A passionate Prime Minister

Gordon Brown today made his first speech that really sounded like a Prime Minister’s. He was personal, he was passionate, he spoke from deep knowledge and experience. His idealism soared. He was even convincing.

But he was addressing the Israeli Parliament.

Why can’t he do this at home?

There was a different angle to the obligatory reference to Northern Ireland…
First he talked about his late father.

My father was a Minister of the Church who learned Hebrew and had a deep and life long affection for Israel. For three decades he was a member of – and again and again Chairman of – the Church of Scotland’s Israel Committee. And he travelled back and forth to Israel twice every year, often more.

After each trip, he would roll out the old film projector, plug it in and load the film. More often than not, the projector would break down – but he would always get it back up and running. And I will never forget those early images of your home in my home and the stories my father would tell.

So as I learned to listen and to read, I followed the fortunes of an age-old people in your new country. And there was never a time as I was growing up that I did not hear about, read about or was not surrounded by stories of the struggles, sacrifices, tribulation and triumphs as the Israeli people built their new state. And I am proud to say that for the whole of my life, I have counted myself a friend of Israel.

Then about his two young sons.. no holding back the family here.. with wife Sarah sitting alongside..

My sons are still young children – they are just two and four. They have not yet made that journey to Jerusalem made by their grandfather and then his sons. But one day soon I look forward to bringing them here to see what their grandfather first came to see in the early years of statehood.

I will walk with them here and tell them the story that for two thousand years, until 1948, the persistent call of the Jewish people was ‘Next year in Jerusalem.’ Yet for two thousand years there was not one piece of land anywhere in all the world that you could call your own. For two thousand years, not one piece of land of your own to follow your faith without fear.

Finally the homely associations..

when young children in my home town of Kirkcaldy returned from Auschwitz they organised a memorial week in honour of those who had died in the Holocaust and raised funds to erect a lasting memorial in our town’s gardens. Two thousand miles away in distance – but a link between my home and your home, so close that it will never be broken.

The Northern Ireland reference was slightly different from the usual “lessons of terrorism through dialogue” theme .

Britain is also ready to lead the way in supporting an economic road map for peace. Not money for guns but money for jobs, for businesses, for small firms, for housing and for prosperity to underpin the political road map for peace and give all people in the region an economic stake in the future. As we did in Northern Ireland: to make the cost of returning to violence too high and too unacceptable a price to pay.

Was he saying that the British government fattened up NI so well that the paramilitaries dared not go back to the campaigns? That seems franker than usual.

  • RepublicanStones

    “…to congratulate you at this sixtieth anniversary on the achievement of 1948:”

    Yeah Gordon the Nakba, ethnic cleansing and near de-arabisation of Palestine is some achievement.

    ‘And today and in the future, the people of Britain and Israel will continue to stand together in believing that history sides with those who fight for liberty’

    Or if we were being honest, history is written by those who are victorious in their colonial campaigns and illegal wars.

    ‘So to those who question Israel’s very right to exist, and threaten the lives of its citizens through terror we say: the people of Israel have a right to live here, to live freely and to live in security.’

    It seems also they have a right to ethnically cleanse the indigenous people from land not theirs to form an artifical statelet. Israel has a right to take things by terror, but those who would resist with terror are unjust?????

    ‘To those who are enemies of progress we say: we condemn anti-Semitism and persecution in all its forms.’

    Ahh nice Gordon…linking criticism of israel with being anti-semitic. Aren’t the palestinians a semitic people too gordon?

    ‘I think of David Ben Gurion..’

    So do I gordon, as a war criminal.

    ‘And the story of Israel’s beginning and perseverance will…’

    eventually be properly known as once of ethnic cleansing, murder, rape, lies and manipulation.

  • Driftwood

    Leaving aside RP’s biased whinge. The answer to the question about the NI “problem” being bought off is something that is true in my opinion. Everybody followed the money. Long held viewpoints and sacred principles were abandoned for the gravy train. Of course it’s a much better place for most people now. But the fact that NI is 2% of the UK populace meant we were fairly cheap to buy. There are few lessons to be learned from here, except that everybody has a price.

