Monthly Archives: January 2013

Another two fingers go up to British Jews.

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Today’s Sunday Times cartoon doesn’t work on any level, but you can see how it came about.

Over the last month certain British commentators have been writhing around in pure ecstasy at the prospect of the Israeli electorate moving to the right. Some of the commentary has made me wince with even Jewish commentators hinting that Israel has shifted to the far right; the connotation being that Israel has finally become a fully fledged fascist state, the antithesis of what would have been expected after the horrors of Nazi Germany.

But, sadly for them, Israel actually shifted to the left in the recent general election. All those columns that certain journalists wanted to write about “the fascist State of Israel” will never see the light of day now. The time they spent concocting the most vile aspersions to cast on Israel has been wasted. Guardian and Independent newspaper columnists have had to, on the whole, hold their fire since the election. Labour politicians like Richard Burden MP have been forced to hold off tweeting the most nastiest denunciations of Israel.

But for some reason The Sunday Times, of all papers, couldn’t hold off publishing Gerald Scarfe’s vile slur of a blood libel with its depiction of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a callous murderer of innocents, including Palestinian children.

And then there’s the context. Not only is it Holocaust Memorial Day today but it is also just two days after The Commentator broke the news that Liberal Democrat MP David Ward had specifically attacked “the Jews” on his website by writing:

“Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

And by juxtaposing the Holocaust with the West Bank and Gaza Ward is actually mocking what happened to the Jews in the death camps, whatever sympathy for them he tries to evince in his statement. The West Bank and Gaza are no Auschwitz, Mr Ward, even though many a Jew hater has tried to equate them.

Ward is not fit to be an MP, but what is more disturbing is the groundswell of support he seems to have had and his comments have flushed out just how nasty his supporters are. For example, under the clip of Ward’s appearance on Sky you can read:

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“Israel is worse than Hitler” and “Is Hitler the new Moses?” These are your supporters, Mr Ward.

I also got tweeted this from Mash’al Hanif in response to one of my tweets about the Sunday Times cartoon:

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Well, yes, Mash’al, it does hurt, but it hurts mainly because I always thought the UK was a comfortable place for Jewish people to live. I still do, but that nonsensical Sunday Times cartoon has rocked that certainty ever so slightly.

But I am also grateful that although I deeply feel Jewish I, however, feel no religious obligation to dress as a more religious Jew and, therefore, exposing myself to the horrors of what the Sunday Times cartoon might compel a person with a violent bent towards Israel and/or Jewish people to carry out. Another Toulouse comes to mind.

And, I’m sorry, Mash’al, but it wasn’t me who targeted the Prophet Muhammad. And nor would I. And for that matter it wasn’t Jewish people either, although Mash’al’s comment goes to show how the initial rumour that the maker of that horrendous film depicting Muhammad in such an unseemly manner was Jewish has now achieved permanence.

After the last week one can see why the Jewish people have traditionally moved around so much, forever trying to evade the animus that certain parts of society have always held for us.

(Thanks to The Commentator which also broke the news of the cartoon and thanks to Chas Newkey-Burden who has written so meaningfully about David Ward MP and those like him who think that its the Jews who should be held up to higher scrutiny after having lost six million people in the Holocaust.)

Palestinian Ambassador to the UK: “I’ve started to believe that the Jews are the only children of God”

Jeremy Corbyn MP, PSC's Hugh Lanning, Manuel Hassassian in Parliament last night.

Jeremy Corbyn MP, PSC’s Hugh Lanning, Manuel Hassassian in Parliament last night.

Last night Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian “Ambassador” to the UK, said he believes that the Jews are the children of God because nobody is stopping them from building their “messianic dream of Eretz Israel”. He called for a “one state solution” and looked forward to the world’s Muslim population reaching two billion.

He was speaking in Parliament at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s 4 years on from Israel’s ‘Operation Cast Lead’: Israel’s siege and attacks continue. Also speaking were Labour’s Shadow Justice Minister Andy Slaughter MP and Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather. Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn played host.

Addressing an audience of some 100 people Hassassian declared:

“We, the Palestinians, the most highly educated and intellectual in the Middle East, are still struggling for the basic right of self-determination. What an irony. How long are we going to suffer and be patient with Israel? You know I’m reaching the conclusion that the Jews are the children of God, the only children of God and the Promised Land is being paid by God! I have started to believe this because nobody is stopping Israel building its messianic dream of Eretz Israel to the point I believe that maybe God is on their side. Maybe God is partial on this issue.”

Then removing his “PLO and Palestinian Authority hat” he continued:

“There is no two state solution. Democracies don’t fight each other. If Israel is a democracy I would claim that the Palestinians are also a democracy. If democracies cannot fight each other then why not have one state?; one man, one vote.”

On Israel’s future he said:

“Israel will never continue to exist as a pariah state. Israel could never continue to fight wars against the Palestinians, against the Arabs and the Muslims. The United States is not going to be Israel’s strategic ally for time immemorial. And today we have 1.5 billion Muslims. In 20 years we will have 2 billion. And those 2 billion, forget about politics, from a religious perspective will not allow Israel to continue desecrating their religious rights (in Jerusalem). And then what?”

And on what could have been Hassassian said:

“What does Israel want? In 2002 the Arabs gave them the Arab Peace Initiative. Relinquishing territories occupied in 1967 would have led to normalisation of relations with Israel. If the Israelis had accepted that the flag of Israel would have been hoisted in Mecca, in Iran, in Tehran! If they had accepted. But Israel does not want peace. Israel nurtures on conflict, and the Zionist Ideology is to have the entire West Bank, the entire Palestine.”

Andy Slaughter MP accused Israel of deliberately killing whole Palestinian families and controlling the Palestinians’ calorie count. He said Israel supplied Palestinians just enough to stop them from starving and he described, what he called, Israel’s failure to supply clean water, electricity and decent homes as “collective punishment”.

Sarah Teather MP accused Israel of “wiping out five thousand homes” in one part of Gaza alone and that nothing could justify this.  She said that Israel must let “basic goods” into Gaza.

PSC Chair Hugh Lanning said he noticed that during Operation Cast Lead CNN only reported on the Hamas rockets. Lanning then claimed that “while the occupation and siege continues Israel is ALWAYS the aggressor”.  He also claimed that Israel had banned 180 life saving medicines from Gazan hospitals “because they might save lives”.

Jeremy Corbyn spoke about Gazans who had “never known the ability to move out of Gaza”. Ironically, he then introduced us to Rania Al-Najjar who has just completed a Masters in International Relations at London’s City University. Rania is from Gaza. She said, inter alia, that there are no economic opportunities in Gaza and that unemployment there is the highest in the world, relatively.

We then heard from two “1948 Palestinians” who live in Israel. One of them had spent three spells in Israeli prisons, his sentences ranging from one to eight years. He spoke about the remaining prisoners who had forgotten what the sky and moon look like and how they had not touched the hands of their mothers or children for many years.

Finally, Hugh Lanning announced that there will be a “controversial PSC conference” on April 13th where there will be “an open dialogue with the people of Gaza and their leaders”.

In other words, an open dialogue with Hamas.

Honking bus driver reprimanded for anti-Israel protest.

I was reading through my copy of this week’s Jewish Chronicle when I saw a piece by Jennifer Lipman.

It was about the driver of Bus No 38 who had repeatedly honked his horn as he drove passed Palestine Solidarity Campaign protesters outside Batsheva’s performance of Decca Dance on its first night at Sadler’s Wells. The protesters cheered in response.

I caught the honking on film, but thought nothing more of it.

I was more interested in hoping that the anti-Israel protesters who disrupted each of Batsheva’s three performances might be prosecuted for aggravated trespass.

Obviously that didn’t happen. Neither did it happen when the protesters disrupted Habima at The Globe nor when they disrupted the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall.

But someone did complain about the honking bus driver.

Jennifer reports that a spokesman for Arriva, responding to the complaint, said:

“That sort of behaviour is totally inappropriate whilst on duty and I can confirm that the driver has been identified and interviewed by his manager. He was advised on all aspects of your complaint and his performance will be closely monitored to make sure that there are no further incidents of this nature. I am sorry that a member of our staff should have acted in this manner.”

And a Transport For London spokesman said:

“We expect drivers to promote a positive image of London Buses and to act professionally at all times. Clearly, a London bus driver should not be participating in a protest while performing their duties.”

Here is the honking bus driver in action on the night:

And here is anti-Israel activist Deborah Fink just after she had been ejected for disrupting Batsheva’s first night performance:

Palestine Solidarity Campaign activist says he wants to kill Israelis.

Protesting for Samer Issawi in Trafalgar Square.

Protesting for Samer Issawi in Trafalgar Square.

Yesterday, in case you missed it, was the 24 hour worldwide mass hunger strike for Samer Issawi. Sympathy hunger strikers collected in Italy, Egypt, America, Gaza and Jerusalem. I popped over to see how the London leg of the hunger strike was going in Trafalgar Square. When I arrived at 6pm there were about 10 demonstrators handing out leaflets which stated:

“Samer Al-Issawi, a Palestinian from occupied Jerusalem is incarcerated without charge. The political prisoner close to death was assaulted while handcuffed by Israeli police in Jerusalem on 18 December. Issawi is held without charge under the notorious administrative detention and is on hunger strike against it. Israel reneged in the Shalit prisoners deal when it rearrested Isawi (sic.) Samer’s brother was murdered in the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in 1994 by the mass murderer Baruch Goldstein, an American-Israeli Kach settler in occupied Hebron. Don’t let the Israeli state kill Samer.”

Issawi was released as part of the agreement where 1,027 Palestinian prisoners were exchanged for Israel’s Gilad Shalit. Issawi was then rearrested for allegedly defying the terms of his release that required him to remain in Jerusalem.

Issawi was originally sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2001 for shooting at Israeli soldiers entering his village of Isawiya, east Jerusalem. He is a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and he has now been on hunger strike since 1st August from when he has ingested only water and salt.

When I arrived in Trafalgar Square none of those demonstrating for Issawi were on hunger strike. It can’t be easy for some of them to give up their daily visit to the local bistro for a bowl of steamy mushroom soup with baguette and a glass of Merlot.

Some of the demonstrators wanted to chat with me, mostly telling me that I wasn’t welcome and that I wasn’t allowed to take photographs of their demonstration.

I did have a polite discussion with a 23 year old who had just finished studying accountancy. We talked about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Needless to say we disagreed on everything but he did tell me of his future plans.

He wanted to leave his family and head to Pakistan to start up a political party that would “bomb the whole of Israel”.

Here’s a clip of him reiterating his desire to bomb Israel. When I asked him what would happen to all the innocent Israelis if he bombed Israel he replied:

“Whoever is innocent there I will rescue them, so that Benjamin Netanyahu dies and people like you as well.”

This isn’t a surprising sentiment for a Palestine Solidarity Campaign activist as their hate for Israel’s supporters far surpasses any faux concern they claim to have for Palestinians, including Samer Issawi.

More photos from the protest:

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