Monthly Archives: April 2010

From Merthyr Tydfil with Love

A carload of people from Merthyr Tydfil, Wales made the 350 mile round trip down the M4 to Covent Garden on Saturday for the biweekly anti-Israel protest outside Ahava.

The anti-Israel campaigners are usually plentiful and have unlimited amounts of anti-Israel leaflets and Palestinian flags at hand. They scream their denunciations of Israel through their megaphones. In contrast, the one man and his dog of Israel’s supporters in the counter-demo. have just an Israeli flag and a megaphone.

Last saturday, though, the cavalry charge was on.

People who had heard about these insidious attempts to destroy Ahava’s saturday afternoon business came out in numbers to support Ahava.

They handed out the newly-printed leaflets containing a more balanced perspective of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They also spoke to baffled passers-by about what was happening.

And this saturday even the anti-Israel protesters were, strangely, depleted.

I asked an Irishman standing nearby for his own thoughts on the protests. He sympathised with Israel as his own people “had suffered years of IRA terrorism”.

To make his point he then stormed the barricades and entered Ahava and was not seen to reappear for some time. My hunch is that the clever Ahava staff persuaded him into having one of their revitalising mineral treatments.

Another concern, though, was for the surrounding businesses. Ahava is popular, despite the protests, but the nearby shops suffer most from the aggressive anti-Israel posturing.

Saturday afternoon trade is crucial but the manager of the Venise Collection, the classy women’s bags and shoe shop next to Ahava, told me that passers-by don’t even notice his shop as their faces are turned to the noisy anti-Israel protest instead.

During the two hour protest Venise Collection took no money, although I have it on good authority that some of the women in the pro-Israel counter-demo. had to summon up all their powers of concentration to keep their minds on Israel and not rush in to buy a nice pair of Dolce and Gabbana heels.

For once the anti-Israel protesters seemed shell-shocked at not having the area virtually to themselves, but they’ll be back.

Midday-2pm on saturday 9th May outside Ahava, 39 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden, to be more precise.

Finally, though, the pro-Israel protesters, or, more precisely, those in favour of one Israeli and one Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace, are starting to get their act together.

Video and Photos of anti-Israel protest and the counter-demo.:

Loud anti-Israel protesters are affecting adjoining businesses

Unchartered Waters

Photo by: AP

By RICHARD MILLETT
26/04/2010 09:18

British politics has been turned on its head over the past 11 days since the first televised leaders’ debate. And Israel has cause for concern.

With less than two weeks to go to the British general election, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is being used to manipulate the electorate in some crucial voting districts containing disproportionately high Jewish or Muslim populations.

Even before the announcement of the May 6 election, the rhetoric had been vicious. Accusations of “Jewish” political financing and Israel pulling the strings behind Britain’s electoral scenes have been hitting the headlines.

Martin Linton, a Labor MP, recently gave a talk in Parliament to the Friends of Al-Aksa and spoke of Israel’s “long tentacles” that fund British election campaigns and which are trying to buy a Conservative victory in this one. Linton said that he failed to appreciate the Nazi-era symbolism of the Jewish octopus controlling the world with its long tentacles and apologized, but he stands by his thesis of “Israelis and pro-Israelis trying to buy a Conservative victory.”

At the same meeting Gerald Kaufman, a Jewish Labor MP, spoke of Lord Ashcroft owning one part of the Conservative Party and right-wing Jewish millionaires owning the other part.

These are, of course, unfounded and defamatory accusations that paint many British Jews as being more loyal to Israel than to Britain. Labor has deselected neither Linton nor Kaufman.

Such alleged funding has not, so far, proved a good investment, however, with David Cameron, the Conservative leader, recently making reference to “occupied east Jerusalem.”

Until very recently, the third party, the Liberal Democrats, were only in the late teens in the opinion polls and their leader, Nick Clegg, was relatively unknown, but British politics has been turned on its head over the past 11 days since our first televised leaders’ debate.

Clegg’s poll ratings have now soared into the low 30s, putting his party on par with the Conservatives, who just days ago were favorites to win an outright majority, and ahead of Labor, which has governed since 1997.

The Liberal Democrats will still come way back in third place on May 6 but could increase their intake of MPs substantially, making them the kingmakers courted by Labor and the Conservatives.

This likelihood of a hung Parliament could bring with it the electoral reform that the Liberal Democrats might demand for supporting Labor. Traditional Conservative and Labor domination of British politics will end should proportional representation take over.

IRONICALLY, IT was David Cameron who challenged Gordon Brown to televised debates, but it is Clegg who has outperformed. The last of the three debates will be broadcast this Thursday.

