Why Did the British Prime Minister Vote against Israel? Virtue Signaling

Jan. 10 2017

While Charles Moore does not doubt the sincerity of Theresa May’s expressions of friendship toward the Jewish state, he finds her decision to support the recent anti-settlements resolution at the UN Security Council an unjustifiable exercise in “virtue signaling”—a meaningless display of commitment to popular pieties. He writes (free registration required):

“Virtue-signaling” is a useful modern term to describe a modern mania. Its greatest practitioner on the international stage is the outgoing president of the United States. Barack Obama has elevated virtue-signaling into a strategy—or rather, his substitute for a strategy. . . . [But he] is leaving office. He looks forward to his political afterlife touring the world as the saintly anti-American American, and he hates poverty, war, and injustice. The resolution will make some neat paragraphs in the final chapter of his memoirs.

What is harder to understand is why Theresa May’s Britain is choosing to indulge him. [On December 22,] Egypt dropped the resolution, deciding it would damage its relations with Israel and the incoming Trump presidency. This would have been our moment to kick the whole idea into touch. Instead, British diplomats reportedly helped do the Obama ancien régime’s work for it and put pressure on New Zealand to push the resolution forward. . . .

Britain, being a permanent member [of the Security Council], has the power of veto. Think how our use of that veto on this issue could have transformed the landscape of the international order at this time. . . .

Although the passing of Resolution 2334 could not have happened without President Obama, it would not have been seemly for him to signal his virtue too explicitly. So this was left to his Secretary of State, John Kerry. Kerry made an emotional speech on [December 28]. He criticized the Netanyahu administration for being “the most right-wing in Israel’s history with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements.” At which point, 10 Downing Street suddenly decided to get cross. A spokesman criticized Kerry, saying “We do not believe it is appropriate to attack the democratically-elected government of an ally.” He added that “We do not believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this case the construction of settlements.” He did not deal with the plain fact that the British government had just supported a resolution with exactly that focus on exactly that issue.

Some may see this as a welcome, if belated attempt by Mrs. May to make up for her government’s earlier mistake, though it would look more impressive if Britain were to refuse to attend the let’s-bash-Israel international conference in Paris announced for January 15. It could equally well be the prime minister’s effort to make the noises necessary to placate critics without altering the actual policy at all.

Read more at Telegraph

More about: Barack Obama, Israel & Zionism, Theresa May, United Kingdom, United Nations

Hamas Won’t Compromise with the Palestinian Authority, and Gazans Won’t Overthrow Hamas

July 24 2017

Since the terrorist organization Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, much of Israeli strategy toward it has stemmed from the belief that, if sufficient pressure is applied, the territory’s residents will rise up against it. Yaakov Amidror argues this is unlikely to happen, and he also doubts that improved living conditions for ordinary Gazans would deter Hamas from terrorism or war:

The hardships experienced by the Strip’s residents, no matter how terrible, will not drive them to stage a coup to topple Hamas. The organization is entrenched in Gaza and is notorious for its brutality toward any sign of dissidence, and the Palestinians know there is no viable alternative waiting for an opportunity to [take over].

[Therefore], it is time everyone got used to the idea that Hamas is not about to relinquish its dominant position in the Gaza Strip, let alone concede to the Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas. . . . [Yet the] assumption is also baseless that if Gaza experiences economic stability and prosperity, Hamas would refrain from provoking hostilities. This misconception is based on the theory that Hamas operates by governmental norms and prioritizes the needs and welfare of its citizens. This logic does not apply to Hamas. . . .

[Hamas’s] priorities are to bolster its military power and cement its iron grip. This is why all the supplies Israel allows into Gaza on a daily basis to facilitate normal life have little chance of reaching the people. Hamas first and foremost takes care of its leaders and makes sure it has what it needs to sustain its terror-tunnel-digging enterprise and its weapon-production efforts. It then sees to the needs of its members, and then—and only then—what little is left is diverted to rehabilitation efforts that benefit the population.

This is why the argument that Israel is responsible for Gaza’s inability to recover from its plight is baseless. Hamas is the one that determines the priorities by which to allocate resources in the enclave, and the more construction materials that enter Gaza, the easier and faster it is for Hamas to restore its military capabilities. Should Israel sacrifice its own security on the altar of Gazans’ living conditions? I don’t think so.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security