Monthly Archives: April 2012

ICAHD’s Jeff Halper speaks to London churchgoers of Israeli “super Apartheid”.

Halper's slide of Salim Shawamreh after a house demolition.

Halper's slide of Salim Shawamreh after a house demolition.

Jesus is reborn in the form of Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). Halper sacrificed himself to leave sunny Israel and visit rainy London for a speaking tour. He appeared on Monday night in the ancient church of All-Hallows-on-the-Wall in the the City of London to talk about the plight of the Palestinians.

Halper, like Jesus was, is also Jewish, and, just like Jesus, has suffered incredible hardship for the sake of others. The blurb for the speaking tour described Halper as being “prepared to put his own comfort and safety at risk. He dismisses the physical hardships, manhandlings and brief sojourns in Israeli jails which he has endured, as insignificant compared to what Palestinians may suffer every day”.

Halper was supposed to have been joined by Salim Shawamreh (see photo above) who owns a house called Beit Arabiya, but Shawamreh was absent eventhough the event was meant as a fundraiser to help him rebuild his home which had, apparently, been demolished for the fifth time by Israel. On previous occasions Halper had been there to help rebuild it. Halper describes such rebuilding “as a political act of resistance until we prevail”.

Has there been a falling out between Halper and one of his main disciples? I expected to hear how Shawamreh had been detained by the Israeli authorities.  The blurb for the talk simply stated “Unfortunately Salim Shawamreh whose family owns Beit Arabiya was due to be at this event is no longer able to join us.” Halper had nothing more to add to that on the night.

In Shawamreh’s absence Halper couldn’t resist the urge to raise funds for himself. He told us that the moment he was thrown down a hill with Shawamreh he pledged to tell his story. His publicist then offered us the chance to purchase Halper’s book An Israeli in Palestine for £12.

Halper immediately told the 100 or so Christians (and one Jew) in the church how deceitful the Israelis were. Conveniently forgetting the many Israelis murdered or left disabled and disfigured by Palestinian suicide bombers Halper said that the “separation wall”, like most other Israeli policies, had nothing whatsoever to do with security and that discussing the wall in such terms made Israel sound like the victim.

It helped Israel claim “we are the good guys, they are the bad guys” as Israel tried to “reframe the conflict”. According to Halper, the wall is twice as high as the Berlin Wall was and five times as long.

Halper said Israel has demolished 27,000 Palestinian homes since 1967 and in only around 600 of those instances was security of possible concern for Israel. And he said that the “settlements” had nothing to do with security either.

Halper didn’t think there was a proper conflict, which needed two sides; Israel is too powerful due to its vast business dealings with Britain, its official treaty with America and its economy which is three times the size of Egypt’s, Palestine’s, Syria’s and Jordan’s combined, not forgetting Israel’s nuclear prowess.

Halper said most Palestinians live on £1.50 a day with no access to the Israeli job market and that Israel is driving middle class Palestinians out. He said that the Palestinians are so regulated they even need permission to plant gardens next to their homes and for growing certain flowers.

He said 300,000 Palestinians had left “the occupied territories” in the last 10 years while those remaining are confined to “bantustans”. Halper, sadly, spent the evening demeaning the experiences of blacks in apartheid South Africa, even describing Israel as being “super Apartheid”. See here:

Ever the hero, Halper went on to describe his brave actions during proposed house demolitions. Being an Israeli Jew, he said, meant it was more unlikely that he would be imprisoned. This allowed him to throw himself in front of bulldozers and to climb onto the roofs of those houses earmarked for demolition.

He mentioned Rachel Corrie who, he said, was “killed after being twice run over by a bulldozer”, and a pregnant Palestinian mother of ten who died after her house “was demolished while she was asleep inside”.

Did Halper have an answer to the problem of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Yes. He called for something like the “European Common Market” where citizens from Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon “can live and work throughout the region” and that “if Palestinian refugees want to come back from Lebanon to live in the Galilee, you can do that”. Watch here:

Such a simple solution and one which Israelis are bound to go for in their droves despite the prospect of living right next door to the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists dedicated to the slaughter of Jews! I doubt even Israel’s Arab citizens would go for it.

Meanwhile, if anyone catches sight or sound of Salim Shawamreh, please let me know as I’m concerned as to his whereabouts.

PSC brings allegations of Israel torturing children to the National Union of Teachers.

Photo on flyer for last night's Palestinian Child Prisoners event held at NUT.

