Monthly Archives: September 2011

Those cringe-making New Year wishes from our political leaders.

It’s that time of year when our political leaders, in their Rosh Hashanah messages, tell Britain’s Jewish community how wonderful they all are and what a wonderful contribution they have all made to British society.

But the test of whether a political leader is being sincere, or whether just going through the motions, is whether he has been brave enough to show any sort of concern for Israel’s well-being in his message.

All British Jews are obviously concerned for Britain, and particularly our soldiers out in Afghanistan, but they are also concerned for Israel and their relatives and friends who live there under a constant threat of attack from Palestinian terrorists.

This year has been no exception with the cowardly slaughter of five members of the Fogel family as they lay in their beds, the direct hit on a school bus by a rocket from Gaza which killed a 16 year-old boy and the recent multiple attacks near Eilat that killed eight Israelis.

Then there was a Scottish Christian evangelical woman who was killed by a bomb blast in Jerusalem and the more recent deaths of an Israeli father and his baby when stone throwing by Palestinians caused the man to crash his car.

And, of course, this was Gilad Shalit’s sixth Rosh Hashanah away from his family after being kidnapped by Hamas.

Living in the UK is relatively safe. The worst it gets is a bunch of hate-filled anti-Israel activists trying to close Ahava or interrupting the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. It hardly compares to living in Sderot in southern Israel where there is a constant barrage of deadly rockets being sent over by Hamas from Gaza.

Many Palestinians have also been killed over the last year, but none has been specifically targeted because he is Palestinian, unlike the Israelis who have been targeted because they are Jewish. The Palestinians have been killed in self-defence in IDF actions that needn’t have happened if the Palestinians had been able to control their terrorist elements.

So it wouldn’t take a lot for our political leaders to acknowledge that worry and concern of British Jews for Israel and Israelis would it?

First, let’s take Nick Clegg, our deputy Prime Minister and the Liberal Democrat leader. Does he mention Israel? Yes, but only once and only in passing. He speaks of how “For the High Holy days Jews from across the world, from countries as diverse as Israel, India, Ethiopia, and, of course Britain, are united.”

There is also the cringe-making end where Clegg tries to out-Catholic the Pope, by using Hebrew to wish British Jews an easy Yom Kippur fast.

A simple “Shana Tova and well over the fast” would have sufficed (message to Liberal Democrats Friends of Israel: Keep it simple next year please).

As for Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, all I have been able to find is a report in the Jewish Chronicle in which there is no mention of Israel, but lots of talk of a “fantastic community”.

The bravest of Britain’s political leaders, by far, was the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron who, as well as speaking of British Jews’ “tremendous contribution”, spoke of his belief in Israel being “unshakeable” and how Britain “will always stand up for Israel against those who wish her harm”.

The government has come along way since Cameron’s silly “Gaza is a prison” comment in front of Turkey’s President Erdogan. It has repealed the iniquitous law on Universal Jurisdiction and it pulled out of Durban 3, the anti-Semitic festival that was held at the UN in New York last week. Spain, Belgium, Sweden and Greece didn’t pull out.

Maybe British Jews can finally relax a bit with Cameron in charge. Now he just needs to follow through on his pledge to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir.

But when it comes to wishing Jews a Shana Tova no one does it better than Barack Obama. There is no cheesy chat, no awkward wishes in Hebrew but a few simple acknowledgments that “many of our closest allies, including the state of Israel, face the uncertainties of an unpredictable age” and that the bond between America and Israel is “unshakeable”.

An interview with the Neturei Karta.

The Neturei Karta are the poster boys of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). They loyally show up to all PSC events whether during the week or on Shabbat.

In January I saw one of them, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, at an anti-Israel conference at SOAS on a Shabbat morning carrying a briefcase. The Neturei Karta make up the laws of Judaism to suit themselves.

I realise that many Jews also now make up the laws of Judaism to suit themselves, but the latter don’t claim a higher moral authority like the Neturei Karta do.

Neturei Karta means Guardians of the City, but if they refuse to be guardians of Shabbat, the holiest day for Jews, how can they be trusted to be guardians of Judaism in any way.

