Tag Archives: gerald kaufman

Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi apologises for comparing Gaza to the Holocaust.

Well done, Tal Ofer! After I reported on Thursday that during Wednesday’s parliamentary debate on Gaza Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi had compared the situation of the Palestinians in Gaza to that of Jews living in Nazi Germany Labour Party activist Ofer immediately reported her remarks to Labour’s HQ and brought it to the attention of the media generally.

Qureshi had said:

“What has struck me in all this is that the state of Israel was founded because of what happened to the millions and millions of Jews who suffered genocide. Their properties, homes and land—everything—were taken away, and they were deprived of rights. Of course, many millions perished. It is quite strange that some of the people who are running the state of Israel seem to be quite complacent and happy to allow the same to happen in Gaza.”

You cannot get more offensive to the few remaining Holocaust survivors and to those who lost loved ones in Auschwitz, Belsen etc.

Gaza is no Belsen. And the suffering in Gaza is at the behest of Islamist-terror organisation Hamas which is happy to oppress its own people so that useful idiots in the West will blame Israel.

The response to Qureshi’s remarks from the Labour Party itself was an utter disgrace:

“These remarks were taken completely out of context. Yasmin Qureshi was not equating events in Gaza with the Holocaust. As an MP who has visited Auschwitz and has campaigned all her life against racism and anti-Semitism she would not do so.”

However, soon after, Qureshi must have had a pang of conscience and came out with this apology:

“The debate was about the plight of the Palestinian people and in no way did I mean to equate events in Gaza with the Holocaust. I apologise for any offence caused. I am also personally hurt if people thought I meant this. As someone who has visited the crematoria and gas chambers of Auschwitz I know the Holocaust was the most brutal act of genocide of the 20th Century and no-one should seek to underestimate its impact.”

So Qureshi is “personally hurt”? Poor her. Not as “personally hurt” as those who were in Auschwitz or Belsen etc or lost family there.

But let’s all feel sorry for Qureshi instead!

It is also pretty frustrating that Labour List’s Mark Ferguson thinks “Qureshi’s apology should draw a line under this, and rightly so. If there was no intention to cause offence or equate events in Gaza with the Holocaust I am happy to accept that.”

How can there have been “no intention”? Her words are 100% clear. There is no nuance!

And then what does Ferguson think of Gerald Kaufman MP’s words about Israelis?:

“Go to Tel Aviv, as I did not long ago, and watch them sitting complacently outside their pavement cafés. They do not give a damn about their fellow human beings perhaps half an hour away.”

The remainder of Qureshi’s speech was also disgraceful, especially the way she frames Jews solely by religion. She said, referring indirectly to Kaufman:

“I want to praise the people in Israel and the Jewish people in this country who campaign actively for the rights of Palestinians. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton, I am sure that they are criticised by other Jewish people perhaps for trying to betray the state of Israel”.

But the likes of Kaufman are criticised not just by “Jewish people” but people of all religions and none. It is this division of Jews into “good Jew/bad Jew” that is almost tantamount to inciting racial hatred.

Meanwhile, these Holocaust comparisons are slowly, slowly becoming the norm.

American Professor Joel Beinin told a student audience at SOAS recently that Israel is putting the Bedouin into “concentration camps” and at a recent War On Want talk at SOAS students were told that the Palestinians are living in “apartheid ghettos”.

Thanks to the rhetoric of Beinin, Qureshi, War On Want and others Israeli Jews (and, by extension, any Jew that supports Israel) are slowly becoming thought of as Nazis.

A day of anti-Israel hatred and Holocaust minimization in Parliament.

Ismail Patel, Yasmin Qureshi MP, Megan Driscoll, Linda Ramsden in Parliament .

Ismail Patel, Yasmin Qureshi MP, Megan Driscoll, Linda Ramsden in Parliament .

“It was supposed to be Never Again” declared Ismail Patel but the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, he said, are “oppressed”, undergoing “ethnic cleansing” and suffering a “genocide”.