These unchartered waters in British politics should concern Israel. Clegg has already called for a ban on the sale of arms to Israel and his party contains many vociferously anti-Israel politicians, including Sir Menzies Campbell, Sarah Teather, Chris Davies and Baroness Jenny Tonge.

A hung Parliament could result in Clegg as deputy prime minister, or another Liberal Democrat as foreign secretary, in return for their supporting either Labor or the Conservatives should neither win an outright majority on May 6. Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat shadow foreign secretary, is chairman of the Liberal Democrats Friends of Palestine.

ON THE ground, the Liberal Democrats’ approach to Israel often depends on the ethnic or religious makeup of voters in a particular voting district. Take two neighboring voting districts in London.

Holborn and St. Pancras has a disproportionately high Bangladeshi community and the leaflets of the Liberal Democrat candidate scream “Stop Arming Israel.” My father received a polite, hand-delivered, letter from her that didn’t mention this, but that might be because he has a mezuza on his door.

Hampstead and Kilburn is more disproportionately Jewish and so the leaflets are more pro-Israel with pictures of the Liberal Democrat candidate’s recent visit to Israel, Hebrew writing included.

Then there is the Muslim Public Affairs Committee. MPAC’s Web site asks “is your MP a Zionist?” and then goes on to list 36 MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates that it deems “Zionist.” The main qualification is being affiliated to a Friends of Israel group of one of the three main political parties.

In 2005 Lorna Fitzsimons, now head of British Israel Communications and Research Center, lost her seat as a Labor MP due to MPAC. The 2006 Report of the All Parliamentary Committee into Anti-Semitism found that MPAC, to help unseat Fitzsimons, distributed leaflets stating “she had done nothing to help the Palestinians because she was a Jewish member of the Labor Friends of Israel.”

Fitzsimons is not Jewish. Sadly, in the current campaign, death threats against some “Zionist” candidates have already been reported.

With election day almost here, Jewish and Muslim voters can expect their sensitivities to be unashamedly manipulated right up to the ballot box to propel a political candidate into Parliament, or to reduce his chances.

The writer is a London-based freelance journalist, studying for a master’s degree in Near and Middle Eastern studies at SOAS. He blogs at http://www.richardmillett.wordpress.com.

This article appeared in the Jerusalem Post
and in JWeekly in San Francisco.

Hendon Hustings Hit Mill Hill Shul

Hendon Hustings, Mill Hill shul: Matthew Offord (C), Henry Grunwald (Chair.), Matthew Harris (LD), Andrew Dismore (L)

On wednesday night Hendon constituents heard the views of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidates at the Mill Hill synagogue hustings.

Sadly, the Greens and UKIP, who are also standing, were not there.

All candidates should be allowed to both present their case and be questioned. Otherwise democracy hasn’t been fully administered.

And with the Greens being highly anti-Israel and UKIP generally more sympathetic, it would have spiced up the evening.

Admitedly, there is no chance of the Greens or UKIP getting an MP elected in Hendon, but that could be said of the Liberal Democrats. In 2005 the Liberal Democrats polled a miserable 5,589 votes, while Labour and the Conservatives polled 17,981 and 14,976 respectively.

It will be close on May 6th, but only between Labour and the Conservatives. It’s an exciting race, but a two-horse one.

Also, questions to the candidates were too controlled. There was no hands-up spontaneity.

A few audience members got to ask their previously emailed-in questions and that was it. End of.

After five years of what we have been through, voters should have had a chance to really vent their spleens:

- British soldiers coming back from Afghanistan in coffins.
- a hellish economy.
- inflation, deflation, inflation again.
- scandals involving the bankers and our politicians.
- increasing delegitimisation of Israel and British Jews.

I know we are British and it was in a synagogue hall but surely the sh*t should have been hitting the fan so these politicians know what we really think.

Instead each candidate calmly presented their views and were then politely questioned on:

- reducing public sector waste.
- the misery that is First Capital Connect and Mill Hill Broadway’s train service.
- the expenses debacle.
- financing for nursery schools.
- electoral reform.
- the superficiality of the televised leaders’ debates.
- the academic boycott of Israel and the use of extremist rhetoric by certain Liberal Democrat and Labour politicians.

Andrew Dismore (Labour), has been a hard-working MP and was responsible for introducing Holocaust Memorial Day and has also introduced the Holocaust (stolen art) Restitution Bill.

He also helped to reform the law on dissolving Jewish marriages, which has caused hardship to some Jewish partners.

