A response to Michael Kuttner’s Brick Wall

October 8, 2021 by  
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I must respond to Michael Kutter and his Brick Walls story and I make the point that in recent years we have seen some changes here.

Clearly, Michael has not been privy to meetings and actions that have led to Pastor Nigel Woodly’s recent advertisements in both NZME and Stuff group newspapers calling on people to sign a petition calling for a New Zealand Embassy to be opened in Israel. No city has been named as the site for the Embassy. It was never the intention to name a city.
It took us 50 years to get Mr Gad Propper appointed as Honorary Consul and he has received some Gongs for his very good efforts.
The Brick Wall is not as high and bricks are not so strong as they were when you were in Auckland Michael, I will tell you of some of the changes to the situation as it is today.
But first of all, I want to say that Pastor Nigel Woodley and I have been active Friends of Israel for decades and have been active together here in Hawkes Bay Province for more than 30 years. I have been active since 1966 at High School in Wellington.  Michael your opening comments where you start talking about the move to get an embassy in Israel. Please don’t patronise us. We know what we are doing and we know where our support comes from. We understand New Zealand policy and history very well. In a later paragraph, you say the average kiwi could not care less. (and) appealing to Christian consciousnesses is a lost cause because the majority are no longer faithful Christians. You also refer to revisionists in mainstream denominations. Well, they have always been in the Catholic church, but fewer in number in Protestant denominations and still are fewer today. They are not taking over. The Anglicans are the worst and they at the parish level often prefer to associate with the Catholics rather than the Presbyterians and or Methodists, get your facts right Michael.
New Zealand has had a long Military association with what is Israel since World War 1 and that has continued since 1954 with officers being attached to the Jerusalem based UNTSO. We currently have 7 officers in that force and New Zealanders have commanded the force. The UNTSO is the closest thing the UN has to an army and New Zealanders have been seconded to set up UN forces elsewhere including Yemen, Angola and Bosnia.
Michael, the Sinai Peace force is not a UN force. Russia was a nation at the UN that prevented a UN force from being set up so the Egypt Israel Peace Treaty was amended to set up the Sinai MFO independent from the UN.  Prime Minister Muldoon committed NZ to be a founding member of the force.  He sent 3 officers to help set up the bases and the Hon Ron Mark was one of them. More recently Ron was Minister of Defence from 2017 to 2020 in the NZ First Labour Government. He was a NZ First MP and with a National Party MP toured all our Middle East Peace Keeping sites and met with the UNTSO people on the Golan Heights and spent time with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem.
Our third officer commanding the Sinai MFO is Major General Evan Williams. His 2-year term ends at the end of 2021. We have about 27 people in the force. Special detachments have in the last 4 years been sent to help build a big security fence around the HQ camp at Sharm el Sheikh. That was a group of about 25 and this year a group of 4 medics were sent to help vaccinate the force against covid 19.
We have a problem with Anti – Semitism in the Ministry of Foreign affairs and Trade. It reaches high into the department. A recent incident was our failure to attend The Fifth World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem in late January 2020. The Invitation arrived in Wellington at the department in September 2019. No response to the invitation was sent from Wellington and it was not brought to the attention of Foreign Minister Peters until mid-January 2020 when it turned out to be impossible for someone from Wellington to attend.  What happened to the invitation in Wellington? Not sure but it was withheld by people not friendly to the Jewish community and Israel.  This led to the Hon Simon Bridges MP to accuse the department of being Anti – Semitic.  I find through my experience with the department, it’s very easy to agree with Simon Bridges comments. In the end Prime Minister Jacinda Arden addressed a Holocaust event in Auckland and the Governor General had to write to Israel on our behalf. The department has much to answer for. It will take a strong Minister of Foreign Affairs backed by a strong Prime Minister to clean up the Department..
Going back to the UN and UNSC Resolution 2334 in December 2016 is the place to start with the explanation of why we are pushing for a New Zealand Embassy in Israel.  MFAT likes to play down the handling of the resolution. That shows up in the semi-official book of record for our term on the security council 2015 – 16 does not even get a listing in the index of the book.
There is a reason for that because the resolution was handled in an illegal manner. That is to say, it was never taken to Cabinet by the Minister or the department for approval before it went to a vote.  So McCully presented the Government with a done deal. It is quite clear then as now that Cabinet would not have agreed to vote for the resolution had the normal procedure been followed.
People were alarmed by the vote and protests started quickly. A leading event was a protest at the Richard Sedan Statue at Parliament the week after Christmas lead by Pastor Nigel Woodley and two busloads of people from Hawkes Bay plus Wellington and Manawatu people. I wrote a talking point in the NZME paper the Hawkes Bay Today which McCully was forced to respond to.
The resolution tried to dictate to Israel what a final peace deal would look Like and in doing that they interfered with the status of Jerusalem and Holy sites elsewhere. You just can’t do that.
Now I am afraid to say that when you mess with the status of Jerusalem and holy sites you are picking a fight with lots of ordinary folk who don’t normally have anything to say to MPS on any subject.  I am talking about people from all walks of life who at best go to church for Weddings, Funerals and Baptisms. They are supporters of all the mainstream political parties. Their beliefs and society standards came to the fore. The response was that National Party Government MP’s got letters and emails by the hundreds of people opposing the resolution and what they saw it doing. In other words, they said ‘Don’t mess with Jerusalem.’
