Ethical Foreign Policy – I Don’t Think Do

Over the years there has been images that have and will very probably stay with me for the rest of my life and one such image this week was of a young boy holding a crutch whilst in the other hand he had a slingshot.

I’m not as my friends or those who have read my thoughts on religion by any means a believer in anyone’s god but as a child who went through primary school in the 1950’s and had to sit through Religious Instruction – no Religious Education for my generation – which was based on the Anglican Version of the religious fables I well remember the story of David and Goliath.

Now given that most – if not all – of the stories in the bible are just that stories there is no denying that as a child the story of the “underdog” and the “bullied underdog at that – facing up to the bully who has great might and power with nothing more than a slingshot and five stones is inspiring.

How many times I wonder has the story been used as an example not only to young people that they should never bend the knee to the bully and especially to a bully who is cruel.

So the question now in case of Palestine and Israel is who exactly are the Philistines in the modern David v Goliath scenario that we are seeing unfold before us in the 21st Century.

This isn’t just a contest between two nations but three with Palestine and the Palestinians facing the armed, economic and political might of Israel and the USA.

Which of course raises the thorny issue that anyone with an opinion on the situation faces in that if you believe the Palestinians are being cruelly subjected to gross indignities and killed – murdered if you will – by an international occupying nation – namely Israel – you are immediately branded as being an anti-Semite.

There is a problem associated with being called an anti-Semite which is that the onus is placed on the accused to argue and demonstrate that they aren’t which is about as impossible to prove as that of a God of any kind exists.

What it does of course is to take the pressure and criticism off of the accuser.

It is a tactic that dictators down the ages have used to justify their actions.

Which brings us back to the current flashpoint that was initiated by the President of the USA agreeing to move their embassy to Jerusalem which led to protests from the Palestinians and by any measure the excessive use of force by Israel leading to the tragic killing of men, women and children.

I wonder if the soldiers thought whilst shooting protesters about the story of David and Goliath?

The difference being that in the current situation the overwhelming power of the brute lies in the hands of Goliath and those who have been denied by them even their basic rights by those who are illegally occupying their land are not in a position to realistically take them on.

Now before anyone reading this gets the wrong impression I absolutely believe that Israel has the right to exist and to protect itself from opponents in the same way that every nation on the planet has.

I also fervently believe that the Palestinians have a right to exist and to have their occupied lands returned to them.

Let me put it this way.

I always believed that Poland, Hungary, East Germany and all of the other countries who were subjected to occupation for decades by the USSR had a right to exist and for the occupying forces to leave.

It was a view that was held and supported by the United Kingdom and the USA.

So how is it that they don’t hold the same view over Palestine and Israel and why didn’t they unequivocally condemn the actions by Israel?

Contrast their approach to that they took when it was reported – and we should remember that it is yet to be corroborated – that the Syrian Government had carried out a gas attack on their own people in Douma.

An approach that saw both the United Kingdom and USA carrying out a show of strength series of bombing attacks against what they claimed were Syrian Government targets.

The explanation from both Governments was that the attacked were necessary and justified as part of their supporting independence and their ethical foreign policy.

It has to be said that there were many people both in Britain and the United States who opposed the military action in Syria.

The question is – well at least it is in my mind – where was the ethical foreign policy as we watched on our televisions the killing of unarmed Palestinian men, women and children?

Of course it wouldn’t make any sense to call as a response for the bombing of Israeli Government targets in fact to do so would be the height of folly and stupidity but we should have expected the actions to be strongly condemned.

Instead what we saw was our Foreign Secretary – I still cannot get used to the idea that the UK have the lying, bungling incompetent Boris Johnston as foreign secretary – urging “restraint”..

I’m sure the families of the victims of the Israeli killings will think his calls are simply cold hearted words that hide his complete disregard for the suffering they have and continue to endure with no end to it in sight.

Perhaps the economic policies of Britain in which in 2014 they approved the sale of almost £500 million worth of arms to Israel which incidentally also included sniper rifles takes precedence over foreign policy and a disregard for intentional law.

Or perhaps the current Theresa May Conservative Government are continuing the Tony Blair Labour Government policy of being incapable of independence and are simply happy to be subservient to the United States and business.

How else could you explain the somewhat inexplicable statement by Alistair Burt the Minister responsible for the Middle East that the Conservative Government with reference to the atrocities being committed has a “no side here” policy approach.

This is the United Kingdom version of a responsible, strong and stable ethical foreign policy writ large.

Disregard those who have been killed – many of who were shot in the back – and especially if it affects business.

Is there any wonder many countries across the world now think that the Leadership of Britain and the United States of America are below contempt?

Or perhaps the reality is that the conflict in the Middle East will last just as long as Israel and the United States want it to.



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