The transcripts of opening remarks and the footage of David Cumin vs John Minto are now available at the IINZ website. If you have the time, it’s well worth a watch, especially watching Minto descending into a snarling and lie ridden rant!
This post contains David Cumin’s speech. Part Two will contain John Mintos.
[…] Last year I met with officials at the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Before the meeting started, a senior official told me they just wanted to let me know they “believe Israel has a right to exist.”
It would be an insult if an official from any other country were to suggest New Zealand’s right to exist were up for debate or a matter of belief. I’d also be surprised if any of our officials would so casually suggest there is a question mark over the existence of any other UN member country.
But the right of Israel to exist is questioned, and there are concerted efforts to demonise and delegitimise the Jewish state and to deny the right of Jews to self-determination in their indigenous land.
Leaders of the NZ Trade Union movement, which Mr Minto is involved in, curse Israel for alleged crimes and call for a boycott of Israelis, yet they are happy to host Indonesian delegates without even raising the actual crimes of Indonesia against West Papua. I’m sure many union members (that pay union fees) would be shocked by the anti-Israel sentiment of the leaders and of their gross hypocrisy.
Similarly, no one is suggesting that China shouldn’t exist because they are actually putting Uighur Muslims into concentration camps and actually occupying Tibet; or that Turkey is illegitimate because it really occupies Cyprus, for example.
Only alleged crimes of Israel are used to challenge the existence of Israel and the Jewish nation is clearly singled out as a people who should be denied a state.
This denial is at the heart of the ongoing conflict and the real reason there is no peace. It is also why we are having this discussion – I submit to you that there are two major perspectives on Israel:
- those who don’t think Israel should exist as an equal among nations, which is a view taken by a few radical groups around the world; and
- The perspective that a majority of people – myself included – take, that Jews have a right to a nation in their indigenous lands like any other modern nation state and it should be treated as an equal to other states.
These two perspectives are not new. There has been opposition to the existence of a Jewish national home, just as some have opposed the existence of Jews, since the First Temple was destroyed and Jews were expelled from Israel by the Babylonians more than two-and-a-half thousand years ago.
The Roman Emperor, Hadrian, also attempted to erase the Jewish connection to the land in 135 CE by renaming Judea, “Syria Palestina”, after the extinct Philistine people who had been enemies of the Jews.
More recent opposition to Jewish self-determination saw Arab violence force the British government to limit Jewish immigration to their Mandate of Palestine in the 1930’s, just as European Jews, in particular, were seeking refuge.
And there are current examples of people calling Jesus a Palestinian, erasing his Jewish identity and denying the fact he was born in Judea; and the publishing of modern maps that rename the State of Israel, ‘Palestine’, just like Hadrian did almost two thousand years ago.
But the archaeological, genetic, and historical evidence is clear; by any measure, Jews are the Tangata Whenua of Israel, just as Maori are the Tangata Whenua of Aotearoa.
Despite attempts to erase this fact, Jews have maintained ahi ka – home fires burning – throughout the millennia, with a constant presence in the land and prayers for a return to rebuild a national home.
The Jewish opportunity to rebuild their nation came after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I – with help from brave ANZAC troops. The League of Nations – a forerunner to the UN – met in San Remo in 1920 and laid the political foundation for the creation of the 22 modern Arab League States and the one and only modern Jewish State of Israel. Yet no one openly questions the borders of any of those countries, except Israel.
Israel’s declaration of independence shortly after, in 1948, was an unparalleled event in history. No other people has repeatedly lost its land to colonists, been scattered around the world, and suffered pogroms, attempts at annihilation, and forced assimilation yet maintained a sense of identity and returned to rebuild their nation.
However, continuing opposition to Jewish self-determination has meant the modern state of Israel has had to defend against at least three full military wars on multiple fronts; contend with hundreds of suicide bombings and other terror attacks; and endure boycotts, embargoes, attempts to rewrite history, and disproportionate political attacks from within the most powerful international organisations.
Yet Israel has not only survived, but thrived. Jews revived a language, drained swamps, cultivated the desert, and have built a nation on a sparsely populated land; Israel is now a world leader in med-tech, green-tech, high-tech, and agri-tech; and has assisted more than 140 countries with humanitarian efforts despite some of those nations not recognising the Jewish state.