That said, it is fascinating to think that hundreds of years ago all ultra-religious Jews used to think like the Neturei Karta still think concerning returning to Israel to live; that there should no forcing of such a return, which should only happen at the behest of the Messiah.

Political Zionism took root in the 1890s and the way the ultra-religious approached it was to support it from a pragmatic point of view only in light of the continuing persecution of Jews, but they refused to see in it any kind of Messianism.

It was Rabbi Avraham Kook, born in Lithuania and who was Chief Rabbi of Jaffa from 1904-1914, who started to infuse events with Messianism.

However, it was only after the establishment of Israel and the winning of both the Six Day War (1967), which reunited Jerusalem, and the Yom Kippur War (1973) when religious Zionism finally took off. Many of the ultra-religious saw these events as Messianically inspired.

This, in turn, gave rise to the settlement movement of Gush Emunim, led by Kook’s son Rabbi Yehuda Kook. The national-religious movement was born.

Tiny sects like the Neturei Karta and the Satmar stayed outside this tent.

At last Thursday’s PSC anti-Israel Downing Street protest I spoke to the Neturei Karta who, after refusing to speak to a “Zionist”, agreed that they also want a Jewish state, but only when the Messiah comes (switch browser if viewing problems):

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign and their ilk on the far-left either don’t realise this or turn a blind eye to it as what they really want is to lap up the the Neturei Karta’s so-called anti-Zionism.

But, the PSC and their supporters are in for a rude awakening when the Messiah does finally descend from the heavens as they won’t see the Neturei Karta for dust as they will all be heading off to the Jewish state, probably on El Al, at the Messiah’s behest.

Not that most of the Neturei Karta aren’t in Israel anyway. Their presence and synagogues in Mea Shearim are ubiquitous (see below). No one bats an eyelid there where they are viewed as cranks who oppose Israel’s existence while receiving government funding. Meanwhile, in the UK they are closely embraced by the cranks on the far-left and in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

A few years ago I stopped an ultra-religious guy in Jerusalem to ask for directions and by-the-by I asked him what he thought of the ultra-religious anti-Zionists, like the Neturei Karta, in Israel.

He answered that every Jew living in Israel is a Zionist, he just hasn’t realised it yet.

Avraham Kook, himself, couldn’t have given a better answer if he were alive today.

The Neturei Karta living in Mea Shearim, Jerusalem.

The Neturei Karta at prayer in Mea Shearim.

The Neturei Karta at prayer in Mea Shearim.

MPAC chief to me: “You’re a filthy scumbag who thinks Muslim life is less important than other people’s lives.”

Outside Downing Street yesterday.

Outside Downing Street yesterday.

I made a new best friend last night when I got into a conversation with Asghar Bukhari, the founding member of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, outside Downing Street.

He had spent a few minutes politely educating me in the ways of Israel. He thinks Israel uses the Palestinians as slaves, that they are treated like the blacks in apartheid South Africa and that Israel behaves like the Nazis.

When I explained to him that Arabs living in Israel have it better than many of their brothers and sisters in most Arab and Muslim countries he became highly irritated and went for me personally, as you can see (switch browser if viewing problems):

MPAC is a vile organisation. At the last general election it had a hit list headed “Is your MP a Zionist?” One Jewish MP on the list received a death threat.

At the previous general election MPAC helped unseat the non-Jewish Lorna Fitzsimons as an MP by claiming in leaflets “she had done nothing to help the Palestinians because she was a Jewish member of the Labour Friends of Israel”.

What is shocking is the amount of airtime that the likes of the BBC and Sky give to Bukhari. Go on to youtube and you will be amazed.

Apart from that yesterday’s pro-Israel counter-demonstration called by the ZF, British-Israel Coalition and Stand With Us was a success.

It was in response to a Palestine Solidarity Campaign orchestrated anti-Israel protest in light of the upcoming Palestinian UN statehood bid.

While calling for a Palestinian state the PSC mob also called for the destruction of Israel with their usual refrain of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free”:

Hopefully, David Cameron will have heard this so as to leave him in no doubt as to the true hopes of PSC members if a Palestinian state is ever formed.

