Israel’s leaders are not simply war criminals; they are fools

I was brought up as an orthodox Jew and a Zionist. On a shelf in our kitchen, there was a tin box for the Jewish National Fund, into which we put coins to help the pioneers building a Jewish presence in Palestine.

I first went to Israel in 1961 and I have been there since more times than I can count. I had family in Israel and have friends in Israel. One of them fought in the wars of 1956, 1967 and 1973 and was wounded in two of them. The tie clip that I am wearing is made from a campaign decoration awarded to him, which he presented to me.

I have known most of the Prime Ministers of Israel, starting with the founding Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Golda Meir was my friend, as was Yigal Allon, Deputy Prime Minister, who, as a general, won the Negev for Israel in the 1948 war of independence.

My parents came to Britain as refugees from Poland. Most of their families were subsequently murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust. My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town of Staszow. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed.

My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza. The current Israeli Government ruthlessly and cynically exploit the continuing guilt among gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians. The implication is that Jewish lives are precious, but the lives of Palestinians do not count.

On Sky News a few days ago, the spokeswoman for the Israeli army, Major Leibovich, was asked about the Israeli killing of, at that time, 800 Palestinians—the total is now 1,000. She replied instantly that

    “500 of them were militants.”

That was the reply of a Nazi. I suppose that the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto could have been dismissed as militants.

The Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni asserts that her Government will have no dealings with Hamas, because they are terrorists. Tzipi Livni’s father was Eitan Livni, chief operations officer of the terrorist Irgun Zvai Leumi, who organised the blowing-up of the King David hotel in Jerusalem, in which 91 victims were killed, including four Jews.

Israel was born out of Jewish terrorism. Jewish terrorists hanged two British sergeants and booby-trapped their corpses. Irgun, together with the terrorist Stern gang, massacred 254 Palestinians in 1948 in the village of Deir Yassin. Today, the current Israeli Government indicate that they would be willing, in circumstances acceptable to them, to negotiate with the Palestinian President Abbas of Fatah. It is too late for that. They could have negotiated with Fatah’s previous leader, Yasser Arafat, who was a friend of mine. Instead, they besieged him in a bunker in Ramallah, where I visited him. Because of the failings of Fatah since Arafat’s death, Hamas won the Palestinian election in 2006. Hamas is a deeply nasty organisation, but it was democratically elected, and it is the only game in town. The boycotting of Hamas, including by our Government, has been a culpable error, from which dreadful consequences have followed.

The great Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban, with whom I campaigned for peace on many platforms, said:

    “You make peace by talking to your enemies.”

However many Palestinians the Israelis murder in Gaza, they cannot solve this existential problem by military means. Whenever and however the fighting ends, there will still be 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza and 2.5 million more on the West Bank. They are treated like dirt by the Israelis, with hundreds of road blocks and with the ghastly denizens of the illegal Jewish settlements harassing them as well. The time will come, not so long from now, when they will outnumber the Jewish population in Israel.

It is time for our Government to make clear to the Israeli Government that their conduct and policies are unacceptable, and to impose a total arms ban on Israel. It is time for peace, but real peace, not the solution by conquest which is the Israelis’ real goal but which it is impossible for them to achieve. They are not simply war criminals; they are fools.

Sir Gerald Kaufman has been a Member of Parliament since 1970 and when the Labour Party was in the oppostion served as Shadow Environment Secretary, (1980-1983), Shadow Home Secretary (1983-1987) and Shadow Foreign Secretary (1987-1992). Since 1992 he has been one of the Labour Party’s most influential back-benchers.

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  1. HJ


  2. Will

    Thank you Mr. Kaufman. Thank you very much for the astute and fair appraisal of this vain attempt at genocide. I wish, with your authority and experience, you would write about the Bush Co. involvement in this “turning a blind eye.”

  3. Panda Monium

    It is clearly time for Jewish people of conscience to repudiate the criminal actions of the Israeli government. Thank you.

  4. Gershon Luria

    Nice, but the Jews in Ghetto Warsaw did not shoot rockets at German women and children for some eight years . . .Here is what Hamas leader say (please watch the video)

    “We will conquer Rome and then all of Europe. When we are done with Europe, we will conquer both the Americas and we will not give up Eastern Europe either”. ( Dr. Yunis Al-Astal, a Hamas member of the Palestinian parliament. )

    In every war citizens are being killed. England killed many many more in Kosovo Yugoslavia as well as in the Falkland Islands. the incidents are well known. and these people did not even shoot rockets at England for 1 day, as a matter of fact not at all!

    Gershon Luria, San Lorenzo, CA

  5. Paul Woodward

    “… the Jews in Ghetto Warsaw did not shoot rockets at German women and children for some eight years.” Are you suggesting that if the Jews had been firing rockets then the Germans would have had a justification for what the did?

