Monthly Archives: June 2012

Save the children…except when they’re Israeli.

Kerry Smith (Save The Children), Lord Warner, Aimee Shalan (Medical Aid for Palestinians) last night.

Kerry Smith (Save The Children), Lord Warner, Aimee Shalan (Medical Aid for Palestinians) last night.

I was back at Parliament last night for the launch of a joint report by Save The Children and Medical Aid for Palestinians called Falling Behind – The Effect Of The Blockade On Child Health in Gaza.

The same day a report was released called Children in Military Custody. This may explain why there were only 20 people at my meeting.

It must have been a good day to release bad news about Israel. With politicians, NGOs and charities totally impotent to stop massacres in Syria and starvation and disease in Africa they got back to doing what they do best; delegitimising Israel.

I haven’t had a chance to read Children in Military Custody except to note that it starts off by stating:

“We have no reason to differ from the view of Her Majesty’s Government and the international community that these settlements are illegal.”

This despite Article 6 of the British Mandate which called for “close settlement by Jews on the land”. So when did those “settlements” suddenly become “illegal”?

Anyone?

Children in Military Custody also relies heavily on a recent report on exactly the same subject matter by Defence for Children International – Palestine Section called Bound, Blindfolded & Convicted: Children held in military detention.

How many reports on exactly the same subject do we need? Obviously there is no austerity in some NGOs and government departments (Children in Military Custody was funded by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

The main problem with Bound, Blindfolded & Convicted is that all the testimony was taken anonymously.

Similarly, Children in Military Custody adopted the ‘Chatham House principle’ of not attributing quotes to individuals, again making it impossible to test the evidence.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Embassy in London responded to Children in Military Custody by noting that Palestinians under the age of 18 were encouraged by school textbooks and television programmes to glorify terrorism. As a result they were often involved in lethal acts which presented the Israeli authorities with serious challenges.

But the Embassy said Israel intends to study the recommendations “as part of its ongoing efforts to find the most appropriate balance between preventing violence and treating perpetrators with humanity”.

As for Falling Behind – The Effect Of The Blockade On Child Health in Gaza Kerry Smith (Humanitarian Advocacy Adviser, Save The Children) and Aimee Shalan (Director of Advocacy and Communications, Medical Aid for Palestinians) solely blamed Israel’s blockade for the apparent swathe of malnutrition and disease sweeping the children of Gaza caused by, inter alia, lack of medicines and there being (literally) no safe drinking water in Gaza.

I asked how this could be the case if the average age longevity in Gaza is better than parts of Britain, specifically Glasgow (in Gaza average life expectancy is 74.16 years).

Labour’s Lord Warner, who was chairing, explained that it was only since Israel’s blockade that there had been a rapid deterioration in child health in Gaza, therefore only in 10 to 15 years time will we truly see how far average life expectancy in Gaza has dropped as a result of the blockade.

I then asked how it was that there could be such a shortage of medicines considering the existence of the likes of Save The Children and UNRWA. Why would Israel block these medicines?

This time the blame was with Israel’s bureaucracy which meant that much of the medicine arrived out of date. Oh, and Israel kept only one crossing open (Kerem Shalom). Someone from the audience shouted that it was “all intentional”.

I also asked whether Egypt should take any  responsibility for Gaza, but was told that Egypt’s border with Gaza is closed at the request of Israel.

Hamas wasn’t mentioned once, except for when Lord Warner said that he didn’t believe it was full of terrorists.

Kerry Smith and Aimee Shalan then called for Israel to lift its blockade to enable free movement in and out of Gaza.

Should Israel heed this call it wouldn’t be long before it was burying many of its children blown up in Hamas and Islamic Jihad suicide bombings.

So just to recap Save The Children, United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Hamas, Amnesty, War on Want, Egypt etc. have no responsibility whatsoever for Gaza.

All responsibility lies totally with Israel who should immediately open itself up to the risk of Palestinian suicide bombers.

But, then again, you knew that didn’t you….