And Israel has developed an independent judiciary, a vibrant free press, and a democratic parliament with full representation of all its citizens. Israel is not perfect, but it is the world’s 10th oldest continuous democracy and should be a model for its neighbours and for many other countries in the world.
While Israel has defended her citizens against military invasion and developed methods for thwarting terror attacks, those who wish to destroy the Jewish nation have had to acknowledge Israel’s might to resist, but they haven’t accepted its right to exist.
This refusal to accept the Jewish nation as equal is the reason there is conflict. And opposition has shifted from military and violent means to the weaponisation of politics. This is the new front in the war against a Jewish home in their indigenous lands and facts don’t get in the way of anyone determined enough to dispose Jews of self-determination.
I want to discuss three of the ways Jewish self-determination is being attacked today before concluding with some hope. Those three obstacles to peace are:
- Efforts to demonise and delegitimise Israel with lies;
- Continuing incitement and acts of violence; and
- The insistence that Israel must accept at least five million Arab Palestinians as citizens.
Let’s start with the malicious language used against Israel. Just like Jews were accused of murdering Christian babies for religious rituals, and Jews were blamed for the poor situation of Germans in the 1930s, the Jewish nation is falsely blamed for all manner of acts around the world.
There was even a community leader in New Zealand who suggested Israel was behind the Christchurch terror attack.
I was at two Iftar dinners this year where my Muslim hosts quoted Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Rabbi Sacks has also been eloquent on this point, saying:
“In the Middle Ages, Jews were hated because of their religion. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century they were hated because of their race. Today they are hated because of their nation state, the state of Israel. It takes different forms but it remains the same thing: the view that Jews have no right to exist as free and equal human beings.”
Those who wish to harm the Jewish nation state use terms like “apartheid” and “genocide” just like previous generations have falsely accused Jews of poisoning wells or murdering babies.
It doesn’t seem to matter that using such terms demeans the memory of people who suffered under real Apartheid or real genocide.
In Israel, the facts speak for themselves: all citizens – including the 20% Arab population of Israel – have equal rights; Arabs are represented in all aspect of Israeli life, from Supreme Court Judges to the people’s choice in Masterchef; the Arab Palestinian population continues to increase; and they have quality of life stats that are among the highest in the Middle East.
The fact that obesity is a public health issue in Gaza doesn’t stop comparisons to Nazi concentration camps and neither does the increasing population stop claims of “genocide”.
This sort of total disregard for the truth and misappropriation of the Holocaust is why such examples equating Israel with Nazis has been deemed antisemitic by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
The perpetuation of lies is also a part of the founding documents of Israel’s enemies. For example, passages of the fabricated “Protocols of the Elders of Zion“, that claim Jews control the press and world economies, are enshrined in the Hamas Charter, along with paragraphs that reject negotiations and call for the creation of an Islamic State in place of Israel through violence.
Hamas continues to act out its charter through rocket attacks, building terror tunnels instead of infrastructure, and violent riots on the border with Israel to which they bring children who act as human shields.
The quote of Israel’s first woman Prime Minister, Golda Meir, rings so true – “There can only be peace when the Arabs start to love their children more than they hate us.”
This is the second major obstacle to peace – violence.
And it’s not only the terror group in charge of Gaza that calls for and commits violent acts; a similar pattern of behaviour is true for the faction that controls parts of Judea and Samaria.
The Palestinian Authority not only takes money from infrastructure projects to pay terrorists based on the number of Jews they murdered, incites violence in school textbooks, and teaches that the Jews have no right to a homeland. Palestinian schools and sports facilities are proudly named after suicide bombers and official government publications praise terrorists.
This indoctrination has a flow-on effect, with almost half of Arab Palestinians recently polled believing they should take up arms against Israel rather than negotiate for peace. And we’ve seen terror attacks in just the past few months in Judea and Samaria where a teenager was stabbed to death and another was murdered in a bomb attack. May their memories be a blessing.
It is shameful that despite more than 2,000 terror acts in only the last year, no New Zealand Minister has clearly condemned terror against Israel since Helen Clark did so in 2006.
