Tag Archives: ujia

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:

Anti-Zionist activist to perform at Jewish Comedy Festival.

Sometimes Jewish people never miss an opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot.

I refuse to go to the London Jewish Film Festival anymore having once paid good money to see Defamation, a film that, basically, portrays Israel as forcing Israeli teenagers to visit Auschwitz and using the visit to brainwash them into thinking that the whole world hates them because they are Jewish.

The same applies to London Jewish Book Week. Among the long list of Israel bashers invited to speak once was The Independent’s Johann Hari who has claimed that “untreated sewage was being pumped from illegal Israeli settlements on to Palestinian land, contaminating their reservoirs”.

Not only had he seen it with his own eyes, but Friends of the Earth had documented it, you understand.

Mick Davis, head of UJIA, addressed the possibility of Israel becoming an apartheid state and Breaking the Silence were given repeated platforms at Limmud to tell of the supposed evils of Israeli soldiers.

Now the London Jewish Cultural Centre has an advert out for their forthcoming Comedy Festival that reads:

“Enjoy a week of Jewish comedians previewing their outrageous, hilarious and irreverent acts at Ivy House for the next stop – this year’s Edinburgh festival.”

One of the comedians, Ivor Dembina, is doing a sketch harmlessly called “Jewish Comedy” on Monday July 18th.

But while Dembina is actually quite funny his other job is his one man show This Is Not A Subject For Comedy, which is about “Israel, Palestine and the Jews” and which he has been performing for some 8 years.

In it he tells, inter alia, about his confrontation with Israeli soldiers and thinks that Jews somewhat downplay the deaths of homosexuals and Communists at Auschwitz because “this is Ourschwitz, not Yourschwitz”.

Dembina has volunteered for the International Solidarity Movement and in an interview last year is quoted as saying that “the specter of anti-Semitism is raised by Zionists” and is “a manipulation of a tragedy to Zionism’s own advantage”.

He is also quoted as saying of Zionists:

“I think they’ve learned to their cost that it just makes people more determined to speak out publicly and that hate campaigns can be counter-productive. I think they’re starting to try and engage in discussion and going for the whole positive PR angle, like this email campaign about sending medical aid to Haiti. Or they’re going to use Iran as an excuse. They keep coming up with these reasons that the Jewish community has to support Israel and one by one they get exposed as nonsense…You’re left with a rump of very angry people who are used to getting their own way. Things have to be handled very carefully in the months and years ahead”. He also, apparently, compares Israel to apartheid South Africa.

Considering the audience at the LJCC is likely to be entirely pro-Israel and “Zionist”, I would expect they would like to know that Dembina considers them “angry people” and that he would like to see the end of Israel as a Jewish state. Then they can decide whether or not they would like to go in to see him perform.

At least with other anti-Zionists like Ken Loach one is usually fully informed of their politics. I would never go to see Looking for Eric, for instance, as much as I would probably enjoy it.

But, I suspect that Dembina won’t be playing his full anti-Zionist set at the LJCC and, therefore, many in the audience who are paying good money to see him won’t know of his politics.

Maybe, it would be helpful if someone stood outside the gates of the LJCC next Monday to hand out a list of Dembina’s quotes as people are going in to see him (any volunteers?).

I’m sure he wouldn’t expect anything less from a bunch of angry Zionists.

Ivor Dembina (guardian.co.uk)

Ivor Dembina (guardian.co.uk)