We Israelis owe a debt of gratitude to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague. Were it not for his cogent clarifications last Friday, we’d have never known why we aren’t too popular with enlightened British opinion-molders and with the ever morally superior denizens of the EU.
But thanks to Her Majesty’s top diplomat, who has just graced us with a brief visit, we’re no longer benighted. He has opened our eyes and made us see the light from London.
Israel, he told us via Sky News, has lost support in Britain and elsewhere in Europe due to settlement activities of which the UK “disapproves” and which it “condemns.”
No other problems cloud London’s sky. It’s just all about settlements.
Presumably, before we started annoying virtuous nations with Jewish construction beyond the 1949 armistice lines, all was hunky-dory. We were the toast of the Free World and loved to bits by the Brits.
Much of that love was already evident on our first imperiled day as a sovereign state within a nightmarishly untenable mini-patchwork of territory. Already then, in Israel’s scariest neonatal hours, Britain played a proactive role in Arab plans to throw us into the sea.
The best-trained Arab army, the Jordanian Arab Legion, was established and organized on official orders from London by Maj.-Gen. Frederick G. Peake (a.k.a. Peake Pasha). In 1939, Peake was replaced by Lancashire-born Lt.-Gen. John Bagot Glubb (a.k.a. Glubb Pasha), who remained the legion’s commander until 1956. Glubb led the 1948 Arab Legion’s invasion of Israel and engineered the legion’s conquest of east Jerusalem, in direct contravention of the UN Partition Resolution.
British aircraft bombed and strafed Israel’s underdog fledgling forces. We won’t mention Britain’s pre-state refusal of asylum to desperate Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Europe nor Britain’s hunt on the high seas postwar for Holocaust survivors and their incarceration for years under appalling conditions in Cyprus prison camps.
We won’t focus on the turning over of strategic positions to Arab marauders at the conclusion of the British Mandate over this land. We won’t dwell on the arming of Arab militias.
There’s plenty more but suffice it to say that an abundance of such British affection was showered on Israel before it could plausibly have been denigrated as a menacing ogre; before Israel survived the genocidal onslaught upon it and won its War of Independence; before Israel was forced to defend itself in the Six Day War and found itself in Judea and Samaria; before Jews dared return to parts of Jerusalem and the so-called West Bank from which Britain had earlier assisted to expel them; and before all this was maligned as criminal occupation and illegal settlement.
With so much British love, no wonder we Israelis failed to gauge the ill-will we aroused when we crossed the lines of our exhaustion, drawn in green in 1949 – following the war that Britain helped wage against us. Our blindness persists. Many of us just obstinately fail to be convinced that it’s only settlements.
Our unfounded paranoia leads us to suspect that there’s a powerful predisposition against Jews and their state. But thanks to Hague’s elucidation we now know that it’s our sins that cast us as this peaceful planet’s baddies.
By fluke, shortly before Hague dispensed his conventional wisdom to Sky, the competition at the BBC had released yet another of its international popularity polls. As expected, once again, Israel ranked abysmally low, right near the bottom of the positivity scale.
Some 26,000 respondents from 25 countries were asked to rank a list of states according to their “mainly positive” or “mainly negative” influence in the world.
Germany topped the list with 59 percent of respondents viewing it positively, followed by Canada (55%), the UK (55%) and Japan (51%).
Only North Korea, Pakistan and Iran scored lower than Israel. Twenty-one percent of respondents viewed Israel’s influence as mainly positive, while 52% saw the Jewish state’s influence as negative.