"The scenes in Jenin have been terrifying.
There is live fire in every direction, and homes
are being demolished. The sound of screams are
hard to forget. They keep being replayed in my
head. The biggest shock was when the Israeli
forces came out of the jeeps and started firing
bullets at us and our cameras when they saw us."
The second quote came from
Michael Gove, Tory politician and secretary
of state for levelling up, housing and
communities. As Israeli bulldozers were
carving their way through Jenin camp on
Gove got up in the UK
Parliament to move
the second reading of a bill that would
outlaw the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
He ended his opening speech by
saying anyone who voted against the bill was
"antisemitic": "The question for every member of
this House is whether they stand with us against
antisemitism or not."
The Economic Activity of Public Bodies
Bill seeks to ban public bodies including
local councils from supporting boycotts
targeting foreign governments based on moral or
Are You Tired Of
The Lies And
No Advertising - No Government Grants
- This Is Independent Media
Gove launched his attack on the BDS movement
on two counts - that it fostered antisemitism at
home and that it contravened British policy on
the conflict, which advocates for a two-state
solution, because, he
claimed, BDS was specifically "designed to
erase Israelís identity as a home for the Jewish
In the words of
Richard Burden, former shadow minister, the
bill uniquely shields human rights abuses by
Israel from scrutiny by UK public bodies and
would drive a coach and horses through Britainís
compliance with the
UN's Guiding Principles on Business and
Human Rights, to which the UK signed up over a
The timing of this bill and this debate is
It's not a fluke of history that both sides
of the House of Commons should be debating a law
that would add yet another layer of impunity on
Israel at a time when it is waging a murderous
act of war against refugees in a very crowded
camp. And when this war is over, its army concentrates
its fire on the hospitals treating the
The British debate is absolutely part of
Israelís playbook. It's an essential part of the
cover Israel uses to carry on with its
project of annexation.
At the very moment when Israel is clearly -
and indubitably - the aggressor, both sides in
the debate in London seek to paint it and
its supporters as victims.
It involves a fiction: that any British
government of any political colour is remotely
serious about enforcing the creation of a
Palestinian state, which today would entail the
expulsion of anywhere up to 700,000
settlers from the Occupied West Bank and
It also erects a conveniently high screen of
In this case from Israelis like settler
Mordechai Cohen, who told the Israeli
channel Kan that the aim of the unprecedented
level of settler attacks on Palestinian villages
and towns in the West Bank was to "push them to
leave". He added: "Palestinians should go to
Jordan to live there if they are interested in a
Cohen cheered the sight of
3,000 Palestinians fleeing their homes in
the camp which was under aerial and ground
assault from the Israeli army.
These Palestinians have had to flee their
homes many times in the last
75 years. Their families are from Haifa,
Yaffa and all parts of the territory occupied in
The obscenity of such a debate taking place
in the House of Commons on the very night on
which Israeli forces attacked a refugee
camp with 15,000 people crammed into half a
square mile, with drones, tanks, bulldozers and
snipers, is plain for all to see.
Labour Party under Keir Starmer is rapidly
divesting itself of any resemblance to the party
that campaigned against South African apartheid.
Or any claim to be progressive.
The difference between Starmer and Gove is
over phrasing, not intent.
Green light to extremism
For the second time in his career as leader
of the opposition, Starmer turned to a KC for
The first was
Martin Forde QC who found that it was
"entirely misleading" to assert that the former
Jeremy Corbyn had actively intervened to
stop antisemitism cases from being investigated.
This was not what Starmer, himself a human
rights lawyer, wanted to hear. So he
ignored Forde and binned his advice. Starmer
fared little better with the second KC he turned
to in Richard Hermer.
found the anti-BDS bill objectionable,
irrespective of whether one considers the BDS
movement to be thoroughly reprehensible or
conversely a legitimate form of non-violent
Hermer found the bill likely to have a
detrimental impact on the UKís ability to
protect and promote human rights overseas, to be
inconsistent with "our obligations under
international law, and will stifle free speech
"Had legislation of this nature been in
effect in the 1980s it would have rendered it
unlawful to refuse to source goods from
apartheid South Africa," Hermer concluded.
Starmer ignored Hermer, and Labour
abstained in voting on the second reading.
Such an outcome is manna from heaven for the
Israeli soldiers and settlers attacking
Palestinian refugees in their camps, villagers
and in their homes.
Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu called the US Israelís
"irreplaceable and indispensable ally" - and
well he might.