Protests outside Arts Depot against anti-Israel actor Miriam Margolyes.

Engaging a theatre-goer outside Arts Depot on Saturday night.

Engaging a theatre-goer outside Arts Depot on Saturday night.

Early Saturday evening a small group of pro-Israel activists stood outside Arts Depot in Finchley, north London handing out leaflets to people going into see Miriam Margolyes’ show Dickens’ Women.

The activists explained to them that Margolyes had signed a letter to The Guardian that asked The Globe to withdraw its invitation to Habima (The National Theatre of Israel) to give two performances of The Merchant of Venice as one of its 37 Shakespeare plays in 37 languages season.

The letter was silent on performances to be given by theatre companies from China, Russia, The Palestinian territories, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Turkey etc. despite human rights atrocities in those places.

Only Israel was the subject of the letter on the ground that Habima had performed in a settlement and the letter ignorantly claimed that settlements are illegal. The letter concluded “We ask the Globe to withdraw the invitation so that the festival is not complicit with human rights violations and the illegal colonisation of occupied land.”

As it happens Habima went ahead with their shows in front of sold-out audiences on both nights in sharp contrast to the two shows given by the Palestinian theatre company who found that those who claim to be their friends aren’t.

The pro-Israel activists handed out over 100 leaflets outside Arts Depot. Most theatre-goers were happy to receive a leaflet and many came out to ask for one. Most didn’t know about Margolyes shameful politics of calling for boycotts of fellow actors and they agreed that she was wrong.

But some theatre-goers were, nevertheless, over-protective of Margolyes like the man in this clip who went for Jonathan Hoffman:

Margolyes is on a world tour so feel free to peacefully inform theatre-goers about her vile politics. Margolyes should count herself lucky that no one ever targeted her for a boycott over Britain’s involvement in Iraq.

Click here for the rest of her schedule in the UK and America.

I understand there will be another peaceful gathering outside Arts Depot on Sunday 24th June at 1.30pm for Margolyes’ 2.30pm performance. Please join.

Margolyes was fresh from Friday night’s appearance on The Graham Norton show on the BBC when she turned to Will.i.am and said that she was “fascinated” to meet him because he’s black!

Here it is, folks. Get ready to cringe:

ISRAELLYCOOL has blogged the protest under the headline “The Zionist Empire Strikes Back”.

Labour MPs describe inhuman Palestinian conditions in Lebanon then call for boycott of Israel.

Kaufman calls for boycott of Israel. Andy Slaughter on his left and Jeremy Corbyn (scratching).

Kaufman calls for boycott of Israel. Andy Slaughter on his left and Jeremy Corbyn (scratching).

There were more surreal ongoings at Parliament on Monday night when the Palestinian Return Centre held a seminar on the Palestinian refugees, which was attended by four Labour MPs.

I was banned from filming and photographing by the organisers eventhough there were two camera crews in the room, one from Lebanon, and about 10 other people in the audience filming or taking photos.

Then at the end of the event Jonathan Hoffman and I were met by four police officers. Jonathan was taken aside by an officer and told that during the meeting he had said that the MPs were supporting terrorism by allowing terrorist supporters into Parliament. We were then given a police escort out of Parliament.

Jonathan never said anything of the sort. He only spoke during the Q&A when called upon by Gerald Kaufman MP and then only to remind Jeremy Corbyn MP that Israel had frozen settlement building to allow negotiations to resume but that the Palestinians never took Israel up on the offer.

It was Kaufman who raised the issue of terrorism. He said that every week The Jewish Chronicle sends him a complimentary issue and that this week he noticed the headline “Hamas gets a hearing in House of Commons”.

The JC article goes on to describe how Ismail Haniyeh was the guest speaker at PRC’s annual conference in 2009.

Jokingly, Kaufman asked if anyone in the room was from Hamas at which, to loud applause, a young woman raised an arm.

The meeting had started with Kaufman acknowledging the dreadful deprivations suffered by the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. He said that the refugee camps had no electricity or clean water and that sewage ran down the middle of the streets.

But, he said, despite these conditions he was moved that the main thing on the minds of the refugees was the “right of return”. He spoke of a Palestinian woman with an asthmatic baby and no medication who only wanted to discuss the “right of return”.

Mohammed Al Hamid, Chair of PRC Board of Trustees, said that the “seven million Palestinian refugees shared their indignities with another 44 million refugees worldwide”. He said refugees wanting to return home was a basic urge and that “we should defend this cause”.

Dr Arafat Shoukri, Director of the Council for European Palestinian Relations, said the Palestinians have no political or civil rights in Lebanon and that they are banned from working in 70 professions there.

He said that the right of return would not lead to the destruction of Israel because the Palestinians having the right is different from them actually exercising it. He thinks the Palestinians should be granted the right and it is up to them whether to exercise it.

He also said Lebanon thinks it is protecting the right of return by keeping the Palestinians in such oppressive conditions.

Dr. Tariq Tahboob, of the Association of Palestinian Doctors in Europe, said that the Palestinians are a very proud people with a 93% literacy rate. He said “Moses, the great prophet of Muslims, Christians and Jews said to Pharaoh ‘let my people go’”. Tahboob then repeated “let my people go”.

Tahboob also said Israel was created on Palestine in 1948 and he called for a two state solution with east Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital and for the right of return to be kept in place.

Andrew Love MP also acknowledged the lack of employment opportunities for Palestinians in Lebanon and how Lebanon imports labour from Syria and Egypt.

Love said that when the Palestinian refugees arrived in Lebanon only the Christian Palestinians were granted Lebanese citizenship by the Phalange government. Now, he said, if a Lebanese woman has a baby with a Palestinian man she will hide his name so the baby will become Lebanese.

Quite unbelievably, despite the obvious suffering of the Palestinians in Lebanon Gerald Kaufman MP and Jeremy Corbyn MP went on to call for a boycott of Israel.

Corbyn asked “Why are we trading normally with Israel?” He said that the Palestinians in exile were desperate to return home and that the conditions of the Palestinians in Gaza was morally wrong and a danger to the rest of the world.

Andy Slaughter MP, Labour’s shadow justice minister, said that the issue of the right of return had been sidelined as there have been so many injustices and abuses  and that the injustices since 1948 are not in the past but in the present.

During the Q&A I was allowed to ask the panelists whether they felt ashamed that, by contributing to this false hope of “returning” to Israel, they have helped to sentence the Palestinians to lives of hell in Lebanon. I didn’t get a constructive response.

And after that Jonathan and I had our appointment with the police.

(Here is an interesting update to the talk from Harry’s Place.)

Yachad’s Ben White love-in.

What to do about Yachad?

This UK based organisation that calls itself “pro-Israel, pro-peace” had an inauspicious start in the UK.

On October 31st last year at a panel event at UCL Yachad’s Hannah Weisfeld endorsed two of Israel’s main demonisers; Israeli human rights organisation Yesh Din and the vicious anti-Israel website +972 Magazine.

And at SOAS on January 30th this year on a panel to discuss Is BDS working? Weisfeld hinted that she just might endorse a boycott of part of Israel’s Jewish community when she said of the “settlements”:

“I think we would be having a very different conversation in this room if the BDS movement was about a targeted boycott. I am not saying that I would necessarily support it, but I think the entire debate would be different, because I think the position would be a position that does not put people on the defensive because it recognises the legitimacy of the other side to exist and I think that the level of criminality that exists inside the Green Line, over the Green Line is not distinguished…is exactly the reason BDS will not succeed in ending the occupation.”

The legality of the “settlements” is a valid argument to have in my book but not to condemn outright a boycott of Jews is unforgivable and in my book “I am not saying that I would necessarily support it” is tantamount to saying “I might support a boycott of Jews living on the West Bank”.

