Monthly Archives: June 2010

Palestinians destroy children’s summer camp, Israel to blame.

John Ging is 2nd from right (ph: thejeruselamfund)

Exactly three years ago Hamas’ violent ousting of Fatah from Gaza left the terrorist group a free hand to create an Islamist entity where no dissent is allowed.

As Sarah Honig has noted the anniversary came and went with scant critical appraisal anywhere.

“Nobody demands even a modicum of good behaviour from it (Hamas). Hamastan gets such pampering press that it seemingly cannot set a foot wrong,” she writes.

The latest expression of this involved the recent destruction of a United Nations children’s summer camp in Gaza, which was attacked by two dozen masked Palestinian armed men. This is the second such attack in just over a month.

Islamist Palestinians in Gaza accused the United Nations of corrupting Gaza’s youth with its summer programme of games, sports and human rights lessons for 250,000 children.

Hamas would prefer the children to attend their own “summer camps” with their sinister military training side.

John Ging, the director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, came out with an implausible statement. (UNRWA is responsible for 70% of Gaza’s 1.5 million population).

While going through the motions of condemning the attack Ging went on to cite it as further evidence of growing levels of extremism in Gaza and called for a change in the circumstances on the ground that generate such extremism.

What he meant is that Israel has caused Hamas et al to act like this because of its blockade of Gaza. Ging has repeatedly called for the blockade’s complete lifting, which would inevitably lead to a further rocket onslaught on Israel.

Time after time we have seen influential people like Ging allow Hamas to get away with brutality.

It seems that there is nothing that Hamas or the Palestinian community are forced to take responsibility for whether it be voting for a terrorist group like Hamas in the first place (it was said that the Palestinian people had no choice due to the corruption of the incumbent Fatah regime), suicide bombings (according to many, including Ken Livingstone, there wouldn’t be suicide bombings if it wasn’t for the occupation), firing thousands of rockets into Israel (the defence to this being the rockets are ineffective and haven’t killed that many Israelis) and now repeatedly destroying another children’s summer camp (but if the blockade was lifted this might not happen, apparently).

The list of excuses reeled off for the Palestinians is exceedingly long.

It does the Palestinian people no credit in implying that such acts of barbarism are all just a reaction to anything Israel does. Suicide bombings, firing rockets into civilians areas in Israel and destroying children’s summer camps are wrong and should be condemned outright instead of letting the Palestinians repeatedly off the hook.

Ging and Livingstone etc. cannot, or do not want to, grasp the true nature of Hamas. What Hamas does is not because of the occupation or the settlements or the blockade. They would commit such barbaric acts if such situations did not exist. That is the nature of an Islamist group.

Hamas answers to a higher power alone.

Even the brutal Hamas takoever of Gaza and the accompanying massacres of Fatah activists were blamed on Israel and America.

According to B’Tselem 660 Palestinians have been murdered by Palestinians in the last ten years. No doubt these atrocities are also pinned on Israel.

At least in Beirut Palestinians are taking responsibilty for their actions and doing something they are not allowed to do under Hamas’ rule; protest against their rulers.

On Sunday outside the United Nations building in the Lebanese capital some 6,000 Palestinians demanded basic civil rights 62 years after they first arrived in Lebanon.

The 400,000 Palestinians that live in Lebanon are not allowed to own property and are excluded from 72 different forms of employment.

It is ironic that while there are more flotillas destined for Gaza to try to alleviate a non-existent humanitarian crisis, Palestinians living in Lebanon in dire conditions are virtually forgotten by the international community, including the flotilla activists.

A Lib Dem speaks out for Israel (finally)

Chris Huhne MP (guardian)

There are very few current Lib Dems that find sensible words when it comes to a discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Now they are in coalition it is crucial that more do.

Ever since the demise of Jeremy Thorpe as the Liberal leader the party has morphed into a knee-jerk anti-Israel party. They criticise Israel in whatever action it takes to defend its citizens whether it be assassinating a self-confessed terrorist in Dubai, going to war to stop thousands of rockets raining down on Israel or blockading Gaza to stop weapons flowing to Hamas.