Patel, Chair of Friends of Al Aqsa, was speaking in the Grimmond Room of Britain’s Houses of Parliament last night at an event to launch his organisation’s “Jerusalem Report” which focuses on “Protecting Palestinian Citizenship Rights in East Jerusalem.”

According to Megan Driscoll, Advocacy Officer at Coalition for Jerusalem (based in Jerusalem), who spoke first, Israel’s “Jerusalem Masterplan” is to secure the Jewish majority in the city.

Driscoll said that the Palestinian population there is currently 34% and that Israel’s aim is to drive this down to 30% and probably lower.

The way Israel is doing this, she continued, is through “residency revocation” which makes Jerusalem Palestinians “stateless”.

Driscoll said Israel revokes residency if Palestinians have lived abroad for more than seven years or have taken citizenship in another country.

She said there is also a Jerusalem “centre of life” test that Palestinians must pass. This, she said, is so stringent that even Palestinians still living in Jerusalem have not been able to prove such centrality and have lost their residency rights.

Driscoll claimed that since 1967 there have been over 14,000 such “residency revocations”. She referred to this as the “Quiet Deportation” and said it was successful because instead of being “mass collective punishment” it received less attention in the media because it was executed against individuals and families.

Linda Ramsden, Director of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, said that Israel’s “policy of displacement began in 1948 when 530 Palestinian villages were demolished and 750,000 Palestinians made refugees”.

She described how most Palestinians applying for building permits are refused because they cannot prove ownership of land due to a lack of documents (does it not occur to Ramsden that maybe, just maybe, they do not own the land in question?).

Ramsden said that once a house is built without a permit a Palestinian family will suffer from stress worrying which day their home will be demolished. She said this causes a lot of “stress related illness”.

When a house is due to be demolished, she continued, hundreds of police and dogs arrive which, she said, is “very frightening”. Bulldozers are used for the demolition and pneumatic drills destroy the base of the house.

She claimed the families are fined and sent a bill for the demolition and that some Palestinians demolish their own homes to avoid these “horrendous costs”.

Meanwhile, last night’s event was hosted and chaired by the Labour MP for Bolton South-East Yasmin Qureshi. Qureshi was fresh from the House of Commons debate that afternoon on the situation in Gaza.

Qureshi is very quietly spoken but the words that come out of her mouth are pure poison where Israel is concerned. If one thinks that Ismail Patel’s application of the term “Never Again” to the Palestinians was bad enough Qureshi’s Holocaust minimization is more shocking.

Here is what she said in yesterday’s Parliamentary debate:

“What has struck me in all this is that the state of Israel was founded because of what happened to the millions and millions of Jews who suffered genocide. Their properties, homes and land—everything—were taken away, and they were deprived of rights. Of course, many millions perished. It is quite strange that some of the people who are running the state of Israel seem to be quite complacent and happy to allow the same to happen in Gaza.” (my emphasis)

This followed Labour MP Gerald Kaufman’s attack on ALL Israelis in the same debate:

“Again and again, Israel seeks to justify the vile injustices that it imposes on the people of Gaza and the west bank on the grounds of the holocaust. Last week, we commemorated the holocaust; 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza are being penalised with that as the justification…It is totally unacceptable that the Israelis should behave in such a way, but they do not care. Go to Tel Aviv, as I did not long ago, and watch them sitting complacently outside their pavement cafés. They do not give a damn about their fellow human beings perhaps half an hour away.” (my emphasis)

This is how Britain’s Parliament is sometimes so abused. While innocent Syrians are being murdered and left permanently disabled by barrel bombs dropped out of the sky by Assad’s forces certain MPs are offensive about Israel, Israelis and the Holocaust instead.

While Kaufman voted against any intervention in Syria, Qureshi couldn’t even be bothered to turn up to that vote last August!

Last night’s event launching the “Jerusalem Report” was sold out but due to the strike on the London underground not many people could get there.

It must be galling that when so much effort has been put into producing an evening of hatred, lies and Holocaust minimization so few people are there to appreciate your efforts.

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.)

Jenny Tonge: “I Have A Dream.”

Jenny Tonge dreaming of Palestinian refugees marching on Israel.

Jenny Tonge dreaming of Palestinian refugees marching on Israel.

Last night in Parliament I’d had my camera on for all of 23 seconds before the Parliamentary police were called by the organisers of the event to eject me from the committee room for “unauthorised filming” (see video clip below).

I turned the camera off pretty sharply as 60 sets of hostile eyes trained on you is a pretty uncomfortable feeling. Luckily, Gerald Kaufman MP, who was chairing, asked the police officer to leave in no uncertain terms.

The altercation came when I was filming Jenny Tonge’s contribution to the meeting. I had seen other people holding up cameras and Iphones and so I didn’t think it was a problem (listen to the audio clip below from 3 minutes 35 seconds in.)

The meeting was held by the Palestine Return Centre and it was mainly a report-back by a group of Parliamentarians who had recently visited the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

Liberal Democrat Baroness Tonge started her talk by welcoming the Jewish Chronicle if it was in the room hoping for a comment from her which they could then use to try to get her sacked.

She finished the talk by describing her dream that one day all the Palestinian refugees will unite and march together to claim back their homeland. She said it would be impossible for Israel to kill all of them.

She also said that there was no questioning of the right of return of Jews from Eastern Europe who had never even been to Israel, but the Palestinians, who had the right under international law, were not allowed to live there. And anyway, she said, even if the Palestinians were allowed to exercise this right to return not all of them would actually take it up.

She also warned that there will be no Israel in the long term if they did nothing about the Palestinian question.

While Tonge seemed to be having dreams of Palestinian civilians being used as a combined weapon with which to destroy Israel and which, on her own admission, might leave many of them dead the rest of the meeting was pretty much 0n-topic.

Jeremy Corbyn MP and Gerald Kaufman MP described the dangerous electric wiring they had seen in the Palestinian refugees camps in Lebanon and the sewage running down the middle of the streets.

Live cables were also seen dangling just above head height. Many Palestinians had, apparently, died after having been electrocuted by them.

Nadim Shehadi, of Chatham House, described the Palestinians as being trapped by the self-fulfilling prophecy of Lebanese political culture that viewed the Palestinians as likely to be going home.

This meant the Palestinian refugees would always have limited employment rights and little political clout.

Shehadi also pointed out that the refugee camps had originally been destroyed by fighting between the PLO and Syrian forces in Lebanon during the 1980s and they had never been rebuilt.

But the one question I should have asked during the short Q&A is how can Lebanon let people rot like this? The Lebanese Ambassador was apparently in the room. I wonder how she would have explained it.

The big downside of the trip was when the Parliamentarians met with Osama Hamdan, the Head of Hamas Foreign Affairs (see Page 26 of this report.)

Other Parliamentarians on the trip besides Kaufman and Corbyn were Alexandra Thein (a German MEP), Derek Vaughan (a Welsh Labour MEP), Frank Engel (a Luxembourg MEP), Michael Connarty (a Labour MP) and Robert Goebbels (another Luxembourg MEP). Tonge was not on the trip.

Meanwhile, my own dream is to get through one of these blasted meetings without being forced to turn off my camera.

Jenny’s Dream. (Jenny’s Dream starts at 11 mins 45 secs.)

Gerald Kaufman MP who at least stood up for democracy.

Gerald Kaufman MP who at least stood up for democracy.

Britain to spend £5m on “Arab human development programme”.

William Hague - "We say again that the blockade of Gaza is unsustainable and unacceptable." (Conservatives.com)

William Hague - "We say again that the blockade of Gaza is unsustainable and unacceptable." (Conservatives.com)

Foreign Secretary William Hague answered Parliamentary questions on the Middle East peace process yesterday.

Ben Gummer MP asked:

“I hope he (Hague) shares the excitement of many people in this country at seeing people stand up to one-party rule in Tunisia and Egypt. Will he explain what steps the Government are taking to encourage the spread of democracy—not just in the middle east, but in north Africa?”

Hague replied: “The spending I have announced in a written statement today includes £5 million for an Arab human development programme, which is intended to assist civil society and democratic development in the Arab world, so this will become part of the important issue my hon. Friend raises.”

With cuts across the public sector in this country, petrol prices up to 130p a litre and rising, university students being asked to pay up to £9000 a year and food prices rising is it really necessary to provide such money, especially when considering Arab oil wealth and multi billion pound Western subsidies.

Who is the money going to, how will it be used and what effect, if any, will it have? I thought this government was committed to cutting waste not adding to it.

Hague also seems to be under the misconception that there is a connection between democracy in the Middle East and a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I would respectfully submit to Mr Hague that Middle East authoritarianism is down to countries like ours propping certain regimes up for our own interests. Don’t blame this one solely on Israel, please.

Hague also thinks that “the blockade of Gaza is unsustainable and unacceptable”. That’s very easy for him to say when thousands of kassam rockets aren’t pointing at his family.

He also stated that “we regard settlements as illegal”. Although, as ever, he didn’t explain how they are illegal.

Gerald Kaufman was on the war path again saying that the “situation of destitution, dereliction and malnutrition in Gaza is still appalling because of the blockade.” Has anyone seen evidence of said “malnutrition”?

And Richard Burden MP was convinced that “the Palestine papers have proved pretty conclusively that it is not the Palestinians who have not been prepared to compromise.”

Just another normal day in Parliament then.

Beware the monster being created by the anti-Israel Lobby.

There are worrying developments in this country’s anti-Israel lobby. Maybe it is the continuing strength of Israel both militarily and economically while the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement is having limited, if any, success.

But while Israel and many Israelis continue to prosper, even more so in light of the upcoming change in the law of universal jurisdiction which will make it harder to arrest an Israeli official on allegations of war crimes, Diaspora Jews are still a target.

One might disagree with Israeli policies but what we think is irrelevant. We do not live there and so do not suffer the same threats as Israeli Jews.

Similarly, one would not expect Israeli Jews to advise UK Jews. Only those that live in a country can truly judge the appropriate action to take.

And Hasbarah is easy anyway. We all understand the history of the conflict. We know that Jews have a right to a sovereign state in the Middle East and that the Palestinians have a right to one also. The job may be big but that is no bar to trying to explain Israel’s position to office colleagues, friends and television audiences.

The main problem comes when you are attacked for what you are, a Jew, not what you think. Instead of being able to respond constructively the only response you are left with, apart from being left open-mouthed, is denial.

MP Gerald Kaufman claimed this year that rich Jews controlled the Conservative Party. Martin Linton, Chair of Labour Friends of Palestine, said that Israel’s “tentacles” were controlling our political system. Both accusations could be straight out of the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

And, on seventh night of Chanukah the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) staged Seven Jewish Children at the Polish Centre in Hammersmith. The choice of venue for this outrageous play seems particularly cruel when considering the plight of Jews in Poland during the Holocaust. The production is full of horrendous accusations about Jews.

I saw it at the Royal Court last year and felt uneasy amidst an applauding London audience. The show lasts 10 minutes and uses seven short acts to portray how the Jews have turned from being killed during the Holocaust into the killers themselves during Operation Cast Lead.

According to the play Jews are biblically driven, think of Palestinians as “filth” and “animals”, justify the killing of Palestinian babies to their own children and enjoy swimming in nice pools while the Palestinians become dehydrated.

There may be some Jews who think like this, Baruch Goldstein was an example, but to imply that all Jews do is racist. However, the play is available for anyone to put on for free, including in schools.

