Of compromise and betrayal: From the Golan to Brexit

People in the West are primed to believe that compromise is invariably the solution to conflict. But there are some issues where the agenda brooks no compromise because it is by definition non-negotiable, and where “compromise” is therefore a fig leaf for surrender.

The Union Jack and the European Union Flag. Credit:
The Union Jack and the European Union Flag. Credit:
Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for The Times of London, her personal and political memoir, Guardian Angel, has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, The Legacy, in 2018. To access her work, go to:

Two current sources of uproar tie Britain, the United States and Israel into a matrix of hypocrisy, double standards and spinelessness.

The first was the welcome announcement by President Donald Trump that the United States will recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the strategically crucial mountain range that Israel seized from Syria in 1967.

Cue horror in the foreign ministries and policy circles of the world where Israel’s annexation was denounced as a violation of international law.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, tut-tutted: “We should never recognize the annexation of territory by force,” and agreed that Israel’s claim to the Golan was illegal because “annexation of territory is prohibited under international law.”

Similar claims were made by the United Nations and European Union. But the argument doesn’t stand up for a minute.

As Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Dore Gold, has pointed out, international law makes a crucial distinction between the seizure of territory in wars of aggression, which is illegal, and the seizure of territory by a state exercising its lawful right of self-defense, which is not only legal but a moral imperative.

Israel took the Golan when it defended itself against the aggression of Egypt, Jordan and Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Syrian aggression against Israel didn’t start there. From 1949 to 1967, Syrian forces had pounded Israeli farms and towns in the Galilee situated below the Golan. Today, Syria is the patsy of Iran that is constantly attempting to turn Syrian territory into a launch pad for its genocidal war against Israel.

A state is entitled under international law to hold onto land which continues to be used to attack it. If it was required instead to return the land to the aggressor, this would be a suicidal act of surrender.

Giving up the Golan to Syria would leave the Galilee undefended against the predations of Iran, which openly declares its intention to wipe Israel off the map.

Hunt’s comment, along with Trump’s announcement itself, provoked scant attention in Britain because of the all-consuming Brexit crisis—the second source of uproar—which has sucked the oxygen out of all other discussion there.

It is impossible to exaggerate the depth of this crisis, which has all but paralyzed the government and now threatens not just Theresa May’s premiership but the fracture of both the Conservative and Labour parties and the destruction of public trust in the democratic process itself.

The reason for this pandemonium, arguably the worst constitutional crisis since the 17th-century civil war, is that parliament is dominated by MPs who want the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union. They are determined to stop Brexit dead in its tracks.

Under the default provision of an act of parliament, the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on Friday, April 12—a date that was extended by two weeks in panic after MPs voted down withdrawal terms that Mrs. May had agreed with the European Union.

All subsequent Remainer proposals for a Brexit “compromise” have failed. But refusing to accept the consequences of the law they themselves passed, many MPs are determined to stop the United Kingdom leaving the European Union with no deal at all.

This week, the crisis roared even further out of control when a desperate Mrs. May sought to broker a “soft Brexit” compromise with the far-left Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

That would entail a commitment to a customs union, which would leave the United Kingdom still enmeshed in E.U. rules. Such a compromise therefore wouldn’t be Brexit at all.

That’s because on Brexit there can be no compromise. Either the United Kingdom remains under E.U. control or it doesn’t. Leaving the European Union but remaining under its control offers the worst of all possible worlds—having to conform to E.U. rules but with no control over them and thus no control over its own fate.

It would be Brexit in name only. The whole point of Brexit, regaining the power of sovereign self-government, would be vitiated. And every one of the “compromises” proposed by Remainer MPs is a variation on remaining under E.U. control while pretending to deliver Brexit.

This illustrates something with far broader and very important implications. People in the West are primed to believe that compromise is invariably the solution to conflict. Often, it is just that. But there are some issues where the agenda brooks no compromise because it is by definition non-negotiable, and where “compromise” is therefore a fig leaf for surrender.

Independent national self-government is one such issue. Another is the Arab and Muslim war of extermination against Israel. This is now universally presented as a negotiable conflict over land between Israel and the “Palestinians,” both of whom have a legitimate claim to that land.

This is false. The “Palestinians” have a non-negotiable agenda: the total destruction of Israel as a Jewish nation-state and its replacement by “Palestine.”

As they have not only repeatedly admitted and consistently made clear by their insignia and maps, their education materials inciting the murder of Jews and the theft of Israeli land, and their repeated refusal to accept a state when offered to them, their aim remains the extermination of Israel. The “two-state solution” is merely a feint.

Yet on both these non-negotiable issues—independent self-government for the United Kingdom, and the Arab and Muslim war of extermination against Israel—reality is denied by those who tell themselves the lie that compromise is possible.

The outcome of those momentous examples of self-deception in the name of “compromise” is the permanent war waged against Israel’s existence and the all-too possible disintegration of Britain into a post-democratic future.

It is particularly stomach-churning for the British to lecture Israel with false allegations about breaking international law given Britain’s appalling history of doing precisely that in pre-Israel Palestine. Moreover, the parallels between what it did then and what’s happening in Britain now are striking.

In both cases, British politicians betrayed their most solemn promises. In Palestine, the British broke their promise to facilitate Jewish immigration; over Brexit, MPs are intent on breaking their election promises to honor the referendum result.

In Palestine, the British tore up international law by rewriting the Mandate to carve out from the homeland promised to the Jews territory they then offered to the Arabs bent on blocking that Jewish homeland. And currently, MPs are trying to block Brexit by tearing up parliamentary rules and the constitutional balance between government and back-benchers.

Both these British betrayals have entailed pernicious consequences. Rewarding the Arab aggressors incentivized the war against the Jewish homeland, which continues against Israel to this day.

And if Brexit is stopped, the political cataclysm that will probably ensue makes it more likely that a Corbyn-led government will come to power.

The prospect of the Marxist, terrorist-supporting, anti-Semitism-facilitating Corbyn becoming prime minister should terrify anyone who cares about Western security, freedom and the rule of law.

Which leads to a further reflection. Many have pointed out that, throughout history, all who have tried to destroy the Jewish people have not only failed but ended up being destroyed themselves.

Perfidious Albion betrayed the Jewish people when it closed the doors of Palestine to European Jews attempting to flee Nazi Europe. It thus connived at the slaughter of the Holocaust.

The Jewish people not only survived, but out of the ashes of that catastrophe have created a vigorous, flourishing and optimistic country. Now Britain may be in the process of destroying itself. Go figure.

Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a column for JNS every two weeks. Currently a columnist for “The Times of London,” her personal and political memoir, “Guardian Angel,” has been published by Bombardier, which has also published her first novel, “The Legacy,” released in April 2018. Her work can be found at her website,

You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war.

JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you.

The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support?

Every contribution, big or small, helps remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates