Monthly Archives: November 2012

Yachad and UJS to host talk by boycotter Peter Beinart at UJIA.

Yachad calls itself “The pro-Israel pro-peace voice of British Jews”. It’s as if no other pro-Israel British Jew can possibly be “pro-peace”. Just those Jews who support Yachad, you understand.

At the United Nations in New York today at what is euphemistically called Observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, “Palestine” is due to be recognised as a non-member observer state.

However, today’s rhetoric has had nothing to do with Palestinian statehood, but has been tantamount to incitement to murder Jews and Israelis and to boycott Israel out of existence. One Arab delegate accused Israelis of burning the Koran, and Roger Waters spoke for 25 minutes. Waters accused Israel, inter alia, of apartheid and prioritising Jewish people above its other citizens. He demanded a boycott of Israel.

Delegate after delegate called for a two-state solution and for UNGA Resolution 194 to be implemented. 194 calls for a return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. As the UN classes ALL Palestinian descendants as refugees this would soon lead to the demographic destruction of Israel as the world’s only Jewish state. What UN delegates are, in effect, calling for is a two-state solution as long as both states are Palestinian.

Waters, ludicrously, claimed that Hamas has agreed to future peace with Israel as long as a Palestinian state is agreed along the 1967 ceasefire lines. He claimed that New Yorkers, cut off from the outside world, don’t know this. Hamas who, in their Charter, call for the murder of all Jews are hardly going to agree to any Jewish state along any lines. It is Waters who is cut off.

But, now, with this growing febrile atmosphere against Israel where Israelis are demonised and demands made that they be boycotted Peter Beinart has been invited by Yachad and the Union of Jewish Students to address a Jewish audience at the offices of the United Joint Israel Appeal (UJIA). UJIA, a charity, is supposed to have the interests of Israel and all Israelis at heart.

It is a student-only event. Here is the Facebook page where the location of the event has now been hidden:

As you can read Beinart calls for “a boycott of West Bank Settlement produce”.

So because Beinart disagrees with a group of people, in this case Israeli settlers, he wants their businesses and livelihoods immediately destroyed and their ability to feed their families and young children immediately curtailed. All they have worked for should be destroyed overnight on the say so of someone living thousands of miles away?

Hannah Weisfeld, who heads Yachad, claimed in March this year:

“While we hugely respect Peter Beinart and believe he adds an important voice to the debate, we believe that all forms of boycott are counter-productive.”

However, a month earlier at an Israeli Society event at SOAS discussing whether Israel should be boycotted Weisfeld was far more ambiguous when she said:

“I think we would be having a very different conversation in this room if the BDS movement was about a targeted (settlement) boycott. I am not saying that I would necessarily support it, but I think the entire debate would be different…”

Now Weisfeld, Yachad and the Union of Jewish Students have invited Beinart to make the case, via Skype, for just such a targeted boycott of those Israeli families living on the West Bank.

By all means disagree with their living their and make the case that they shouldn’t be. Try to achieve a gradual change in Israeli government policy, like when Ariel Sharon finally decided to order Israeli settlers to be removed from Gaza.

But for Beinart and others to encourage the wrecking of people’s livelihoods overnight is crossing a red line, let alone a green one. We hear it enough at the hundreds of anti-Israel events that take place annually.

Meanwhile, UJIA have confirmed that they are hosting the event:

Why any Israeli can be murdered by Palestinian terrorists, as explained by The Guardian’s Chris McGreal.

(This article also appears at CiFWatch)

Meet Abu Jindal and Abu Nizar. Up until fairly recent times they might have been fixing cars for Israelis. Nizar’s father even “had good things to say about the Israelis he knew”.

But those days are long gone and now Nizar, the son, has little problem with the rockets he fires into Israel causing civilian casualties “such as the three who died…from rockets fired from Gaza in recent round of fighting.” For Nizar “there is no such thing as a civilian on the other side.”

So what makes it so easy for Nizar and Jindal to  murder innocent Israeli men, women and children?

Judging from Chris McGreal’s piece, Gaza’s cycle of aggression shapes new generations more militant than the last published in last Friday’s Guardian, it’s all Israel’s fault with Nizar and Jindal having little, if any, responsibility for their terrorist activities.

McGreal describes their, apparently, violent childhoods that led to Nizar and Jindal firing rockets from Gaza and, possibly, murdering the three above-mentioned “civilians” Ahron Smadga, Yitzchak Amselam and 25 year-old Mira Scharf in Kiryat Malachi. Scharf was pregnant.

Sickeningly, McGreal allows Nizar and Jindal the space in his piece to excuse themselves as mere victims, the implication being that the real criminals were Smadga, Amselam, Scharf and Scharf’s unborn child who weren’t “civilians”.

Incidentally, Scharf had recently returned to Israel to give birth and to attend the memorial service of her friends the Holtzbergs who were murdered in the 2008 Mumbai massacre. They all died on the same day of the Hebrew calendar four years apart.

Jindal and Nizar belong to the designated terrorist group Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and McGreal’s piece attempts to evoke much sympathy for them. Jindal says:

“The Israelis have always killed children in Gaza. They came here to kill children during this [latest] war. Our children see it.”

Nizar claims his schoolfriends “were killed by an Apache helicopter”.

Even McGreal, not content with describing Israeli “machine gun fire that shredded (Palestinian) homes”, describes how Palestinian children:

“worshipped ‘martyrs’, whether they were suicide bombers who killed Israelis on buses in Jerusalem, armed men fighting Israeli soldiers, or the children shot at their school desks in Gaza by Israeli gunfire.” (my emphasis)

Neither Nizar’s school friends shot from the sky, nor McGreal’s school children shot at their school desks are named. Conveniently, no evidence is offered. The unsubstantiated accusations are just thrown in.

In case the reader doesn’t quite understand that these are attempted justifications for Jindal and Nizar slaughtering innocent Israelis McGreal decides to import two old Guardian pieces of his. These pieces give the views of two child psychologists in an attempt to help solidify the images of Jindal and Nizar as helpless victims.

In the piece from 2004 Usama Freona claimed “The levels of violence children are exposed to is horrific…Most of them were crying and shaking when they were speaking about their experiences”. In the 2009 piece Dr Abdel Aziz Mousa Thabet claimed that due to the traumatising effect of violence on children “they become fighters”.

That these two vile terrorists might be committed to the destruction of Israel and murder of its Jewish inhabitants on purely ideological grounds isn’t considered.

Incredibly, McGreal’s piece on Dr Thabet still describes 12 year-old Mohammed al-Dura as being shot dead by Israeli gunfire despite it having since been proved that al-Dura was more likely to have died from Palestinian gunfire. McGreal is obviously keen in prolonging this blood libel.

McGreal admits that Palestinian children are sometimes taught in their schools and mosques to despise Jews but he sees that, mainly, as an excuse used by Israelis to absolve themselves of blame for why each generation of Palestinians seems more militant and violent.

Abu Nizar concludes “The end of Israel is getting closer”.

Next week The Guardian will be running a full-page piece on McGreal’s interview with two Al Qaida “fighters”. The “fighters” explain why they are at ease with their fellow Islamists slaughtering 52 British citizens in the London bus and tube bombings of 2005 and why, for them, there is no such thing as a British civilian.

Or, maybe, The Guardian won’t run it. Maybe for The Guardian only the slaughter of innocent Israeli men, women and children (and unborn babies) can be explained with such apparent ease: No Israeli is a civilian and, so, murders of them can be justified.

 

Palestinian Ambassador to Britain: “The only solution is one state”

I wondered whether to write about this as it will come as a surprise to very few. Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian ambassador* to Britain, delivered, while speaking at Caabu’s Emergency Meeting on the Crisis in the Middle East held in Parliament on Wednesday evening moments after the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, what seemed to be the unofficial line of the Palestinian Authority on the future of Israel and the Palestinians.

Hassassian claimed it was his personal view but if this is the approach taken by other Palestinian ambassadors then there is no hope for peace.

Hassassian offered two completely contradictory positions. He wanted a two state solution but, personally, thought that a one state solution was the only way forward. He said:

“I would like to see a two state solution, but the Oslo peace treaty is dead. If you look at the ground, what is happening today, there is nothing left to salvage of a two state solution. As a representative of the Palestinian authority I must tell you that I am for a two state solution. But I want to remove my authority cap and put it aside and become the kind of person who is observing what is left of the two state solution. Ladies and gentleman, there is no two state solution left. We have to look to other, what I call, ingenious ideas and look outside the box and the only thing that comes to my mind is very simple; there is only one solution, which is a one state solution. Of course liberals from Israel’s centrists, and extremists, are going to panic and be terrified when you say ‘One state solution’”.

Hassassian also spoke of Israel not being interested in peace and having a “war agenda” and time “being not on the side of Israel”.

He finished his speech with this:

“We (the Palestinians) are the only, the only, country in the Middle East that are practicing democracy par excellence.”

and

“I think they (Israel) should be lucky to have the Palestinians as their neighbours.”

During the Q&A I asked the Ambassador how long he thought, in the event of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, it might take for Hamas to murder or imprison Fatah/PLO officials in the West Bank like they did in Gaza?

He replied:

“If Israel strikes a deal with the PLO to relinquish the occupied territories…any kind of solution on the West Bank, any kind of a breakthrough in peace with Israel, I think, will undermine the power of Hamas.”

These are fine words, but how can Israel “relinquish the occupied territories” and still be sure that Palestinian terrorists won’t bomb Tel Aviv or Ben Gurion airport, for example? Can Israel afford to take such a risk after seeing what is unfolding in Syria with a future takeover by Islamists opposed to Israel’s existence? And just because Egypt and President Morsi are being reasonable now doesn’t mean they will always be, does it?

But far more than that, Israelis are never going to vote their own country out of existence after all they have worked for and sacrificed. Demanding a one state solution is only a recipe for further Israeli and Palestinian blood to be spilled.

At the end even a CAABU member came over to tell me he thought the Palestinian Ambassador’s rhetoric wasn’t progressing the Palestinian cause much.

Hassassian has been an ambassador here for seven years. Is such a long term normal? Or do ambassadorial changes go the same way as Palestinian elections; few and far between, if at all?

I have nothing against Hassassian. However, his call for a one state solution is deeply problematic considering that the international formula, supposedly accepted by the Palestinian Authority, is two states for two people.

As Herzl said of a future Jewish state, which seemed a distinct impossibility anywhere at the time, “If you will it, it is no dream”. If Hassassian and his fellow diplomats can’t even bring themselves to will a separate Palestinian state then they should step aside and let others take the opportunity of working towards that desired national goal.

* I am informed that Manuel Hassassian is technically not an “Ambassador” seeing that there is no formally recognised Palestinian state. He is, therefore, referred to as Palestinian General Delegate in London.

Protests fail to disrupt Batsheva Ensemble’s Deca Dance show at Sadler’s Wells.

The Batsheva Ensemble, the youth wing of the main Batsheva dance company, received a standing ovation at Sadler’s Wells in London last night after an outstanding display of music and dance. Batsheva’s Deca Dance show, a collage of impressive pieces, consists of 16 dancers aged between 18 and 24 years-old. The 16 are mainly Israeli although there are two dancers from Spain and one from Russia, America and Japan, respectively.

As you enter the auditorium there’s a single dancer already on stage welcoming you in with some humorous improvisation.

Ten minutes in to the show shouts of “Free Free Palestine” were quickly drowned out by spontaneous audience applause. Security was dotted unobtrusively around the theatre to deter anything more prolonged. Two more similar attempts at disruption took place during the show but they were met with a similar audience response.

The second half was dominated by the female and male dancers seemingly dressed as Chabad Lubavitch Jews in dark hats, white shirts and dark trousers. They then interacted brilliantly with the audience, and the audience with them, before bringing the curtain down with the most powerful rendition of all thirteen verses of Echad Mi Yodea, the Passover table song, you will ever see and hear.

The 1500 seats were virtually sold out although you can walk in just before the show and pick up a ticket. The show continues tonight and tomorrow night at the same place before, finally, moving on to Plymouth on Friday and Saturday. Try to see it before it leaves these shores.

Typically, The Guardian newspaper, who are quite happy to promote racist cultural boycotts against Israel that also demean apartheid, linked their report Batsheva Dance Company braces for Gaza protests in London straight through to the Facebook page of Don’t Dance With Israeli Apartheid.

Sadly, for The Guardian and the boycotters the disruptions were muted and the audience loved Batsheva’s performance, as could be seen by the rousing ovation and the three curtain calls given to Batsheva last night. Here is part of that ovation:

Photos and footage from last night’s anti-Israel and pro-Israel demonstrations in London.

Supporting Israel outside the Israeli Embassy last night.

Supporting Israel outside the Israeli Embassy last night.

Last night one thousand anti-Israel protesters swarmed towards the Israeli Embassy in London after Israel had begun its legal (in international law) defensive operations against the hundreds of Hamas rockets being fired at Israel from Gaza. Not a word was spoken by them against Hamas despite the horrors Hamas inflicts on both Israelis and Gazans. A nasty atmosphere was heightened by dozens of young women and men with their faces half-covered. Were they Occupy protesters looking for a new cause now that movement is defunct? (see photo below)

If only the Stop The War Coalition and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign would mobilise such numbers to protest the brutalities taking place in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Bahrain, Lebanon and Turkey, but there seems to be a general apathy towards murder and oppression in those places. It’s only the Jewish state rightly defending itself (with the full support of America and Britain) that really brings the protesters out onto the streets of London. Chants included “No Justice No Peace, Israel Out the Middle East”, “Zionism, You Will Pay” and “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free”, as you can hear:

The words aren’t about settlements, Jerusalem or, even, the Palestinians, but simply call for the total destruction of the Jewish state.

Meanwhile, 400 Israel supporters, mobilised by the Zionist Federation and the British Israel Coalition, called for peace and sang “Long Live Israel”, “Am Yisrael Chai” and the British and Israeli national anthems.

Wishing you a Shabbat shalom and/or a peaceful weekend, especially for the people of Israel and Gaza (excluding Hamas).

More photos from last night:

The sinister Occupy look.

The sinister Occupy look.

Goldsmiths must be proud of you wanting to destroy Israel.

Goldsmiths must be proud of you wanting to destroy Israel.

It's that simple, really.

It’s that simple, really.

It's getting late as both sides begin to flag.

It’s getting late as both sides begin to flag.

Taunting the pro-Israelis from across the road.

Taunting the pro-Israelis from across the road.

The pro-Israelis wave back.

The pro-Israelis wave back.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign presents the case for a cultural and academic boycott of Israel.

View from the back last night.

View from the back last night.

The once hero of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign Norman Finkelstein recently declared the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against Israel “a cult” and its activists dishonest about their real motive which is the destruction of Israel, not solidarity with the Palestinians.

Last night PSC cultists came to the University of London Union with the platform being given to Rafeef “the poet” Ziadah, Ben “I can understand why some people are anti-Semitic” White, Mike “I’m only Jewish because my mother is” Cushman and, finally, Ronnie “I’m a privileged Jew” Barkan.

Their aim was to brainwash, I mean persuade students to boycott Israel.

In the Chair for the evening was Salim Alam. The last time Alam chaired a PSC event I was accosted afterwards by an audience member who claimed, inter alia, that Jews only died in the Holocaust because “they had their foreskins chopped off.”

Ziadah started by claiming that “Israel has oppressed the Palestinians for decades” and has “denied them their fundamental rights of freedom, equality and self-determination” and that eventhough there were “drawers of UN resolutions saying Israel is wrong”, still nothing has happened.

She took offence that the Dome of the Rock, a Palestinian icon, appeared in Israeli travel brochures and that hummus and falafel had been appropriated by Israelis for their national dish.

She presented the case for a cultural boycott of Israel and started by saying that “Israel sees culture as political and as Hasbara”, and that “all Israeli cultural institutions are complicit unless proved otherwise. All Israeli institutions must be boycotted.”

Mind you, this type of rhetoric is actually an improvement for Ziadah. When she spoke earlier this year at UCL she praised Islamic Jihad terrorist Khader Adnan. In 2007 Adnan made his thoughts known as to what he thought should happen to innocent Israeli men, women and children. Addressing his followers he asked:

“Who among you is the next suicide bomber? Who among you will carry the next explosive belt? Who among you will fire the next bullets? Who among you will have his body parts blown all over?”

Last night Ziadah painstakingly detailed the PACBI guidelines for boycotting Israel, including any event that promotes “balance” between Israelis and Palestinians, even if it should “encourage dialogue”. Although, seeing as Ziadah said that all Israeli institutions are complicit , unless proved otherwise, the guidelines do seem rather surplus to requirements.

But here was her deal for Israeli artists: Should they announce that they agree to the BDS requirements of ending the occupation, ending discrimination of Arabs in Israel and allowing the return of some five million so-called Palestinian refugees to Israel then such Israeli artists won’t be boycotted.

Basically, she approves of any Israeli that wants to destroy their own country:

Meanwhile, Mike Cushman, of Bricup, gave exactly the same talk that he gave at the corresponding ULU event last year. He demanded an academic boycott of Israel and once again told the audience that he’s Jewish because his mother is and that “If you thought Jewish Zionists were scary, these Christian Zionists are far, far worse.” The only blessing is that this time he didn’t grab the microphone like last year to repeatedly scream into it “Free, Free Palestine”:

During the Q&A a student asked how to defend the accusation that the call for BDS was comparable to the Nazis’ treatment of Jews. Cushman said their was a huge difference between peaceful protest and Stormtroopers standing outside a shop.

Next up was the Israeli Ronnie Barkan who heads up Boycott From Within. Yes, that’s right, such an, apparently, “oppressive state” as Israel actually allows such an organisation to operate in Israel.

Barkan described himself as a “privileged Jew” and viewed Israel as an “ethnic supremacist state”, which had ethnically cleansed and ethnically segregated the Palestinians. In fact segregation, according to Barkan, was so complete that Arabs are unlikely to be spotted in Tel Aviv. He said you wouldn’t find an Arab living there as they are confined to Jaffa. I’m sure my Israeli friends will tell me this is far from the truth.

Ben White also demanded an academic boycott of Israel. He said that “Israeli institutions are in bed with state organisations of oppression”. He condemned Tel Aviv University, Bar Ilan University, Ben Gurion University and even Haifa University for its National Security Studies Centre which has “trained hundreds of senior offices in the IDF that then go onto commit war crimes”.

There were some good pro-Israel questions asked during the Q&A, but it would have been good to have seen audience members leafleted with balancing literature on their way out of the venue (ZF, BICOM, CFI etc. where are you at times likes this?).

Apart from the woman next to me accusing me of being a “Zionist spy” and claiming that I “want to exterminate all Palestinians”, it really wasn’t as bad as some of the PSC events I have been to. Although, that’s not really saying much.

Admin: X7BNEB4HB2PB

London Evening Standard journalist: “I’m prejudiced against Jews.”

Twitter is a good way of seeing what our elected politicians are up to. One in particular is a voluminous anti-Israel tweeter. Labour MP Richard Burden, for it is he, is also an enthusiastic retweeter of Ben White:

and

In my opinion, for an elected politician to promote Ben White, considering White’s views, is highly offensive.

It is Ben White who, in his article for Counterpunch in 2002 Is It Possible to Understand the Rise in Anti-Semitism?, wrote:

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

More recently White tweeted:

and this was the picture he linked to:

Joseph W. at Harry’s Place argued:

“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.”

The Warped Mirror neatly recounts what happened.

As I was concerned that Richard Burden MP was promoting someone such as White with such contemptuous views, I tweeted Burden about it. However, it was Mira Bar-Hillel, who writes for the London Evening Standard newspaper, who responded. Here’s Bar-Hillel’s Twitter profile first:

In response to my tweet to Burden pointing out White’s view that he can “understand” why some people are anti-Semitic Bar-Hillel stated that she “can understand it too”:

When challenged as to whether she could also “understand” people who were Islamophobic she, somewhat ambiguously, responded:

“I understand hatred for anyone one who feels wronged – or unjustly treated – by. Racism I abhor.”

Good to know Bar-Hillel abhors racism. But then how would one explain the following quote apparently attributed to her in Anshel Pfeffer’s article in Haaretz in June which discussed the set exam question “Why are some people prejudiced against Jews?” (Haaretz might be behind a pay-wall for some so I have copied and pasted the full article below for context purposes):

“The Jews of today scare me and I find it almost impossible to talk to most of them, including relatives. Any criticism of the policies of Israel – including the disgraceful treatment of Holocaust survivors as well as refugees from murderous regimes – is regarded as treason and/or anti-Semitism. Most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash. Goyim (gentiles) are often treated with ill-concealed contempt, yet the Jews are always the victims. Am I prejudiced against Jews? Alas, yes.” (Emphasis added)

So Bar Hillel abhors racism, but is “prejudiced against Jews”. Work that one out.

Meanwhile, I continued to question Richard Burden MP as to whether he found White’s view offensive. Sadly, instead of agreeing that it was he refused to give a straightforward answer:

It is very concerning that a British MP, who does denounce anti-Semitism, still goes on to promote someone like White with such views and doesn’t see anything wrong in that. Or maybe, as Burden suggested, I should just “grow up”.

Anshel Pfeffer’s Haaretz article in full:

Anti-Semitism in 100 words or less
In rhyme, in sorrow and in a single word, readers took my challenge. Which one gets the bottle of wine?

By Anshel Pfeffer | Jun.22, 2012 | 2:42 AM | 2

Nine years ago, I found myself hanging out with a group of Pakistani journalists I met at a seminar abroad. At the time, we were all hearing about secret and not-so-secret dealings between Israel and Pakistan, and one of them showed me his passport. On the bottom of every page was written, “For travel to every nation in the world except Israel.” “It’s just politics” he explained to me. “There is no anti-Semitism in Pakistan; there are no Jews.”

Technically, that may be true, as the small Jewish communities of Karachi and Peshawar dispersed decades ago. But it is interesting that he felt the need to create a distinction between a hatred of Israel and the shunning of Jews.

There is anti-Jewish rhetoric in the local media in Pakistan. Many would argue that in a nation without a history of local anti-Semitism, this is actually a manifestation of anti-Western sentiments, along with the country’s intense hostility with neighboring India, which is increasingly becoming a strategic ally of Israel. It doesn’t seem as though Pakistan has a homegrown tradition of Jew-hatred.

On Wednesday, a British woman of Pakistani origin, Shasta Khan, was charged in a Manchester court for planning, along with her husband Mohammed Sajid, what could have been the worst anti-Semitic attack on British soil in living memory. Born and raised in the Manchester region, she would have seen and recognized Jews from the large Orthodox community in the city. The couple is alleged to have scouted out targets in the Prestwich neighborhood, where thousands of Jews live and work.

A different duo of young British-Pakistanis, Asif Mohammed Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif, became radicalized after traveling to study in Damascus, where they were recruited by Hamas and carried out a suicide attack at a Tel-Aviv pub, killing three people, in 2003. In contrast, Khan and Sajid are accused of embarking on their Jihad after surfing radical websites. They allegedly learned how to build homemade bombs from Al-Qaida’s Inspire magazine, and instead of travelling to the Middle East to strike at the Zionist enemy, they decided to avenge the Palestinians by murdering fellow Britons, members of a neighboring religious community.

But that is how anti-Semitism has evolved: Defying reason and ideology, overcoming geographic and social divides, it adapts to new environments and conditions. Anti-Semitism is the most flexible and versatile of hatreds. That is my main conclusion from the many answers I received over the last two weeks, following the question I posed to readers: “Why are some people prejudiced against Jews?” But that was not the only conclusion.

A brief reminder: I decided to open up the column to readers following the hysterical reactions of some politicians and community leaders in Britain when this question was posed to high school students in a national exam. Financial blogger Henry Blodget was inundated with angry responses when he asked the same question with sincerity and seriousness. I had hoped that this column’s readers would prove both more intelligent and display a greater sense of equipoise than those who expressed outrage over the exam question. The reader responses exceeded my expectations.

There were a handful of responses such as the commenter who wrote, “Anti-Semitism should be condemned not explained – full stop.” But most readers who answered believe, like I do, that no subject should be beyond discussion, even if some of the responses do not make for easy reading. Of course, there were a few nasties, such as the writer who tried to convince me that the world doesn’t have anything against Jews in particular, but rather just against Israelis. After all, he wrote,”the Internet has shown the world what kind of people you are.”

Others were also critical but from a place of sorrow. Mira Bar-Hillel wrote that “The Jews of today scare me and I find it almost impossible to talk to most of them, including relatives. Any criticism of the policies of Israel – including the disgraceful treatment of Holocaust survivors as well as refugees from murderous regimes – is regarded as treason and/or anti-Semitism. Most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash. Goyim (gentiles ) are often treated with ill-concealed contempt, yet the Jews are always the victims. Am I prejudiced against Jews? Alas, yes.”

Honorable mentions

I know that some would label Mira with the despicable title of “self-hating Jew,” and while I don’t necessarily agree with all she writes, I think she expresses genuine concerns and should be heard. Mira’s answer is one of my two honorable mentions.

The other honorable mention goes to Richard Asbeck, who managed in verse to convey the uneasy feeling of many Jews and non-Jews at the separateness, perhaps aloofness, that Jews have conveyed over the millennia.

“How could I by virtue of reciprocity,

blessed by the honor of having been treated as a friend,

remembering the humanity of a shared meal,

remembering the hachnasat orchim (hospitality ), how could I, in the attempt of responding in kind, avoid the self-allegation of impurity and ‘unchosenness’ clearly marked by the catered dinner on a stranger’s plate, or worse: the foil-wrapped carton board plate?”

Although I allowed up to 100 words, some readers made do with just one or two words: Envy; jealousy; religion; Zionism; ignorance; Jesus Christ. All are indeed reasons why people are prejudiced against Jews, and there are of course many more, often conflicting, and never justified reasons. And that is why I said that anti-Semitism is the most flexible of hatreds and why I chose Mark Gardner’s entry as the winner. My only hesitation is that the writer is a professional in the field, who serves as director of communications of the Community Security Trust (CST ), of British Jewry. My choice of Mark as winner is not an endorsement of the CST; indeed I criticized the organization in a column on an unrelated matter two months ago. But unlike others who monitor anti-Semitism, I think that his entry proves he can address the issue in a balanced manner. So he gets the (kosher ) bottle of wine.

Here is his answer to why some people are prejudiced against Jews. “If prejudice is hating someone more than is necessary, then you must consider the anti-Semites’ charge sheet. So, let us be brief: Allied with the Devil to kill the son of God; lost God’s covenant; fought God’s last prophet; visible rejecters of God; kill children and drink their blood; conspiratorial; money hoarding; greedy; corrupting; mean-spirited; physically grotesque; contemptible; ferocious; ingratiating yet always alien and never authentic; devious, evil, corrupting geniuses; unchanging and unassimilable; racially distinct, self-superior hypocrites; financiers of war; harbingers of revolution; pornographers; hucksters and fraudsters; whiners and liars; imperialists and colonizers; thieves, racists, war-mongering destroyers. More briefly: scapegoat.”

Anti-Israel Brighton activist: “Go and disrupt the Batsheva performance.”

Introducing the Batsheva Ensemble Dance Company from Israel who are currently touring the UK.

In her review of their recent performance at The Lowry in Salford Sally Cinnamon writes of Batsheva:

“The talent, maturity and complexity of the dancer’s abilities belie their tender age. Dancer, Oz Shoshan prologues the show as the audience filters to their seats. He’s dancing alone on stage. It looks improvised, it might be choreographed, either way, it’s the best opening I’ve seen in recent years and a sample of things to come.”

But, as ever, when an Israel production comes to town so do those who harbour a particular hatred towards the Jewish state and its Jewish citizens. Cinnamon writes:

“a couple of the protesters infiltrate the performance and bring proceedings to a temporary halt. It’s a sour start to the evening and although everyone has the right to protest, it seems bizarrely worthless to be hollering remonstration at young dancers.”

Cinnamon signs off her review:

“The show is on tour throughout the UK and has been harboured by protest at every venue so far. It shouldn’t put you off. There were those outside in the cold that protested and there were those of us watching that warmed to some of the very best young dancers in the world.”

This Friday the company are performing their Deca Dance at the Brighton Dome. Here’s the trailer:

There was due to be a Saturday performance, but The Dome pulled it due to concern over security. Their idea is to beef up security for the one night instead of spreading it over the two nights. This is a shame because Jews who live in Brighton who keep the Shabbat and who bought tickets for the Saturday night performance cannot go to the one on Friday night.

The usual accusation being thrown at the Batsheva Ensemble by the protesters is that it is government funded and, therefore, being used by the Israeli government to promote Israel in a good light. If this isn’t pure anti-Semitism then where were the protests interrupting British and American government funded shows when those countries went into an allegedly illegal war in Iraq?

An anti-Israel activist who recently spoke at a meeting in Brighton about disrupting the Batsheva Ensemble said:

“I do support a non-violent disruption of the Batsheva performance. I encourage everyone to go and protest there. I would support people in non-violently disrupting a performance that I don’t think should go ahead, the performance needing the funding that it does.”

Here’s the audio:

Brighton meeting part-audio.

So once again it seems people will be having their evening’s entertainment disrupted having paid good money for tickets. It happened at the Royal Albert Hall when the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra performed. It happened when Israel’s National Theatre (Habima) performed The Merchant of Venice at The Globe.

Now it is happening to the Batsheva Ensemble, a young dance group making a name for themselves on the world stage.

Incredibly, no charges were pressed against any protesters who were taken out after disrupting despite those protesters acting contrary to Section 68 (1) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which states:

“A person commits the offence of aggravated trespass if he trespasses on land and, in relation to any lawful activity which persons are engaging in or are about to engage in on that or adjoining land, 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.

It is about time the venues and police acted by pressing charges.

Nick Clegg just can’t bring himself to support Israeli defensive action against Iran.

The UK’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg attended a Q&A session at Hasmonean School in north-west London last night. The event was staged by the Jewish News and chaired by ITV correspondent Tom Bradby

While Israel was under concerted rocket fire from Hamas in 2009 Clegg wrote “We must stop arming Israel”. In 2010 he acknowledged that there had not always been an equal voice for Israel within the Liberal Democrats and in 2011 he said he craved a time when the Community Service Trust, which protects Britain’s small Jewish community, wasn’t needed.

He did finally force Jenny Tonge to resign from the Lib Dems. when she said that Israel won’t be here forever, but it was also back to business as usual this year when he called Israel’s settlements “deliberate vandalism”.

Clegg doesn’t get that it’s precisely this hostility to Israel which is one of the main reasons the CST continues to be needed. Whenever he and his ilk criticize Israel’s defensive actions or the settlements in such an unbalanced manner synagogues and Jewish schools have to tighten their security and it gives encouragement to those seeking to harass Israeli-owned shops and disrupt Israeli productions visiting these shores.

Surprisingly, there were very few questions about Israel and the Middle East last night considering that Israel is still under constant fire from Hamas rockets, David Cameron is currently in the Middle East selling arms to Saudi Arabia and the so-called Arab Spring is descending into mass murder and oppression.

However, my colleague Jeremy Havardi was given the opportunity to ask the following on Iran:

“I gather you support the policy of sanctions against Iran, which is great. Will you support an Israeli strike on Iran if it was an absolute last resort in stopping its illegal nuclear weapons programme?”

Notice the words “absolute last resort”. A simple question, but Clegg spent the next 6 minutes obfuscating even when pushed twice to answer Havardi’s question by Bradby. Here is some of how Clegg didn’t answer the question:

“I would counsel against the idea that there is a simple military solution.”

“Most experts say that if you took military action you’d probably delay a nuclear programme, but you wouldn’t eliminate it.”

“What we are doing is, if it works, more effective….squeezing harder and harder with tougher sanctions, which are having a real effect…”

“To risk all the dangers of a unilateral military strike, which might not provide a permanent solution… is unwise.”

Clegg continued in the same vein even when Bradby asked whether Clegg would expect military action once Iran had loaded nuclear weapon technology into a missile and, finally, if Israel’s intelligence showed that they couldn’t sit and tolerate the situation anymore.

Yet still Clegg could not bring himself to support Israeli defensive action, even against such an existential threat as an all-out nuclear attack.

Luckily, my colleague Clive wasn’t given the opportunity to ask “What’s the capital of Israel?” Just imagine how long it would have taken Clegg to answer.

Here is Clegg’s full answer from last night: