Tag Archives: Yasser Arafat

Families of Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall continue their war on Israel.

When Craig Corrie approached a group of pro-Israel activists outside the Hackney Empire before the start of a memorial concert for Rachel Corrie everyone was worried he would be angry. It was 1st November 2005, more than two years after Rachel Corrie, his daughter, was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza. She was 23.

The activists were holding up photos of Israeli Rachels murdered by Palestinian terrorists. Rachel Thaler was 16 when she died. She was also a British citizen. The others were Rachel Levy, 17, Rachel Levi, 19, Rachel Charhi, 36, Rachel Gavish, 50, Rachel Ben Abu, 16, Rachel Kol, 53, and Rachel Shabo, 40.

As Tom Gross wrote in 2005 “Even though Thaler was a British citizen, born in London, where her grandparents still live, her death has never been mentioned in a British newspaper.”

But Mr Corrie was not angry. Instead, he was very polite and after he had looked over the photos of the Rachels he said that they were all in his thoughts.

Sadly, his and his wife’s Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice now engages in the childish, ignorant politics of the average anti-Israel activist. The foundation calls for a boycott of Israel and for “the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes”, which would inevitably mean Israel’s destruction.

When I searched the foundation for mentions of the Israeli Rachels it returned “No posts found”.

Yesterday, I was at SOAS in London for the Not Afraid To Look exhibition, which is based on the photos and quotes of Tom Hurndall, aged 22 when he died from his injuries after being shot by an Israeli soldier in Gaza, and Rachel Corrie.

Both were “trained by” the International Solidarity Movement. ISM, the exhibition states, “provided support through non-violent action against arbitrary house demolitions and land theft by the occupying Israeli forces”.

Nowhere, was it mentioned that Israel imprisoned the soldier that shot Tom or that a thorough investigation acquitted the bulldozer driver of intentionally killing Rachel.

In a sideroom at SOAS I also attended a four-way Skype session that linked up activists in London, Gaza, Edinburgh and Olympia in Washington state, USA where the Corries are based. Tom’s mother, Jocelyn, was in the room in London.

Sadly, Rachel and Tom’s memories were commemorated by racist, childish songs sung from Edinburgh calling for Israel to be boycotted.

Here are some of the lines:

Don’t buy dates, don’t buy jaffa fruits, don’t buy Israeli wines, there’s a boycott going on.

Just read the labels, no looking back, if made in Israel, it stays on the rack.

Tell all your neighbours, don’t be shy, read all the labels before you shop, Israel’s apartheid’s got to stop.

Afterwards, Cindy Corrie praised those lyrics. Haider Eid, in Gaza, told the four-way Skype audience that Israel’s Operation Cast Lead “happened in response to harmless rockets from Gaza”. Meanwhile, the main guest, Jeremy Corbyn MP, failed to show up.

I can understand that the families of Tom and Rachel want justice but when you read the quotes of their children below, especially Tom’s, one has to question just what they were doing in such a dangerous predicament, especially considering that Tom arrived in Gaza AFTER Rachel had been killed.

The two families will, no doubt, continue their quest against Israel but their children should not have been in Gaza and complicity in their tragic deaths lies not just with Israel but with Yasser Arafat, who launched the bloody Second Intifada, themselves as parents for not dissuading their children from going to a war zone and with the ISM who took them there.

Quotes from Not Afraid To Look:

“It is strange to know that each night people are shot and killed for breaking military curfew. And in the darkness on the north west side there is an Israeli settlement a few hundred metres away with a military sniper in between. Any one of us four could be being watched through a sniper’s sights at this moment. The certainty is that they are watching and it is on the decision of any one Israeli soldier or settler that my life depends. I know that I’d probably never know what hit me, but it’s part of the job to be as visible as possible.” Tom Hurndall 6/4/03

“Two ‘young’ brothers shot at by snipers in the tower. Mustafa hit in leg, Rushdie in throat while in the bathroom (through a misted glass window). Ironically, his best hope of survival is if his family pays $4,000 and apply to take him to Israel for treatment.” Tom Hurndall 11/4/03

“Our job is to keep water pumping machinery on-line during the curfew because Palestinian technicians would be shot at if they came out to do it. We stand a better chance.” Tom Hurndall 6/4/03

“It seems that all over Palestine the strategy is the same…They shoot at water tanks on the top of houses for fun. They destroy wells, give all the water supply to settlements and place the off-switch in settlers’ hands to use as a weapon. Everything is deliberately designed to lower the standards of life for Palestinians so that they just get up and leave.” Tom Hurndall 7/4/2003

“I think it is maybe official now that Rafah is the poorest place in the world.” Rachel Corrie 27/2/03

“Rachel (Corrie) was killed in Rafah a few weeks ago. It seems so unfair. Not just on the surface but looking at the images. I wonder how few or how many heard of it on the news and just counted it as another death, just another number…” Tom Hurndall 3/4/03

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.

BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen retweets anti-Israel activist Joseph Dana.

This article by me first appeared on the recently launched BBCWatch website.

The BBC has had many notorious anti-Israel episodes over the years – too many to mention them all – but here are a few to jog the memory.

BBC journalist Barbara Plett said she “started to cry” as Yasser Arafat left the West Bank in 2004 to go to France for treatment not long before he died. BBC governors ruled her comments “breached the requirements of due impartiality”.

In 2006 Orla Guerin reported, while standing in front of damaged buildings in Bint Jbeil, Lebanon, that the town had been “wiped out” by the Israeli air force. Meanwhile, Alex Thompson, of Channel 4 News, correctly reported “the suburbs pretty much untouched by the Israeli attack and invasion”.

More recently the Itamar massacre was hardly mentioned on the BBC despite its many TV and radio news programmes. The BBC eventually apologised and blamed its oversight on a “very busy news period”. Five Israelis being stabbed to death in their family home by two Palestinian terrorists, including a baby girl in her bed, was not deemed newsworthy enough by the BBC.

Another even more recent example was Will Gompertz’s review of Habima’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ at The Globe in May which appeared in the Entertainment & Arts section of the BBC website. In the review, which was headlined “The Merchant of Venice: A protest within a play”, Gompertz proceeded to review the disruptions by anti-Israel activists instead of the actual play itself.

Gompertz even described one of the anti-Israel activists as “a handsome grey-haired woman” and, instead of condemning the disruptions out of hand, he merely mused “about the rights or wrongs of staging a protest in a theatre where the majority of the people have paid to see a show”.

Such partiality continues to this day in the guise of Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East Editor. On October 5th 2012 Bowen retweeted to his 21,333 Twitter followers, which he has courtesy of his position at the BBC, a tweet by Joseph Dana who was “curious that Israeli forces can fire tear gas and use stun grenades next to the Al Aqsa mosque and the story doesn’t make international waves”.

The Al Aqsa Mosque is on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem; one of the potentially most explosive square kilometres on earth, should something go decidedly wrong there. Tear gas and stun grenades would be used only in extreme circumstances. One can imagine the sensitivity with which a respectable journalist should be reporting any story to do with a place considered so holy by both Jews and Muslims.

Any responsible journalist would check out such a story, especially considering its prospect for “international waves”, before reporting it either on twitter, TV or radio. Not Bowen, though, who apparently decided that the story as it stood sounded too good to resist reporting.

Had Bowen bothered to have a brief browse he would have found articles giving him the all-important context.

Ynet reported that several hundred Arab worshippers stoned the Israeli police before the police “used crowd-control measures to disperse the crowd.” Israel Hayom reported how “police came under a barrage of rocks”. The Times of Israel reported how “hundreds of Arabs threw stones at security guards”.

In addition to the stone-throwing, The Jerusalem Post reported that “an Arab man tried to stab a police officer” and that “rioters on the Mount threw rocks in the direction of the Western Wall Plaza, but police officers were able to stop them before any rocks reached Jewish worshippers below”.

Joseph Dana, who lives in Ramallah and is a prolific anti-Israel activist, is hardly an objective and reliable source for reporting on Israeli matters. Appearing in November 2011 at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London to give a talk, Dana answered – when asked by an audience member whether Zionism was “the work of the devil” – that he, Dana, had managed to free himself from a “Zionist indoctrination programme”. It really is ludicrous for Bowen to quote Dana as a serious source on Israel.

The recent Leveson Enquiry on media ethics addressed the media’s reporting of individuals but, sadly, did not get round to addressing how the media reports on countries.

Individuals have a right to sue for defamation; a country has not, but the knock on effect for Jews around the world of biased reporting against Israel can be deadly as we saw in Toulouse where a Rabbi, two of his children and another child were shot dead outside a Jewish school when Mohamed Merah seemed driven to revenge by one-sided reporting of Israel’s defensive operations in Gaza.

Britain likes to think it has a good record on multiculturalism. However there is a vicious anti-Israel culture in this country supported by more than a few politicians, university academics, charities and certain media organisations such as The Guardian and The Independent. Therefore, when British Jews go to synagogue to pray, the sad fact is they have do so surrounded by the strictest security.

This is not something for Britain to be proud of. And it is also a culture contributed to by many journalists at the BBC; Jeremy Bowen being the prime example.