On the fifth night of Chanukah, Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of a London-based Arabic newspaper, gave a talk at LSE and allegedly pointed at Jewish students and accused them of bombing Gaza. In 2007 Atwan stated that he would “dance with delight” if Israel was hit by Iranian missiles. Imagine someone pointing at Muslim students while shouting they are all suicide bombers. That person would be accused of inciting religious hatred.

My suspicion, which may be wrong, is that the PSC came to the Polish centre via Ewa Jasiewicz, a Polish anti-Israel activist. During the summer Jasiewicz visited the Warsaw Ghetto and helped to daub “Free Gaza and Palestine” on the walls of one of the Ghetto houses in, what could be considered, a crude attempt to equate the Palestinians with the Jews under the Nazis. The Ghetto is now considered a grave to the 100,000 Jews that perished there.

More recently, the PSC and Middle East Monitor invited Richard Falk, the United Nations Human Rights Council’s representative to the Palestinian territories, to London to give a talk on Israel’s assault on human rights.

Yet, it was the same Falk who, in 2008, said that Israel’s treatment of Gaza was a “Holocaust in the making”.

Criticising Israeli policy is one thing but comparing the Palestinians with the fate of the Jews during the Holocaust and accusing today’s Jews of condoning the killing of babies while justifying it to their own children is another.

This will only lead to dangerous repercussions elsewhere. During the summer I had to intervene after seeing a Jewish teenager violently attacked by a Muslim teenager. Britain’s anti-Israel lobby should beware the monster it is helping to create.

(This piece appears in the latest edition of The Jewish News)

MPAC, the General Election and British Jews

With the gun for the general election having been fired British Jews are expecting open season on them and on Israel.

Even before the announcement of the May 6th election, which is expected to be close and could result in a hung Parliament with the highly anti-Israel Liberal Democrats holding the balance of power between Labour and the Conservatives, the attacks have been vicious. Recent accusations of Jewish political financing and Israel pulling the strings behind the electoral scenes have been hitting the headlines.

Martin Linton, a Labour MP, recently gave a talk in Parliament to the Friends of Al Aqsa and spoke of Israel’s “long tentacles” that fund British election campaigns and which try to buy a Conservative victory. Linton said that he failed to appreciate the Nazi symbolism of the Jewish octopus controlling the world with its tentacles and he apologised but he stands by his thesis of Israelis and pro-Israelis trying to buy a Conservative win.

At the same meeting Gerald Kaufman, a Jewish Labour MP, spoke of Lord Ashcroft owning part of the Conservative Party and right-wing Jewish millionaires owning the other part.

These are, of course, unfounded and defamatory accusations that paint many British Jews as being Fifth Columnists dedicated to another country only, Israel.

Then there is the election literature that has been doing the rounds. The Liberal Democrats are expert at manipulating the religious and ethnic sympathies of the voting public. They have already called for a ban on the sale of arms to Israel. Woe betide Israel if a hung Parliament results in Nick Clegg as Foreign Secretary as a quid pro quo for the Liberal Democrats supporting either Gordon Brown or David Cameron if neither wins a majority on May 6th.

In London there are two neighbouring constituencies where the policy of Liberal Democrats towards Israel depends wholly on the ethnic and religious make-up of the voters. In Holborn and St. Pancras, with its disproportionately high Bangladeshi community, the leaflets of the Liberal Democrat candidate scream “Stop Arming Israel”.

But in Hampstead and Kilburn, where the voters are disproportionately Jewish, the leaflets are pro-Israel with pictures of the Liberal Democrat candidate’s recent visit to Israel and there is even Hebrew writing included. Mezuzahs are very useful in determining whether to push said leaflet through a door or not.

MPAC: “Get out the Muslim vote II”

There is also the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, which is sure to have a big say in some constituencies on who gets elected or not. A page on the MPAC website asks “is your MP a Zionist?” and then goes on to list those MPs and candidates that it deems to be so. You don’t have to be Jewish. The only qualification seems to be that you are affiliated to a Friends of Israel group of one of the three main political parties.

