How the Ambassador responded to the Davis letter

Although Ambassador Mark Regev’s excellent reply to Team Davis has not been formally published, you can read practically all of it in the Jewish Chronicle and Jewish News. The only bit they haven’t published is this: ‘By comparison [with the obduracy of the Palestinian leadership, who ‘dogmatically cling to one-sided UN and EU ‘peace plans’ that consistently ignore Israel’s vital concerns] in adopting Rabin’s dictum that a genuine solution must be anchored in reality, Washington is not only advancing peace, but also enhancing Israel’s security and helping to protect its existence as a Jewish and democratic state.

Jenni Frazer in Jewish News says ‘Mr Regev’s toughly-worded response fails to address any of the specific concerns of the letter’s signatories’. Just not true. Far from being ‘toughly worded’, the letter is simply factual, setting out the policies of successive governments regarding the unsustainability of the pre-1967 borders, supported by many in the international community including President Bush, writing to Prime Minister Sharon in 2004. And the letter DOES address those of the concerns of the signatories which it is appropriate for Mr Regev to address.

Davis+41 Ambassador Regev
Proposal on sovereignty not ‘a constructive step’ Advances peace, as set out in the US Peace Plan
Grave consequences for Palestinians Secure borders help peace
Israel’s international standing will suffer Israel’s friends understand need for secure borders
Perceived as evidence of rejection of negotiated peace & 2SS US Plan advances peace
Threatens Israel as Jewish and democratic Policy of elected Unity government
Damage to international reputation Israel’s friends understand need for secure borders
Encourages BDS Policy of elected Unity government
Negative impact on diaspora Jewry Policy of elected government

Davis+41 state ‘We proudly advocate for Israel but have been helped in doing so by Israel’s status as a liberal democracy, defending itself as necessary but committed to maintaining both its Jewish and democratic status.  A policy of annexation would call that into question, polarising Jewish communities and increasing the divisive toxicity of debate within them, but also alienating large numbers of Diaspora Jews from engaging with Israel at all.

We proudly advocate for Israel’Where’s the evidence? Lord Finkelstein has spoken out about leftwing antisemitism but if you check the House of Lords debates on Israel, he’s not there. Lord Winston occasionally speaks on Israel in the House of Lords.  Lord Beecham has mentioned Israel in the House of Lords only 6 times in 9 years and most of these have been to criticise the settlements. Luciana Berger only mentioned Israel in the House of Commons 5 times in her 9.5 years as an MP and 2 of those occasions were related to the antisemitism she suffered towards the end of her stint.

Howard Jacobson has been terrific rebutting Israel-related antisemitism and I loved The Finkler Question but again, you won’t find him taking on the Co-Op’s Israel boycott or the institutional Israel-based antisemitism at SOAS. As for the others, there’s no evidence. Philanthropy does not equal taking on the lies of the PSC head-on, as the likes of Richard Kemp and David Collier do. And I’ve never seen any of them on the streets, eg on Al Quds Day, countering the vicious antisemitic lies.

At least 9 of the 42 are lawyers. If they ‘proudly advocate for Israel’ they should surely be volunteering for the estimable organisation ‘UK Lawyers for Israel’ along with Baroness Deech, Jonathan Turner and Natasha Hausdorff  (for example – there are several others). None of the names appears as either a Patron or a Director (though I believe some have assisted).

And they should be making the case for Israel at University debates, as Professor Daniel Hochhauser did so brilliantly at LSE some years ago. Or Alan Dershowitz at Oxford. To the best of my knowledge none has (I did do a BBC1 Big Questions with Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner some years ago).

Moreover if the 42 ‘proudly advocate for Israel’ they should have Twitter accounts and should be combating the hate and lies there. Twitter is a multilateral platform where comments cannot be deleted. It has therefore become the top social media crucible for the unceasing cognitive war over Israel. Only 10 of the 42 even have Twitter accounts and one of these – Stephen Grabiner – protects his tweets. Only Lord Parry Mitchell (occasionally) and Simon Sebag-Montefiore (very occasionally) challenge lies about Israel on Twitter. Apart from on antisemitism, Simon Schama’s tweets are mostly finding fault with the Israel government, on the Nation State Law for example. And he supports the Iran Nuclear Agreement.
davis 2 june 2020Many of the 42 are philanthropists and all credit for that. Dr Arabella Duffield is Chair of Weizmann UK. But Israel advocates?  No – not in my book.

‘A policy of annexation would call Israel’s Jewish and democratic status.into question’. Not true for the very limited move that is likely.

…alienating large numbers of Diaspora Jews from engaging with Israel.‘ Again, where’s the evidence? And even if it were true, it is not the business of the Ambassador to respond to it. Israel does what is right for Israel, not what is right for Davis+41.

Four of the signatories – Lord Beecham, Sir Trevor Chinn, Martin Paisner and Clive Sheldon – are Trustees of the New Israel Fund.  Lord Jon Mendelsohn resigned as a NIF Trustee in 2014.  The organisations NIF funds in Israel are involved in BDS and demonisation of Israel. No-one associated with NIF can claim to “proudly advocate for Israel”.

Anyone who is not yet convinced of the excellence of the Ambassador’s response to Davis+41 need only look at the response it got from Yachad signatory Simon Myerson and NIF CEO Adam Ognall …………..

davis 3 june 2020

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