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Andrew Roberts on Anglo-Israeli Relations

Historian Andrew Roberts' address to the Anglo-Israel Association is reproduced in full here (with thanks to Alan). It ends with the following:

It seems to me that there is an implicit racism going on here. Jews are expected to behave better, goes the FO thinking, because they are like us. Arabs must not be chastised because they are not. So in warfare, we constantly expect Israel to behave far better than her neighbours, and chastise her quite hypocritically when occasionally under the exigencies of national struggle, she cannot. The problem crosses political parties today, just as it always has. William Hague called for Israel to adopt a proportionate response in its struggle with Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2007, as though proportionate responses ever won any victories against fascists. In the Second World War, the Luftwaffe killed 50,000 Britons in the Blitz, and the Allied response was to kill 600,000 Germans – twelve times the number and hardly a proportionate response, but one that contributed mightily to victory. Who are we therefore to lecture the Israelis on how proportionate their responses should be?

Very often in Britain, especially when faced with the overwhelmingly anti-Israeli bias that is endemic in our liberal media and the BBC, we fail to ask ourselves what we would not do placed in the same position? The population of the United Kingdom of 63 millions is nine times that of Israel. In July 2006, to take one example entirely at random, Hezbollah crossed the border of Lebanon into Israel and killed 8 patrolmen and kidnapped 2 others, and that summer fired 4,000 Katyusha rockets into Israel which killed a further 43 civilians. Now, if we multiply those numbers by nine to get the British equivalent, just imagine what we would not do if a terrorist organization based as close as Calais were to fire 36,000 rockets into Sussex and Kent, killing 387 British civilians, after killing 72 British servicemen in an ambush and capturing a further eighteen? I put it to you that there is absolutely no lengths to which our Government would not go to protect British subjects under those circumstances, and quite right too. So why should Israel be expected to behave any differently?

There has hardly been a single year since Brigadier-General Deedes established AIA in 1949 when a speaker has not been able to say that Israel faced a crisis, and on some occasions – in 1956, 1967, 1973 and especially in the face of the present Iranian nuclear programme today – these were existential. At a time when Barrack Obama appears to be least pro-Israeli president since Eisenhower, the dangers are even more obvious. For there is simply no way that Obama will prevent Ahmadinejad, perhaps Jewry’s most viciously outspoken and dangerous foe since the death of Adolf Hitler, to acquire a nuclear Bomb.  

None of us can pretend to know what lies ahead for Israel, but if she decides pre-emptively to strike against such a threat – in the same way that Nelson pre-emptively sank the Danish Fleet at Copenhagen and Churchill pre-emptively sank the Vichy Fleet at Oran – then she can expect nothing but condemnation from the British Foreign Office. She should ignore such criticism, because for all the fine work done by this Association over the past six decades - work that’s clearly needed as much now as ever before – Britain has only ever really been at best a fairweather friend to Israel.

Although History does not repeat itself, it’s cadences do occasionally rhyme, and if the witness of History is testament to anything it is testament to this:

That in her hopes of averting the threat of a Second Holocaust, only Israel can be relied upon to act decisively in the best interests of the Jews.