X Close

What Thatcher can teach the pro-Israel Right The Tories could learn from her moderate stance

(Owen Franken/Getty Images)


April 15, 2024   8 mins

For all their drama, and barring an Israeli counter-escalation, the weekend’s events do not change the course of the Gaza War. Six months in, the campaign has been a disaster for all concerned, apart from Iran and its regional allies. The suffering has primarily been borne by Gaza’s Palestinian population, more than 33,000 of whom, including 13,000 children, have been killed, in figures from Gaza’s Health Ministry accepted as accurate by Israel’s intelligence services, if not its Western supporters.

Yet Israel, too, has very little to show for its incursion, launched with sudden fury, but no discernible exit plan. As the IDF has withdrawn the vast majority of its troops, the Hamas leadership remains intact, the group can still fire rockets into Israel and is still killing Israeli soldiers on the ground. Netanyahu’s fragile Right-wing coalition — which survived months of mass protests even before Hamas’s brutal October rampage — is increasingly unpopular within Israel, with 71% of Israelis desiring him to step down.

Even as Netanyahu, against the Biden administration’s expressed will, pledges to launch an assault on Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees have fled, his own defence minister openly contradicts him, asserting that no date for the operation has been set. When even the most committed American supporters of Israel, such as the New York Times’s Bret Stephens, and Thomas Friedman, feel compelled to state that “In a thousand years, Jews will remember Netanyahu’s name with scorn” for his “utterly insane strategy” which has “locked Israel into a politically unwinnable war”, it looks increasingly apparent that Israel’s conduct of the Gaza War will be remembered by history as a diplomatic and strategic error of historic proportions.

Yet there is very little reflection of these dynamics to be found in British conservative discourse which, for parochial culture-war reasons, committed itself to Israel’s ill-thought-out campaign early on and now finds itself held hostage by Netanyahu’s ineptitude. Like much of Britain’s talk-show populism, as a political strategy it is not a very popular one: even a plurality of Conservative voters now believes Britain should withhold arms sales to Israel, a debate roiling our moribund Conservative Party. While the optics of simultaneously dropping aid on Gaza and arming Israel indeed look absurd, in truth British arms sales represent only a miniscule fraction of Israel’s military capabilities, with the increasingly heated debate on both sides existing in a purely symbolic realm. Britain has no cause to enter this war, yet our political class seems determined nevertheless to reap all the domestic turmoil involvement would bring. Indeed, the full-throttle support for Israel’s war displayed by Suella Braverman or the Daily Mail columnist  Boris Johnson is worthy of analysis for its pure novelty. It signifies a partisan approach to the Middle East’s most intractable conflict that is a startling divergence from a century of British, and particularly Tory, policy.

For a party that has failed to escape Thatcher’s long shadow, afflicted in its dotage with a cargo-cult weakness for matronly blondes of dubious merit, perhaps what is most remarkable is how far the current Conservative Party’s aspiring populist wing diverges from Thatcher’s own approach to the conflict. Following its invasion of Lebanon in 1982, a disaster that she correctly foresaw would birth new and harder threats to both the Western order and Israel’s own security, Thatcher placed an embargo on British weapons sales to Israel, a policy that was not lifted until 1994. Her rationale, as she told ITN, was that Israeli troops had “gone across the borders of Israel, a totally independent country, which is not a party to the hostility and there are very very great hostilities, bombing, terrible things happening there. Of course one has to condemn them. It is someone else’s country. You must condemn that. After all, that is why we have gone to the Falklands, to repossess our country which has been taken by someone else.”

A famously unsentimental woman, Thatcher framed the conflict in terms that seem strikingly empathetic to today’s eyes. In 1985, she visited an “utterly hopeless” Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, where, as she recounts in her 1993 memoirs, The Downing Street Years, “I talked to one old lady, half blind, lying in the shade of a tree outside her family’s hut. She was said to be about 100. But she had one thing above all on her mind, and spoke about it: the restoration of the Palestinians’ rights.” For Thatcher — perhaps counterintuitively, viewed through the prism of today’s Conservative party — the “plight of the landless Palestinians” was a major foreign-policy concern. Under her helm, the British government worked hard to bring about a peace deal, though her efforts were frustrated at every turn by both Israeli and American intransigence: as she “scrawled” on one cable from the British ambassador in Washington: “The US just does not realise the resentment she is causing in the Middle East.”

Striving to find a workable peace, Thatcher asserted the only possible solution to the conflict was an approach which balanced “the right of all the states in the region — including Israel — to existence and security, but also demanded justice for all peoples, which implied recognition of of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination”. Writing of her visit to Israel in 1986, the first by a British prime minister, Thatcher remarked that “The Israelis knew… that they were dealing with someone who harboured no lurking hostility towards them, who understood their anxieties, but who was not going to pursue an unqualified Zionist approach.” Instead, she “believed that the real challenge was to strengthen moderate Palestinians, probably in association with Jordan, who would eventually push aside the… extremists. But this would never happen if Israel did not encourage it; and the miserable conditions under which Arabs on the West Bank and in Gaza were having to live only made things worse.”

The British-Jewish historian Azriel Bermant’s excellent 2016 book, Margaret Thatcher and the Middle East, makes for enlightening and perhaps discomfiting reading in the light of the Gaza War. An idealistic supporter of both Anglo-Jewry and Israel, whose own daughter Carol volunteered on a kibbutz, Thatcher nevertheless approached the country with a critical detachment. With a keener eye to Israel’s internal dynamics than Braverman or Johnson, Thatcher viewed the Right-wing Likud leaders Menachim Begin and Yitzhak Shamir with distaste, as former terrorists against the British state with whom she was forced to deal by circumstance. Her preference throughout was for the Labor leader Shimon Peres who she viewed as a moderate, committed to a lasting peace settlement. To Thatcher, peace would entail not an independent Palestinian state — she thought this unviable, and most probably undesirable — but the incorporation of the West Bank and Gaza under the rule of Jordan’s Anglophile King Hussein.

“it is doubtful that today’s self-proclaimed Thatcherites would find a prominent place for Thatcher herself in their nascent faction.”

Yet when Thatcher signed on to an European Community declaration of support for Palestinian statehood, just days after the PLO confirmed its commitment to the destruction of Israel, and was condemned for this by the Labour leader Jim Callaghan — British attitudes on the conflict were yet to assume their present form — Thatcher responded in robust terms. “The words in the communiqué I support entirely,” she told the House. “They concern the right of the Palestinian people to determine their own future. If one wishes to call that ‘self- determination’, I shall not quarrel with it. I am interested that the Right Hon. Gentleman appears to be attempting to deny that right. I do not understand how anyone can demand a right for people on one side of a boundary and deny it to people on the other side of that boundary. That seems to deny certain rights, or to allocate them with discrimination from one person to another.”