It is also shameful that New Zealand is not only silent, but complicit in the third obstacle to a peace that involves a safe and secure Jewish nation.
I’m not talking about our record at the United Nations, where New Zealand votes for the disproportionate number of resolutions that single out Israel, unlike our traditional allies like Canada, United States, and Australia.
I’m talking about our funding and support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA. Each year, at least $1m of our tax money goes to UNRWA and our officials praise their work.
And it’s not only the ongoing corruption charges that should be addressed, or the incitement to terror that is taught in their schools; the even greater obstacle to peace is that UNRWA has invented a unique definition of refugees that includes citizens of other countries and all their descendents, and insists that all these people, who now number more than five-and-a-half million, should be allowed automatic entry into Israel.
UNRWA was originally set up to assist the 750,000 Arab refugees who fled to Arab lands during the 1948 war because they were not absorbed by their brothers and sisters, like Israel absorbed an equivalent number Jewish refugees who fled to Israel from Arab countries at the same time.
The conditions of the Arab Palestinian refugees is still not very good, unfortunately. Especially Palestinians in Lebanon, where even those born in the country are denied citizenship and are legally barred from owning property or becoming doctors, lawyers, or engineers – talk about Apartheid.
Arab Palestinians in Syria are banned from owning more than one home or purchasing arable land.
And the Arab Palestinians living in Gaza under Hamas or under Palestinian Authority rule have been denied the democratic right to free and fair elections for 15 years and dare not speak out against the government for fear of arrest, or worse.
Yet, self-proclaimed “Pro-Palestinian” activists don’t speak up for the Palestinians in Lebanon or Syria, or against Hamas or Fatah; because Israel cannot be blamed. Most of the activists aren’t really “pro” anything; they are anti-Israel. Like Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, they are more interested in hurting Israel than helping the Arab Palestinians.
But back to the third major barrier to peace.
The very idea that Israel, a country with only 9m people (including 6m Jews) should be forced to accept 5.5m Arab Palestinians with a unique refugee status, especially given that most of them have been taught that Israel is illegitimate and violence is justified, is a certain way to extinguish Jewish self-determination (or half the world’s Jewish population).
This idea is framed as a “right of return” even though there is no such right in any international law; it is a pretense, whose practical implementation would likely be Jewish genocide.
In 1974, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Greeks were not entitled to “return” to Northern Cyprus because “Some 35 years have elapsed since the Greeks lost possession of their property… Generations have passed. The local population has not remained static.”
The Palestinians claim they have a “right of return” for not only the Arabs who fled in 1948 but all their descendents, despite the Arab-Israeli conflict lasting more than twice as long as the Turkish-Greek conflict and the local Israeli population certainly not remaining static.
So the illegitimate “right of return”, the continuing violence, and the demonising language are three of the major reasons there is no peace.
These three ways of opposing Jewish self-determination in their indigenous lands are all embodied in the BDS – Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions – campaign against Israel.
BDS activists use language designed to demonise and delegitimise Israel. The formal goals of the campaign talk about Jews as colonisers and suggest Arab-Israelis do not have equal rights. This would be as if a group were to say Maori are colonisers of New Zealand and there aren’t equal rights for all in the country.
BDS activists say they are non-violent, but they turn a blind eye to terror against Israel, just like our Ministers have done since 2006, and officially call on Israel to take down the security fence which has saved lives. Some BDS supporters have even excused indiscriminate rocket attacks or suicide bombs on busses as “resistance”.
And BDS explicitly calls for the “return” of Palestinians and claims it is a right.
Rather than seek peace, BDS hurts the 60,000 or so Arab Palestinians who are employed by Israelis, by telling them that they should boycott their own livelihood. It is noteworthy that there are protests by BDS activists outside of the Palestinian Territories, but seldom will more than a few dozen people turn up to promote the campaign within Palestinian society.
It is also noteworthy that BDS activists in Western countries don’t vehemently call for boycotts or sanctions of any other country, nor do they disrupt film screenings about any other country with fake bombs.
Some governments are acutely aware of the double-standards and discrimination of BDS and have taken steps to address it.
With overwhelming bipartisan support, The United States has passed legislation against BDS, just as they have passed legislation against discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and sexual orientation.