  • RepublicanStones

    A criticism of an attempt to hide an ethnic cleansing is now a ‘whinge’??????

  • 6countyprod

    Wow, good old Gordon. He has gone up a few notches in my estimation!

  • Republican – desperate people do desperate things, as we know from the history of NI in the last few centuries.

    I do not stipulate that the Israelis did everything you accuse them of (rape is a new one on me for instance), but given the face of an oppressed religious minority seeking self-governance to ensure safe harbour, I would expect Irish Republicans to see the Zionist point of view at the least.

  • RepublicanStones

    Mark a minority in a land dictating the destiny of that land agaisnt the wishes of the majority sounds familiar alright. BTW the zionist immigrants were viewed with suspicion by the indigenous jews of palestine (who had been living in relative peace for centuries) when they first arrived, as it turns out, they had good reason to.

  • heck

    I don’t agree with most of Brown’s speech but when was the last time you heard anyone from New Labour say anything with conviction. At least that is an improvement

    PS apart from honest tony, who could tell you the moon was made of green cheese with conviction

  • young fella

    Brown will never butter up the Israelis the way Tony could butter our political “betters” up, from Marty to Ian. Oh my granny was from Donegal, oh I love the bible, I’m a socialist, I’m a Christian etc. He knew what buttons to press when, and fair does to him. Though I think Gordon stumbled on a very succinct summation of the British approach through the Blair years.

    “to make the cost of returning to violence too high and too unacceptable a price to pay.”

    A euphemism for buying out the political idealists or strategic development and investment in N.I. society……probably a bit a both.

    Too bad Brown’s first convincing statesman’s speech pours on the empathy with Israel when Palestine is the one on it’s knees.

    BTW I think the Irish Republican empathy with Zionism is pretty thin. The persecution inspired aspiration for self governance, sure. The rest….hmmmm. It’d be like Michael Collins saying, well lads, shit deal we’re getting here, well ship out to the Holylands and boot some Arabs off a few hundred miles of land.”

  • runciter

    “given the face of an oppressed religious minority seeking self-governance to ensure safe harbour, I would expect Irish Republicans to see the Zionist point of view at the least.”

    How strange that the Irish empathise with the indigenous people of Palestine!

    Characterising Zionists as an “oppressed minority” is a bad joke.

  • (rape is a new one on me for instance)

    Plenty of evidence that it happened, though. See the section on rape in Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine for an overview.

  • RepublicanStones – if it were not for the closed doors during the war years and the Limerick pogrom of 1904, maybe Jews fleeing Hitler could have settled in Ireland rather than fighting for their lives for a bit of sand in Palestine.

    @Hugh Green – thanks for offering a reference, I’ll see if I can track that down. Pappe does seem to be a somewhat controversial figure.

  • Mark, as with all history books it’s a matter of looking at what is presented as evidence and drawing your own conclusions. As for his status, it’s hard to think of a single prominent critic of Israel who is not habitually described as at least controversial, when not worse.

  • runciter

    if it were not for the closed doors during the war years and the Limerick pogrom of 1904, maybe Jews fleeing Hitler could have settled in Ireland rather than fighting for their lives for a bit of sand in Palestine.

    So the Irish are responsible for Zionism?

    Fantastic… keep it up!

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘RepublicanStones – if it were not for the closed doors during the war years and the Limerick pogrom of 1904, maybe Jews fleeing Hitler could have settled in Ireland rather than fighting for their lives for a bit of sand in Palestine.’

    Ahh the Limerick pogrom, so by extension the irish are responsible for the Nakba. And ‘fighting for the lives’ is some euphemism for ‘carrying out an ethnic cleansing’. I suggest you read Illan Pappe’s book. As weel as Finkelstein’s ‘Image and Reality’, both demonstrate the the lies and fiction the Israeli regime like to perpetuate.

  • 21.5 county Prod

    Great thread, can I ask what the Republican posters have against Israel setting up their own country or maybe state would be a better word (please explain the difference) ?