Russia, Ukraine must stop killing Journalists

Speech at the Council of Europe on the terrible plight of journalists under Putin in Russia and successive Ukrainian governments.

27 January 2008

Mr MacSHANE (United Kingdom). – It is a great pleasure to follow our colleague Mr Haibach’s excellent speech. The Gongadze case is a symbolic one, perhaps, for those of you who know French history, like the Ben Barka case of the 1960s or Watergate in the 1970s. It is clear that the highest levels of the state were engaged in the Gongadze murder – that is the important point – and the cover-up is unacceptable. That it should continue in the region – in Ukraine, in Russia and in neighbouring states – is not an excuse for failing to ask those in power during the Kuchma era to accept responsibility.
We all congratulate Frau Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger on her excellent report. The Gongadze case has become one of the most important freedom of expression cases this century. It was not a murder in a conflict zone or a war or a murder in a very violent country where lots of people are killed, which is something that Colombia has experienced in recent years; it was a cold-blooded, systematic, organised murder. You do not cut off the head of a journalist and put it somewhere else without wanting to send a clear signal.
As I have said, the case goes back to Leonid Kuchma, but those who have followed him – the presidents, prime ministers, justice ministers and police ministers of Ukraine – bear some responsibility, for not accepting that the case should be properly investigated. There has been a systematic failure in the Ukrainian political system, both before and after the Orange Revolution, and that is what we must look at.

But it is also a reflection of the culture in the post-Soviet space where freedom of expression is constantly under threat.
Anastasia Barburova, a stunningly beautiful young girl – I can call her a young girl as she was little older than my daughter – was shot dead at 25 years of age by a hired gunman in an open street in Moscow using a Makarov, an official Russian police gun. The gunman did not even run away or drop his weapon, but caught the metro because he knew, such is the uncultured hate of free journalism in Russia, that no one would try to stop him. The paper’s lawyer, Stanislav Markelov, was the real target and was shot dead, but as young Anastasia ran out after the killer, he turned round and shot her in turn. Both victims were members of anti-fascist organisations, and were exposing the extreme right that is taking a terrifying grip in Russia and spreading its tentacles elsewhere in Europe. The message from Russians is that if one has power and money, the free journalists of Russia can be extinguished.
We should not allow a crucial, civilised culture of free expression in today’s Russia to co-exist with the uncultured values that defy Council of Europe norms and all human rights in both Russia and Ukraine. I ask the Council of Europe to examine the work of the International Federation of Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists. In Murmansk, the editor of the regional news agency, RAA, Mr Amrakov, was killed two weeks ago. He also wanted to expose what the authorities were doing, and was denied access to Mr Putin’s last press conference. Mr Putin’s comments after the death of Anna Politkovskaya are still remembered by every journalist in the free world.

I suggest that the Council of Europe, which has wonderful historical exhibitions about victims of human rights abuses, should exhibit the faces of the 70 – yes, 70 – journalists killed in Russia and Ukraine since 1993. At least then we would honour their memory and the profession of journalism. We should say to the authorities in Ukraine and Russia that Stalin is meant to be dead and that freedom of expression is now part of the democratic values to which everyone in the Council of Europe should sign up. If they do not sign up, we should denounce them for allowing those murders to happen.

Letter to the FT on Kashmir

This letter has been sent to the Financial Times for favour of publication after the front page report 22 Jan 09 that India has officially complained about Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s reference to Kashmir during his recent visit to India

22 January 2009

David Miliband should be praised not condemned for raising the problem of Kashmir as did President Obama in his election campaign when he made clear his belief that discussing the Kashmir question is essential if the India-Pakistan-Afghanistan region is to move away from violence (FT 22 Jan page 1).
For a British Foreign Secretary to go to India and not underline President Obama’s view on Kashmir as is sensible as him going to the Middle East and not mention Palestine.
India has much right on her side as New Delhi protests about Islamist jihadi extremists and their support networks in Pakistan. But according to Human Rights Watch, as many as 70,000 Muslims have been killed since 500,000 Indian Army soldiers moved in to "pacify" Kashmir nearly 20 years ago. This is a far greater number of dead Muslims than all those killed over decades of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. When will India contribute to world peace by accepting the Obama-Miliband view that Kashmir is a problem that needs an open, honest discussion and a dialogue with Pakistan to solve the issue ?

