UK government Facebook page shows solidarity with Gilad Shalit

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A friend drew my attention to the extraordinary fact that the ‘UK in Israel‘ Facebook page (the British Embassy in Israel’s official page) had adopted the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit as their current political mascot (see the upper left and corner of the Facebook page above). Saturday 25 June marked the fifth anniversary of his capture and he has since been held by Hamas in the besieged Gaza strip. Before noting this, I had got into a fruitless discussion on the Palestinian academic and cultural boycott of Israel with an administrator of the page:

Eleanor – We should also add that the British government does not in any way support boycotts of Israel – particularly not in the fields of academia or cultural relations. In fact, we believe that boycotts are counter-productive and do not help in any way to get the sides back to the negotiating table.

To my knowledge this public expression of solidarity with Shalit has not been ‘balanced’ with similar efforts on the part of the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails.

Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 13 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Woody Tanaka says:

    “capture” not “kidnap.”

  2. Uri says:

    it’s easy to leave comments on the embassy’s wall letting them know what you think. just like the page first.

  3. radii says:

    why is Shalit such a big deal to israel?

    he was a soldier on-duty on patrol who got caught … it is one guy

    is he a high-ranking spy?

    is his family really rich or tied to mafia or the government?

    the israeli public is willing give up 1000 Palestinian political prisoners for one Shalit … what gives?

  4. American says:

    The reason for this display is because the UK Amb to Israel, Matthew Gould is Jewish and probably a raving zionist.

    As I have pointed out numerous times…..Jews should not be appointed to represent the US or UK or any other country in Israel or in any Israel dealings between Israel and the country they ‘are suppose to represent”.
    Iranians should not appointed to Iran, Egyptians not be appointed to Egypt and etc.,etc..
    It plain does not work and is fraught with disaster, spying,undue influence and all manner of intrigue.

    A representative from any country to another should have no allegiances, ethnic or religious, excessive fondness for or partiality to the country of appointment.
    This is such a fricking no brainer that you know this practice just shows how devoid our government is of any regard for conflicts of interest and concern for American security and diplomacy and and interest.

    • GuiltyFeat says:

      American, I think we’ve been over this before.

      Your assumption that someone’s Jewishness “probably” makes them a “raving Zionist” is ignorant, racist and patently untrue when you are making such an assumption on Mondoweiss.

      To suggest that someone’s religion makes them unfit for diplomatic service is hugely bigoted. Just out of interest how Jewish would an ambassador have to be before you would disqualify him from diplomatic service in Israel. One parent? One grandparent? Allergic to shrimps? Would you disqualify Philip Weiss? Are you willing to ask these questions on the application forms (if so I’m sure there are some left over from the 30s you could use).

      The UK ambassador to Israel is the official representative of the Court of St. James’s. If the Court is satisfied with his credentials and his allegiance then your racist opinions are of no consequence.

      • American says:

        Well GF you are being ridiculous….I am sure, or maybe not sure you get exactly what I am saying.
        However I am sure you get this isn’t about ‘religion”.
        What makes me think Gould is ‘probably’ a zionist, and because of that will be using his position to help Israel in ways that do not represent the UK or reflect well on them and are outside his duties, is the fact that page appeared on the OFFICIAL UK embassy site…..the Gilad affair HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH the UK and does not come under their pervue or authority and diplomatically speaking should be appearing PUBLICALLY on an Embassy site.

        Your racist bigot hurling means absolutely nothing me so give it a rest.

        • American says:

          Make that should NOT be appearing publicly on an Embassy’s site.
          That is not how diplomacy works and embassies are diplomatic CHANNELS and service stations for UK citizens abroad, not advocates for the country they are in.
          And Gould made himself an advocate for Israel.
          And furthermore at a time when there is a lot of heat over releasing Palestine prisoners held by Israel.
          Exceedingly stupid.

        • GuiltyFeat says:

          I don’t believe that the addition of an image to a Facebook page equates to the ambassador making himself an advocate for Israel.

