Tag Archives: palestine

Protesters compare “Palestine” to Auschwitz and Dachau outside Israeli Embassy.

Yes, that really does say Auschwitz, Iraq, Dachau, Palestine.

Yes, that really does say Auschwitz, Iraq, Dachau, Palestine.

Some mocked the Holocaust, others disfigured the Israeli flag, a few screamed “Allahu Akbar”, they all called for the destruction of the Jewish state.

That was the scene outside London’s Israeli Embassy yesterday afternoon as many thousands thronged to hear blood-curdling speeches calling for the end of Israel.

Kensington High Street was closed off to traffic leaving London buses stranded by the protesters who requisitioned them and covered them with anti-Israel slogans.

The protest against Israel’s latest attack on Hamas in Gaza was a toxic mix of Islamists, trade unions like Unison, charities like War On Want, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and, of course, the extreme religious Jewish sect Neturei Karta.

I knew I had outstayed my welcome when a protester grabbed me and shouted “A Zionist!”. I shook him off and made for the relative safety of the tube station.

Here’s a clip for you to savour some of yesterday’s toxicity and some photos:

Disfiguring Israel's flag. At least they didn't burn it.

Disfiguring Israel’s flag. At least they didn’t burn it.

"Cheap Jewish settlements" because Jews are tight money grabbers of course!

“Cheap Jewish settlements” because Jews are tight money grabbers of course!

War On Want's Executive Director John Hilary.

War On Want’s Executive Director John Hilary.

Agreed! Palestinians should be freed from their Hamas oppressors.

Agreed! Palestinians should be freed from their Hamas oppressors.

Is that because Israel builds bomb shelters but Hamas doesn't bother, possibly?

Is that because Israel builds bomb shelters but Hamas doesn’t bother, possibly?

Courageous guy climbs a traffic light.

Courageous guy climbs a traffic light.

They're the stars of the show at these hate events.

They’re the stars of the show at these hate events.

Will she be off to protest against Assad, Iran, ISIS and Boko Haram now?

Will she be off to protest against Assad, Iran, ISIS and Boko Haram now?

Police under pressure and looking under-numbered for once.

Police under pressure and looking under-numbered for once.

Libyan support despite things not looking too rosy in Libya either.

Libyan support despite things not looking too rosy in Libya either.

One of our buses gets occupied. Tell Boris!

One of our buses gets occupied. Tell Boris!

Remind me to invite him over for Friday night dinner soon.

Remind me to invite him over for Friday night dinner soon.

War On Want flags. WOW to be renamed War On Israel anyone?

War On Want flags. WOW to be renamed War On Israel anyone?

Not too sure what to say about this, so I think I'll leave it at that.

Not too sure what to say about this, so I think I’ll leave it at that.

Hmm, they mean Iran, Saudi, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq don't they? Oh wait...

Hmm, they mean Iran, Saudi, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq don’t they? Oh wait…

Can we have our bus back now please?

Can we have our bus back now please?

Errr, the problem is not Gaza, the problem is Hamas.

Errr, the problem is not Gaza, the problem is Hamas.

Ask them to ring back, you're at an anti-Israel protest!

Ask them to ring back, you’re at an anti-Israel protest!

War On Want No! Who can argue with that?

War On Want No! Who can argue with that?

Oh really. Now where does it say such a silly thing like that?

Oh really. Now where does it say such a silly thing like that?

"Cover up, sweety, it's getting a bit chilly". Aw.

“Cover up, sweety, it’s getting a bit chilly”. Aw.

(I dedicate this blog to the memory of my recently deceased mum whom I loved and miss and who, before she lost the ability to speak due to her terminal illness, always gave me one piece of treasured advice when she knew I was going to an anti-Israel event: “Be careful.”)

Bibi declared “most dangerous political world leader today” at Centre for Palestine Studies, SOAS.

khalidi2

An MA in Palestine Studies is being introduced by SOAS. Judging by the last two nights at the Centre For Palestine Studies, which is based at SOAS, one can just imagine some of the questions on the end of year exam paper!

On Wednesday CPS hosted Ilan Pappe and last night it hosted Walid Khalidi who spoke on the subject of 100 years since WW1 and the Balfour Declaration.