Rt Hon Dr Denis MacShane MP
House of Commsons
London SW1A 0AA

Obama's huge challenges

This article was published in the Yorkshire Post
"The party's over... and now Obama's greatest global challenges will begin"

22 January 2009

And the hoopla is over. The partying stops in Washington. Work gets underway. Barack Hussein Obama's 100 days has begun. Never has so much hope been invested in one leader. Can he deliver?
It seems almost indecent to place all the responsibility for solving the world's problems on President Obama's slim shoulders. He entered office as the world's paramount leader at a moment of historic transition. The 30-year era of post-war welfare state nation-based closed economies was followed by the 30-year era of Thatcher-Reagan deregulated, uncontrolled, globalised capitalism. There is little point in being nostalgic about the changes of history. But there can be no doubt that the world now stands at the beginning of a new political-economic-cultural era. Obama – as a mixed-race Kenyan-American with an African-American wife, the Muslim name, Hussein, and a life of work with the poor communities in Chicago – is a symbol of this new era. The Left may wish for a return to some earlier era in which unions determined wages without reference to the real economy. Conservatives may bleat about the need to slash public jobs and, in Britain, try to pin the blame on Gordon Brown when, in truth, every economy in the world is hurting as the failures of an entire system of finance capitalism, divorced from manufacturing and the real needs of most people, come to a hubristic end. But both the Left and the Right are wrong. We need a new system of governance at national and supra-national level. Can Obama deliver this? Here are some of the decisions he has to take. The most important is to restore confidence in the banking system. The Homeric cupidity and stupidity of the world's bankers has brought America, Europe, and the Asian economies to the edge of the abyss. But we need banks. Just as we need to assume that clean water will flow when we turn on a tap, so, too, we need banks that can deliver money to individual and corporate customers. The banks are gummed up, as liquidity needs confidence that all can borrow from all, and, over time, pay back both capital and interest. So the most important first step for the new president is to guarantee that the US government will spend what it takes. As in the Second World War when the US Treasury allowed borrowing to rise to half the value of the American economy, Obama has to be bold and discard the ideology that has produced the present crisis.Everyone knows of Roosevelt's famous line: "All we have to fear is fear itself." But he also famously said that "a rising tide lifts all boats". Obama should ignore those who want to punish the banks and the financial sector and, instead, work out how to get economic growth going again to lift up all of America and, by extension, much of the rest of the world, by raising the level of liquidity in the system. In the closed economies of the 1930s, this required Roosevelt to undertake key banking and investment regulatory reforms as well as adopt Keynsian models of increased government spending. In today's world economy, Keynsianism in one country is not enough. This is the essential point that Gordon Brown understands, which is why he spends so much time travelling in Europe, to oil-rich, cash-a-plenty Arab nations as well as talking to American and Chinese leaders. On Day 70 of Obama's presidency, he comes to London for a G20 gathering which will be the supreme test of whether the world's bigger nations can rise to the challenge of global co-ordination and co-operation. Unlike Roosevelt's America in the 1930s, which remained largely isolationist, Obama has the worst geo-political scenario of any incoming president in history. The conflict in Gaza and the attacks on Mumbai are a foretaste of the determination of Islamist ideologues to win power to impose their agenda of Jew-hate, women-hate, gay-hate, democracy-hate, and replace the carefully constructed culture of law and separation of power by the rules of sharia, jihad and the values of the Taliban. Western politicians have not invested time in reading the core ideological texts of this new movement. It has nothing to do with the faith of Islam, which, like other faiths, deserves respect and protection. But Obama will have to find a response to those who believe that killing innocent people promotes their ideology. In 2001, when George W Bush took office, American troops were not engaged in real-time fighting anywhere in the world. Today, Obama has his own war in Afghanistan. He is right to stress the need for a foreign policy not based on the Cheney-Rumsfeld syndrome of military power. But the peace was held in Europe after 1945 – or imposed on the Balkans a decade ago – by the use of military power. Obama should seek to replace war-war by jaw-jaw, but he needs others to work with him as well. He should offer diplomatic recognition to Iran and lift the trade embargo on Cuba. He should make clear that Israel has to pull back to 1967 borders and maintain his line that there is no solution to the India-Pakistan-Afghanistan imbroglio unless India talks to Pakistan about Kashmir. Obama has made clear that he wants help, not just advice from Europe. This means, as Defence Secretary John Hutton made clear in the Commons last week, that Europeans should send more men to fight, and not just sit in barracks in Afghanistan. Can the new President also turn America green? An injunction to US car-makers to produce cars that do not emit CO2 would be a giant step in changing the world's assault on the environment. It would force Mercedes and BMW and Jaguar to make very different cars if they wanted to have sales in the US. In short, President Obama in his first 100 days, or even a potential eight years in the White House, has to both turn around America, and also create new partnerships in the world. His appeal to Europe and Asia and Africa should be: "Ask not what America can do for you but rather ask what you, with America, can do for yourselves." The response of Europe and the rest of the world will determine whether the Obama presidency is a success, or the generalised world crisis gets worse and more violent, with extreme solutions proposed and then implemented.

