Five Minutes in the House of Commons

star-house-of-commons1Five Minutes for Israel addresses the House of Commons debate on Palestine and Israel

Mr. Speaker: I call Mr. David Guy (Rehovot, Israel) (Five Minutes for Israel, non co-operative) to address the House. As with all the back-benchers before him he will be constrained to a symbolic five minutes speaking time. I know that he will aspire to retain or to gain the warm regard of his colleagues and will therefore not seek to detain the House.

Mr. Guy: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Perhaps even five minutes is too long. The vote on the issue of recognising the yet-to-be-if-ever State of Palestine was decided long before my hon. Friend the member for Easington (Lab) Mr. Grahame M. Morris uttered his first syllable. All the honourable Labour members have been whipped† into supporting this business on penalty of party discipline and more than three hundred and seventy-five members of parliament, from a total of 649, have either abstained, taken refuge behind procedure or simply made themselves scarce. There have been rumours that members of the Conservatives have been whipped into abstaining. Evidence is circumstantial and I hope to enter into the documents of this session statistics on what percentage of each party obeyed these instructions and what percentage bravely defended their consciences in the House of Commons bar‡.

A special mention must be made for those honourable members who made speeches opposing the recognition of a state of Palestine and then either voted for the motion or abstained.

Unfortunately the Hansard record only records ayes and noes but not the reason for the vote or the decision not to vote. One might hope that honesty reported from my hon. friend, whom I regard as a ‘big brother’ member for Bradford West (Respect) George Galloway who abstained because he is committed to the destruction of Israel and is not going to pretend that pressuring Israel to take actions that it considers suicidal to itself as a nation and to its citizens is not a call for its destruction, is only a small part of the no-shows.

As is accepted practice when addressing such a subject as this particularly as the more perceptive may have noticed that Rehovot isn’t exactly part of the British Isles. They didn’t notice that President Abbas currently in the ninth year of his four-year term isn’t exactly the poster boy for democratic reform so the oversight is understandable. I will spend a little time on the United Kingdom connection.

If one was to visit De Schalit High School in Rehovot one would notice a rather elegant stone building with an arched facade. Now the school administration offices it was for a time towards the end of  the First World War, the headquarters of  the Desert Mounted Corps under General Harry Chauvel. The corps played a major role in the defeat of the Ottoman Turks at Beersheva and the capture of Damascus. The British could not have received their Palestinian Mandate for a national home for the Jewish people had they not defeated, invaded and occupied it. Does this sound like a familiar pattern? They took it from the recognised owners for the previous six hundred years, the Ottoman Turks. Neither recognised any Palestinian claims. Not least because they didn’t recognise any Palestinians.

Modern Middle Eastern history began from this invasion. The successful, humanist and democratic, states of Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and the apparently less praiseworthy state of Israel were formed when the British and the French divided  Ottoman possessions between them at the San Remo Convention later ratified by the League of Nations.

On a more personal note, I could have been legitimately sitting in the House of Commons if the war-time British government hadn’t arrested my father, a refugee from Nazi Germany as an enemy alien and transported him under armed guard to Australia*. He did rather better than hundreds of thousands of refugees from German tyranny who, denied entrance to Palestine, the only country willing to accept them,  by these same British, perished in Hitler’s death camps. This occurred at the same time as the Arabs in the Levant were actively working for Hitler. So please excuse me if I don’t get too sentimental about the British and the formation of the Israel. By the way, does that make me a Germanophobe or a Britaphobe?

Grahame M. Morris: Will you yield? British people, they and their representatives here in this House would feel that it was completely wrong in practice and in principle if another sovereign state, be it Israel or any other country, determined our foreign policy.

Richard Burden: Will you yield? Recognition for Palestinians cannot be a matter of privilege; it, too, must be a matter of right.

David Guy: I’m afraid I can not yield although yielding can be pleasure when one is not outnumbered like Custer at Little Big Horn. However I will speak to the interjection.

