A surprising headline? You bet! No broadcaster in the world has been more consistently critical of Israel and more blindly anti-Israel in its bias. Until, apparently, today.
This morning the BBC put on a force majeure of a program. It was as if they had used scientific scales to accurately balance expressions of horror and concern – horror about the actions and plans of Hamas, and concern for Israel trying to deal with Hamas in the context of the densely populated Gaza City and Gaza Strip. Were my ears deceiving me?
Laura Kuenssberg is the very talented presenter of the BBC’s weekly flagship news program. She always takes the trouble to be fully informed about the issues and, very significantly, she does not give her guests an inch of wriggle room. It amazes me that politicians agree to appear. She asks them the most penetrating questions and, while smiling politely, brow beats them into giving an unambiguous answer. If they refuse to or use avoiding tactics, she persists until even the most sympathetic of viewers knows they have something to hide.
The line-up of this morning’s guests was formidable. For the government, the Deputy Prime Minister, Oliver Dowden, for Labour, the Shadow Minister of Defense, John Healey, Piers Morgan a broadcaster well-known for his strongly held and expressed views, and one Carla Denyer, a co-leader of the Green Party and a candidate in the next General Election. There was also a pre-recorded segment with Ambassador Hossam Zaki, Assistant Secretary General of the Arab League (the League of Arab States).
Dowden gave a spirited defense of Israel’s position and made clear his contempt for people who march in support of Palestinians alongside extremists chanting their anti-Israel and antisemitic abuse.
John Healey refused to be phased by the extremists in Labour and repeated the party line that a ceasefire was out of the question and that Israel had the right to defend itself in whatever way it saw fit.
Piers Morgan might have been a representative of World Jewry. He insisted that Israel had the duty to take on Hamas and defeat it wholeheartedly so it could never again raise its ugly head. He felt it necessary, more than once to give the Green party rep a lesson in reality, and did it brilliantly.
Without wishing to be dismissive, there was one person in the line-up whose views lacked understanding and gained no traction with other guests. It appears the Green Party favors a ceasefire despite being told time and time again that such a move would leave Hamas in place to do it all again – as one of their officials called for this week. The Greens also favor negotiations with Hamas, despite Hamas’s declared objective of killing all Jews everywhere. The rest of this blog therefore only considers the views of the other participants in the program.
Everyone expressed their abhorrence at the actions of Hamas on October 7th, including the representative of the Arab League who made a point of going much further that the Leagues Foreign Ministers went on October 11th. Nobody felt a ceasefire was an appropriate way forward and everyone understood the necessity to deconstruct Hamas. Everyone felt humanitarian breaks in the fighting should occur, similar to the successful break earlier this week that enabled aid to flow into Gaza and injured civilians out to Egypt, albeit, with some attempt by Hamas to take advantage of the arrangements.
What is most significant is that everyone including Ambassador Zaki supported ‘the day after’ solution of rapid negotiations towards the establishment of a free Palestine alongside a secure Israel. Representing twenty-two states – Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordon, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen, and notably not Iran, – Ambassador Zaki strongly endorsed the two-state solution. People like the Ambassador do not make such statements off the cuff. He said what he was authorized to say. It is for Israel to hear him!
The solution that seemed unattainable for so long is back on the table. It won’t be achieved through Hamas, Hezbollah, PIJ or the others and it won’t be supported by Iran. Neither terrorists nor Iran are representative of Palestinians and they care nothing for them. This war, and in particular the realization of just what Israel has been dealing with every single day for years on its borders, has been such a shock to the world that right now negotiations for peace, with Palestinians of good will, are possible. The Arab League, that includes countries with whom Israel has peace treaties and new partners in the Abraham Accords, is ready. Is Israel? This could be the best chance the world has of isolating Iran.
The only alternative to peace is war. While there are those in the Israeli Government who believe war is preferable, I say deliberately, it takes a madman to favour war over peace. Let men of peace represent Zion and give hope to our own people, the Palestinians and the world that this most intractable problem of history can finally be overcome.
This is an opportunity Israel must grasp with both hands. And whether one lives in Israel or in the diaspora, we will be able to continue to say with conviction and belief in the future, Am Yisroel Chai.