Witness statement for seminar on South Africa

Denis MacShane MP was asked to give evidence as a witness to the "Witness Seminar on Britain and South Africa: Road to Democracy" organised by the London School of Economics. MacShane was active in the 1980s as an international trade union official in supporting the independent black trade unions in South Africa. This is a letter he sent to the inquiry.

Professor O Arne Westad
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2 AE

20 January 09

Dear Professor Westad,

It now transpires that I have to travel out of the UK en route to the Council of Europe this Friday so cannot attend your witness recording session.
I was very active in South Africa in the 1980s travelling regularly to work with black South African independent trade unions. I co-authored a book "Power! South Africa’s Black Unions" which came out in 1984. I worked for the International Metalworkers Federation based in Geneva which was the coordinating body for all industrial unions. American, German, Nordic and British unions all took an interest in supporting the development of independent trades unionism in South Africa. It was my view that the unions showed that apartheid could not co-exist with the nascent mass consumption capitalism under way in South Africa. By going on strike, by organising, by electing leaders like Cyril Ramaphosa, by rejecting fakes like Chief Buthelezi, by rejecting external Stalinist-Communist control of trade unions and by building extensive links with European and North American trade unions (a more powerful force in the 1980s than today), the black (including so-called coloured and Indian) workers demonstrated to a) themselves, b) the world, c) the South African white minority, their ability to take control of their own destiny.
The trade union movement in South Africa was inspired by Polish Solidarity which did not sit easily with the communist elements in the ANC. They also looked to Lula’s trade union movement in Brazil and to the 6-week general strike and occupation union movement in South Korea in 1987 which helped push the South Korean military out of government. We sought to use the ILO as a forum which even if South Africa was excluded from the UN could, by using its tri-partite nature, have an influence with employers in South Africa and multinational firms in Germany and Sweden, which had plants in South Africa where unions were allowed to organise.
I helped organise a top peer QC to go to South Africa to defend Moses Mayekiso, the metal union leader. Working with South African labour lawyers like Halton Cheadle, we sought to use the law to promote black worker rights.
I believe this helped create a space for a peaceful transition as trade union organisation eschewed violent, still less terrorist action.
In all this process we regarded the British government as an ally of apartheid and received no help or support at all from Mrs Thatcher’s administration. Whereas President Reagan named an African-American as Ambassador to South Africa, symbolic but important, and some European governments and diplomatic services were supportive of independent labour unions, the ideological venom against trade unions which lay at the heart of the Conservative government in the 1980s meant that British diplomats, whatever their personal views on apartheid, were irrelevant. Again and again, I asked black trade union leaders what contact they had with British diplomats, what invitations they received etc, and was told the UK embassy was seen as representing Mrs Thatcher and the Tory support for apartheid. Young Conservative leaders wore badges at the Tory Party conference saying "Hang Mandela" and Conservative MPs routinely described the ANC as a terrorist organisation.
Mrs Thatcher’s notorious Chequers’ meeting with apartheid leaders caused shock waves of disgust amongst black union leaders at a time when the US Congress was taking much tougher sanction action signed into law by President Reagan. Geoffrey Howe’s memoirs confirm the shame he felt at how even limited measures conceded by Mrs Thatcher at Commonwealth conferences were rendered nugatory by her later declarations and actions.
If you read Lord Howe’s memoirs (and I don’t doubt his personal decency and horror of racism), I think you will see that in all his discussions on South Africa he only met white South Africans. In the 1980s, the British government and the ruling Conservatives were seen as hostile to black trade unions and supporters, open or sotto voce, of apartheid. Britain could have been the world leader against apartheid but Mrs Thatcher was seen as apartheid’s best friend in the northern democracies.
Of course, once Mandela was released the story changed and, with Mrs Thatcher gone as well, it was possible for the UK government to present itself as a true supporter of black majority rights in South Africa. In all my work and visits there and considerable contacts with black South African union officials in the country and in Europe, the opposite was seen as the case and I consider British policy in support of apartheid in the 1980s to be a chapter of shame in the history of Britain’s foreign policy.
Can I suggest you contact Mr Don Stillman ( of Washington DC who was probably the most active international union official of that era in terms of visits and work with black labour leaders and officials in South Africa. Mr Stillman was a visiting fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford in the 1990s and has a mass of notes and memories on the work of international unions with South Africa. Although an American he worked closely with British trade union officials in the period you are covering.

