Olmert's Christian Soldiers
ISRAEL'S ruthless attack on Palestinians in Gaza has taken away any remaining hesitation I had about boycott, divestment and sanctions.
We are no longer talking about a stalled peace process, or debating a "compare and contrast" with Apartheid. Israel is waging all out war, deliberately making life intolerable for the population, destroying the civilian infrastructure, and hitting the most vulnerable, the sick and the kids. Told that targetting water and sewage systems will bring disease and a humanitarian disaster, it carries on bombing.
Merely protesting and signing petitions makes no impression on the Israeli rulers, any more than Palestinian appeals to the UN. Members of the Knesset who tried a vote of no confidence in the military action were shouted down and told they should be in Gaza. My Israeli friends, while not giving up their protests, despair of winning without help from outside, including boycotts. A reader of this blog, Desert Peace, says that companies which do business with the Zionist state have taken sides. The question for us therefore is not whether, but how to hit back, and make sure we hit the right targets.
WHEN the Church of England synod voted last year to disinvest from companies like Caterpillar, which provides the heavy bulldozers Israel uses to destroy Palestinian homes and farms, the churchmen earned some respect, even from a Jewish atheist like me; They raised the all-too predictable ire of Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, but also of a hitherto little-known group called Anglicans for Israel, which Melanie Philips was keen to boost.
The Church Commissioners who look after the church's business affairs soon quashed any idea that humanitarian morality should interfere with the pursuit of profit. But the Anglicans for Israel slumber not, and they have even been joined by a Catholic version, whom we'll doubtless be hearing from next.
These particular Anglicans are not your nice old well-meaning liberal vicars (or laymen like the late Eric Heffer, MP) with whom Christian Zionism was possibly less important than a wish to compensate for past persecution of Jews, and the belief that Israel only wanted peace.
Not content with war in Gaza, a recent item on the AFI website (June 30) was headed "Time to teach Syria a lesson" and said Israel should be encouraged to strike deep into its north-east neighbour to bring about "regime change".
I must be careful what I say about Anglicans for Israel, mind. The last time I took part in a discussion about them I received a communication from a lawyer in Croydon, Mr.Simon McIlwaine:
I am the Coordinator of Anglicans for Israel and I am a litigation partner in this firm. My attention has been drawn to the attached comment which you appear to have sent out, and the offending parts of which I have highlighted in bold type. I take great exception to your mendacious allegation that I was a supporter of Apartheid and advocated the hanging of Nelson Mandela. That is an outrageous allegation with not a shred of truth in it, and you cannot justify
it. How dare you ?
I supported peaceful change in South Africa and the end of the abhorrent Apartheid system.Your remarks are highly defamatory. It is unfortunate for you that the pursuit of libel claims on behalf of my clients is an area of my professional practice. I will not let you get away with this libel. . "
Mr.McIlwaine went on to demand a retraction of the alleged remarks, their withdrawal from all websites etc, and my "proposals for damages".
Far from writing anything about McIlwaine, I had never heard of him. It seemed some kind soul keeping watch on the Just Peace UK discussion list had forwarded the legal gentleman an extract relating to Anglicans for Israel, only in their haste to cut and paste they caused some confusion between me and someone commenting on what I said. This other contributor had not mentioned McIlwaine either, but had referred to the alleged past views on South Africa of leading Anglicans for Israel..
Of course, if Simon McIlwaine was opposed to the Apartheid regime it is only right that any allegation be withdrawn. However did such a story about his past come about? Possibly it may be traced back to a bit of chit chat in the Guardian twenty years ago.
"A compassionate thought this morning for ex-minister Patrick Jenkin, who will spend the day chairing the AGM of the Greater London Young Conservatives. A clutch of tumultuous right-wingers, some with their roots in the notorious Federation of Conservative Students, is making a bid for power under its banners of support for Ulster, Nicaragua, South Africa, the Association for a Free Russia etc etc. Geoff Winnard, a Monday Clubber, is their candidate for chairman, with Simon McIlwaine for vice-chairman and Huw Shooter (he of the CND submarine incident) for treasurer. Andrew V R Smith is standing for office too, listing his interest as 'law and order, Communist and leftist subversion.' (He was born in 1964).
The Guardian, February 15, 1986
Well, we can't go in for guilt by association, especially an association that is so old. It seems McIlwaine quit the right-wing Monday Club in 1984, and went on, like several Conservative students, to join the Libertarian Alliance, which stands for "Life, Liberty and Property". He chaired some conferences. The Libertarian Alliance published his essay "The Dynamics of the Market Economy," noting in a blurb "Simon McIlwaine is a solicitor and is the Director of Peace Now in Southern Africa". I have not been able so far to find anything out about this body, what part it played in the downfall of Apartheid, or how its wish for peace went down with former Conservative students who turned up at the Libertarian Alliance, like David Hoile, who worked with such peaceful ourfits as Renamo and Unita.