These are serious achievements, enough to woo the Jewish vote alone especially when added to his constant support for Israel.

He also supports international arrest warrants being approved by the Attorney-General first, so putting these warrants on the same legal standing as actual prosecutions. This would stop Israeli politicians entering Britain being arrested at the whim of a single anti-Israel activist.

But his mention of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee’s targeting of him as “a Zionist” is slightly disingenuous, although understandable.

MPAC is an insidious organisation that unseated Lorna Fitzsimons in Rochdale in 2005 by claiming that she is Jewish. She isn’t. Sadly, in the current nationwide campaign death threats have already been made against some “Zionist” candidates.

However, in Mill Hill, specifically, usurping Dismore will only let in Matthew Offord (Conservative) or Matthew Harris (Liberal Democrat), both of whom are as “Zionist” as Dismore.

Neither did I think much of Matthew Harris’ claim that we should vote for him as a staunch pro-Israel voice among an increased intake of Liberal Democrat MPs, in light of the recent Clegg phenomenon.

As much as I like Harris you would have to strain every sinew in your body to vote for a party that still includes Jenny Tonge, after all she has said about Jews and Israel. Let alone allowing her to stay in the House of Lords!

The same could be said of voting Labour while Martin Linton and Gerald Kaufman are still there.

Harris felt that sacking Tonge from the party would just make her “a martyr”.

So let her be “martyred”.

Why should taxpayers continue paying her a comfortable daily allowance for just turning up to the Lords?

Matthew Offord (Conservative) proposes putting more police on the streets to deal with the increasing anti-Semitic incidents, which I agree with.

The Conservatives must also carry out their pledge to deal with the preachers of hate stirring up trouble in our universities as well as banning Hizb ut Tahrir.

Tough on anti-Semitism, tough on the causes of anti-Semitism.

Andrew Dismore pointed to the difficulty of banning Hizb ut Tahrir for lack of evidence that connects them to terrorist activity. But the government did manage to ban Islam4UK, so why not Hizb ut Tahrir? This is a cop out.

Surprisingly, there was no mention of the controversial JFS decision all evening.

While I am as concerned as anyone about the domestic ongoings of the last five year under Labour, this government’s moral integrity is highly in doubt when it comes to dealing with a supposed ally like Israel.

While our troops are fighting Taleban Islamist terrorism in Afghanistan, and even the Liberal Democrats support that war, the Israeli Army is being castrated in its efforts to fight Hamas Islamist terrorism.

The most cowardly manifestations of this by Labour were its recent refusal to vote against the Goldstone Report that claims Israel committed war crimes when fighting Hamas in Gaza last year and implicitly denouncing Israel for allegedly killing one self-confessed Hamas terrorist in Dubai, when it sacked an Israeli diplomat just because British passports were used.

Meanwhile, NATO troops are pinpointing and whacking terrorists regularly now in Pakistan.

But David Cameron does not quite get Israel and what it is up against either judging by his recent comment that east Jerusalem is “occupied”.

His comment is inexplicable seeing that he understands the problems that we have with preachers of hate radicalising our students.

What does Cameron think these preachers use to radicalise students other than Israel and Jerusalem? Instead of adopting some of their rhetoric he needs to be more nuanced.

Overall there are far more in the Conservative Party than the other parties, including Matthew Offord and the likes of Michael Gove, that do get Israel and the problems of radicalisation in this country.

They should be given the chance to prove themselves.

(If anyone wants an audio of the hustings feel free to contact me).

Love Jews, Hate Israel.

Living life as a British Jew sometimes makes me feel like we have regressed 200 years. This feeling is even more pronounced at general election time.

200 years ago a Jewish state was nothing more than a figment of some madman’s imagination. Jews were nothing more than a religious people who were to be looked after, nurtured and cared for by the country in which they resided. Under Muslim rule they were considered “millet“; they could organise their own religious practices just as long as they were loyal to the Empire.

And on 21st December 1789 Clermont-Tonnerre declared in revolutionary France: “To the Jews as a nation nothing, to the Jews as individuals everything.”

Jews were expected to commit wholly to the country they lived in, which they did. There was to be no mention of Jewish autonomy or, dread the thought, a Jewish state.

And so forward 200 years to present day UK.

Our politicians have worked out that by mentioning Jews, but not Israel, they can have it both ways; ingratiate themselves with their Jewish constituents while being able to harness the Muslim vote. The perfect combo.

Just before this general election election was called the three main parties were united in the decision to expel an Israel diplomat after Israel’s, as yet unproven, use of British passports to assassinate a self-confessed Hamas terrorist.