Strikingly, Thatcher condemned Israel for its annexation of the Golan Heights from Syria, for its attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear power plant, and for its seizure of Palestinian land for settlements, including the housing of Soviet Jewish refugees: as she told the House in 1990, “Soviet Jews who leave the Soviet Union – and we have urged for years that they should be allowed to leave – should not be settled in the Occupied Territories or in East Jerusalem. It undermines our position when those people are settled in land that really belongs to others.” Indeed, as she later remarked in her memoirs, “I only wished that Israeli emphasis on the human rights of the Russian refuseniks was matched by proper appreciation of the plight of landless and stateless Palestinians.” With such sentiments, it is doubtful that today’s self-proclaimed Thatcherites would find a prominent place for Thatcher herself in their nascent faction.

While Thatcher’s views on Israel were balanced by the need to placate opinion in her 20% Jewish seat — the stated “Finchley factor” frequently cropped up in moments of self-doubt — her moderate stance on the conflict was sustained by the diversity of opinion then held by British Jews on Israel’s conduct. As Bermant notes: “Within British Jewry, the consensus on Israel had been seriously eroded with the invasion of Lebanon and, particularly, in the wake of the Sabra and Shatila massacre,” with the Chief Rabbi, Immanuel Jakobovits, releasing a statement condemning the massacre, while “an editorial in the Anglo-Jewish newspaper, The Jewish Chronicle, called on Begin and Sharon to resign in the wake of the killings”. In some ways, it could be argued that British Jewish opinion on the Palestine question back then was more akin to the conflicted attitudes expressed by American Jews today, while Thatcher lamented the then hardline American support for Israel, which she felt distorted US policy in self-defeating ways.

Yet just as Labour’s about-turn on Israel followed the 1982 Lebanon invasion, American attitudes to the country are today undergoing a historic convulsion, with what are sure to be significant consequences to Israel’s future security. The Biden administration is under increasing domestic pressure for its support for Netanyahu’s campaign, with even organs of middlebrow liberal opinion like The Atlantic, CNN and the Daily Show turning against Israel’s war and America’s support for it. The increasingly radical American Right is also turning against Israel, expressing dissent in often markedly antisemitic ways. In this dramatically shifting political landscape, the discourse in Britain’s media sphere seems strangely parochial, partly a reflection of American conservative fashions a generation ago, and partly an expression of Britain’s own anxieties over mass immigration, projected, like Brexit, onto more comfortable rhetorical ground.

Cameron’s largely moderate stance on the conflict, supporting Israel’s right to strike Hamas after its October brutalities while emphasising Britain’s opposition to Israel’s immoderate violence against Palestinian (and now British) civilians, and its commitment to a future Palestinian state, is broadly the correct one, even if the Conservative party’s Overton Window has drifted closer to Likud in intervening years than Thatcher would have permitted. Thatcher herself, as Bermant notes, “underlined that Israel’s policies were having a problematic impact on the geopolitics of the region: it was very unhelpful that the United States was being perceived as ‘Israel’s lawyer’, while the Soviet Union was being seen ‘as the friend of the Arabs’” — a dynamic Putin is happily exploiting this today, while America’s stock dwindles in both the Red Sea and the court of world opinion. Instead, Bermant observes: “Thatcher argued for Britain and the EC to play a role as ‘a third party’ which was ‘not bound by US or Soviet policies.’” Though perhaps, as I argued at the beginning of the war, it would have been better for us to stay out of the matter entirely: better for Britain, better for the Palestinians, and ultimately better for Israel and its Western advocates.

When the war ends, when journalists are allowed into Gaza as the full civilian toll is unearthed and counted, the more outlandish expressions of solidarity with Netanyahu’s campaign made by Right-wing pundits will surely come to be seen as a needless, unforced error. As Bermant recently observed: “the Netanyahu government refuses to spell out its objectives for the end of the Gaza war and has allowed the most extreme elements in his government to exert influence over the management of the war… Israel’s prime minister has yet to come out against those in his government who have called for the displacement of Palestinians and the Jewish resettlement of Gaza.” The results have been, and will be, precisely what any detached observer or sufficiently critical friend would have expected.

Losing the American support on which its continued existence depends, with France now mooting sanctions against Israel, and a simultaneous genocide case working its way through the Hague, Netanyahu has dramatically worsened Israel’s strategic position. Within the context of this self-inflicted diplomatic injury, the focus on Right-wing discourse or campus radicals or pro-Palestine protests looks, at the most charitable interpretation, wrongheaded.

Perhaps the last word is best left to Thatcher herself. Summing up her years-long engagement with the region, she noted that “the United States, which was the power most responsible for the establishment of the state of Israel, will and must always stand behind Israel’s security. It is equally, though, right that the Palestinians should be restored in their land and dignity: and, as often happens in my experience, what is morally right eventually turns out to be politically expedient. Removing, even in limited measure, the Palestinian grievance is a necessary if not sufficient condition for cutting the cancer of Middle East terrorism out by the roots. The only way this can happen, as has long been clear, is for Israel to exchange ‘land for peace’, returning occupied territories to the Palestinians in exchange for credible undertakings to respect Israel’s security.”

More Likudist than the vast majority of Israelis, more uncompromisingly heartless than Thatcher herself, the Tory commentators who claim the Iron Lady’s mantle would do well to reflect on her example.


Aris Roussinos is an UnHerd columnist and a former war reporter.

arisroussinos

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

101 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Arthur King
Arthur King
1 month ago

Thatcher may have read things differently give the events of Oct 7th. And the hyper-fixation Palistinians have with the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people. Even their Arab nations have had enough with these people. There no longer is a two state solution. The Gazans must be made to eternally regret their joy in perpetrating inhuman violence against Jews such that they will abandone such actions in the future. Barring that, they must be moved far from doing any more harm. We need an Iron Lady response.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
1 month ago
Reply to  Arthur King

The notion that Jordan would accept Palestinians is risible, as Palestinians assassinated Abdullah I, and nearly toppled their government. Egypt has zero desire to open their heavily fortified border with Gaza. Lebanon is in ruins largely because of Palestinian infighting. Syria has its own conflicts and needs no more.
A people raised on resentment so fierce that they sacrifice their own children, and cheer the arrival of their opponent’s female corpses, are ungovernable and unreachable.
Punish them enough, however, and eliminate enough of their soldiers, and they’ll eventually give up.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 month ago

One question that keeps coming up in connection with the Gaza war is the extent to which Israel no longer needs the US for its survival. I haven’t seen an article analyzing that question. Perhaps a commenter has an answer, or can suggest a published article, or maybe Unherd could publish a piece on this issue.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
1 month ago

This author suffers from the unfortunate affliction of not seeing the forest for the trees. “Here are trees,” he says, “and here are some more.” I fail to see, after thousands of words, which point it is he is trying to make.