Apparently undermining the policy of Israel, the sole state in the region even trying to be a liberal democracy is OK.  However I do commend the honourable members sudden appearance of backbone even if only to resist a bully of almost twelve times smaller landmass and seven times smaller population.

Will we see a wave of backbencher motions, to say, recognise the Armenian Genocide or does Turkey determine British policy? Perhaps a recognition of the Kurdish state in Iraq. We have heard so much about the Balfour Declaration but nothing about how the British and French divided up the Ottoman Empire in the process creating Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and two halves of Palestine but nothing about how the Kurds missed out. Or how about defying the People’s Republic of China and recognising Taiwan as independent? Unlike Israel China and Turkey are in a position to real harm to Britain if they choose prudence appears to determine British policy in these cases not the moral high ground.

Andrew Bridgen: Does my hon. Friend agree that, given that the political system of the world’s superpower and our great ally the United States is very susceptible to well-funded powerful lobbying groups and the power of the Jewish lobby in America, it falls to this country and to this House to be the good but critical friend that Israel needs, and this motion tonight just might lift that logjam on this very troubled area?

The House responds: Boo! That’s a classic antisemitic slur used by the Nazis and Soviet Union! If the Jews controlled the White House would America be playing footsies with Iran?
[Who am I trying to kid? The only response was a weak there is more than one lobby in the United States.]

Sandra Osborne:  Surely we have even more responsibility towards the Palestinians because of our history.

David Guy: This debate is drawing to an end so I will conclude swiftly and ask the hon. member how far does this responsibility go? Will you support British boots on the ground when the whole Palestinian enterprise falls like a house of cards? What would you do when moderate, democratic (in the only election Hamas not Fatah won government) Abbas is overthrown by Hamas or possibly even worse the self-declared Islamic State? I think not.

I thank everyone for their patience.


Extra credit

  • Full text of House of Commons Backbench Business, Palestine and Israel as copied from Hansard for 13 October 2014. [Please note that the process of copying from PDF to word and back to PDF has left artifacts, most notably paragraph breaks on each line, appearing as one single column and some odd spacing. As this document takes up some 35 odd pages of two-column prose I hope you will forgive me for not laying it all out properly. Besides it was depressing.]
  • The original PDF of all House of Commons business for the day can be found here or on the Hansard website.

 The Twelve Noes – Truly uncommon members of the House

† For those unfamiliar with the British system. There is nothing sexual about being whipped, rumours about some graduates of public (i.e. private) schools, not withstanding. It is simply the party leader ordering all members of his party to vote as a unified bloc.
‡ Once again for non-British visitors. In a British court of law the bar serves justice. In the parliament the bar serves beer and whiskey.
* The Dunera Affair


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State your case

star-bikini-burkaFailed two state cognitive dissonance

Sweden has just elected a new centre-left government led by Prime Minister Stefan Lofven of the Social Democrat party. Sweden is to “recognise the state of Palestine”, “negotiated in accordance with international law”, “A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognise the state of Palestine.”

Forget that. If a de-facto State of Palestine is created the one thing it won’t be is obeying the laws governing statehood; won’t offer mutual recognition; won’t have a will to peaceful co-existence and it won’t matter. Continue reading

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Trending on Facebook

star facebookfacebook_unlikeExpect to see 1,000s of these

Israel Haters apply DoS to flood out Israel

One way to shut down an opinion you disagree with is what is called a Denial of Service (DoS for short) attack. It is an attempt to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users and commonly involves saturating the target machine with external communications requests, so much so that it cannot respond to legitimate traffic, or responds so slowly as to be rendered essentially unavailable.

One analogy, on Facebook, of a DoS attack that we will see much of, is illustrated below. Stuff that can be seen as pro-Israel (I saw it first  on a video clip of an IDF entertainment unit doing a great version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah)† is flooded with identical cut-and-paste comments as in the screen grab below.

