Monthly Archives: February 2011

Channel 4 is not ‘Promising’ for British Jews.

The character of Len in The Promise (Guardian.co.uk)

The character of Len in The Promise (Guardian.co.uk)

Many British Jews woke up this morning feeling a little less welcome living in the UK. The overall feeling of watching the four episodes of The Promise is one of inciting racial hatred.

And it says a lot about the current UK environment that anti-Jewish propaganda is now so freely available on British tv and not just British university campuses.

Peter Kosminsky spent seven years writing The Promise but consulted avowedly anti-Israel groups like Breaking the Silence, Combatants for Peace and ISM and also British soldiers who had come under fire from Jewish military groups.

His facile conclusion is:

“The most striking thing I’m left with is a question: how did we get from there to here? Like most British soldiers we interviewed, arriving in Palestine from the war in Europe, Len Matthews felt only sympathy for the Jewish plight. Having seen the ovens of Bergen-Belsen, his heart tells him that Jews deserve a place of safety, almost at any price. In 1945, that view was shared by most of the world. In the era inhabited by Erin, his granddaughter, just 60 years later, Israel is isolated, loathed and feared in equal measure by its neighbours, finding little sympathy outside America for its uncompromising view of how to defend its borders and secure its future. How did Israel squander the compassion of the world within a lifetime?” (See a response to this here).

There was no attempt at balance or context. Jews and Israelis were portrayed as evil and the Arabs were portrayed as the good guys.

And these are the words that Len, the main British Mandate character in The Promise, writes in his diary as he departs British Mandate Palestine:

“We’ve left the Arabs in the shit. But what about the Jews and their bloody state for which they fought so hard? Three years ago I would have said give them whatever they want, they deserve it after all they have been through. Now I’m not so sure. This precious state of theirs has been born in violence and in cruelty to its neighbours. I’m not sure how it can thrive.”

Channel Four also recently showed War Child, a documentary on the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead in which “the Jews” were portrayed as going on a killing spree against Palestinian children.

And a few years ago it allowed mass murderer of his own people and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to broadcast a Chistmas speech. Then there is the anti-Israel Jon Snow who seems to split his career between reading Channel 4’s nightly news and chairing anti-Israel events.

Last night we finally found out what “the promise” of the title was all about. In 1948 Len, the British soldier, had promised, but failed, to return the key of the house owned by an Arab family he had befriended and who he ordered to flee to avoid being massacred by the oncoming Jews. 62 years later this promise was fulfilled by his grand-daughter, Erin. When she told him in his hospital bed back in the UK that she had finally returned the key he just lightly squeezed her hand before passing away without speaking.

To arrive at that point we witnessed some six hours of unmitigated demonisation of Jews; both those in British Mandate Palestine and those living in Israel today.

We watched as Erin gradually turned into a hardcore anti-Semite due to her experiences in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. She was an epileptic who suffered three seizures during the series. But the only time she fitted was when she was with Jews, never with Arabs.

The first time was in an Israeli nightclub when she collapsed on to the floor shaking uncontrollably and instead of anyone coming to help the Israelis just laughed at her.

The second time was when she was being reprimanded by the wealthy Jewish family she was staying with in Israel for bringing an Arab back to the house.

The third time was when she was confronted by three aggressive Israeli soldiers while she was trying to comfort a sick Palestinian woman who had been removed from her house just before it was about to be blown up because her family helped to shield a suicide bomber.

Meanwhile, Jews during the British Mandate Palestine era were all portrayed as brutal cold-blooded murderers with Kosminsky concentrating solely on the Irgun.

British soldiers and Arabs were constantly seen being shot by Jews, while we only see one Jew killed. Len shot a Jew dead while defending his beloved adopted Arab family.

No one would be able to comprehend from this series that almost 6,000 Jews died fighting the Arabs between 1947 and 1949, equivalent to 1% of the Jewish population of British Mandate Palestine at the time.

Nor was there any context to the Irgun’s actions. British government policy had become so anti-Jewish that the Jews were fighting for their lives.

In 1939 the British had reversed their own 1917 promise to the Jews to create a Jewish homeland. Instead only 75,000 Jews were now to be allowed to immigrate in to British Mandate Palestine over the next five years, after which the immigration numbers would be up to the Arab majority to decide. By 1949 British Mandate Palestine would effectively become another Arab state.

The Irgun put off any fighting until this five year period had expired. When there was no change in this British policy they starting fighting, which consisted of attacking buildings, not people (It was the Stern Gang, a small group of extremist Jews, who had no compunction about attacking civilians, soldiers and diplomatic figures).

The Irgun attacked the King David Hotel, as shown in The Promise, but not before, according to Menachem Begin, phoning through ignored warnings to evacuate.

In The Promise we were also shown Jews massacring unarmed Arabs in the village of Deir Yassin.

Begin claims that a warning was given to the inhabitants of Deir Yassin, so throwing away the element of surprise. He claims heavy fighting ensued and the Irgun suffered casualties of four dead and forty wounded, not as portrayed in The Promise.

Benny Morris claims that Arab radio broadcasts inflated what took place at Deir Yassin, and it was this that helped instigate the flight of the Arabs from all around the country.

But in The Promise the Arabs flee as a direct response to this “massacre” and fear of what the Jews might do to them. Again, there is no mention that up to 400,000 Palestinians did not flee.

The Promise also failed to mention La Saison when the Haganah (the main Jewish military force in British Mandate Palestine) caught members of the Irgun and handed them over to the British.

Instead, we were treated to one scene where British soldiers were shot through their heads as they sat in a military jeep outside a restaurant while rich Jewish diners just carried on eating, drinking and laughing.

Of course Kosminsky tried to promote what he thought was the Jewish/Israeli narrative.

The Promise occasionally flashed back to real scenes from The Holocaust, but there was no explanation of the Jews’ historic connection to Israel. The implication was that the Jews had stolen a country belonging to another people.

Second, Kosminsky showed two suicide bombings. The first one was just after an Israeli left-wing character had explained how the Security Wall has Arabs on both sides of it; some inside Israel proper and some inside the West Bank. The implication of the suicide bomb taking place straight after this was that the Security Wall was ineffective to stop suicide bombings and was merely a political tool used to grab more Palestinian land.

And after the second suicide bombing Erin, quite incredibly, befriends the family of the suicide bomber and even tried to stop their home being blown up by the IDF. This despite Erin not knowing the extent of the knowledge that the Palestinian family had about the intentions of their terrorist daughter.

Kosminsky also had Jewish children in the West Bank attacking Arab families with rocks while the IDF looked on and the IDF using a child as a human shield. We also saw a bulldozer almost run down Erin, recalling the death of Rachel Corrie in the same way. This is all straight out of an ISM handbook.

The Promise had everything for the Jew hater and Israel hater, but what you won’t see is a series about the Arab uprising in British Mandate Palestine between 1936-1939, which was brutally put down by the British and in which some 5,000 Arabs, 300 Jews and 260 Britons were killed and during which the Peel Commission offered the Arabs 80% of British Mandate Palestine, which the greedy Arab leadership duly rejected.

It was this that sowed the seeds for what followed and for the Arab defeat in 1948, but, as ever, why let facts get in the way of demonising Jews and Israel.

My Interview with Natan Sharansky.

Natan Sharansky: Chairman of Jewish Agency and former Soviet Prisoner

Natan Sharansky: Chairman of Jewish Agency and former Soviet Prisoner

On the 25th anniversay of his release from a brutal soviet gulag, Natan Sharansky spoke to me about Russian immigration, Egypt and chess. (The interview appears in this week’s Jewish News).

What is your greatest personal achievement of the last 25 years?

Apart from becoming a grandfather twice-over this year, one million Jews moved to Israel since the Soviet Union fell apart and have successfully integrated. I was heavily involved in that.

This has also been Israel’s greatest achievement during this time. I don’t know of another country that has increased its population by 20% and where those immigrants have been as successful as anyone else in society.

And Israel remains a vibrant democratic Jewish society, with one of the most successful economies in the world, despite being surrounded by dictatorships and fundamentalists and being demonised in the free world.

How important is the Diaspora to Israel?

Israel is an important part of the Jewish identity for all Jews. I’m very happy for Jews to move to Israel, but Diaspora Jews and Israeli Jews are all part of the same important process.

Are you worried by current events in Egypt?

There’s always reason to be worried. We always have to be ready to defend ourselves against our enemies. But events in Egypt are also a unique opportunity.