That said, this land is God’s land. This world is God’s world.

And having said that, to give to the violent what they wish is to breed more violence than before.

David George
David George
1 month ago

No mention of the role of the Islamic Republic of Iran in all of this?
The freedom and self determination “enjoyed” by the Palestinian people under a government modeled on that brutal totalitarian regime is something to fight for?
God knows what motivated the terrorists in the first place but the idea that the Islamists (Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Iran’s Ayatollahs etc.) are fighting for “freedom” is as wrong as its possible to be

Dr E C
Dr E C
1 month ago
Reply to  David George

Exactly. And the idea that this war is a ‘*self-inflicted* diplomatic injury’ makes this writer impossible to take seriously

Paul
Paul
1 month ago

So, in Thatcher’s view, the Palestinians were entitled to self-determination, but this was somehow consistent with installing a non-Palestinian (but unfailingly pro-British) king to rule over majority-Palestinian Transjordan. Makes perfect sense if you don’t think about it

David George
David George
1 month ago

Is self determination the motivation for the Islamists?
Jewish Lebanese refugee Gad Saad speaks from personal experience and observation
“The mindset in the Middle East is very simple. It is based on the Qur’anic concept of dhimmi status for all religious minorities who are “people of the book.” Such people can at best be tolerated but they should NEVER be in a position in power whether within a country or within the Middle East. As such, Israel’s existence violates a definitional and fundamental tenet of the mindset in the region. It is that simple. It has nothing to do with land; nothing to do with two states; nothing to do with other geopolitical realities. Islam is supreme. Islam can protect you as long as you know your place. Israel said NO! We have dignity; we have a right for self-autonomy. Ask yourself the following question: How are non-Muslim minorities faring throughout the Middle East? Yes, there are times when minorities are “tolerated” but the overlords reserve the right to exterminate you as they see fit. There is 1,400 years of that recorded history. Learn your history.”

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
1 month ago
Reply to  David George

So much of what you say is absolutely true. And it extended to areas such the Balkans, where invasions of Europe by the Otttomans marching toward Vienna were stopped by the Serbs and Croats. And one agrees entirely with the much-underappreciated Lithuanian philosopher Algirdas Degutis, who described the meeting of the two cultures in the West today as a case of “absolute intolerance meets suicidal hospitality.”
Yet when you say, “As such, Israel’s existence violates a definitional and fundamental tenet of the mindset in the region,” well, such was why the brilliant and unarguably constructive General George Marshall, along with much of the State Department’s ME staff in 1948, thought it would lead to everything that has since transpired. And not lead where the socially enlightened brilliant Albert Einstein and his community envisioned. Though of course there were, as you know, dark forces on both sides.
But, yes.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago

I will stop reading essays that suggest Bibi alone is running the war. It is simply not the case. Israel is being run by a war-time cabinet that includes the leader of the official opposition.

George Venning
George Venning
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

And, whilst most Israelis dissaprove of his conduct of the campaign, most of them do so because they believe that he should be more, not less aggressive.
This conflict has finally removed any shred of the illusion that Netanyahu is an outlier.

T Bone
T Bone
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Global Progressives equally despise all leaders that don’t follow their charted course of action.

Arthur King
Arthur King
1 month ago

After Oct 7th, Thatcher would not have supported a moderate position.

B Emery
B Emery
1 month ago
Reply to  Arthur King

Can you speak to dead people?

Arthur King
Arthur King
1 month ago
Reply to  B Emery

People similar to Thatchers worldview aren’t moderate in their response to Oct 7, ergo Thatcher would not have been.

B Emery
B Emery
1 month ago
Reply to  Arthur King

I’m still not convinced your analysis isn’t floored.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  B Emery

Do you know the difference between flawed and floored?

B Emery
B Emery
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Apparently not dear. Thank you. I assume I should use flawed instead of floored?
Do you think the minus eleven is because my grammar, syntax and spelling are sh*t or because minus eleven people don’t understand that although you may think you know what dead people would say, you could never be sure?

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
1 month ago
Reply to  Arthur King

True. I wouldn’t say her Irish policy was “moderate,” nor should it have been, after years of considerable violence.
That said, though, the IRA and UDAs worst excesses weren’t much more than a donnybrook, if compared to the savagery of Hamas on 10/7.

LeeKC C
LeeKC C
1 month ago

Interesting to hear another opinion. Whilst I don’t fully understand all the history and political nuance of the Middle East region in the last millennia, I tend to look to those that are most ‘learned’ or have experience in the area we speak of. Netanyahu aside for a moment, I tend to appreciate the opinions of Sam Harris, see article at UnHerd and also Ayaan Hirsi Aali, also here. Sam has thoroughly researched Islam Jihadism and Ayaan has lived experience within it.
My opinion stems from Oct 7, and what Jihadis believe in and stand for. In relation to our western liberal values and women’s rights, let alone the fact that Hamas and an overwhelming majority of Palestinians 70 – 80% actually support the actions of Hamas. They do not stand for what we so actively purport to protect. Whatever the true ‘body count’ of the war in Gaza actually is – as they do not discern civilians from soldiers, Hamas care less about their own people than anyone else does in the west including Israel. Egypt and or the surrounding countries refuse to allow any of their refugees into their country???? Like what? I also do not see anyone – including Biden, who are coming up with alternatives or examples of how else to go about it. To retaliate (Hamas) is one thing, the manner in which they went about that violates and contravenes every human right ever! That savagery is on a scale the likes of which I have not heard before.
Casualties are horrendous – war is horrendous, but the savage and sadistic predator – the literal barbarian, is not open to negotiation- let alone reason, as they have already proved. Otherwise they could also surrender and release the hostages – oh that’s right – there are none left alive. Ooooops. It is naive and ignorant to think otherwise.
The act of Oct 7 tells its all.

Dr E C
Dr E C
1 month ago
Reply to  LeeKC C

Thank you. And if any of us were in any doubt as to the rights and wrongs of the matter, the ‘campus radicals or pro-Palestine protests’, which this writer thinks we should ignore, sealed the deal. I’ve never in my life witnessed such an open display of racist, murderous hostility towards a people OR such levels of ignorant hypocrisy as I have since the massacres on October 7th. Chants for Jews to be gassed, celebrations (& simultaneous, impossible denials) of gang rape & mutilation & the murder & torture of civilians, cries for Yemen to ‘make us proud’ while the Houthis reinstate slavery and condemn gay men to death by crucification? I’ve had arguments with fellow academics, including one about how the US is currently a more hostile place to women and queer people _in her opinion_ than Gaza under Hamas, that have been hard to bear. I don’t know if these academics are really vicious or just plain stupid. Meanwhile we have data on what a majority of British Muslims believe re apostasy, women, homosexuality, Sharia etc – with the young & the ‘educated’ holding the most radical views. I get that the Rainbow Brigade & the Islamists both hate Britain (& the US, Europe & the free west in general) and that that’s the basis of their alliance but we if we don’t reckon with both groups pretty quickly then we’ll all be lost.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago

If it wasn’t for Israel these religious fanatics would be setting their sights to us.