Chris Huhne MP lost out narrowly to Nick Clegg for the Lib Dem leadership but he is one lone voice among a sea of anti-Israel Lib Dem reactionism.

I went to hear him speak last week and after a case of will he-won’t he turn up after it had just been revealed that he had left his wife for another woman he finally arrived to speak to the Gladstone Society at the National Liberal Club in London.

Having given us his view of Gladstone, climate change and the upcoming budget it came to the Q&A and I asked a foreign policy question:

“What is the difference between what the British army has participated in in Afganistan, Iraq and Pakistan in defending the UK and, unavoidably, leaving many civilians dead and using targeted assassinations and what Israel did during Operation Cast Lead and its targeted assassination of Al-Mabhouh in Dubai? Why are the Lib Dems so supportive of British troops while at the same time calling for a ban on the sale of arms to Israel?”

He replied:

“There is no question of British people being involved in the sort of targeted assassination that you are talking about. I don’t believe it is appropriate for intelligence services to be involved in that, whether its the Russian FSB or the Israeli Mossad, it is simply not an appropriate means of conducting a campaign. I can assure you that SIS does not get involved in anything like that. It is something we will continue to be against.

On the general view about Israel and the Middle East solution, I continue to take the view that the two state solution is the only long term way forward and that it is unhelpful in the extreme for either the European Union or the United States, certainly they have to be criticial of Israeli government action as we were of the overeaction to the attempts the break the blockade of Gaza, but we must not be in a position where we are seen to be so allied to one side or the other that there is no long term solution.

And one thing that is worth remembering in the context of all of this is that Israel still faces and has faced for a very long time rocket attacks from Gaza, which frankly if they were rocket attacks coming from Calais into Kent I think that the reaction of the British people would have been very similar to the reaction of Israeli public opinion. And people often forget that Israel is a democracy and that Israeli politicians respond to Israeli public opinion in the same way that we would respond, and do respond, to British public opinion and that makes it all the more difficult for Israel. But the fundamentals of a long term solution have been a two state solution that gives the Palestinian people self-autonomy and at the same times gives the Israeli state security.

Sometimes you simply have to wait for this, as we did in Northern Ireland, until finally people are ready. I just hope that moment arrives sooner rather than later.”

He didn’t explain why the Lib Dems are generally so anti-Israel. He also seems to have forgotten that the SAS assassinated three IRA terrorists on Gibraltar in 1988.

But the democracy point is an important one. No other country has a right to try to control how Israel defends its citizens. One can be critical, of course, but calling for a ban on the sale of arms to Israel, as the Lib Dems have done, is beyond the remit of a civilised political party.

While rockets continue to fall on Israel its electorate will continue to vote for security first. Israelis do not have the cushion of being able to vote on solely economic issues, as other countries do. This is what the likes of Nick Clegg, Menzies Campbell and Sarah Teather do not understand.

Even the Palestinians voted for Hamas mainly on economic issues. The corruption and theft by Arafat and his Fatah party is well documented.

Israel might “overreact” but then who in war doesn’t?

It is those who go to war in the first place, in this case Hamas, who are to blame for any overreaction.

“From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free”

Once again calls for the destruction of Israel rang out through Covent Garden in London yesterday as protesters chanted “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free” (see above) and “Free, Free Palestine” (see below).

While up to 2000 Uzbeks have been murdered by the wicked Kyrgyzstan government and today is the one year anniversary of the murder of Neda Soltan by the vile Iranian regime, the protesters still came to protest outside Ahava.

And while some countries still call for an international inquiry into the Mavi Marmara tragedy the United Nations has merely called on the Kyrgyz government to hold an internal enquiry.

Meanwhile, Britain’s own Saville enquiry reported a mere 38 years after Bloody Sunday and found individual soldiers responsible for the killings.

The British army as a whole was able to breathe a sigh of relief that it was not found to be collectively responsible, thus enabling David Cameron to make a somewhat easier apology than if the latter had been the case.

That said with the enquiry finding that Martin McGuinness was allegedly armed with a sub-machinegun the soldiers might well have been understandably petrified, which itself may have contributed to the massacre of innocents.

Britain has also held several internal enquiries into the Iraq war so I am bemused as to why Israel is treated so differently.