Photo on flyer for last night's Palestinian Child Prisoners event held at NUT.

Israel hate came to the National Union of Teachers last night when the PSC was allowed to hold one of its meetings at the NUT’s sumptuous Hamilton House HQ in Euston, London.

About 80 teachers heard PSC Honorary President Betty Hunter call for a boycott of security firm G4S because of its work with Israel. G4S is tasked with securing the Olympics. Imagine the chaos in the UK this summer if the PSC had its way.

Chairing the event was Geoffrey Bindman of Bindman’s solicitors and the event was opened by Kevin Courtney, the Deputy General Secretary of the NUT, who welcomed us.

The title of the event was Bound, Blindfolded & Convicted: Palestinian Child Prisoners and the main speaker was Gerard Horton of Defence for Children International – Palestine Section who presented us with his organisation’s just released report Bound, Blindfolded & Convicted: Children held in military detention.

Horton had recently presented a similar talk at this year’s NUT annual conference.

Here is the 144 page report which took four years to compile. The report was based on interviews with 311 Palestinian children mainly aged from 14 to 17 (116 were 14-15 and 176 were 16-17).

97% of the testimonies were by males. Most arrests were for alleged stone throwing.

The report also contains 25 individual case studies of alleged bad treatment and/or torture by Israel.

The range of common complaints of the 311 included hand ties (95%), blindfolds (90%), physical violence (75%), detention inside Israel in violation of article 76 (63%), arrested between midnight and 5am (60%), confession during interrogation (58%), threats (57%), verbal abuse and/or humiliation (54%), strip searched (33%), transferred on floor of vehicle (32%), signed/shown documents written in Hebrew (29%), solitary confinement (12%).

So either Israel has a lot to answer for in its treatment of Palestinian children or someone somewhere is making a lot of money at the taxpayers’ expense producing what amounts to nothing more than anti-Israel propaganda.

Here’s some information about Defence for Children International – Palestine Section courtesy of NGO Monitor:

Its revenues in 2008 were $1,084,357. Known support includes a 600,000 Euro grant from the EU for the period 2009-2012 for a project called “Promoting and protecting the rights of Palestinian children affected by armed conflict and occupation.” It is receiving $639,000 from Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden and Holland and £12,500 from the UK. It is an active supporter and promoter of boycott campaigns against Israel. It supported the Goldstone Report. It published a list of 352 children who died during Operation Cast Lead but some of them have been identified by B’Tselem as combatants. It continues to promote the libel of a “Jenin massacre” on its website. It calls for Israel to recognise the “right of return” for Palestinians.

The main problem with the report is that, unless I am missing something, you cannot properly identify any of the 311 who gave testimony. There is also an interview with an Israeli soldier from Breaking The Silence where the interviewee is merely known as “Soldier”.

Last night Gerard Horton quoted from Breaking The Silence’s own website, a website that, again, contains anonymous testimony from Israeli soldiers.

But surely, with the alleged offences being so serious some people, at least, need to be named. As a solicitor Geoffrey Bindman, himself, would acknowledge that the report lacks credibility and wouldn’t stand up in a proper court of law.

Gerard Horton seemed to be very pleased with himself that testimonies from 311 people had been taken. But even if the report was based on the testimonies of 3,110 people the result is the same if they are anonymous.

After his short talk Gerard Horton showed us this Defence for Children International propaganda clip starring both himself and anti-Zionist activist Jeff Halper who wishes to boycott Israel out of existence. We  are shown Palestinian children with bruised eyes and swollen wrists allegedly inflicted by Israeli soldiers, but who really knows the truth behind the bruises and swellings.

On her way out one of the teachers told me that Israel is acting like the Nazis did. It’s a frightening prospect if any of your children are being taught by her.

In the meantime NGOs like DCI- PS need to be producing properly substantiated reports. Only then can the quote by Mark Regev, that Gerard Horton is so keen on, that “The test of a democracy is how you treat people incarcerated, people in jail, and especially so with minors” be tested with reference to Israel.

Otherwise what is the point of this NGO being heavily financed by us, the taxpayer? And what is a union like the NUT doing hosting what amounted to an evening of anti-Israel propaganda? Hasn’t the NUT got enough problems to sort out for its own members?

Smearing of pro-Israel questioners gathers pace at SOAS’ Centre for Palestine Studies.

