March 29, 2011 by Nash Riggins
David Cameron is a firm believer in freeing Palestine from Israel’s cruel, iron fist. He’s also a firm believer in Israel’s right to police Gaza in order to protect itself from Palestinian terrorism. In essence, the Prime Minister wants to have his cake and eat it, too.
However by constantly changing his stance on the Jewish State, Mr Cameron is beginning to make the international stage strongly resemble a high school popularity contest – complete with BFF necklaces and two-faced, behind-the-back gossip.
In his December address to the Conservative Friends of Israel, Cameron made it clear that his belief in the Jewish State was ‘indestructible,’ and considered himself a ‘good friend of Israel.’ As any good friend would, Cameron completely defended Israel’s right to hunt down and eliminate potential threats in order to satisfy the safety concerns of its citizens. This is warranted; however, it must be taken into account that Israel is the proverbial ‘boy-who-cried-wolf,’ regarding security threats.
Take last June; Israeli special forces boarded a Turkish flotilla attempting to enter Gaza with aid workers and supplies. They perceived the flotilla a potential terror threat, and after killing 9 civilians, detained 679 others for days before finally sending the flotilla back to whence it came.
It just so happened that Israel’s ‘good friend’ David was in Turkey at the time. His take? The raid was ‘completely unacceptable.’
‘We should do everything we can through the UN, where resolution 1860 is absolutely clear about the need to end the blockade and to open up Gaza.’
It turns out that Israel’s second-best friend is also one of the biggest advocates of UN sanctions against Israel. The UN resolution Cameron was referring to didn’t come to the table until this February, and called for an end to Israel’s blockade over Gaza and a firm stance against Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Cameron advocated fiercely for the resolution, which was backed by 130 nations and passed unanimously in the 14-member Security Council. Quite predictably, however, America exercised its first veto of the year to kill the bill.
In Mr Cameron’s defence, even amidst his claims of being a ‘good friend’ of Israel, he has taken a firm stance against West Bank settlements throughout his time in office, asserting the claim that they are ‘the only factor’ that is hampering peace efforts in Gaza. He also claims this is one of few positions on which he disagrees with his American allies.
Since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank, half a million Jews have built over 100 new settlements that are considered illegal under international law. Even the Obama administration, which supplies over $5 billion every year in aid to Israel – an average of $8.2 million every day – appears nervous to support Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the issue of settlements.
The David Cameron on display at the Conservative Friends of Israel conference in December therefore was not the same David Cameron advocating for sanctions against Israel in February. So the question remains: why flip-flop over such a headline issue?
One could argue that Mr Cameron is merely attempting to bridge the gap and be a translator between European advocates of a less-powerful Israel versus America’s pro-Israeli stance. One could also argue that America only supports Israel so feverishly in an effort to curb the inherent fear in ‘blue-collar’ Americans that all Muslims are extremists – but surely David Cameron couldn’t adopt such a rationale in a country that boasts a Muslim population teetering on 2.5 million.
Needless to say this population, which overall sympathises with the plight of Palestinians, greatly outnumbers the nation’s Jewish population of 300,000. Even in Stirling, groups of anti-Israel protesters have been known to buzz around Saturday markets petitioning for an independent Palestine – an effort that seems somewhat in vein considering David Cameron already voices his support for the fabled two-state solution on the international stage. Why else would such an effort be in vein? Because business comes first.
‘When we see boycotts and calls for boycotts on Israel, we shouldn’t just dismiss them,’ the Prime Minister declared in his address to the Jewish Conservatives. ‘We should go in completely the opposite direction: showing the world that we are proud to do business with Israel.’
Does this frustrate anyone else? Barrack Obama doesn’t agree with every decision Israel’s belligerent leadership has made as of late, but at least he doesn’t lack continuity in his voiced and financial support. Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t change his foreign policy every week – in fact, Netanyahu and his predecessors have made no great policy changes in Israel for over 50 years – why should David Cameron’s opinion of Israeli foreign policy change bi-monthly?
The Prime Minister clearly struggles to balance the popular condemnation of Israel in Britain with an agenda hell-bent on preventing terrorism. By supporting the Israeli military, Britain can satisfy its terrorism concerns without falling into a PR nightmare. On the other hand, in the wake of any aligning interests with Israel, another reason for Cameron’s support of the Jewish State appears to be envy.
“There is one … thing we can learn from Israel, and that is about community spirit. It’s a country where they don’t always say ‘there’s a problem – so what can the government do about it’ – they say ‘what can I do about it, what can my community do about it?’”
“Just look at the Israeli police force. The professional officers on the payroll are far-outnumbered by 70,000 police volunteers who give up their time for free. That’s the Big Society spirit that we want to build here in Britain.”
Let the records show: Israel thought of Big Society before David Cameron did. What’s more, he admits it. On a side note, it’s probably easier to convince 70,000 police to volunteer without pay in a radically religious, right-wing nation in which civilians’ lives are almost constantly in danger. In Britain, on the other hand, atheist and agnostic police do not think Jehovah has divinely chosen them to patrol the streets – and even if Jehovah did choose them, they still wouldn’t do it for free.
That being said, it gives David Cameron little credit to assume his continued support for Israel is based solely upon their successful implementation of Big Society. I would also be giving him too little credit to assume that he does not support Israel merely because his people – along with the majority of the world – seem not to. Therefore, it’s fair to say the Prime Minister deserves no credit for the foreign policy decisions that he isn’t making. I guess he was saving the big guns for Libya.