Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tony Blair, Palestine and the struggle for tolerance, freedom & respect

The Prime Minister’s long Speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council is worth reading in full. In it he asked, "What are the values that govern the future of the world? Are they those of tolerance, freedom, respect for difference and diversity or those of reaction, division and hatred?"

He concluded by saying, "Our values are worth struggling for. They represent humanity's progress throughout the ages and at each point we have had to fight for them and defend them. As a new age beckons, it is time to fight for them again."

I have no doubt that Tony Blair’s detractors will continue to blame him for all the ills of our world. But I hope that less biased people will acknowledge the power of his analysis and his genuine desire to make the world a bit better. I have to admit I’m not unbiased; I’ve long had a huge respect for him and am unlikely to be shifted in my view that he’s an exceptional man, the finest PM we’ve had for decades and a skilful international diplomatist.

I’m sure he’s correct to put the Palestinian question at the heart of his speech. I’m pleased that he seems to be using his influence in the US to drive them faster towards playing their key role in finding an end to this festering sore in the Middle East. People are still living there in refugee camps that were set up before I was born; children are being born to parents and grandparents who have never know a life outside. A solution must be found.

On this topic, earlier on in the speech he said, "unless we revitalise the broader global agenda on poverty, climate change, trade, and in respect of the Middle East, bend every sinew of our will to making peace between Israel and Palestine, we will not win. ...... I want, what we all now acknowledge we need: a two state solution. The Palestinian State must be independent, viable but also democratic and not threaten Israel's safety. This is what the majority of Israelis and Palestinians want. Its significance for the broader issue of the Middle East and for the battle within Islam, is this. The real impact of a settlement is more than correcting the plight of the Palestinians. It is that such a settlement would be the living, tangible, visible proof that the region and therefore the world can accommodate different faiths and cultures ..... this progress will not happen unless we change radically our degree of focus, effort and engagement, especially with the Palestinian side. In this the active leadership of the US is essential......"

Go on – read the whole thing, you know you want to.....

4 Comments:

At 09:36, Anonymous Jenni said...

Fine words butter no parsnips. Yes there's a lot of good things in that speech (and a lot of things I really don't agree with) but what's he actually going to do?

 
At 10:53, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Thing is, there's not much he can do apart from trying to nudge the Americans and to stop the French being so entrenched. Britain has very little influence in the world and why should it have much? We're less than 1% of the population. Way back in 1956 Sir Anthony Eden found out that we can't act on our own especially in the complexity of the Middle East....

 
At 14:22, Blogger butteray said...

Hughes - your blog looks interesting and I'm pleased I've found someone who does not automatically write off Blair. He did give a speech of great vision; a real shame so few are listening! Anyway, I intend to look thru your blog a bit more

 
At 17:32, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Thanks butteray and welcome. I hope you find a few things of interest....

 

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