British uproar at Trump policies doesn’t extend to Netanyahu, yet

Middle East
on 25 Comments

United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May is having a busy two weeks. In a desperately “open for business” global Britain, the right-wing Conservative party leader has met with new President Donald Trump, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and most recently Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for talks in London. 

Netanyahu’s quickly scheduled visit to the UK on Monday, Feb. 6 came days before a House of Commons debate on Israeli settlement building, due to take place on Feb. 9.

In dining with three of the world’s most controversial leaders in quick succession, it would appear that Theresa May is choosing dodgy alliances over ethics and so-called British values, further alienating the EU ahead of difficult Brexit negotiations. 

An unlikely alliance for Palestine

Netanyahu’s trip was not met with the uproar that Trump’s planned state visit has already caused with UK-wide protests and a petition signed by over 1.8 million people, “but the popular resistance against Trump is increasing awareness of Palestine,” said chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Hugh Lanning.

“The public can see this alliance building between Trump, May and Netanyahu and I don’t think that will do the Israeli administration or the British government any good in the long-run, being so close to someone that is so widely opposed,” Lanning said.

“We’ve been raising the issue of the wall in Palestine for years; it should have been a global issue like the Berlin wall was, but Israel almost got away with it, that was until Trump started talking about a wall with Mexico. At London’s anti-Trump demonstration on Saturday, Feb. 4, the chant was: “Palestine to Mexico, racist walls must go,” so Trump is drawing attention to what the Israeli government is doing in Palestine. Trump is actually helping Palestine solidarity.”

Those protesting Netanyahu’s visit on Monday were met by a counter-demonstration yards away. Rows of police separating the protesters didn’t stop the mutual provocations. 

Organized by the UK Zionist Federation, there were shouts of “where is Corbyn?” from the 200 strong crowd and signs welcoming Netanyahu to the UK. Loud music drowned out the voices of those speaking at the pro-Palestine protest, organized by Palestine Solidarity Campaign and attended by over 400 people.

“They [Palestine solidarity demonstrators] are shouting from the river to the sea,” a pro-Israel demonstrator who did not want to be named told me, clearly agitated, “Hamas is a terror organization, they are supporting terrorism and hate,” she said, waving her large Israeli flag higher. 

“This visit shows the relationship between the UK and Israel and, because of Brexit, it will get stronger,” she continued.  

(Photo: Lydia Noon)

(Photo: Lydia Noon)

Theresa walking the tight-rope

As Israel grows bolder, the UK government’s position on Israel’s settlement building has become more ambiguous. Since Britain approved the UN Security Council’s resolution 2334 urging the end of settlement building in occupied territories on Dec. 23, May has been trying to appease Netanyahu and align herself with Trump. 

That same month she criticized then-Secretary of State John Kerry’s condemnation of the expansion of settlements – contradicting British policy. Next, the Tory government snubbed a Middle East peace conference in Paris in February by refusing to send an official delegation, preferring to send junior “observers” instead. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson then blocked the EU foreign affairs council from adopting the closing statement of the conference.

Before the closed-door talks with May, Netanyahu urged the British government to take action against Iran. May spoke of the UK’s commitment to a two-state solution and told Jeremy Corbyn after the talks that she made the government’s position on settlements clear. Netanyahu is reported to have told May that settlements were not an obstacle to peace.

In lieu of strong words from the UK leader, the Israeli prime minister’s visit has ensured that Thursday’s parliamentary debate on settlements will be given greater publicity than May would have been hoping for. 

Indeed hours after Netanyahu’s Downing Street talks, in what smacks of a cynical test of Theresa May’s loyalty, Israeli politicians approved a bill that will retroactively recognize Israeli outposts–settlements previously illegal, even under Israeli law–on Palestinian land, a move that further legitimizes the Israeli policy of land grabbing. This move follows announcements of 6,000 new settlement units approved under the two-week old Trump administration.

Yet there are critics in the opposition.