The US backed Israelís justification for the
attack on Jenin refugee camp. State Department
spokesman Ned Price said: "Israel has the
legitimate right to defend its people and its
territory against all forms of aggression,
including those from terrorist groups."
Cumulatively, these statements are the
brightest of green lights to the most extreme
government in Israelís history, which numbers
fascists and terrorists as ministers, to carry
on with their ethnic cleansing of the West
Impunity is an intrinsic part of allowing
Israel to flout the declared policy of its two
principal backers, the UK and the US.
And it is the reason why Israel has long
passed the point of accepting a Palestinian
state as its neighbour. It is now a one-state
solution, with a Jewish minority trying with all
the means at its disposal to force the Arab
majority to leave.
Pretending that a Palestinian state is still
possible is one of the ugliest and most cynical
fictions perpetrated by the British government.
A one-state reality
Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israelís minister for
national security and the settlers, make no
bones about it.
Israel's settler leaders see no problem in
declaring their intentions. In fact they take
pride in it. They want to force as many
Palestinians to leave their homes in the West
Bank as they can get away with, by terrorising
them, burning them out of their homes, and
The setters are protected by the soldiers who
are conducting the same policy in Jenin, Nablus
and throughout the West Bank.
Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the Religious
Zionist Party, is equally clear about his
intentions for the West Bank. In the "Decision
wrote in 2017 that the Palestinians
do not exist as a people.
"Basically, the 'Palestinian people' is
nothing but a counter-movement to the Zionist
movement, this is its essence and its right to
exist. The Palestinian self-determination
parties also know that such a 'nation' did not
exist before the Zionist enterprise, and that
'Palestine' was the geographical name of this
piece of land and nothing else."
This is the way Russian President Vladimir
Putin talks about
Ukraine and Ukrainians.
Smotrich concludes: "The continued existence
of the two conflicting national aspirations in
our small piece of land will guarantee us many
more years of blood and life on the sword. Only
when one of the parties gives up, willingly or
by necessity, the realization of his national
ambition in the Land of Israel, will the
longed-for peace come, and it will be possible
to live a life of civil coexistence here."
It is another fiction to pretend that this,
too, is not the policy of Israel, its settler
movement, its army, and its courts.
Every word that Starmer or Lisa Nandy, shadow
secretary of state for levelling up, utter in
the support of the "Jewish homeland", every time
Labour abstains in such a vote, they send a very
clear message to Israel that it can carry on
doing what it wants.
It spurs every part and expression of "the
Jewish state", which defines itself as the
expression of self-determination for its Jewish
citizens only, to finish the job it started in
1948 by mass expulsions of the Palestinians.
Israel does not see the suffering it causes,
nor the humanity of its victims. It merely sees
them as an obstacle to its national ambitions.
I donít know who is more to blame - Smotrich,
Ben-Gvir or Israelís apologists in Britain.
At this point in history, they serve the same
cause. At least Smotrich is open about his
motives. Starmer is not.
This is not the first time parts of
Jenin camp have been flattened by bulldozers.
Ariel Sharon thought he had dealt with the
the Battle of Jenin at the height of the
Second Intifada in 2002, in which 52
Palestinians were killed, around half of whom
Tony Blair, then Middle East Envoy, also
thought he had cleared up the problem with his
plans for an economic zone.
And yet exactly 21 years later, Jenin is
a hotbed of resistance with a generation of
fighters who were not born in 2002. Jenin will
not just lie down and take being occupied. It
did not do so against British occupation. It
will not against Israeli occupation.
If Netanyahu thinks a book has been closed by
this operation, he is profoundly mistaken.
Another chapter has been started which will
spur another generation of fighters to take up
the cause of liberation of their homeland.
From all occupiers.
David Hearst is co-founder and
editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye. He is a
commentator and speaker on the region and
analyst on Saudi Arabia. He was the Guardian's
foreign leader writer, and was correspondent in
Russia, Europe, and Belfast. He joined the
Guardian from The Scotsman, where he was
Views expressed in this article are
solely those of the author and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.
Registration is not necessary to post comments.
We ask only that you do not use obscene or offensive
language. Please be respectful of others.
Information Clearing House
The views expressed in this article are
solely those of the author and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.
with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material
is distributed without profit to those who have
expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational
purposes. Information Clearing House has no
affiliation whatsoever with the originator of
this article nor is Information ClearingHouse
endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)