The current list contains 36 names. In 2005 Lorna Fitzsimons, now head of British Israel Communications and Research Centre, lost her seat as a Labour MP partly because of MPAC. The 2006 Report of the All Parliamentary Committee into anti-Semitism found that MPAC, in order to help unseat Fitzsimons, distributed leaflets stating “she had done nothing to help the Palestinians because she was a Jewish member of the Labour Friends of Israel”. Lorna Fitzsimons is not Jewish.

The media will play its role. The Independent has committed anti-Israel writers like Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Johan Hari and Robert Fisk and the Guardian’s Comment is Free section is replete with anti-Israel polemic. A recent Guardian editorial on the Dubai passports affair and Israel’s building in east Jerusalem spoke of Israel as “an arrogant nation that has overeached itself”. This seems to be an implicit attack not on Israel specifically but on Jews generally.

But with four weeks to go until election day we can expect Jewish and Muslim sensitivities to be manipulated to the full in order to propel a political candidate into Parliament, or to reduce their chances.

So who will you be voting for and why?

Linton forced to apologise, Kaufman silent.

Imagine you were at a pro-Israel meeting where one MP suggested that a group of millionaire Muslims controlled the Liberal Democrats and another that overseas citizens of some Muslim countries were buying their support.

Would you not feel uneasy? Would you not wish to stand up and suggest that both of these theses are entirely racist in the absence of hard proof? Imagine the denunciations and calls for resignations of said MPs.

Last wednesday, March 31, my blog “Free Palestine, Vote Labour” made the front page of the Daily Telegraph. I had blogged Martin Linton’s, now-infamous, ‘Israel tentacles’ speech. Linton is MP for Battersea.

For an informative description of the Nazi symbol of the “Jewish octopus” using its tentacles to control the world see Mark Gardner’s piece.

Linton delivered his speech in Parliament. He spoke of Israel and its supporters trying to buy an election win for the Conservatives. He was preceded by Gerald Kaufman, MP for Manchester, Gorton, who suggested that Jewish millionaires control large parts of the Conservative Party.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Linton “said he did not recognise the ‘tentacles comment’”. As the Jewish Chronicle has just reported Linton has now come clean and finally apologised for any offence caused “but was not aware of the anti-Semitic precedents of the image of a Jewish octopus”.

But even disregarding Linton’s Damascene Conversion he stands by the rest of his speech; Israel and its supporters buying a Conservative election win.

Meanwhile, Gerald Kaufman made “no comment” to the Daily Telegraph about his “Jewish millionaires” comment. If he stands by this comment he should name names.

Linton and Kaufman should both name names otherwise nasty inferences with dangerous implications and insidious overtones are left to hang in the air; in Kaufman’s case that some British Jews and in Linton’s case that British supporters of Israel, are more interested and more committed to another country, Israel, than to this one.

Once these “funders” are out in the open they can decide whether to sue Linton or Kaufman or both for defamation. Have Linton and Kaufman the courage of their convictions? I doubt it and therefore they are not worthy of being British MPs.

Jews and money go, unfairly, together. If only it were true but many Jews, just like many of other religions and none, struggle around the world to make ends meet. The Jewish money-myth was created some 200 years ago when Jews were barred from many of the main professions and had to resort to money-lending to make a living. Incredibly, the myth still persists in today’s British political culture.

Jewish people should not be constantly blighted with accusation of buying power, whether in Nazi Germany or today’s so-called liberal multi-cultural Britain.

How liberal and multi-cultural can it really be when we hear such comments by Linton and Kaufman? Can such thinking really be so alive in “multicultural” Britain?

If this is what two MPs can stand up and say in public one dreads to imagine what is said in private by many others.

And there was not a stir from the audience or other members of the panel or the Chairman, not an objection raised. The speeches were, in fact, applauded by the 100 or so in the room.

I could have spoken up and objected to the anti-Jewish implications of some of the rhetoric but I have been to many of these anti-Israel meetings and the police waiting outside are instantly called by the Chair to remove anyone making a fuss. I did not wish to be unceremoniously hauled out by the police to huge applause, as has been the fate of others who have made reasonable objections.

