Monthly Archives: July 2010

Banned from Parliament

I’d like to be writing a report of a meeting I attended in Parliament last night but unfortunately I was banned from entering.

The title of the talk was:

The “Jewish character” of the State of Israel, its meaning and significance, political discrimination, and the condition of Arabs in Israel.

It wasn’t a case of “not on the list you’re not coming in” but of “don’t like your views you’re not coming in”.

I had had emailed Samira of MEMO (Middle East Monitor) last Friday (23 July) to ask if I could come to last night’s meeting. I received no response so I went along to Committee Room 14 last night.

While I was queuing I was approached by Tom Eisner, of MEMO and Jews for Justice for Palestinians, who recognised me although we had never met before.

He asked if I was here to disrupt the meeting. I said I wasn’t and I had never done so in the past. He then asked for a guarantee of maybe £200, forfeited if I got ejected for disruption. I think he was joking but he did say I could go in. I asked if he could have a word with the registration-table as I had not received any response to my email.

But by then other fingers were pointing and suddenly three police officers were bearing down on me. One officer grasped my upper arm and forcibly led me away. My details were taken and I was escorted out of Parliament.

Jeremy Corbyn MP, who was hosting the meeting, passed me by and I asked if I could go to the meeting but he ignored me. I didn’t see Tom Eisner again for dust.

Later on Jonathan Hoffman was similarly banned. One of the meeting’s attendees said to him: “As a Muslim I wouldn’t be allowed into a Zionist meeting”.

Well I have been to a few pro-Israel meetings in my time, I admit, and in the audience there have been people of all races and religions. I have never seen anyone thrown out or banned unless on the odd occurrence they had made such a disturbance that it was impossible for the meeting to continue.

I don’t know the rules of Parliament but I am surprised that an MP can treat it as her or her own personal fiefdom. Parliament is for all surely. If one wants to hold a private meeting then hold it in a house, not the House. Jeremy Corbyn MP does not own Parliament.

In past meetings at Parliament I have reported awful statements made about both Jews and Israelis. In future such statements can go unreported as all anti-Israel Parliamentary meetings will be by guest list only.

A friend of mine who did manage to gain entry (will he also now be stopped from entering next time?) spoke up in the meeting and at the end was surrounded and intimidated. This was witnessed by the police and recorded.

If I had seen someone being questioned by three police officers like I was I would have enquired what was happening and requested that that person be allowed in to the meeting.

Shamefully, last night in their haste to get into yet another anti-Israel Parliamentary meeting no one spoke up for that basic democratic right.

Cameron needs to take stock about Islamic fundamentalism

Cameron (L.) meeting Erdogan (Sky News)

Cameron (L.) meeting Erdogan (Sky News)

Now we know. David Cameron is not a Zionist, although he once proclaimed that he was.

To be a Zionist is not only to believe in the right for Israel to exist as a Jewish state but also in its right to defend itself properly.

While Cameron recognises that it is right for British soldiers to fight the Afghanistan Taliban he does not seem to accord the same right to Israeli soldiers when fighting Islamist elements.

In his meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey he spoke of Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmara as being “totally unacceptable” and referred to Gaza as being a prison camp.

This meeting came one day after the report from Wikileaks that details not only the brutality of the Taliban towards the innocent Afghani population but also the many civilian casualties among the Afghani population caused by NATO troops.

The Wikileaks report is the basis for the investigation of war crimes on a huge scale. But while Israel has been investigated for war crimes in Gaza and found guilty it is unlikely that NATO countries will be similarly investigated and found guilty for the many civilian deaths in Afghanistan.

The Wikileaks report also details NATO’s targeted assassinations of Taliban leaders either by drones operated from the Nevada desert or by secret “kill-or-capture squads”. But when Israel allegedly does the same there is worldwide condemnation followed by the expulsion of Israeli diplomats. The feeble excuse given being that British or Australian passports had been misused.

