Former Conservative MP George Walden nails it on the Tzip Livni arrest warrant. From The Times:
As a piece of legal grotesquerie, the attempted arrest of the former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has its funny side. The biggest joke lies in the role of the UN. It was the UN Human Rights Council that endorsed the report by the retired South African judge Richard Goldstone on the Gaza conflict, in which Israel as well as Hamas was accused of war crimes.
The fun lies in the membership of this august body, and guardian of all our rights. Currently those empowered to sit in judgment on the Israeli democracy include Cuba, China, Russia, Kirghizstan, Djibouti and Qatar. In a non-democracy, of course, Ms Livni would have had no bother; with no elections to dislodge her she would still be a minister, and so exempt from arrest. There must be a lesson there.
So the Livni affair is a joke on democracies everywhere, though especially on us, which makes it a sombre matter. The move to get her arrested is part of the climate of creeping anti-Semitism in this country. We do not go in for the hard stuff yet, but whether it is subtly but relentlessly bent TV reporting of the Middle East conflict, or attempts in British universities to deny Israeli academics the freedom of expression notionally protected at the UN by countries such as Cuba or Libya, institutionalised anti-Semitism, assisted now by the law, is gaining ground.
Yet it would be a mistake to take too narrow a view of the business. Something in our culture and mind-set exposes us to asinine legal anomalies of this kind, and not just where Israel is concerned. While Ms Livni is absent from London, known Islamist terrorists are free to walk the streets, or to sit cosily at home filling in claims for benefits, because the law has made it impossible to convict them without endangering our sources of information.
Even if these people are grievously misjudged, being little more than agitators in the cause of mass murder, the same laws mean that more hands-on types can pursue their designs with a degree of impunity from imprisonment or expulsion not available elsewhere.
The literal-mindedness that all this reflects has long been a British failing. The flipside of our relatively sane and just public culture, it can be seen in the slavish implementation of EU directives widely circumvented on the Continent with government assistance — to the fury of my former farming constituents; or in our blundering naivety in seeking to apportion blame and bring order and clean-living in place of the sempiternal hatreds of the Middle East. Maddening enough at home, when we seek to impose its values and assumptions abroad the literal mind becomes positively dangerous.
The upstanding, honest-to-God British magistrate who showed neither fear nor favour towards a former minister is an example of what might be called the Mrs Tiggywinkle style of adjudication in foreign affairs. “Bright and clean, bright and clean, cleaner than it’s ever been,” sang the endlessly busy clear-starcher, scrubbing and ironing away. The British, pretty much alone in the world, solemnly and doggedly seek to execute laws or resolutions voted through by a United Nations that can never be more than the sum of its parts, and of which only a small minority of member states enjoy anything approaching the rule of law.
Not that it troubles their leaders. How well I remember sitting through finger-wagging lecturettes on how to achieve a truly ethical foreign policy, given to our Foreign Secretary in private meetings in the interstices of UN debates by drug-running South American prime ministers or presidents, bribe-grabbing Arab princelings, or the Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, the twist in whose lips, an English tabloid was disrespectful enough to suggest, had come about through an incurable addiction to lying.
Under our pristine, ultra-democratic system (any politically motivated Joe can apply for an arrest warrant under the International Criminal Court Act, 2001) and indulgent lawyers, Britain is a soft touch for propagandistic exercises like the one we have seen. And whatever the real reason that Tzipi Livni didn’t in the end come, the ruse most certainly succeeded.
Their minds filled with selective TV imagery of the Gaza conflict, the reaction of many a fair-minded Brit to the idea of seizing a former Israeli minister will be: “Why not? They’re trying the Serbs, aren’t they? And it’s the UN, isn’t it?”
I have long argued that the corrupt EU is fine for the equally corrupt French or Italians, but completely wrong for the relatively honest and decent British. By ignoring or flouting its diktats, France, Italy, Greece and the like attain a kind of integrity. The same goes for the UN and all its works. We should have no truck with it.