Sailing close to the wind

Was anyone really surprised by the Guardian’s decision to publish Michael Mansfield’s open letter to Nick Clegg on May 20th? Ordinary standards of decency would suggest that in principle we should have raised an eyebrow at this editorial decision, particularly as Mansfield’s agenda is so blatantly transparent, but of course this would by no means be the first time that the Guardian has provided a platform for supporters of a terrorist organisation proscribed under British law.
Despite the respectable facade and the claim to be a defender of civil rights, Mansfield’s apparent blind spot when it comes to the civil rights of the citizens of Israel – in particular, the right not to be blown up – is adequately illustrated by his statements against the anti-terrorist fence.

“The UN and other bodies have passed resolution upon resolution about these matters as well as an extremely strong judgment by the international court of justice in The Hague concerning the wall. But nothing ever happens.”

No surprises there then; after all Mansfield has a record of acting for the Palestinians involved in the 1994 bombing of the Israeli embassy in London in which 20 people were injured, of defending Tahira Tabassum,  the widow of the ‘Mike’s Place’ British suicide bomber Omar Sharif and of acting for the families of Tom Hurndall and James Miller against Israel.
Mansfield has lent his support to the Boycott Israeli Goods and other anti-Israel campaigns and currently sits on the recently formed ‘Russell Tribunal on Palestine’ together with other such ‘objective’ figures as Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Ronnie Kasrils and Cynthia Mc Kinney. As president of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, Mansfield collaborates with employers of lawfare such as Daniel Machover and in his chambers (Tooks) presumably rubs shoulders with Michel Massih, initiator of the attempt to arrest Ehud Barak in 2009 under the principle of universal jurisdiction. Were there any doubts that Mansfield himself is involved in the lawfare campaign against Israel, this letter of his in the Guardian appears to have dispelled them.
Mansfield has now publicly lent his voice to ‘the ship intifada’ organised by the ‘Free Gaza’ movement. Far from being ‘a collective of courageous individuals’ as Mansfield claims, this coalition includes among others the ‘European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza’, the ISM (the flagship hasn’t been renamed ‘MV Rachel Corrie’ for nothing), and Insani Yardim Vakfi – aka the IHH – a Turkish ‘human rights’ organisation which collaborated with George Galloway’s ‘Viva Palestina’  circus in December 2009 and was declared illegal in Israel in 2008 due to its connections to Hamas. The Hamas regime in Gaza is directly involved in the organisation of this flotilla and in the UK, Hamas supporter George Galloway and former Hamas commander in Judea & Samaria, Mohammed Sawalha (still wanted by Israel) are also linked to its organisation and that of similar operations in the past. In January of this year Sawalha stated that “the confrontation will be directly with the Zionist enemy itself on the high seas.”

In a nutshell, a man bearing the title ‘Queen’s Council’ is publicly lending his voice to an escapade which has nothing to do with humanitarianism, but everything to do with political campaigning and lawfare against a sovereign state and ally of Britain, organised by supporters of a terrorist organisation which is proscribed under British law.
In any decent society, that should count as sailing too close to the wind as far as coming dangerously close to defying the letter of the law is concerned, let alone offending the sense of public decency and propriety. Unfortunately the previous British Government appeared to be rather good at making laws but considerably less capable when it came to enforcing them, particularly where the provision of support and funding for proscribed terrorist organisations and the glorification of terror were concerned. Let’s hope that Britain’s new leaders will work to rectify this situation because the fashionable casual acceptance of support for terrorist organisations is something which is bound to have detrimental effects at home as well as abroad.
What a pity that the editors of a supposedly libertarian newspaper have not caught onto that fact either and instead allow the promotion of campaigns by the mouthpieces of holders of opinions and principles which are directly contrary to all that modern Western society stands for.

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