The Archbishop of Canterbury made a pronouncement last year which was somewhat unusual in modern Anglican geo-political quibbling and hedging. The statement is still on the Lambeth Palace website, and it makes plain that Justin Welby “fully accepts that Israel has the same legitimate rights to peace and security as any other state and to self-defence within humanitarian law when faced with an external threat”.
The people of Israel have voted to guard those rights. The reaction from the civilised world to Benjamin Netanyahu’s unexpected victory has been reserved, to put it politely. At the time of writing, it is reported that President Obama, the putative leader of the free and democratic world, has still not phoned Mr Netanyahu to offer his congratulations. The President may have favoured a turn to the left with the itular Zionist Union, led by Yitzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni, who favour the establishment of a state called Palestine. But in the end the people of Israel chose the right path, if not the religious right path. With indisputably the largest proportion of the popular vote, Likud is set to lead the coalition governing Israel for another four years.
We know that Barack Obama wants a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders. He isn’t going to get that for as long as Benjamin Netanayhu is Prime Minister, for whom such a proposal is both “unrealistic” and “indefensible”. Why should Israel barter away her security and entertain a border approximating to the perilous 1949 armistice lines? How would that secure peace or enhance security?
Hamas have said there’s no hope in this life or the next for any Jews living in the ‘occupied territories’. When the State of Israel was declared in 1948, hordes of armed Arabs descended to murder her at birth. The UN plan for partition of the land was accepted by Jews but opposed by five Muslim states who decided to invade and rid the land of the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And Egypt would doubtless have invaded again if Israel had not pre-empted their attack in 1967.
While Israel remains surrounded by enemies – having ceded Gaza to Arab control from whence rain thousands of Katyusha rockets – Obama still advocates a ‘peace plan’ which poses an existential threat to the only democracy in the region. There has been no ‘Arab spring’ in Gaza. Where Spring has sprung, there is no sign of a glorious summer of liberty, democracy and religious equality. Syria spawned Hezbollah; Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood; Gaza Hamas; Lebanon a plethora of anti-Israel terrorist groups; and Iran is pledged to wipe Israel “off the map”: the whole of Arabia seems intent on Israel’s destruction. In this context, the Obama ‘peace plan’ is likely to yield genocide on a scale not seen since Auschwitz.
A Zionist is one who believes that the Jews have a legitimate right to a homeland; that Israel is that homeland; and that Jews have a right to live in that country in peace and security. Conservatives are Zionists. Or, rather, true Conservatives are Zionists. As David Cameron reminded us last year in a speech to the Conservative Friends of Israel:
There is something deep in our Party’s DNA that believes in Israel, the right of Israel to exist, the right of Israel to defend itself and that a deal should only happen if it means that Israel is really allowed to have peace within secure borders and real guarantees about its future… The West has to understand that there isn’t an equivalence between a democratically elected Government of Israel, a state of Israel that is a democracy, that’s a member of the United Nations, that has a totally legitimate right to exist and defend itself – there is no equivalence between that and a group like Hamas. When it comes to Hamas we have to be very clear about the Quartet principles, until they recognise the state of Israel, until they put an end to violence and accept previous agreements, they really have to move toward those principles in a big way before they should get any Western money and Western support.
And when asked about the British ‘loons’ and ‘trots’ who seek to boycott Israel and defame her at every turn, he said:
What’s disturbing about it, is it is something that is happening here in the United Kingdom and it’s something that has absolutely no justification because Israel is a democratic country and these Trots as you put it are treating Israel as some sort of pariah state and that is completely wrong. So I have no hesitation in saying yes it may be a bunch of loons but actually what they are doing is profoundly wrong, profoundly damaging and also I think sometimes attacks on Israel can spill over into anti-Semitism, to be frank about it.
The starting point for peace in the Middle East is not the Obama plan: it is not a tit-for-tat Israeli-Arab bartering over land; nor is it dependent on Israeli withdrawal to the arbitrary armistice lines of any previous era. The path to lasting peace is contingent first and foremost upon an unequivocal commitment by the governments of all Arab states that “the Jews have a right to a homeland in Israel and a right to their country”; that Israel has “the same legitimate rights to peace and security as any other state”. When Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Gaza and the Saudi-Salafists of Arabia come to accept that, they must then proceed to eradicate all expressions of Israel-hatred from their cultures and constitutions, and cleanse their lands of the Judeophobes and anti-Semitic extremists conspiring in their midst.
Benjamin Netanyahu understands this. He also understands that it may take some time. He now has another four years to try to secure the peace of Jerusalem, for which we are exhorted to pray (Ps 122:6).