          I think you can be reasonably sure that Gould himself has very little to do with uploading images to the embassy’s Facebook page. I would imagine that the page is maintained by local staff who probably have joint British-Israeli citizenship, which is a polite way to say that they came to live in Israel from the UK with varying degrees of Zionist idealism and got a job working in English where they can still take Sundays off.

          I guess you could make a case that embassies abroad should not employ locals in any meaningful capacity, but I don’t imagine it’s workable. I am sure there are local employees in US embassies in every country around the world. They will have undergone background checks to ensure that they do no harm. I don’t believe this instance has done any harm although it is probably inappropriate.

          Your original quote was: “The reason for this display is because the UK Amb to Israel, Matthew Gould is Jewish and probably a raving zionist.”

          To come back now and disingenuously suggest that “this isn’t about ‘religion’” just doesn’t cut it I’m afraid. You have made several comments in the past that show you are overly concerned with people’s Jewishness and until you withdraw your original statement, you still seem to me the very model of a bigot who makes disparaging remarks about Jews and then says, “it’s nothing to do with religion, don’t you see, it’s just the way they all behave that’s so infuriating.”

          What seems perfectly reasonable and clear-cut to you is at best ignorant generalization and, at worst, racism.

          I don’t believe you’re a racist, but I do believe that your reasonable objections to the actions of the Israeli government and the perceived power of the “Israel lobby” feed some ingrained prejudices that you have absorbed about Jews and their influence.

          I don’t make such accusations lightly. You are clearly an intelligent person, but you need to be more careful in distinguishing between the actions of a sovereign government and the behavior of 14 million co-religionists.

  5. Chaos4700 says:

    And here we thought it was just Tony Blair who was a poodle on D.C.’s leash.

  6. The Council for Arab-British Understanding have since brought out a statement:

    Caabu has called upon the British government to urgently raise the issue of Palestinian prisoners with the Israeli authorities.

    The demand comes after the UK embassy in Tel Aviv incorporated an image of Gilad Shalit into its Facebook logo, and Alistair Burt MP, Minister responsible for the Middle East, recorded a personal appeal for the release of the Israeli soldier who has been held in Gaza for four years.

    At present however around 680 Palestinians are currently denied family visits by the Israeli government, whilst over 250 are currently held in detention without trial. Graham Bambrough, Parliamentary Officer at Caabu, said that their plight was being ignored by the UK.

    “To view the actions of the British government one would assume that Gilad Shalit was the only individual in the region currently being held away from his family. Of course he should be released, but at present almost 700 Palestinians from Gaza are being denied visits by the Israeli authorities, whilst over 250 people are being held in detention without trial. These anonymous men and women are not the subject of personal video appeals by British Ministers, nor are their images incorporated into our embassy’s logo.”

    Bambrough added that that the issue of child detentions was also being grossly ignored:

    “Caabu urges the British government to look urgently at the issue of Palestinian child prisoners. Some 211 children are being held by Israel, the majority on spurious charges and all of them are subject to sham trials in kangaroo military courts. I hope that the British government will urgently examine their cases and speak up publically and forcefully in their defence.”

    Caabu has recently taken four parliamentary delegations to visit Israel’s military courts and witness trials of minors. Some 700 Palestinian children are prosecuted by the courts each year, the majority on charges of stone throwing. Israel’s actions in relation to the treatment of minors represent serious breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the UN Convention against Torture and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    Ends

    Notes:

    Amnesty International reports that around 680 prisoners are being denied family visits – some for over three years: link to amnesty.org

    DCI-Palestine report that 211 children are currently in Israeli jails. A child recently held without trial or charge, has only recently been released: link to dci-palestine.org

    The British Embassy in Tel Aviv’s Facebook page: link to facebook.com

    Alistair Burt calls for release of Gilad Shalit: link to youtube.com

    28 June 2011

  7. lysias says:

    I was once at a reception in the British Embassy in Washington. The ambassador, Nigel Sheinwald, was the host, and a Labour M.P. involved in funding educational program was the guest of honor (This was when Labour was still in power). They both had to leave the reception in a hurry, so as to attend the AIPAC convention.