The Government’s Home Secretary, Theresa May gave a speech at a Conservative Friends Of Israel reception.
Here is her full speech:
“Thank you, Stuart. It’s a pleasure to be here with fellow Conservative Friends of Israel, and it’s a particular pleasure to be here in the company of you, Mr Ambassador.
It seems fitting that we have gathered here in the Attlee Room of Portcullis House, since Clement Attlee was the British Prime Minister on May 14, 1948, when David Ben Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel.
While the experience of the British Mandate after the Second World War was difficult to say the least, Britain, of course, played a significant part in the story of the creation of the State of Israel.
The Balfour Declaration, which lent Britain’s support to the creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine, was issued in 1917 by Arthur James Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary. The Balfour Declaration said this:
“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
Those words stand out because they were such a bold declaration of intent to allow for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. But almost a century later, they also stand out because they pose exactly the dilemma posed by the Arab/Israeli conflict today. How do we ensure that Israel has the safety and security its citizens deserve? How do the Palestinian people get the self-representation they desire? What can we do – and here in Britain this is still shamefully a topical question – what can we do to prevent anti-Semitism in this country and across Europe?
I have been appalled by recent reports from the Community Security Trust indicating a rise in anti-Semitic attacks in the UK. Yesterday I along with Theresa Villiers met Mike Freer MP, David Burrows MP and Lee Scott MP to discuss their concerns and the action the Home Office is taking to combat anti-Semitic hate crime.
Accounts of Jewish people being verbally abused on the street, placards displaying loathsome threats, and bricks being thrown through synagogue windows are – like any form of hate crime – abhorrent and unacceptable.
A straw poll conducted by the Jewish Chronicle also found that 63 per cent of Jewish people in north London questioned their future in the UK amid the rise of anti-Semitic attacks. This picture is being mirrored in other European countries. France has recently been reported as the leading country for Jewish emigration to Israel for the first time.
I am clear that everyone in this country should be able to live their lives free from racial and religious hatred and harassment. No one should live in fear because of their beliefs or who they are. That’s why we have provided over £2.3 million of funding to organisations and schools to help prevent hate crime, increase reporting and improve the operational response.
We have also established a working group to tackle anti-Semitism, which brings together community representatives and experts from across Government to help explore issues affecting Jewish communities. And we are working closely with the police and criminal justice agencies to encourage victims to report incidents, for instance through third-party services and the True Vision website.
This country has one of the strongest legislative frameworks in the world to protect communities from hostility, violence and bigotry. But I am clear that we must keep both the operational and legislative response under constant review. There is absolutely no place in our country for anti-Semitism whatever form it takes.
Daniel Taub is a Israel’s Ambassador to the United
Earlier this year, I had the privilege of visiting Israel and the Palestinian Territories for the first time. The purpose of my trip was to meet experts in cyber security and to see for myself the progress the Israelis have made in combating modern slavery.
Because while it is not well known, Israel was the first country in the world to pass groundbreaking anti-trafficking legislation. In those respects, my visit was really very useful, but what I learned was overshadowed by the terrible news that emerged during my stay that the bodies of three missing Israeli teenagers had been found near Halhul in the West Bank.
The murder of those boys – and the loss of life among Israelis and Palestinians in the subsequent military operations in Gaza – is a sad reminder that the Arab/Israeli conflict is not just an abstract debate argued over the pages of Western newspapers and television screens.
It is a real conflict with innocent victims on both sides. It is about self-identity for the Palestinian people. And it is about Israel’s right to defend its citizens from indiscriminate terrorist attacks and existential threats.
It is worth re-stating the threats faced by Israel because they are considerable. There are the familiar but deadly threats from Hamas and Hezbollah.
The collapse of Syria that has spawned ISIS and threatens to destabilise Lebanon and Jordan. The instability of the wider region. And the threats issued to Israel by Iran. No democratic government could, in the face of such danger, do anything but maintain a strong defence and security capability and be prepared to deploy it if necessary. That is why I – and the whole British Government – will always defend Israel’s right to defend itself.
Those of us who are sympathetic to Israel’s security predicament must always make clear that the loss of any civilian life – whatever the nationality of the victim – is an appalling tragedy. And we must remember that there will be no lasting peace or justice in the region until the Palestinian people are able to enjoy full civil rights themselves.
I say this not because I want to make a naïve and platitudinous point about the necessity of a two-state solution. When Israel faces the full range of threats I have just listed, when Israel faces enemies that are intent on its very destruction, when Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields for its rockets, when there are thousands of Israeli settlers living in the West Bank, it is easy to talk about a two-state solution but almost impossible to know how to move towards one.
But that does not mean we can afford to give up. Taking even the smallest of steps towards a lasting peaceful settlement will take acts of huge political bravery and great statesmanship on both sides of the divide – but they are steps that need to be taken.”
Then we have the REAL Jews demand......
Published time: September 19, 2014 16:27
Edited time: September 20, 2014 14:08
At a time when Britain’s media lens remains firmly fixed on the outcome of the Scottish referendum, the UK government has quietly pushed through a Lobbying Act that critics claim is highly undemocratic.
Enshrined in law on Friday, the anti-Lobbying Bill raises serious concerns about an ever-increasing democratic deficit in the United Kingdom. The legislation seeks to impose stringent limits on the amount of money think tanks, charities, NGOs, trade unions, and campaign groups can allocate towards political lobbying during electoral campaigns.
Following its addition to Britain’s statue books, trade unionists and rights activists throughout the nation have condemned the bill, arguing it compromises the political leverage of all UK organisations other than political parties.
Aptly dubbed the Gagging Act, the bill will also drastically reduce the amount of money such organisations can allocate to newspaper advertising, while ensuring they are held accountable for every penny they spend – even on postage stamps.
But no such restrictions will be placed on electioneering propaganda published in newspapers or on political parties’ election spending. In light of this fact, critics argue the legislation is de-facto pro-establishment, allowing UK political parties, particularly the Tories, to continue drawing millions from corporate and financial elites that tend to donate in pursuit of a very specific set of political and economic interests.
The bill surfaced as Parliament broke for the summer, and was debated when MPs returned. Because it effectively silences trade unions and campaign groups across the political spectrum, it has been described by the general secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as a “chilling attack on free speech.”
Redefining political participation
Awkwardly entitled the ‘Transparency of Lobbying, non-Party Campaigning, and Trade Union Administration Bill’, the legislation will criminalize any attempt by the TUC or other campaign group to organize an annual meeting or national demonstration for an entire year leading up to the 2015 general election. It will achieve this by introducing three primary regulatory changes governing campaigning for non-party organizations.
Firstly, the Act reframes what counts as political campaigning. Previously, only activities initiated with intent to influence electoral results were regulated. But under the new legislation, the government will regulate actions that may affect election results. Because criticism of government policy could influence voters, this legislative change will obstruct UK charities, NGOs and campaign groups’ capacity to criticize Westminister rule during electoral campaigns.
Secondly, the bill reduces the spending limit for non-political party campaigning 12 months prior to an election by over fifty percent. Under the new legislation, such expenditure is confined to a paltry £390,000. When plans to introduce these spending limits first emerged, Labour denounced the proposal as “sinister and partisan.” Nevertheless, they have now been enshrined in law.
Thirdly, the bill factors staff time and menial office costs into its restrictions on spending. Up until now, only the costs of election-oriented materials, adverts and activities were regulated. But under the new bill, staff time along with other costs will be factored into the meager £390,000 limit.
Stamping out dissent
Critics claim this rushed piece of legislation had little to do with cultivating greater transparency in the field of lobbying or eradicating the influence of big business on policy. Rather, they argue it amounts to a crude, biased and politically motivated assault on British democracy – particularly on UK trade unions.
The legislation is so comprehensive, its overall effect is to silence and criminalize dissent 12 months prior to any major election.
According to Labour's Alexandra Runswick, who also acts as director of Unlock Democracy, the Lobbying Bill is extremely regressive, and will make "transparency and lobbying worse in the UK."
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, a public service union, sharply criticized the bill, which he described as a “pernicious law.” “It’s cynical, mean and vindictive. Trade unions have always been transparent and truthful about their activities and are already the most over-regulated organizations in the country,” he argued.
