OpinionIsrael at War

The scapegoating of Israel

Humanitarian aid has become the blood libel of the day.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
British Foreign Secretary David Cameron. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
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: melaniephillips.substack.com.

The name of David Cameron, Britain’s foreign secretary, is on course to become a synonym for infamy in Britain’s Jewish community to rival that of Ernest Bevin.

Bevin was Britain’s foreign secretary after World War II who took the side of the Arabs in their attempt to thwart the creation of a Jewish state. He imposed severe repressive measures against Palestine’s Jewish leadership and denied the Jewish remnants of the Nazi Holocaust entry into the land, sending the ship Exodus, carrying 4,500 Jewish refugees, back to Germany.

This week, Bevin’s successor Lord Cameron delivered an astonishing dressing-down to Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz, who stopped off in London after talks in America.

In a statement about the meeting, Cameron said he had once again pressed Israel to “increase the flow of aid” into Gaza to address its “devastating and growing humanitarian crisis.” He demanded “an immediate humanitarian pause,” increased access for aid and distribution capacity and provision for “shelter and items critical for infrastructure repair.”

He declared that the U.K. government was “deeply concerned” about the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah. And then he issued a threat.

“The U.K. supports Israel’s right to self-defense,” he began. “But as the occupying power in Gaza, Israel has a legal responsibility to ensure aid is available for civilians. That responsibility has consequences, including when we as the U.K. assess whether Israel is compliant with international humanitarian law.” 

What breathtaking arrogance and malice. How dare Cameron presume to dictate to Israel how to conduct this desperate war for its survival?

Israel isn’t “the occupying power” in Gaza. It is fighting a war there to defend the lives of its people against a genocidal enemy. How dare Cameron demand Israel take measures to weaken that defense through allowing in “items for infrastructure repair”—such as, presumably, the concrete and other building materials used by Hamas to construct its infernal underground infrastructure of terror and mass murder?

And if Israel doesn’t thus sabotage its attempt to destroy Hamas, the U.K. is threatening to destroy the Jewish state at the U.N. Cameron himself said at the end of January that the U.K. was considering recognition of a Palestinian state as a way of pressuring Israel to accept a “two-state solution” after a ceasefire in Gaza.

In other words, unless Israel agrees to allow Hamas to survive, the U.K. will do two things: It will throw the Jewish state to the Hamas-supporting wolves at the U.N. and force into existence a terrorist entity that would put Israel’s heartlands in danger of Oct. 7-style pogroms on steroids.

Similar pressure on Israel has come from the Biden administration. Last weekend, Vice-President Kamala Harris said, “The Israeli government must do more to significantly increase the flow of aid. No excuses.”

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller claimed this week that Israeli government ministers were “obstacles” to aid by blocking the release of flour from the port of Ashdod and supporting protests that blocked supplies from the Kerem Shalom crossing point.

It would seem that Israel’s principal allies in the U.K. and U.S. are determined to ensure that Israel doesn’t defeat Hamas, and are actually serving as a megaphone for the terror group’s distorted and manipulative claims of a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

Certainly, there is death and suffering among the civilian population. This is horrible and deeply regrettable as the inevitable consequence of war. But the scale of the crisis is being hysterically exaggerated.

On January 30, CNN reported: “Palestinians are eating grass and drinking polluted water as famine looms across Gaza.” Yet on the same day, COGAT, which coordinates Israeli government activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, published a video of Gazans queuing up at a plentiful shawarma stand in Rafah.

Social media footage has shown well-stocked Rafah markets. There have also been videos of Gazans contemptuously throwing air-dropped ready-to-eat meals into the trash.

Some Israeli politicians and members of the public, maddened by the perception that the aid is helping Hamas, have been trying to stop it from getting into Gaza. But contrary to the Americans’ implication, these protests are countered by the government and have been largely ineffective.

COGAT says that, over the past two weeks, almost 50% more food trucks have been entering Gaza than before the start of the war. On Wednesday, it says, 257 trucks entered. Over the past few days, more than 100 trucks were transferred to the northern part of the Strip. Over the past two weeks, the number of operational bakeries went up from 10 to 20, providing more than 2.5 million breads per day to the population. 

From the start of the war, more than 750 packages of humanitarian aid have been delivered—mostly to northern Gaza—by 25 airdrops mounted by an alliance of Israel, the U.S., the UAE, Egypt, Jordan and France (not, note, with the participation of Cameron’s Britain).

So Cameron’s suggestion that Israel is not fulfilling its legal responsibility to provide aid for civilians is utterly false. Israel is indeed doing so. The problems start once the aid arrives.

Israel says there is no limit to the number of aid trucks being allowed into Gaza. There are instead hold-ups at the crossing points because the U.N. is struggling to distribute the aid. And that’s because it uses the U.N.’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA—which is controlled by Hamas.

The result is that Hamas hijacks the trucks and steals the food and other supplies, either for itself or to sell to the population on the black market.

On social media, there are videos of aid trucks being commandeered by armed men. There are also videos of Egyptian drivers warning others not to drive aid trucks into Gaza because they are being attacked with rocks hurled through their windscreens, leaving some badly injured and even killed.

Even U.S. officials are admitting that Hamas is stealing the aid that the Biden administration is accusing Israel of failing to provide.

One senior official told journalists that the problem was with distribution once the 250 to 300 truckloads of assistance got into Gaza. He said: “This is a product of, if you will, commercialization of the assistance; criminal gangs are taking it, looting it, reselling it. They’ve monetized humanitarian assistance. … The food is there; it’s coming in.”

Other officials have confirmed that Hamas is involved in aid distribution.

David Satterfield, the senior U.S. diplomat involved in humanitarian assistance for Gaza, acknowledged that police escorts for aid deliveries include Hamas members, and that Hamas has been using other aid delivery channels to “shape where and to whom assistance goes.”

In the remorseless attempt to demonize Israel, humanitarian aid has become the blood libel of the day. When dozens of Palestinians were reportedly killed last month as thousands stampeded aid trucks entering Gaza City, the incident was falsely blamed on Israeli fire—even though the IDF shot at no one other than a few Gazans who threatened to attack them.

Social media is teeming with distressing images of Gazan babies who have allegedly been starved to death by Israel. Even if all these images are genuine, it isn’t Israel but Hamas that’s responsible by stealing the food intended for civilians.

Israel is being scapegoated for the war crimes of Hamas. Scapegoating the Jews is the consistent and defining motif of antisemitism through the ages.

It is also precisely what Cameron and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken are doing. As a result, they are giving substance to the “genocide in Gaza” blood libel and stoking yet further attacks on Jews.

Israel’s media spokesman Eylon Levy said this week: “We will accept being scapegoated no longer.” Israel isn’t on its knees. The Jews of Britain and America should get up from theirs and publicly tell Cameron and Blinken the same thing.

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