And in the FT of 31 March David Cameron said: “Unlike a lot of politicians from Britain who visit Israel, when I went I did stand in occupied East Jerusalem and actually referred to it as ‘occupied East Jerusalem’”.

Why did Cameron feel the need to call it “occupied”? He was adopting the language of one side, the Palestinians. No one called it “occupied” when it was controlled by Jordan between 1949-1967, when Jewish cemeteries and synagogues were trashed by the Arabs and the most religious site for Jews, the Western Wall, was allowed to fall into total disrepair.

Israeli Jews were banned from visiting the Wall. Had I been around at the time I would have been able to visit it but only by flashing said British passport.

But now the election is on there is hardly a negative mention of Israel, if it is mentioned at all, from the politicians wanting my “Jewish vote”.

David Cameron recently spoke to the Movement for Reform Judaism and failed to mention Israel. He praised the “Jewish people” and said he was appalled by the rise in anti-Semitic incidents. Most worthy was Cameron’s assertion that he will ban preachers of hate and extremist groups that are radicalising British students.

But a little more acknowledgement of why anti-Semitism is on the rise would have been welcome; because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel is unpopular with many British Muslims because of the conflict. But that does not mean that Israel is wrong in defending its innocent civilians from terror attacks. If Cameron was more courageous he would have pointed that out.

The Liberal Democrats’ views on Israel are now notorious. No need to keep mentioning Nick Clegg’s call for a ban on the sale of arms to Israel, so leaving it highly vulnerable to attacks from Hamas and Hezbollah.

But Ed Fordham, their candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, posted On the Doorsteps of Hampstead and Kilburn on the JC blog in which he goes out on a limb to mention the concerns of “one house of Jewish voters” and his “Jewish friends” as well as his visit to Dennington Park Road synagogue.

Then Labour politician Diane Abbot pops up on the JC website with her blog Fighting for Yemeni Jews. She wants to offer the persecuted Yemeni Jews sanctuary in the UK. Maybe they would like to go to Israel though? For some reason Abbot does not consider this obvious option.

Diane Abbott - Fighting for Yemeni Jews

There is no mention of Israel in her entire post but then again Abbott thinks Israel commits war crimes as you can see in the video below in which she passionately denounces Israel during Operation Cast Lead.

It is hypocritical that although in her post Abbott admits that Yemeni Jews are being persecuted “because of insurgent Islamicism”, when Israel defends itself against said “insurgent Islamicism” she considers Israel to be committing “war crimes”.

So although it is good to see that politicians are so concerned for British Jews, what they don’t realise is that theirs is a job only half done.

For most British Jews, although totally committed to Britain, concern for the welfare of Israel is part-and-parcel of their Jewishness just as for most British Muslims, also totally committed to Britain, their concern for the Palestinians is part-and-parcel of their Islam.

So these politicians need to be courageous enough to express that what Israel is up against is also what many of our own troops are currently dying because of in Afghanistan; said “insurgent Islamicism”.

They also need to speak out against the vicious campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, the latest incarnation of which is the Advertising Standards Authority’s banning of pictures of Western Wall in tourism adverts for Israel, unless the Wall is described as being on “occupied land”. The ASA’s delving into politics is unwelcome and wrong.

But as things currently stand, after some 200 years of enlightenment British politics seems to have regressed to the once extinct ideology of “to the Jews as a nation nothing, to the Jews as individuals everything”. It is a worrying development.

An edited version of this article appeared in the Jewish Chronicle

War on Want’s War on Israel

Protesting in Waitrose all courtesy of War on Want

Warning; if you give to BBC’s Comic Relief, please turn away now as you may find the following disturbing.

War on Want is a registered charity that claims it’s in the front line in the struggle against global poverty and injustice. It has seven main campaigns one of which is the “humanitarian crisis in Palestine”.

But WOW’s description of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has the most biased spin possible. There is not a single mention of Palestinian acts that have left thousands of innocent Israeli civilians dead and disabled.

And I recently visited War on Want’s offices after seeing this public announcement:

War on Want’s Supermarket Action – to stop the sale of settlement goods. When? 6pm sharp! Where? Meet at War on Want’s offices for a full briefing. Then head to a nearby supermarket. 56-64 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4LT. Nearest tube Old Street.

When I arrived at the building I was directed up to War on Want’s fourth floor offices where another briefing was about to start for those who had missed the first.

About 30 of us heard how we were going to be divided up into four groups. Some of us were to distribute anti-Israel leaflets outside the Barbican’s Waitrose while the others would actually go in and drop the Israeli produce into trolleys and bring the full trolleys to customer services where there would then be a sit-down protest.