More depressingly Cameron called for Turkey’s accession to the EU. This would allow possibly hundreds of thousands of Islamists access to the UK.

Before he became Prime Minister Cameron promised to crack down on Muslim fundamentalism in the UK and especially at our universities. This included the banning of the Islamist group Hiz but-Tahrir.

But Turkey’s accession to the EU would make the kind of occurrence that took place in Golders Green, a predominantly Jewish suburb of North-West London, last Monday more ubiquitous.

Two youths on bikes approached a car with Jewish kippah-wearing teenagers in it. They yelled Alluah Akbar (G-d is Great) at the Jewish teenagers, who got out to remonstrate. The Jewish teenagers were then chased through Golders Green.

One of the youths, who was black, went to grab a bottle of drink from a shop and smashed it over the head of one of the Jewish teenagers. Blood poured from the wound.

Then the other youth cried “Algeria, Algeria F*ck the Jews” before both youths cycled off at speed.

The Jewish teenager was taken to hospital to have his wound and arm tended to.

This support for Turkey’s accession under Erdogan’s Islamist AK party does not accord with Cameron’s desire to crack down on Muslim fundamentalism in the UK. It would surely be better to wait till after next year’s general election in Turkey when the opposition secular party, CHP, might well take power. Even then it would be difficult to keep tabs on Turkish Islamists. EU regulations would allow Turkish citizens take up residence in the UK.

And while Cameron may still seek to crack down on Muslim fundamentalism in the UK, although there is no sign of that so far, other mainstream organisations have no such agenda.

On the BBC there was a recent televised debate about Afghanistan: Are British soldiers are dying in vain?

One of the panellists was from the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) who agreed with the motion. The potential disastrous effects of British troops withdrawing from Afganistan seemed totally irrelevant to him including the dreadful oppression of women and homosexuals that would follow.

MPAC is itself a nasty organisation. It gets heavily involved in British general election and labels MPs as “Zionists” if they are in the least supportive of Israel. In 2005 it claimed one MP was Jewish when she wasn’t and she duly lost her seat.

MPAC recently ran a poll asking whether Israel should be moved to America. Farcical stuff but this is who the BBC thinks reflects the views of the British Muslim community, sadly. There are other more mainstream Muslim organisations like the Quilliam Foundation who hardly get a look in such debates.

It is to be seen whether Cameron’s speech in support of Turkey marks an Obama-esque change of attitude to Israel from the previous far more favourable Blair and Brown administrations.

After mocking him pre-election Cameron has now become close friends with Nick Clegg, his deputy Prime-Minister in the Con-Lib coalition. And we know that Clegg doesn’t seem to care about Israel’s security in the slightest after he called for a ban on the sale of weapons to Israel.

Cameron needs to take stock and reflect on his pre-election promises. If he doesn’t then what took place in Golders Green could become more common.

Anti-Semitic attack in Golders Green

Two male teenagers attacked an 18-year-old Jewish man outside the Nat West Bank on Golders Green Road, North-West London today.

A black male teenager hit the Jewish man over the head with a bottle before he cycled off with his friend who, according to a witness, screamed, “Algeria, Algeria, F*ck the Jews”.

The attacker with the bottle was later caught in a nearby park.

It had all started when the two teenagers cycled passed a couple of parked cars and when they saw that the teenagers inside were wearing kippahs one shouted “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the greatest) at them.

Then when the Jewish teenagers got out of their cars to remonstrate the cyclists came back, dropped their bikes in the road and ran towards the Jewish teenagers who ran off through Golders Green.

When another Jewish teenager came to help his friends the black teenager was now holding a large bottle that he had taken from a nearby shop. He turned around and struck the Jewish teenager over the head with the bottle.

The police and an ambulance were called. The Jewish teenager who was hit with the bottle was bleeding from behind his left ear and had a possible broken left hand.

He was taken to hospital in an ambulance where he is recovering.