People sought me out to express their views to me like never before knowing my views about Israel. These were people from all around my home town who don’t go to Church but most still have a bible in their home.
Bloggers like Cameron Slater and his Whaleoil blog (now called  ‘The BFD’) took up the fight and took it to his national party followers. The MP’s were stunned by the reaction because it wasn’t just a foreign policy issue which normally never arise but it was about Israel and Jerusalem.
McCully had to resign as Minister because he broke cabinet rules and upset rank and file party members. Israel withdrew its ambassador with 2 hours’ notice in protest before New Year. The new foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee was forced to apologise to Israel and wish it a happy birthday in May 2017. Israel’s ambassador returned to Wellington in Mid 2017. Not everything went smoothly in early 2017 because Catholic Bill English party leader and Prime minister did not always agree with what had to be done.
Later the issue continued to come to the fore. When Simon Bridges became National Party Leader he went on a “Meet the Leader” tour to small-town New Zealand in 2018. I attended a meeting in Waipawa. There he said he was asked questions about Jerusalem and resolution 2334 at 90 % of his meetings.  The next day at a meeting in Hastings where he knew he was being filmed he stated in answer to a question about Israel that The National Party had formally disassociated itself from McCully and his vote on UNSC Res 2334 and would have nothing to do with it in future. That’s not something that happens very often.
New Zealand has an Embassy in the UAE. It is also where our military operates from with either a frigate or aircraft in the anti-piracy patrols from Oman to Somalia. Much of our trade goes to points north via the Suez Canal. Most recently the UAE Has been the base for ANZAC rescue missions into Afghanistan.  But from Israel’s point of view it’s all about the Trump-backed peace deal we call the Abraham Accords.
The Accords basically turn the old trade issues for New Zealand policymakers upside down. So Muldoon’s old “foreign policy is trade Policy” is no more. It will take officials a while to get that into their heads but the people here understand it already.
Simon Bridges went on to organise a Foreign Policy seminar in Parliament. It was well attended and issues to do with Israel were debated and points made. Such an event had not taken place for many years. Written submissions were also welcomed.  These days see foreign affairs having a higher status in society than when Michael lived here.
Fonterra our big dairy co-op exporter has kosher cheese on its export product list and is available in kosher outlets in the Americas and Europe as well as Israel. It’s made in about 6 plants. Kosher killing is a different story and something I will not talk about here. The Innovation and science trade deal signed just before the covid outbreak in late February 2020 will bring about increased trade over time. One of Israels biggest export products here is irrigation equipment. And that is set to continue. Just quietly the Maori business world does a growing amount of business with Israel.
Back in August 2014 during the war in Gaza, I had the then Israeli Ambassador in Hastings speak to the branch of the Institute of International affairs. The meeting had been set up in January 2014 long before we knew of any war. Protesters appeared and so did demonstrators in support of Israel. Normally the turnout for meetings is about 60 to 90 people but for this meeting, we had 300 people. One of the biggest meetings ever by any branch of the institute. Many who attended I knew were exporters who dealt with the Arab world as well as Europe and the rest of the world. They came because they wanted to hear about Israel and the war from an Israeli first hand. My part of the country Hawkes Bay is an export lead economy with our own big container port. So we look outwards.
I am a farmer and my income comes from selling food overseas. Farmers are all exporters so foreign policy has a place in our community nationwide. But the changes since December 2016 are having an effect and the more recent Abraham accords are playing a big part in the new trade world.
So that’s my point of view on why I support the push for a New Zealand Embassy in Israel. Over many years I have said to anybody who will listen. That if you want the key to the front door of the White House then you pick it up by having the embassy to the USA in Tel Aviv. Not everyone understands what I am saying.
Here is the link to the petition for the embassy in Israel.   https://www.parliament.nz/en/petitions/sign/PET_111792   (PET_111792)
Also the book I referred to is..  A Seat at the Table.      NZ and the United Nations Security council 2015 – 2016
                                                          28 contributors        Edited by Prof Graham Hassell and Dr Negar Partow
                                                         Published by Masseypress.ac.nz ISBN 978-0-9951378-0-6
                                                         Recommended by John McCormick
There are people other Than Pastor Nigel Woodley and myself involved in this work. Bryce Turner is editor of the quarterly newspaper  ‘Christians for Israel’ in Auckland is one of many others involved in the push for an embassy in Israel. We don’t expect it to happen overnight.
I invite Kiwis reading this to sign the petition no matter where you live.
John McCormick
New Zealand


One Response to “A response to Michael Kuttner’s Brick Wall”
  1. Eion Isaac says:

    The great tragedy for the people who want peace is the rejection of the Right of Jewish people to Return to the Ancient Holy Land even to escape Genocide .
    In May 1939 escape to the Holy Land was severely blocked by Britain under tremendous pressure from the Palestinian Arab Leadership .
    After the Shoah the right of return of Holocaust Survivors was severely limited .
    This created the violence against the British Occupying Forces for World War 2 had been won and the tens of thousands of British troops in Palestine ought have been deployed to help the Jewish Defence Forces establish the Jewish Homeland in the Empty Areas of the United Nations Mandated Holy Land .

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