Sir Vincent Fean seems to have recently become the dominant public face and voice of the Balfour Project. The ex-diplomat is in a position where he could publicise the crimes of the Israeli Government and support human rights and freedom for the Palestinian people.
He was British Consul General in Jerusalem from 2010 to 2014 and was in post when Israel attacked Gaza in November 2012, killing 174 Palestinians, including ten members of the Al Dalu family, and wounded 1,000 more. Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai said of the attack: “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages.”
Vinent Fean's boss, Foreign Secretary William Hague, blamed Hamas entirely for the deaths and defended Israel's "right to defend itself" (although those committing war crimes have no right to defend themselves against their victims during the commission of the crime).
From his current position as Chair of the Balfour Project, is the ex-British diplomat still promoting the political positions of the UK Government - old (and toxic) wine in new bottles?
Question 1: Sometimes diplomats have to defend positions with which they disagree. Does Vincent Fean still endorse the UK Government view that Israel's repeated attacks on Gaza are justified as Israel "defending itself"?
Bir Zeit students protested in 2013 a scheduled talk by Vincent Fean that led to the UK diplomat "fleeing" the campus. Palestinian students saw no reason to host a speaker who would defend the Balfour Declaration, oppose their rights to justice and freedom in the future, and praise the racist movement that dispossessed and still violates them.
Vincent Fean, however, does not seem to recognise the reality of the 1948 programme of ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinians carried out by Zionist militias.
Question 2: Does Vincent Fean acknowledge that the Balfour Declaration initiated a process of ethnic cleansing of the native people of Palestine under British supervision?
Fean attacks the democratic, non-violent BDS movement launched by Palestinians, suggesting instead "raised voices" and a bizarre and mysterious "advocacy plus" to overcome Israeli defiance. Of the calls by the Scottish Government and Amnesty International for an arms embargo on the State of Israel we hear nothing; it might open the door to discussing BDS generally.
Question 3: Does Vincent Fean support the calls for an arms embargo on Israel until it concedes human rights to Palestinians?
In April 2019 Sir Vincent spoke at sizeable Balfour Project meetings in Glasgow and Edinburgh, following which the Scottish Parliament endorsed his nebulous call for "measures to be taken" by unspecified parties:
- the siege of Gaza to be ended
- freedom of worship and the rule of law to be ensured
- serious consequences for those who break international law
- UK Government to
- recognise the State of Palestine – alongside the State of Israel, and
- "defend the fundamental rights of both peoples".
Question 4: Having succeeded in pursuading the Scottish Parliament to endorse a commitment to "serious consequences for those who break international law", will he advocate that the Parliament apply sanctions against the Israeli state and its representatives, the only "serious consequence" which the Scottish Parliament is able to enact?
Vincent Fean promotes the Zionist claim that the 1948 massacres and ethnic cleansing constituted the "Jewish people exercise[ing] their right to self-determination in the Holy Land", by implication a laudable and democratic action despite some regrettable side effects.
Question 5: How can "self-determination" be achieved by a minority of incomers to a land expelling almost all the indigenous people?
No-one can deny the the evidence of the Zionist project of colonisation of another people's land. Is the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of Palestinian communities something that Vincent Fean thinks should be accepted as an irreversable fact?
Apart from violating Palestinian rights, other malign actors around the world will be encouraged to "solve" their ethnic conflicts in a similar manner.
Vincent Fean promotes the Zionist claim that Israel is "the homeland for the Jewish people". What is to be done with the Palestrinians who are airbrushed from view by this formulation, the people who make up 20-25 per cent of Israeli citizens, yet have long been condemned to inferior political, economic and legal status? The recent Israeli Nation State Law codified this inferior status, reserving fundamental democratic rights in all of Palestine to Jews, including Scottish Jews, and denying them to all Palestinians.
Question : As an advocate of an internationally-brokered 'two state solution', how can this avoid reinforcing apartheid, which is a crime against humanity in international law?
The politics of a "homeland for the Jewish people" is opposed by those Israelis who reject the reality of Israel as an ethno-nationalist state and want to see Israel become a state of all its citizens. It is rejected on democratic grounds by those Jewish Israelis who have tried to repudiate their state-enforced "Jewish nationality" and subscribe to a more inclusive "Israeli nationality" as a way out of, and a protest against, the racialized Israeli legal and system and society.
For Vincent Fean it seems axiomatic that the EU and USA are both benign actors who work, however imperfectly, "to preserve the prospect of peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians". Consequently, he urges that "the United Nations Security Council...led by America... should set out the framework and timescale for negotiations". He notes, however, that "America cannot do everything" and the EU must assist in securing a solution to the crisis in Israel-Palestine.
The UK, EU and US idea of peaceful coexistence seems to be compatible with selling sniper rifle parts to the Israeli Army while it commits war crimes and crimes against humanity. Sir Vincent condemns "the men of violence" but this refers not to the Israeli Army guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity but to Palestinian resistance to Israeli attacks.
The ex-British diplomat subscribes to a notion of "true equality...based on those universal values which Britain helped enshrine in international law". Since the British Empire has left a trail of ethnic conflicts around the world and is still involved in its own ethnic cleansing, we are left to guess which values promoted by the British State can provide a basis for peace in Palestine, or anywhere.
The Palestinian call for BDS, Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against the State of Israel was a response by Palestinian society to the failure of decades of lobbying the great and the good to support Palestinian rights.
Palestinian civil society issued the BDS call in 2005, one year to the day after the International Court of Justice ruled that Israel's wall is a violation of international law. The intervening year had seen the UK and other governments defy the court and intensify their support for Israel.
Vincent Fean and others attack the growing Palestinian-led BDS campaign and call upon Israel's allies, financiers and armourers to mend their ways. They similarly oppose the Palestinian refugees' right of return, a right enshrined in international law, promoting instead a two-state solution that will be acceptable to mainstream British political parties committed to a Jewish ethno-nationalist State in Palestine.
Vincent Fean echoes many right wing Israelis in calling for "a fair and agreed solution to the refugee question, with all Palestinians gaining the right to live in Palestine", i.e. accepting the results of Israeli ethnic cleansing throughout 78% of Palestine, and giving up the right of return to their own lands and homes from which they have been driven.
He seems to be promoting a "state" with none of the attributes of a state – and pushing Israeli policy that this "achievement" will involve Palestinians agreeing to "an end to all claims", i.e. endorsing their own violation.
Has Sir Vincent Fean re-directed the Balfour Project into working against justice for the Palestinian people, as he did while a British diplomat? The questions above should be answered