Admittedly, unlike Pappe, Khalidi supports a two state solution due to its “global support” but also because “in a one state framework Israel would have the ideal alibi to remove whatever constraints remain on settlements. Within a twinkling the Palestinians would be lucky if they had enough land to plant onions in their back gardens and to bury their dead alongside”.

Khalidi is the Godfather of “Palestine Studies”. Gilbert Achcar introduced him as “the founder of the scientific study on the question of Palestine”. But at the Centre for Palestine Studies on Wednesday night Ilan Pappe had referred to the “so-called scientific research” of Zionism as nothing more than “marketing” by Israel.

Hypocrisy doesn’t come bigger than that. While the study of “Palestine” is “scientific”, the study of Israel is mere “marketing”!

The glitterati of the Palestine Lobby, including “Ambassador” Manuel Hassassian, were present to hear Khalidi describe the Balfour Declaration as “the single most destructive political document on the Middle East in the twentieth century”. But the 16 million dead of WW1 were not even mentioned by Khalidi.

Interestingly, Khalidi wasn’t too keen on UNSCR 242 either. While anti-Israel propagandists use 242 as proof that Israel is in the West Bank illegally, Khalidi said it doesn’t specify a time when the withdrawal of Israel’s armed forces should begin, a line for them to be withdrawn to or the name of the territories they are to be withdrawn from.

Neither does 242 mention the word “Palestinian” or describe who the “refugees” are. Khalidi said while the Balfour Declaration was the fountainhead of all developments from 1917 to 1967 UNSCR 242 was the fountainhead of the conflict since 1967 to this day.

Khalidi said the 1967 War’s “most profound and potentially catastrophic impact lies in the inspiration it gave to neo-Zionist religious fundamentalist Messianism and to its creation of conditions conducive to a clash over Jerusalem’s holy places between Jewish and Christian evangelical jihadists on the one hand and Muslim jihadists on the other.”

Khalidi doesn’t like Israel’s leaders much either. The last part of his talk was all about the influences on Benjamin Netanyahu, which included his grandfather (Nathan), father (Benzion) and brother, Yonatan, killed in Israel’s raid on Entebbe in 1976 to save Jewish and Israeli hostages from Palestinian terrorists.

Another influence was Jabotinksy who, Khalidi said, was referred to by Ben Gurion as “Vladimir Hitler”. Another was Menachem Begin who, according to Khalidi, introduced into the Middle East the letter bomb, the parcel bomb, the barrel bomb and the car bomb.

Khalidi thinks Arabs are powerless and he said “just how sorry the state of the Arab nation is can be gauged from the fact that the future of Palestine hinges more on the desires and prejudices of Benjamin Benzion Natan Netanyahu than those of any incumbent in the proud Arab capitals”.

Khalidi said Abbas is “committed to non-violence”, that there’s “evidence of pragmatism” in the Hamas leadership and that “civil disobedience” could well be common ground for Abbas and Hamas.

But Khalidi’s final dramatic rhetorical flourish, for which he received a standing ovation at which he waved his walking stick high in the air, was aimed solely at Israel’s Prime Minister:

“All the other protagonists are committed to a peaceful resolution…Obama’s understanding of the Palestine problem far surpasses that of all his predecessors. Abbas’ commitment to peace is genuine. At his age peace would be the crowning achievement of a lifetime.

We want to focus on the real enemy…Bibi will never share Jerusalem. Continued occupation and settlement while tightening the noose around East Jerusalem is  a sure recipe for an apocalyptic catastrophe sooner or later over the Muslim holy places in the Old City.

With the continued surge in religious fundamentalist zealotry on both sides the road to Armageddon will lead from Jerusalem.

That is why, ladies and gentleman, Benjamin Benzion Ben Natan Netanyahu is the most dangerous political leader in the world today.”

Jewish holy places, anyone? Roll on those MA in Palestine Studies exam questions!

Jews under attack at Centre for Palestine Studies as Ilan Pappe comes to SOAS.

Jews came under fire last night at the Centre for Palestine Studies, based at SOAS and under the chairmanship of Gilbert Achcar. It was irrelevant if you are a Jew in Israel, Scotland, Wales or England. Ilan Pappe, the CPS guest speaker, doesn’t discriminate.