Professor Gilbert Achcar (R) and Shlomo Sand (L) at SOAS in Feb. 2011.

Professor Gilbert Achcar (R) and Shlomo Sand (L) at SOAS in Feb. 2011.

Dr. Amal Jamal is following the path of Omar Bhargouti. Both are academics who have hugely benefited from living in Israel but who then came to London at the first opportunity to question Israel’s existence.

Tel Aviv University must have a death wish because Bhargouti, who would like to boycott Israel out of existence, did his Masters and is now pursuing a PhD there, and Dr. Jamal, who thinks Israel is heading towards a “one state solution”, is senior lecturer in the Political Science Department there.

Dr. Jamal spoke last night at SOAS on The Jewish State and the Hollowing Out of Palestinian Citizenship. The talk was sponsored by the recently created Centre for Palestine Studies, which is based at SOAS and includes Ilan Pappe as one of its academics.

Another of the Centre’s academics is Professor Gilbert Achcar. Professor Achcar lectures in the Department of Development Studies at SOAS.

Last night’s chairperson, and another of the Centre’s academics, was Dr. Laleh Khalili. Dr. Khalili lectures in the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS.

More on both Professor Achcar and Dr Khalili later on.

Dr Jamal introduced his talk by describing the “Zionist narrative” as Jews returning home to a land that was promised by God according to the Bible. But, he said, the Palestinians pose a heavy threat to that narrative.

This, he argued, has led to an Israeli policy of manufacturing “quiet Arabs” and “floating Arabs” who have no ability in Israel to influence what they want to be.

Israel, he said, is doing this by redefining the Jewish state and hollowing out Palestinian citizenship.

Part of this is a mechanism of “Control and Neglect”. “Neglect” means de-developing the Israeli Arabs so they become unequal to other citizens. And “citizenship” as a control mechanism is used to inhibit Israeli Arabs from integrating fully into Israeli life.

He said that in Israel “Jews live. Palestinians exist”.

He criticised the Knesset with its automatic majority that can enact any law. Other tools used included separation and “the racist Wall” and other walls being built in Lod and Caesarea. The citizenship law, the boycott law and the Nakba law were other examples as well as the limiting of resources for Israeli Arabs and the removal of citizenship in cases of treason.

Dr. Jamal concluded his talk by saying that the Jewish state is a hegemonic project that cannot tolerate contention and that this will eventually lead to its breakdown and that Israeli policies will close off any hope of a two state solution, eventually leading to a “one state solution”.

During the Q&A events took a turn for the worse.

I asked Dr Jamal why, if as he stated, Israeli Arabs could not influence their future in Israel then how had he become so successful there. I then went on to suggest that at least in Israel the Arabs had a chance to argue their case while in the surrounding Arab countries Arab citizens were either being slaughtered or undergoing the imposition of strict Islamic laws.

Dr Khalili thought this second point off-topic and tried to shout me down. Next someone shouted “This is Hasbarah. It is crap”. When I tried to defend my right to ask a question Professor Achcar, who was sat in the front row, referred to me as a “professional disruptor” to which Dr Khalili replied “I know, I remember”.

Then, quite incredibly, Professor Achcar announced to the room that I had left insults on his phone and that had he known I was coming he would not have allowed me in. He told me to get out.

I realised afterwards that this is the second time he has asked me to leave a talk. In February 2011 exactly the same happened when he didn’t like my questioning of Shlomo Sand (also of Tel Aviv University, incidentally) at SOAS.

Afterwards Professor Achcar told me that he still has the recordings of the insulting phone messages.

If he can prove that they are from me I will donate £1000 to a charity of his choice. Alternatively, he might have the decency to apologise.

I never got a proper answer from Dr Jamal as to why he had succeeded while other Israeli Arabs hadn’t. He just said that Israeli Jews must be saved from enacting policies of apartheid, expulsion and genocide. He said Jews can change but that the Jewish community in Britain has an important role to play as Israeli Jews  can’t save themselves on their own.

He also said that he wanted the right of return but for it to be controlled at first both for Jews and Arabs. Eventually, he said, up to 20 million people must be somehow accommodated.

For the Palestinian “right of return” read Israel’s destruction. And this from someone being paid by Israel to teach Israeli students!

Meanwhile, I was proud to study at SOAS and I contributed financially when I was recently telephoned to help current students. It’s now very sad that some anti-Israel SOAS lecturers are using smear tactics when they don’t like what they hear.