In a statement before May and Netanyahu’s meeting, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was clear in his views on Israel’s settlement building and his support of Palestine. “Theresa May must make clear to the Israeli Prime Minister that the British government will stand unequivocally behind the rights of the Palestinian people, along with the many who support them in Israel, as well as human rights and justice across the region,” he said. 

Where are the Trump demonstrators?

Why doesn’t the long-time flouter of international law Netanyahu spark the same outrage in the UK as a potential state visit by the new American president? 

Activist Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi. (Photo: Lydia Noon)

Back at the Palestine solidarity demonstration yesterday, an activist with the Free Speech on Israel network, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, said Trump’s actions and rhetoric have exposed long-standing U.S. positions.

“The Trump phenomenon is really terrifying but it has stripped away the velvet glove on the American imperialist project. The liberals have laid the groundwork by allowing wars, bombing, and discrimination but people can see it now because the media has turned against Trump,” she said. 

“The message is out there. To come out against Netanyahu, you’ve got to understand the Palestine-Israel situation. Many British people can see where justice lies but it’s another step to put yourself out there publicly,” added Wimborne-Idrissi. 

Yet some regard speaking up for Palestine is a politically risky decision, as seen in the Labour Party surrounding allegations of anti-Semitism, in the arts, online and when subject to Israeli border control. 

Speaking to Mondoweiss the night before Netanyahu’s visit, psychology student Hannah Davies spoke of attending the Women’s March in London, one of the largest demonstrations in recent years with 100,000 participants, but said she wouldn’t feel comfortable in attending a protest against Netanyahu’s UK visit. 

“I don’t know enough about Palestine and Israel – it’s complicated and a sensitive topic. But what Trump is doing is obvious. He discriminates against women, Muslims, and migrants – and many people belong in one or all of these categories,” Davies said. 

Glyn Secker from Jews for Justice for Palestinians said he agreed while standing in a quiet spot while chants of “Free, Free Palestine.” 

“Trump is against some very basic human rights and values of the general population,” Secker said, “The awareness of the violation of Palestinian human rights is much smaller by comparison because there is a vested interest in the UK media and establishment for keeping those violations under the radar, such as the trade relationship that Britain has with Israel.”

“May is an opportunist. She’s realized that Netanyahu is part of the mainstream current of Trumpism so she’s running with it,” he continued. 

But as the struggles in America and Palestine become more interconnected and as the British government inserts itself as a key trader and negotiator with these two nations, this may embolden the British public. In a politically explosive time of Brexit, Trump, Netanyahu and the rise of Europe’s far-right, the word ‘resistance’ is no longer a dirty word. 

Theresa May’s appeasement of two unpopular leaders could just help build British citizens’ solidarity with Palestine.

About Lydia Noon

Lydia Noon is a freelance journalist currently based in Bethlehem.

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25 Responses

  1. just
    February 8, 2017, 11:37 am

    “Speaking to Mondoweiss the night before Netanyahu’s visit, psychology student Hannah Davies spoke of attending the Women’s March in London, one of the largest demonstrations in recent years with 100,000 participants, but said she wouldn’t feel comfortable in attending a protest against Netanyahu’s UK visit.

    “I don’t know enough about Palestine and Israel – it’s complicated and a sensitive topic. But what Trump is doing is obvious. He discriminates against women, Muslims, and migrants – and many people belong in one or all of these categories,” Davies said.

    Glyn Secker from Jews for Justice for Palestinians said he agreed while standing in a quiet spot while chants of “Free, Free Palestine.”

    “Trump is against some very basic human rights and values of the general population,” Secker said, “The awareness of the violation of Palestinian human rights is much smaller by comparison because there is a vested interest in the UK media and establishment for keeping those violations under the radar, such as the trade relationship that Britain has with Israel.””

    – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2017/02/british-policies-netanyahu/#sthash.NzyVaang.dpuf

    There’s nothing “complicated” about it, and there is absolutely no excuse for not knowing “enough about Palestine and Israel” nor to ignore the truth, Ms. Davies. What Netanyahu and Israel has done is patently “obvious”, too.