Amy Harris
Amy Harris
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

What on earth does this comment mean?!

Arthur King
Arthur King
1 month ago
Reply to  Amy Harris

Islamists have a strong theological need to make war against unbelievers. It is part of the Islamic theodrama and why The West is making a big immigration mistake.

Troy MacKenzie
Troy MacKenzie
1 month ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

They already are. Note the chants of “Death to America” in Dearborn, Michigan. They are quite capable of plotting against Israel and other Western countries at the same time. There is already a large and growing fifth column all through the West.

Atticus Basilhoff
Atticus Basilhoff
1 month ago
Reply to  Troy MacKenzie

Including members of the US Congress and main stream media. Until this violence is visited upon them, and it will, there will be a complete appeasement and surrender to this madness called Islam.

Matt B
Matt B
1 month ago

Netanyahu should never have been (re)elected. The media “Bibi” pampering went on too long: harsh articles now come long after the horse’s bolting. His trajectory is a pity for Israel and us, but his ilk seem to be winning or taking power worldwide. Israel is no outlier in that.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt B

The Israeli military policy would not be significantly different were anyone else on government. The idea that Netanyahu, whatever his many faults, is principally responsible for the extreme Islamist and anti Semitic views rejecting any right to a state for the Jews is simply wrong.

Amy Harris
Amy Harris
1 month ago

Another article I’ll abandon two paragraphs in. 1) this war did NOT start six months ago! 2) where did the author get that ridiculously precise figure of 33,000 from? Not from any actual statistics, that’s for sure. Do better, Unherd!

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  Amy Harris

‘more than 33,000 of whom, including 13,000 children, have been killed, in figures from Gaza’s Health Ministry accepted as accurate by Israel’s intelligence services, if not its Western supporters.’ To be honest I rather doubt that Israels intel services do accept the figures as accurate. This stupid boy needs to be given a notebook and pencil and sent over there to do some boots on the ground research.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

Even if the stats were correct, they don’t identify how many of the dead were Hamas operatives or Palestinians who were aiding Hamas or fighting alongside them.
33,000 is the magic figure quoted obsessively by all Hamas apologists in the West. It is an article of faith with them.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
29 days ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

And is it so implausible given the satellite images of comprehensive destruction amidst what Biden admitted was ‘indiscriminate’ bombing?

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
28 days ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

The Palestinians have brought all this destruction down on themselves as the majority have provided uncritical support for Hamas and Oct 7th atrocities. Since Hamas happily uses Gazans as human shields, one can assume they aren’t seriously concerned about the loss of life as they continue to use it as propaganda to keep the useful idiots in the West on side.

Atticus Basilhoff
Atticus Basilhoff
1 month ago
Reply to  Amy Harris

I seem to recall reading the Israeli intelligence services (whom I trust more than Hamas and who are, and have been, operating in Gaza for years) say the number is probably half that and the number of Hamas fighters is around 13,000 killed. People die in warfare, civilians and military. In urban warfare the stakes and casualties are higher than normal; however, the death rate of civilians in Gaza in less than death rates in comparable urban warfare including Iraq, Afghanistan and WWII. That fact is related only to the caution taken by Israeli IDF forces to lessen the exposure of civilians to war.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 month ago

This article comes around 25 years too late in my view. While it would be nice to turn back the clock, that’s sadly not an option. While the author states Israel should trade land for peace, I can’t help but think it has already done that with very mixed results. It did so with Egypt in exchange for recognition (albeit it had Egypt over a barrel), but with the Palestinians, like with Gaza, it has been an unmitigated disaster. Frankly, I don’t see a long term solution to peace while Gaza is allowed to remain within Palestinian control.

It’s also obvious that we in the West no longer appreciate the brutal and soul crushing grind it takes to win a war. What Israel has been doing in Gaza is right, but it’s fighting an enemy that uses its people as shields and has no regard for their welfare. It utterly infuriates me that so few seem interested in condemning a group that is essentially a neo-Nazi tribute act which Hamas is.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 month ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

Well said. I realise thst this the the first War in which one set of combatants- the brigades of Hamas – are months on still totally invisible to western media eyes. Never even glimpsed since the go pros caught their delirious butchery of teen girls on October 7th. We only ever see suffering Palestinian women civilians and children at hospitals!! Not one fighter. Remember Aleppo?? The very same void. How many of the Hamas Propaganda Health’s 30,000 are MEN? How many Hamas fighters have been killed???. Total fog of war!!

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
1 month ago

I trust this chap’s understanding and appreciation of Margaret Thatcher’s views and motives almost as much as I trust those of Arthur Scargill.

Danny Kaye
Danny Kaye
1 month ago

That the war in Gaza “has very little to show for” so far is, to say the least, debatable. Gaza city and its suburbs was conquered in a couple of months, whereas the American coalition took 9 months to take control of Mossul, a city of similar size, but much less fortified and defended by much fewer ISIS fighters. That the war hasn’t been brought to conclusion yet can be assigned to the ability of Hamas to use the civilians in Rafah as human shields, an ability supported by the refusal by Egypt to allow these refugees, desperate to flee, to cross into Sinai – and to the unwillingness of Israel to cause excessive collateral damage.
What this article further shows is how the European attitude towards Israel has in fact not changed much in 40 years. In 1980, “Thatcher signed on to a European Community declaration of support for Palestinian statehood, just days after the PLO confirmed its commitment to the destruction of Israel”. In 2024, several European countries declared their willingness to recognize a Palestinian state just months after the October 7 attack – as a reward, perhaps, for Hamas’s declaration that they plan to carry out October 7ths again and again.
What has changed, perhaps, is that whereas in the eighties the European right was the side more willing to placate the anti-Israeli sentiment in Arab countries due to geopolitical considerations, today the same parties are the ones realizing that the mix of Arab nationalism and Islamism that is threatening Israel has reached their doorsteps. Unless AR has recently spoken to Maggie Thatcher in a séance, I think it is presumptuous to declare what her position would have been in 2024.

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 month ago

I think the mistake that many western commentators make is to assume that what ‘we’ think matters.

British public opinion, British establishment opinion, in relation to this conflict, is almost next to irrelevant.

