British Historian: Israel Provides a Needed “Safe Haven” for Jews

On Sunday, London-based historian and journalist Jeremy Havardi featured as a guest on The Israel Project’s podcast ‘Tipping Point’ to talk about his new book “Refuting the Anti-Israel Narrative: A Case for the Historical, Legal and Moral Legitimacy of the Jewish State,” arguing, in part, that there is “a need for a Jewish safe haven in the world.”

In the book, Havardi lays out his justifications for the Jewish state, tackles its problems with the Palestinians, and shares his insight on Israel’s cutting-edge innovations.

Elaborating on the three pillars which cement Israel’s existence, he said that the Jewish State’s legitimacy is first of all grounded in history. “The Jewish people’s attachment to the land of Israel is longer than that of any other people,” Havardi said. “The attachment goes back thousands of years.”

He went on to talk about international agreements that confirmed Israel’s right to exist, the second pillar of his argument. The Palestine Mandate of 1921 established the Jewish right to self-determination as per decision of the League of Nation’s 51 member states, which was subsequently confirmed in the United Nations Charter.

Finally, Havardi made the moral case for Israel’s existence. There is “a need for a Jewish safe haven in the world,” he stated. “Before the State of Israel existed there was the most appalling persecution, discrimination, and violence against Jews in many countries across the world.”

Moving on, Havardi praised President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv. “Every sovereign nation has the right to choose its capital,” he said.

By acknowledging that right, the Trump administration recognized “the historical connection” to the land and the fact that Jerusalem “is and always will be the capital of the Jewish Stat.” According to Havardi, the decision is also critical because “ever so often, when the United States takes the lead, other countries will follow.”

Asked why the decision was met with great skepticism and hostility, Havardi explained that modern-day anti-Semitism was certainly a factor. But he said the decision was also rejected on a deeper level – anti-Western and, specifically, anti-American sentiments. According to Havardi, some political movements are looking for one nation to “vilify that symbolizes their hatred for the West,” which they regard as “colonialist.”

He also explained that in the Arab world, demonizing the Jewish State for decades allowed dictators to “remove focus from their own legitimacy” and instead assign blame to “the other,” – Israel and the United States.

Havardi further elaborated on the hostility with which Israel is often met in international forums, nurtured by a flawed Orientalist and Arabist outlook of the world. The wish to eradicate an entire country, he said, was a “uniquely malevolent feature.”

Comparing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, Havardi said while the IRA fought for a united Ireland against the British, they never demanded the destruction of the entire British nation. Hamas, on the other hand, has clear genocidal intentions.

Havardi further stated that the responsibility for the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza lies clearly with Hamas. The terrorist organization, which is in complete political and military control of the Strip, “is not interested in their own population.”

Instead, Havardi said, the group spends all the aid money on their “structure of terror.” He also dismissed the new Hamas Charter, portrayed by some as a step away from extremism. Havardi, however, said that Hamas was still “dedicated to the destruction of Israel,” and that he felt “bleak” about the prospect of peace for as long as they are in power.

Finally, Havardi addressed the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. South Africa recently decided not to accept the help of Israeli technology to solve their acute water crisis.

According to Havardi, the South African leadership “looks at Israel through the same lense than apartheid governments in the 70s and 80s” – a comparison that he described as “not just intellectually flawed but morally outrageous”. If they were to come to Israel, they would find a different Israel, where Jews and Arabs coexist, Havardi said. “They use the same transport and go to the same universities”.

By singling out Israel for boycotts, the South African government is “depriving their own population” of the most advanced technology, Havardi concluded. He praised Israel’s leadership in the areas of “medicine, technology and counter-terrorism,” and said he felt “inspired by how far ahead the Jewish nation is” and its dedication to share that knowledge with the world.