The 100-year pact between the free world and Arab dictators to keep the Arab street stable has finally been broken. I have always believed in the power of democracy and the desire of people to live in freedom.

Yes, but democracy led to Hamas governing Gaza.

Islamic fundamentalism has more chance of succeeding the longer the Arab world is ruled by dictators, including the likes of Yasser Arafat. Democratic dissidents from places like Egypt have been telling the free world for a long time that they are the only true partners for peace, not the dictators. Now that millions of Arabs are saying the same thing I hope the leaders of the free world will, finally, embrace this call.

So what is happening could be good for Israel?

Much depends on whether the leaders of the free world link the assistance they give to Arab leaders to democratic reforms. The people of the Middle East have made their choice. But if the free world doesn’t support them we could end up with more dangerous regimes like Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran.

Will the Arabs ever accept a Jewish state in the Middle East?

Initially, it isn’t easy for people to lose something they believe is theirs. On the other hand 63 years of a Jewish state is long enough for it to be accepted. Middle East dictators have kept Israel as an external enemy for their own internal stability.

Unfortunately, the leaders of the free world, including Israeli leaders, did not, or chose not to, understand that it was important for these dictatorships to encourage hatred towards Israel. Tunisians and Egyptians have now demanded a new life, but haven’t been mentioning Israel.

If Middle East leaders now concentrate on improving their citizens’ lives, instead of encouraging hatred towards Israel, the chances of Israel being accepted will improve. Democracy will encourage this, so it’s in Israel’s interests for democracy to succeed in the Middle East.

Are you critical or supportive of Avigdor Lieberman?

He is part of our democracy. I don’t agree with him on everything but his demonisation is part and parcel of Israel’s demonisation. As long as he is acting within the framework of Israeli democracy he cannot be a threat to that democracy.

Finally, did you really beat Gary Kasparov at chess?

Yes! I had many years of playing chess in my head while in prison in the Soviet Union, so I was very well prepared!

Lord Andrew Phillips of Sudbury: “Many Jews may be deeply prejudiced”

Banned! The (blurred) photo of Lord Phillips they didn't want you to see.

Banned! The (blurred) photo of Lord Phillips they didn't want you to see.

“The Jews” were once again singled out by one of our lawmakers last night in the shape of Lord Andrew Phillips. Not Israel, not Israelis, not Israeli Jews, but “the Jews”.

Phillips was chairing a Middle East Monitor event at Senate House; The Palestine Papers: Under the Spotlight.

Lord Phillips has form. He has not denied that he previously said that “America is in the grip of the well-organised Jewish lobby”.

Kathleen Christison, former CIA political analyst and author of Palestine in Pieces, told us how Obama is unbelievably craven in the face of the Israel lobby.

The example she gave was last friday’s US veto of the UN resolution on the illegality of settlements when Susan Rice, America’s UN ambassador, told the UN that America thought the settlements are illegal but America couldn’t vote for the resolution because the Israeli lobby and Israel wouldn’t like it. Lord Phillips responded (listen to audio at end):

“Everything I hear from the platform speakers makes me think that the world we are now moving into has been turned upside down and that, er, the Jews aren’t lacking in intelligence, they may be deeply prejudiced, many of them, but they are going to be saying the same sort of thing as you on the panel are saying. It seems to me that it is not at all safe to rely on the past to interprete the future and that American, indeed American Jewry, quite apart from the progressive elements within Israel, who have been overshadowed in recent years, all of this could change quickly and rapidly in the face of a Middle East that suddenly becomes hostile.”

The anti-Israel rhetoric was slightly diluted due to the absence of Clare Short (broken bone) and Seumas Milne (ill). Some might call it divine intervention but Christosen more than made up for their absence.

Christosen told us that everything America does in the Middle East it does to safeguard Israel from its Arab and Muslim neighbours who don’t like Israel’s treatment of its subjects.

She said that the Palestine Papers showed that the Palestinian Authority treated the Palestinians with humiliating derision and that America represents Israel in negotiations despite claiming to be an honesy broker: “The Palestine Papers laid bare the Israel-America relationship in all its obscenity”.

She said that people can’t even mention Israel in America for fear of being called “anti-Semitic”. Lord Phillips agreed. He said it was like McCarthyism and a good way to silence people. “We have a bit of that starting here, I’m afraid,” he said.