What *really* matters is not what the west thinks, but what Israel’s neighbours think, and Arabs shooting Iranian rockets out of the sky along with the Saudis letting the world know yesterday that they blame October 7th on Iran trying to derail normalisation tells you everything you need to know.

We in our coddled luxury have forgotten that hard power matters. Israel has it, and in its actions in Gaza it is demonstrating it every day, in a way absolutely no different to the Saudis in Yemen, or the Syrians in, well, Syria. Make no mistake, the other M.E. Countries have noticed and whilst some namby pamby columnists in the UK might find it all a bit yucky, the Saudis and others will continue to grow in respect for Israel.

George Venning
George Venning
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian McKinney

What Britain thinks may make very little difference to the conflict itself – Israel is almost entirely sustained by US Support – but it should matter very much indeed to Britons.
It tells me a great deal about our political leaders that all of them support Israel even as Israel slaughters children on a vast scale.

As to the actions of Israel’s neighbours. It isn’t that they oppose Iran and back Israel, they are clearly desperate to avoid an escalation.
On the 1st of this month, Israel attacked an Iranian consulate – Iranian soil. That was a reckless act of war. A full war between Iran and Israel would destroy the region and destabilise theplanet. Iran’s response was trailed in well in advance, confined to military targets and very limited in comparison to its capabities of. Moreover, as soon as it was over, The Iranians immediately made it clear that they considered the matter settled.
This was the opposite of Israel’s reckless escalation. And it was in the interest of all parties that the missiles should mostly get shot down so that it doesn’t spark another cycle.

Dengie Dave
Dengie Dave
1 month ago
Reply to  George Venning

If Iran truly considered the matter “settled,” it would order its Hamas, Hezbollah and Houthi proxies to stop. By “settled” what Iran really means is that it’s just going to carry on as usual.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
1 month ago
Reply to  Dengie Dave

I very much doubt that Hamas, Hezbollah and Houthis are controlled by Iran. There is probably support but no actual control. Withdrawal of support would not exert any form of control.

George Venning
George Venning
29 days ago
Reply to  Dengie Dave

I meant the matter of their consulate having been bombed. Israel launched an attack, Iran reacted in a carefully planned fashion. Issue concluded.
My final senstence makes that abundantly clear

Catherine Farrar
Catherine Farrar
1 month ago

The exchange of land for peace is the root of the problem though, which he talks about as if it is entirely within Israel’s gift. I have no doubt Israel would have offered land decades ago in return for credible assurances of security but these have never been offered. Israel is a nation under siege, surrounded by hostile, powerful neighbours intent on its utter destruction. You have to factor that into any analysis, which nonetheless does not imply that any atrocity against the Palestinian people is thereby justifiable.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
1 month ago

They did, several times and were rebuffed each and every time.

Matt M
Matt M
1 month ago

The only two policy changes Britain needs to adopt in response to this situation is 1. stop importing foreign malcontents, 2. Start fracking.

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt M

I wonder what would happen if Britain in an escalation of the conflict in the middle east was at war with Iran. To fight the British, Iran would send its troops over on Dinghies to be picked up by its supporters manning the Life Boats.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt M

“This land belongs to Palestinians.”

Funny how that argument goes completely out the window when a shipment of “refugees” arrives.

Then “this land” – and this society’s welfare state, though few or none of its customs, values, and mores – belongs to anyone who cares to show up.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago

Thatcher held her views, which of course sometimes evolved changed over time, as with Europe, before the Palestinians of their free will elected a nakedly genocidal and anti Semitic government in Gaza.

There is no political solution to this dispute, fundamentally because one or more party or another on the Arab Muslim “side” of the conflict, has always rejected a peace settlement at every turn. Thatcher’s supposedly preferred “Jordanian option” was precisely the status quo between 1948 and 1967, when the entire West Bank, and indeed the Old City of Jerusalem were in Arab hands. The Palestinians were afforded Jordanian citizenship. (Gaza was Egyptian). Did this enable peace? No.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
1 month ago

” The only way this can happen, as has long been clear, is for Israel to exchange ‘land for peace’, returning occupied territories to the Palestinians in exchange for credible undertakings to respect Israel’s security.”
This is simplistic, when it has been impossible to achieve for decades, with Hamas et al still pursuing the annihilation of Israel and it’s people.
Israel must ‘root out’ Hamas ( read Iran ) in Gaza, we know they have the tacit support of many Arabs, this will free Palestine and Israel to conduct a solution which includes a free and independent Palestine

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
1 month ago

There will never be a free and independent Palestine because the Palestinians have proved – by their enthusiastic support for Hamas – that they cannot be trusted with self-government.

Stu Std
Stu Std
1 month ago

Thatcher: “Removing, even in limited measure, the Palestinian grievance is a necessary if not sufficient condition for cutting the cancer of Middle East terrorism out by the roots. The only way this can happen, as has long been clear, is for Israel to exchange ‘land for peace’, returning occupied territories to the Palestinians in exchange for credible undertakings to respect Israel’s security.”
The Oslo Accords exactly intended the implementation of that “land for peace” policy. Tellingly, in 2000, after Israli PMs Barak and Olmert offered half of Jerusalem to PLO’s Arafat, the second intifada (read suicide bombings) started: forced to decide about accepting a most generous deal, Arafat aligned with Hamas which had started frustrating the Oslo process with suicide bombings as early as 1994.
With the author strongly emphasizing that future history will prove the present Tories wrong, materialized facts prove that Thatcher was wrong.

Troy MacKenzie
Troy MacKenzie
1 month ago
Reply to  Stu Std

I don’t know why this isn’t talked about more. The Oslo Accords proved that the Palestinians can’t be reasoned with. War is the only thing they understand.

Saul D
Saul D
1 month ago

Israel is being provoked to trigger a reaction. Hamas made the massacre huge and inhuman knowing and wanting Israel to react. Iran’s attack must also come with an Iranian expectation that there will be an Israeli response.
The game being played, it seems, is to provoke Israeli fury and then to use the reaction against that Israeli fury for political ends – an attempt to inflame Muslim and anti-Jewish and anti-American sentiments. The hidden questions are why? And why now?
It seems the Israeli’s are playing to their opponent’s strategies. They do exactly what Hamas wanted, which is killing far too many innocent Palestinians. We can only hope for a little more wisdom and nous to step away from the obviously escalation routes.

Troy MacKenzie
Troy MacKenzie
1 month ago
Reply to  Saul D

I think the “why now” was the impending peace between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

El Uro
El Uro
1 month ago
Reply to  Saul D

The West constantly demands something from Israel and nothing from Hamas, nothing from Palestinians.
.
You call it compromise

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 month ago

This article makes the fundamental error of assuming that political attitudes do not change in response to changing circumstances. Clearly Margaret Thatcher’s did, especially over Europe. And it seems to be vanishingly unlikely the Margaret Thatcher would have been anything other than horrified after the 7th of October attacks and supporting a robust military response. Let’s not forget not an attack on the Israeli military but the murder torture rape and abduction of civilians.