Yours sincerely,

Rt Hon Dr Denis MacShane MP

Obama's inauguration speech interrupted in Parliament by Conservative

Comment by Denis MacShane on Conservative Decision to Interrupt MPs watching President Obama’s inauguration speech
20 January 2009

The nadir - or heights of Conservative isolationism - were on display today when Conservative forced hundreds of MPs to stop watching President Obama's inauguration speech in order to vote on a minor European question without law-making or political impact.
Labour MP Denis MacShane said :"I was saddened to leave Mr Obama's world historic speech in order to feed Conservative isolationism by voting in a division on a vote to take note of European Union policy on the financial crisis. There was no decision impacting on UK law or government decisions but the Tories are so obsessed against Europe they called a division just after Mr Obama had begun his speech. I hope our friends in America take note that David Cameron would rather have UK legislators voting symbolically against Europe rather than listening to President Obama's historic speech."

Ken Clarke returning to frontline politics

This article was published on the Guardian Website
19 January 2009
A Labour welcome for Ken Clarke

The europhile's return will only highlight the bankrupt isolationist nature of current Tory international thinking
Welcome Ken Clarke. As a pro-European I cannot but rejoice at the return of Clarke to frontline politics. A fortnight ago, William Hague elbowed aside George Osborne to use the "never" word about the euro. Nominally the shadow chancellor should be in charge of opposition policy on matters sterling. But so dominant is Hague's position in the increasingly anti-EU Conservative party that he felt able to make pronunciamentos on Britain and the euro. In the past, Tory politicians who use the word "never" have come to grief.
So welcome, Ken Clarke, who has been a consistently pro-euro politician, speaking up for the currency when Tony Blair dared not mention its name and finding good things to say about Europe at the time when the anti-euro Treasury briefed against it.
In fact, since Edward Heath left the Commons, it is hard to think of a more pro-Europe politician of Clarke's seniority on the Tory side. As a smooth, brain-bright lawyer who hides a keen intellect behind his tough-and-ready Nottingham bloke style, Ken will have worked of plenty of patter to deal with the Paxmans and Humphreys and Boultons as they tease him over his pro-European views in a party that remains solidly hostile to the EU.
Labour and the Lib Dems have their share of eurosceptics ranging from the downright hostile to the cautious and suspicious, and to those who, over recent years, have believed what they are told by the Daily Mail on Brussels and by the Guardian on the euro. But to anyone who sits in the Chamber of the Commons, as does Clarke regularly to his credit, the hostility to Europe across the board of Tory MPs who have arrived since 1997 is a constant.
Here are some of the questions about Tory policy that Clarke might be asked:
Does he support breaking all links with other centre-right parties in Europe after the European Parliament election this summer?
Does he agree with David Cameron's pledge that a Conservative government "will hold a referendum on any EU treaty" even though Parliament has ratified the treaty?
Does he agree that Britain should rule out euro entry in perpetuity?
Does he still hold to his view expressed on the BBC Politics Show that David Cameron needs to "decide that being a more extreme eurosceptic than any of his predecessors is not the best way to launch himself on the international scene".
Does he agree with President-elect Barak Obama's view that Cameron is a "lightweight" after the Tory leader ranted against Europe in his meeting with Obama last summer?
Does he support the Tory party's refusal to expel or discipline Tory candidates, MPs, MEPs and councillors who make unpleasant remarks about Europeans?
Does he think Hague's TV and Commons xenophobic jibes at France and Germany are good preparation for a potential incoming foreign secretary?
Does he welcome the return of a fellow pro-European, Peter Mandelson, to politics?