Pappe, a lecturer at Exeter University, started by saying he wished “to answer the riddle of the growing gap between the image Israeli Jews have of themselves and the external image the world has of them”. In North Korea the gap between the view North Koreans have of themselves and that of them by outside world would not be much different, but in Israel there is “genuine difference”.

He said the Zionist movement in Israel should be credited for its marketing skills, particularly the way it marketed both Palestine as a land without a people for a people without a land and also Israel as a European country. This helped “absolve them from what they did to the native population”.

Israel, he said, therefore appeared to be a democracy while actually being an “ethnic racist state”. Israel had succeeded in “marketing an oppressive reality as a democratic one”.

Israel had marketed Zionism, he said, to include such enlightenment concepts as liberalism, capitalism and social democracy. And Zionism was far more successful than other ideas because it was “born after the failures of Nazism and fascism”.

Such branding and marketing, according to Pappe, had been done via academia and fiction.

Israeli academics, he said, undertook a “willing role to commodify the Zionist project on the basis of so-called scientific research”. And books and films like EXODUS showed Zionist figures looking like “Aryan Israelis”, while the Palestinians looked “like either Osama Bin Laden or ET”.

But, Pappe said, at one stage certain Israelis had an “epiphany”. Using the same methodology of books, articles and films they challenged these “truisms of Zionism by re-examining the Zionist project from the beginning”.

They showed Israel was a “settler colonial society, an aggressive society and a discriminatory society”. However, they got “cold feet” when challenged and apologised before disappearing without trace, some being forced to leave Israel.

However, this same methodology has now been adopted by people outside Israel which, according to Pappe, worries Israel. Israel can “stifle criticism and crush those who don’t toe the line from within” but cannot do the same to those outside Israel.

In response to this, Pappe said, the Israeli elite has re-adopted the Zionist dogma in a “neo-Zionist” form, which is far harsher and less flexible than the original. Such “neo-Zionism” being symbolised by the likes of Netanyahu, Bennett and Lieberman.

Pappe said he was worried how Israel would react to a new, even non-violent, Palestinian Intifada as “the Israel of 2014 is worse than the Israel of 1987 and 2ooo. It is a more ruthless Israel”.

“Neo-Zionism”, Pappe explained, attempts to combine liberal and theocratic ideas of how to live as Jews in the twentieth century and is a “lethal combination if you are the enemy”. Pappe said this is “not easy to sell as a liberal democracy”.

“Israeli society is neo-Zionist. Most (Jewish Israelis) want an ethnic racist state. There are no liberal Zionists anymore,” he said. He cited Peter Beinart, J Street and Ari Shavit as the last possible bastions of liberal Zionism.

Pappe said that in 2005 the Israeli government created Brand Israel Group (BIG), to target the Jewish community in America, despite already having America “in its pocket”. Israel, he said, is doubtful of their support in the future.

Pappe said his publisher, Verso, would neither allow him to show the fairly explicit posters in his new book that were used by Israel to “appeal to the Jewish homosexual community in New York City” nor those aimed at Jewish heterosexuals. The idea being, Pappe said, if you like this sexy woman you might like Israel’s occupation.

By 2010, however, this campaign was seen by Israel to have failed and so, Pappe said, Israel’s new policy was to distract the opposition. Instead of trying to win an argument about “apartheid and ethnic cleansing” activists were urged to say, for example, “But Israel invented chewing gum!”.

Pappe said Israel had also been successful in convincing Jews in other countries that Israel is their story as well. He said he was once confronted by Jews in Edinburgh and that he had told them in no uncertain terms that Israel was not their story.

Then at the end of last night’s event when I criticised his lecture he asked me in Hebrew if I speak Hebrew, presumably to imply that Israel is not my story either. Ironically, your typical SOAS audience member has absolutely no connection with the Palestinians and cannot speak Arabic.

The final irony is that the marketing and branding Pappe accuses Israel of doing is just what he does! For example, during his talk he urged his audience to use “settler colonialism”, “Israeli apartheid”, “regime change” and “ethnic cleansing” when discussing Israel.