In any case even if Margaret Thatcher adhered closely to the Western foreign policy norm over the Arabs – Israeli issue (as it might then have been put), the “proof in the pudding” argument against this position is that every peace deal has been rejected by the Arab Muslim side. I’d say that their analysis was fundamentally wrong. Aris Roussinos likes to pose as a sophisticated thinker over geopolitical issues but on this he’s at best naive, and simply ignores the many lessons of history. (As with “Net Zero”, the fact that large numbers of establishment politicians think a solution might seem ‘obvious’ does not mean to say that it’s achievable). There have been numerous attempts to achieve a lasting settlement. The fundamental reason that none of them have succeeded is because at least one (usually more!) party or another, on the Arab Muslim side of the conflict, has rejected them at every turn. This is the role now enthusiastically, and chillingly, taken up by Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza and enabled the Palestinians to establish their own government there. This is precisely what is now being urged on Israel with regards to the West Bank. Yet we can see the consequences of the former, a radical extreme Islamist state being established, dedicated to the complete destruction of Israel, within any boundaries whatever. The Green Line 1948-67 boundary is far less easy to defend than the straight line between Gaza and Israel. So what Israel is being urged to do is essentially to commit slow state suicide. (By the way, I very much doubt that Russia is going to disgorge chunks of Ukrainian territory that it has conquered, at least partly for the same geostrategic one, that the old boundary is more difficult to defend).

Margaret Thatcher’s supposedly preferred ‘Jordanian option’ was in fact precisely the status quo between 1948 and 1967 – when the entire West Bank, East Jerusalem and indeed the old city of Jerusalem and its holy places were in Arab Muslim hands, specifically under Jordanian citizenship. (The Jews had all been expelled from East Jerusalem, naturally!). All the west bankers were afforded citizenship (Gaza was under Egyptian control). Did this status quo enable a peace treaty to be established? No, it did not….

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

The UN, now ever more firmly under Arab Islamic control, suckered the world into creating a permanent refugee population of “Palestinians” where no nation or ethnicity ever existed before. The Arabs, and make no mistake, they are Arabs of the garden variety who may be hybridized and Islamized but are still Arab, who acceded to this status could have come into British Mandate as late as 1946 and still be considered a “Palestinian” refugee, regardless of citizenship (Ottoman, Saudi, Egyptian, Iraqi, Tunisian, Lebanese, Syrian, Moroccan, etc.) and so are their descendants. It is a privileged status never seen before and this needs to be eliminated ASAP.
Like the poor Israelis whose family members are STILL hostage in Gaza (which AR fails even to mention) and the Israelis under pressure to ceasefire in Gaza today, the Arabs and their Islamized progeny have the world by the balls and the international community can’t bring itself to fight back.
Where go the Jews, so goes the rest of the world. Margaret Thatcher saw things plainly – Jordan is the de facto Arab state in the ME, and whatever you call it – Jordan or Palestine, THAT and only THAT is where the Arabs alongside Israel belong. Work out a way to share the Temple Mount with a single road from Jordan, policed by Jews and friendly Arabs, deport the islamized Arabs to Qatar (who deserve the most of all), or Turkey (who also deserve them), or now to Iran (who has truly taken on this responsibility), and let the Jews for once in history, live in peace.
The Zionist project was, and remains, a Jewish survival and rescue mission. It is NOT as the world wants to pretend, a racist and settler project. The Jews have more than earned their right to a peaceful homeland, and not only that, they should be a model for the world communities who are stateless, like the Kurds, the Sikhs, etc. If you look around the world, only Islam has bloody borders and it’s time they stayed in their own S***th**e Islamic countries.

Michael Adam
Michael Adam
1 month ago

Interesting article but as ever, the land for peace prescription depends on the Palestinian side abandoning its historic rejectionism, embodied in the demand for 4th generation descendants of 1948 refugees to have a right of return inside the 1948-67 borders.

Terry M
Terry M
1 month ago

with even organs of middlebrow liberal opinion like The Atlantic, CNN and the Daily Show 
Hahaha! You completely misunderstand that these are leftist activist outlets, far from middlebrow, except that they are of middling abilities.

El Uro
El Uro
1 month ago
Reply to  Terry M

You completely misunderstand that these are leftist activist outlets
He doesn’t misunderstand, he really thinks so, and this says a little more about the author and the degree of his objectivity than he would like

R S Foster
R S Foster
1 month ago

So after October 7th…and Hama’s saying “they would do it again and again…” Israel should have done what, exactly?

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
1 month ago
Reply to  R S Foster

Sent flowers to Hamas, apparently.

Atticus Basilhoff
Atticus Basilhoff
1 month ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

To adorn their graves. I believe that was and is the game plan.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
1 month ago
Reply to  R S Foster

Sent Hamas flowers, apparently ….

El Uro
El Uro
1 month ago

It really saddens me to see how the author once again confirmed the validity of the popular prejudice “Being Greek means being a commie and an anti-Semite.”

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
1 month ago
Reply to  El Uro

Sad because the Greeks were one of the first to throw off Islam, and they are growing closer to Israel once again, as they were 2,000 years ago.

Dr E C
Dr E C
29 days ago
Reply to  El Uro

Believe me, he does not represent Greek thought which is generally very anti-Islamic & has got incredibly tough with illegal immigration in recent years. We would do well to learn a few lessons from them…

El Uro
El Uro
29 days ago
Reply to  Dr E C

Thank you!

B Emery
B Emery
1 month ago

‘Cameron’s largely moderate stance on the conflict, supporting Israel’s right to strike Hamas after its October brutalities while emphasising Britain’s opposition to Israel’s immoderate violence against Palestinian (and now British) civilians, and its commitment to a future Palestinian state, is broadly the correct one’

A sensible stance from a sensible politician. How refreshing.

Margaret Thatcher sounds like she was on this year’s ago, warned what happen, tried to sort it out, but nobody listened to her. Sounds like she had a very sensible approach to me.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
1 month ago
Reply to  B Emery

Mrs. Thatcher was a smart lady but like many smart people in the international community, she misunderstood the insidiousness of Islam. If she were alive now I think she would realize that there is no compromise or appeasement of Islam. She would have the courage to stand against the ridiculously privileged refugee class of Arabs which has been created by the international community on behalf of Islam. Not only was fake nationality created by a fake ethnicity. They are simply Arabs who came from surrounding Arab lands. They have dual citizenship in Lebanon, Jordan, the US, many European countries, and they have fooled the world.