More importantly Linton and Kaufman are our law makers. They either reflect or influence the morality of our country.

And even having to report these insidious speeches will impact negatively on Jews and Israel.

Enemies of Israel and the Jewish people will see the headlines and think there is no smoke without fire. The ignorant look for anything that bolsters their myopic view of the world. This poster thinks:

“We have a foreign minister with dual israeli citizenship, and now we find out that the Tory party is bankrolled by Israelis with dual citizenship.
Britain should have a policy of not issuing passports to people with an Israeli Passport.”

David Miliband, an Israeli citizen?

Some of our politicans have no shame but I hope their constituents do and vote Kaufman and Linton out on May 6th.

Preferably they won’t get to May 6th as, by then, Labour will have taken its own action to deselect them.

But don’t hold your breathe.

Martin Linton MP (left) chairing another anti-Israel meeting in Parliament

“Free Palestine, Vote Labour.”

Tony Benn

Last night’s meeting in Parliament arranged by Friends of Al Aqsa was due to be about Israel’s building in east Jerusalem but turned out to be a party political broadcast for the Labour Party.

The three Labour MPs that spoke mainly turned their guns on the Conservatives.

Martin Linton, Labour MP for Battersea (majority – 163 votes):

“There are long tentacles of Israel in this country who are funding election campaigns and putting money into the British political system for their own ends. Now there are a number of Conservatives who have a very good record on this issue, I am not saying it’s a simple party political issue, but you must consider over the next few weeks, when you vote and when you make your constituents aware, of the attempt by Israelis and pro-Israelis to influence the election in this country and you must draw your own conclusions from that. If they get the message that trying to buy a Conservative victory, what’s more trying to buy Conservative support for Israel, is successful then they will carry on doing it. If they can see that it is not going to work, then they will desist. It is important for not only this country but also for the future of the Middle East that the result of the election in this country does not send that message.”

Gerald Kaufman, Labour MP for Manchester, Gorton (majority – 5808 votes):

“Just as Lord Ashcroft owns one part of the Conservative Party, right-wing Jewish millionaires own the other part.” (That’s a bit “rich” coming from someone who, according to the Daily Telegraph “charged the taxpayer £1851 for a rug he imported from a New York antiques centre and tried to claim £8865 for a television”).

Andrew Slaughter, Labour MP for Ealing Acton Shepherd’s Bush (majority – 5520 votes):

“There is no will in the Conservative Party to support anything other than the state of Israel. There has been a sea change on the Conservative Party over the course of a generation. That didn’t used to be the case. They are as firmly locked in now as the Republicans are in America. We have to challenge that through political power in this country.” (Did Slaughter not see William Hague’s condemnation of Israel in Parliament yesterday?)

It was stated by the Chairman of the meeting that the Conservatives were offered an invitation for someone to speak last night but they said that no one was available.

There was a sense that the pro-Palestinian campaign is suffering from event fatigue. With meetings and protests virtually every day over the last few weeks on the Goldstone Report, the arrests of british protestors over Gaza, protests against Mayor Nir Barkat as well as International Israel Apartheid Week recently finishing, things are losing steam.

Tony Benn spoke briefly but with nothing like his normal passionate anti-Zionist rhetoric. And Dr Phyllis Starkey, Labour MP for Milton Keynes South-West, who was due to speak last night, was a no-show.

And even Kaufman displayed some sort of concern for the future of Israel by explaining that its future is in jeopardy: “Either meaningful talks will take place soon or the population equation will take over.” It wasn’t an anti-Israel tirade, which one might have expected in front of this audience.

The meeting was told that all the main religions should be allowed to pray properly in Jerusalem “the third most Holy place in the world to Muslims”. Even this was met with light applause and nothing like Benjamin Netanyahu’s “Jerusalem is not a settlement, it is our capital”, which raised the roof at the AIPAC meeting in Washington on Monday in front of 7500 actvists and members of Congress.