    It’s a popular gambit to find the most overblown piece of rhetoric from any militant organization and then treat that as the definitive statement about that organization’s aims. Yunis Al-Astal’s declaration of Hamas’ megalomania should be seen for what it is: Friday prayer-time buffoonery. If lobbing Qassam rockets at Sderot is the first step towards world domination, we haven’t got much to worry about.

    However, whenever attention focuses on a statement such as the one from this particular cleric, yet ignores dozens and dozens of measured political statements from Hamas’ actual leaders then the object of the exercise is clearly not an attempt to understand Hamas’ true intentions but merely an effort to vilify the group in order to justify the ongoing efforts aimed at its destruction.

    Khalid Meshaal has said that if the majority of Palestinians, through a referendum, endorsed the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, Hamas would accept this decision. “We accept a state on the June 4 line with Jerusalem as capital, real sovereignty and full right of return for refugees but without recognising Israel,” the Hamas leader said less than two weeks after Yunis Al-Astal’s fire-breathing rhetoric. Of course, this doesn’t quite as far as fulfilling the most cherished dream of all Israelis — a warm endorsement from Hamas — but it should be seen for what it is: the basis for a political resolution to the conflict.

    “England killed many many more in Kosovo Yugoslavia as well as in the Falkland Islands.” Wrong. Firstly, the bombing of Kosovo was conducted by NATO and came after through ethnic cleansing, 250,000 people had been driven from their homes. Human Rights Watch estimates that around 500 civilians were killed during a 10-week bombing campaign. In the Falklands war there were 19 civilian casualties after 74 days of fighting.

  6. Heather Formaini

    Thank you very much for your fine speech. I hope that many others will now speak out. It is so shameful that the world has simply looked on in horror
    and has failed to act, just as it should have during the time of the Warsaw Ghetto.

  7. NoOneYouKno

    I think equating what Israel is doing in Gaza to what Britain has done in Kosovo or the Falklands is wrong. I think a better comparison is to what England has done in Ireland for more than 400 years: stealing the land, genocide, deliberate mass starvation, etc. Israel’s just not doing it as well, or as thoroughly, as England did.

  8. Kohn

    First – Israel gets away with murder not because of the influence of Jews; there are about 6 million Jews in America, and approximately the same number of Muslims, it is the 35 million Christian Zionists that are the power base here.

    And as far as Jews not firing rockets at Germany; Hitler considered Jews to be an existential threat to Germany and it’s preordained destiny. His thinking seems pretty stupid in retrospect. Israel is being a little more reasonable than Hitler when they consider Hamas an existential threat, but their own actions in Gaza are much more of a threat. The Arab world cares NOTHING for Palestinians. Egypt, for example, will not open it’s border to allow non-combatants out. The only thing Palestinians are good for is cannon fodder, the excuse to claim the high moral ground, and Israel just gave that to the extremists in spades.

  9. frank

    what corporation are terrorists working for these days,attacks on oil pipelines only benefit oil companies who then raise prices,wake up america and stop being so stupid.the last straw in israel was when they killed one of their own,rabins death was the start and the poorest of all the jews will be punished by god just like their fat cat neocons who will also be punished and please stop aiding these american zionist from turning the holy land into an overpriced religous retreat.the poor people of israel will be out priced in their own homeland and they were worried about the arab population overtaking them,what a laugh that their destuction will come from within and from american christian fanatics with big bucks,maybe the remaining jews and arabs can work in the tourist industry.i also suggest that the jews stop taking money from these american christians who are trying to artifiacily bring on the wrath at their time frame,how arrogant these people to think they can summon the lord.

  10. The botanist

    Never the less…time is on the Arabs side…..This may just have been the last phart of zionism….gyoos such as Kaufman may yet prevail….it would be a good thing…for the world and peace….I’m closer to 80 than I should like to admit..but I do…Many men and people have died for an assortment of causes in those nearly eight decades..including my father..wounded in Africa,.. Palestine actually,…
    resisting… kraut nazi goons… of the 3rd Reich who are now sending the ‘gas bill’ to the Palestinians to pay….. hm…..Merkel should do a little work on this reality… sometime… the same good man, my father, retuned to war to be killed in the stink against another fascist mob, the imperial Nippon… And still the murdering war clans… strut their evil crawl…. give us some peace….from war mongers and their govgoons of office…But, and maybe a big but, the new leadership of the 4th reich….may be another day….and there is in the hearts and souls of many…a new day dawning…..Remeber, and I hope in peace, that
    Tuesday the first of January is truly ‘….The End Of An Error’ …..

  11. John Rimshaw

    Gerald Kaufman is the ultimate self-hating jew. He chooses to ignore the constant attacks against the Israeli innocent civilians and Israel’s need to respond. Israel only acts in self-defense. The person who took his seat in Parliament (for Manchester and Groton) may have a big influence on Sir Gerald comments.