The United Nations has already shamed itself by producing the Goldstone Report into Operation Cast Lead and it should not be allowed to shame itself again.

Israel has investigated itself objectively in the past. Examples are the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres and the 2006 Lebanon War and has to be allowed to investigate the Mavi Marmara tragedy.

Back to Ahava and the protesters yesterday handed around a cartoon of two girls shopping in Ahava who wished to look like Kristin Davis (Charlotte from Sex in the City) who is an Ahava representative. Luckily we see two heroes burst in just in time to educate them about Israel’s “brutal, illegal occupation”. Persuasive stuff.

An owner of a nearby retail shop was arguing with an anti-Israel protester but getting nowhere. His business is being badly affected by the noisy anti-Israel demonstrations.

The sooner the protests are stopped the better. The destruction of peoples’ livelihoods is well beyond the limits of freedom of speech.

Is a book about Jews of “Jewish Interest”?

Waterstone’s in Hampstead has a “Jewish interest” section containing The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand.

The main thesis of the book is that there is no “Jewish people”, just Jews.

Sand claims that Jews have no connection to what is now Israel and so no right to return there.

He states there was no expulsion of Jews by the Romans so the only true descendants of the original Jews are the Palestinians after all those Jews eventually adopted Islam.

So how could there at one stage have been 19 million Jews worldwide (13 million now)?

Easily, according to Sand, as all Jews are converts.

Sand says that eastern European Jews do not originate with the Jews who came from the Middle East via Ashkenaz (Germany) to Poland but with the Khazars, nomadic tribes that built an empire between the Black and Caspian Seas, converted to Judaism in the eighth century, and were scattered when their state was eventually destroyed.

Anita Shapira
does a solid deconstruction of this sorry book and notes how most websites that contain discussions of this subject are either those of White Power members or Islamic extremists:

“White Power members denounce Jews in U.S. government along the lines of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and explain that they are not really Jews but the descendants of the Khazars; they are therefore unworthy of American aid to restore them to the land of Israel.”

Some Jews of the time migrated to other areas in the Roman Empire but whether there was a violent expulsion or not there was a loss of Jewish sovereignty which was catastrophic enough to have been retained in Jewish memory. This loss is what has been passed down through the years by Jewish writers and historians. It was not a recent “Zionist creation”, as Sand implies.

A recent study has shown that Jews from the different regions of the world were found to share many genetic traits that are distinct from other groups and that date back to ancient times.

So The Invention of the Jewish People is just another anti-Zionist tome. The final chapter gives Sand’s real intentions away. In it he accuses Israel of racism and apartheid, he talks of worldwide Jewish power and calls for a bi-national state; all the default positions of your average anti-Zionist/Israel-hater.

That all said my argument is not with Sand. He can write what he likes. My argument is with respectable outlets that actively seek to promote this sort of anti-Jewish diatribe, Waterstone’s being a main culprit.

It is likely that The Satanic Verses would be considered too offensive for a “Muslim interest” section.

I was told that many Jewish customers have bought Sand’s book. Of course they have, just like they buy other books too.

Sand’s book is an attack on long-held Jewish beliefs and traditions. Being offensive to most Jews does not make it of general “Jewish interest” (by that reasoning Waterstone’s could place Mein Kampf there also, as was suggested to me by a Waterstone’s employee).

But Waterstone’s is emboldened by the Jewish Quarterly having nominated Sand’s book for its literary prize, among three other books.

The result of who wins the £4000 is soon to be announced and with anti-Zionist Anne Karpf being a judge Sand stands a decent chance.

The Independent recently published this letter:

No evidence of expulsion of Jews
C Cameron (letters, 27 March) is right to debunk the enduring myth of the “Jewish People”, a tale perpetuated by anti-Semites as well as Zionists. The “Wandering Jew”, expelled from his land, left stateless for centuries and waiting for his return to the promised land of his ancestors, is purely imaginary. There is no historical evidence of forced expulsion of the Judeans, and the overwhelming majority of Jews are descendants of converts.
Israel is a legitimate state because it was sanctioned by the UN in 1947. It should always remain a safe haven for persecuted Jews, but I don’t see why an assimilated European or American Jew should have any right to settle in Israel while denying that right to a poor Palestinian refugee whose grandparents were expelled from their own house 50 years ago.
Philippe Bareille
Stevenage, Hertfordshire

I went to hear Sand speak once and noticed a black woman clutching a signed copy of the book. I asked why she wanted to read it and she said that it is “finally proof of all she has ever been thinking”.