(I have been banned by SOAS, under threat of legal action, from filming or taking photos at these events without permission. All my requests for permission have since been declined. Others are permitted to film and take photos.)

History lecturer: “Britain should apologise for Balfour Declaration.”

James Renton and Deborah Maccoby of JfJfP at SOAS.

James Renton and Deborah Maccoby of JfJfP at SOAS.

A little known history lecturer is quickly becoming the new poster boy of the anti-Israel movement. Last night at SOAS James Renton detailed why he thinks the British government should apologise for the Balfour Declaration. He was invited to speak by Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

The thrust of Renton’s argument is that there should be such an apology because the Balfour Declaration lacked clarity on the meaning of “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, which, he said, unleashed an expectation of statehood amongst Jews that was never intended. He blames the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on this “misconceived, ill thought through policy of the British government”.

He also argued that the Declaration was based on the mistaken and anti-Semitic assumption that Jews had great power in America and Russia and that they were mainly Zionist. Therefore, such a declaration would encourage Russia and America against Germany during the Great War.

Renton thinks that there was never an intention to create a Jewish state and he quoted from a letter from David Lloyd George to the then Archbishop of Westminster, who told Lloyd George in 1919 that the Zionists in Palestine were “causing a stink and claiming that the country would soon be coming under their control”. Lloyd George replied to the Archbishop:

“If the Zionists claim domination of the Holy Land under a British protectorate then they are certainly putting their claims too high.”

Renton criticised Britain for advertising that it was a big supporter of Zionism while at the same time promoting national freedom for Arabs but without thinking either side really expected political independence in Palestine. This was because the British viewed both Jews and Arabs as “politically backward”.

You can read Renton’s thesis in Haaretz (contact me in you cannot access the link and I will send you the article).

However, his thesis is facile. For one he contradicts himself by saying both that the British thought the Jews had immense power but that they were also politically backward. Which is it?

For Renton the Balfour Declaration was mainly down to anti-Semitism. As he puts it “Balfour and Mark Sykes said nasty things about Jews” (Sykes was the government’s advisor on the Middle East at the time). And he downplays the role of Christian support for a Jewish state as well as Chaim Weizmann’s efforts in manufacturing ammunition for Britain during the Great War.

This campaign to have Britain apologise for the Balfour Declaration was dreamt up by the Palestine Return Centre. They launched a petition with the view to obtaining one million signatures in support of an apology by the time of the centenary of the Declaration in 2017. Unlike Renton, the PRC thinks the apology should be for the “tremendous injustices” the Balfour Declaration has caused to the Palestinian people.

The PRC are now using the recent decision in the Mau Mau rebellion case, where Britain has been found guilty of complicity in the torture of victims in the Mau Mau uprising against British rule in Kenya in the 1950s and 1960s, to give their campaign a boost.

Renton spotted one difficulty with the PRC’s campaign though. He noted that there will be no one alive from the era of the Balfour Declaration to attest. So he suggested to a representative of the PRC who was in the audience last night that the PRC might have more success if they asked the British government for an apology for the Arab losses during the Arab uprising of 1936-1939.

The problem with that is that the PRC’s raison d’etre is the destruction of Israel via the so-called Palestinian “right of return”. They want an apology to undermine Israel’s existence. I doubt that Arabs were killed during that Arab uprising is of great significance to the PRC in the scheme of things. Renton might not know of the PRC’s politics, but there’s a good clue in their name Palestine Return Centre as to why they might want an apology.

Anyway, the wording of the Balfour Declaration is clear. What is meant by “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” if not a state? The clue is in the words “national home”.

Renton gave us a sheet of homework asking all 10 of us in the audience some questions:

1. Did today’s talk differ from your previous understanding of this issue?
2. Has Dr Renton’s talk affected how you think about the Balfour Declaration?
3. What aspects would you challenge, and why?

Maybe you could email him at james.renton@edgehill.ac.uk with your answers. He wants to hear from you.

How many Comic Relief Mosquito Nets pay for War on Want’s Rafeef Ziadah?

War On Want unveil their "Stop Arming Israel" campaign next to PSC last night.

War On Want unveil their “Stop Arming Israel” campaign next to PSC last night.

On annual Red Nose Day the BBC broadcasts an evening of entertainment interspersed with heart-breaking scenes from Africa and British hospitals and hospices all in the hope of encouraging people to donate to Comic Relief.

Red Nose Day is on March 15th but one has to wonder how much money Comic Relief wastes. It is an ongoing tragedy which I witnessed at first hand last night when War On Want appeared at the Israeli Apartheid Week event Voices from Palestine: Resisting Racism and Apartheid held at the University of London Union (ULU).

By April 2010, when I first wrote about War On Want’s anti-Israel activism, Comic Relief had already given War On Want approximately £1.7m. War On Want’s accounts now show that in 2011 Comic Relief gave War On Want yet another £303,391. I await the figures for 2012 and 2013.

From War On Want’s 2011 accounts:

wow

And here is War On Want’s “mock occupation of a London Waitrose” where activists singled out Israeli produce for boycotting.

So War On Want demands sanctions against Israel until Israel “complies with international law.” However, one of the demands of the BDS campaign is the return of so-called “Palestinian refugees” to Israel which, according to Haidar Eid, who spoke last night, amounts to some “seven million Palestinians”. This is thanks to the ridiculous UN definition of “Palestinian refugee”, which includes ALL the descendants of those Palestinians who, for various reasons, left Israel in 1947-1948.

A similar definition applied to myself would make me a Polish refugee (now where’s that key to my grandfather’s old home in Lodz?)

Obviously if such a “return” took place then Israel would cease to exist as it would quickly become another Muslim Arab state. Therefore, Israel can only comply with “international law”, as interpreted by War On Want, if it destroys itself. This is where Comic Relief’s money is going!

At last night’s event War On Want was represented by two employees; Natalie Idle (Activism and Outreach Officer) and Rafeef Ziadah.

Ziadah, a Canadian “Palestinian refugee” and War On Want’s Senior Campaigns Officer (Militarism and Security), is a long-time anti-Israel activist. Here she is at an Israel Apartheid Week event last year, before she worked for War On Want, sickeningly praising Islamic Jihad terrorist Khader Adnan. Five years earlier Adnan had been filmed urging others to become suicide bombers in order to murder innocent Israelis.

At last night’s event Ziadah called for a boycott of Tesco and Sainsbury’s due to their trade with Israel. She also unveiled War On Want’s new campaign for Britain to instigate a two-way arms ban against Israel; both selling arms to Israel and buying arms from Israel, which, she claimed, are “tested on Palestinian bodies and then used in Afghanistan.”

War On Want's Rafeef Ziadah, left, having fun with Jarar and Kopty at ULU last night.

War On Want’s Rafeef Ziadah, left, having fun with Jarar and Kopty at ULU last night.

I would like to have filmed Ziadah’s statements but we were told there was no filming or photography allowed by “unauthorised persons”. I was, therefore, limited to voice recording until early into the speeches when I felt a sudden nudge in my back from a Free Palestine T-Shirt wearing activist who suggested that I switch off my recorder or be removed.

Meanwhile, Haidar Eid, Associate Professor of Cultural Studies at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza, repeatedly referred to Gaza as the “largest concentration camp on earth”.

Abir Kopty, a Palestinian activist from Nazareth who has a Masters in Political Communication from City University, London, called for a “blacklist of settlers and soldiers” who should have their passports stamped “Denied Entry” to stop them traveling.

Yafa Jarrar, another Canadian “Palestinian refugee”, gave a long, dull account of her BDS activities at Carleton University in Ottowa of which she seemed very proud.

Ziadah finished by holding up “a rock from Haifa” which, she said, was as close to home as she could get as “a Palestinian refugee”. She said she hoped that herself, Eid, Kopty and Jarrar will all one day meet on Haifa’s beach without being oppressed by the “racist state of Israel”.

So why has Comic Relief funded War On Want’s sickening racist activism to the tune of some £2m (and counting) while millions of children have died from the likes of malaria? At least one million people die each year from malaria in Africa of which 70% are children under 5. Ziadah’s War On Want salary could easily help supply thousands more insecticide-treated mosquito nets which would save lives! Plus she also seems to work at SOAS anyway.