Under our coats we would wear the green “Free Palestine” T-shirts handed out to us in the office.

“We are not expecting any kind of aggression towards us but there is always that possibility. If the police do show up we will leave automatically. We will stand up in an orderly fashion and walk out chanting ‘Free Free Palestine’ and we will continue the demonstration outside,” we were told.

We were also introduced to a cameraman and a photographer.

But by then fingers were pointing and I was outed as a “Zionist”.

As I made to leave I was followed down the four flights of stairs by said cameraman and questioned by John Hilary, I believe, WOW’s Chief Exective:

“Who are you from? Why have you come to this place, it wasn’t an open invitation. Just tell me who you are. Who are you?” he kept on while in hot pursuit.

I immediately went to the Waitrose store and told the manager of the imminent invasion. He was grateful but eventually unable to distinguish protesters from normal shoppers.

In the youtube video* of the invasion below John Hilary gives a speech and then presents the manager of Waitrose with a letter having been told that the police had been called.

WOW receives funding from the European Commission and the Department of International Development but in the last six years it has also received £1,687,918 from Comic Relief.

It is of no public concern what private donors give directly to a charity, as many do to War on Want, but it is of great concern when publicly donated funds, that people hope are going to help sick and starving children, are going to a charity that embraces immature supermarket games.

How much of Comic Relief’s money might be helping to finance the aforementioned T-shirts, office space, cameramen and photographers?

Are such student pranks really be an allowable objective for a charity like War on Want?

And why can valuable Metropolitan Police time be wasted so unnecessarily by a charity?

We have had the bankers and the politicians, maybe it’s about time the behaviour of our charities is also questioned and investigated.

*Comments posted to youtube underneath this War On Want video include:

ShaktipatSeer: Stick it to those fascist jews!!

AetherWisp: Did that include all the food we pay a Jewish tax on?

The clip is also on the War on Want website.

Siege of Ahava continues

The objective of the bi-weekly Saturday anti-Israel protest outside Ahava in Covent Garden is to force the shop to lose trade and eventually close.

In addition to the protests, the activists are now resorting to litigation.

Ahava is an Israeli company that provides skin care products made from Dead Sea minerals. Its only UK shop is on Monmouth Street.

One activist told me at today’s protest that they are suing Ahava for mislabeling goods. “Ahava’s going down,” he claimed.

40 anti-Israel activists stood outside Ahava today waving Palestinian flags and handing out leaflets to passers-by (photos below).

Headlined “Boycott Ahava” the leaflets claim Ahava’s products are “Stolen Goods” as they are “produce of the West Bank”. There was a small counter-demonstration of pro-Israel supporters.

After two hours the demonstrators moved on to the entrance to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington where their ranks were swelled (photos below).

This time there were 70 anti-Israel activists to just one Israel flag-bearer; Jonathan Hoffman.

The second protest was aimed at the environment wildlife photography competition sponsored by Veolia.

Veolia is a British company that provides environmental services to councils like Camden. For example, it helps to prepare the ground for events taking place in Regent’s Park and cleans up afterwards.

Veolia also stands accused of helping to dump Israeli waste in the West Bank and generally profiting from the “illegal occupation”.

Whoever can categorically say that the occupation is either legal or illegal is better than some of the wisest legal brains in the world.

But for these self-proclaimed lawyers there is no doubt; Israel’s occupation is illegal. However, when you ask many anti-Israel activists to cite any relevant court decisions or resolutions they go mysteriously blank.

And while some of these anti-Israel protestors may be motivated by dark forces others are not even anti-Zionist. However misguided, the latter honestly hold the belief that Israel is at fault by occupying the Palestinians. For them, if Israel unilaterally withdraws from the West Bank then peace would miraculously break out.

And when I say “dark forces” one cannot help but recall the notorious imagery of Jewish shops being singled out for boycott in Germany in the 1930s.

Such an analogy was rejected by an activist I spoke to because “these protests are valid as Israel is controlling the Palestinians and their resources and abusing their human rights and committing war crimes”.

When I asked him why he didn’t protest against and boycott Chinese, Iranian and Sudanese businesses, for example, he replied that “those countries didn’t create Israel and aren’t supported by the British government like Israel is”.

Being British he obviously feels a heavy weight of responsibility.

I suggested that maybe he should then boycott American and British goods due to the anti-war movement’s claims of high civilian casualties in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He laughed and dismissed this as a “silly idea”.