Meanwhile, someone from Chabad turned up to blow the Shofar, which was lovely:

And there was an excellent pro-Israel turnout:

I also interviewed the Neturei Karta which I will blog about next.

Some photos:

A tenner if you can guess which side she's on.

A tenner if you can guess which side she's on.

I love Hanoar. I went on Israel tour with them and can tell you some stories.

I love Hanoar. I went on Israel tour with them and can tell you some stories.

Good luck with that.

Good luck with that.

Is this really too much to ask?

Is this really too much to ask?

Good luck with that also.

Good luck with that also.

Downing Street.

Downing Street.

The PSC mob shouting their usual sinister slogans.

The PSC mob shouting their usual sinister slogans.

Ahava: My 5 favourite moments.

Ahava’s last day of trading in London’s Covent Garden is tomorrow (Tuesday).

It has suffered two years of racist, abusive and, at times, violent protests while Camden Council and our politicians looked away.

Not once did a politician of any rank stand up for Ahava’s right to trade or come to join the pro-Ahava counter-protest.

It is shameful that a shop that was trading 100% lawfully was forced to shut like this. It’s a stain on Britain’s democratic credentials.

Ahava’s all female staff were repeatedly bullied, not knowing whether they would arrive at work to find the locks glued, the shop front daubed in red paint or whether anti-Israel activists would invade the shop with heavy concrete blocks to lock themselves onto so making their removal from the shop virtually impossible.

After each invasion Ahava was forced to close for up to three hours, harming business and the ability of the staff to earn commission.

Israel’s flag was continuously denigrated outside Ahava by the anti-Israel activists. The most popular ways were cutting out the Star of David or replacing it with the word “apartheid”.

Three trials in all took place involving eight defendants. The first trial involving four anti-Israel activists collapsed when Ahava failed to show up, which was a great shame especially in light of the second, combined trial, involving another four activists which led to four convictions for aggravated trespass.

The defendants received conditional discharges of 18 months which means that should Gwendolen Wilkinson, Matthew Richardson, Jessica Nero or Christopher Osmond transgress again within that time then they could well end up detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

Court costs of £250 were awarded against each defendant with one defendant pleading poverty to the extent that he claimed he had to wade through supermarket bins for food. The hard life of anti-Israel activists these days and I thought they were mainly well-soaked Champagne Socialists!

Incidentally, the Judge declared that Ahava was “trading lawfully”.

The good news is that Ahava will reopen somewhere else and along the way many good friends have been made and an unofficial group of intelligent, hardworking, passionate activists with a variety of skills has bonded which bodes well for the future in fighting the rising tide of Israel-hate/anti-Semitism in Britain.

So, here are Ahava’s best bits. Please vote for your favourite clip at the end.

Whichever clip wins it might be worth awarding a special gift to the pro or anti-Israel activists involved; maybe a spa day at the new Ahava shop when it opens.

(If you have problems viewing try to switch to another internet browser)

1. ARE YOU FROM MOSSAD?

Introducing Seymour Alexander, the chief photographer of the anti-Israel movement. He slinks around silently with his camera, but occasionally pops up to ask: “Are you from the Mossad?”

2. THE PRE-CHRISTMAS ARREST

This was hilarious. They were trying to harm Ahava’s pre-Christmas trade and this activist thought I was just taking photos, not filming. So when he threatened to knock my camera out of my hand the police arrested him on the basis of this footage and took him to the police station to interview him while I went off to see Oliver in the West End. I understand he was later released without charge, but still must have had a bit of a shock.

3. THE SINGING ISRAELI TOURISTS

This was brilliant. A group of Israeli tourists accidently stumbled upon the anti-Israel protest outside Ahava and for twenty minutes passionately belted out a medley of Israeli songs drowning out the chants of the stunned anti-Israel activists.

4. MARTYRMAN

This guy is determined to be arrested for the cause and enjoys nothing more than being dramatically dragged away by the police. At a recent “Nakba Day” protest he was photographed being hauled away in a similar fashion (see photo).

and

Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it's Martyrman

Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it's Martyrman

5. SWORDSWOMAN

The Respect Party’s Carol Swords enjoys nothing more than telling a Jew to go back to Russia (which she did outside Ahava recently) and she is currently awaiting trial for allegedly assaulting a pro-Israel activist. Read more about her here.

