Monthly Archives: July 2012

Hava Nagila inspires USA’s Aly Raisman to victory at the empy seat Olympics.

Empty seats left and right at North Greenwich Arena yesterday.

Empty seats left and right at North Greenwich Arena yesterday.

Israeli gymnast Valeria Maksiuta disappointed in the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics qualification round at the London Olympics yesterday coming 59th out of 60. It was left to Israel’s proxy, the USA, to step into the breach.

Only two women from each country can qualify for the individual all-round final on Thursday so USA team captain Aly Raisman needed something inspirational in the floor exercise to put her above team mate Jordyn Wieber. And to the tune of Hava Nagila she didn’t disappoint herself as her winning score of 15.325 put her through to the final.

She said she’s proud to use the traditional Jewish tune “because there aren’t too many Jewish athletes out there” among the world’s top gymnasts.

Check out her spectacular winning routine from yesterday and……enjoy!

Team GB’s Beth Tweddle was equally sensational. Had the Greenwich Arena been filled to capacity yesterday the roof would have come off and the foundations would have been rocked when Tweddle somersaulted off the uneven bars at the end of her routine:

It was thrilling to be at the North Greenwich Arena and see such incredible performances. Woman’s gymnastics is drama, theatre, art and sport combined.

London was also buzzing. The Olympics is a rare chance for a country to have a positive shared experience. Those heading to events feel part of something special so it was especially sad to see so many empty seats.

LOCOG had intentionally whipped the British public up into a ticket buying frenzy, which left so many disappointed. Hours of people’s lives were wasted online.

Only now has the truth been revealed. Tickets were allocated to sponsors and the “Olympics family” who haven’t bothered showing up for the qualifying rounds of events. No doubt they’ll be there for medal events.

Television viewers are seeing swathes of empty seats across many events and it was the same at the gymnastics yesterday. LOCOG even brought in the army as seat fillers. The last time I saw so many military watching an event was, literally, at Yugoslavia’s Marshall Tito FA cup final in 1987 in Belgrade!

Now there’s talk of somehow retrieving unused tickets and handing them out to school-children and the unemployed, meaning that those who have spent hours online and who are desperate to go will miss out again.

Seb Coe and LOCOG really don’t get it.

It is unforgivable.

More photos from yesterday:

Army brought in as seat fillers yesterday.

Army brought in as seat fillers yesterday.

Team Canada posing for photos yesterday.

Team Canada posing for photos yesterday.

Israeli flag for Valeria Maksiuta

Israeli flag for Valeria Maksiuta

Building the atmosphere yesterday.

Building the atmosphere yesterday.

The cowardly Zionism of Jonathan Freedland.

In his piece Yearning for the same land in this week’s New Statesman magazine prize winning author and columnist Jonathan Freedland cites four shades of Zionism: secular, religious, left-wing and rightist.

Make that five shades: Freedland Zionism – sitting in one’s comfortable diaspora home while joining in the delegitimisation of Israel.

A May issue of the New Statesman was devoted to Who Speaks for British Jews? This week’s issue asks Israel: the future – Is the dream of a two-state solution dead? In January 2002 the New Statesman’s sickening front cover had the Star of David piercing the Union Jack with the words Kosher Conspiracy? It was an issue devoted to the undue influence of “the Zionist lobby” (see end).

Israel is unique in being the only country whose future, or lack of, is constantly under discussion. And who knew that ripping the heart out of Judaism by giving up places like the Machpelah in Hebron is considered a “dream”?  A necessity in return for an elusive peace maybe, but no dream.

Freedland puts himself among the “left-leaning Zionists”. These are “true Zionists” who think that “the 45-year long occupation is jeopardising the founding Zionist goal of a Jewish, democratic state.”

Freedland doesn’t tell us why the “occupation” is threatening Israel’s Jewish and democratic status but it sounds like the scaremongering of J Street and Yachad.

