Sunday, 21 January 2007

Chris Davies on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – spot the difference!

Chris Davies MEP has recently published a collection of articles on his website, detailing his responses to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past year or so. Here is a selection of what Chris has said on the subject. Readers can make up their own minds as to how principled and how consistent his views are.

I do not support any act of violence.
Chris Davies, 17 January 2007

The minority in Gaza who, out of despair, have taken up arms against an occupying army cannot be dismissed as ‘terrorists’. In the face of overwhelming and hopeless odds should their sacrifice not be saluted and awarded the same respect as that given to resistance movements of the Second World War?
Chris Davies, 6 November 2006

“What would you do in my shoes?” he [Aziz Duack, Hamas supporter] challenged. I take
it up. “In your shoes,” I respond, “I would re-read the works of Gandhi and organise a
great series of non-violent protest actions to be staged in front of the world’s TV cameras.”
Chris Davies, 11 April 2006

If I had had to live through that as a Palestinian over decades and I was being given no hope for the future whatsoever, I might have considered being a suicide bomber.
Jenny Tonge, 21 September 2006
(Unchallenged and even applauded by Chris Davies, who was sitting next to her.)

I am not an anti Semite, nor am I anti-Israel, or anti-Jew.
Chris Davies, 17 January 2007

I shall denounce the influence of the Jewish lobby that seems to have far too great a say over the political decision-making process in many countries.
Chris Davies, 4 May 2006


Allan said...

Very well researched piece.

If I had to say one good thing about Jenny Tonge, it's that she's consistently demented --- unlike Davies...

Paul Griffiths said...

Before readers "make up their own minds", I'd suggest they read the quotes in context. It might not change your opinion of Mr Davies, but it's better relying solely on Mr Wright's editorial choices.

Jonny Wright said...

With respect Paul, I've provided a link to the originals at the very start of my article. I've also emailed the URL of my blog to Chris, and offered him the chance to comment or reply.

For the sake of making a readable article, and for the sake of highlighting the inconsistencies in Chris's line, I've had to select some small snippets. If you feel any of them are misquoted or taken out of context, and you can back that up, drop me an email and I'll happily change them.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Great research. I've linked directly to your blog now.

Oh, and thanks for the birthday wishes.

Linda Jack said...

I'm not sure of the point you are trying to make here? I see no inconsistency in opposing violence at the same time as recognising that until we understand its roots we will never overcome it. I hate violence of all kinds, yet I took the Queen's "shilling" as a 17 year old because I believed it was right to defend my country. Maybe....a good few years later.....I do not have such a rose tinted view of the purity of my country's motives...but it doesn't change my view that some things are worth fighting for, not least my fellow citizens.

Aaron said...


I think you're deliberately mixing comments about different things in order to push your own agenda.

You have various people in various situations in Palestine (and in Israel).

I think it's right to say that Palestine has as much right to self-defense as it's neighbours be they egypt, or Israel.That would be 'the minority who have taken up arms against an occupying army', whether it's kid's throwing stones or fatah militia defending arafat or police stations from Israeli attack it is self defense.

There is very little that is wrong or inconsistent there - It's foolish to say he does not support any act of violence outright, perhaps that's out of context, I don't think his comments are those of a pacifist like Gandhi, but neither are they totally inconsistent.

It's pretty clear if you don't project your own prejudice that he supports palestinian self determination and sympathises with their situation - this doesn't have to be exclusive - you can sympathise with the victims on both sides of the conflict, you can also and rightly despise the actions of Isreals government but not hate the people.

I think the comment about the jewish lobby is silly - I think we all know there isn't a massive jewish or zionist conspiracy, but an oddly unbalanced support of Isreal right or wrong by certain christian, american and jewish groups. There are plenty of liberal and moderate jewish and israeli groups that feel the same way about what has happened in palestine, israel and lebannon.

In summary, I think you're just trying to make some cheap shots about a complex issue, that isn't just about supporting one side or the other unquestioningly, of which I've seen far too much - even among liberals who should know better.

monsterravingloony said...


I could take issue with just about everything you have written, but life is too short.

Firstly, you complain that Jonny "has an agenda" but fail to acknowledge that Chris Davies certainly has an agenda. He is about as one-sided as you can get, and in case you hadn't noticed, he's clearly on the side of the Palestinians, notwithstanding your comments referring to "a complex issue, that isn't just about supporting one side or the other unquestioningly".

Getting back to your arguments, taking just one bite-sized chunk:

I think it's right to say that Palestine has as much right to self-defense as it's neighbours be they egypt, or Israel.

There is no State of Palestine so the right of self-defense does not apply, at least not in the same way as if say France were invaded by Germany (again). The occupied territories were occupied from Egypt and Jordan respectively. Both those countries are at peace with Israel and not demanding that land back.

To the extent that international law has anything to say about this we usually have to fall back on UN resolution 242 which calls for the return of the occupied land (to Egypt/Jordan/Syria since the notion of a Palestinian state came up later) but as part of a negotiated peace settlement, not unilaterally. Both Israel and the Palestinians rejected that resolution.

Furthermore it is clear enough that a substantial proportion of Palestinians are not fighting "defensively" to liberate land occupied in 1967. They will settle for nothing less than the elimination of Israel as a political entity in toto (see Hamas's charter for example).

The reality is that Israel's actions in the West Bank and Gaza are defensive. They are security measures intended to safeguard Israeli civilians from attempts to murder them as part of that campaign to eliminate of Israel. If that campaign were to end Israel would have no need for military incursions, checkpoints, barriers or any other measures. All that would be left would be the question of which land ended up as part of Israel and which as part of a new Palestinian state. All that is stopping that negoatiation for peace, as per UN 242, is the insistence on the part of millions of Palestinians that Israel cannot be permitted to exist, as echoed by the leadership of Iran.

Jonny Wright said...

Also, I'm not quite sure how I'm supposed to have an "agenda" when I just quoted, perfectly fairly, a load of stuff Chris said. I didn't say anything myself! Aaron, the fact that you reacted so badly suggests that you're the one with an agenda here.

The one and only agenda I have in this article is to highlight the fact that Chris Davies is inconsistent. He puts in all the usual caveats about not supporting terrorism, and preaches about Gandhi, but he's also quite happy to justify, or turn a blind eye to, the deliberate targetting of Israeli civilians by terrorist groups. I think this is amply demonstrated by the quotations I've chosen, which don't lie. And if you don't agree with me, look at the man's own website and tell me yourself if he sticks to one line or not.

Paul Griffiths said...

Please, Jonny, don't insult our intelligence. Selective quotation is one of the classic ways of misrepresenting another person's views. Don't get me wrong - it's to your credit that you've linked to the original articles. But you really shouldn't be surprised that some of us who follow the link - and read Chris's comments in context - come to conclusions that differ from your own.

Aaron said...


The way you've put together a bunch of quotes, out of context, makes it clear you have an agenda.

My agenda is for our party to have a rational and balanced attitude towards Israel and Palestine, and unfortunately it remains polarised with each side making cheap pot shots or ham fisted statements supporting one side or the other.

If you knew your history you would know that the warsaw ghetto had a resistence who used whatever means possible, and that the modern nation of Israel itself was born of the same kind of terrorism that Isreal is now seeing against it's civilians.

I'm a pacifist, but that doesn't mean that I can't try and understand why violence happens, what they are thinking, or how I would react or behave in the same situation. That's why I think Jenny Tongue and Cherie Blair were right to question how they would behave if they were in the position of the Palestinians.

I also agree with the director of public prosecutions when he rightly points out that the 'war on terror' is no such thing, merely criminals, the IRA were fought using the justice system and politics, not bombs and tanks - and look at the result - the same could have happened in Israel/Palestine if they chose to, but they did not and now the opportunity has passed.

It's a real shame to see that palestinian democracy is a choice between a corrupt and powerless PLO/Fatah and a less corrupt but despotic and terrorist Hammas, and Israel and it's supporters have to accept some of the blame - Fatah was powerless because Isreal and the international community made it so.

Both sides are making their own problems, but one side is suffering a great deal more, and has little choice in the matter.

Returning to your claim that you have no agenda - why do you juxtapose Chris saying he isn't anti-semitic with his other comments - are you claiming he is? I don't see any evidence, it's pretty clear that he doesn't support the actions of Israel's government but most within our party don't support many of the actions of the government - does that make us anti-britain? Nope.

monster raving loonie, is obviously one of those 'Israel can do no wrong' zealots with an agenda - exactly the problem we have in the party, a polarised zealot - I think Jenny and Chris are a bit naive, but they don't seem to support violence against civilians - in fact even in your quotes that is clear, there are probably some in the party who sympathise with Palestine in the same way that You and monsterravingloonie sympathise with Israel and I think think both sides are wrong.

Hopefully we'll see some mature debate about Israel and Palestine within the Lib Dems soon, but I don't see any in your (and the other libdem) blogs.

Jonny Wright said...

Aaron, I have quoted things that Chris has said which appear to contradict each other. The only thing I'm trying to suggest is that Chris has very flexible opinions, which appear to change depending on whom he's talking to.

I'm not in any way trying to weigh in on the Israel/Palestine debate itself, which deserves senseitive and detailed treatment in its own article. I agree with you that the Israel/Palestine debate is far too polarised, and needs a more mature approach.

However, if Chris Davies tells Hamas to read Gandhi, and then writes a letter to a national newspaper making excuses for people who attack civilians, you'll excuse me if I accuse him of inconsistency.