On a recent visit to the UK, I had the opportunity, along with Shomron Governor Gershon Mesika, to meet with one of England's most prominent Israel-bashers, Member of Parliament Julian Brazier.
MP Brazier has recently gone on record speaking out against the Light Rail train in Jerusalem, claiming that it is a tool of Israel's apartheid policies, and that it connects "illegal settlements” to recognized areas of Israel. On one hand, he claims that he has never called for a boycott of Israel, while at the same time he calls for an investigation of local UK municipalities working with the French waste management company Veolia, because of their involvement in the Light Rail project in Jerusalem.
Beyond that, MP Brazier claims that Israel's "settlement" activity in the West Bank is the cause of the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as well as anti-British sentiments in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This takes us back to my opening question: Where do you start, when claims so detached from reality are bombarded on Israel by academics and elected officials in modern Western countries? I can understand those who say that it’s no use, and suggest ignoring the accusations. But I would suggest that we confront these bashers and not let them get away so easily.
So I was glad for the initiative of the British Israel Coalition, who asked our leadership to meet with Mr. Brazier to set the record straight. After Brazier's recent statement, BICPAK organized a letter writing campaign to the British Parliament and local newspapers, to speak out against these outrageous statements.
I am glad that we have people like Gershon Mesika, who is an effective municipal administrator with a clear pragmatic agenda of building the Jewish communities of the Shomron. But I am also not ashamed to say in any forum (including the UK’s House of Commons) that the land of Israel is the birthright of the Jewish people, as stated in the Bible.
This is our land
This is not "occupied" land - it belongs to no other people but Israel. The development of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria is not the cause of the Arab Spring in the Middle East or anti-West sentiments in Islamic societies, but rather, fundamentalist Islamization is the cause.
Also attending this meeting was Jordanian writer and activist Mudar Zahran, who reminded MP Brazier that the Palestinians already have a state in Jordan and called for his assistance in replacing the Hashemite monarchy with their own leadership.
I do not think that we succeeded in changing Brazier's anti-Israel outlook, which (as he pointed out) is based on three generations of his family's involvement in the region. Both his father and grandfather served in the British army during their occupation of the land.
Supporters of Israel do not need to sit back and expect this kind of bashing as a “given.” We should stand up and state the simple truth. This is our land. Those who wish to live with us in peace stand to enjoy great benefits from our friendship and ability to bring the region forward in all aspects.
Israel is not the cause of anti-Western sentiments; at best, it is a convenient excuse and meeting place for anti-West and anti-Semitic types who pose as liberals and human rights enthusiasts. The suffering of the people in Syria, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Egypt has nothing to do with the light rail in Jerusalem, or with the number of Jews who live in Judea and Samaria.
Julian Brazier might not have been convinced to stop bashing Israel, but after the letter writing campaign and the meeting with Shomron leadership, he knows that if he wishes to continue on the path of confronting Israel, his work will only grow more demanding; he will need to do more work and better research if he doesn't want to be exposed as a fool.
All of this might bring him and his like to reconsider how much time and effort they can invest in dealing with an issue that is far from their constituency's real needs and interests.
David Ha’ivri is the director of the Shomron Liaison Office. He and his wife Mollie live in Kfar Tapuach, Shomron with their eight children. You can follow him on Twitter @haivri