In this clip you will see her demanding that I don’t take her photo. It’s a bit surprising as she isn’t usually that camera-shy, especially when it comes to photos with the Jew-killers of Hamas (see photo).

Good luck at your trial, Carol!

Swords with Hamas' Ismail Haniya and Mahmoud Zahar (hurryupharry.org)

Swords with Hamas' Ismail Haniya and Mahmoud Zahar (hurryupharry.org)

Swords having a laugh with Hamas (hurryupharry.org)

Swords having a laugh with Hamas (hurryupharry.org)

Now vote for your favourite clip:

Israel considering annexing settlements if Palestinians proceed with UN member-state bid.

Israel is considering annexing the West Bank settlement blocs if the Palestinians carry through with their threat of asking the United Nations to formally declare a Palestinian state.

According to Jonny Daniels, Chief of Staff to the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Danny Dannon, such a move would bolster the security of the settlements and give them the same legal status as east Jerusalem, making it more difficult for the settlement blocs to form part of a future peace accord. The idea is gaining momentum in Congress with members of the House of Representatives starting to push for a motion supporting the decision.

Regarding the settlements Dannon, himself, has previously stated that Israel has “a full right to this land”.

Meanwhile, on 20th September Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas still looks set to ask the United Nations to pass a resolution declaring Palestine the 194th member of the United Nations. It will be along the 4th June 1967 boundaries, which would have the effect of leaving the settlement blocs inside a new state.

The United States is certain to block a Palestinian state being legally declared by using its veto on the Security Council, but the resolution should be passed easily in the General Assembly instead. Britain is still to declare its voting intentions.

Professor Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian Ambassador to London, said that a non-binding General Assembly resolution upgrading Palestine’s current observer status to that of non-member state would significantly raise the stature of the Palestinians in the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court:

“Our position will be bolstered. We won’t need Qatar or Lebanon to represent us anymore. We will be able to pursue war criminals ourselves, which will put more pressure on Israel,” he said.

Hassassian says that Israel gave the Palestinians no option but to go down the UN route:

“There has been no peace process with the current Israeli government, although we always hoped for a breakthrough. Israel has continued embarking on its settlement activities, and this has aborted the prospects for a two-state solution. None of this has encouraged the Palestinians or the international community and has proved that Israel is not serious in wanting peace. Our going to the UN will be a wake-up call for America and Israel,” he continued.

Jonny Daniels refutes this accusation:

“Even when Ehud Barak offered Arafat everything he asked for in 2000 the Palestinians rejected it. If the Palestinians were serious they would have recognised Israel as a Jewish state by now. By going to the UN they are breaking the Oslo Peace Accords, which state that no side can take a unilateral decision. My friends in Judea and Samaria are now in greater danger,” he responded.

He said that because the Palestinians lacked democracy Israel does not know whether it is Fatah or Hamas making the decisions, but he was still optimistic that the Palestinians could one day recognise Israel as a Jewish state:

“The Middle East is a very volatile area. Who could have predicted that the Egyptians would have ousted Mubarak like they did? Things can change very quickly, but until then we must look after ourselves,” he said.

Daniels views the proposed UN vote as another attempt by the Palestinians to delegitimise Israel, something that will add to the anti-Israel atmosphere at Durban III at the UN in New York on 22nd September.

Some commentators and politicians are predicting a return to violence after the UN vote, with the Arab Spring adding a potentially volatile ingredient.

Professor Charles Tripp, of the London Middle East Institute, said:

“Palestinian expectations may be raised, at least on the West Bank, making the likelihood of demonstrations and clashes even stronger. There have been reports that the IDF have been preparing for such an eventuality, including, it seems, training settlers in ‘crowd control’. This will exacerbate things even further.”

“The Israeli government has also hinted at various ‘symbolic’ reprisals like further building and settlement projects and other moves designed to infuriate the Palestinians.”