In answer to a question on the viablitity of the one state solution Christosen felt it was “the only just solution” and called for the dismantling of Israel as an “exclusivist Jewish state” and for the “Jewish exclusivist government” to be dismantled. But, she said, she had nothing against Jews as individuals.

Even J Street came in for criticism from her because its logo is “Pro Israel, Pro Peace”.

Tim Llewellyn, a former BBC Middle East correspondent, said he supported boycotts. He said that if Israel wants to be accepted as a European state it must be told that it is a pariah state: “The government is uncivilised and Israelis who support it take part in that uncivilisation. Israel is a rogue state in the Middle East,” he said.

Clayton Swisher, an Al Jazeera reporter, felt sanctions won’t work because the EU and America are feckless but the Arabs could make it difficult for Israelis as many travel on Arab airlines and if, after looking at their passports, they find they live in the settlements they should not allow them to travel.

The only conciliatory voice came from Oliver McTernan, director of Forward Thinking, who felt that sanctions were hypocritical as he has worked to remove the sanctions against Gaza. He also felt that the price of the one state solution would be too great, although he thought that Hamas should be brough into the negotiating process.

The story of the photo above was that we were told that there was to be no photography or filming unless authorised. There were about four or five photographers and the event was being filmed. Towards the end, and in light of the comments by Lord Phillips, I thought I would try to sneak a photo after seeing a woman behind me taking one on her IPhone.

But as I snapped away I was surrounded by two men from the World Ju-Jitsu Federation who stopped me, one of whom snatched by audio recorder and wanted my camera also. I managed to grab back the recorder.

So there we were in a British University discussing the leaked Palestine Papers, which have basically killed off any hope of peace in the Middle East for a generation, listening to a rant about Jews from one of our lawmakers, yet I was harassed when wanting to take one lousy photograph of the event (which came out blurred anyway).

Lord Phillips talks about “the Jews” at 12 minutes.

Ahava, Camera, Action.

"Why are we boycotting an Italian shoe shop?"

"Why are we boycotting an Italian shoe shop?"

It was freezing outside Ahava in Covent Garden today but, dare I say it, I almost felt sorry for the anti-Zionist mob who come here every other Saturday to leaflet passers-by to boycott the shop.

The problem for the anti-Zionists was that the pro-Israel lot had stolen their usual pen right outside Ahava, so it looked, for all intents and purposes, like they were boycotting the neighbouring Italian shoe shop! Desastre!

The pro-Israel lot were also lifted by the sight of Phillip, who had travelled down from Wales, as usual, for the pro-Israel counter-protest.

As it happens Ahava seemed to be doing a good trade. I saw one guy ask a policeman what the protests were about and when the policeman pointed to Ahava, the guy actually went in to the shop.

This is dangerous when accosted by a beautiful sales-woman on commission but he managed not to succumb and, sadly, came away empty handed. Although, I feel he will be back.

Meanwhile, the anti-Zionists are petitioning for Professional Beauty to withdraw Ahava from their exhibition at Excel on 27 and 28 February so please email:

info@totalbeautyshow.com

and tell them about the lies spread by those that hate Israel.

Oh, and here are some pics. from today:

Proud and undaunted.

Proud and undaunted.

Anti-Zionists setting up.

Anti-Zionists setting up.

More anti-Zionists turn up.

More anti-Zionists turn up.

We just want peace...as long as it involves the end of Israel.

We just want peace...as long as it involves the end of Israel.

Safety in numbers.

Safety in numbers.

Anti-Zionist photographer taking a break from his camera duties.

Anti-Zionist photographer taking a break from his camera duties.

Martin keeps the flag flying.

Martin keeps the flag flying.

Cold but determined.

Cold but determined.

This is not a laughing matter!

This is not a laughing matter!

"I thought we were supposed to be boycotting Ahava."

"I thought we were supposed to be boycotting Ahava."

Where's Ahava gone, where's Ahava gone!

Where's Ahava gone, where's Ahava gone!

Cheer up, you could be living under Hamas.

Cheer up, you could be living under Hamas.

"look, what's wrong with the one state solution?"

"look, what's wrong with the one state solution?"

The good old British bobby keeping me safe.

The good old British bobby keeping me safe.

The BBC’s Valentine’s Day Demolition of Jews, Israel and Zionism.