Yachad, for example, claims that if Israel doesn’t withdraw from the West Bank then by 2020 the Palestinians between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea will outnumber Jews. Minority autocratic rule by Jews over Palestinians will follow or, as Mick Davis, a British Jewish community leader put it recently, “Israel is heading towards an apartheid state”.

Those who cite this thesis never back it up with a source, but that is because it is just more anti-Israel propaganda; a ploy to force Israel to dangerously concede more land.

Yoram Ettinger shows how the numbers of Palestinians on the West Bank are regularly artificially inflated by at least one million and argues that Palestinians and Israeli Arabs can never make up more than 30% of those living between the River and the Sea. Freedland wouldn’t want facts to get in the way of a good story.

Freedland claims to support Israel’s right to exist. He just doesn’t like how Zionism was implemented or current Israeli policy. And he believes that “the security, viability and even the ethical character of the Jewish state matter more than its size.”

He contrasts this position with that of the “hawkish Zionists, heirs of the revisionist tradition of Vladimir Jabotinsky who are territorial maximalists, eager to fly the Israeli flag over all of the West Bank”.

So just how small does Freedland think Israel should have been?

The Peel Commission of 1937 offered the Arabs 80% of British Mandate Palestine and the Jews 20%. The Zionists accepted but Arab leaders rejected this leaving Europe’s Jews to their fate in the gas chambers.

Freedland states “Israel needs to look plainly at the circumstances of its birth and understand why Palestinians regard the event as a catastrophe.” But Arab leaders having rejected, this time, 45% of British Mandate Palestine in 1947 went on to commence hostilities against the Jews instead.

So who are the real “territorial maximalists” here?

In fact the seeds for Arab defeat in 1947-1949 were self-inflicted having been sown during the 1936-39 Arab uprising in British Mandate Palestine which was brutally crushed by the British leaving the Arabs bereft of leaders, fighters and weapons while Zionist militias used the time to build up their reserves.

Freedland then complains that there were no takers in Israel for a “national memorial day to mark the Arab dispossession”.

But why would Israelis commemorate an attempt by Arab leaders to kill them?

Despite all this Arab rejectionism Freedland then, incredibly, goes on to portray Jews and Arabs as drowning nations clinging to the same piece of driftwood. He thinks the Jews who were “gasping for breathe” were right to cling to it in 1948. After 1967, he claims Israel pushed the Palestinians off the shared driftwood and into the sea.

Freedland doesn’t bother analysing what the situation might have been like today had Israel not been in West Bank.  One need only look at the aftermath of Israel’s pullout from Gaza: rockets slamming into Tel Aviv, anyone?

Like in his piece This is Israel? Not the one I Love in the Jewish Chronicle last November Freedland doesn’t like to complicate the issue by mentioning Hamas or Islamic Jihad. No mention of Hamas’ call to kill Jews in its charter or of Hamas’ beliefs that Israel is an “Islamic waqf” and that peaceful solutions are invalid.

Freedland never asks, or answers, why he thinks the Palestinians, who rejected 80% of the territory in 1937 and 45% in 1947 would accept 22% now. In fact he doesn’t criticise the Palestinians once.

Luckily for Freedland he has never had to take a life or death decision. Sadly, he takes the coward’s way out and criticises those unlucky Jews forced to. He yearns for the perfect Israel and until then won’t stop his constant delegitimisation of the Jewish state.

But it gets worse. Alongside Freedland’s piece is a piece by Ali Abunimah. Abunimah calls for a one state solution and the ending of “Israelis’ demand for the supremacy of Jewish rights over those of the Palestinians”. While Geoffrey Wheatcroft, in his book review How the dream died, describes the American “pro-Israel official ‘Jewish establishment’” as “elderly, rich and right-wing”.

“Supremacy of Jewish rights”, Jews described as “rich”? The New Statesman obviously has no problem with keeping sickening anti-Semitic stereotypes alive.

Just 1 minute, Mr Rogge!

Plaque unveiled by Mayor of London Boris Johnson in Hackney ceremony.

Plaque unveiled by Mayor of London Boris Johnson in Hackney ceremony.

