Rafael Medoff: How the British Responded to Palestinian Terrorists

Roundup: Historians' Take

The writer is director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, and coauthor, with Prof. Sonja Schoepf Wentling, of the new book Herbert Hoover and the Jews: The Origins of the ‘Jewish Vote’ and Bipartisan Support for Israel.

In the midst of Israel’s recent action against Hamas, British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned that the Jewish State would “lose a lot of international support and sympathy” if it sent in ground troops. Hague’s assertion was widely understood as an attempt to pressure Jerusalem to refrain from going all-out against the terrorists.
Israelis have heard this before – as a matter of fact, they heard it from another senior British foreign affairs official, William Waldegrave, the minister of state in the Foreign Office, when he visited Gaza in March 1989. At a press conference, Waldegrave dramatically brandished four rubber bullets, which he accused Israel of firing “indiscriminately” at Arab rioters.
Afterwards, Waldegrave met with the mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek. Since Kollek was a longtime Labor Party figure and well known political dove, Waldegrave probably thought they were kindred spirits.
The British official was in for quite a surprise.
Kollek told Waldegrave – and told reporters afterwards – that “the British have no right to preach morals to Israel” on fighting terrorists, considering how the British themselves treated Palestinian Arab terrorists in the 1930s...

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