  12. bayside

    If we stop sending them money and weapons ,israel would be forced to grow up and stop acting like little boys..

  13. Mac

    It’s too late. Families of those thousands of Palestinians will not forget and forgive.

    I agree with him that things will change soon. Those Arabs will outnumber Jews in the middle east. They will not remain weak for ever.

  14. Maryam Medina

    Could you please have a chit chat with Obama, because he is on the bridge to nowhere when it comes to the Middle East Crisis. You would think, the way he has been talking, that he is a puppet with the strings being pulled by Bush!

  15. tonyt

    We seem to forget the West abnk and the CONTINUED settlement building there. IF Israel was truly serious about fining a solution to this problem wouldn’t they be ceasing all settlement building and removing settlements instead of increasing them? due to the buffer zones and illegal out post Israel no controls 40% of the west bank! Is this a state that is hoping for a two state solution or the disappearance of the palestinians into new refugee camps in Syria, Jordan or any bordering country that will take them.

  16. tonto

    i just want to thank Sir Gerald Kaufman for what he has siad above . he said lots to wich i did not know all the thanks to him . as well i did know i man with his place can say that . well done and believe me you have done more then what the arabs did . i am originly from Moroccan , and believe we never ever had any problems withe the jews the our friends , out neigbours and our moroccans , they copletely different then these jews in palestain !!!

  17. David Blum

    Kaufman is rightly despised by England’s Jewish community.

    He is one of those sick, self-hating Jews. His is ignorant as a whole, and of Jewish history & Jewish life, in particular. He is a disgrace- a betrayer of his people.

    I wouldn’t give him the attention he obviously seeks- He is generally ignored & rightly so. I would like to ascribe his vile comments to some kind of mental aberration, some altzheimer’s or aging process in which the brain fibres & cells are disintegrating… but sadly the disease has been long-standing…

    I wish he would try to come and visit us in Israel- and see how he is vilified- probably wouldn’t allow him to come… Crazy he may be.. but completely silly, he isn’t..

  18. Amnon

    You, as a Brit, should have a better understanding of this, so I’m surprised you chose to put things so out of context.

    Let’s start with a few facts – The Palestinians, until 1948, as a people, have never owned Israel. They have never ruled it, they were under Ottoman rule, then under British rule. That British mandate, by the way, only came into being in order to provide the Jews a national home in Israel.

    So knowing that the Palestinians did not have any sort of rule over the land, and that the Israelis did not have any sort of rule over the land, until 1948, then surely that means that the Palestinians’ claims of owning it and how Israelis stole their land are totally false – they may have lived there, yes, but they did not own that land.

    The problem begins in 1948, when the Palestinians decided they don’t want to share with the Israelis, and the independence war began. The UN may not approve of it anymore, but every country in existence has gained territory by conquering other nations or groups – no exceptions, none, I can’t stress this enough.

    The Palestinians figured that, with the help of their brethren from all around the middle east, eliminating the Israelis would be an easy task, and never for a second thought of the consequences of their actions. Well they lost, and with losing wars comes losing something of substantial value – otherwise war is meaningless – and in this case it was territory, the only thing of substantial value they had.

    You’d think that would have been it, but 20 years later they’ve decided to give it another go, and failed again to destroy the Israelis. Have they thought of the consequences? Obviously not, because the cost was the same.

    Today, the Palestinians are still trying to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. They have democratically elected Hamas as their government! This states very clearly that; as a group, as a people, as a nation, Palestinians would like to destroy Israel. Electing Hamas as a government is an active step towards that. This, my friend, is nothing short of a declaration of war. Only these days, Israel is at peace with Egypt and Jordan, and only Iran and Syria are Hamas’ allies – and with American aid, Israel again did short work of the Palestinians in operation cast lead this December.

    This time, the cost was very low – a thousand people dying in a month-long war? I seem to recall that the last time someone pissed off the Americans, a couple of Japanese cities got a taste of the A-bomb. There is also a good reason to doubt these reported death tolls, as they all came from Hamas itself, who as we all know like to stretch the truth every now and then.

    I do agree with you on one thing – early Israeli organizations like the Irgun were, in fact, terrorist organizations. The difference? The Israelis did not put their women and children at risk, then whined to the world when they were killed.

    As for other Israeli ‘atrocities’ during this latest war, such as bombing of the UN school, blocking UN vehicles, and killing children, I suggest you take a look on youtube for videos showing Hamas militants firing from a UN school, Hamas militants driving and firing from UN ambulances, and a Hamas militant grabbing a sitting child by his schoolbag to be used as a human shield. I guarantee you’ll find them.

  19. Paul Woodward

    Amnon writes “…every country in existence has gained territory by conquering other nations or groups – no exceptions, none, I can’t stress this enough.”

    Stress the point as much as you want, but that won’t make it true. Conquest is certainly inherent in colonialism. Likewise countries whose formation required the denial of the claims of a native population frequently subscribe to a founding mythology that grants settlers a stronger moral claim to the land than is allowed to those who were already there. In its most extreme this involves an outright denial that an indigenous population existed (“a land with no people for a people with no land”) or, even it the native presence is admitted, it’s value is diminished by saying things such as, “they had not formed a nation state and they didn’t own them a land.” In other words, we the colonialists, gave value to a land that was previously worthless. We brought civilization. We should be applauded.

    There are of course many countries that are not the product of conquest, take for example Ireland. After centuries of struggling under British subjugation the Irish finally won their independence. The British could reasonably argue that there was no modern state of Ireland prior to British rule since their rule went back well before the creation of modern nation states. But that kind of legalistic argument carries little weight when contrasted with the force of ancestry.

    When a family can say my ancestors lived in this town or this valley or this region for two, three, five or eight centuries, this generates a sense of entitlement that should humble someone who can only say that their family arrived here from Germany or Hungary or Russia or America a matter of a few decades ago.

    It’s clear that many Israelis and Israel supporters are on the defensive right now. I repeatedly encounter these loud protestations filled with self-righteousness and frustration at being “misunderstood.”

    There is a great danger, however, in either an individual or a nation harboring a profound sense of being misunderstood. This attitude produces a psychological shield that renders minds impervious to the effect of outside influence. This in turn shuts off the lifeblood of human intelligence which is the ability for conceptions and perceptions to constantly be subject to modification as we discover that the world is always larger and more complex than the constructions we use to understand it.

    Hiding behind barricades might be a short-term way of ensuring survival, but in the long run it produces stagnation and corruption. Israel is moving down a path that will lead to a self-imposed siege. The siege mentality has already taken hold and as a result, Israel is at risk of doing itself far greater harm than can be done by any of its enemies.

  20. Craig Torso

    Please can people stop claiming Kaufman is a self-hating anything, he is well established as a man who is almost smugly pleased with himself.

    This is probably why he’s more than happy to speak his mind, even if it gets him slandered by the reactionary jewish community

  21. Jo Houston

    To David Blum and John Rimshaw. There is an old saying -‘there is none so blind as those that will not see’. Surely you realize that people like Sir Gerald Kaufman and so many others that have been called “self-hating Jews”, are proud of their Jewish heritage, and it is through love of Jewry that they speak out, not through hate.The weakness of your arguments is underlined by your resort to vilification, which solves nothing.

  22. DE Teodoru

    I am an old man in NYC. To me America today looks like Germany circa 1930s. I fear that Americans are looking for scapegoats for their economic demise; they can’t face their own greed so they rather blame it on the Jews. The neocons and their “World War IV” made blaming it on the Jews quite possible by claiming that they alone speak for American Jews and that their critics are “self-hating Jews.” How they treat Norman Finklestein is how they might expect to be treated. But US Jews and neocons are not of the same breed. Most Jews were pillars of our Western culture; neocons are old Leninists wishing to be seen as “mensch” by caling for war (and profiteering on the side). Jews are different for they follow a moral call; that’s why the same proportion of Jews as blacks voted for Obama, despite the neocons’ slander that he’s a Muslim, a terrorist-lover and hates America– it is the neocon “negroe problem,” not that of the Jews. But when you doubt your “menschood,” you like to play war….verbally at least. Israel is not helping; fearing Obama presiding over an economically depressed America will not lavishly engorge the Israeli $placenta on which this 60 y/o fetus lives. So as the the US shifts attention from Mideast to South Asia, Israel warns: if you leave the area we have no choice but to massacre all the Palestinans, so if you don’t want them dead support us. This is not fools, it is the bluff of mad men for Israelis will rise up to stop them. So I thank Sir Gerald with a face full of tears. I have been so clinically depressed and ill over what I saw in Gaza that I can no longer function. I just tremble in fear over what will happen next, here and there. But Sir Gerald reminds me of my parents’ Jewish friends– survivors of a double Holocaust, Hitler’s and Stalin’s. These were my mentors through a youth of refuge from East Europe. I just can’t believe that they all died and left behind only the likes of Abe Foxman. Sir Gerald reads like all my Jewish mentors, the Israelis I know, like Prof Shleim and the Zionists of my youth. So long as Jews like him still have a voice I can feel confident that we will overcome, that Israel will integrate and that we will avoid another made-in-America Holocaust. Thank you Sir Gerald– we old people are so self-hating for our helplessness– but when we see beauty in reasoned prose we regain enthusiasm and that’s what keeps us alive to fight, to hope that the goodness of God will prevail. I thank you in a face full of joyful tears for being a “righteous Jew” of my youth. I hope you can sense what this goyim feels reading your post.

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