Tuesday, November 14, 2017

How Bad Was Ms. Hotovely?

Melanie Phillips did not take kindly to Deputy Minister Tzipi Hotovely listening to her being interviewed on the BBC (starts at 1:31:00):

The interview with Tzipi Hotovely was a car crash. In the face of Robinson’s unleashed aggression Hotovely simply didn’t have a clue. The encounter illustrated yet again that the Israelis have zero understanding of the big lie behind everything British Israel-bashers hurl at Israel – that its behaviour is fundamentally unconscionable because the Jews displaced the indigenous inhabitants and rightful inheritors of the land.

As a result, Hotovely missed the point every time and thus failed to counter Robinson’s allegations with core facts that the listening and uninformed British public badly needed to hear. When Robinson falsely claimed again that the Balfour declaration’s undertaking to protect Arab rights was “unfinished business”, Hotovely replied that Israel’s Arabs did have rights. She was talking, however, about civil and religious rights, totally failing to grasp that Robinson was talking about political rights – which were never in the declaration.

Then Robinson started accusing Israel of denying those Balfour rights to the Arabs living under Israeli “occupation”. Hotovely should have replied that these Arabs were not Israel citizens and therefore not entitled to the rights afforded to Israel’s citizens, including Israeli Arabs. Instead she resorted to the knee-jerk and irrelevant political point about the Jews’ own claim to Judea and Samaria. Even when Robinson further compounded his own error by stating falsely that the Balfour declaration had said “nothing should be done which prejudices the rights of the Palestinian people”, she failed to say it had said nothing of the sort because there was no identifiable “Palestinian” Arab people at that time. Instead she spluttered, correctly but irerelevantly (sic), about the Palestinians’ refusal to coexist with Israel.

She was, in short, beyond hopeless, reflecting the profound and enduring failure of Israeli diplomacy even to understand the world in which it has to manoeuvre.

I listened to the segment.

Hotovely does mention international recognition. And she properly links that as an act which was connected to thousands of years of Jewish history, which appears in the Balfour Declaration and incorporated in the League of Nations decision to award to Great Britain the Mandate over Palestine.

She makes a general, non-religious, statement that it is natural to have a homeland.

She emphasizes that the Arabs-called-Palestinians themselves refused the opportunities for their own self-determination achievement although the intricacy in this is indeed dangerous for it is murky. 

And she stresses that there is no Arab recognition of any Jewish national identity.

All these do not justify much of what Melanie writes.

True, there is a method to dealing with what the host was doing including shutting her off, moving on to another subject while dropping an aside on the previous subject which she was not properly allowed to respond to although I think at twice she stopped him in his tracks and replied.

Yes, she did fail to adequately clarify what I have been writing for years that the quite intentional and consistent over the years non-mention of "Arabs" as a specific "community" in all the documents and rather preferring multiple communities existing at the time without specific "political" rights all indicate that primary and sole political, national sovereignty was to be awarded to the Jewish people.

Yes, she did address the issue of second-class citizens but did not make the distinction properly that the Arab population of Judea and Samaria has its own government agency, the Palestinian Authority.  That there are no elections or civil liberties or other rights is their fault, not Israel's.

One last point on the issue of law:  the international legal authorization and approval of a Jewish national home in Palestine was predicated on, we must recognize, the religious and cultural history of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel as acknowledged by the leaders of the powers at the time.  In other words, it is a circle and inter-connnected.   Melanie and Tzipi go together.

Room for improvement, surely.  Hopeless, though?  Not so much.



Yosi Birnbaum said...

I listened to the segment. Tzipi Hotovely is a lawyer, but she spoke as a diplomat and a politician. So to say she was interested to stress her own points and to narrow down Robinson’s biased approach. I think Tzipi addressed the average BBC radio listener and she succeeded to explain to him her points. Melanie Phillips could be right if it wasn't just an interview but international negotiations.

Drora Bat Melech said...

I agree to Yossi's observation. D.Minister Hotovelly is a diplomat. Yet we need to stop being on the defense and start asserting OFFENSIVLY. The Balfour declaration gave us 100 years ago on a golden platter ALL areas west of the Jordan River. This 51 country decision MUST be repeated AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN. There was NO OCCUPATION, NO ARAB LANDS designated
Many aspired to that but the ONLY international AGREEMENT ratified was on the JEWISH HOMELAND borders.

Melanie Phillips said...

I am sorry we disgree on this as I have much respect for you. I believe, though, that you have missed the point just as Tzipi Hotovely missed it. There was a double sting to the BBC accusation: that Israel was denying the Palestinians rights granted to Israelis (the claim that lies beneath the “apartheid” canard) and that this contravened the safeguard of non-Jewish “rights” in the Balfour Declaration.

Hotoveley failed to identify and nail the falsehoods on which these accusations are based. She failed to make the crucial point that Israel’s “occupation” is justified many times over in international law and the obvious legal and democratic reasons why Arabs who aren’t citizens of Israel aren’t entitled to the same rights as Israeli citizens. She failed even to mention the Balfour Declaration and failed to point out the selective misrepresentation of its wording that had just been hurled at her; and she failed to mention that the right to settle in the disputed territories was given to the Jews alone by the interational community which enshrined it in international law.

Vague references to thousands of years of Jewish history, general statements of the right to a homeland and observations about Palestinian rejectionism are all worthy points but wholly inadequate to the task she faced: to call out and forensically destroy the core falsehood used against Israel, that through its very inception and subsequent behaviour it has deprived of their rights the indigenous people of the land. The key point which Hotovely (like so many Israelis) fails to grasp is that the core of the western animus against Israel is the entrenched belief that the “Palestinians” have rights which Israel is denying them in contravention of international law and history. These are the falsehoods that lie behind every hostile claim made about Israel, and which every Israeli spokesman who is thus attacked must directly address and destroy by specific reference to the truths of law and history. Hotovely conspicuously failed to do so on this occasion.

YMedad said...

Melanie, I do not think we disagree. I think you are absolutely correct that much more could have been done. And probably an native English-speaker would have been more adept at picking up the nuances. And that she did miss opportunities. Perhaps we disagree on the degree of the inadequacy displayed. An yes, what you've stressed is crucial. I think over the past decades in op-eds and blog posts I have zeroed in on that.

One point though that you now stressed: "the right to settle in the disputed territories was given to the Jews alone by the inter[n]ational community which enshrined it in international law." Here I am going to be contrary.

Article 6 of the Mandate decision reads in full: "The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes." While political primacy is awarded to the Jews in that non-Jews were only to have their "civil and religious rights" and "position" not prejudiced, that wording of the Article does not disallow settling, owning property or the such of non-Jews. Unless I misunderstood your wording, I do not think the Mandate enshrined such discrimination between the various populations. It adds an new extra responsibility to the Mandate Power: to encourage close Jewish settlement (and yes, the areas involved surely included all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza at that time).

YMedad said...

And now I see this:

"Transportation Minister Moshe Carmel...said, 'If we sit 20 years, the world will get used to our being in those territories, in any case no less than they got used to [Jordan’s King] Hussein being there. We have more rights; we are more identified with these territories than he is'.”

That was in December 1967. We have more rights.


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