And a majority of German lawmakers have also voted for a motion that condemned the discriminatory nature of BDS, saying it was similar to the Nazi boycott of Jews in the 1930s.
The BDS campaign is also similar to the Arab boycott of Israel just after independence. But, as time has gone on, and modernising Arab states have come to realise that Israel is not the root of all Middle East unrest. Particularly with the devastating civil war in Syria and the ascendency of threat posed by Iran in the wake of the nuclear deal, Gulf states have turned to Israel for support and become more open to relations.
Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Bharain are engaging with Israel in matters of trade, technology, water security, agriculture, environment and ecology and in security against the moral chaos provoked by ISIS and Iran’s proxy terror groups in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza.
This more open and positive relationship is a long way from the Khartoum resolution of 1967 when the Arab League issued their infamous three “no’s” – “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it”.
The road to peace is not easy and it’s not always short. It took a courageous Egyptian leader in the form of Anwar Sadat to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 and it will take a courageous Palestinian leader to acknowledge that Jews have a right to a nation alongside an Arab Palestinian state.
Jews have always accepted compromise and offered to share the land.
In 1936, the Peel Commission identified “An irrepressible conflict … between two national communities within the narrow bounds of one small country” and recommended partition of the British Mandate – land which they had already partitioned off to create modern-day Jordan.
Jews accepted that proposal and the 1947 UN proposal to similarly partition the land even though both proposals did not include Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem or Judea and Samaria.
It seems absurd that “Zionists” would accept giving up “Zion”, but Jews have repeatedly made or shown a willingness to make painful compromises for peace that have seldom been reciprocated.
The Arabs rejected the British and UN partition plans, and have continued to reject proposals of compromise without any counter-proposal. In the words of Bill Clinton, following the Camp David meeting in 2001, Arafat was “here 14 days and said no to everything”.
This is despite the offer from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak including a bold compromise on Jerusalem and much of the West Bank. An even more generous offer in 2008 was made by Ehud Olmert to Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas. This was also flat out rejected.
The reason for rejection can only be explained by the perspective of rejecting Jewish self-determination. British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, no friend of Israel, identified this in 1947, when he said
“His Majesty’s Government have been faced with an irreconcilable conflict of principles… For the Jews, the essential point of principle is the creation of a sovereign Jewish State. For the Arabs, the essential point of principle is to resist to the last the establishment of Jewish sovereignty in any part of [Mandatory] Palestine.”
The reality is that the refusal to accept compromises is encouraged by the international community. As long as Israel, and only Israel, is condemned for defending her borders, for building communities, and for not allowing the fictional “right of return”, the Arab Palestinian leaders have no reason to negotiate.
Why would Arab Palestinian leaders offer to negotiate when their perceived enemy is being condemned so disproportionately and they suffer no consequences whatsoever?
As long as the Arab Palestinian leaders can continue to rule without elections, outlaw the selling of land to Jews, and incite or glorify violence without condemnation there is no reason for them to change their ways.
So, if you don’t want to destroy Israel and you want to see a thriving, modern Arab Palestinian state exist peacefully alongside a Jewish state, perhaps we should rethink our funding to UNRWA, reconsider our voting pattern at the UN, and condemn the terror against Israel.
We should take a stand against any group that discriminates against people on the basis of their origin or nationality and that seeks to destroy rather than build. If we want justice, we need to act in a just way and not hold Israel to double standards. Then there will be more chance of real peace.
I’ll leave you with this:
The denial of the right of Jews to self-determination in their indigenous lands underlies the conflict. Opposition has moved from more violent, military warfare and terror, to a war of words similar to the language used to demonise and delegitimise Jews in previous generations.
As well as this malicious language, there are political efforts to destroy the Jewish home. But, today, these efforts are coming from fringe groups. Most people support Israel and there are shifting attitudes from Israel’s traditional enemies.
The Israeli national anthem is “hatikva”, which means “the hope”. I hope the ancient hatred of Jews will be eradicated and the whole world will come to respect the equal right of Jews to a home in part of their indigenous land.
And if the right will not be respected, then we must continue to ensure that Israel has the might to defend itself, because as the saying goes, “If the Arabs put down their weapons, there will be no more wars, but if Israel puts down its weapons, there will be no more Israel”.