Hugh Lanning of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign then spoke of future events including a global boyott, divestments and sanctions weekend, a campaign to ban Israeli settlement goods being sold in the UK, Naqbah Day on 15th May, a TUC action day in June and the six pledges* that all Parliamentary candidates must sign up to, but by then it was a case of information overdose.

The Six Pledges*:

1. Call on Israel to end its violations of international law, including ending its illegal occupation.
2. Oppose any attacks on universal jurisdiction and support bringing Israeli war criminals to justice
3. Work to end the siege on Gaza
4. Call on the government to ban the import of settlement goods
5. Call on the government to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement
6. Call for an end to the arms trade with Israel

Miliband puts Israel on tourist warning list

The Foreign Office has just added this official warning on its site for visitors who wish to travel to Israel:

“UK passport holders should be aware of a recent Serious Organised Crime Agency investigation into the misuse of UK passports in the murder of Mahmud al-Mabhuh in Dubai on 19 January 2010. The SOCA investigation found circumstantial evidence of Israeli involvement in the fraudulent use of British passports. This has raised the possibility that your passport details could be captured for improper uses while your passport is out of your control. The risk applies in particular to passports without biometric security features. We recommend that you only hand your passport over to third parties including Israeli officials when absolutely necessary.”

David Miliband, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, made a statement that an Israeli diplomat will be expelled from the UK, eventhough this had been on the BBC website since this morning implying a Foreign Office leak to the BBC.

David Miliband, Britain's Foreign Secretary

But all such statements should first of all be made to us, the British public, via our elected MPs, and not to the unelected BBC.

Miliband would not name the Israel diplomat except to say that he or she had been picked by the Foreign Office which seems to imply that this person is directly responsible for the faking of the passports that allowed for the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai.

There was agreement with Miliband’s action by both William Hague (Cons. Shadow Foreign Secretray) and Ed Davey (LibDem. Shadow Foreign Secretary).

At no time was a specific allegation made by these three that Israel carried out the Dubai assassination.

Then we had the MPs who were there specifically, in a relatively empty House of Commons, to get their prime TV time at the expense of Israel:

Gerald Kaufman (Labour) spoke of Israel’s corrupt government and Israel’s corrupt Ben Gurion airport (although, hilariously, Julian Lewis (Cons.) said it was highly unlikely that Israel would clone Kaufman’s passport.)
Mark Durkan (SDLP) was unhappy with Miliband’s use of the term “alleged murder”.
Angus MacNeil (SNP) demanded that Israel apologises.
Ming Campbell (LibDem) spoke of the “killing” in Dubai.

Others also spoke and generally expressed the sentiment that this assassination was “murder” and should be tried accordingly as should the charge of fraud for cloning the passports.

It is a sad state of affairs that while our soldiers are attempting to kill terrorists in Afghanistan to try to make us safe on Britain’s streets Israel is condemned and punished for trying to do that for its own citizens.

But this is not about the killing or the passports, it is about the fact that British passports were used. Miliband said that of all the cloned passports used for the assassination the highest number were British. Hence the Foreign Office warning above.

Presumably, there would therefore have been no such outcry had none of the passports had been British.

But without such a cloning al-Mabhouh would still be alive today planning more atrocities against Israel’s civilians. And it is highly unlikely that Mossad, if it was Mossad, would clone British passports in the future after the current uproar.

In addition in the House today there was no criticism of al-Mabhouh or Dubai, which let al-Mabhouh come and go on many a false passport. In fact Miliband said he would continue to support Dubai in its investigation!

Not only has Israel lost a diplomat but tourism to Israel will now suffer due to this warning.

More than that, yet again, our Parliament has been demeaned by the sight of Israel-bashing MPs having an opportunity to paint a grotesque portrait of Israel while going unchallenged even by the likes of Miliband, Hague and Davey.