The British people need to know that their precious donations to Comic Relief are being wasted on the racist ideologies of activists in War On Want who organise invasions of British supermarkets, call for Tesco and Sainsbury’s to be boycotted and who work for the only Jewish state to simply disappear.

Middlesex University bans concerned public from Free Palestine Society hate speech event.

middlesexuni

The Facebook page above reads:

“THE UNIVERSITY HAVE RESTRICTED THE EVENT TO MIDDLESEX STUDENTS & STAFF ONLY…PLEASE EMAIL MIDDLESEX UNIVERSITY TO SEEK THEIR JUSTIFICATION FOR THIS UNPRECEDENTED RESTRICTION.”

The event was the Free Palestine Society’s The Case for Boycotting, Divesting, and Sanctions against Israel held last night. The speakers were Lauren Booth, John Rees and Asghar Bukari. The location was Middlesex University in Hendon, a highly Jewish populated suburb of London.

On her blog Booth quotes Gilad Atzmon’s anti-Semitic rhetoric extensively and tries to back him up. For example:

“No Jews do not run the world. They get others to do it for them.'”….This argument is not without example. In 2001 Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, made unguarded comments, about relations with the United States and the peace process.
“I know what America is,” he told a group of terror victims, apparently not knowing his words were being recorded. “America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won’t get in their way.”

And she directly implicates British Jews in what she sees as Israel’s “crimes” when she writes:

What must also continue, freely and without hindrance are debates into the British Jewish communities role in funding the ethnic cleansing of the West Bank and East Jerusalem via such bodies as the Jewish National Fund.

Bukhari is the founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee. MPAC was banned from university campuses in 2004 after being branded anti-Semitic by the National Union of Students and Bukhari, himself, supported and financed Holocaust denier David Irving.

MPAC recently tweeted that Zionism equals Nazism.

Rees has, inter alia, reportedly identified with the Mahdi Army, a terror cell responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqis.

We did email Middlesex University to ask why concerned members of the public were banned, but the response bore no relation to the question. Middlesex University responded:

This is a Students’ Union supported society event which is open to students and staff at the University. As a University we have a responsibility to protect freedom of speech within the law and support the rights of our students to meet and discuss issues that matter to them. The University hosts a wide range of events, presenting many different views, and we would not seek to prevent them or influence the content unless there are very strong grounds to do so.

When I contacted Sam Spindlow, of Corporate Communications at Middlesex University and who was responsible for disseminating the statement, even he agreed that the statement did not explain why the public was banned, but said he could go no further than that.

The reality is that at a similar event at Middlesex University last year Ken O’Keefe compared Jews to Nazis, and Jenny Tonge said that “Israel won’t be here forever” for which she was chucked out of the Liberal Democrats.

Middlesex University’s new policy seems to be to allow hate speech to go virtually unopposed. Concerned members of the public are to be banned from anti-Israel events, although whether this policy is legal is open to question with Middlesex University being a taxpayer funded institution.

A few defiant members of Middlesex University’s Jewish Society did attend last night. One walked out in disgust at what was being said about Israel. She said that a pro-Israel question was asked during the Q&A but was dismissed by Lauren Booth as being “too Zionist a question to take seriously.” Another member of the Jewish Society handed out pro-Israel leaflets afterwards.

Jonathan Hoffman and I weren’t allowed in so we waited outside till the end and engaged in discussion with the students as they exited the room. We didn’t get very far though. We were told we were “child killers” and as I left a student shouted at me “Go back to Golders Green*.”

That kind of vile racism has now become the norm at anti-Israel events, but Middlesex University dangerously continues to look away.

*Golders Green is another highly Jewish populated suburb of London.
** Thanks to Stand For Peace for its research on Booth, Bukhari and Rees.
*** UPDATE: What happened behind Middlesex University’s closed doors by Jonathan Hoffman.

Jonathan Hoffman and security outside last night's Free Palestine Society event at Middlesex University.

Jonathan Hoffman and security outside last night’s Free Palestine Society event at Middlesex University.

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.

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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Centre for Palestine Studies and UJIA swap roles on Israel for the night.

There must have been something in the London air last night. While the United Joint Israel Appeal, Union of Jewish Students and “Pro-Israel” Yachad hosted Israel boycotter Peter Beinart via Skype, further down the Northern Line SOAS’ Centre for Palestine Studies hosted Professor Jean-Pierre Filiu.

