborhoods in the capital and relinquish sovereignty over heavily Arab areas to the Palestinian Authority.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested in a speech on Friday that the United States will step up pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to move toward establishing a Palestinian state.
Also, in an unusual move, Clinton held an hour-long meeting in Washington with the head of the opposition, Tzipi Livni. Clinton made it clear that the prime minister must begin mapping out the borders of a Palestinian state in the coming weeks, even without direct negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
"It is time to grapple with the core issues of the conflict on borders and security; settlements, water and refugees; and on Jerusalem itself," Clinton said in her speech at the Saban Forum in Washington.
"And starting with my meetings this week, that is exactly what we are doing. We will also deepen our strong commitment to supporting the state-building work of the Palestinian Authority and continue to urge the states of the region to develop the content of the Arab Peace Initiative and to work toward implementing its vision."
Clinton focused on simple messages: The peace process will continue, and the leaders must stop trying to find excuses and people to blame. The United States will only step up its efforts in the region. The bottom line, she says, is that a Palestinian state is an inevitability.
"So even as we engage both sides on the core issues with an eye toward eventually restarting direct negotiations, we will deepen our support of the Palestinians' state-building efforts. Because we recognize that a Palestinian state achieved through negotiations is inevitable," Clinton said.
The U.S. administration began on Thursday night by relaying messages to Netanyahu during a meeting with Isaac Molho, the prime minister's adviser. The United States is very serious and wants to advance the process, Clinton told Molho.
An Israeli source who was briefed on Molho's meetings said the Americans described them as "very bad," and Clinton made clear she will not let Netanyahu "water down" the talks and avoid submitting serious positions on the core issues.
Over the weekend, neither Netanyahu nor his office published any response to Clinton's speech.
Special U.S. envoy George Mitchell is due to arrive in Israel tomorrow, his first visit in four months. He will meet with Netanyahu tomorrow and with Abbas on Tuesday.
Several hours before her speech, Clinton sent Netanyahu another message by meeting with Livni in her State Department office for the first time since the establishment of the Netanyahu government. Clinton only met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak for 20 minutes in a side room at the hotel where the Saban Forum was held.
The Obama administration's dissatisfaction with Netanyahu's delaying tactics was evident in Clinton's speech. Contrary to the compliments she offered to Abbas and his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, she had nothing good to say about the Israeli prime minister.
She said that one does not need to read secret diplomatic cables to know that the situation is difficult. "I understand and indeed I share the deep frustrations of many of you in this room and across the region and the world," she said.
"But rather than dwell on what has come before, I want to focus tonight on the way forward, on America's continuing engagement in helping the parties achieve a two-state solution that ends the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians once and for all, and on what it will take, finally, to realize that elusive, but essential goal."
Clinton said borders and security are of the highest importance, but also mentioned the thorniest of issues in U.S.-Israeli relations.
"The fate of existing settlements is an issue that must be dealt with by the parties along with the other final status issues. But let me be clear: The position of the United States on settlements has not changed and will not change. Like every American administration for decades, we do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity. We believe their continued expansion is corrosive not only to peace efforts and two-state solution, but to Israel's future itself."
She later said that to "demonstrate their commitment to peace, Israeli and Palestinian leaders should stop trying to assign blame for the next failure, and focus instead on what they need to do to make these efforts succeed.
"And to demonstrate their commitment to peace, they should avoid actions that prejudge the outcome of negotiations or undermine good faith efforts to resolve final status issues. Unilateral efforts at the United Nations are not helpful and undermine trust. Provocative announcements on East Jerusalem are counterproductive. And the United States will not shy away from saying so."
Offering condolences to the families of the victims in the Carmel fire, she praised the international contribution to the firefighting effort.
"Israelis are always among the first to lend a hand when an emergency strikes anywhere in the world. So when the fires began to burn, people and nations stepped up and offered help. It was remarkable to watch," she said.
According to Clinton, "The United States will always be there when Israel is threatened. We say it often, but it bears repeating: America's commitment to Israel's security and its future is rock solid and unwavering, and that will not change."
However, Clinton stressed that "Iran and its proxies are not the only threat to regional stability or to Israel's long-term security. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and Arab neighbors is a source of tension and an obstacle to prosperity and opportunity for all the people of the region. It denies the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people and it poses a threat to Israel's future security. It is at odds also with the interests of the United States."
Meanwhile, senior Palestinian figures said yesterday that Clinton should have clearly laid the blame for the failure of the talks on Israel. Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary general of the PLO Executive Council, told Palestinian television that the United States has admitted to the failure of its policy for the first time since Vietnam, and that the party responsible for this failure was Israel.

“Squaring the Circle? Britain & the De-legitimisation of Israel”
A Panel Discussion: 7:00-8:30pm, Monday 13th December 2010

