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I moved from dank, dark North Manchester, U.K. to Karmiel, Western Galilee, Israel in March 2010. It is, believe me, one of the sunniest, loveliest towns on earth. With a background in local Jewish journalism I continue to write freelance. I manage several blogs, have  appeared on Technorati and Blogcritics and now contribute to the online magazine, 'Live Encounters'. My main blog is Alwayswriteagain (http://wwwalwayswriteagain.blogspot.com

Friday, 18 February 2011

Time For William Hague To Leave The Foreign Office?

I am beginning to wonder if Mr William Hague is the right choice as Britain’s Foreign Secretary.

Granted, he has been in politics since he was in his teens and famously became then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s darling during a party conference.

Further, it is accepted that he has remained in government to help David Cameron gain the Conservative Party leadership, fight the ensuing General Election and then take his first steps as Prime Minister.

But questions must be asked.

First, during March last year Hague  faced demands for his resignation over “his shadowy role” in the muddy tax affairs of top  Conservative donor and former deputy party chairman, Lord Ashcroft. Why didn’t he go then?

Then in September, he was forced to deny media speculation of an alleged gay affair with his 25-year-old special adviser, Christopher Myers who resigned due to the pressure of “untrue and malicious allegations.” Why didn’t he step down then?

After all, it is said that people in public life need to be beyond reproach and that a man who may have betrayed his wife with an alleged adulterous affair  may also betray his country.

As Foreign Secretary Mr Hague puts British interests first, not those of other powers. So why did he take such an odd and unpleasant view of the unfolding revolution in the Middle East by accusing Israel of being belligerent? He recently visited Israel and uttered all the correct platitudes – so what’s gone awry?

Events in the Arab world have nothing to do with Israel whose leaders are merely fearful that despite all present protestations, a new regime in Egypt for example, may not honour the 1979 Peace Treaty.

Earlier this week a hate-filled 40-strong crowd of Tunisian Muslims gathered outside the main synagogue in Tunis shouting anti-Jewish slogans and reportedly screamed ‘death to the Jews’.

I cannot but help muse that in an echo of first Israeli Premier David Ben-Gurion’s celebrated words, Israel must be determined to keep the peace as though there were no Arab revolution but has to  intensify its security and intelligence as though there were no peace.

Small wonder that Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu has advised that he would "reinforce the might" of Israel and warned the nation to be ready for "any outcome" from the Egyptian protests.

Is it for Mr Hague to reprimand Mr Netanyahu, who has  managed to maintain an uneasy peace with Israel’s Arab neighbours since Operation Cast Lead and has  helped to keep the Israeli economy buoyant while those in Europe are still floundering in noisy desperation?

My thoughts are shared by many in the Anglo-Jewish community including Rabbi Dr Jeffrey Cohen, the renowned former minister of Stanmore Synagogue, London. How is it then that The Times newspaper  - usually a fair and objective Israel-watcher - chose this week not to publish a letter from him on the subject?Rabbi.Dr.Jeffrey.M.Cohen

So I will redress the balance and publish it. Let’s hope some of The Times’s august readership now has a chance to view it:

 

“The Editor
”The Times

“‘’William Hague and Israel's belligerence’

“Sir

A few weeks ago I quipped to a friend that, somehow or other, a way would be found to lay the blame on Israel for all the upheaval in the Middle East. Your screaming headline ("Hague tells 'belligerent' Israelis to soften line", Feb 9) did not, therefore, come as any surprise. The Foreign Minister has, most unworthily, latched on to the age-old scapegoat and, single-handedly, fanned the Middle Eastern flames and further encouraged Israel's enemies.
“At a time of widespread conflict all around the Middle East, and with so many victims of state brutality, the mind of our Foreign Minister is focused primarily upon "the belligerent language" of Israel's Prime Minister!  He also takes exception to the latter's quite legitimate call to his people to "prepare for any outcome" and his vow to "reinforce the might of the State of Israel". Given the political maelstrom surrounding Israel, any Prime Minister who did not take such measures would surely be remiss in his duty.
“The sooner the popular, yet bitterly misleading and ironic, references to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as 'The Middle East conflict' or 'The Middle East peace process', are discarded, the better it will be. They are a disingenuous diversion, whose objective is to obfuscate the true source of all the wider 'Middle Eastern' problems, a source that lies at the heart of the demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt.    
Dr Jeffrey M Cohen
London, N2”

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