Tag Archives: Palestine Society

SOAS Update.

Thank you very much for all the support I received in light of last Monday’s Palestine Society event at SOAS when I was manhandled and told I was a “typical Israeli”, eventhough I am a proud Brit.

I received incredible emails from all over the world with people appreciating my attempts to cover anti-Israel meetings in London and appalled by my treatment.

I received emails from those who completely disagree with my views on Israel, but were still appalled by the way I was dealt with.

And thank you for the Arabic translations too.

I never got to the bottom of why I was called a “typical Israeli”. Only that student knows what was in his mind.

I had a very constructive chat with SOAS who said they had been inundated with emails from both sides but who wanted to continue to welcome me to SOAS and they said they will be reviewing their filming policy.

Much has been made of my not applying for consent to film, but when I was thudded in the shoulder from behind and shouted at to stop filming I wasn’t asked whether I had been granted such permission by SOAS. As it happens I didn’t know there was a filming policy as it has never been mentioned at any SOAS event I have attended (and I have attended a fair few).

There was also at least one other person filming who, it seems, didn’t have the required permission either. Meanwhile, I always see students filming on their IPhones.

And, unless I nodded off temporarily, none of the required announcements in accordance with the filming policy were made at the start of last Monday’s meeting by the organisers themselves!

I believe that in a public space such as a university freedom of speech is commensurate with a right to cover that freedom of speech without fear or hindrance. No one should be disallowed from filming solely because of their political views.

I was targeted last Monday night because of my political views. No one else filming would have been roughed up like that. And I have never disrupted an event, despite what is being put about by my detractors.

Sadly, SOAS students, it seems, have received a highly defamatory and incendiary statement from the SOAS Student Union on behalf of the Palestine Society, which has potential repercussions for my personal safety at SOAS and which was sent to me by a concerned SOAS student. One of the paragraphs states of me:

“By now, we are well aware of his intentions. He first provokes, intimidates and insults (including racially) speakers, organisers or members of the audience and violates generally accepted conventions of public meetings.”

This is reminiscent of another SOAS talk I attended on 16th April about Israel’s Arab minority where I wasn’t even filming. At the talk I was verbally insulted by Gilbert Achcar, a SOAS lecturer, who, after I had asked a perfectly reasonable question during the Q&A, told the room that I was a “professional disruptor”, that had he known I was coming he would have barred me from attending and that I had left insulting remarks on his answering machine. He then told me to get out.

Of course I didn’t leave messages on his machine. I wouldn’t even dream of it.

Aggressive targeting of those supportive of Israel is not confined to university campuses. At the beginning of the year I was put through a torrid few months when Peter Scott and Salim Alam of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign tried to have me prosecuted for harassment because of some videos and photos I posted of them demonstrating against Veolia outside the Natural History Museum in December.

I was at a reasonable distance while filming their political activism but I ended up being called into Notting Hill Police Station to be questioned about my filming and what I had written on my blog. Scott and Alam seemed to have failed to tell the police that I and others are constantly filmed and photographed for their anti-Israel blog.

To my relief the police eventually decided against any further action, but had it come to court the following footage might have made interesting viewing. It shows Salim Alam outside the now defunct Ahava shop in Covent Garden getting up close and personal to the camera of Roy from Campaign4Truth who was filming legally but still, as you can see, gets his camera whacked by one of Alam’s colleagues:

+972 Magazine’s Joseph Dana wows the Palestine Society at SOAS.

Kill Jews and you're a political prisoner according to "human rights" group Addameer.

Kill Jews and you're a political prisoner according to "human rights" group Addameer.

Last night SOAS’ Palestine Society unveiled Joseph Dana, an anti-Israel blogger for +972 Magazine, and Gemma Houldey, of Jerusalem based “human rights” organisation Addameer, for an event called Palestine: Resistance and Occupation.

Larry Derfner also writes for +972 Magazine. Derfner justified the recent Eilat terror attacks when he wrote on his blog:

“Whoever the Palestinians were who killed the eight Israelis near Eilat last week, however vile the ideology was, they were justified to attack.”

Joseph Dana made aliyah in 2005, after having completed a degree in America in Jewish history, with a view to exploring his cultural and Jewish secular identity. He describes himself as an American Israeli Jew who was brought up in America in a Zionist indocrination programme but who was able to free himself.

After completing a degree in Israel, also in Jewish history, he found that the “predominant nationalist rhetoric in Israel was at odds with the secular Judaism” he was trying to explore, specifically the idea of “life on the periphery, marginality and dispossesion”.

Instead, he said, he opened up to the Palestinian narrative and started to visit the West Bank and “observed the protests around the wall and settler violence”. To deal with the “emotional discharge” he started his blog.

He now lives and works in Ramallah reporting and tweeting full time on the protests.

Of course there is no “predominant nationalist rhetoric” in Ramallah where they name streets after suicide bombers, where children are taught in school to hate Israel and where two Israeli soldiers were lynched, but Dana obviously feels more comfortable there than in Israel for some mystifying reason.

He showed us a youtube clip of Israeli soldiers violently dispersing a demonstration. Dana said that in his experience he had never seen a rock thrown first by a Palestinian but it was always the IDF who started the violence.

During the Q&A nearly every question was about the possibility of a Third Intifada. Students never tire of seeing violence and destruction. Dana responded that a Third Intifada would be “unproductive” and plumped for boycotts and demonstrations instead.

But Dana seems to have been badly inconvenienced by the new boycott law in Israel where organisations and individuals can now be sued for boycotting settlements, a law which was voted through 47-36 in the Knesset.

It’s a law that Dana seems to have a bit of trouble understanding.

He explained to his starry-eyed audience that if he called for a boycott of settlements then he could be sued. He said that a settler did not have to prove any economic loss, only that Dana intended to damage the settler financially.

What the law actually says is that a settler would have to prove that “economic, cultural or academic damage” could be reasonably expected from such a move.

This is an important distinction as there probably would have had to have been some sort of preparatory action taken by Dana towards a boycott. Dana’s intention alone wouldn’t suffice.

The highly dramatic Dana was concerned that even mentioning boycotting Israel could get him or his +972 Magazine sued. Here’s Dana attempting to explain the law. He excitedly refers to my camera which, he thinks, could get him sued if I put this clip on youtube. The law has yet to be tested but maybe now will be:

Moreover, as I understand it, the law applies to the whole of Israel so, for example, an Israeli calling for a boycott of an Arab business, whether in Israel or the West Bank, can also be sued. And I’m not sure that these laws are so different from those in other countries where you can sued in similar circumstances.

In the Q&A Dana was asked whether Zionism is “the work of the devil”. It’s a racist question seeing as Zionism refers to Jewish self-determination in their ancient homeland. Instead of ignoring such a question, which any self-respecting commentator would have done, Dana responds:

I asked Dana what it is like for women, gays and political dissenters living in Ramallah and what he thought about neither Jews or Palestinian refugees being allowed to live in any future Palestinian state.

Instead of addressing these points he conveniently picked up on my commment about the Hamas Charter calling for the killing of Jews, which I thought might be an example of why Palestinian prisoners are treated differently from Israeli ones. The latter had been the subject of the previous talk by Gemma Houldey.

Dana thought that some of the comments by Hamas were horrific but that they were just as horrific as comments by Israelis. As an example he quoted accusations that Palestinian schoolchildren do not have maps of Israel in their schoolbooks, but said that Israeli children do not have maps of Palestine in their schoolbooks either.

He also quoted an unnamed Israeli MK who wanted to move all Palestinians to an island off the coast of Gaza. Apparently, this story appeared in Maariv.

His summary of the situation was:

“Almost everything we can accuse Hamas of we can find the equal and sometimes worse situation inside of Israel.”

Before such nonsense we heard more nonsense from Gemma Houldey, of Addameer, who described, without giving any evidence, how Israelis deprive Palestinian prisoners of proper medication, sexually harass Palestinian women during interrogation and target Palestinian children for arrest because they are easy targets. Here she is in her own words:

And as you can see from her slide (see top) Addameer classes every Palestinian prisoner as “political”, whatever they did.

Such a “political prisoner” would presumably include Amna Mouna, included in the recent prisoner exchange, who formed an online relationship with 16 year old Ofir Rahum before luring him into a deadly ambush near Ramallah when his body split into two parts having had so many bullets pumped into him.

And now all Addameer is concerned about is that some of these released prisoners will be exiled.

As ever the unquestioning students at SOAS lapped it all up.

Extra clip:

Here is Dana introducing himself before showing us the youtube clip I have linked to above:

Audio: Joseph Dana at SOAS during Q&A.