Monthly Archives: December 2010

2010

A bad year for Israel in the UK has also been a bad year for many of those who have briefed so viciously against Israel.

Nick Clegg, who called for Israel to be disarmed during Operation Cast Lead in the wake of thousands of Hamas rockets hitting Israeli towns, became Deputy Prime-Minister in the coalition government but has since had his new found credibility shattered having reneged on a pre-election promise that had won his party the student vote; not to increase tuition fees.

Clegg and his anti-Israel Liberal Democrat party will find it difficult to be taken seriously in future, including on Israel.

Lauren Booth seems to have hit financial rock bottom with her bankruptcy and George Galloway lost his national radio slot on Talksport and was ousted from Parliament at the General Election along with Martin Linton, Chair of Labour Friends of Palestine.

Woe betide those who fall from power. The pro-Arab Lobby will have no use for them and will end up looking elsewhere.

So one man’s loss is another’s gain and the new anti-Israel voice on the block is Andrew Slaughter, who retained his seat in the election.

Although Slaughter is Labour’s Shadow Justice Minister that didn’t stop him recently meeting Hamas; the organisation that likes to send Palestinians into Israeli restaurants and discos primed with bombs to murder as many Jews as possible.

It has been a year where the picket of Ahava in Covent Garden has taken root, with the objective of closing it down.

In a way it has been a sad but fascinating experience to see the type of person that turns up to picket a Jewish owned shop.

Less attention has been paid to the regular thursday evening anti-Israel picket outside Marks and Spencer on Oxford Street whose objective is to stop people shopping there on the basis that M&S was a chief funder of Israel’s creation and growth; proof if it ever was needed that Israel-hate is not premised on concern for international law but on Israel’s existence per se.

It is also interesting to note how many of the Ahava protesters are loathe to be filmed, constantly covering their faces.

One must also question if they are solely concerned about human rights why they don’t picket Iranian, Egyptian, Russian, Chinese and Sudanese businesses.

If Ahava does close even the protesters will be disappointed as they will be forced to find another Israeli outlet to vent their anger against.

Other low points of 2010 were:

1. The EDO case, where a judge somehow found it within himself, during his summing up to the jury, to show admiration for those who had smashed up a British arms-making factory.

2. Phil Woolas losing his Parliamentary seat after his Lib Dem opponent ran crying to the courts accusing Woolas of lying about him, when lying on political leaflets is, sadly, a part of British election culture. There was also MPAC’s sinister intervention against Woolas.

3. Mick Davies, head of UJIA, using “Apartheid” in relation to Israel.

4. The Law Society allowing itself to be taken over for a weekend Israel hatefest in the form of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.

5. Hearing “Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz” at Elland Road.

Thank you to those that have given their encouragement over the last year (including Oyvagoy, Jeremy Havardi, MelchettMike, CIFWatch, ModernityBlog, Harry’s Place, ElderofZiyon, The London Jewish News, The Jewish Chronicle and The Jerusalem Post) and many other individuals, including some incredible commenters from whom I have learnt more than I could imagine.

It has also been a year in which England retained the Ashes but lost a World Cup.

Ken Bates, Leeds United’s Chairman, summed up the World Cup debacle perfectly in his recent programme notes for the QPR game:

“FIFA finally lost all credibility when they handed the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. That idiot Blatter said the object was to take football into new territories. The Qatar episode should be fun with the Persian Gulf on one side and (a) million square miles of desert on the other. Don’t make me laugh! Money talks – but to who? If Qatar wanted to make a lasting impact on the world they could help their fellow Muslims in Palestine to end 60 years of misery and enable them to establish a Palestinian state. A few bob to help rebuild Afghanistan wouldn’t go amiss either.”

Finishing on a high note Israel has just struck gas; £61 billion worth of the stuff, which sent the Tel Aviv stock exchange to an all time high. This should give Israel energy independence for 90 years and could allow for exports to Europe.

As James Hider of The Times comments the old joke about Moses leading the Jewish people to the one place in the Middle East that does not have oil is not so funny anymore.

Happy New Year everyone!

Beware the monster being created by the anti-Israel Lobby.

There are worrying developments in this country’s anti-Israel lobby. Maybe it is the continuing strength of Israel both militarily and economically while the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement is having limited, if any, success.