Beinart will have been trying his best to persuade his Jewish audience (the talk was restricted to Jewish students and members of Jewish youth groups only) to boycott the livelihoods of innocent Jewish families living in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

Meanwhile, at SOAS’ usually anti-Israel Centre for Palestine Studies Professor Filiu gave an interesting talk on the history of Gaza. Not only did Filiu recognise Israel’s security needs but he attacked Hamas for its mistreatment of Palestinian women. There were no calls for boycotts.

Filiu’s main thesis was that peace in the Middle East would only come via Gaza as, historically, control of Gaza was pivotal to control of the Middle East. The most recent example was General Allenby who won control of Gaza a month before entering Jerusalem.

Filiu said the Muslim Brotherhood opened a branch in Gaza in 1946 and its founder, Hassan al-Banna, visited Nuseirat sometime before May 1948 to urge his followers to fight for Palestine.

Filiu described Gaza as a “Noah’s Ark” for 200,000 Palestinian refugees, but it was  the Sinai Desert that kept the refugees in Gaza otherwise they would have journeyed on to Egypt. Gaza’s original population was 80,000.

Filiu splits Gaza’s recent history into three 20 year cycles:

“1947 – 1967 Obliteration of Palestine” – Filiu claimed that during the winter of 1948/1949 many children died of hunger and cold and that the Quakers and Turks were the first in to offer tents. The only two political parties were the Muslim Brotherhood and the Communists.

In 1955 Ariel Sharon’s Unit 101 launched a raid into Gaza to attack terrorists. An Intifada soon followed. The battle cry of the Brotherhood and the Communists was “Nasser dictator, traitor of the Palestinian cause.”

During Israel’s short occupation of Gaza to try to destroy Fedayeen nests 1,000 Palestinians died out of a population of 300,000. (NB. there are no proper archives on Gaza’s history so figures may well be inaccurate)

After the 1956 Suez Crisis Israel withdrew from Gaza. Egypt took over. The Fedayeen weren’t allowed to operate. Many left Gaza for the Gulf and founded Fatah. The Muslim Brotherhood went underground.

“1967 – 1987 Reoccupation” – This period was characterised by Palestinian civil resistance to Israel, the Muslim Brotherhood’s continued oppression by Nasser, infighting between Palestinian Nationalists and the Muslim Brotherhood and a boycott by President Sadat when the Palestinians condemned Egypt’s peace agreement with Israel.

Islamic Jihad was formed and they regarded Palestine as a priority, but not its Islamisation. The 1987 Intifada took both the PLO’s external leadership and the Muslim Brotherhood by surprise. The Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza turned itself into Hamas.

“1987 – 2007 Cycle of Intifadas” – Filiu said this was a time of collective sorrow, desolation and Palestinian infighting. Hamas’ Al Qassam Brigades executed many Palestinians for being collaborators.

The peace process brought hope but when Arafat divorced himself from Gaza Palestinians living there felt they had paid the price for bringing him back from Tunis, especially when Palestinian police opened fire on their own people and many were tortured to death. Gaza totally lost out in the peace process.

Israel again withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but it was Fatah’s change of rules for the 2006 Palestinian elections, hoping to prevent a Hamas victory, that actually allowed Hamas to win. Hamas immediately offered a national unity government but Fatah wasn’t interested in Gaza. After the 2007 coup Hamas fully controlled Gaza.

Filiu said that Palestinians in Gaza are fed up with Fatah and Hamas’ petty war. He acknowledged Israel’s security concerns but said Israel “should deal with the people, not bomb and kill them”. He said there is no other way but for Israel to lift the “blockade” of Gaza, which he viewed as helping Hamas to build a police state and control the population, especially the women.

During the Q&A Filiu was asked about the possibility of a one state solution. Filiu said a two state solution was the only way forward and that this is what the PLO had just asked for at the UN and that this had been celebrated even in Gaza.

Apart from Filiu’s wanting Israel to lift all restrictions on Gaza, which would lead to increased suicide bombings in Israel, it was as objective and interesting a talk about the conflict and Hamas as I have heard from any non pro-Israel organisation.

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: