President advised to abandon his paranoia about Britain

Shimon Peres, the 87-year-old President of Israel, comes from Belarus, in eastern Europe.

His immediate family were lucky.

His father emigrated to the then British-controlled protectorate of Palestine in the early 1920s.

The rest of his family stayed in Belarus.

All perished in the Nazi mass-murders in the 1940s.

Virtually everyone of Jewish ethnicity has a similar family history to Shimon Peres’s.

The idea of a defined State of Israel, a homeland for the Jewish people, pre-dates the Nazi Holocaust by many decades.

But it was the Holocaust which made the world-wide Jewish community determined to have their own state whatever the opposition to it, and it is the Holocaust, the worst-ever genocide human kind has ever known, which continues to define Israel’s attitude to itself, and the rest of the world.

I support the State of Israel, and the right of its people to live in peace, with secure borders.

But I also support the right of the Palestinians to enjoy the same rights of property, and freedom, as the Israelis.

I strongly condemn Israel’s theft (for that is what it is) of Palestinian land, through Jewish settlements across the West Bank, its continued incursions into (Palestinian) East Jerusalem, and its brutal and inhumane treatment of Palestinians, and those of other Arab nations too.

There was and is simply no justification whatever for Israel’s killing in Gaza of at least of 1,400 people, many of them women and children, as a response to the deaths of 20 Israeli civilians from rockets from Gaza; nor for much else that they have done allegedly better to secure their state.

In 1994 Shimon Peres was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhah Rabin, and Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat for his work, as Foreign Minister, in the ‘Oslo Accords’ for peace in the Middle East.

I worked with him when I was British Foreign Minister.

But he has now changed his tune.

In an astonishing outburst he said a few days ago that England was ‘deeply pro-Arab…and anti-Israel’, ‘they’ve always worked against us’.

He added ‘our next big problem is England.

There are several million Muslim voters.

And for many MPs that’s the difference between getting elected and not getting elected.’ Don’t judge others by your own standards, President Peres.

Such remarks are wholly misplaced.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was unpopular across the UK, but nowhere more so than with those of the Muslim faith.

My backing for the invasion greatly taxed many (white and Muslim) in Blackburn.

In the 2005 election the world’s press came to Blackburn to watch me lose.

In the event the swing against me was half the national swing against Labour.

It is simply insulting to Muslim (as well as white) voters to make such sweeping, and inaccurate claims on no evidence.

President Peres would be better advised to abandon his paranoia about Britain.

Instead he might start examining why it is that Israel is now so isolated internationally, and then do something about it – namely see that at long last Israel acts justly towards the Palestinians.

He might too recognise that our horror at the Holocaust cannot mean a blank cheque to the Government of Israel to do as they please.

Author: Jack Straw

Jack Straw was elected as the MP for Blackburn in 1979 and is currently the Secretary of State for Justice.

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