Mandelson is a low-tax, pro-business, anti-protectionist, pro-Euroatlantic politician so where should Clarke – who shares Mandelson's views – start to attack him?
Labour and Lib Dem MPs in the Commons should welcome Clarke's return since on Europe, he would be much more comfortable sitting with Charles Kennedy or with pro-European ministers in government.
The return of Clarke allows Labour an opportunity to highlight the bankrupt isolationist nature of current Tory international thinking. For 20 years, ever since Margaret Thatcher's Bruges attack on Europe, the Conservatives have become more and more hostile to the EU. Shortly before his election as leader, Cameron told me: "I am much more eurosceptic than you imagine, Denis." I have no reason to doubt his word. Today the Tories are in alliance only with Vladimir Putin's lapdog party in the Council of Europe, where this time last year Cameron's MPs were trying to install an ex-KGB staffer as the president of Europe's main human rights body.
The interstices of European politics get little coverage in the British press but today's Conservatives are the most isolationist and anti-internationalist party of any mainstream European or global centre-right party. Bringing back Clarke adds experience to the Tory front bench, though his brutal handling of teachers and doctors when he was a minister is still resented. But on the core dividing ideology of European and international politics, Clarke and Cameron are not in the same book let alone the same page.

Two interventions in the House of Commons

I take an active part in House of Commons debates on foreign affairs. Unfortunately, British journalists refuse to report the exchanges and debates on the floor of the Commons but for students of foreign affairs and for foreign policy-makers the points in the Commons give a good reflection of public opinions and a fair insight into ministerial thinking. In the current Gaza conflict the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband and other ministers have been robust in their criticism of Israeli tactics but have also insisted on the responsibility of Hamas for refusing to seek a political path to achieve a full state for Palestinians and instead have chosen to kill Jews and maintain the calls in the Hamas Charter with its rabid antisemitic ideology.
I made the first intervention below in questions to the Defence Secretary, John Hutton, after listening to a bizarre interview on Radio 4 Today with Sir Jeremy Greenstock. I know, admire and like Sir Jeremy who was a distinguished ambassador to the UN at the time of the Iraq War. He wrote a book about his time at the UN which was banned by Whitehall which I thought highly unfair. But on the Today programme on Monday 12th January, he urged a full recognition and talks with Hamas and gave the impression (at least to me) that Hamas was just an ordinary political outfit. He dismissed the Hamas Charter (see my Yorkshire Post article on 5 January on this blog) as an unimportant document, with an insouciance astonishing for a highly skilled diplomat who made a career by careful consideration of words. The Hamas Charter is a core Islamist ideological document. It has never been repudiated or declared caduc (out-of-date, dead) as Arafat declared the PLO call for the elimination of Israel. Sir Jeremy also said that Iran was not involved in Gaza on the grounds that Shia Iran would have little to do with Sunni Hamas. Yet the leaders of Iran and Hamas met in 2005 and warmly embraced each other. They share a public hate of Jews and of Israel. The argument for some form of talks with Hamas has been rejected by Hilary Clinton in her first statement before taking up office as US Secretary of State. Informal contacts may be useful though they would cut the feet from the elected government of Palestine and the authority of the Palestinian Authority. But it is hard to see how Hamas can be treated as a normal political partner while it insists on its Jew-hating Charter and it continues to smuggle Iranian rockets into Gaza to launch assaults on women and children in Israel. So Sir Jeremy’s arguments about Hamas, its Charter and his view that Shia Iran had no relations with Sunni Hamas prompted this exchange below.