Of course boycotting America and British goods is a “silly idea” as it would be impossible to survive, but in only boycotting Israeli goods these activists are simply being hypocritical.

That said, if the unlikely occurs and the anti-Israel protestors manage to close down Ahava it will be one of the biggest boosts in their well financed campaign of delegitimising Israel.

Ahava in Covent Garden is profitable and the manager continues to claim that the anti-Israel protests actually attract business by drawing attention to the shop.

I hope she is right but, meanwhile, the defamation of Israel continues apace.

Saturday’s protest outside Ahava, Covent Garden 12-2pm (click to enlarge):

Saturday’s protest outside the Natural History Museum 2pm-4pm (click to enlarge):

MPAC, the General Election and British Jews

With the gun for the general election having been fired British Jews are expecting open season on them and on Israel.

Even before the announcement of the May 6th election, which is expected to be close and could result in a hung Parliament with the highly anti-Israel Liberal Democrats holding the balance of power between Labour and the Conservatives, the attacks have been vicious. Recent accusations of Jewish political financing and Israel pulling the strings behind the electoral scenes have been hitting the headlines.

Martin Linton, a Labour MP, recently gave a talk in Parliament to the Friends of Al Aqsa and spoke of Israel’s “long tentacles” that fund British election campaigns and which try to buy a Conservative victory. Linton said that he failed to appreciate the Nazi symbolism of the Jewish octopus controlling the world with its tentacles and he apologised but he stands by his thesis of Israelis and pro-Israelis trying to buy a Conservative win.

At the same meeting Gerald Kaufman, a Jewish Labour MP, spoke of Lord Ashcroft owning part of the Conservative Party and right-wing Jewish millionaires owning the other part.

These are, of course, unfounded and defamatory accusations that paint many British Jews as being Fifth Columnists dedicated to another country only, Israel.

Then there is the election literature that has been doing the rounds. The Liberal Democrats are expert at manipulating the religious and ethnic sympathies of the voting public. They have already called for a ban on the sale of arms to Israel. Woe betide Israel if a hung Parliament results in Nick Clegg as Foreign Secretary as a quid pro quo for the Liberal Democrats supporting either Gordon Brown or David Cameron if neither wins a majority on May 6th.

In London there are two neighbouring constituencies where the policy of Liberal Democrats towards Israel depends wholly on the ethnic and religious make-up of the voters. In Holborn and St. Pancras, with its disproportionately high Bangladeshi community, the leaflets of the Liberal Democrat candidate scream “Stop Arming Israel”.

But in Hampstead and Kilburn, where the voters are disproportionately Jewish, the leaflets are pro-Israel with pictures of the Liberal Democrat candidate’s recent visit to Israel and there is even Hebrew writing included. Mezuzahs are very useful in determining whether to push said leaflet through a door or not.

MPAC: “Get out the Muslim vote II”

There is also the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, which is sure to have a big say in some constituencies on who gets elected or not. A page on the MPAC website asks “is your MP a Zionist?” and then goes on to list those MPs and candidates that it deems to be so. You don’t have to be Jewish. The only qualification seems to be that you are affiliated to a Friends of Israel group of one of the three main political parties.

The current list contains 36 names. In 2005 Lorna Fitzsimons, now head of British Israel Communications and Research Centre, lost her seat as a Labour MP partly because of MPAC. The 2006 Report of the All Parliamentary Committee into anti-Semitism found that MPAC, in order to help unseat Fitzsimons, distributed leaflets stating “she had done nothing to help the Palestinians because she was a Jewish member of the Labour Friends of Israel”. Lorna Fitzsimons is not Jewish.

The media will play its role. The Independent has committed anti-Israel writers like Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Johan Hari and Robert Fisk and the Guardian’s Comment is Free section is replete with anti-Israel polemic. A recent Guardian editorial on the Dubai passports affair and Israel’s building in east Jerusalem spoke of Israel as “an arrogant nation that has overeached itself”. This seems to be an implicit attack not on Israel specifically but on Jews generally.

But with four weeks to go until election day we can expect Jewish and Muslim sensitivities to be manipulated to the full in order to propel a political candidate into Parliament, or to reduce their chances.

So who will you be voting for and why?

Parking Meters on Yom Tov.

An atheist Golders Green parking meter

If you ever wanted to know the religion, if any, of parking meters then Easter Sunday was the day to find out.

They are atheist. Or at least the ones in Golders Green are.

How many of us have been caught out by thinking that sunday is a day off for traffic wardens only to succumb to a £50 ticket when we parked, unsuspecting, on a single yellow?