Anti-Israel activists taunt Covent Garden shoppers

Around 30 anti-Israel protesters stood outside Ahava’s Covent Garden shop on saturday taunting Ahava’s shoppers with repeated cries of “Shame on you” during the Palestine Solidarity Campaign sponsored fortnightly protest against the Jewish state.

The usual “Boycott Ahava” placards were supplemented by “Free Gaza” ones, which gives lie to the claim that this is just an anti-Ahava protest.

It is one of the many protests in this country that discriminate against just one country; Israel.

In addition, the protesters continuously called for the ending of Israel; the anthem “From the River to the sea, Palestine will be free”, was sung over and over again.

The surrounding shops are suffering and the manager of The Loft told me how the shop opposite to his, Miss Lala’s Boudoir, had closed down due to the disruptive anti-Israel protests.

He was also very concerned for his own business, a secondhand designer clothes shop where you can buy and sell the likes of Paul Smith, Joseph, Jimmy Choo, Prada, D&G etc.

The anti-Israel protests are causing adjacent businesses to close

The anti-Israel protests are causing adjacent businesses to close

All shoppers coming and going from the Ahava shop were booed and taunted with a chorus of “shame on you”.

There were about 12 pro-Israel counter-demonstrators in all, one of which was from Turkey, which goes to show that not all Turks are following the Islamist line of Prime Minister Erdogan. Erdogan has, of course, allowed highly anti-Semitic programmes to be broadcast on Turkish television and sees great benefit to himself and his Islamist party, AKP, in stoking hatred of Israel in Turkey.

The counter-demonstrators were also joined by someone who had recently chosen to do charity work in Deheishe, a Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem on the West Bank, but was subjected to quite a terrifying ordeal during her short stay there.

It does seem, however, that as more and more neighbouring shops feel the effects of the noisy anti-Israel protests it is Ahava that is being blamed, with the possible knock-on consequence of Ahava’s landlord refusing to renew the lease at the end of its current term.

The police have no powers to limit the numbers or noise of the anti-Israel protesters or their taunting of innocent shoppers. If these protesters are so concerned about Israel’s policies they should do what other people do when they have issues, speak to their local MP.

Taunting innocent bystanders and causing nearby businesses to close down is not the way we do things in democratic Britain.

Anti-Ahava activists – A case study

Michael

Michael

Despite police restrictions on the amount of protesters allowed at the bi-weekly saturday anti-Israel protests outside Ahava in Covent Garden, London chaos reigned as normal.

At a specially convened meeting where all sides, including the manager of Ahava and the owners of neighbouring shops, met with the police to discuss ways of minimising disruption to business it was resolved that anti-Israel and pro-Israel activists would be limited to 14 activists each and that noise would be kept to a minimum.

As expected the anti-Israel activists pleaded ignorance of the meeting and turned up in their usual numbers far exceeding the limit.

Their confidence was boosted by the recent decision at Hove Crown Court to let seven activists free, on the grounds of “lawful excuse” (they “believed” that Israel was guilty of war crimes in Gaza), even though they had confessed to causing £180,000 of damage to a factory that supplies Israel with military parts. The verdicts were returned after the judge had given an anti-Israel summing up before the jury deliberated.

So Covent Garden businesses will continue to lose money due to the disruption caused by the protests (apparently one shop has already gone under). With the precedent of “lawful excuse” excusing £180,000 worth of damage things could go from bad to worse for businesses on Monmouth Street.

Having covered the protests for the last six months one gets to know some of the anti-Israel protagonists so here is a quick case study of some of them:

The articulate businessman:

He is a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and has his own business and a family. He feels that Israel/Palestine is the issue of our time. He protested against apartheid South Africa and now wishes to do the same for the Palestinians.

All well and good, even if you don’t believe that Israel is an apartheid state. But then he talks about 63 years of occupation which belies his care for the Palestinians. His main concern goes all the way back to 1947, well before he was born.

