Hamas’s assault on Israel was an act of war by this brutal terrorist organisation. Their murder of innocent men, women and children, abduction, even rape was appalling. Here, in the UK it was right that the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak’s statement of support was immediate and was backed by all parties in our parliament.
His support for Israel went further and he is deploying RAF surveillance aircraft, Royal Navy ships, Merlin helicopters and Royal Marines to the region, alongside the US to deter others getting involved.
It has been heartening to see people attending vigils for Israel, in solidarity, listening to the words of the Chief Rabbi that, “no civilised person cannot be moved, cannot be deeply shocked by the scenes of brutal terrorist outrage in Israel”.
Nonetheless, over the weekend the usual suspects erupted onto our streets to claim that Israel and the Jewish people were responsible for human rights abuses. They cheered Hamas and paraded their message of hate. A number waved Hamas flags and chanted ‘from the river to the sea’ which articulates Hamas’s desire to eradicate Israel and the Jews.
What vile people they are. They, like too many before them, are the ‘useful idiots’ of this violent terrorist group and they must not be allowed to get away with such hate-filled bile. That is why the police need to identify those who wore the photos, and waved Hamas flags whilst chanting their hate filled slogans and arrest them swiftly. I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering why they have been so slow to do so.
For those who hurled abuse at Israel and supported the Hamas terrorists as they went about their murderous rampage by wearing hateful photos of people in motorised gliders, the facts should be very clear. First, Hamas alone are responsible and accountable. Second, Hamas is a terrorist organisation and Israel has the clear right to defend itself. Third, Israel has the right to also do what it must to ensure that such evil people cannot carry out such an attack ever again.
Many of us know that Israel has a remarkable history, wonderful people and an extraordinary creativity. It has made a huge contribution around the world in sectors from science and technology to agriculture. Yet it was Sir Martin Gilbert who said that “Israel is often the centre of world attention. This is seldom for her achievements, which are considerable, or for the quality of life which she has created and which is the envy of many nations.” A sad but true reflection.
We shouldn’t also forget that this conflict is having a huge impact here in the UK as well. We cannot allow anti-Semitism to prevail on our streets as we saw over the weekend. The Metropolitan Police have recorded a 650 per cent increase in reports of anti-Semitism over the past two weeks alone, compared to the same period last year. That’s why we must support the Jewish communities up and down the country.
Yet this weekend also shows we still need to root out anti-Semitism in all its forms, particularly within our politics. When the last Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn scoffed at the scale of anti-Semitism in the Labour party saying it was, “…dramatically overstated for political reasons” by opponents and “... much of the media” it was right that people of good will in all parties challenged him. Yet the lesson was that too many did not, some even defending him when he laid a wreath at the grave of a terrorist bomber. Too many in authority in the party sloped their shoulders and turned away. A few courageously did challenge him and suffered vitriol and abuse for their pains. The lesson must be learned.
Too many in public service are so quick to virtue signal to a myriad of causes yet when asked to show full support for the Israeli people, find trouble, as we discover, in hoisting the Israeli flag. Ministers are forced to order them to do so. And much of the public can’t understand why the BBC still refuses to refer to Hamas as a terrorist organisation. After all, Parliament has done so and proscribed it, as have other democratic countries – how can the BBC believe they need to be impartial about such an organisation?
We should have learned the lesson from ISIS. They had to be destroyed before we had any chance of freeing those trapped in their murderous embrace. So it must now be with Hamas.
Sadly, these vile events show that Golda Meir was right when she said, ‘If the Palestinians lay down their weapons, there will be peace. If the Israelis lay down their weapons, there will be a massacre.’
That’s why, when we see innocent Israelis suffering – through intolerance, persecution, violence and desperation – we must stand with them.
Perhaps for me, the best comment that summed up what the UK should do was uttered by a non-Jewish constituent of mine when he said to me, “Our country must stand with Israel against this terrorism today, tomorrow and always” – I say Amen to that.