Professor Yaacov Bar-Siman-Tov, of the Department of International Relations at the Hebrew University, thinks Abbas might organise mass protests similar to those on the recent Naksa and Nakba days when hundreds of Lebanese and Syrian citizens were bussed to Israel’s border leading to clashes with the IDF.

“The Arab Spring could have a big influence. After the overthrow of Mubarak and others people are starting to understand its effectiveness. If the demonstrations can be contained then all well and good, but if protesters get into the settlements then violence could escalate rapidly if there are clashes with the IDF,” he said.

Professor Benny Morris, of the Middle East department at Ben-Gurion University, believes such violence “may spiral into a third Intifada” and thinks terrorism likely. More ominously, Emanuele Ottolenghi, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, thinks it could lead to all out war against Israel:

“A UN resolution recognising Palestine as a state on paper will not give Palestinians a state in reality. It will instead spark a fire in the region that could quickly burn out of control, very much like happened in late September 2000 with the Second Intifada.”

“The difference, this time, is twofold. First, Hamas rules Gaza and has an arsenal to terrorize Israeli civilians. It will seek to exploit the situation to trigger a war with Israel. Second, the region has dramatically changed since the Arab Spring toppled Mubarak, which means that, this time, Arab countries may be dragged in,” he said.

Manual Hassassian said that violence is not part of the strategy of the Palestinian leadership and that any demonstrations will remain non-violent. He addressed concerns in the Arab world that declaring a state without agreement with Israel could spell the end of the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees:

“After the vote we will not be giving up on a negotiated settlement. We will be continuing with the diplomatic onslaught to resolve permanent status issues like the right of return. Everything will still be on the negotiating table, but eventually there will be an independent Palestinian state,” Hassassian stated.

Dr. Jonathan Spyer, of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, thinks the UN vote will not bring any significant change for the Palestinians:

“Israel was created because of facts on the ground, notably the ability of Israel to prevail against any force in the eastern Mediterranean wishing to prevent its birth. This is not the case with the West Bank Palestinian Authority. The only way to a successful re-partition of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, if this is what the Ramallah leadership desires, is by way of negotiation. This will still be true after 20th September,” he said.

While Kadmina MK Yoel Hasson blames both Netanyahu and the Palestinians for the breakdown of negotiations and notes the potential for “violent incidents”, he doesn’t think that there will be any change on the ground regarding the settlements:

“I fear that the result of the Palestinian move will be isolation of Israel in the international community and it will definitely lead to greater pressure to evacuate the settlements. However, I have always believed that the settlements are not a real obstacle to peace. Israel proved twice, in the Sinai and Gaza, that it is willing to remove the settlements,” he said.

As a result of all this Israel could swing back left or go further right, but Hasson thinks it too early to gauge how events will affect Israel politically:

“No one knows yet whether Israelis will criticise the government or whether blame will be directed towards the Palestinian side,” he said.

But Professor Colin Shindler, of the European Association of Israel Studies, blames the Palestinians going to the UN on the “politics of stagnation in Israel” and believes that renewed isolation of Israel could lead it further to the right with Lieberman as a possible contender for the premiership:

“The Israeli government is a pantomime horse of the centre Right and the far Right – the former would like to negotiate, the latter does not. Therefore the lack of initiative prevents serious division within the government and ensures its survival. The Geneva Initiative, the Saudi Peace Plan and many other suggestions are dismissed. This leaves a vacuum which is being filled by the proposal to recognise a Palestinian state at the UN,” Shindler said.

Daniels dismisses the prospect of a Lieberman premiership pointing out that Yisrael Beitenu came a distant third at the last general election and neither does he think that Kadima will benefit from the Palestinian push at the UN:

“During the recent social protests in Israel Kadima was up in the polls and Likud down, but the polls have now swung back to the right. The right wing bloc is strong. People know that the right of Israeli politics is about security. The only real chance for peace is if there is change in the education systems of the Palestinian Authority and the Arab world generally where Israel is concerned”.

This piece appears on pages 4 and 5 of this week’s Jewish News.

Anat Matar: “Settlers can get away with rape.”