There are now sunday trading laws where small shops, those under 280 square metres, can open all day while bigger shops are restricted to six hours of business between 10am and 6pm. There are still those who wish to keep sunday special. They see any type of sunday trading as an erosion of family life.

Well sunday certainly isn’t “special” in Golders Green, north-west London where leaving your car on a single yellow while popping into Starbucks could lay you back £50, as it did me recently.

But the most special sunday of the year for this Christian country is Easter Sunday. Surely a day off for us Londoners that didn’t get to escape the smoke? Easter Sunday should be a chance for us all to breathe and not have to worry about the restrictions that apply most other days of the year.

But even on this most holy of days for this Christian country the parking meters were operating.

Britain is a country where the vast majority of people are Christian. As Nigel Farndale wrote recently:

“The Queen is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. To be British is to be one of her subjects and so, unless you opt for another religion or declare yourself an atheist, you are a member of the Church of England by proxy. We are as much a Christian country as India is Hindu, or Saudi Arabia Muslim. Nearly half the population regard themselves as being Church of England, while seven in 10 described themselves as being Christian in the last census.”

Farndale could also have added “or as Israel is Jewish”.

Barnet Council’s denigration of this holy sabbath shows lack of sensitivity for the Christian religion, for Londoners and even, if they wanted the day off, the wardens themselves.

I watched from the relative safety of Florentin restaurant on Golders Green Road as people returned to their cars astonished to see a parking ticket on their windscreen. A £50 fine on Easter Sunday wasn’t what they were expecting.

For those who were astute enough to realise the meters were operating I watched as they tried to shove coins down a metre that clearly wasn’t working. Then what do you do? Do you walk to find another metre by which time you get back and could have a parking ticket on your car already?

Barnet Council should make Easter Sunday more holy next year by treating it like the bank holiday it feels and if they don’t then they need to erect big “Parking Meters operating today” signs.

Easter Sunday; a good day to be a traffic warden.

Linton forced to apologise, Kaufman silent.

Imagine you were at a pro-Israel meeting where one MP suggested that a group of millionaire Muslims controlled the Liberal Democrats and another that overseas citizens of some Muslim countries were buying their support.

Would you not feel uneasy? Would you not wish to stand up and suggest that both of these theses are entirely racist in the absence of hard proof? Imagine the denunciations and calls for resignations of said MPs.

Last wednesday, March 31, my blog “Free Palestine, Vote Labour” made the front page of the Daily Telegraph. I had blogged Martin Linton’s, now-infamous, ‘Israel tentacles’ speech. Linton is MP for Battersea.

For an informative description of the Nazi symbol of the “Jewish octopus” using its tentacles to control the world see Mark Gardner’s piece.

Linton delivered his speech in Parliament. He spoke of Israel and its supporters trying to buy an election win for the Conservatives. He was preceded by Gerald Kaufman, MP for Manchester, Gorton, who suggested that Jewish millionaires control large parts of the Conservative Party.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Linton “said he did not recognise the ‘tentacles comment’”. As the Jewish Chronicle has just reported Linton has now come clean and finally apologised for any offence caused “but was not aware of the anti-Semitic precedents of the image of a Jewish octopus”.

But even disregarding Linton’s Damascene Conversion he stands by the rest of his speech; Israel and its supporters buying a Conservative election win.

Meanwhile, Gerald Kaufman made “no comment” to the Daily Telegraph about his “Jewish millionaires” comment. If he stands by this comment he should name names.

Linton and Kaufman should both name names otherwise nasty inferences with dangerous implications and insidious overtones are left to hang in the air; in Kaufman’s case that some British Jews and in Linton’s case that British supporters of Israel, are more interested and more committed to another country, Israel, than to this one.

Once these “funders” are out in the open they can decide whether to sue Linton or Kaufman or both for defamation. Have Linton and Kaufman the courage of their convictions? I doubt it and therefore they are not worthy of being British MPs.

Jews and money go, unfairly, together. If only it were true but many Jews, just like many of other religions and none, struggle around the world to make ends meet. The Jewish money-myth was created some 200 years ago when Jews were barred from many of the main professions and had to resort to money-lending to make a living. Incredibly, the myth still persists in today’s British political culture.

Jewish people should not be constantly blighted with accusation of buying power, whether in Nazi Germany or today’s so-called liberal multi-cultural Britain.

How liberal and multi-cultural can it really be when we hear such comments by Linton and Kaufman? Can such thinking really be so alive in “multicultural” Britain?

If this is what two MPs can stand up and say in public one dreads to imagine what is said in private by many others.

