Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Below are brief notes from a meeting I attended, in a personal capacity, with Israel's deputy ambassador, the head of the UK Zionist Federation and Schlomo Goldwasser, father of one of the two soldier captured by Hizballah in its initial attack.
The Israeli Deputy Ambassador stressed, in light of criticism for the lack of earlier action, that Israel had allowed Hizballah to build up its weapons arsenal - which he pointed out was considerably larger than what many regular armies have - because it was not interested in a conflict. He stated that Israel had no territorial claims in Lebanon, nor were there any issues related to water. The head of the Zionist federation added that the recent events in Israeli politics were all geared towards peace, the emergence of Kadima, the disengagement, the convergence consensus, and hence any attempt by a government to neutralise the Hizballah threat was likely to be deeply unpopular with voters.

Mr Goldwasser, who spoke movingly and humbly, offered the story of his family. He spoke about the difference between Islamic radicalism, a cult of death that revels in 'martyrdom', and Israelis - Jewish - love of life, in which every single life is sacred, and that it is well known, and exploited, how strongly the IDF values each and every life that serves in it. He concluded by saying that he was telling this story over and over, as Hizballah had not offered any signs of life from his son, and it was all that he could do.

The Deputy AMbassador continued with a very simple message regarding calls for a ceasefire.

He stated that Israel was keen on having an effective international force in place as part of a diplomatic solution.

However, he made it clear, by way of an analogy, that Israel could not and would not accept a return to the status quo ante:

(My paraphrasing)

'If (proportional between the UK and Israel) 20 million people in the UK were fleeing from their homes or spending their lives in bunkers - we do not shout about our refugees, but we have many, nearly a million - as a result of an unprovoked attack over a sovereign border, the recognition of which is reafirmed yearly by the UN, if this threat had been in place for many years, by a group which is ideologically abhorrent, armed by nations whose virulent hostility to the UK knows no bounds, what would be the reaction? The people of this country would not tolerate it for one moment. Never would the UK agree to an immediate ceasefire, for the sake of a ceasefire, with 20 million citizens under fire, a ceasefire that would leave the rockets fired on those citizens in place. Israel has a duty to its citizens to remove this threat.'

There was also some discussion on the unbalanced nature of the press. This was a well informed and knowledgeable discussion, focusing on the very real shortcomings of the reporting of the current conflict, with several media outlets coming in for considered criticism. However, I will write about this in the relevant other NCF blog (

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