KUALA LUMPUR: Israel should not be recognised as a state until it complies with international laws, says broadcaster, journalist and human rights activist Lauren Booth. “(While) Israel has demanded its recognition and rights as a state, in 63 years, it has given no assurances that they will in turn behave like one.”
“Until it does so by accepting other people’s rights, acting within international law, ending the siege, and stopping the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem, its existence as a state should not be recognised,” she told the New Straits Times last Thursday.
The sister-in-law of former United Kingdom prime minister Tony Blair, Booth has courted controversy in her native United Kingdom and elsewhere in the West for her views on Middle East politics and her highly-publicised conversion to Islam in September last year.
Here for the launch of Viva Palestina Malaysia (a local offshoot of the UK-based Viva Palestina, an international non-governmental organisation working for the speedy creation of a free Palestinian state) on Jan 22, she said Malaysia played a vital role in leading the international community towards a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In a lengthy interview, she criticised her Western media counterparts for condemning former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as an anti-Semite due to his views of the conflict, and advised Malaysians not to be afraid when discussing Israeli policies and actions in the Palestinian territories.
“The label ‘anti-Semite’ is applied deliberately to quash debate on the Israeli government and its army.”
“No one should be scared of being labeled anti-Semitic when criticising the unjust, disgraceful behaviour of the Israel regime.”
She said apart from sending aid and speaking out, international NGOs like Viva Palestina Malaysia could be a key factor in creating a united Palestinian government.
“Although NGOs aren’t allowed to be political, I would encourage them to invite (representatives from) Hamas and Fatah to come together - at least on foreign land - to see how they can work with both groups to help the Palestinian people and the cause of freedom.
“It can also serve as a movement which combines Palestinian voices with the foreign solidarity cause, in a stronger, more productive manner.”
Booth said she remained hopeful that a peaceful resolution can be reached in the future, deriving encouragement from her experiences with Palestinian youths in the occupied territories.
“Two years ago in Jenin, out of the rubble of bomb attacks, I found talented young people learning photography, singing and the arts at the Jenin Theatre. At the Jenin cinema, there are even talks of hosting a film festival.”
“Young Palestinians amaze me. I’m confident, when there is peace, Palestine will blossom and flower as a state like no other.”