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New Zealand Foreign Minister Is Getting Middle East & Middle Earth Mixed Up

Credit: NZPA / Ross Setford
Credit: NZPA / Ross Setford

A few days ago, the New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully decided to single out Israel by blaming it for the failure of the Middle East Peace Process.

He said that the reason that the two state solution was vanishing was because of Israel’s settlement activity. New Zealand even had a draft UN Security Council resolution last October that called on Israel to “stop building settlements in the occupied territories and for the Palestinians to stop taking cases to the International Criminal Court.”  That resolution has since been put on hold.

Now, I have a very special place for New Zealand. Having lived there for quite a few years, I can tell you it’s a beautiful country with warm friendly people. Unfortunately, sometimes when you live in a beautiful island paradise, you kind of lose touch with what happens in the rest of the world, and what the New Zealand government has demonstrated here is a complete fantasy and naivety to the situation in Israel.

New Zealand wants to be a good international citizen of the world, and therefore they adopt an internationally popular decision rather than a correct one. And on this issue, New Zealand is completely wrong, because believing that two states will magically bring peace and harmony is more about believing in Middle Earth than Middle East.

They have, in one swooping and simplistic conclusion, decided that Israel is guilty of destroying the peace process, because of what they term “settlement activity in occupied territories.”

They fail to mention the Palestinian incitement that has been going for decades. They fail to mention the terrorism that Israel faces on a daily basis. They fail to mention the unwillingness of the Palestinian Authority to meet with Israel. They fail to mention the constant rejection of any peace offers or ideas by that same authority – including one by Vice President Joe Biden just a few short weeks ago.

If they are so concerned about illegal settlement activity, why not focus on the European Union which is illegally building structures on Israeli controlled land in contravention of international law?

Somehow, they have decided that Israel is guilty irrespective of any facts. Oh – how simple it is, to throw out terms such as “illegal occupation” and portray “settlements” as the cause of all the strife. It’s the fruits of a false Arab narrative that has been peddled for so many years that eventually people just began to accept it as truth.

And yet, when Jews were massacred by Arabs in 1929, there were no settlements to speak of. Under the 1947 United Nations partition plan, when Arabs were offered another state, they rejected it which led to the Israeli War of Independence in 1948 – a war not about settlements, because well… there weren’t any. And all the many terrorist attacks afterwards had nothing to do with the settlements that didn’t exist, such as the murder of 11 people by Arabs in 1954 who ambushed a bus traveling from Eilat to Tel Aviv.  Or the murder of 4 people, including 3 children when a synagogue in the farming community of Shafir was attacked in April, 1956. Or what about the attack in October 1956, when 5 Israeli construction workers were murdered by an Arab terrorist squad from Jordan.

Then prior to the Six Day War, when Egyptian President Nasser vowed to “eradicate Israel,” it was certainly not a war about settlements.

Because “settlements in occupied territories” simply didn’t exist – and yet a New Zealand Foreign Minister has decided that they are the cause of the failure of peace in the Middle East.

This is by no means a position unique to New Zealand, but systematic to many countries who have become lazy in the art of truth-seeking. Countries, who quite frankly, don’t care about the truth anymore, but about the perception of being seen as someone who stands up for human rights, while trampling all over Jewish rights in the process – rights that date back thousands of years.

Too few countries are prepared to show the courage of their convictions, the strength of their character and the moral fortitude of doing the right thing – no matter how unpopular it is in the international community.

There was a time when New Zealand did do that, like voting for Israel in the 1947 Partition plan or voting for the admittance of Israel as a UN member – voting in spite of the pressure placed on them by their colonial masters Britain not to do so. But those days are long gone, and Mr McCully would do well to remember that while New Zealand itself is a settlement, colonised by the British, Israel isn’t, and has been the Jewish homeland for thousands of years.

New Zealand does many things right in the international community often punching above their weight, but on this issue they should stick to things they are best at, like netball and rugby, because when it comes to the Middle East, they are so far out of their league.

About the author

Picture of Justin Amler

Justin Amler

Justin is obsessed with Israeli pickles and has used that knowledge in order to blog about Israel and the Jewish world. He gains great pleasure when his blogs are read by more than just his mother.
Picture of Justin Amler

Justin Amler

Justin is obsessed with Israeli pickles and has used that knowledge in order to blog about Israel and the Jewish world. He gains great pleasure when his blogs are read by more than just his mother.
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