But while Israel and many Israelis continue to prosper, even more so in light of the upcoming change in the law of universal jurisdiction which will make it harder to arrest an Israeli official on allegations of war crimes, Diaspora Jews are still a target.

One might disagree with Israeli policies but what we think is irrelevant. We do not live there and so do not suffer the same threats as Israeli Jews.

Similarly, one would not expect Israeli Jews to advise UK Jews. Only those that live in a country can truly judge the appropriate action to take.

And Hasbarah is easy anyway. We all understand the history of the conflict. We know that Jews have a right to a sovereign state in the Middle East and that the Palestinians have a right to one also. The job may be big but that is no bar to trying to explain Israel’s position to office colleagues, friends and television audiences.

The main problem comes when you are attacked for what you are, a Jew, not what you think. Instead of being able to respond constructively the only response you are left with, apart from being left open-mouthed, is denial.

MP Gerald Kaufman claimed this year that rich Jews controlled the Conservative Party. Martin Linton, Chair of Labour Friends of Palestine, said that Israel’s “tentacles” were controlling our political system. Both accusations could be straight out of the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

And, on seventh night of Chanukah the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) staged Seven Jewish Children at the Polish Centre in Hammersmith. The choice of venue for this outrageous play seems particularly cruel when considering the plight of Jews in Poland during the Holocaust. The production is full of horrendous accusations about Jews.

I saw it at the Royal Court last year and felt uneasy amidst an applauding London audience. The show lasts 10 minutes and uses seven short acts to portray how the Jews have turned from being killed during the Holocaust into the killers themselves during Operation Cast Lead.

According to the play Jews are biblically driven, think of Palestinians as “filth” and “animals”, justify the killing of Palestinian babies to their own children and enjoy swimming in nice pools while the Palestinians become dehydrated.

There may be some Jews who think like this, Baruch Goldstein was an example, but to imply that all Jews do is racist. However, the play is available for anyone to put on for free, including in schools.

On the fifth night of Chanukah, Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of a London-based Arabic newspaper, gave a talk at LSE and allegedly pointed at Jewish students and accused them of bombing Gaza. In 2007 Atwan stated that he would “dance with delight” if Israel was hit by Iranian missiles. Imagine someone pointing at Muslim students while shouting they are all suicide bombers. That person would be accused of inciting religious hatred.

My suspicion, which may be wrong, is that the PSC came to the Polish centre via Ewa Jasiewicz, a Polish anti-Israel activist. During the summer Jasiewicz visited the Warsaw Ghetto and helped to daub “Free Gaza and Palestine” on the walls of one of the Ghetto houses in, what could be considered, a crude attempt to equate the Palestinians with the Jews under the Nazis. The Ghetto is now considered a grave to the 100,000 Jews that perished there.

More recently, the PSC and Middle East Monitor invited Richard Falk, the United Nations Human Rights Council’s representative to the Palestinian territories, to London to give a talk on Israel’s assault on human rights.

Yet, it was the same Falk who, in 2008, said that Israel’s treatment of Gaza was a “Holocaust in the making”.

Criticising Israeli policy is one thing but comparing the Palestinians with the fate of the Jews during the Holocaust and accusing today’s Jews of condoning the killing of babies while justifying it to their own children is another.

This will only lead to dangerous repercussions elsewhere. During the summer I had to intervene after seeing a Jewish teenager violently attacked by a Muslim teenager. Britain’s anti-Israel lobby should beware the monster it is helping to create.

(This piece appears in the latest edition of The Jewish News)

PSC frontman arrested outside Ahava.

One of the main campaigners for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign was arrested outside Ahava last night. After being taken to Holborn police station it was decided that no further action would be taken against him.

Pro-Israel activists went to Ahava on hearing that anti-Israel protesters have been congregating outside the shop for the past week without informing the police.

The protesters have been handing out anti-Israel leaflets, discouraging shoppers from entering the store and pressuring the employees.

Normal procedure is for the protesters to inform the police of an upcoming protest.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaigner approached the cameraman (me) and tried to stop him taking footage of the protest.

There is no prohibition on public filming and, as you will see, the cameraman (me again) was the one who was approached.

Then the campaigner inexplicably threatened to knock the camera out of the cameraman’s hands (20 seconds into footage).