    Shame on the UK for its “trade relationship” with Israel. Israel needs to be internationally sanctioned. Shame on all countries special relationship with the outlaw/rogue nation that has been trampling on Palestinian rights and values for many decades now. The ethnic cleansing of Palestine was planned long ago and continues apace.

    “Theresa May’s appeasement of two unpopular leaders could just help build British citizens’ solidarity with Palestine.”

    I hope that you’re right, Lydia. Perhaps they will choose to avail themselves of the truth that is certainly out there~ and here @ MW. Perhaps they can also discover and uncover the myriad and abundant lies that they’ve been swallowing about the rogue state of Israel.

    • elian kteily
      February 9, 2017, 4:27 pm

      the british are behind giving Palestine to the jews remember balfour ?????

      how dare they

      give somebody else’s home and land to some body else they should go back to where they came from

  2. Blake
    February 8, 2017, 4:04 pm

    “Theresa May’s appeasement of two unpopular leaders could just help build British citizens’ solidarity with Palestine.”

    I hope its the straw that breaks the camels back so to speak

  3. Citizen
    February 8, 2017, 4:36 pm

    The full power of the Zionist lobby, not only in USA, but in England, keeps Israel’s horrible policies and conduct under the Public’s radar; main media is very complicit. Looks like England and USA have been colonized by Israel, thanks to diaspora Jewish wealth and solidarity in both countries. Bismarck, Balfour, Truman lost to Rothschild a long time ago. It’s just still playing out.

    • Kay24
      February 8, 2017, 5:11 pm

      It certainly seems that way. This is a master plan and it has worked. All it took was pouring in money (maybe from the aid we send them which is ironic) to spineless but over ambitious politicians, who will sell their souls to win. They seem to have strong loyalties to this despicable nation, that occupies, and steals lands, over doing the right thing for humanity, and most importantly will go against their own President, to appease the leader of that nation. Britain still has a few principled leaders who will stand up and make a fiery speech against Israel’s crimes, but at the end Britain too does what the occupier wants them to do. Sad situation.

      • inbound39
        February 13, 2017, 1:53 pm

        Ken Roach’s current call to remove the Tory Government is truthful and right if you believe in truth and what is right coming back into English politics. England has always been corrupt and Tories represent the rich and the descendants of the Colonial Empire hierarchy. Move them out of the way and you get the peoples party of Labour who represent the thoughts and feelings of the British people who recognise the wrongs done by Israel to the Palestinians and wish to put what Balfour started, right.

        Corbyn asked specifically for Theresa May to launch an investigation into Zionist infiltration of the British Government. She did not reply so both parties against what Israel did plus the Greens set an Independent enquiry up. It is supported bt top line politicians of both sides who want to end Israel’s manipulation of its Government. It wants to expose how deep it goes. How much we learn I fear will be vetted as the sums of money and favours involved in my view will be profound,and therefore kept hidden. Hopefully it will be sobering enough for these politicians to combine and force May to listen and put a stop to Israel’s meddling. Similar needs to occur in America if America believes in Freedom.

    • Bumblebye
      February 8, 2017, 7:32 pm

      I’ve been reading on a few fb pages how, despite the al Jazeera expose, Labour Party members who speak up in support of suspended members – such as Jackie Walker – or as pro-Palestinian are being shut down with threats of being suspended themselves as anti-semites. There are all kinds of shenanigans going òn within the right-wing old guard’ to maintain their hold on the levers of power in many clp’s (constituency labour party groups), as well as those in the central admin of the party. Anyone interested – take a look at Skwawkbox.org

      • MHughes976
        February 12, 2017, 9:56 am

        The trivial nature of the offences, Jackie Walker’s ‘never having found a definition of anti-Semitism she was able to work with’, Naz Shah’s harmless witticism from Finkelstein etc., do suggest neurotic anxiety on Corbyn’s part. There are two by-elections coming up which, if UKIP wins them both, will terminate his leadership, I think, possibly put the historic British Labour Party on the road to oblivion. Whatever replaces leader or party, should this road be taken, will not be an improvement when it comes to Palestinian rights. If anyone supposes that the accusation of anti-Semitism is losing its sting (s)he should think again.

      • Bumblebye
        February 12, 2017, 3:36 pm

        It isn’t “neurotic anxiety” on Corbyn’s part at all. The bad actors in this, who will and are doing anything and everything in their power to scupper his leadership are those on the right of the party – in this instance, the bureaucratic right headed by Iain McNichol. He and his cohort really are doing their utmost to prevent the left and new members from having a voice by various (often against the rules) measures.

  4. JLewisDickerson
    February 8, 2017, 5:25 pm

    RE: “May is an opportunist. She’s realized that Netanyahu is part of the mainstream current of Trumpism so she’s running with it,” he [i.e., Glyn Secker from Jews for Justice for Palestinians] continued.

    MY COMMENT: Truer words were never spoken!

  5. RoHa
    February 8, 2017, 9:28 pm

    “I don’t know enough about Palestine and Israel – it’s complicated and a sensitive topic. But what Trump is doing is obvious. He discriminates against women, Muslims, and migrants – and many people belong in one or all of these categories,” Davies said.’

    Ms Davies has just soaked up the fashionable talking points peddled by the popular media. They don’t talk about Palestine and they do talk a lot about Trump, so she gets terribly worked up about what she has been told about Trump, but has not made an effort to learn about Palestine.

    (I must say that it isn’t obvious to me that he discriminates against women. Are there any actual cases of Trump denying women jobs or positions because they are women?

    Nor have I, yet, heard of a case of him discriminating against legal migrants to the USA. )

    • RoHa
      February 8, 2017, 11:16 pm

      “Nor have I, yet, heard of a case of him discriminating against legal migrants to the USA.”

      Got it! The ham-handed extension of the travel ban to include migrants with green cards and similar residence visas who happened to be outside the US when the ban was imposed. They were people who had already migrated, and were discriminated against.

      So I’ll rephrase it. I haven’t heard of Trump discriminating against legal migrants who are in the USA.

      • Mooser
        February 9, 2017, 8:01 pm

        “Nor have I, yet, heard of a case of him discriminating against legal migrants to the USA.”

        And uh, gee, “RoHa” what about the rights of the American Citizens who have an interest in (employers, relatives, schools) or sponsor these immigrants, and have met all legal requirements? Do these American Citizens have no rights in the matter?

        Read the court decision, “RoHa”. It is the rights of American citizens which are at stake, along with the fate of those immigrants. (There’s also the matter of whether the executives orders are legally written).

        We do not have rule-by-decree in this country.

      • RoHa
        February 9, 2017, 9:16 pm

        Ms Davies didn’t mention the rights of Americans, though she probably cares about the rights of American Muslims and American women.

        If Trump is discriminating against male, non-Muslim, non-migrant, American citizens, the media has yet to start making a fuss about it.

        When it does, perhaps Ms Davies will get worked up about that, too.

        But, since she is British, I’d prefer to see her get worked up about the Yemen war.

        http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/02/01/britain-and-the-yemeni-threat/

    • Atlantaiconoclast
      February 12, 2017, 12:02 am

      Careful now RoHa, don’t you know you are supposed to treat Trump like the devil here? It must never be pointed out that Trump’s wall WOULD be legal and that his proposed immigration policy is to Israel’s truly racist immigration policy what a Chiwawa is to a pit bull.

      • echinococcus
        February 12, 2017, 2:25 am

        Interesting how the barking media totally disregard giving credit where credit is due: Wise Leader Deporter-in-Chief Obama’s wall is now called Trump’s wall after its continuator. Legal or illegal, moronic or brilliant according to who has been starting or continuing it.

      • RoHa
        February 12, 2017, 8:23 am

        Yes, but I can’t persuade myself that bearing false witness is going to help in fighting the devil.

        I’m not sure that the wall will be very effective, but it might help. When you have a unstable, crime-ridden, southern neighbour, with a shonky economy, and which is largely run by criminal gangs, a wall seems a useful precaution. I think the Canadians should start building one now.

      • Mooser
        February 12, 2017, 12:26 pm

        “It must never be pointed out that Trump’s wall WOULD be legal and that his proposed immigration policy is to Israel’s truly racist immigration policy what a Chiwawa is to a pit bull.”

        Using Israel’s immigration and civil rights policy as whataboutery for the US? Oh come on!

        So, let me get this straight: You are saying the US should be more like Israel in its policies? Ho-Kay.

    • inbound39
      February 13, 2017, 1:58 pm

      For Heaven’s sake do not talk about Palestinians….your hair may fall out……..it’s beyond ridiculous trying to silence and hide Israeli crimes now!

  6. Rodneywatts
    February 9, 2017, 2:18 pm

    Encouraging news! Parliament has debated today and passed the following resolution :

    ‘That this House reaffirms its support for the negotiation of a lasting peace between two sovereign states of Israel and Palestine, both of which must be viable and contiguous within secure and internationally recognised borders; calls on the Government to take an active role in facilitating a resumption of international talks to achieve this; welcomes UN Security Council Resolution 2334 adopted on 23 December 2016; and further calls on the government of Israel immediately to halt the planning and construction of residential settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories which is both contrary to international law and undermines the prospects for the contiguity and viability of the state of Palestine.’

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170208-live-blog-israeli-settlements-in-the-occupied-territories-what-next-at-parliament/

  7. Atlantaiconoclast
    February 11, 2017, 11:59 pm

    “I don’t know enough about Palestine and Israel – it’s complicated and a sensitive topic. But what Trump is doing is obvious. He discriminates against women, Muslims, and migrants – and many people belong in one or all of these categories,” Davies said. – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2017/02/british-policies-netanyahu/#sthash.CHn7ZhMM.dpuf

    Really now. She doesn’t realize that Israel has a far stricter immigration policy that is explicitly anti Gentile? The idea that Trump is discriminating but Israel is not is so absurd. But it is typical of clueless progressives across the West.

    And sorry, I don’t buy this notion that Trump’s unpopularity with the Left is going to somehow work to Palestine’s favor. Palestine is far down on the SJW to do list. They care far more about racial issues and identity politics to care enough about Palestine to make a difference. All it does is further alienate the people who support Trump from those of us who want to see Palestine freed from actual racist policies and illegal walls.

  8. oldgeezer
    February 13, 2017, 11:20 am

    It is amazing how little UK msm media coverage there was of the debate in the parliament. If you relied on the media then you wouldn’t have known it even occurred let alone the outcome of it. Similarly on the recent UNSC resolution you could find plenty of coverage related to foreign reaction (primarily but not exclusivelyIsraeli) but very little about the UK position.

    • inbound39
      February 13, 2017, 2:04 pm

      Yes oldgeezer…..and MSM does not allow comments on the majority of Israeli articles so pro Palestinian comments cannot be seen to be in the majority these days plus it silences any historical truths being published inadvertently. People see that and know its a media stitch up. It’s why journalism is losing its trust amongst the communities it serves.

    • oldgeezer
      February 13, 2017, 8:59 pm

      @inbound39

      The guardian stands out. It was never an anti Israel paper as claimed but it did fairly decent reporting. Sometimes slanted one way and sometimes the other.

      I bought paper copies of the guardian here in Canada for about 25 years. I was glad when the internet came along and would have willingly paid for access to it.

      In the last couple of years under new management it has gone way down hill in terms of quality and worth. I know the sames same as anyone who frequented that site. I laugh at their pleas for contribution. They must be kidding. If they want to spew propaganda lines they can pay me.

      • inbound39
        February 14, 2017, 11:31 am

        Totally agree with you about Guardian. All my comments there get monitored in case I post examples of International Law or UN History…..they make no attempt to hide their pro Israel stance. And it has cost them big time.

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