The new book by Matar and Baker. A must read if you have more money than sense.

The new book by Matar and Baker. A must read if you have more money than sense.

Last night Jews For Justice for Palestinians hosted Dr Anat Matar and Abeer Baker at the Indian YMCA to publicise their new book Threat: Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israel.

For Matar, a senior lecturer in the Philosophy Department at Tel Aviv University, it was a warm anti-Israel welcome back to London.

In February 2010 she spoke at SOAS where she called for an economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. However, saving her own skin, she said she didn’t want Israelis boycotted if they were “refusniks and great anti-Zionists”.

Abeer Baker, who describes herself as a Palestinian citizen of Israel, is a human rights lawyer and runs the Prisoners’ Rights Clinic at Haifa University’s Law Faculty. She received her Law degree from Haifa Uni. in 2001 and between 2001 – 2006 she worked for Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.

Matar started by saying that since 1967 a minimum of 650,000 Palestinians have been in Israeli prisons at some stage or other and for varying lengths of time, which equates to every fourth Palestinian.

She said the estimate could even be as high as a million!

Israeli prisoners, she said, are treated as normal criminals while all Palestinians are immediately classed as “security prisoners”, whatever their offence, and that the chances of parole for a “security prisoner” are much lower than that for a Jewish terrorist.

She concluded that this Palestinian mass imprisonment, which has excluded a quarter of the population from Palestinian society, has changed the way Palestinian political life is built and amounts to racial discrimination.

She mentioned that many Palestinians are captured at the regular non-violent Friday protests at the “apartheid wall”. Many are held, some are indicted and some serve long prison terms with no parole in contrast to ultra right-wing settlers.

Baker told us that Israeli prisons are similar to “the occupation”; they are not for punishment, but to exclude Palestinians from daily public life and to weaken their political struggle.

Assassination, she said, was the harshest way to do that and then comes the Israeli prison system.

Putting Palestinians behind bars was the equivalent of the “apartheid wall” and that Palestinian families spend all their time worrying about their imprisoned relation instead of engaging in the struggle against the occupation.

She also said it was a breach of the Geneva Convention for Israel to move Palestinians from the occupied territories into Israel to imprison them.

Next she recited the torture meted out by Shabak, which included, sleep deprivation, physical torture (including beating) and shackling to chairs. Palestinians were not allowed access to a lawyer for three months, the prison cells are narrow, have special lighting and the walls are too tough to lean on.

All this, she said, was intended to make Palestinian prisoners more likely to confess.

She also spoke of Palestinians never properly getting their lives back after their release as they find it hard to get a work permit and they have their movements restricted.

She claimed that the only way a Palestinian prisoner would be allowed to use a phone is if he or she renounced all allegiances to their hostile organisation. But, because they are put in the same cell as people from their own organisation it was impossible for them to do that. However, Yigal Amir is allowed to call his wife.

During the Q&A I asked how practical it was for Israel to imprison a Palestinian anywhere else but Israel and how practical it was to give a Palestinian prisoner parole, it being unlikely they would return to prison if recalled.

I suggested that racism was not at play if there was such different treatment, but that conditions on the ground may be determining factors. For example, the settlers were supportive of Israel, while the Palestinians were not.

Matar said the settlers were not supporters of Israel from they way they set fire to mosques and Baker asked me to imagine a settler and a Palestinian raping a woman: “Would you say you should pardon the settler?” she asked.

I said there was no way a settler would be pardoned for raping a woman, but Matar interrupted with:

“The settler wouldn’t even get accused of rape.”

We almost got through the evening without the obligatory Holocaust analogy. But earlier on we had been told about Palestinians having to pay for their own food in prison, so that even in prison Israel is making money out of them.

Someone then said that it reminded him of Jews sent to Auschwitz by the Nazis being forced to buy their own train tickets.

Still, these two women earn a living from Israel’s academic institutions, while being allowed to write a book and travel the world describing how evil Israel is. Not bad for such such an oppressive state.

The irony was, as ever, lost on the audience.

(For the record Matar and Baker said that they did not agree with the way Gilad Shalit is treated)

Why won’t the Royal Albert Hall complain to the police about the 1st September protests?