"Jew lover and Zionist", Geert Wilders: Europe's Most Dangerous Man?

"Jew lover and Zionist", Geert Wilders: Europe's Most Dangerous Man?

While you were making yourself look beautiful for your Valentine on monday evening the BBC was showing Geert Wilders: Europe’s Most Dangerous Man?.

Someone sent me an email stating that he had “just seen the most disgraceful attempt to associate Jews with extremism and hatred against Islam. This programme is an utter disgrace, as ever trying to delegitimise us. Frankly, I fear that we have no future in Europe”.

He is not usually one for polemic like this, so I had a watch on iplayer.

We see Joost van der Valk following Wilders trying, and failing, to get interviews with him.

van der Valk interviewed Dutch Muslims, who blame Wilders for stirring up race hate in Holland. One woman, a Turkish teacher, says of Holland today:

“I’m thinking of the 1940s when the Jews had to wear a star of David and had to ask at a shop if I can come in or can I enter the swimming pool. It’s almost the same as back then. The country is in a bad state and (they say) Islam is the culprit.”

The film forcefully sets out the case against Wilders. The prosecution in Wilders’ trial for inciting racial hatred, which has been adjourned, provides some of his alleged words:

“There is no such thing as moderate Islam, because there is no difference between good Islam and bad Islam. There’s Islam and that’s all there is. The Quran is the Mein Kampf of a religion that intends to eliminate us”.

van der Valk then went off in search of Wilders’ admirers.

He interviewed people who want Holland go back to its roots. One woman says “I want my children to feel they live in Holland”. A man says “There’s going to be a world war between Muslims and non-Muslims. We will have a Bosnia effect here within five years.”

Then he interviewed two Kahanist Jews. One was ‘Robert’, the other was Chaim Ben Pesach, who apparently served five years in prison for an anti-Soviet bombing campaign in New York. They were described as being “more radical than Wilders” and as espousing an extreme form of Zionism.

They belong to the Jewish Task Force and ‘Robert’ said:

“Islam is a global threat. They say we will take over Europe with the wombs of our women, so they are breeding Jihadis everwhere. They have more and more kids. Then they get more women to come here from the Moroccan mountains to bear children. They want to be in the majority so they can take over.”

Not content van der Valk did a google search of “Wilders Israel” and found half a million references. Some references suggest Wilders is a spy. van der Valk concluded, “It was obvious that Wilders was being informed by the Israeli Embassy”.

At the beginning of the film we were introduced to Shaykh Khalid Yassin, who is described as an “American Muslim teacher extremely popular among young European Muslims. He has embarked on a mission to deradicalise them”.

But when questioned about Wilders Yassin said:

“I think he has taken and embraced the idea of Modern Zionism. And he is using the idea of Modern Zionism to espouse the same concepts about Muslims in the world and the Quran that the Jews cannot afford to say in Israel. But Mr Wilders can do them a favour. He can go outside of Israel with those same feelings and then he can characterise the way that the Zionists characterise the Palestinians, to legititimise (sic) their power. Mr Wilders can characterise Islam in the same way.”

Although the film stated that “many Israelis would take issue with Wilders’ ideas”, van der Valk, nevertheless, went to Israel to see where Wilders spent his youth. We heard from Wilders’ old Israeli friends and admirers.

We were told that Wilders had a Jewish grandmother and married a Jewish woman and he “makes no secret of his affection for Israel and its people”.

The whole thesis of the film seemed to be that Zionism, Israel and Jews are the inspiration for Wilders’ alleged incitement to race hate.

Two weeks ago the BBC showed Louis Theroux’s The Ultra Zionists, which portrayed Jews as religious fanatics.

The Promise, by Peter Kosminsky, currently showing on Channel 4, can be best summed up as ‘rich European Jews came to Palestine after the Holocaust, stole the Palestinians’ land and murdered British soldiers’.

For his research Kosminsky consulted the International Solidarity Movement about Israel, which is like basing your views on immigration on interviews with the BNP.

Last night’s film War Child, also on Channel 4, was, basically, about ‘Jews’ killing innocent Palestinians and blinding and disabling Palestinian children who cannot, now, wait to grow up to kill ‘Jews’.

And now the BBC have shown a documentary which started out as a valid investigation into Islamophobia in Holland but, which, degenerated into a gratuitous attack on Jews, Israel and Zionism.