B Emery
B Emery
1 month ago

I see. I very much doubt she misunderstood Islam that badly she was the leader of our country for a number of years and has a list of achievements longer than my arm. Possibly more achievements than yourself perhaps. What is it about Islam you think she misunderstood? It’s ‘insidiousness’ is really a matter of personal perspective rather than something you can subject to a factual analysis.
What I meant was, if the concerns of the Palestinian people had been better addressed at that time, as she advised apparently, then PERHAPS the crisis now could have been averted. Do you think that is unreasonable to say then?

‘ Under her helm, the British government worked hard to bring about a peace deal, though her efforts were frustrated at every turn by both Israeli and American intransigence: as she “scrawled” on one cable from the British ambassador in Washington: “The US just does not realise the resentment she is causing in the Middle East.” ‘

So, it seems actually she thought all the us meddling in the middle east would stir up resentment against the US. This is exactly what has happened in real life and is happening right now, I’m pretty sure Iran doesn’t like America too much, in fact most middle Eastern countries seem to now have an axe to grind with America. Is that incorrect, would you say?

So, if America had done a better job, and if the concerns of the Palestinians had been addressed way back then, we wouldn’t have all these militant terrorist groups in the middle east that feel like they are being oppressed by America. Do you think that is an unreasonable analysis? Do you think that regardless of any action taken back then, this would be happening now?

That is not to say that Israels response to october wasn’t the right response, or to say that these militant terrorist groups are doing the right thing either, but simply to say that perhaps this could have been averted if people had listened to her back then. That is what I am saying. Do you think that is unreasonable?

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
1 month ago

What is Aris talking about. Does he actually read what he writes. His opening paragraph says it all. Does he really think the Israeli Intelligence service believes the numbers of casualties coming out of Hamas, which incidentally are clearly bogus as shown by statistical analysis. That’s like believe Baghdad Bob claiming Iraqi victory as the US was already at the gates of Baghdad!

Dengie Dave
Dengie Dave
1 month ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Aris’ source for the supposed validation of casualty figures by Israeli security comes from Vice magazine. This is cherry picking, to say the least. Enough said!

Tony Plaskow
Tony Plaskow
1 month ago

The “landless Palestinians” – as simply one of this author’s disgracefully one-sided, propaganda-led, lies stymied by the ‘actual facts’.
Israel unilaterally pulled out of Gaza in 2005 – or is that not ‘land’? Aside from the spread of the settlers, which I wholeheartedly disagree with, the 3,00,000 Palestinians also have the vast majority of the West Bank. Those are ‘their lands’ – more importantly they were offered almost 98% of the land they claimed they wanted in a peace accord which, when offered it, they then turned down. Why?
Because it has nothing to do with land, it has to do with the Jews – your article is so one-sided as to be deemed useless and disgraceful. Trying to use a generally-well-thought-of historical British figure to add a glint to your pile of excrement. Shameful

Dengie Dave
Dengie Dave
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Plaskow

Correct, if it were to do with land why would Hezbollah be attacking from Lebanon, which has an established and undisputed border with Israel?

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
1 month ago

AR is a biased “journalist” reporting on a biased political leader who, although famously unsentimental, was nevertheless decidedly naive when it comes to the Islamic and Palestinian hatred for Jews. Not one mention of Jewish hostages. AR and Thatcher are similarly naive to believe there are “moderate Muslims”. All of Islam is just that – Islam – and there is no moderation within it. Britain is finding that out the hard way now – Londonstan is now an Islamic conquest just like Lebanon, which Thatcher was not prescient enough to realize would also fall to Islam.
If I had all day I couldn’t dissect all of the instance of bias in this article. I’ll stick to the most important to debunk. Thatcher apparently thought Zionism to be a racist and exclusionary project, which is a huge mistake. Zionism was, and continues to be, a rescue and survival mission to protect the remaining remnants of the Jewish people who survived the Holocaust. Britain took up the cause but now has buyers remorse. The British should stick with their initial instincts. I know it’s tough to overcome one’s Jew-hatred when confronted, but keep the stiff upper lip because where the Jews go, so goes the rest of the world.
The “Palestinians” are simply garden variety Arabs who migrated in mostly after the Jews began to revive the economy of the area while the Ottoman Empire was fading. This over-privileged group of Arabs whose generations of “refugees” have done nothing to improve their own plight yet everything to disrupt world peace, should not be rewarded with a state, now or ever. The international community has an opportunity now to take a stand against Islam and it would be foolish to pass it up. Islam has bloody borders. The perpetual refugee status of a growing group of Arabs who, far from stateless, have citizenship in multiple nations, is the new political tool of Islam, which doesn’t even want an “international” community. Its goals are an Islamic Empire and a Caliphate.
Aris …. don’t be stupid. Margaret Thatcher was a smart lady but even SHE got this one wrong.

Stephen Feldman
Stephen Feldman
1 month ago

All fine. But Hamas did not cross the English Channel, commit upon a Dover the atrocities Hamas committed on the Israel border towns and haul hundreds of hostages to a terrorist haven.

And the article assumes Israeli failure while ignoring the fact that Hamas is largely finished as an offensive terror threat to Israel, at least from Gaza.

There are no visible moderates in today’s PA and relentless terror attacks on Israel from PA territory even before Oct 7 make it rather unlikely Israeli military and police presence in West Bank can cease..

As for Jordan, it Incorporated to its credit 2 million Palestinians since 1950. It’s not going to do a Thatc her merger with the crooks and gangster tolerant crooks in Ramallah. Palestinian auto omy is unlikely for indefinite future because unlike UK, Israel is not committing suicide.

George Venning
George Venning
1 month ago

The truth is simply that, where Thatcher thought the UK and Europe could bridge the gap between US and Soviet policies and could therefore set their own agenda, the current British political class take their orders direct from DC.
We saw this during the invasion of Lebanon in 2006. The entire political class enthusiastically backed Israel’s action (and Washington’s position) at the start but looked increasingly queasy and discomfited as it wore on and the scale of the violence became clear . By the time Washington declared that Israel had gone far enough and told them to pack it in, Margaret Beckett looked as sick as a parrot – and switched Britain’s position to match that of the Americans within hours.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
1 month ago
Reply to  George Venning

George, that is our sickness. We’re like a nephew trying to please a patronizing, neurotic rich uncle, despite all the ignominity. Hearing how Britain was forced to reverse its position on Huawei was just … sad. Really sad. But it leaves one wondering: Why?