I would never usually mention skin colour but I feel it is relevant here. During the campaign for civil rights American Jewry was at the forefront fighting for all those deprived of such rights.

How short a person’s memory can be.

A first time at an anti-Israel event

Guest post

With Israel, as ever, disproportionately in the news one activist goes to their first anti-Israel event and describes the experience:

“I attended the talk at Amnesty on Thursday evening for the book launch of Against the Wall: The art of resistance in Palestine. The book is a collection of photos of the artwork on Israel’s security fence.

Of many controversial points the book’s author, William Parry, showed a photo of a queue of Palestinians at a checkpoint near Bethlehem.

‘People are dying at checkpoints’, he then claimed.

The impression was of Palestinians dropping like flies at checkpoints from the trauma of waiting in line.

We then listened to two other speakers, one an artist and another, Jamal Juma speaking live on web cam from the West Bank. Juma is from “Stop the Wall” Campaign.

The talks were totally devoid of any smidgen of context as to what is really going on and why the security fence was built in the first place.

At the Q&A I had no intention of speaking out at all. I was there only to observe.

But then I thought back to my visit to Poland and how I had made a vow on the last day spent in Auschwitz never to walk in fear or shame around those who wish for our demise.

I also thought of all the wonderful Israeli friends and family I have here who have done nothing to deserve the blind hatred in this room. Am I going to sit here in silence, I asked myself?

When I was finally handed the microphone I repeated back to the author his statement about people dying at checkpoints and I asked if he had the statistics to back up his statement?

The panel looked blankly at each other and mumbled about statistics on some UN page.

I then asked whether we are talking one a day, one a week, one a month.

They looked baffled and asked Jamal on the live web cam.

Jamal didn’t seem to know either.

I then asked about the cause of deaths.

Up until this point they thought I was asking out of concern for this imaginary pile of corpses at checkpoints.

Suddenly the artist pointed his finger at me and asked whether I was daring to suggest it’s not terrible what’s going on there: ‘I think we all agree in this room it’s terrible.’

There was a rapture of applause from the audience who all looked at me in disgust whilst furiously shaking their heads in disbelief.

I shouted: ‘Yes, it’s terrible but he (William Parry) said they’re dying, so I’m asking about the deaths.’

How stupid of me to demand evidence. Facts? Evidence? How boring.”

Anti-Jewish jokes and selectivity at SOAS

Last night at SOAS the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network presented a talk by Uri Davis called Stop the JNF: Stop Greenwashing Apartheid. The JNF is the Jewish National Fund.

Davis is an activist author, a member of Fatah and an observer member of the PLO. He is a Muslim of Jewish origin and calls for one democratic state for two peoples on equal footing, the two peoples being the Palestinian Arab people and the Palestinian Jewish people. (Another Palestinian state, basically.)

As you can see from my five minutes of footage above I was one of at least four people in the room recording the talk with a camera when I was asked to switch mine off. Not that Uri Davis or Selma James, who was the Chair, objected or even know me but as you can see at 3 mins 41 seconds Ms James receives a note which she reads.

After I question why I should turn it off when others can continue to film Ms James takes a vote. 95% of the audience in the lecture theatre don’t know me but virtually all of them raise their arms. Ironically, you can see all the other cameras being trained on me while I’m asked to turn mine off. With the atmosphere turning hostile and security called I had to comply, although SOAS is now investigating this selectivity.

The event itself focused on undermining Israel through challenging the JNF in the courts. Davis accused the JNF of “complicity with ethnic cleansing”, for example by planting trees on old Arab villages. He suggested that Gordon Brown and Tony Blair should be similarly challenged for being JNF patrons.

Davis made the allegation that politicians are in the pay of the Zionist lobby:
“The Zionist lobby has been for decades much more powerful than we have been. Its intervention into Parliament has been much more effective because it is easier to intimidate or bribe a politician than it is to intimidate or bribe a justice.”