Shlomo Sand: Israelis could massacre the non-Jews in Israel.

Sand and Achcar: Let's talk anti-Zionism.

Sand and Achcar: Let's talk anti-Zionism.

Gilbert Achcar asked me to leave last night’s talk at SOAS given by Shlomo Sand. If I didn’t he said he would call security.

The talk was called On the Nation and the ‘Jewish People’, although it was all taken from Sand’s The Invention of the Jewish People.

For an hour I bit my lip while Sand tore into the idea that the Jews had any connection with Israel. He said there had never been an exile of the Jews under the Romans and so, as there was no exile, there could never be a return.

But all Israeli school textbooks spoke of this mythical “exile” he said.

He claimed the Jews were merely a religious phenomenon and as they came from all over the world, and so had no connection with each other, they could not be described as “a people”. Sand is an Israeli Jewish atheist.

Today’s Jews, he said, are just descendants of converts from African tribes i.e. the Khazars and the Berbers. These tribes had simply converted en masse to Judaism.

Zionists had only recently taken Jewish myths and cultured them into a nationalist ideology.

But Jews had never wanted to originally go to Palestine. Only after 1924, when America closed the gates, and eventually the British too, did they finally set sail for Palestine.

Most Jews don’t live in Israel, but outside it.

And Golda Meir had, apparently, said that when a Jew marries a non-Jew he or she “adds to the six million”.

Then, after defining Nazi Germany as an ethnocentric state, he said he was against Israel being defined as a Jewish state because “I am sure it will finish with the massacre in the Galilee, because 20% are non-Jews in this state.” (Listen to audio at end)

What is the point of an unopposed two hour verbal attack on Israel and the Jewish people at a British university? No one learns a thing apart from more anti-Israel propaganda.

During the Q&A I asked Sand what is the problem with the Jews calling themselves “a people” if they wanted to. He might not like it but most Jews think of themselves as being part of “a people”. That is how nationalism works.

I challenged him on whether Jewish history really spoke of the Jews being “exiled” by the Romans. Instead, the Jews had lost sovereignty to the Romans and many Jews left the area to become the Jewish diaspora. Therefore, Jews have a historical right to return.

What about “Next Year in Jerusalem” and the ancient religious festivals when Jews look to return to Israel and Jerusalem one day? Was that all made up by Zionists?

Anita Shapira’s destruction of Sand’s book is good on this.

Sand answered that 93% of the Jews living under the Romans were peasants and so they couldn’t leave. And diaspora Jews had only ever thought of Israel as a “Holy Land”, not as a “Home land”. “Israel” is a theological notion, not a political one.

Jews felt that the land did not belong to them, but to G-d and Jews went to Palestine only to die, not to live, so they could be the first to be resurrected when the Messiah came.

I understood the religiousness of the “Holy Land” point he was making but Sand wasn’t answering my main question: What is wrong with Jewish nationalism?

I called him a coward for not answering that question, which eventually spurred him into action.

“The Jews only came to Palestine because the doors to America and Britain were closed,” he screamed at the audience.

Even if that were true it still doesn’t preclude Jews from recognising themselves as “a people” and calling for a Jewish state.

It is not too disimilar from what the Palestinians have done. Many of them are not indigenous to what is now Israel and the Palestinian territories either, but came to the area when Jews started arriving from Europe. But they are also demanding a state.

I continued to try to question Sand but he just mocked me for being a Zionist who can’t speak Hebrew and who doesn’t even live in Israel like he does.

By then Achcar was out of his chair and bearing down on me insisting that I leave or he would call security.

I refused to leave but sat there, silent, like a good boy for the rest of the Q&A.

On the way out I was surrounded by people wanting to lecture me, including one woman who insisted that I apologise to Sand for calling him Shlomo, instead of Mr Sand, and a coward.

Shlomo Sand SOAS talk.

Shlomo Sand on a massacre in the Galilee (after 31 minutes) (This is in the Q&A).

The Egyptian Revolution comes to Holborn.

John Reece shows off his photos of his trip to revolutionary Cairo.

John Reece shows off his photos of his trip to revolutionary Cairo.

Just before last night’s Stop the War Coalition’s meeting in London in support of the Egyptian Revolution began I turned to Jonathan Hoffman and asked him how long he thought it would it take before they mentioned Israel.