The only flag not welcome at the Royal Albert Hall.

The only flag not welcome at the Royal Albert Hall.

Why is the Royal Albert Hall being so reticent in reporting to the police the crime of aggravated trespass allegedly committed by the anti-Israel protesters who disrupted a performance by the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra on 1st September?

Without this there is no possibility of a prosecution.

Yet, Section 68 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 states:

A person commits the offence of aggravated trespass if he trespasses on land [F1...in the open air]… and, in relation to any lawful activity which persons are engaging in or are about to engage in on that or adjoining land [F2...in the open air]… , does there anything which is intended by him to have the effect—.
(a)of intimidating those persons or any of them so as to deter them or any of them from engaging in that activity,.
(b)of obstructing that activity, or.
(c)of disrupting that activity.

Note: “in the open air” has since been removed.

The police are claiming that the anti-Israel protesters were not trespassing or treated as trespassers, because they bought tickets and were not told by RAH security that they were trespassing at the time they forced out.

But, surely they became trespassers as soon as they were asked to leave and refused to do so and had to be forcibly removed. It is all there in the footage.

Additionally, the case law seems to support the notion that a person who is permitted to enter property for one purpose is a trespasser if he enters it for a different purpose.

And judging by the blogs of the anti-Israel protesters they knew they would not be allowed in if the staff on the door knew their true intentions:

“We were promised enhanced security, bag searches etc. but this was all bluff. My bag search was cursory, there were no spotter cards of disruptors and I had no difficulty whatsoever getting to my seat!” states one of the protesters on his blog.

“Unknown to the Proms organisers, the protesters had bought over 40 tickets in a variety of locations in the Royal Albert Hall, including boxes,” states the general press release of the protesters.

Most of the anti-Israel protesters have been identified and the support of the Royal Albert Hall is essential so the police can put the evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service who would then decide whether to take the matter to trial or not.

Four anti-Israel activists were recently convicted of aggravated trespass in similar circumstances when they entered the Ahava shop in Covent Garden, lay down on the floor and refused to move. The sole difference being that it was impossible for Ahava’s two female staff to move them out of the shop, whereas at the Royal Albert Hall the protesters were eventually forced out by security.

Surely, the Royal Albert Hall has a duty to report an alleged crime where one might have been committed, otherwise what is the point of this legislation?

Then there are the many people who paid exorbitant amounts for tickets only to have their enjoyment of the event ruined by the interruptions, the blame for which lies with the Royal Albert Hall who laid on scant security checks.

Will the RAH be giving refunds?

It was lucky that something worse did not occur on the night. Someone with more hostile intentions could easily have brought in a knife and run amok with it. There were no scanners and only my bag was searched.

Meanwhile, the police and Community Security Trust were stationed outside the RAH!

In fact apart from removing the anti-Israel activists the only other time RAH security was engaged was to remove someone holding up an Israeli flag on the night, while at the Last Night of the Proms last night hundreds of other flags were waved and Lang Lang, the Chinese pianist, played undisturbed despite China’s appalling human rights record.

The latter is proof, if any were needed, that many anti-Israel activists are motivated more by their own anti-Semitism than the defence of human rights.

Feel free to write to the The Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP or use the form http://www.royalalberthall.com/contact/default.aspx

You can ask for a refund if you were at the concert and also ask that the RAH consider taking action against the anti-Israel protesters.

Alternatively, you can email Chris Cotton, the Chief Executive of the RAH, and ask him why the RAH is turning a blind eye to alleged criminality: chrisc@royalalberthall.com

In the meantime, enjoy the flag waving throughout last night’s rendition of Jerusalem.

Introducing Mike Guzovsky, the “Jewish militant”.

John Ray’s report on ITV’s 10 o’clock news about the upcoming Palestinian push for statehood at the UN referred to Israeli settler Mike Guzovsky as a “Jewish militant” on the basis that Guzovsky had dogs.

I know a few Jews with dogs, but, as far as I am aware, none are militants.

Ray claimed that Guzovsky’s dogs are for self-defence due to possible Palestinian violence that could occur after the UN vote.