The police asked to see the footage after which they felt there were grounds for the arrest:

The campaigner has never been camera shy before. He frequently allows himself to be filmed handing out anti-Israel leaflets outside various establishments that sell Israeli products.

He recently chaired a Palestine Solidarity Campaign meeting with Ben White and in the summer gave this interview where it is blatantly obvious, when he talks of 63 years of occupation, that his main concern is not “the occupation” but Israel’s very existence as a Jewish state:

Anyway, a very Merry Christmas/Festivus to everyone, including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the other anti-Israel lobbies which, while claiming to be concerned for the Palestinians, just want to tear down the only Jewish state in the world.

You can try but you will be wasting your time, just like all those that have gone before you.

Ahava’s female staff suffer continued bullying.

The dregs and bullies of BDS (the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement against Israel) just can’t leave the female staff of Ahava alone.

As you can see in the video below (thank you, scotfella) “MrAlexSeymour”, who is making a name for himself in “bravely” following these dregs around, edits the videos to paint his victim in the worst possible light.

In this instance his objective, in ten seconds of footage, is to make a female member of the Ahava staff look like a nasty Christian fundamentalist, which she isn’t.

To intimidate a woman on her own while she is trying to do her job and then put her on youtube is as low as I have known the BDS movement to go…..so far.

But then these actions are being encouraged by celebrated human rights lawyers like Michael Mansfield QC, who in is his recent speech to the Russell Tribunal encouraged this type of doorstep activism.

Mansfield’s message to anti-Israel activists is do what you want and you will be defended in court later on.

As you can see at the beginning of the video the woman is angry that the activists are now specifically targeting her!

Her apparent remark about Jews killing Jesus (although, no where in the footage do we actually hear her say that) is a remark to a male, Jewish activist who spends large proportions of his sad life hanging around outside the Ahava shop.

I don’t blame her for an off-the-cuff remark when confronted by a group of bullies.

I dare say that if the staff were burly men the activists might not be so keen to do what they do.

While laying on the floor of the shop having glued themselves together, as anti-Israel activists have done on three occasions so far, the male staff could well “accidentally” trip over them.

Alternatively, next time some activists invade Ahava and glue themselves together the staff should just close the shop for the rest of the day and leave the activists to fester on the cold floor for the night.

A BUYcott of Ahava could then be arranged to make up for the loss of business.

No doubt Mansfield would be rubbing his hands in glee seeing new clients coming his way complaining about their human rights having been breached.

My trip to the Promised Land

Next to statue of Billy Bremner who died in 1997 aged just 54.

Next to statue of Billy Bremner who died in 1997 aged just 54.

On Saturday I escaped the chaos in London caused by the heavy snow and went to Leeds, aka The Promised Land.

Leeds and Leeds United are the subject of a fabulous new book by Sunday Mirror Sports journalist Anthony Clavane (or Clavansky as his eastern European ancestors were known). It’s called The Promised Land: The Reinvention of Leeds United.

It tells of how Eastern European Jews escaped poverty and pogroms for a new life in Leeds and how they helped to transform Leeds from a dour Rugby League town into a vibrant football loving city.

Although, as Clavane makes clear there is still, sadly, so much poverty in certain areas of Leeds, including around the football ground.

Until the sixties Leeds United, and their predecessors Leeds City, had won nothing.

In 1961 Leeds United were on the verge of going bankrupt but interest free loans by three local Jewish businessmen kept the club afloat and with Don Revie as manager they reached their first FA Cup final in 1965 (they lost) and, finally, became League Champions in 1968/69 for the first time.

Under the Don they won the League Cup in 1968, the FA Cup again in 1972 and the League Championship again in 1973/74, as well as the Fairs Cup in 1968 and 1971.

They reached a host of finals and were, incredibly, league runners-up on five occasions under Revie before 1975 became an annus horribilis for the club.

The Don left in 1974 and Cloughie followed for his notorious 44 day stint before Jimmy Armfield took Revie’s team to the 1975 European Cup Final in Paris where they were robbed on the verge of reaching the Promised Land.

First, Clarke was hacked down in the penalty area but no penalty was given and then Lorimer had a good goal disallowed when Bremner was judged to have been offside. He wasn’t.

Bayern Munich went on to score two goals against a now demoralised Leeds.

Leeds supporters still ironically chant “Champions of Europe” at every match to this day.