Tony Blair, in a recent keynote speech at the Herzliya Forum for Diplomacy in Israel, identified two forms of de-legitimisation of Israel. Traditional de-legitimisation, whereby Israel’s very right to exist is questioned or challenged, is easier to combat because its objectives are clearly stated. But the second form, which Blair termed ‘insidious’ de-legitimisation, ‘is a conscious or often unconscious resistance, sometimes bordering on refusal, to accept Israel has a legitimate point of view.’ This is expressed in subtler fashion and therefore all the more difficult to counter.
Much of the British media has taken a hostile view towards Israel and its actions, be it with respect to the Free Gaza flotilla raid, renewed peace negotiations or the on-going threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon. Honest criticism of Israeli policies is often overwhelmed by strident voices which refuse to countenance any justification or explanation of those polices, must less acknowledge Israel’s fundamental right to exist. Misleading or tendentious journalism gets published in a cultural atmosphere where the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, designed to weaken Israel economically, is considered a viable means of debating the complexities of the Middle East. The British intelligentsia and political class morally compare antisemitic terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah to Israel – and often compare them favourably. On radicalised university campuses, ‘Zionism’ is routinely anathematised and presented as a byword for Judaism.
De-legitimisation is a problem with serious and far-reaching consequences not just for Israel and the Jewish diaspora, but is troubling for all those wishing to have a civil discussion in the UK about the Jewish state’s past, present and future, about peace in the Middle East and about the strategic implications of the intellectual currents it so often masks. It is a harbinger of an intellectual climate that must not go unchallenged.
This panel, jointly hosted by the Henry Jackson Society and Just Journalism, is an opportunity to partake in a discussion on the topic with some of the most distinguished voices in the UK who will attempt to analyse the problem and explore strategies for combating this noxious trend across all fields, from politics to the media, academia and the arts.


His Excellency Ambassador Ron Prosor has been Israel's Envoy to the Court of St. James’s since 2007. Mr Prosor joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1986 and was in 2004 named Director General, having been previously Senior Deputy Director and Chief of Policy Staff to the Foreign Minister. He was also Minister-Counsellor for Political Affairs in the United States and Spokesman in London and Bonn. He is Fluent in English and German. Serving in the United States during the Clinton-Bush election and the transition from Labor to Likud governments in Israel, Mr. Prosor was part of the Israeli delegation to the Wye River Plantation talks in Maryland in 1998. In London he was instrumental in arranging the first Israeli state visit to the United Kingdom by President Ezer Weizmann, and in Bonn oversaw relations with reunified Germany's five new federal states. Mr. Prosor is married to Hadas and they have three children.

Baroness Ruth Deech taught law at Oxford University until she was elected Principal of St Anne’s College, from 1991 to 2004. At Oxford she was a pro Vice-Chancellor and chaired the Admissions Committee. In 1994 Ruth Deech was appointed chair of the UK Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority, a national committee charged with monitoring all IVF clinics and laboratories in the UK, and with approving assisted reproductive treatments and embryo research. In the period of her chairmanship to 2002 the HFEA oversaw the introduction of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and stem cell research. From 2002 to 2006 Ruth Deech was a Governor of the BBC, participating in the accountability and strategy of national TV and radio. From 2004 to 2008 she was the first Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education for England and Wales - a national campus ombudsman - responsible for reviewing student complaints from 147 universities. In 2008 she was appointed Gresham Professor of Law, lecturing in the City of London on reproductive law and ethics. She is a frequent broadcaster on these topics. She is also chair of a national committee on equal opportunities for Women in Medicine. In 2005 she was created a life peer (Baroness Deech, of Cumnor) and sits in the House of Lords as a non-party legislator.

Daniel Finkelstein OBE graduated from the London School of Economics, where he studied economics & politics. He was awarded the OBE in the 1997 honours list. Between 1981 and 1990 he was a member of the SDP, becoming Chair of the Young Social Democrats during the 1983 general election campaign. Before working for the Conservative Party, Daniel Finkelstein was Director of the think tank the Social Market Foundation for three years. Between 1995 and 1997 Finkelstein was Director of the Conservative Research Department. Between 1997 and 2001 he was political adviser to the Leader of the Opposition Rt. Hon William Hague MP, and, together with George Osborne, Secretary to the Shadow Cabinet. Finkelstein joined The Times in August 2001 as part of the leader writing team and was Comment Editor from March 2004 - June 2008. He became Chief Leader Writer in June 2008 and is currently the Executive Editor.

Nick Cohen is a columnist for the Observer and writes occasional pieces for many other publications, including Standpoint and New Humanist. Cruel Britannia, a collection of his journalism, was published by Verso in 1999, and Pretty Straight Guys, a history of Britain under Tony Blair, was published by Faber in 2003. ‘What’s Left?’ the story of how the liberal-left of the 20th century ended up supporting the far right of the 21st was published by 4th Estate in February 2007. His latest book is ‘Waiting for The Etonians’.

Rafael Bardaji is the Executive Director of the Friends of Israel Initiative, a high-level international leadership project recently launched by former President of the Spanish Government José María Aznar to counter the increasing attempts to de-legitimise the State of Israel and its right to live in peace within safe and defensible borders. From 1986 to 1996 he was the Director of the “Strategic Studies Group” (GEES), a private, non-partisan institution based in Madrid which conducts research and produces analysis on international security and defense issues. In 1996 he was appointed Senior Strategic Advisor to the Defence Minister of Spain. In 2002, he became National Security Advisor to Mr Aznar for the remainder of his term in office, and continues to advise him on national and international policy issues.

Stephen Pollard is the Editor of the Jewish Chronicle. He was previously President of the Centre for the New Europe, a Brussels-based think tank and is the Chairman of the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism. His biography of David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary, was published in December 2004. From 1998-2000 he was a columnist and Chief Leader Writer on the Daily Express. From 1995-98 he was Head of Research at the Social Market Foundation, and from 1992-95 Research Director at the Fabian Society. He is the author of numerous pamphlets and books on health and education policy, and is co-author with Andrew Adonis of the best-selling A Class Act - the Myth of Britain's Classless Society (Penguin 1998). He has been described by the BBC as 'Britain's most prolific columnist'.

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