31 July 2009
Dear Mr Miliband,
I was amazed and appalled to learn that HM Government has been instrumental in initiating world opposition to the presence of a Jewish Community in what was the Shepherd’s Hotel in Jerusalem and previously the home of the Mufti of Jerusalem, built in the mid 1930’s. It is clear that according to statements issued by the government, certain areas of Jerusalem must be, to use Nazi terminology, Juden Rein (Jew Free), including the area of the Shepherd Hotel. It is not acceptable that HM Government should make such unprecedented statements, possibly citing that the status of the city should be left to final status negotiations and nothing must be done to alter the existing status. Strange as it may seem, Jews and Arabs can purchase properties in any part of Jerusalem, be they pre 1967 Israeli city or the illegally Jordanian occupied pre 1967 Jerusalem incorrectly referred to as “East” Jerusalem. HM Government is promoting both pure racism and a denial of basic Human Rights – why should Jews not live anywhere in the Biblical Holy Land? Of course, the Jewish people have not forgotten how the Arab countries have deliberately made their countries Juden Rein and in some cases deny entry of any Jew, even to this day.
The news that you had rescinded Arms Export Licences for certain materials to Israel is, despite the denials, a full blown arms embargo. On Monday you stated to a NATO meeting in Brussels that the presence and actions of UK troops in Afghanistan, some 3500 miles from the UK, is to preventing terrorism in this country. How can you rescind Arms Export Licences to Israel which is facing terrorism, not 3500 miles away, but literally on its border. One cannot accept that Operation Cast Lead in Gaza earlier this year was anything but a war against terrorism. Perhaps you would care to explain these hypocritical double standards, or is it that Jewish blood in Israel is far cheaper than the blood of UK citizens?
Only yesterday it was revealed that HM Government is deliberately funding political activities in Israel (see enclosed report in yesterday’s Jerusalem Post). One must ask how would HM Government feel if another country funded political activities of groups within the UK. It is detestable for this external interference by the UK in Israel in such funding activities. Under the circumstances, I believe HM Government have no right in funding the Breaking the Silence group's trips and activities in Hebron. Is it that since the massacre in 1929 of the 79 Jewish residents of Hebron, who had lived in the city for millennium after which HM Government decided to make the city Juden Rein, because it refused to provide protection for them from the Arab murderers a reason to investigate the current position. Hebron was and is the second holiest city for Judaism after Jerusalem, being the burial place of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish Nation which our forefather Abraham purchased in perpetuity for the Jewish People.
I should like to enquire of HM Government and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in particular how it can promulgate racist policies in denying Jewish presence in any part of Jerusalem and the Holy Land as well as selectively cancelling Arms Export Licences. Furthermore, in the light of yesterday’s report why is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office funding such activities in Israel which represent a gross breech of Israeli sovereign rights and is denigrating Israel in the minds of the UK population thereby creating and fostering Anti Semitism. Would you advise which other organisations in Israel receive such funding, the value in financial terms, the rationale, the time duration and when the funding commenced. Furth more, would you provide details of similar activities in Arab/Muslim countries.
UK funding political activity in Israel
Jul. 30, 2009 Herb Keinon , THE JERUSALEM POST
Israel is up in arms over a declaration by a British government spokesman that the UK is funding political activity in Israel.
British spokesman Martin Day said in an interview in Dubai with Al-Arabiya television last week that the British government was "taking practical steps towards freezing settlement activities."
"For instance," Day said, "we finance projects aimed at halting settlement activities. One of these projects seeks to build new Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem and save Palestinian houses from demolition."
In addition, Day said in an Arabic interview, "we also finance organizations that monitor settlement activities."
He further stated that "products from the settlements do not enjoy preferential custom duties that we offer to products coming from Israel. In light of this, we can say that we are taking effective and practical steps against settlement activities."
The Foreign Ministry's senior deputy director general, Rafi Barak, spoke with British Ambassador Tom Phillips two days ago and asked for an explanation. He met with the British envoy again on Wednesday to again discuss the matter and voice Israel's displeasure.
Phillips, according to Barak, said he was looking into the matter.
Karen Kaufman, the British Embassy's spokesman in Tel Aviv, said in response that the British government was "not involved in the actual construction of new Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem."
"The UK is spending £450,000 over 4 years to support projects in east Jerusalem and the West Bank that help Palestinians better understand and effectively use the Israeli planning laws to gain permission both retrospectively for existing homes, and prospectively for new homes on their side of the Green Line," she said.
Yossi Levy, the ministry's spokesman for the Hebrew press, characterized Day's comments as the "height of chutzpah," and said such activity was "unheard of."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, "We can't recall any other case of a democratic country funding political activities inside another democratic country."
Additionally, he said, this makes no sense from their point of view because any political activities they are backing will lose credibility in the eyes of the Israeli public when it is revealed that these activities are funded by a foreign government.
"How would the British feel if another country funded political activities of groups within the UK?" he asked.
Barak's conversation with Phillips came fast on the heels of revelations that the British, Dutch and Spanish governments were funding Breaking the Silence, an Israeli NGO that recently published a report in which unnamed soldiers alleged IDF misconduct during Operation Cast Lead.
Following The Jerusalem Post's revelations of the group's funding, Ha'aretz reported earlier this week that Israel's ambassador to Holland met with the director-general of the Dutch Foreign Ministry, complained about the Dutch embassy's funding of Breaking the Silence, and urged the funding be terminated. According to this report, the Dutch Foreign Minister - considered a strong friend of Israel - was unaware of the funding and gave instructions to launch an internal investigation into the matter.
This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1248277926821&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull
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==================================================================================Israel targets U.K. funding of controversial leftist group By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent
Tags: EU, Israel News, U.K. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1103748.html
Israel continues to ratchet up diplomatic pressure against European Union funding of a controversial left-wing group.
The deputy director-general of the Foreign Ministry, Rafi Barak, expressed "concern" last week over Britain's financial contributions to "Breaking the Silence," an organization founded by Israel Defense Forces veterans which collects testimonies from soldiers serving in the Palestinian territories.
Barak communicated Israel's dissatisfaction over Britain's funding of the group during a meeting with London's ambassador to Tel Aviv, Tom Phillips.
Barak met with Phillips to discuss efforts by various British organizations to institute a boycott against Israel. During the meeting, Barak also raised the subject of funds which the British government channels to Breaking the Silence.
The organization recently became the subject of scrutiny after it published the testimonies of IDF soldiers who served in the military offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip earlier this year.
Barak requested clarifications as to the reasons behind Britain's funding of the group and whether the money was used to fund the recent report on Operation Cast Lead.
According to information obtained by Barak, the British embassy in Tel Aviv received 40,000 pounds in 2008. Phillips told Barak that the money transfer to the group presents no problem since Breaking the Silence is a legal organization.
Phillips added that the money was meant to fund the group's trips and activities in Hebron, and that none of the money was used for compiling and publishing its report on the Gaza war.
The move is part of a continuing Foreign Ministry campaign to halt EU funding of the group's activities.
Last week, the Israeli ambassador to the Netherlands, Harry Knei-Tal, met with the director-general of the Dutch Foreign Ministry and complained about the Dutch embassy's funding of Breaking the Silence.
In the meeting last week between Knei-Tal and the director-general of the Dutch Foreign Ministry, the Israeli ambassador suggested that the Netherlands' funding of the organization should be terminated, according to a source.
"The Dutch taxpayer's money could be better used to promote peace and human rights," the source quoted Knei-Tal as saying.
In response, Breaking the Silence accused the Foreign Ministry of "endangering democracy" by engaging in a "witch hunt" against the organization.