We then had a presentation from smashEDO made by Pete of International Solidarity Movement and Robin. smashEdo goes into factories it doesn’t like and smashes them up. EDO manufactures parts for Israel.

Pete gave us an update on court proceedings currently taking place against a group of actvists who smashed up an EDO factory in Brighton in January 2009 and he was encouraged that the judge seems to be accepting political arguments like evidence from the Goldstone Report. smashEDO view their own behaviour as non-violent seeing as, according to Pete, they are “preventing further crimes”.

This is what smashEDO does of a day out:

Next, Michael told us about a petition that has been drafted against the JNF for only Jews to sign. They wanted to make it clear through the petition that the JNF was Zionist, not Jewish and that “it wasn’t a fund, it was a fraud. It was a means of covering up decades of ethnic cleansing”.

Then, Ms James expressed satisfaction that Gil Scott-Heron and Elvis Costello had decided to boycott Israel, although they had failed with Joan Armatrading. According to Ms James this was “unsurprising as Joan Armatrading has always been right wing. I believe she’s a ‘black Tory’. They do have them”.

We were told that the Holocaust was not an exception and Ms James stated that “as Israel falls more injustices will be revealed. For example, Sri Lanka has a better chance as Israel goes down. We are fighting Zionisms on many fronts”.

Finally, while a hat was being passed round for financial contributions Uri Davis told a joke:

“A catholic priest, a protestant priest and a rabbi decide to hold a charity day and at the end they have to decide what to do with the money. The Protestant priest thinks they should draw a circle on the floor and throw the money in the air. What lands inside the circle is ‘G-d’s money’ and therefore goes to charity and what lands outside is for us to divide up for ourselves. The Catholic priest thinks that a good idea but the money should be thrown in the air and what lands outside the circle is ‘G-d’s money’ and should go to charity and what lands inside the circle should be for us. The Jewish Rabbi disagrees. He thinks they should throw all the money in the air and what G-d wants He takes and what falls down we take.” Cue laughter and applause.

I cannot see the relevance of this joke in the context of the meeting but I do know that had a similar joke been made about, for example, blacks or Muslims there would have been valid anger, not laughter and applause.

I have to say that, having studied there, SOAS is one of the world’s great universities for both academic study and for the environment that it engenders among people of all faiths and none for open, lively and peaceful debate. SOAS only provided the room and had no say in the proceedings last night but what I heard in that room is not something that should be allowed in to any British University. Davis, James and the audience shamed themselves.

Saturday in London; No place for a Zionist

London, today, was not a place for a good Zionist boy, or girl for that matter, to be out and about in.

The usual anti-Israel protest outside Ahava was to be followed by a march of 50,000 from Downing Street to the Israeli Embassy (only around 2,000 turned up, although the organisers will claim 50,000).

As for the anti-Israel throng outside Ahava, the protesters were there for an hour and some scuffles broke out as the protesters insisted on standing near the entrance and harassing shoppers repeatedly with cries of “shame on you” as they came out with Ahava products. One woman was separated from her husband as they each tried to escape the insults thrown at them

Ahava’s manager was also harassed with cries of “shame” when she came out of the shop to try to have the protesters moved away from the shop front (I won’t upload footage of these incidents out of respect for the manager and the shoppers concerned).

The protesters’ songs alternated between “Israeli mud, Palestinian blood” and “From the River to the see, Palestine will be free”, which exposes the lie that they are only interested in the so-called “illegal” settlements.

Their real aim is for the Jewish state to disappear.

They had to cut short this protest after an hour to head to Downing Street for the main event.

The pro-Israel activists would have followed but there was genuine concern about raising the Israeli flag there, some would call it suicide, especially as we now know that some so-called “peace activists” carry knives and fire bombs with them, judging by the weapons haul on the Mavi Marmara.

But what has Britain come to when people cannot go for a simple shop without being harassed and abused or where people are now scared to carry out the perfectly legal and democratic act of raising another country’s flag in the public sphere?

UNSCR 242 implies the settlements are legal. Next!

More from wednesday night’s pro-Israel demo.