Counterproductive and clueless…writes Michael Kuttner

August 5, 2016 by Michael Kuttner
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Another week has passed with yet more manifestations of madness masquerading as gestures designed to promote an illusory peace.

From tunnel tours to termites to corrosion and finally duplicitous deceptions in Ramallah, the whole gamut of what passes for international hypocrisy was on display in recent days.

Michael Kuttner

Michael Kuttner

Most tourists to Israel usually visit the Western Wall and also tour the spectacular tunnels beneath the Wall which show beyond doubt the ancient and historical Jewish presence in Jerusalem. Faced with irrefutable proof of how and where the Temples were constructed one leaves with a feeling of awe, not only at the complicated engineering techniques needed to build them but also at the dedication of those undertaking the task. In addition, the realization that generations of Jews walked, stood and prayed in the very places now restored, imparts a sense of being part of an ongoing march of Jewish destiny.

In contrast, tours of vastly different sorts of tunnels are taking place in Gaza this summer. Constructed with concrete intended to build homes, clinics and schools and delivered to Hamas by courtesy of Israel’s misguided humanitarian gestures, these terror tunnels serve a sinister agenda. They exist for the sole purpose of carrying out terror and murder of Israelis, a stark fact which the international community prefers to ignore.

During the current summer school vacation, Hamas has organized tours of these facilities combined with an exhibition of weapons and explanations of various methods for murdering Israelis. There are posters extolling the bravery and martyrdom of terrorists killed in carrying out attacks and by all accounts these tours are proving to be a great success with long lines of youth waiting to take part in these “educational” excursions.

Contrast the reaction of the United Nations and various politicians. Hardly a day goes by when some of these clueless suspects do not condemn the “occupation” of the eastern part of Jerusalem which of course includes the Western Wall and the tunnels. These are portrayed as impediments and grave threats to local, regional and world peace and therefore Jews who insist on visiting, touring and praying there are undermining prospects for attaining these unattainable objectives. On the other hand the tours of terror tunnels in Gaza elicit a deafening silence from world capitals. What better proof of hypocrisy can one find?

Now to the termites infesting our country. Addressing an anti Israel audience at the Democratic National Convention, a congressman from Georgia equated Jews living in Judea and Samaria to termites.

He stated: “There has been a steady [stream], almost like termites can get into a residence and eat before you know that you’ve been eaten up and you fall in on yourself, there has been settlement activity that has marched forward with impunity and at an ever-increasing rate to the point where it has become alarming.”

 “Jewish people” routinely steal land and property from Palestinians”.

For good measure a former member of the House of Representatives posted on twitter that Israel was complicit in the recent terror attacks in Nice and Munich.

These clueless assertions from self styled “progressives” instead of advancing peace merely banish it entirely.

As though ascribing termite qualities to Jews living in parts of their homeland was not outrageous enough, a State Department spokesperson claimed that building homes for Jews in Gilo, a suburb of Jerusalem, was “corrosive.”  So not only are we termites but apparently we also have corrosive qualities which as everyone knows destroy anything in its path. What other democracy is routinely accused of harbouring termites and engaging in destructive corrosive behaviour? The answer of course is none and thereby is exposed yet another example of double standards and animosity on a grand scale.

To round off yet another vintage week we had the spectacle of a former New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and now special representative to the Palestinian Authority, Sir Jim McLay, making an official visit to Ramallah. In the normal course of events there would be nothing exceptional in this encounter. However there are some aspects to this meeting which merit comment and closer scrutiny.

Jim McLay met Hanan Ashrawi, an executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. The meeting took place at the PLO headquarters in Ramallah. Ms. Ashrawi whose past accusations against Israel are as far from the truth as one can get, discussed Israel’s “violations of international law and the lack of international will to bring about a just solution,” as the PLO press release termed it.

Other matters discussed were: New Zealand’s presidency of the UN Security Council next month, the election of a new Secretary General and New Zealand’s ideas for a political initiative as originally raised in 2015. Ashrawi praised New Zealand’s positive role and continued backing of “Palestine” at the UN and looked forward to joint co-operation and official recognition of “Palestine” in the immediate future.