Hansard Monday 12 January 2009
Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): I am unsure whether my right hon. Friend will have seen yesterday’s report by Steve Erlanger in The New York Times. It stated:
“Hamas, with training from Iran and Hezbollah, has used the last two years to turn Gaza into a deadly maze of tunnels, booby traps and sophisticated roadside bombs.”
That came from The New York Times, not any other source. Does the Secretary of State agree that Iran’s involvement in the current crisis, including the smuggling of Fajr-3 missiles into the hands of Hamas, is a great danger and that the warm relationship between the leadership of Hamas and the current anti-Semitic leadership of Iran also indicates just what a poisonous role Iran is playing generally in the region and further afield?
Mr. Hutton: I did not see that edition of The New York Times, unlike my right hon. Friend. I shall just repeat my earlier comment that Iran’s influence in the region is malign. We want the situation to be transformed, and we are actively pursuing better dialogue and engagement with Iran, but there can be no regional security as long as Iran continues to support not just terrorist organisations in the middle east, but, for example, Taliban elements in Afghanistan, and as long as Iran continues to have active and close links with some of the terrorists and insurgent groups in Iraq. That has to change. Iran has suffered as a result of the isolation that her foreign policy has brought upon her, and that can change if Iran changes her attitude and approach to these issues. Her Majesty’s Government are clear about the need for peace and stability in the middle east, and that is not helped by the current policies of the Iranian Government.
As previous blogs show I am very concerned that Europeans expect President Obama to conform to their views of foreign policy. Few European politicians accept that we may have to change in order to forge a new partnership with post-Bush America. In particular the strident anti-European rhetoric from the Conservative Party as the prominent Europhobe, William Hague, gains in influence cannot make sense. Obama does not need a cacophony of voices from Europe but as much coherence and unity of purpose and voice as possible. This view led to this brief exchange in FCO questions.

Hansard Tuesday 13 January 2009
Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, rather than keep asking what America can do for us, should we not seek here in Europe to say what we can do to work with America to solve pressing problems on the economy, the environment, Russia, the middle east, Afghanistan and, indeed, Africa? To achieve that, can the Foreign Secretary work towards a more united, coherent Europe, because the last thing that President Obama needs is 27 nationalistic European foreign policies—the ideology of Opposition Front Benchers?
Bill Rammell: As on many issues, I very much agree with my right hon. Friend. There is a real risk in some quarters that people feel that, with the passing of President George W. Bush, all the difficult issues in the international community will disappear. There is an important necessity for the international community to work together on these issues, and that means that Europe needs to come together with the United States of America. That was one of the issues discussed at the General Affairs and External Relations Council last week.

Gaza: the dance of death

"Only real leadership can put an end to the Middle East's dance of death"

This article was published in the Yorkshire Post
5 January 2009

Again violence in the Middle East freezes the hope that a new leader for the 21st century can spread the balm of peace on the world's most intractable problem. As the clock ticks to Barack Obama's inauguration, the images of death and hate from Gaza and Israel dominate the news.
Appeals for a ceasefire from David Miliband, as well as from European leaders like Nicolas Sarkozy, fall on deaf ears. The demands from the Arab League that Hamas renounces its campaign of Jew-killing are ignored. The violence ratchets up as Israel realises that bombing from the air, even with all the high technology available, can never uproot or destroy a political-military-terrorist movement that knows what it wants and actively welcomes martyrdom. As with the incursion into Lebanon in 2006, the Israeli political-military nexus starts with high hopes that – at last! – an end can be put to the attacks on their children and women trying to live peaceful lives in the country of their birth but ends in the misery of mission unaccomplished. Israel has been better at getting across its message in the Gaza conflict. The BBC for the first time in years is accurately reporting the fears of Israelis who cannot sleep other than on the ground floor of their homes in Israel because they must be close to air raid shelters when Hamas rockets fly down. You have to be nearly 80 or older to recall the fears of the bombing of Britain and only Londoners will remember the V1 flying bombs – unsophisticated and falling haphazardly in 1944. Yet this Blitz-like life is what Israeli citizens have had to live with after having withdrawn from Gaza.I cannot speak for other Yorkshire MPs but I expect if some ideologically-driven terrorist outfit was launching rockets to kill Rotherham people from only a few miles away they would be screaming at me as their MP and at the Government to take action to stop it.One BBC reporter described a Hamas member as a "resistance leader". Yet, in the Second World War, the French resistance was resisting the German occupation. The only occupiers of Gaza are the Palestinians themselves. They watched as Israel sent in its no-nonsense police to forcibly evacuate the Jewish settlers. Palestinians were master in their own territory of Gaza for the first time. Don't forget that after 1948 Gaza was also occupied, as was the West Bank. Then it was Egypt and Jordan who denied to the Palestinians their right to form a state. How history might have been changed if, in 1948, the Arab leadership had helped to form a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza with its capital in East Jerusalem. Alas, hate replaced negotiation, war-war trumped jaw-jaw, and ever since Jews and Arabs have not been able to find a way to peace. Today, the outline of a deal is there. It has been put forward by the outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who has made clear that a Palestinian state must come into being based on the 1967 borders. Saudi Arabia has also offered recognition of Israel on the basis of the 1967 borders. To be sure, everyone says: "You first and we will follow." As a Foreign Office minister, I urged Arab states to open diplomatic relations with Israel. Even when Germany occupied the French region of Alsace-Lorraine around Strasbourg after the 1870 war, Paris and Berlin maintained diplomatic relations. At a high-level meeting with US foreign policy-makers in Washington last month, I urged aides to Barack Obama to send diplomats to Iran. The non-recognition of Iran is as counter-productive today as was the US's refusal to have diplomatic relations with China until Richard Nixon made his historic visit to see Mao Tse-tung in 1972. Arab foreign ministers looked askance at my suggestion that they should open embassies in Israel. Yet without bold leadership by the Arab world, and a first step would be to talk to Israel as a fully-fledged UN member state, there will be little progress. Hamas could also opt for talking rather than violence. Everyone in Europe and all but the fading neo-cons in Washington want to see aid, trade and travel links restored to Gaza. Ed Balls, when Gordon Brown's adviser, did an important report on how Britain would help build up the Palestinian economy. There are great trading possibilities, without even considering the tourist hopes for this spectacular Mediterranean region, if rockets were not being launched from there. But here we have to enter the question of ideology. Hamas is not a state-building political movement looking for power and authority in a classic political fashion of say, Sinn Fein, which is able to renounce violence, to enter the political sphere and seek government authority to improve the lot of its followers. Hamas denounces other Palestinian organisations, like Fatah, with as much vehemence as it denounces Israel. Hamas is rooted in the most implacable of political passions – namely those in which the struggle is carried out in God's not man's name. To read the Hamas charter – its core ideological document, which is easily obtainable on the Web – is to enter a world in which there is no room for compromise. In the Hamas world view, everyone is an enemy – the Jews above all and the Jewish state of Israel in particular. The ideology of new anti-Semitism is now more pervasive than at any time since 1945. Those who like to find excuses for Hamas claim that the Charter, which was drawn up only 20 years ago, is just words. But words define ideology and belief and I defy anyone who took part in the demonstrations over the weekend to read and absorb the full Hamas charter and not come away with despair that this kind of anti-Semitic hate should lie at the heart of the Islamist ideology Hamas teaches its young followers. In the end, the words will have to be parked, the tanks pulled back, and for a while Hamas will stop firing rockets at Israel. But that requires big leaders and big leadership. None of the former and little of the latter is on offer in the Middle East. Can Barack Obama find words and pressure points to transform the dance of death now taking place on our TV screens? Perhaps. But until Israel accepts its 1967 borders and Hamas turns its back on anti-Semitism, the cycle of violence and death will continue.