He doesn’t want Israel to exist as a Jewish state and so joins the boycott outside Ahava. But what is most discomforting is that an activist who has his own business and family will quite happily seek to put pressure on another business and its manager and staff who have their own families to feed and all because of his beliefs.

At the beginning of the video of him below you will see Michael who is a fixture at anti-Israel events. As you can see his repertoire consists of walking around thrusting a photograph of dead children in people’s faces.


The charismatic ringleader:

This activist in the footage below is present at every anti-Ahava protest and starts the singing off. No one else has the courage to start the anti-Israel music until she signals.

She repeatedly tells me that I must be infatuated with her due to the my camera being constantly on her. I am but not for the reasons that she gives. I am infatuated about understanding why someone is so devoted to ending the Jewish state judging by her song in this footage.



The enigma:

Below is Ben. I bumped into Ben in Golders Green recently and we had a very nice conversation. You could almost invite Ben for Shabbat dinner and break bread with him, that is until you see him screaming “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free” (see above video also).

The martyr:

This activist below seems to like to fling himself towards the Ahava shop. He did it again yesterday. With the Hove Seven in mind he might be feeling left out. He seems determined to get himself arrested for the cause.

The conspiracy theorist:

The tiny Jewish anti-Zionist contingent were completely absent from yesterday’s proceedings and this is one thing I do not understand. The absence of the yellow IJAN banner didn’t help the other anti-Israel activists who love to point to Jews who are on their side.

But surely, if this is the “issue of our time” they would be at every protest as opposed to absenting themselves when the sun shines. Shame on them.

IAJLJ Conference, SOAS, London

The International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists met this week in London for a conference on Democratic and Legal Norms in an Age of Terror.

Topics under discussion were the law of universal jurisdiction, the Goldstone Report, academic freedom and boycotts of Israel, the ‘Free Gaza‘ flotilla, how should democracies cope with terror and, finally, Iran.

The timing was apt as it seems that the political battleground is gradually moving to the courts where we could now be witnessing the beginnings of the politicisation of the British judiciary.

It is well known that Israeli figures such as Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni cannot visit the UK due to the threat of arrest under the law of universal jurisdiction. All that is needed is for someone to go to a magistrate and present a flimsy case for such an arrest and the magistrate has to issue an arrest warrant.

But it has also now been made possible to enter a factory, cause £180,000 of damage and be acquitted of the charge of criminal damage on the ground of “lawful excuse” because you disagree with the aims of the company. Seven such defendants have just been allowed free. In his summing up to the jury the judge said:

“You may well think that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered.”

The court’s decision has been fully supported by the newly elected Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas.

One can invade a British supermarket with no intention of buying anything and dump, and no doubt damage in the process, Israeli produce into trolleys and be allowed to walk out without arrest or caution.

One can also repeatedly stand outside an Israeli shop in London to harass customers and cause a profound disturbance so that the Israeli shop and neighbouring shops lose business.

It is expected that the law on universal jurisdiction will be amended so that authorisation for an arrest warrant will have to be given by the Director of Public Prosecutions or, possibly, the Attorney General but the thrust of an impressive talk given by Professor Yaffa Zilbershats (Law Faculty, Bar Ilan University) was that the law of universal jurisdiction should be reserved for “heinous crimes”, as was originally intended, committed by the likes of Adolf Eichman or President Bashir of Sudan, not the likes of Olmert, Barak and Livni.

Michael Caplan QC, of Kingsley Napley, gave a fascinating account of his representation of Augusto Pinochet. He told of how the House of Lords allowed an appeal from the High Court, so authorising Pinochet to be tried in his capacity as head of state of Chile and clearing the way for his extradition to Spain, but that the 3-2 decision had to be thrown out when Lord Hoffmann’s links to Amnesty International surfaced.

Professor Lord Paul Bew, one of the best-known commentators on Northern Ireland, spoke (listen below) about Ireland and the similarities, or lack thereof, with Israel/Palestine. He made the point that the level of hatred between Catholics and Protestants was no where near the same level as that involved in Israel/Palestine.

Importantly, he spoke of the basic framework within which the peace process took place, one of the main aspects of which was renunciation of violence. Although breaches of the framework regularly took place all sides worked towards that goal.

There is no such framework in the Middle East where Hamas is fully committed to violence and the destruction of Israel.

As to continuing brainwashing of Palestinian children he pointed out that even now in Irish schools in America the schoolchildren are having the Troubles in Northern Ireland put on a par with the Holocaust. He couldn’t say what effect this might have for the future.

Professor Gerald Steinberg (NGO Monitor and Professor of Political Science at Bar Ilan University) spoke (listen below) of the huge amounts of cash that are heading to NGOs from Arab countries and described how many of these NGOs (over a hundred) directly supplied evidence to the Goldstone Commission that eventually found Israel guilty of war crimes in the Gaza Conflict of 2009/2010.

Professor Anne F Bayefsky (Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute and eyeontheun) spoke about the members of the United Nations Human Rights Council. It was the Council that conducted the Goldstone process. She described an experience of speaking at an open microphone at the United Nations, when the UN adopted the Goldstone Report on November 25th, having found herself shocked by the hate speech. She was taken out and had her badge removed for four months on the ground that the Palestinian ambassador found what she had said to be “offensive”.

The Council consists of 47 nations and she pointed out that many of the members have some of the world’s worst human rights records: Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Angola, Cuba, China and Russia. Less than half of the Council members are fully free democracies according to Freedom House rankings.

Retired Judge Hadassa Ben-Itto
spoke of her experience of dealing with publishers of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which is still on sale all over the world. The Protocols, a Tsarist forgery, portrays a Jewish conspiracy to control the world and forms part of the Hamas Charter. She suggested that companies that publish such defamatory and inciteful material should be sued.

Dr. Anthony Julius, one of Britain’s top lawyers and a prolific author, spoke about how boycotts of Israel are anti-Semitic. He said that all countries have enemies but the problem for Israel is to uncover those who are purely motivated by Jew hatred.

He described how the boycott has been identified historically with anti-Semitic sentiment and how it is increasingly becoming difficult to talk about anti-Semitism in this country because it is said against those that do that they are simply trying to silence and smear the opposition. Even the debate amongst Jews, he said, has now changed to whether we should just concentrate on talking up the positive aspects of Israel.

Professor Irwin Cotler, the former Minister of Justice of Canada, spoke about the threat of a nuclear Iran and also the crime of incitement to genocide by President Ahmadinejad and the Iranian regime in general. He suggested that although Iran is not party to the International Criminal Court a reference should be made to the United Nations for Ahmadinejad to be referred to the court as was the case with President Bashir of Sudan. His 160-page analysis of Iran is out on 8th July 2010.

Interestingly, Dr Robbie Sabel of the Hebrew University quoted Palestinian civilian casualty figures for Operation Cast Lead as being somewhere between 250-300 (source; Israel) and 760 (source; B’Tselem) as opposed to the oft quoted figure of 1440. The latter figure includes Hamas fighters.

Professor Avi Bell gave a detailed legal critique of the Goldstone Report in light of his soon-to-be-published paper on the matter and his view of the Mavi Marmara deaths set against the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea.

With regard to the latter a relevant section of the manual is:

67. Merchant vessels flying the flag of neutral States may not be attacked unless they:

(a) are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture;

The Israeli Ambassador to Britain, H.E. Ron Prosor (listen below), and the Israeli Ambassador to France and Monaco, H.E. Daniel Shek, also spoke.

There was a description of the situation in France where boycotts against another nation are treated as incitement to racial hatred and are imprisonable offences (listen below).

Delegates flew in from Israel and from as far a field as Australia and Argentina for the conference.

Recordings of some of the talks (left click to play):

Professor Lord Paul Brew -

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The Israeli Ambassador to Britain, H.E. Ron Prosor
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The position in France
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Professor Gerald Steinberg -

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