The Libertarian Alliance welcomed the partial acquittal of British National Party leader Nick Griffin, and took part in the rally in defence of Danish cartoons. "Free speech which does not include the right to give offence is not free speech", it said. http://www.libertarian.co.uk/news/nr034.htm
But be careful what you say about some members of the Libertaruin Alliance or you may get a solicitor's letter asking for danages. I'll just add in passing that McIlwaine was at one time chaplain of the William Alexander Memorial L.O.L. - the acronym here meaning "Loyal Orange Lodge". This lodge is part of the Grand Orange Lodge of England. My friend from South Africa made the mistake of seeing everything in black and white. The Orange order is famously dedicated to equality and religious tolerance.
Another name in that Guardian piece was Huw Shooter. The "CND submarine incident" was when some Young Conservatives attacked and damaged a model Trident submarine which nuclear disarmers had placed opposite the 1984 Conservative Party conference. Shooter, a member of the Young Monday Club was drummed out of the Lewisham Young Conservatives, but once again we must be careful what we say about him - apparently a blogger called Bartholomew recieved a letter from Simon McIlwaine warning he could be sued for libel, not because what he said was untrue, but because it was a spent conviction under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. Huw Shooter is Campaigns Director for Anglicans for Israel. Could be handy if they need to launch a campaign against enemy submarines.
To help it understand Jewish concerns, AFI has Dr.Irene Lancaster as Interfaith Adviser and Academic Liison Officer. This is the woman who called for Kristallnacht refugee and veteran community figure Henry Guterman's removal from the Manchester Jewish Representative Council and as vice-chair of the local Council of Christians and Jews, because he had shared a platform with Ken Livingstone at an anti-Nazi rally!
Well, you have your friends, Doctor, and we'll choose ours.
But perhaps the champion catch of all as patron of Anglicans for Israel is Professor David Marsland, formerly of Brunel University and now at the University of Buckingham. For a contribution to political thought combining the measured gravitas of a senior academic with gentle Jesus meek and mild, check out his speech to the Springbok Club, formed by white South African and Rhodesian emigres, and no, I checked the date and it wasn't April 1st., but July 2004.
"FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM - FIGHTING TOUGH
We British – including the whole Anglophone diaspora – are slow to anger. But given sufficient provocation, we kick the hell out of everyone in sight. This is our tradition. It is a good tradition which has served the world well. It has been subverted in recent decades by communist propaganda, utopian dreams, and humanitarian fantasies. My aim in this paper is to repair, defend and justify our tradition of ruthless action on behalf of freedom.
I take my text from an American prisoner of war in Japan. "When I heard we dropped a bomb on Hiroshima," he said, "I thought, great – let’s drop ten more".
Afghanistan and Iraq are just the beginning. Realising their mistake, the friends of terror initiated an ambitious, malign campaign to "Stop the War". . . If we are to learn from this experience the lessons which will secure success in future stages of the war on terrorism, we need to ask . . .who our enemies are and how best to deal with them
There are first the remnants of the domestic Left. The Prime Minister and the Security Services underestimated them badly. Networking and organisation in the "Stop the War" campaign are staffed largely by communists – Stalinists and Trotskyites, open operatives and sleepers, hard-line anti-capitalists and soft-porn pseudo-pacifists.
The political parties, the civil service, the trade unions, the universities and the media are riddled with these lethal pests, all located in crucially influential positions. While Wedgewood Benn and Livingstone are treated all-round as if they were cuddly toys, while Hobsbawm, Pilger and the late Paul Foot are treated seriously, we evidently need an urgent, unapologetic, comprehensive McCarthyite purge. They are not "with us". They are with the enemy. They are costing our soldiers’ lives now. They could cost tens of thousands of British lives in the future. We should get rid of them.
There are next on the domestic front our local Moslems. Extremists and so-called moderates alike . . .. They have all given comfort from 9/11 onwards to the terrorist enemy. Mendacious twaddle about "islamophobia" should be rebutted and dismissed. Suspects should be pursued ruthlessly wherever they are most likely to be found, and locked up. Enemy aliens should be deported without delay – and with or without hooks, or kept on ice. Any future flow of Islamic immigrants and refugees should be stopped-off permanently. Legalistic nit-picking should on no account be allowed to inhibit defence of the realm.
Then there are the Liberal Democrats – the respectable, legitimating face of international terrorism. Nor should the Conservative Party escape challenge. ....
Consider also our enemies abroad.
First and most despicable is the mafia gang comprising France, Germany and Russia...
You get the flavour, But read it in full. No turn-the-other-cheek, love-thy-neighbour stuff here, and no libertarian nonsense, either - Marsland has his list of enemies to "get rid of", it is pretty comprehensive, and he wants the media censored and potential opponents locked up while his war for freedom is rigorously pursued.
At least we can't say we haven't been warned.