There are questions which need to be asked as a result of this meeting.

Why was Jim McLay meeting a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organisation at its headquarters instead of an official of the Palestinian Authority? As its name implies the goal is the liberation of Palestine which in plain language stripped of all diplomatic double speak means the liberation of Israel as well. Despite assertions to the contrary, it is clear to anyone listening and reading the PA media and perusing textbooks used in schools, that the ultimate objective is a State cleansed of all Jews followed by a takeover of whatever happens to be left of the Jewish State. Are the NZ foreign ministry officials so unaware of this that they have no compunction in meeting a PLO official in PLO headquarters? Did Mr. McLay make a protest about the continual incitement, lauding of terrorists hailed as martyrs and payments made to their families? Hardly likely would be the answer.

If you look closely at the logo of the PLO you will see a map of “Palestine” which encompasses all of present day Israel. This is what Jim McLay apparently has no objection to as he is photographed with Ms. Ashrawi.

My guess, confirmed by usually well informed sources, is that this diplomatic visit has two main objectives. First, to garner votes for Helen Clark’s bid for the job of UN Secretary General. Second, to prepare the ground for Murray McCully’s final splash on the world stage next month when he will once again engage in yet another fruitless, ill-conceived and misguided attempt to solve the unsolvable. Pressuring Israel to appease those who refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish State, who educate and promote hate and incitement and who have turned down every opportunity for peace since at least 1947, displays a lamentable lack of understanding as to what really are the root causes of the continuing conflict.

Interestingly and very telling is the apparent silence by the two Macs.

Nothing has been reported of any response to Ms. Ashrawi’s outrageous assertions. What quid pro quo was offered for voting in favour of Helen Clark’s candidacy? What promises were made as to any new initiatives at the UN?

We wait for answers but one thing is certain. Don’t expect Israel to roll over and embrace anything concocted by a foreign minister who has publicly stated that stabbing and murdering Israelis is not considered terror in his eyes.

Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel and is J-Wire’s correspondent in the region.



10 Responses to “Counterproductive and clueless…writes Michael Kuttner”
  1. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    You give yourself away with the use of the word ‘whining’ in relation to my reference to anti-Semitism, in an otherwise relatively controlled response, although kindly refrain from assuming what I might want. Anyone with an ear for tonality in writing will agree that my consideration of anti-Semitism is coolly and factually articulated. So, is it that you consider any reference to it a bit of a bother that you don’t wish to take into the equation of things – a bit ‘old hat’? If so, it is you who has his head in the sand.

    To wish for international support for a majority Jewish state of Israel is pie in the sky given the ANTI-SEMITISM prevailing. Until the Europeans and others afflicted recognise that this informs their every thought and action in regard to Israel we have no hope of achieving the kind of international support you seek for our children and grandchildren. We certainly cannot afford to rely on an ‘international border’ – we can only rely on ourselves, as history has shown time and time again. Our destiny relies on our own ideals and actions. Perhaps you dismiss history and its repeating pattern as incidental?

    Many of the 1.5 million civilians you are so concerned for, and their leaders, contribute largely to their own misery, and abuse any notion of democracy. It is not only in Israeli hands to ensure better development for a people.

    I do agree that the Israeli-Arab population, in more concrete terms on a day to day basis, do not live with full equality (despite having Knesset representation and education and hospital rights), and the best way forward in that regard is for ordinary Israelis to change that situation. However, the ongoing murderous conflict perpetuated and sustained by Palestinian terrorism certainly gets in the way of that, for both peoples.

  2. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    Yirmiyahu Natan,
    Do you not understand that the roadblocks are there to save Israeli lives? When the Arab civilian population and their leaders decide to live peaceably, and accept that the Israeli Jews are there to stay and are neighbours, whether estranged neighbours or amicable neighbours, then your idea of more ideal living conditions might become possible at least in part. Although I won’t hold my breath.

    And ‘in the eyes of the international community’ we see hatred and anti-Semitism reflected that has its origins in a long history of same. This is just another excuse for its unleashing.

