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Dear Bibi (the letter David Cameron should have sent to the Israeli Prime Minister)

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Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Cameron

Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Cameron

[UK Prime Minister David Cameron was to visit Israel this month, but the flood crisis in Britain forced the trip’s cancellation. This letter appeared at Cohen’s U.K. blog, Micah’s Paradigm Shift. –Ed]

Dear Bibi,

I’m really sorry I can’t make my planned trip to Israel this month. I’m up to my ears in flood water and effluent, with sandbags around my feet and high winds whipping around my head. You know what it’s like in a political crisis, you have to look like you are taking charge and in control (even when you’re not). So I’m staying home and chairing lots of crisis strategy meetings.

It’s a real shame I can’t be there in Jerusalem to make my address to the Knesset. I was planning to make a few points, and I don’t mean like Stephen Harper did in January. Even you must have been a bit embarrassed by that amount of Canadian fawning from a Prime Minister. No, that’s not my style. I was planning to land a few home truths rather than let you guys think I’m happy with business as usual.

Now, you know that I’m fond of saying that I’m a passionate friend of Israel. And I mean it. Although you and I may have a different idea of what that friendship should look like.

As a friend, I need to tell you this straight. Every indication I see tells me that the State of Israel will soon be considered a pariah nation by most countries and most people around the world. After all that Jewish communities have suffered throughout the centuries, what a tragic situation to have reached.

I know that Scarlett Johansson must have become for many in Israel their favourite Hollywood ‘A’ lister. But ditching Oxfam in favour of SodaStream and becoming the world’s best known advocate for trade with the Settlements may not prove to be a great career move in the long run. She certainly did the pro-boycotters a huge favour. Scarlett ‘setting the bubbles free’ floated the whole issue of the 46 year occupation of Palestinian land to the top of the news cycle.

I know you’re thinking up new ways to stifle the whole boycott movement in the States, but the real ‘fizz’ building behind the campaign is happening away from the front pages and in Europe not America. I guess you must have been a little rattled by the news that the Netherlands’ largest pension fund management company, PGGM, has withdrawn all its investments from Israel’s five largest banks because they have branches in the West Bank or are involved in financing construction in the Settlements. It’s pretty clear that the whole occupation touches every aspect of Israeli life.

But I’ll tell you the thing that really stood out for me in the last few weeks.

Perhaps the biggest signal that Israel is heading straight for global isolation was an editorial written in the Financial Times on Saturday 1 February 2014. Now this isn’t the Guardian or Haaretz, this is a grown-up sensible newspaper for grown-up sensible business people. The FT’s readership are not a bunch of radical lefties you can safely ignore. Off the back of the Scarlett/Oxfam bust up and the claim that her new corporate friends were providing Palestinians with jobs and “building bridges to peace”, the FT had this to say to its economically rational readership:

“The occupation imprisons thousands of the Palestinians’ young men, gives their land and water to settlers, demolishes their houses and partitions the remaining territory with scores of checkpoints and segregated roads. There are almost no basic foundations for an economy. The way to create Palestinian jobs is to end the occupation and let Palestinians build those foundations – not to build “bridges to peace” on other people’s land without their permission.”

Well, I know you will disagree Bibi, but I think that pretty much nails it. That editorial puts the whole thing firmly on the mainstream business (and political) agenda from where I’m looking.

So, what about the John Kerry ‘framework’ for peace talks? I see that you are meeting Barack in Washington at the start of March. I know the two of you are hardly best of mates and you’re probably hoping Barack has run out of time to force your hand before we hit the next run of US elections. But I really think you have to listen to him this time. So far, from what I’m hearing from you and your coalition partners, I don’t fancy the chances of Kerry’s framework taking flight. I know how frustrating coalition partners can be, but some of yours are truly frightful.

And if you ignore Kerry and Obama, what then?

A Palestinian Spring? A third Palestinian uprising? The resignation of the Palestinian Authority? The collapse of your coalition. All these things look possible, even likely.

I have to say Bibi, if Israel continues to reject the most minimal of Palestinian demands then it will find the UK and the EU rejecting Israel. The moment is coming when Her Majesty’s Government are going to call time on the endless prevarication, the endless raising of the bar for what makes the Palestinians acceptable partners for talks, the tired refrain of your ‘security needs’ from a country with the most powerful military in the Middle East (and I should know, we’ve sold you plenty of UK hardware). And it will not be discrimination or unfair victimisation. It will be, as the FT editorial pointed out, simply attempting to enforce the law.

My friend, this is not about “destroying Israel” as you like to scaremonger. South Africa was not “destroyed” by the anti-Apartheid campaign, neither were the southern states of America wiped out by the actions of Martin Luther King. Rather, they were turned into places of genuine democracy and given a new lease of life. And when we reached a peace agreement in Northern Ireland, we never insisted that the Catholics recognise the province as ‘Protestant’ with Protestant rights protected above all others. Equal rights for all was enough and is what usually defines a democracy.

I know that some of your coalition colleagues, and other members of the Knesset, will see my message to you as a form of incitement against the Jewish People and may even decide to accuse me of anti-Semitism as a way of closing down such talk of boycotts and sanctions. Well you can tell them I think such name calling is out of order and if it is used against me I will be quick to make my own outrage very clear in return.

The casual accusation of anti-Semitism to anybody who asks for even the most minimal concessions to the Palestinian people is already doing a massive disservice to Israeli and Diaspora Jews. The word is fast becoming meaningless.

An EU wide boycott of the Settlements could just be the thing that enables real, meaningful talking to begin. After all, I’ve never seen a country relinquish power without some kind of external pressure. I like to think that you, Bibi, could perhaps be Israel’s F.W. De Klerk. I’m quite sure you have some Palestinian Mandelas locked-up somewhere too.

So, a lot to think about and it’s a shame we can’t meet in person this week.

One last thought before I go off to chair another COBRA meeting on the floods.

Maybe I should have done something earlier when people were pointing out the dangers of climate change and the need to take action on flood defences. Perhaps I should have fixed the drainage before it become a catastrophe for people’s homes and livelihoods. Maybe the political dangers were starring me in the face and I just chose to ignore it, hoping it would go away, hoping I could hold back the rising tide forever. I think there could be a lesson in here for you too.

With kind regards, your passionate friend,


Robert Cohen

Cohen is a British writer. He blogs at Micah's Paradigm Shift.

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13 Responses

  1. piotr on February 20, 2014, 11:59 am

    I think the letter should have some edits.

    For example, in UK there was this nice salutation

    “I remain your obedient servant”

    Or I would add a paragraph:

    Sadly, however tragic the floods are, I am deeply relieved that I do not have to speak to Knesset. You should do something about the grumpy guys in your own coalition. I just do not see how I could compose a speech that will not make me ridiculous at home and yet avoid walkouts, lecturing etc. by your minions. Is something wrong with your highly praised desalination plants that your country is affected by an epidemic of Tourette syndrome?

    If so, I could offer you help of the British companies that represent top-notch state of the art in that area.

    PS. I just checked that the full valediction is “I beg to remain, Sir, your most humble and obedient servant,” but I would skip on “passionate friend”. For some reason, it reminds me Tony Blair, and that in turn causes a gag reflex.

  2. DICKERSON3870 on February 20, 2014, 6:26 pm

    RE: “South Africa was not ‘destroyed’ by the anti-Apartheid campaign, neither were the southern states of America wiped out by the actions of Martin Luther King.” ~ Dave’s letter


    [EXCERPT] In June 2011, an effort to codify state legislative support for Israel’s right to control the occupied territories kicked off in South Carolina. . .
    . . . The latest legislative body to pass the resolution was the Georgia State Senate, which approved the measure in mid-January. A Los Angeles Times Op-Ed by Michael McGough, a senior editorial writer for the paper, criticized the resolution. . .

    SOURCE –

    PERHAPS NOT COINCIDENTALLY: “Designer of Georgia’s Confederate License Plate Doesn’t Understand Why People Are Upset”, By Josh Sanburn,, 2/20/14
    “If I offend anyone, I don’t understand why,” says Sons of Confederate Veterans leader

    [EXCERPT] A new Georgia license plate featuring a large Confederate battle flag has ignited a controversy in the state — but its designer thinks the whole thing’s overblown.
    “What’s the big deal?” asks Jack Bridwell, the state commander of the Georgia division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the designer of the specialty plates that benefit his organization. “If I offend anyone, I don’t understand why because we had the emblem on there for years.”
    Georgia has offered a Sons of Confederate Veterans-backed license plate with an image of the Confederate flag since 2003. But a recent change in the state’s manufacturing process from embossed images to digital stickers necessitated a redesign. With it came renewed attention — and a fresh round of criticism.
    “To display this is reprehensible,” Southern Christian Leadership Conference spokesman Maynard Eaton told the Associated Press. “We don’t have license plates saying ‘Black Power.’”
    The Confederate flag is an especially charged symbol in the South, representing a legacy of racism, injustice and oppression to many while held up as an important emblem of heritage by others. . .

    SOURCE –

    • HAL-9000: What is going to happen?
    • Dave: Something wonderful.
    • HAL-9000: I’m afraid.
    • Dave: Don’t be. We’ll be together.
    • HAL-9000: Where will we be?
    • Dave: Where I am now.