Violence broke out after the Paris game and Leeds were banned from playing in Europe for four years but went downhill from there and eventually got relegated seven years later.

Leeds fans became regularly involved in violence at matches as well chanting racist abuse. The National Front sold their newspaper outside Elland Road.

Leeds did get back up and won the League Championship for the third time in 1991/92.

And in the Champions League of 2000/2001 they once again stood on the verge of the Promised Land after drawing 0-0 in the first leg of the semi-final with Valencia. However, days before the away leg UEFA inexplicably banned Lee Bowyer. Bowyer had been the powerhouse behind Leeds in Europe and Leeds got duly thrashed in Valencia.

Huge disappointment again led to disaster with Leeds almost going broke again before getting relegated, this time twice!

Having totally outplayed QPR and winning 2-0 they stand second in the Championship as of today.

The Promised Land beckons again.

No doubt something will go wrong between here and the end of the season but Elland Road was a happy place on Saturday and on sunday morning I went to meet Anthony Clavane who was doing a pre-Christmas book signing at Waterstone’s in Leeds.

He said that this is a book for every footy fan, not just those of Leeds: “If you enjoyed reading Fever Pitch but aren’t an Arsenal fan you would enjoy my book, even if not a Leeds fan.”

I loved the book. It made me realise that when I connected with Leeds as a boy I was connecting with a club with a big Jewish heritage and which wouldn’t have been around today if three local Jewish businessman hadn’t come to the rescue in 1961.

Anthony is confident Leeds will do well under Simon Grayson and he tells in his book of a sign that used to be up at Leeds train station which read “Welcome to Leeds, the Promised Land Delivered.”

He told me that if Leeds get back into the Premiership he will campaign to have the sign reinstated.

I’ll be right behind him.

Available in club shop. Cute, eh?

Available in club shop. Cute, eh?

Meeting Anthony Clavane on Sunday morning in Waterstone's in Leeds

Meeting Anthony Clavane on Sunday morning in Waterstone's in Leeds

Meeting childhood hero, Eddie "The Last Waltz" Gray.

Meeting childhood hero, Eddie "The Last Waltz" Gray.

Leeds and QPR shaking hands

Leeds and QPR shaking hands

Elland Road on Saturday

Elland Road on Saturday

The War You Don’t See

Did you see The War You Don’t See on Tuesday night on ITV1?

This John Pilger film is the finest example of how the left has truly lost its way.

It was also an opportunity for journalists like Dan Rather and Rageh Omaar to admit that they failed to do a proper job of scrutinising events in the build up to the invasion of Iraq; proof that some journalists like to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds, depending on which way the wind is blowing.

Pilger hardly bothers with sources which, for a self-proclaimed “world-renowned journalist”, is pretty poor.

For example, he tells us that 90% of those killed in Iraq are civilians. No sources are given.

And he doesn’t mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians massacred by Sadaam.

On to Israel.

Pilger starts off by comparing the proposed Palestinian state’s 1948 borders to an extreme version of what they look like now under a “military occupation that defies international law and is backed by one of the world’s most sophisticated propaganda machines”.

No mention is made of the incessant Palestinian terrorism against Israel since Israel’s creation.

Pilger then claims that ten journalists have been killed by Israel since 1992 and many more injured. Yet again no sources are given.

He puts it to Fran Unsworth, BBC Head of Newsgathering, that the newsroom at BBC television centre is “intimidated” into not telling the truth about Israel’s “military occupation”.

Unsworth denies this but then she would wouldn’t she if she was being “intimidated”.

Greg Philo, author of More Bad News From Israel, then claims that a senior news journalist told him:

“We wait in fear of the telephone call from the Israelis.”

As ever this source is not named.

But ITV wasn’t so “in fear” that it wouldn’t show this two hour hatefest about America, Britain and Israel and BBC Radio 5 wasn’t so “in fear” that it wouldn’t allow Pilger to advertise the film on Tuesday morning and two major London cinemas aren’t so “in fear” that they refuse to currently show the film.

Pilger then moves on to the deaths on the Mavi Marmara. He didn’t like the way Mark Regev, who he describes as the “Chief Israeli propagandist”, was given prime billing in the BBC 10 O’clock News’ headlines on June 1st.

Unsworth replies that Regev is a government spokesman who is entitled to put his government’s point of view and that the BBC has a duty to report that view.