The Hope Not Hate campaign, which has played a prominent role in challenging racists, fascists and far-right political figures, warned the Act would reduce its spending by 70 percent leading up to the election.
The Act was initially drawn up to control the lobbying of governments by powerful elites with vested interests, following a “cash-for-favors” scandal in which a Tory MP was implicated. But the British government has been accused of ultimately manipulating the legislation to silence political opponents, and mitigate dissent prior to the 2015 general election.
General union GMB political officer Lisa Johnson said: “With the track record of the government on the economy and living, and with a general election round the corner, it is clear that they want to gag unions and charities too. It is shameful that parliament allowed this legislation onto the statue book. This shoddy and completely impractical bill allows Tory donors and the politically motivated right-wing press to run rough shod over our democracy.”
European voters generally pay little attention to European Parliament, but over the years, the body has become increasingly powerful. Already, a representative in Brussels wields more influence than one in Berlin. And the gap is growing.
It is a sunny Monday evening in April and there is but a single item on the European Parliament's agenda: that of not being taken seriously. In the body's Strasbourg headquarters, a 200,000 square meter (2.2 million square foot) building with 1,133 offices that go unused 321 days a year, it is time for the "One-Minute Speeches." Every member of parliament has 60 seconds to say whatever they like. It is a privilege written into parliament's Rules of Procedure.
The speakers are careful to fix their gaze in front of them, though hardly anybody is listening and most of the chairs in the plenary hall are empty. Later, their staff will load videos of their one-minute speeches onto YouTube so that voters back home can watch the important speech their representative just delivered.Among those to speak is Catherine Stihler, a member of Britain's Labour Party. With a trembling voice, she commemorates a certain John Muir, born on April 21, 1838 in Scotland. He is, she says, the father of the modern-day environmental movement. She is followed by the German representative Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, who also holds Greek citizenship. He represents the business-friendly Free Democrats -- and his political career is in doubt after it was revealed in 2011 that he plagiarized parts of his Ph.D. thesis. He holds up a walking stick and a woolen cap and says that they belonged to a Greek pensioner who killed himself in response to the austerity measures imposed by Europe. "Show a bit of sympathy!" he exhorts his listeners. Finally, an independent Austrian parliamentarian, Hans-Peter Martin, steps up to the podium to warn his colleagues about another Austrian member of parliament, Martin Ehrenhauser, who, he claims, has been hacking the private email accounts of European lawmakers.
The mini-speeches mark the standard beginning to another week at the European Parliament, a body that Germany's Constitutional Courtrecently argued was not yet a true parliament.
It is a lawmaking body that is reminiscent of a traveling circus. Every month, it moves from Brussels to Strasbourg for one week before heading back -- a €200 million-per-year ($277 million) convention that is etched into the stone of European treaties. The 751 representatives that will be elected in two weeks will be chosen in accordance with 28 different national election laws. Once they arrive in Brussels, their words will be transmitted in 24 official languages and three alphabets: Latin, Greek and Cyrillic. More than 1,000 translators are tasked with preparing more than a million pages of documents each year for the parliamentarians -- including for the Romanian representative who is known as "Mr. Yes," because he has voted yes more than 540 times in a row, no matter what the issue. A European parliamentarian, after all, only receives the daily allowance of €304 if he or she takes part in at least half of the roll-call votes on a given day -- in addition to the monthly salary of €8,229.
Besieged by Lobbyists
It may often seem like a carnival of vanities and fatuousness, but focusing exclusively on the lawmaking body's eccentricities is misguided. Virtually unnoticed by the European public, the European Parliament has developed into one of the most important parliamentary bodies on the planet, besieged by some 20,000 lobbyists.
When it comes time for Europe to determine how struggling banks are to be bailed out in the future, how Edward Snowden will deliver testimony on NSA surveillance techniques or how an epochal trans-Atlantic free trade agreement with the US will ultimately look, then European parliamentarians are no longer the passive bystanders they once were.
They are, to be sure, only allowed to block laws or improve them, rather than propose legislation themselves. But some 90 percent of all EU plans and proposals are now dependent on European Parliament consent. In the final session before the voters head to the polls on May 22-25, some 170 proposals await decisions by the MEPs. They want to establish the right to a bank account for all European citizens, introduce a new foundation for European financial markets, limit the use of plastic bags -- and they want to secure a vast amount of power in Europe.
Parliament has pushed through a requirement that European heads of state and government must appoint the next president of the European Commission in accordance with the results of the parliamentary elections. The two main candidates are the German Social Democrat Martin Schulz, who is currently parliamentary president, and the conservative lead candidate Jean-Claude Juncker, the longtime former prime minister of Luxembourg. Two days after voting ends, a session in parliament will begin the appointment process. The lawmaking body has begun to see itself as the political fulcrum of Europe.
Elmar Brok of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party has been a member of European Parliament for 34 years, representing a largely rural district in Germany's northwest. Wearing carefully coiffed blonde hair, his loud laugh echoes through a Strasbourg parliament café as though he were sitting in a village pub.
But his appointment book tells another story -- of a man who acts on the global stage: meetings with US senators, participation in a conference of EU foreign ministers, appearances on the Maidan in Kiev. "Today at 3 p.m., Barroso wants to speak with me," Brok says proudly, referring to a one-on-one meeting the European Commission president has requested. Brok is the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in parliament. He is taken seriously by the Americans, because of his clear words in the NSA scandal, and the Russians, because of his active support for the Ukrainian democracy movement. A relatively short man, Brok even surprised CDU leaders at the Munich Security Conference by escorting Vitali Klitschko through the halls of the Bayerischen Hof Hotel. Brok developed contacts with the former boxing champion several years ago because he suspected that Klitschko would end up playing an important role in Ukrainian politics.
At the café in Strasbourg, Brok says that he has taken part in almost every EU treaty negotiation since Maastricht, which was signed in 1992. "With each change to the EU treaties, parliament has received more power," he says. "Nothing can be decided in Europe anymore without us."
At the beginning of the 1950s, when the EU was still the European Coal and Steel Community, there was nothing but the "Common Assembly," which had little more than consultative duties. Once the Treaties of Rome went into effect in 1958, the body wanted to rename itself the European Parliament, but member-state opposition scuppered the plan. Indeed, the body lived in the shadows for years and enjoyed little respect. The first direct elections didn't take place until 1979 and only in 1987 was the European Parliament allowed to adopt its current name. The Treaty of Maastricht, signed in 1993, granted parliament a role in lawmaking for the first time. Subsequent treaties -- Amsterdam (1997), Nice (2003) and Lisbon (2009) -- expanded the body's power to include a say in almost all areas of policymaking.
The European Parliament's new power is represented by people like the 31-year-old Green Party representative Jan Philipp Albrecht. Just a few years ago, he was an intern in Brussels; he went to G-8 summit protests and dreamed of a career as a journalist. But then someone asked him if he could imagine working in politics. His answer: Yes, but only in the European Union. Issues such as data protection and civil rights have long been regulated and legislated at the EU level. "And those were exactly the issues that I had wanted to write about," Albrecht says.
'So Far Away'
Now, Albrecht writes laws. As rapporteur, he was instrumental in guiding Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding's data protection package through parliament, a task which included dealing with no less than 3,999 proposed amendments submitted by his fellow representatives. In his first term in parliament, Albrecht was instrumental in the passage of a regulation which would have required global Internet firms to pay a fine equal to up to 5 percent of their annual revenue should they violate the new rules.
Would have. Member-state governments have put the brakes on the new regulations for now. But Google, Facebook and Amazon now know the slender Albrecht as one of their most powerful adversaries in Europe, along with Commissioner Reding. "It is only possible to wield so much influence so quickly in an environment where every representative can assemble his or her own majority, free of coalition games," he says. Albrecht has found a degree of success in Europe that he says isn't possible in German parliament, where people his age "are merely allowed to vote yes or no every now and then." But he becomes reflective when he thinks about Europe's future. The parliament may have achieved power and influence, but now it is important to develop closer ties to the voters. "That is the Achilles heel here," Albrecht says. "The lobbyists are so close and the people are so far away."