Azara Blog: Israeli ambassador claims Britain is anti-Israeli

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Date published: 2008/06/10

The BBC says:

The government has hit back at claims by Israel's ambassador to Britain that the UK has become a "hotbed for radical anti-Israeli views".

In a Daily Telegraph article, Ron Prosor wrote that a "climate of hatred" towards Israel had been stirred up on British university campuses.

But Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell denied Mr Prosor's remarks.

He said any such "uncomfortable or distasteful" views were held only by a "small minority".

Mr Prosor said that he admired Britain's tradition of decency and fair play, but that the debate over Israel had been "hijacked by extremists".

Israel had been cast as the "pantomime villain", he added, and media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was "routinely tainted with bias".

"Britain has become a hotbed for radical anti-Israeli views and a haven for disingenuous calls for a 'one-state solution', a euphemistic name for a movement advocating Israel's destruction," he said.

"Over-simplifications, half-truths and lies have been swallowed as reality and disseminated as truth.

"The complexities of the situation are overlooked, as are the responsibilities of other actors in the region."

He said that most Britons would be unaware of the "1,400 rockets and 1,500 mortar bombs" which had landed on Israeli soil since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

The ambassador also attacked a decision by lecturers to explore the possibility of a boycott of Israeli universities, which he said would be a licence to "harass, humiliate and victimise".

The ambassador doth protest too much. It is the Israeli state, not the Palestinian quasi-state, which kills (far) more people. That is usually a good indication of who is more in the wrong. And the ambassador provides no real examples of anyone mainstream (e.g. in the national media or at the university level) calling for a "one-state solution". And that is what Israel itself used to advocate, and probably still really wants, as long as it is the one state. Indeed, Israel has occupied more and more of what most of the rest of the world deems not to be part of Israel, presumably as part of its own one-state goal.

As for the academic boycott, that could easily be argued to be silly and/or counter-productive, especially since many Israeli academics are fairly sane politically, unlike many of their compatriots. It could also easily be argued that it is stupidly selective. So why not boycott Chinese academics, American academics, etc.? Indeed why not advocate that the rest of the world boycott British academics because of the blatantly illegal war that the UK is co-conducting in Iraq? But to say that the proposed boycott is a license to "harass, humiliate and victimise" is pathetic. Israel is not the main victim in the Middle East.

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