George Venning
George Venning
29 days ago

I don’t think this is entirely a matter of our desperation to please the US. I think it’s pretty clear that the US takes very active steps to ensure that British politicians don’t get in their way.
Whisper it (on this forum at least) but the greatest counterweight to US influence on this country was the EU (and vice versa). One of the consequences of Brexit is our diminished usefulness to the US in Europe and, consequently a shortening of the leash upon which our political class is kept.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
1 month ago

The question is do you owe anything to a society that intends to persecute, subjugate, or expel non-Muslims from the jurisdiction / territory it demands from you under the banner of “self-determination”?
I’ve come to the conclusion that Israel should settle on “occupied” land. The Arabs have simply forfeited their right to it.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
1 month ago

“They concern the right of the Palestinian people to determine their own future. If one wishes to call that ‘self- determination’
As such, if they choose to use that right to poke the bear, that is Israel, then the consequences of such actions are theirs. Equally, Israel’s decision to poke the crazy bear that is Iran, is also their right and the consequences of such actions, should too, be theirs.

Diane Krieger
Diane Krieger
1 month ago

Pretty weak tea when the author’s analysis depends on false data beginning with the very first paragraph.

https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2024/04/09/hamas-run-gaza-health-ministry-admits-to-flaws-in-casualty-data/

Dengie Dave
Dengie Dave
1 month ago

The writer reveals his agenda in the first para where he parrots Hamas casualty figures and even exaggerates them, claiming 13,000 of the supposed 33,000 fatalities are children. Of the total, he makes no mention that some are combatants (the IDF claims 13,000), neither is there any acknowledgement that the casualty figures include misfiring Hamas/PIJ rockets that have landed in Gaza. I’m not taking IDF claims as read; neither should any responsible journalist accept Hamas’ claims without scrutiny. Here is one analysis of the Hamas numbers: https://fathomjournal.org/statistically-impossible-a-critical-analysis-of-hamass-women-and-children-casualty-figures/. Separately, there is not one single sentence where the writer ascribes any agency or responsibility in this terrible situation to Hamas or the Palestinians.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

Well observed, I think

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
1 month ago

This is a beautifully written and balanced essay replete with nuance. For the reasons at the core of the argument, it will get a hostile reception for many here. Most political people prefer self-delusion and myth to fact.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
1 month ago

Oct 7th wasn’t ‘self-delusion’ or ‘myth’ – neither is Hamas’ declared aim to destroy Israel. It’s all too real.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
29 days ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

And who would dispute that, Eleanor? Not me, assuredly. It is all too real. I was concerned in the US decades ago about the domestic rise of the hateful NOI while working on US foreign policy. Any idea of their storied history and mixed history with the Saudis? We all have a common foe. But therefore … what? This article is unbalanced, or something? We’re all bound to be all for or all against? No thanks.

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
1 month ago

Just wondering if commenters here realise how their attitude has driven away many subscribers who were actually helping bridge the political gap? Can you really be so sure of your views on this conflict, so divorced from your humanity because of your political cause?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

It is fast becoming an echo chamber unfortunately

Dr E C
Dr E C
29 days ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

Where’s your humanity for the Jews that were raped, tortured & taken hostage? Or for the women stoned to death in Iran for not wearing a piece of cloth on their heads correctly or for the men in Yemen crucified for being gay? Etc etc. Sympathy for evil is its own form of evil. This has *nothing* to do with ideology & everything to do with having to side with the only humanitarian game in town. Before 7/10 I was nothing but sympathetic towards the Palestinian people. But I have eyes & a brain in my head. Wake up.

J Boyd
J Boyd
1 month ago

The difference between 2024 and 1982 is that there is no question that Hamas was responsible for October 7th.
The assassination that provoked the invasion of Lebanon probably wasn’t committed by the PLO.
Hamas has deliberately positioned its forces within civilian areas and has committed a massacre of Israeli citizens.
The current situation is tragic but is entirely the fault of Hamas.

David Gardner
David Gardner
1 month ago

Unherd, you can find far better, informed writers than this historically ignorant man. Please start looking.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
29 days ago

During the time of Thatcher ,the PLO was a left wing political organisation, Hamas is religious: times have changed.

Matthew Freedman
Matthew Freedman
29 days ago

I find the description of palestinians as landless but Jews historically not landless as very hypocritical Jews. Jews lived without a land as an othered minority before the age of multiculturalism for 2000 years. That is why zionism existed in the 19th and 20th century. 95% of Jews live in different places than their great grandparents and for the majority the communities those ancestors lived in no longer exist. They’ve moved had to fit in to their new places just like the millions of people displaced in 2 world wars and the end of empires.

Is there ever any ever thought about Armenians who used to live in what is now eastern turkey & even lately those pushed out by the Azeris, the millions who used to live either side of India/Pakistan border, the germans who used to live in what is now western Poland, the 100,000s Jews who used to live in Algeria who did not get citizenship on independence so had to move to France for rights, the 100,000s of Jews who their property taken away from them in Iraq, Egypt and Libya. The 10,000s of Jews who used to live in Syria. On the Jewish side I know people from those backgrounds and they’ve just had to get on with it and no one cares.

Bullfrog Brown
Bullfrog Brown
29 days ago

You mention a palestinian in Jordan in a refugee camp .. Jordan after all is 78% of British Mandated Palestine and it’s population is 75% palestinian. It makes no sense how subsequent generations, born in refugee camps in Jordan don’t become Jordanian .. no, they are left state less.

Frederick Dixon
Frederick Dixon
27 days ago

“…it would have been better for us to have stayed out of the matter entirely….” Quite. Not our country, not our people.

David Barnett
David Barnett
24 days ago

A feasible, if lengthy war aim would be the destruction of all the tunnels. There are some 500 km of tunnels. They were not built overnight, neither can they be removed instantly.
As for “world opinion”, it was decades of pandering to those enablers of bad behaviour which allowed the situation to get so bad. Blame “world opinion” for the current tragedy. “World opinion” bears guilt for the blood of all the dead, on both sides, being spilt now.
And if you are worried about direct war with Iran, allow Israel a free hand to de-fang Iran’s proxies, then maybe a wider, possibly nuclear, war can be avoided.
Peace is not always achievable by short term cease fire.

Genevieve Bland
Genevieve Bland
23 days ago

The first paragraph of the article shows poor journalism by omitting that the information comes from ‘Gaza’s Hamas led – Health Ministry’, to add that would, rightfully, mean one would look at this data with suspicion in view of the propaganda efforts by the terrorist group.
Additionally, the article falsely claims that Israel’s intelligence service approves of these numbers, when you click the source’s backlink which brings you to a Vice article, it states the numbers were included in some internal briefing. Besides how vague that is, I can very easily imagine in the modern era, as this lazy reporting shows, that someone in admin or comms just pulled stats from the internet… That does not, in any case, prove that the Israel government backs these figures.