A response to Grahame Morris MP on the 'root cause' of antisemitic violence

(This op-ed by Geoffrey Alderman originally appeared in The Journal, a newspaper widely circulating in the north-east of England.)
On Tuesday 18 November two Palestinian-Islamic terrorists entered a synagogue in Jerusalem (the capital of Israel, the Jewish state) and, armed with an assortment of knives, cleavers and a gun began to hack and shoot to death as many Jews as they could. Eventually the murders were themselves gunned down. Whilst Israel buried its dead the evil deeds of the two Palestinians were celebrated by many throughout the Arab world. They were – Palestinian spokespersons declared – “martyrs” – the latest “heroes” in the 66-year-old Arab war against the nation-state of the Jews.
Who is responsible for this state of affairs, and in particular for the mindset that can result in a history of wholly indiscriminate attacks on Jews in Israel and beyond, launched from within the Arab world? On 13 October Graham Morris, the Labour MP for Easington, sought to argue in the House of Commons that the root cause of Palestinian hostility to Israel was that whilst the Jews had a state of their own, the Palestinians did not. He therefore put before the Commons a motion – eventually passed after amendment – calling for British recognition of “the state of Palestine” alongside the state of Israel “as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”

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Grahame Morris MP

It may come as a surprise to Comrade Morris and his political friends to be told that there already is a Palestinian-Arab state. It’s called Jordan and it occupies virtually the entire East Bank (of the Jordan River) that formed part of Palestine over which the British ruled under a Mandate from the League of Nations. What’s more, Jews are, under Jordanian law, it is nearly impossible for Jews to buy land in Jordan or become Jordanian citizens. But we can perhaps partially forgive the Jordanians, because this astonishingly racial legislation actually followed a precedent set by the British mandatory authorities, who prohibited Jews from settling anywhere on the East Bank whilst at the same time permitting them to establish communities throughout the West Bank.
Whether Comrade Morris likes it or not, under international law Jews (I repeat, Jews, not Israelis) are entitled, in principle, to settle anywhere on the West Bank. This entitlement was established by the League of Nations and was carried forward under Article 80 of the founding charter of the United Nations. No UN resolution has ever challenged this right, and no reputable international court of law has ever ruled against it. And we might note in this connection that whilst the oft-cited UN resolution 242 (November 1967) calls for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from the West Bank (as part of an overall peace settlement) it makes no mention of Jews, or even of Israeli civilians.
If we oppose ethnic discrimination – as I do and as I assume Comrade Morris does – we need to ask ourselves why it should be possible – as it is – for Arabs to live in (say) Nazareth (as they do, of course) but not for Jews to live in Hebron?  This ancient city, in which are located the tombs of the Patriarchs, was once home to a thriving Jewish community until its massacre at the hands of Palestinian Islamists in 1929.  Jews now live there once more, but only under Israeli armed guard. In territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority it is an offence punishable life in prison with hard labor for any Arab to sell land to any Jew. Is this the sort of state that Comrade Morris and his friends want to be called into existence and recognised by the British government?
Over the past few months the PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, has deliberately ramped up his rhetoric against Jews, Judaism and the Jewish state. In the three days prior to the attempted murder of rabbi Yehuda Glick (29 October), Palestinian TV broadcast 19 times a plea by Abbas inciting violence against Jews. Glick’s ‘crime’ had been that he campaigned for the right of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. Abbas urged that this be prevented “in any way whatsoever.”
If Moslems and Christians can pray on the Temple Mount – as they can and do – why can’t Jews?
It might be argued that all that Mr. Morris’s parliamentary motion does is to call for a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli state. But he of all people – as current chair of the Labour Friends of Palestine – should know that the charter of Hamas calls for the Israel’s destruction, whilst the Palestinian insistence on the so-called “right of return” for Palestinians who fled Israel in 1948 would, if implemented, bring about Israel’s demise in any case.
Feed the misplaced Palestinian sense of victimhood and – as we have seen in Jerusalem in recent weeks – you end up with incitement to murder on a grand scale. Comrade Morris might care to reflect on whether his recent parliamentary initiative has merely fanned the flames of this antisemitic madness.

Geoffrey Alderman, a prize-winning journalist, is Professor of Politics & Contemporary History at the University of Buckingham. He spent his early years in Hetton-le-Hole and he and his wife have a home in Seaham.

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