    In which world do you live? And why do you choose to ignore the kind of immorality practised by the Palestinians that inflicts the poison of hatred on its young children as they are taught to hate and trained to kill? You need to broaden your concerns if only in the name of balance.

    • Yirmiyahu Natan says:


      Of course roadblocks are an unfortunate security necessity in the cuurent reality but that is no reason for us to bury our heads in the sand and expect 1.5 million civilians to whom we deny basic democratic rights to just accept the fact that we are perpetuating them as second-class humans.
      I argue that it is in *Israel’s* better interest to ensure a long-term Jewish majority supported by the international community while you obviously believe otherwise. Whining about centuries of anti-semitism isn’t going to advance us one iota towards a better state of affairs. Understanding that we are better off controlling our own destiny by making responsible decisions for the sakes of our children and grandchildren is.
      I am perfectly aware of the flaws in the Palestinian education of children you refer to – that is precisely why I want them and us on separate sides of an international border. You apparently want otherwise.

  3. Leon Poddebsky says:

    Michael lives in the real world; “Yirmiyahu” does not.

  4. Rami Reed says:

    Yirmiyahu, you keep ignoring the fact that Israel has offered a state to the Palestinians many times and all the offers which have included over 90% of the WB and Gaza and one even offered joint rule of Jerusalem have been rejected by the so called Palestinians. Why do they always do this? I’ll tell you why, they want all of Israel. Our 18’and 19 year olds know this, so don’t worry about those kids. They know what they have to do. Just as I did. When the Palestinians finally come to their senses and accept Israel as a Jewish state, they won’t have to wait at any checkpoints, they will only have to pass passport control.

    • Yirmiyahu Natan says:

      Rami – if you want to remain standing at the checkpoints until the Palestinians meet your satisfaction, you are welcome to do so but the rest of us would prefer living in a Jewish and democratic state.
      I do not advocate waiting for them to come around to reason but rather to unilaterally separate from them as we did from Gaza.
      Unless we do so, you will be joining Michael and Leon in the march to our moral and physical oblivion.

      • Rami Reed says:

        Yirmiyahu, yes and what happened after the separation from Gaza? How many rockets need to fall on Israel before you realise that the Palestinians do not want a state alongside Israel but a state instead of Israel?

        • Yirmiyahu Natan says:

          That is the reason I wish to strengthen Israel by ensuring its Jewish and moral majority. I don’t care if the Palestinians want a state or pistachio ice-cream – I am interested in Israel’s long term future and it doesn’t include occupying a population of 1.5 million Palestinians we conquered in 1967.
          No sane Israeli wants to send settlers or soldiers back to Gaza – the current situation is infinitely better than the previous one when soldiers and civilians were being attacked there on a daily basis

      • Leon Poddebsky says:

        Are you really so sure that it won’t be you rather than us, “Yirmiyahu”?
        Your confidence in your moral superiority and mind-reading is dazzling.

  5. Yirmiyahu Natan says:


    I suspect that the only “march of Jewish destiny” you are participating in is the one to your computer keyboard each week. I for one prefer a well thought out policy that leads to a brighter future rather than a blind sheep-like march.

    Despite your repeated (or is that repetitive..) and innocent-face claims to the contrary, Israel’s failure and/or unwillingness to tackle the issue of the West Bank under its control is indeed a corrosive influence on Isreali society. Denying the civilian population living in these territories conquered by Israel in 1967 full civil, human and democratic rights only serves to perpetuate the festering of ill-will towards Israel both on the part of those under occupation and in the eyes of the international community. How can a nation-state claiming even a semblance of morality continue to maintain control over territory without according such basic privileges as freedom of movement, citizenship or at least permanent resident status, and representation and voting rights to the national assembly of the country under whose control they live? Why must our 18 and 19 year old children have to suffer the corrosive and dehumanising moral dilemma of which pregnant woman or sick child to let pass at a roadblock?

    I pray that we may soon merit leaders with the courage and backbone to contend with this stain on our morality and lead us to a better future rather than merely participate in the march.

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