But Pilger just inanely complains that that view wouldn’t be accepted by the relatives of the nine dead on the Mavi Marmara.

Pilger then asks where is the Palestinian equivalent of Mark Regev who can speak so articulately in the headlines of the BBC News.

Unsworth agrees but explains that it isn’t her job to go out and appoint a Palestinian spokesperson equivalent to Regev, but that the BBC still allowed all views to be expressed across their range of output. Pilger disagrees that the BBC did do this.

Next Pilger criticises ITV for its coverage of the Mavi Marmara. He claims that the Israelis supplied ITV with “doctored film, even with captions, which was widely used across ITV and BBC” and that the Israeli “propaganda” of their soldiers being attacked as they landed on the boat dominated the news.

Again, Pilger offers zero evidence that the Israeli footage was “doctored”.

David Mannion, Editor-in-Chief of ITV News, disagreed that Israel’s version dominated but, incredibly, goes on to say that “the Israeli propaganda machine, as you well know, is very, very sophisticated”.

Mannion then explains that newsrooms do sometimes fall in to traps laid for them and that it is only after the event that one can look back and write a definitive history, but that the newsrooms have to report the news as it happens.

Pilger complained that the Palestinians have no time for a definitive history to be written.

Pilger then goes on to show “independent” footage of events on the Mavi Marmara, which, although consisting of images of lots of bloodied passengers, proves nothing.

But blood is what Pilger and his cohorts on the left do so well.

In The War You Don’t See you do see lots of dead children. He uses them very effectively.

All sides have dead children but America, Britain and Israel don’t use them as propaganda tools. We bury them and let them rest in peace instead of parading their tragically broken bodies.

The War You Don’t See is one man’s biased view of the world and is a rehash of old news, old footage and old lies.

But then what do you expect from someone who equates “the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity”.

Pre-Christmas numbers down outside Ahava

Where have all the anti-Ahava protesters gone?

Not that I’m complaining but a mere 10 turned up today, which is a bit pathetic considering “Palestine is the moral issue of our time”.

It is “the moral issue of our time” until the pro-Palestinian protesters have better things to do like Christmas shopping or maybe it is the cold.

They used to number about 40-50 but the numbers have dramatically dropped off in recent times.

That isn’t to say that the cowardly protesters aren’t still trying to intimidate the all female staff that work in the shop.

There was yet another early morning paint attack on the shop front which means that the last year has been quite violent with repeated invasions by protesters, doorlocks glued up and repeated paint attacks.

Roll on 2011 and hopefully a few convictions to prove that we are not going to become a society where the rule of law is subservient to the whims of those who have an ideological hatred towards the Jewish state.

In 2010 there were no convictions and two acquittals as lawyers for anti-Israel activists on trial ran rings round the Crown Prosecution Service, with one dodgy anti-Israel judge thrown in for good measure.

Back to today and I had a very nice chat with one anti-Israel activist who was new to the protest.

We stood side-by-side handing out leaflets and she kept badgering me about who I was, what music I liked and she suggested a joint venture where we could hand out each other’s leaflets.

I tried to ignore her but she was persistent, so I asked her what other causes she got involved in.

She was against the student cuts and the Iraq war and is a feminist although when I asked what she was doing for the women who were being stoned to death in Iran she said that there was nothing she could do and asked me what I was doing about it instead.

To give her credit she was the first anti-Israel activist I have met who unequivocally denounced Hamas.

I couldn’t help noticing that many of the anti-Israel activists had taken to wearing, in addition to Santa hats, anti-Ahava signs around their necks, which, sadly, brings to mind the image of Jews being forced to wear signs around their necks by the Nazis.

Jewish lawyer carrying self-Insulting sign "I will not complain to the police again." (isurvived.org)

Jewish lawyer carrying self-Insulting sign "I will not complain to the police again." (isurvived.org)

On a more uplifting note Ahava seemed to be doing a decent pre-Christmas trade.

If anything, the protests and attacks on the shop have brought it publicity.

Those who never knew about the shop now go there or online to buy its skin-healing products and those who hate Israel wouldn’t shop there anyway.

Meanwhile, I continue to salute the indefatigability of the small group of loyal Ahava staff who turn up day-in day-out not knowing what they will find or who could menacingly burst in without warning.