On 5th September 1972 inside Munich’s Olympics Village Israeli athletes were ambushed by Palestinian terrorists. Over the course of the day 11 Israelis were murdered after botched rescue attempts by the German authorities. A German policeman also died. The Games carried on.

Some of the terrorists died during the final rescue attempt at a military airbase but the others, held in German custody, gained their freedom after a plane was subsequently hijacked and a demand for their release was agreed to.

Mossad methodically went about locating and killing each terrorist, except one.

Common decency has it that those trusted into your care are remembered when tragedy occurs. British football grounds regularly resonate to a minute silence when one of the footballing community is lost.

But not where the International Olympics Committee is concerned and where Israeli blood was spilled under its auspices. Heaven forbid they should offend certain other competing nations.

At no stage has this tragedy been properly remembered since 1972; never a minute silence at any Games in the 40 years since. The only plaques to the murdered athletes are in Munich and Israel.

Ankie Spitzer, wife of Andre, the murdered fencing coach, asked the IOC for a minute silence during the opening ceremony of the London Olympics to mark the 40th anniversary of the attack but Jacques Rogge said the atmosphere of the opening ceremony made such a silence inappropriate. The IOC will, instead, go to the military airbase where the final botched rescue bid took place. Neatly out of sight and mind of those the IOC don’t wish to offend.

Anticipating this outcome the co-chairs of the Britain and Israel Olympic Plaque Committee Martin Sugarman (Chair Hackney-Haifa Twinning Association) and councillor Linda Kelly (past speaker of Hackney) raised funds for a dignified and moving ceremony yesterday morning at the Arthaus in Hackney.

Linda said she was amazed that with all the hours during the Olympics the IOC could not spare one minute for the memory of the murdered athletes.

The Conservative Party was represented by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Communities Minister Eric Picles MP, Matthew Offord MP and Councillor Brian Coleman.

Eric Pickles MP, Minister for Communities and Local Government.

Eric Pickles MP, Minister for Communities and Local Government.

Labour was solely represented by Andrew Dismore, GLA member for Barnet and Camden. The Miliband brothers were invited but one was busy and the other didn’t reply. No mainstream Liberal Democrat politicians bothered to come.

Maureen Lipman, who constantly fights Israel’s corner against the many hypocrites in the acting world, came.

Sebastian Coe, London Olympics organiser, was invited. Linda Kelly read out his reply which amounted to nothing more than “Sorry. Mad busy at moment”. Shame he couldn’t have used one of his ubiquitous VIP Olympics lanes to transport him to Hackney for even the 20 minutes or so that Boris Johnson managed to appear.

Meanwhile, the Simon Marks Primary School Choir beautifully sang Jerusalem of Gold, the Hatikvah, God Save The Queen and Oseh Shalom Bimromav, which preceeded Kaddish (Prayer for the deceased) for the athletes.

The superb Simon Marks Jewish Primary School Choir.

The superb Simon Marks Jewish Primary School Choir.

War veterans were there to present wreaths in front of the plaque, which was unveiled by Boris Johnson, and to perform the Last Post and Reveille either side of the minute silence for the athletes.

Jewish war veterans present a wreath.

Jewish war veterans present a wreath.

Yosi Romano, named after his uncle who was mercilessly gunned down in Munich, spoke movingly as did Ben Helfgott, a Holocaust survivor and British Olympian, who knew the murdered Israeli athletes so well.

Yosi Romano named after his uncle who was murdered in 1972.

Yosi Romano named after his uncle who was murdered in 1972.

Holocaust survivor and ex British Olympian Ben Helfgott.

Holocaust survivor and ex British Olympian Ben Helfgott.

Efraim Zinger, the President of the Israeli Olympics Committee, noted that this is the third time London has hosted the Olympics; in 1908 Israel didn’t exist, in 1948 they were fighting for their lives and, so, they didn’t want to miss out on London 2012.

Boris Johnson spoke of the “numb disbelief” in which the world watched events unfold in Munich in 1972. He was eight at the time.

Boris Johnson unveiling the plaque yesterday.

Boris Johnson unveiling the plaque yesterday.

The permanent plaque is available to be visited at the Arthaus in Hackney. Meanwhile, a big thank you to Martin and Linda, an anonymous donor, the Reuben Foundation, the Muriel and Gershon Coren Charitable Foundation and to Hackney and East London Synagogue for their hospitality
Videos:

Ronnie Kasrils: “South African Jews told their children not to waste time on the blacks.”

Ronnie Kasrils (left), Alan (Chair), Gary MacFarlane (Right) last night.

Ronnie Kasrils (left), Alan (Chair), Gary MacFarlane (Right) last night.

Last night a few of us journeyed deep into Tottenham, north London, the area that sparked last year’s London riots, to hear hardcore anti-Israel activist Ronnie Kasrils, who was over from South Africa.

Haringey Palestine Solidarity Campaign hosted the evening in the St John Vianney Church.

It was an evening where Jews were painted as “demonic”. This didn’t apply to Ronnie Kasrils who told us that he was able to break with the ethnic position of being Jewish, Zionist and white skinned in a white society, which helped him to “find my freedom”.

Kasrils told how South African Jews thought of blacks in apartheid South Africa as “the wretched of the earth”. This was followed by a woman in the audience who opined about “what Jews have become”.

Kasrils’ opening attack was the usual nonsense:

“The Jews took that land from the Arabs who had been there for over 1,000 years…The mythology of the establishment of the state of Israel is ‘The Lord Our G-d acting as an estate agent’…and He decided He has a Chosen People… ‘There is a Chosen People and it’s me the Jews and we are specially given the land’…We are the Chosen People and we can come here and evacuate, we can dismiss an entire population of people, at that time 700,000, by all means possible.”

He compared the landing of the forefathers of South Africa in 1652, when they discovered “black skinned people”, to Zionists. Both the forefathers and Zionists, he said, “argued that the land was empty”:

“In 1948 people were fleeing Europe from the Holocaust but the Zionists misled the poor wretches to a land without a people for a people without a land.”

Then he described what Jews in South Africa told their children:

“Don’t worry about the blacks. They’re used to it. That’s the mantra. Don’t worry, they’re used to it. All the poverty and the way they have to live etc. Each to his own. Focus on your own life. You can give the beggars some money. But these people; the poor, the wretched of the earth, they’re used to it. Don’t waste your time.”

Here it is:

During the Q&A a woman spoke of her visit to Gaza. She said she hadn’t met any terrorists there, just “freedom fighters”. She had met an amputee who had been walking to hospital one day to give birth when her husband was “liquidated” next to her after which she gave birth while Palestinian doctors were patching up her amputated legs. The woman continued:

“This is Israel. This is Israel. And it’s much more than an apartheid state; it is a demonic state!”

She addressed Jonathan Hoffman who had also been allowed to speak during the Q&A:

“Your behaviour is so atrocious that we when see someone acting like you act, if this is what the Jews have become it is a great shame. But I know that is not true because there I see a man, a Jew, and there are many others who I know who are standing up for what Judaism is really about. Ronnie Kasrils it is very nice to see you here…What is happening now about Iran and about Syria? I was teaching in school when a young Jewish boy stood up many years ago and said ‘We Israelis, we Jews, are going to bring Syria down’. This is 10 years ago.”

Here is the sickening audio:

“What’s become of the Jews?” – Haringey PSC

Meanwhile, I was under strict instructions from Alan, who was chairing, not to take any photos eventhough I had politely asked at the beginning. As ever everyone else was allowed. On my way out of the event I quickly took the above shot from the back of the room whereupon I was pushed and shoved out of the room by two thugs.

I just don’t get how anti-Israel activists think they have the right to even lay a hand on someone, let alone push and shove them.

Once outside though it was funny to see bins for the church provided by Veolia, one of the companies that there had just been a call inside the meeting to boycott because of its links with Israel (see below).

Oh dear, Veolia bins in the church grounds.

Oh dear, Veolia bins in the church grounds.