And there was not a stir from the audience or other members of the panel or the Chairman, not an objection raised. The speeches were, in fact, applauded by the 100 or so in the room.

I could have spoken up and objected to the anti-Jewish implications of some of the rhetoric but I have been to many of these anti-Israel meetings and the police waiting outside are instantly called by the Chair to remove anyone making a fuss. I did not wish to be unceremoniously hauled out by the police to huge applause, as has been the fate of others who have made reasonable objections.

More importantly Linton and Kaufman are our law makers. They either reflect or influence the morality of our country.

And even having to report these insidious speeches will impact negatively on Jews and Israel.

Enemies of Israel and the Jewish people will see the headlines and think there is no smoke without fire. The ignorant look for anything that bolsters their myopic view of the world. This poster thinks:

“We have a foreign minister with dual israeli citizenship, and now we find out that the Tory party is bankrolled by Israelis with dual citizenship.
Britain should have a policy of not issuing passports to people with an Israeli Passport.”

David Miliband, an Israeli citizen?

Some of our politicans have no shame but I hope their constituents do and vote Kaufman and Linton out on May 6th.

Preferably they won’t get to May 6th as, by then, Labour will have taken its own action to deselect them.

But don’t hold your breathe.

Martin Linton MP (left) chairing another anti-Israel meeting in Parliament

Galloway gone from Talksport.

Tonight really is different from all other nights. After four years of fulminating and proselytising against Israel on Talksport Radio every friday and saturday night, George Galloway’s radio show is no more.

Galloway says:

“After a run of more than four years the highly popular radio show – The Mother of All Talkshows – has been killed off by the TalkSport management. I believe this is a business mistake, but then I don’t run the radio station and such decisions are not mine to take….It is unlikely that the TalkSport management will change their mind and re-instate the show – but you never know.”

George Galloway listening on.

Obviously, George’s listening figures fell short of Talksport’s desires.

Reasoned listeners enjoy a debate but what they tend to get with George is just one-side of the argument.

(Yours truly was “banned” from the show for “deceiving the listeners”.)

Callers had to cough up 10 pence-per-minute to hang on the line while George seems to have earned over £100k a year while working at Talksport.

George is instead launching an internet radio station called Rebel Radio which will be “free speech radio, beyond Ofcom”.

The internet is the best place for George but there will be some television appearances and there is the general election to consider.

In 2005 when George was elected in Bethnal Green and Bow he received 15,801 votes out of the 44,007 votes cast out of, approximately, 87,000 eligible voters.

Incredibly, only some 18% of his constituents actually voted for him!

Approximately 82% of the voters he has represented over the last five years didn’t “vote George”.

Maybe this partially explains why on May 6th George will be standing in neighbouring Poplar and Limehouse instead.

Much more serious are his appearances at our universities.

At Queen Mary, University of London recently he produced this chilling rhetoric about Israel:

“I want to say to those of ill-will, should any of them be present here this evening. We will never be intimidated by you. You can send all the emails you can organise, all the synthetic fury that you like. You can complain to OFCOM, you can complain to the Charity Commission, you can even complain to the Metropolitan Police. We will never be intimidated by you. We intend to speak the truth. We will never put down the banner of truth on this issue. We will not be silenced. You cannot intimidate us. If you kill us, our sons will pick up the banner. If you kills our sons, our daughters will pick up the banner. If you kill our daughters, others will pick up the banner. This idea of the liberation of Palestine is not negotiable and it’s not stoppable. It’s an idea whose time has come and it’s going to win, be sure about that. Be sure that Palestine will be free, that the Palestinian people will return to their homes and that the gangsters running the government of what they call Israel will in the end be defeated, because the essence of their ideology is apartheid.”

He continued: “Never make the mistake of imagining that supporters of Zionism and Israel liked Jews. If you think George Bush liked Jews you never visited his golf club in Texas, where they don’t let them in, at least as members.”

I have still to understand who those of “ill-will” might be and why anyone would want to kill George or his sons or daughters.

So George is gone but not without at least some fun memories as when “Mark” called in to his show. “Mark” accused George of being an “anti-Semite” and George then demanded “Mark’s” name and address live on air so he could send him a writ for libel.

Is George really deluded enough to think someone will reveal their full name and home address on national radio?

I won’t publish the call here but you could possibly go to youtube and search for “george galloway + accusation of anti Semitism = fireworks!”

I don’t think George is anti-Semitic in the slightest but it is a fun listen!

Anyway, coming to a laptop near you soon, George Galloway at Rebel Radio.