Seeing that Yachad calls itself “pro-Israel” and that Israel needs all the friends it can get in a time of increasing anti-Semitism not so cleverly disguised as anti-Zionism Yachad should have been given time to prove its credentials.

We’ve tried, we’ve listened but Yachad has done Israel no favours at all so far.

Yachad is pro-Israel to the extent that, unlike the Palestine Solidarity Campaign for example, it believes the Jewish state should exist. Incidentally, I have heard it put that the reason that some mainstream Jewish organisations embrace Yachad is that they see Yachad as a buffer to stopping young British Jews joining the PSC.

Some endorsement!

One of Yachad’s main arguments is that if Israel does not vacate the West Bank Israel will inevitably lose its Jewish and democratic status as the West Bank’s alleged 2.5 million Palestinians will, when added to Israel’s own Arab population, eventually outnumber Israel’s Jews.

Such a calculation has been deconstructed in this study by Bar-Ilan University which puts the number of Palestinians on the West Bank at 1.41 million.

I wanted to compare Yachad’s claim to the BIU study so I sent an email to Yachad on March 27th asking for their source. I received no response.

I did receive an invite to Yachad’s upcoming events at The Jewish Museum (June 10th), the Marjorie and Arnold Ziff Community Centre, Leeds (June 14th), Finchley Reform Synagogue (June 17th), Hampstead Synagogue (June 18th) and the London Jewish Cultural Centre (June 19th) on the proviso that we “start a conversation within UK Jewry about these issues which are at the heart of the ongoing conflict”.

First, Yachad wants these issues to be discussed amongst “UK Jewry”. What about the views of the UK’s Muslim and Christian etc. friends of Israel? Yachad may as well hang a “Only Jews welcome here” sign outside their events. And, yet, Yachad has the nerve to compare Israel to an apartheid state.

Second, is it not the height of arrogance for Yachad to presume that the democratic wishes of Israel’s electorate can be so easily overridden by “a conversation within UK Jewry”?

Supporters of Yachad could do no better than make aliyah and win hearts and minds in Israel in order to change government policy. Jews in the UK have no vote and little, if any, influence on Israeli government policy. Yachad should be having the “conversation” in Israel where it might actually count.

Supporting Yesh Din and +972 Magazine is one thing and scaremongering over the demographics of the region is another but Yachad can’t get much lower than reaching out to one of Israel’s main enemies and demonisers; Ben White.

It did just that on Twitter when on April 27th, in the name of “diversity”, it asked White to comment on their new blog and, in particular, a piece by David Landau which makes the scaremongering argument over the demographics of the region I have outlined above:

The piece, by the way, attracted just four comments.

As Yachad is all for “diversity” it is a surprise they didn’t reach out to far-right fascists because the difference between their views and some of the views of Ben White is minimal.

Like those on the extreme far-right White is a hardcore anti-Israel polemicist who wants the Jewish state destroyed. And in his book Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide White cites an essay by Roger Garaudy who was fined the equivalent of $20,000 by a French court for questioning the Holocaust.

On June 29th last year White was due to share a platform with homophobic preacher Sheikh Raed Salah at a panel discussion until Salah could not appear due to having been arrested after entering this country despite being on a banned list.

Salah eventually won his deportation case despite, inter alia, believing that homosexuality is a “great crime” which signals “the start of the collapse of every society” and laughing at the memory of taunting a Jewish teacher with a Swastika.

White has also written “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are.”

And White tweeted this comment in light of Habima’s upcoming recent performance at The Globe:

Here is that “massive picture of Howard Jacobson’s face”:



As Joseph W writes over at Harry’s Place
:

“Ben White appears to be linking Howard Jacobson – an English Jew – and Israeli Jewish Habima actors, by aesthetics and looks. If you are aware of the history of antisemitism, you will know that a great deal of attention was given to the physical appearance of Jews, who were portrayed as people whom one could legitimately hate based on how they look.”

Incidentally, for anyone looking to defend White on the basis that he might have been talking about the expression on Jacobson’s face here’s Joseph W again pointing out that White didn’t mention Jacobson’s expression, simply his face.

So, if you are going to any of those Yachad events keep in mind the sickening company Yachad keeps; all in the cause of “diversity”!

Warhorse writer just can’t kick his “Israel shoots innocent children” habit.

Michael Morpurgo's loose talk could cost more Jewish lives.

Michael Morpurgo’s loose talk could cost more Jewish lives.

Warhorse writer Michael Morpurgo is back. Not with a new book but to repeat the unsubstantiated allegation he made last year during his Richard Dimbleby Lecture that Israel shoots Palestinian children “like a video game”.

Morpurgo was speaking at this year’s Daily Telegraph sponsored Hay Festival and his speech was covered by Anita Singh, The Daily Telegraph’s Showbusiness editor.

Sadly, Singh wasn’t covering showbusiness but hideous propaganda that could have dangerous consequences for Jews everywhere.

Morpurgo’s speech wasn’t worth reporting as it wasn’t newsworthy; the speech was a repeat of a section of his Richard Dimbleby Lecture of February 2011!

But Anita Singh thinks Morpurgo had just returned from Gaza and that he was, therefore, giving a personal account of continuing horror there. She says:

“The War Horse author recently visited Israel and Gaza as an ambassador for Save The Children.”

But, the visit, as Morpurgo pointed out in that Richard Dimbleby Lecture, was made in November 2010. Some 19 months ago!

At Hay, as in that February 2011 lecture, Morpurgo described what allegedly happened as he was waiting to leave Gaza in November 2010:

“I heard the shots, then the screaming, saw the kids running to help their wounded friends. Now I really was outside the comfort zone of fiction. A doctor from Medecins Sans Frontieres told me that the shots were not fired by snipers from the watchtowers on the wall, as I had supposed, but that these scavengers were routinely targeted, electronically from Tel Aviv, which was over 25 kilometres away – ‘Spot and Strike’, the Israelis call it.

It was like a video game – a virtual shooting, only it wasn’t: there was blood, his trousers were soaked in it, the bullets were real. I saw the boy close to, saw his agony as the cart rushed by me.”

But there were some mysterious additions to Morpurgo’s Hay speech which seriously dent his credibility on this:

1. In his Richard Dimbleby Lecture Morpurgo said that the children were “sometimes targeted, remotely, electronically from Tel Aviv”. According to Anita Singh’s report Morpurgo stated at Hay that “these scavengers were routinely targeted, electronically from Tel Aviv”.

2. At Hay Morpurgo added a UNICEF quote that “that 26 children were shot like this in 2010″, which wasn’t in his Richard Dimbleby Lecture.

3. In his Richard Dimbleby Lecture Morpurgo quoted the Palestinian child death toll from Operation Cast Lead as being 300. Come Hay he has suddenly revised that figure upwards to 347!

Finally, in his Richard Dimbleby Lecture Morpurgo stated of the allegations that Israel targets children remotely “I don’t know if these claims are true”, but Anita Singh doesn’t report his inclusion of this admission at Hay.

If Morpurgo doesn’t know if such claims are true then why the hell is he going round repeating them?

How many Jewish children might now be targeted just like the three Jewish youngsters shot dead by the Islamist in Toulouse who believed the exact same propaganda now being spread by Morpurgo?

Basically, it seems that Morpurgo saw nothing of the shooting that took place as he was waiting to leave Gaza. He just believed what he was told by others.

I can’t do better than finish with this comment left by worldview21 under Anita Singh’s report:

“Morpurgo’s word that he witnessed an innocent boy shot by remote control is not believable. Where is the evidence? Who else saw it? Why did he not take any photographs? How can he assert that the bullet came from an unmanned IDF gun?

This story is the product of an anti-Zionist’s wilful imagination, maliciously designed to arouse a knee-jerk wave of hatred and indignation from a baying rabble of baiters and haters.

It has done the trick.”