You can understand Guzovsky’s concern taking into account the fairly recent massacre of five members of the Fogel family, including a three month old baby, on a settlement as they lay in their beds.

Then there was the more recent massacre of eight Israelis near Eilat.

And Guzovsky is right; many attempted attacks on Israelis, including settlers, take place every day. You just don’t hear about them on the news until someone is murdered.

Guzovsky also said that people want peace and security.

Although he might hold some very extreme and totally reprehensible views, Guzovsky is no militant.

(Updated 9am on 7th September on researching Guzovsky and finding he is a member of the extremist Kahane organisation. Ray did not point this out in his report last night. Apologies for that.)

Why did the BBC pull last night’s live transmission of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra at the Proms?

Zubin Mehta and the IPO waiting for more protesters to be removed last night.

Zubin Mehta and the IPO waiting for more protesters to be removed last night.

The band played on, the audience inside the Royal Albert Hall loved it and screamed “More!”, so then why did the BBC pull last night’s live Radio 3 broadcast of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra at the Proms near to the beginning?

People around the world had tuned in to listen, but instead the BBC quickly switched to a recording of a past IPO performance.

The six or so anti-Israel disruptions (see clips below) didn’t really detract from the evening’s overall enjoyment.

The BBC would’t pull the live transmission of a big football match because 30 hooligans invaded the pitch, but this is the equivalent of what they did last night to the detriment of those who were not lucky enough to be there in person.

The BBC is broadcasting recorded exerpts of the concert next Wednesday at 2.30pm (BST), but the main beauty of an event is that it is live.

Then the BBC’s report of what happened handed a complete propaganda coup to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, an organisation that recently invited Sheikh Raed Salah to speak, a man who has called homosexuality “a crime” that starts “the collapse of every society”.

First, despite the BBC seeming so offended by last night’s disruptions they still found it passable to upload audio of it for their report.

Second, they referred to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign as a “pro-Palestinian group”, but what has the PSC ever done for the Palestinians? They are nothing more than a bunch of anti-Israel activists.

Third, the BBC report speaks of “increased security measures for the concert”, but my bag was given a cursory glance and some of the protesters went in disguise; one woman dressed as a man with grey hair and a beard. They were later seen coming out of a nice South Kensington restaurant as no arrests were made.

The disruptions were totally predictable, judging by past events, and yet when each interruption occurred security took ages to get to the scene of the protest.

And it didn’t need a Sherlock Holmes to tell you that the absence of the hardcore activists at the anti-Israel rally outside the event indicated that they would all be inside the Royal Albert Hall.

It is the same small group of activists that disrupt these events time and time again and cause distress to people watching who have paid good money during hard times.

Meanwhile, young people have been going to prison for stealing a packet of chewing gum or having a lick of some stolen ice-cream during the London riots.

From what I could tell someone who was led away, I believe, is still on a conditional discharge for previous anti-Israel activity. Another conviction could mean imprisonment. And when it came to paying the costs of the court case that person pleaded poverty, yet there they were in a good seat at the Royal Albert Hall and going out for dinner in South Kensington.

The final insult was when someone was taken out by security for holding up an Israeli flag during each disturbance, yet on the last night of the Proms everyone is waving a Union Jack flag.

Mind you it only cost me £5 to get in to stand and it was probably the best value entertainment I have ever had.

And Zubin Mehta and his Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra were heroic.

Clips and photos (use windows explorer if Firefox doesn’t work):

Zubin Mehta acknowledging the audience at the end last night.

Zubin Mehta acknowledging the audience at the end last night.

Pro-Israel rally outside Royal Albert Hall last night.

Pro-Israel rally outside Royal Albert Hall last night.

Last night's pro-Israel rally outside Royal Albert Hall.

Last night's pro-Israel rally outside Royal Albert Hall.

Outside RAH last night, but Mer Khamis was killed by a Palestinian.

Outside RAH last night, but Mer Khamis was killed by a Palestinian.

Last night outside RAH.

Last night outside RAH.

Last night outside the RAH.

Last night outside the RAH.