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WHY ISRAEL IS A ROGUE STATE : Gabriel Latner

December 2, 2010

In October there was a debate in Cambridge; the proposition - "Israel is a rogue state". Gabriel Latner was the Cambridge University law student who was assigned by the Cambridge Union debating society to argue the affirmative side of the proposition. He used the opportunity to take on others on his side and argue in favour of Israel. His conduct earned him a lifetime banning from the Cambridge Union. 

Lauren Booth was on the proposing side too. (Look up Google about her.) Gabriel won the debate for the opposing side. He received a standing ovation from the majority of the room, obviously not from Lauren Booth!! Please pass this on as it truly is an amazing speech from a 19 year old boy! 

The Cambridge Union Society held a debate on the motion that "Israel is a rogue state" on October 21st, 2010.

The debater, Gabriel Latner, gave a copy of his speech to Mondoweiss with the request that it not be edited. I am reproducing it here, only by adding paragraph spacing and slight grammatical corrections where it seemed appropriate. The square bracket comments were his, written afterwards. 



This is a war of ideals, and the other speakers here tonight are rightfully, idealists. I'm not. I'm a realist. I'm here to win. I have a single goal this evening - to have at least a plurality of you walk out of the 'Aye' door. I face a singular challenge - most, if not all, of you have already made up your minds.

 This issue is too polarizing for the vast majority of you not to already have a set opinion. I'd be willing to bet that half of you strongly support the motion, and half of you strongly oppose it. I want to win, and we're destined for a tie. I'm tempted to do what my fellow speakers are going to do - simply rehash every bad thing the Israeli government has ever done in an attempt to satisfy those of you who agree with them. And perhaps they'll even guilt one of you rare undecided into voting for the proposition, or more accurately, against Israel. It would be so easy to twist the meaning and significance of international 'laws' to make Israel look like a criminal state. But that's been done to death. It would be easier still to play to your sympathy, with personalised stories of Palestinian suffering. And they can give very eloquent speeches on those issues. But the truth is, that treating people badly, whether they're your citizens or an occupied nation, does not make a state' rogue'. If it did, Canada, the US, and Australia would all be rogue states based on how they treat their indigenous populations. Britain's treatment of the Irish would easily qualify them to wear this sobriquet. These arguments, while emotionally satisfying, lack intellectual rigour.

More importantly, I just don't think we can win with those arguments. It won't change the numbers. Half of you will agree with them, half of you won't. So I'm going to try something different, something a little unorthodox. I'm going to try and convince the die-hard Zionists and Israel supporters here tonight, to vote for the proposition. By the end of my speech - I will have presented 5 pro-Israel arguments that show Israel is, if not a 'rogue state' than at least 'rogueish'.

Let me be clear. I will not be arguing that Israel is 'bad'. I will not be arguing that it doesn't deserve to exist. I won't be arguing that it behaves worse than every other country. I will only be arguing that Israel is 'rogue'.

The word 'rogue' has come to have exceptionally damning connotations. But the word itself is value-neutral. The OED defines rogue as 'Aberrant, anomalous; misplaced, occurring (esp. in isolation) at an unexpected place or time ', while a dictionary from a far greater institution gives this definition 'behaving in ways that are not expected or not normal, often in a destructive way '. These definitions, and others, centre on the idea of anomaly - the unexpected or uncommon. Using this definition, a rogue state is one that acts in an unexpected, uncommon or aberrant manner. A state that behaves exactly like Israel.

The first argument is statistical. The fact that Israel is a Jewish state alone makes it anomalous enough to be dubbed a rogue state: There are 195 countries in the world. Some are Christian, some Muslim, some are secular. Israel is the only country in the world that is Jewish. Or, to speak mathmo for a moment, the chance of any randomly chosen state being Jewish is 0.0051%. In comparison the chance of a UK lotto ticket winning at least £10 is 0.017% - more than twice as likely. Israel's Jewishness is a statistical abberation.

The second argument concerns Israel's humanitarianism, in particular,Israel's response to a refugee crisis. Not the Palestinian refugee crisis - for I am sure that the other speakers will cover that - but the issue of Darfurian refugees. Everyone knows that what happened, and is still happening in Darfur, is genocide, whether or not the UN and the Arab League will call it such. [I actually hoped that Mr Massih would be able speak about this - he's actually somewhat of an expert on the Crisis in Darfur, in fact it's his expertise that has called him away to represent the former Dictator of Sudan while he is being investigated by the ICC.] There has been a mass exodus from Darfur as the oppressed seek safety. They have not had much luck. Many have gone north to Egypt - where they are treated despicably. The brave make a run through the desert in a bid to make it to Israel. Not only do they face the natural threats of the Sinai, they are also used for target practice by the Egyptian soldiers patrolling the border. Why would they take the risk? Because in Israel they are treated with compassion - they are treated as the refugees that they are - and perhaps Israel's cultural memory of genocide is to blame. The Israeli government has even gone so far as to grant several hundred Darfurian refugees Citizenship. This alone sets Israel apart from the rest of the world.

But the real point of distinction is this: The IDF sends out soldiers and medics to patrol the Egyptian border. They are sent looking for refugees attempting to cross into Israel. Not to send them back into Egypt, but to save them from dehydration, heat exhaustion, and Egyptian bullets. Compare that to the US's reaction to illegal immigration across their border with Mexico. The American government has arrested private individuals for giving water to border crossers who were dying of thirst - and here the Israeli government is sending out its soldiers to save illegal immigrants. To call that sort of behavior anomalous is an understatement.

My Third argument is that the Israeli government engages in an activity which the rest of the world shuns -- it negotiates with terrorists. Forget the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, a man who died with blood all over his hands - they're in the process of negotiating with terrorists as we speak. Yasser Abed Rabbo is one of the lead PLO negotiators that has been sent to the peace talks with Israel. Abed Rabbo also used to be a leader of the PFLP- an organisation of 'freedom fighters' that, under Abed Rabbo's leadership, engaged in such freedom promoting activities as killing 22 Israeli high school students. And the Israeli government is sending delegates to sit at a table with this man, and talk about peace. And the world applauds. You would never see the Spanish government in peace talks with the leaders of the ETA - the British government would never negotiate with Thomas Murphy. And if President Obama were to sit down and talk about peace with Osama Bin Laden, t

 
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