    • DICKERSON3870 on February 20, 2014, 7:34 pm

      P.P.S. A MIDWINTER EVENING’S MUSICAL INTERLUDE, proudly brought to you by the makers of the new Über-Xtreme Ziocaine Ultra CR (Controlled Release) Transdermal Patch®: It’s guaran-damn-teed to to blow your effing mind or double your money back!™

      Just knocking around the zoo on a Thursday afternoon
      There’s bars on all the windows and they’re counting up the spoons
      And if I’m feeling edgy there’s a chick who’s paid to be my slave
      But she’ll hit me with a needle if she thinks I’m trying to misbehave

      Now the keeper’s trying to cool me says I’m bound to be alright
      But I know that he can’t fool me ’cause I’m putting him uptight
      And I can feel him getting edgy every time I make a sudden move
      And I can hear them celebrating every time I up and leave the room . . . ~ James Taylor

      James Taylor: Knockin’ Round The Zoo (1971) [VIDEO, 03:20] –

      P.P.P.S. The Ziocaine concept was first used on Mondoweiss by “Mooser”.

    • DICKERSON3870 on February 20, 2014, 10:28 pm


      *SEE: “Snake-handling Ky. pastor dies from snake bite”, By Associated Press, 2/16/14

      [EXCERPT] MIDDLESBORO, Ky. — A snake-handling pastor who appeared on the National Geographic television reality show “Snake Salvation” has died after being bitten by a snake during a weekend church service in Kentucky.
      Jamie Coots was handling a rattlesnake at his Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church in Middlesboro when he was bitten on the hand Saturday night, another preacher, Cody Winn, told WBIR-TV. After the bite, Coots dropped the snakes, but then picked them back up and continued on. Within minutes, Winn said Coots headed to the bathroom.
      “He had one of the rattlers in his hand, he came over and he was standing beside me. It was plain view, it just turned its head and bit him in the back of the hand … within a second [just like Likudnik Israel will eventually do to the U.S. ~ J.L.D.],” Winn said.
      When an ambulance arrived at the church at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, they were told Coots had gone home, the Middlesboro Police Department said in a statement. Contacted at his house, Coots refused medical treatment.
      Emergency workers left about 9:10 p.m. that night. When they returned about an hour later, Coots was dead from a venomous snake bite, police added. . .


  3. DICKERSON3870 on February 20, 2014, 7:33 pm

    Introducing a new game of “Name That Avatar”. Can you name my new avatar/icon?

    • Sycamores on February 20, 2014, 8:49 pm

      Hannah Arendt going by facial characteristics.

      • DICKERSON3870 on February 20, 2014, 9:56 pm

        You’re getting warm!

      • Sycamores on February 20, 2014, 11:20 pm

        i know who it is now but i cheated, so i won’t say.
        hint: an extra letter in the surname would be a place with more then one official language.

        if you don’t get an answer in the next 24 hours i’ll post it up.

      • DICKERSON3870 on February 21, 2014, 4:37 am

        Don’t be a frayer! The entire concept of cheating being prohibited is like so 1950s! Everyone cheats nowadays because everyone conveniently assumes that everyone else cheats just like they do.

    • adele on February 21, 2014, 12:43 am

      Rosa Luxembourg?

    • DICKERSON3870 on February 21, 2014, 4:56 am

      Congratulations adele and Sycamores! You are co-winners and will share in the Grand Prize of 0.003 bitcoins.
      Put on your raspberry berets and party like it’s 9999!

      Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Palestine Office
      Since 2000, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation has been continuously supporting progressive political actors in Palestine. In March 2008, we established an office in Ramallah, responsible for cooperation in Palestine and Egypt.
      The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation is part of the intellectual grassroots movement of democratic socialism. Established in Berlin in 1990, the RLF has developed into one of the largest providers of political education in Germany. It also serves as a discussion forum for critical thinking about political alternatives, and as a research institute for progressive social development.
      LINK –

      • DICKERSON3870 on February 21, 2014, 5:23 am

        Hotel Terminus (Hôtel Terminus; Hôtel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie) 1988 NR 267 minutes
        Nazi Gestapo leader Klaus Barbie excelled at torture, earning him the epithet “the Butcher of Lyons.” Through a series of interviews, this powerful Oscar-winning documentary explores the life of the infamous war criminal, beginning with his childhood and moving on to his career as an SS interrogator. After the war, Barbie spent 40 years in hiding, was eventually deported from Bolivia and, in 1987, stood trial for crimes against humanity.
        Cast: Klaus Barbie, Jeanne Moreau, Marcel Ophüls
        Director: Marcel Ophüls
        Genres: Documentary, Biographical Documentaries, Germany, Historical Documentaries, Military Documentaries
        Format: DVD
        Netflix listing –
        Internet Movie Database –

      • Sycamores on February 21, 2014, 9:25 am

        very good, i still have to watch your recommendation Balibó 2009.

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