ISLAMIC HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
For Immediate Release
18th January 2001
Blair Supports Apartheid
BRITISH PRIME MINISTER PUTS UK ON ISRAELI SIDE
On Monday night (15 January), the Prime Minister launched the For Our Children campaign of the United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA) at the Zionist organisation’s annual dinner. The campaign aims to aid the influx of immigrant children to Israel. Massoud Shadjareh, Chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), said in a recent letter to the Prime Minister calling on him to cease promotion of the campaign:
“Your support of the policy of sending yet more immigrants to settle in Israel while the regime continues to illegally expand settlements both within and beyond its official borders – very often ruthlessly demolishing Palestinian homes – hardly illustrates the British Government’s condemnation of Israel’s illegal settlement policy.”
Shadjareh added that, in contrast,
“You have conspicuously failed to promote the indigenous Palestinian’s right of return to their own homeland recognised by international law under UN General Assembly Resolution 194.”
There are at least 4 million Palestinian refugees who were forcibly expelled by Israeli forces – helped on their way by occasional massacres – now living in squalid conditions of Israeli-imposed apartheid. As Professor Anita Shapira of the Department of History at Tel Aviv University observes, “The [Israeli] Law of Return gave preference to any Jew born in Britain or Morocco over an Arab born in Jaffa and driven into exile as a result of the 1948 war… Arab settlements have been short-changed and discriminated against for decades.” (JPR Newsletter, Institute for Jewish Policy Research, Spring 2000) Indeed, former head of Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service, stated at the end of last year that Israel is guilty of imposing “apartheid” and profound “humiliation” against the Palestinians. “The things a Palestinian has to endure, simply coming to work in the morning, is a long and continuous nightmare that includes humiliation bordering on despair,” said Ami Ayalon. “The present model integrates apartheid” (Los Angeles Times, 5 December 2000, Ma’ariv, 5 December).
In his letter, Shadjareh commented:
“It seems that the British Government is supporting Israel’s systematic discrimination against the Palestinian people by ignoring the Palestinian right of return while promoting Israel’s illegal settlement policy.”
In a reply to Massoud Shadjareh from Downing Street, it was confirmed that Tony Blair feels his launching of the UJIA fundraising campaign is a matter of foreign policy, as he considered that the concerns raised in the letter were a responsibility of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Tony Blair’s comments at the UJIA dinner illustrated with further clarity his own pro-Israel position in relation to the Middle East crisis. “My envoy (Lord) Michael Levy has just returned from the Middle East and I am very grateful for all the work you have done,” he said. Lord Levy, Blair’s chief fundraiser, is a staunch Zionist whose pro-Israeli bias is openly acknowledged by British Zionists – according to a campaign for solidarity with Israel during the current crisis, for instance, one of forty reasons that British Zionists need not do anything in Israel is that “Lord Levy is protecting our interests.” (Jewish Chronicle, 1 December 2000, p. 29, reason no. 33)
Blair not only lauded Israel, but affirmed that Britain is “proud” to be a partner of the apartheid regime. He additionally praised UJIA’s work (TotallyJewish.Com, 16 January). The UJIA, formerly known as the British Olim Society, was founded by the Zionist Federation (ZF) of Great Britain and Ireland “to assist in the integration of British Olim” into Israeli society – an “Olim” is one who immigrates to Palestine (i.e. performs “Aliya”). Previous special guests at UJIA fundraising dinners include Jacob Perry, former head of Israel’s notorious secret service, Mossad.
Massoud Shadjareh said:
“The Prime Minister’s latest remarks appear to confirm quite clearly that the British Government supports Israel. Although the apartheid regime continues its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories while committing systematic human rights abuses against the indigenous population, Blair has failed to condemn these policies, but has instead affirmed Britain’s ongoing ‘partnership’ with the regime.”
In another revelation, former Israeli Ambassador to Britain, Dror Zeigerman, asserted that there was “no doubt” that the Prime Minister had occasionally “overridden” Foreign Office policy on Israel. “The officials [in Whitehall] understand they can’t do everything they want to, because of Blair’s attitude.” Zeigerman also described Foreign Office Secretary Robin Cook as a “good friend of Israel.” Director of Labour Friends of Israel, David Mencer, commented aptly on the implications of Blair’s pro-Israel behaviour: “In times of crisis you find out who your friends are. Israel is in crisis and Blair has not shied away from identifying himself with… Israel. It speaks volumes, especially at this time, that Tony Blair is prepared to lay his affections for Israel… clearly and openly for everyone to see.” (Jewish Chronicle, 12 January)
The Prime Minister’s clearly partisan stance is highly inappropriate. Shadjareh commented:
“Blair’s impact on British foreign policy toward the Middle East has evidently resulted in the systematic marginalisation of Palestinian rights. It seems that the Government under Blair’s leadership has no significant interest in supporting the basic rights of the indigenous population to return to their homeland and live a decent existence free from the fear of Israeli apartheid, as required under international law.”
IHRC calls upon the Prime Minister not to ignore Britain’s historic and contemporary responsibility to uphold the rights of the Palestinian people under international law. Unless the Government condemns Israel’s war crimes against Palestinian children and civilians; illegal expansion of settlements; and institutionalisation of anti-Arab apartheid, there cannot be a just peace in the Middle East.
For more information on the above, please contact the IHRC Press Office on (+44) 20 8902 0888, (+44) 958 522 196, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
Telephone: (+44) 20 8904 4222