Tuesday, July 26, 2011

At last, Israel starts to make its case

Melanie Phillips

At long last, Israel’s government is showing signs that it has finally understood that it needs to address head-on the lie at the heart of the demonisation and delegitimisation campaign being waged against it. This is that Israel is behaving illegally and in defiance of international law. According to this view, the West Bank is ‘occupied territory’, and Israel should withdraw from land it has illegally commandeered to within its ‘1967 borders’. This is wholly false. Israel’s behaviour is legal, and it is the Arabs who have always behaved illegally. Until now, however, Israel’s spokesmen have largely ignored the fact that many in the west who have swallowed the demonisation propaganda wholesale are galvanised by a sincere commitment to concepts of justice and law. Instead, Israel concentrated mainly on emphasising its need for security, ignoring the devastating impact of Arab propaganda being peddled by useful idiots and worse in the west. As a result, it was not so much speaking to but over the head of a western public which had no interest in Israel’s security, since it believed that any such problem was the result of Israel’s defiance of international law. This left the field wide open for the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza to commandeer for themselves – entirely mendaciously – the language of justice and law.

Now Israel’s deputy foreign Minister, Danny Ya'alon, has signalled a welcome change of strategy with a short video he has fronted here. In this he sets out the true facts: that Israel did not steal the West Bank from its true owners – indeed, could not have stolen it, since the land never had any sovereign owner; that Israel took it not from the Palestinians, who never owned it, but from Jordan, which had itself illegally occupied it; that Jews have been legally entitled to live in the West Bank ever since the second decade of the last century when the world’s then governing body, the League of Nations, gave them the right to settle in it; that far from not giving up any ground, the Jews saw their legal entitlement to the land hugely reduced when some three quarters of it was hived off to become Jordan; and that far from being a national border, the 1967 boundary merely marked the ceasefire line in the war of extermination mounted by the Arabs against Israel at its re-birth – and that it was the Arabs who insisted it should have no legal significance.

This is not to say that Israel should hold on to all the disputed territory -- far from it. But the west should be helped to understand that, as a matter of law and justice, Israel is entitled to choose what to give up in its own interests -- because Israel, not its Arab would-be destroyers, stands for justice and law. All Ayalon does in this video is spell out the facts about this. That simple but crucial approach is what has been neglected until now in Israel’s defence strategy. This video marks a sharp turn for the better.

Let’s hope Israel now places more and yet sharper home truths into the public domain. That would without doubt change the terms of the debate – because ultimately truth drives out lies, even the Big Lie about Israel which, left unchallenged for so long, has so disastrously poisoned the entire body politic of the west.

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