For the Haters it is a WIN-WIN If no one responds they have drowned out support things Israeli (and the more the text is repeated the more likely it is to be found in a high place on search engines)‡. If someone responds and demolishes their lies they have successfully diverted the conversation away – and put Israeli advocates once more on the defensive. They are not interested in the truth. True Denial of Service.

Packed responses to Israel

As far as I know, there is no Facebook complaint category that covers this although traditional DoS is universally banned. Denial-of-service attacks are considered violations of the Internet Architecture Board’s Internet proper use policy, and also violate the acceptable use policies of virtually all Internet service providers. They also commonly constitute violations of the laws of individual nations.

Does anyone know the source of the idea? The very exact copy nature of the tactic suggests it is not random. If a social media site it can probably be attacked as HARASSMENT or SPAM.

Any other ideas?

Extra credit

YouTube Preview Image

† Deliberately linked to a version where comments are disabled.
‡ This is the reason I use a screen grab rather than copy-paste the text into this post.

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The Week That Wuz Wuz Wuz

Benjamin NetanyahuProactive on war crimes and other bits and pieces

It’s been an interesting week (month, whatever): Back-to-back Abbas/Netanyahu speeches at the UN; Qatar receives a human rights commendation; Rosh Hashana and the first rains – sprinkles if you must; the bombing of the self-declared Islamic State with no mention of civilian casualties and Ireland’s Defence Minister denying that the IDF helped Irish soldiers in Syria while at the UN Ban Ki Moon thanked the IDF for its help so this latest Five Minutes for Israel is a bit of a mish-mash of ideas that didn’t quite reach momentum for a fully dedicated post. Gefilte Fish with spicy Dag Marrokai† in honour of the festival just passed, if you will. Continue reading

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Blogger this

European United Left/Nordic Green Leftstar-fattahIsrael hater, al Fattah, won’t win freedom of speech prize

Something doesn’t compute here. European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) constantly attack Israel. They demand that the European Union adopt restrictive measures against Israel, specifically a suspension of the EU-Israel association agreement, a comprehensive arms embargo, and to advocate and act for the implementation of the International Court of Justice recommendations in its 2004 Advisory Opinion on the legality of the Wall.

Yet they withdrew blogger Alaa Abd al Fattah’s nomination for the Sakharov Prize because he called for the murder “of a critical number of Israelis” in a tweet in 2012. Continue reading

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5775 and counting

star-graphicsA sweet, happy, creative New Year for everyone


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Tunnel vision

star-BBCIs alBeeb Islamophobic?

Yes, you read correctly. Is the BBC Islamophobic?

Could you imagine the outcry if the UK’s Michael Farage or Australia’s Tony Abbot had declared the world’s problems are Islam, Ebola and Ukraine. The BBC would be all over it like a rash – accusing them of Islamophobia and racism.

But check out the BBC News Snapshot: The mounting problems facing the world by Sarah Fowler and Helier Cheung from the 5th of September before it slips down the Internet plughole, never to be seen again accept by Five Minutes for Israel readers who have saved the URL. Continue reading

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Melanie Phillips in Jerusalem

Honest Reporting have generously uploaded the entire video of Melanie Phillips‘s speech Western Jewry – Paying the Price for Gaza in Jerusalem on the 27th. Israel advocates who were unfortunate and didn’t hear her in person get a second chance. It’s an hour well spent. So what is there to write about? Continue reading

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star-boy-journoPhoto-and-TweetFirst I wanted to be a cowboy – now I want to be a journalist

A tweeted photograph by a Swedish journalist has received 40K retweets and remarkably little analysis.

Is placing your helmet on a child for a photo any less improper that placing a toy or a Koran in rubble to ‘improve’ a shot? Don’t both deserve the label Fauxtography?

Continue reading

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BBC petition page – Now on Facebook

star facebookipetitions Click to access BBC petitionPetition update

The Change BBC boilerplate on Gaza casualties to reflect disputed figures petition now has a Facebook page Petition the BBC.

Action Items

  • As always Like-Share-Comment
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