“Immediately”, was his grim response.

And he wasn’t wrong. The first speaker up was Bernard Regan of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (see clip below).

Next was Daud Abdullah, not known for his pro-Israel sympathies. Referring to events in Egypt he said there will be casualties but “the greatest casualty will be Israel.”

Lowkey, a rapper best known for his tune Free Palestine, couldn’t help himself either, ending his speech with the cry, “The path to the liberation of Jerusalem runs through Cairo”.

The finale was left to George Galloway who described Mubarak as a “murderer, torturer and dictator” who would “be lucky to avoid being strung up from the street lamps”.

But when Galloway met Saddam Hussein, also a murderer, torturer and dictator, he said to him: “Sir, I salute your courage, your strength and your indefatigability.” (Galloway claims he was addressing the Iraqi public, not Sadaam.)

George roused an already buoyant crowd further by saying that “the Palestinian hand will be immeasurably strengthened by an Arab Egypt.” (see clip below.)

Two Egyptian activists were eventually allowed to speak. Their cause wasn’t totally hijacked (no pun intended) and they didn’t mention Israel once. They just wanted to be free.

We also heard from two Stop the War Coalition activists who, while 30,000 Brits. are trying to leave Egypt, actually flew in to Cairo for the weekend especially!

John Reece showed us his photos (see background above) and informed us of the massive under-reporting in the British media of the people on the streets of Egypt.

Although, Reece said, the Egyptian army reported one million in Cairo every one he knows spoke of two million. He estimates that the figure was somewhere between four and eight million for Egypt as a whole.

Judith Orr said the demonstrators told her that “we are not Muslim, Christian or Jewish. We are all Egyptians!”

But George Galloway told her, and others, what he thought of that:

“We have no need to go round saying this is not a Muslim revolution. Egypt is overwhelmingly a Muslim country and there’s nothing wrong with that. There are Christians and Muslims, Socialists and Communists, Liberals and Centrists, and non-political people, who just want freedom who are involved in this Revolution. But a very significant number of the people of Egypt support the Islamic Movement of Egypt and that Movement has no need to hide itself under a bushel.”

Egyptians should heed George’s words and put all notions of freedom to the back of their minds for now just in case the Muslim Brothers are, indeed, eventually successful.

Clips from last night:

Britain to spend £5m on “Arab human development programme”.

William Hague - "We say again that the blockade of Gaza is unsustainable and unacceptable." (Conservatives.com)

William Hague - "We say again that the blockade of Gaza is unsustainable and unacceptable." (Conservatives.com)

Foreign Secretary William Hague answered Parliamentary questions on the Middle East peace process yesterday.

Ben Gummer MP asked:

“I hope he (Hague) shares the excitement of many people in this country at seeing people stand up to one-party rule in Tunisia and Egypt. Will he explain what steps the Government are taking to encourage the spread of democracy—not just in the middle east, but in north Africa?”

Hague replied: “The spending I have announced in a written statement today includes £5 million for an Arab human development programme, which is intended to assist civil society and democratic development in the Arab world, so this will become part of the important issue my hon. Friend raises.”

With cuts across the public sector in this country, petrol prices up to 130p a litre and rising, university students being asked to pay up to £9000 a year and food prices rising is it really necessary to provide such money, especially when considering Arab oil wealth and multi billion pound Western subsidies.

Who is the money going to, how will it be used and what effect, if any, will it have? I thought this government was committed to cutting waste not adding to it.

Hague also seems to be under the misconception that there is a connection between democracy in the Middle East and a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I would respectfully submit to Mr Hague that Middle East authoritarianism is down to countries like ours propping certain regimes up for our own interests. Don’t blame this one solely on Israel, please.

Hague also thinks that “the blockade of Gaza is unsustainable and unacceptable”. That’s very easy for him to say when thousands of kassam rockets aren’t pointing at his family.

He also stated that “we regard settlements as illegal”. Although, as ever, he didn’t explain how they are illegal.

Gerald Kaufman was on the war path again saying that the “situation of destitution, dereliction and malnutrition in Gaza is still appalling because of the blockade.” Has anyone seen evidence of said “malnutrition”?

And Richard Burden MP was convinced that “the Palestine papers have proved pretty conclusively that it is not the Palestinians who have not been prepared to compromise.”

Just another normal day in Parliament then.