David Cameron, Zionist and good friend of Israel, rejects the Jewish National Fund
Back in 2007, David Cameron was a proud, self-declared Zionist. In 2009, he told the Conservative Friends of Israel that his belief in and love for Israel was ‘indestructible’. He said the same in 2010: “In me, you have a Prime Minister whose belief in Israel is indestructible.” As recently as this month, he told Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netenyahu: "Britain is a good friend of Israel and our support for Israel and Israel’s security is something I have described in the past and will do so again as unshakeable. We are strong friends of Israel."
It must therefore have come as something of a surprise to Binyamin Netanyahu – not to mention the Conservative Friends of Israel – that the Prime Minister has severed all links with one of Britain’s oldest Jewish Charities, the Jewish National Fund, for which both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown acted as patrons throughout their terms of office (and remain so).
The Jewish National Fund was established in 1901 to assist Jewish people who wished to settle in their ancient homeland, then part of the declining Ottoman empire. From 1939, the JNF ‘raised money to buy land and create the necessary infrastructure to rebuild the Jewish homeland’. This, of course, was at the height of the ‘Mandate for Palestine’ entrusted by the League of Nations to the British Government – under which the British were under legal obligation to facilitate the creation of a Jewish national homeland in the region, including permitting Jewish immigration (which, incidentally, the British betrayed).
Today, much of the work of the UK branch of the JNF funds infrastructure projects in the Negev – specifically agriculture, irrigation and education – on desert land previously considered virtually uninhabitable.
The Palestinian lobby has long hated the JNF, and has even accused it of war crimes – a charge vigorously rebutted by the Fund’s Chairman, Samuel Hayek. In a letter to The Guardian last autumn, Mr Hayek, wrote: "Our environmental and humanitarian work is not based on any political or religious affiliation, but rather on supporting Israel and its population – whatever their background. This was the case before the modern state of Israel was created and will continue to be the case long into the future."
The phrase ‘whatever their background’ is one which is frequently overlooked or conveniently ignored: out of a population of 6.7 million, about 1.3 million — 20 per cent — are non-Jews (approximately 1.1 million Muslims, 130,000 Christians and 100,000 Druze). It is also worth mentioning that Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights; in fact, it is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote. Arabs even sit in the Knesset and have held various government posts; one has also been a Supreme Court judge.
And it was that Supreme Court which ruled in 2002 that the Israeli government may not allocate land based on religion or ethnicity, and may not prevent Arab citizens from living wherever they choose. It is also worth noting that in 1948 there was one Arab high school in the country: today, more than 300,000 Arab children are educated in Arab schools.
It is a curious ‘apartheid state’ which grants such rights to ethnic and religious minorities: how many Arab states grant such liberties to Jews?
A Downing Street spokesman insists that David Cameron’s decision to resign as a patron of the Jewish National Fund is merely part of a ‘wider review of the Prime Minister’s involvement with charities’, but no others have been specified. Israel’s opponents are now fighting like ferrets in a sack to claim this victory as their own, though The Guardian puts it unequivocally down to the ‘Stop the JNF Campaign’, reporting simply that the ‘Palestine Solidarity Campaign’ welcomed the decision: "It reflects the fact it is now impossible for any serious party leader to lend public support to racism," campaign director, Sarah Colborne, said in a statement.
The anti-JNF campaign have been spearheaded by anti-Israel MPs such as Jeremy Corbyn, who meets with Hamas officials and speaks alongside veteran terrorists like Leila Khaled , and continues to lobby for the Jewish National Fund’s charitable status to be revoked.
It is worth noting that the resignation as patron of this charity is not the only example of David Cameron’s actions belying his much-vaunted support for Israel. Since becoming Prime Minister he has made a speech in Turkey – one of Israel’s enemies in the region – in which he described Gaza as a ‘prison camp’. He also used the speech to pre-empt investigations into the Mavi Marmara affair to say that Israel’s boarding of the vessel was totally unacceptable whilst entirely ignoring the context of Hamas’ avowed intent to destroy the Jewish state and the constant shelling of Israeli cities, towns and villages which led to the closure of Israeli borders with the Hamas-led enclave.
The Prime Minister has also threatened that the UK will support the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state - presumably with the borders of the Palestinians’ choosing - unless ‘Israel engages seriously in a meaningful peace process’. He has imposed no conditions at all on the Palestinians, such as (for example) ceasing to use UK taxpayers’ money to fund incitement of Palestinian children to hate their Jewish neighbours. Instead, he has publicly welcomed the accord between the supposedly moderate Fatah and the openly terrorist Hamas, saying: "We have to take the positive, optimistic view that, although there will be all sorts of difficulties ahead, Palestinian unity between Fatah and Hamas should be a step forward and we must make sure that it is." The British Government still officially categorises Hamas as a terrorist organisation.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister, Melanie Phillips recently examined the widening gap between his pro-Israel rhetoric and the actions that are emboldening Israel’s enemies. At the end she issued a warning to the Prime Minister: ‘...if you are not very careful indeed history will judge that you re-established a direct line back to the malevolence of the British in Palestine; back to that terrible time when Britain so foully betrayed the Jewish people and became a party to genocide.’
It is one thing to be positive; to negotiate optimistically and to be a true friend to Israel to the point of being open and honest about her faults and failings. It is quite another to cave in to the demands of the Palestinian lobby, and thereby tarnish the reputation of a charity which has done nothing to merit the opprobrium that is heaped upon it by Israel’s enemies. As we move towards September, when Palestinians will seek UN support in their unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, one might hope that the Prime Minister will recall his speeches of 2007, 2009 and 2010: one cannot be a ‘Zionist’ or a ‘good friend of Israel’ if one is giving succour to the very genocidal fanatics who wish to cleanse the land of Jews and wipe Israel off the map.