Tag Archives: zionism

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.”)

British psychotherapists gear up for racist boycott of Israeli psychotherapists.

Martin Kemp, Teresa Bailey, Jeff Halper, David Harrold at the Guild of Psychotherapists, Nelson Square, London on Wednesday night.

Martin Kemp, Teresa Bailey, Jeff Halper, David Harrold at the Guild of Psychotherapists, Nelson Square, London on Wednesday night.

On Wednesday night I found myself sitting among 60 or so psychotherapists and mental health workers at the Guild of Psychotherapists in London for the launch meeting of the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network.

The four panelists were David Harrold and Mohamed Altawil, both of the Palestine Trauma Centre UK, psychotherapist Martin Kemp and ubiquitous Israel-hater Jeff Halper of Israeli Committee against House Demolitions. Chairing the evening was psychotherapist Teresa Bailey.

The evening was supposed to be about helping the Palestinians but, as ever, it quickly dissolved into an evening of unmitigated attacks on Israel and Zionism, and calls for a boycott of the Jewish state. Contributions from panelists were very short so as to encourage comments from the audience.

First to speak was Altawil who discussed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder suffered by Palestinian children. He said the biggest trauma was when Palestinian children lost their houses and he accused Israel of “working to kill Palestinians from the inside”.

Harrold said Palestinians were in an “abusive relationship” shown by Israeli politicians talking about “putting Palestinians on a diet” and how they “must be made to feel a defeated people”. He said the Palestinians had been “reduced to a level of thinking only about the problem of survival, nothing else”.

Harrold continued “if you are sane you are going to resist” and he then listed certain ways of resisting which included “rockets and martyrs’ funerals”. He said he did not endorse such methods. He didn’t say he denounced them either.

Halper, who wishes to boycott Israel out of existence, called for the mobilisation of “civil society”.

Kemp criticised David Cameron for “declaring himself rock solid in his support of Israel”. Kemp described politicians who speak up in support of Israel as “hypocritical” and he invoked Ghada Karmi, Ronnie Kasrils, Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Angela Davis and Judith Butler to support his notion that Israel has an “apartheid system”.

Kemp finished by saying that “the west’s embrace of Zionism is having a detrimental effect on our own political culture”.

For more on Kemp’s ideological hatred towards Israel read his article To Resist Is To Exist in Therapy Today in which he seems to compare Israel to Nazi Germany when he invokes Emanuel Berman who said:

‘The lessons from Germany… and from Chile… point… to the need for analysts in all countries to confront openly major issues in their country’s history… Israeli society, and more specifically the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which it is engulfed, is a case in point…’

From the floor Derek Summerfield, a senior lecturer and another seemingly vicious anti-Israel polemicist said “boycott is the only tool” and David, a young social worker in London who didn’t give his surname, suggested they should “hit Israelis economically”.

Andrew Samuels, a founding member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, a psychotherapist, political consultant and professor of Analytical Psychology at the University of Essex, seems to be a master of the dark arts of which his ideological mentor Carl Jung would not have approved.

Samuels suggested the Jewish community would respond to a political move couched in terms of “mental health and therapy”.

He was “excited about setting up a line of influence that ends up in governmental circles” and the “prestigious meeting rooms in Parliament” which would be provided.

He said “histrionics, the worst case scenario, emotional blackmail and all that kind of thing” should be used.

He complained that “the psychotherapy world is two-thirds pro-Israel”. But, he said, “we have to have the fight…the question is how best to make a lot of noise because noise really does matter. Losing debates and resolutions doesn’t matter viewed in the context of historical time. You have to lose a lot before you have the remotest possibility of winning anything.”

Margaret McCallin, an elderly English lady and a retired psychotherapist, said that “the mental health of the Palestinians must be seen in the context of violation of human rights and the ongoing violence from which these people see no end”.

She said that despite the way the Palestinians live in Gaza “they don’t get up and start slaughtering the Israelis on the border or any of the others”. How delightfully generous of her.

Finally, Teresa Bailey took a vote to gauge support for the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network and quoted Martin Luther King’s “what is remembered are not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”.

There were many other vicious comments about Israel from the floor, yet not one mention of Palestinian terror group Hamas and its real oppression of Palestinian women, gays and dissidents.

So expect a racist boycott of Israeli psychotherapists and mental health workers along the lines of the RIBA boycott of Israeli architects anytime soon.

Wednesday night at Guild of Psychotherapists.

Wednesday night at Guild of Psychotherapists.

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.)

BBC News at 10 advertises Israel hate organisation from Mandela memorial event in Johannesburg.

BBC reporter's piece to camera for News at 10 on Tuesday night.

BBC reporter’s piece to camera for News at 10 on Tuesday night.

I don’t know what the definition of an “advert” is but I don’t expect to see any adverts on the BBC considering every British household with a tv has to stump up £145.50 a year for the BBC not to show them.

Had a BBC reporter been standing directly in front of a banner showing of box of, let’s say, Persil Automatic at the memorial event for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg on Tuesday for a piece for the BBC’s News At 10 I am sure complaints would have come in thick and fast.

Instead, for part of her piece to camera, a BBC reporter stood directly in front of a banner advertising the Palestine Solidarity Alliance. Underneath that name and their logo was Nelson Mandela’s quote “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”. The reporter then walked away to give a clear view of the banner:

The piece in front of the banner lasted for some 15 seconds, which would have commanded a fair return in terms of advertising revenue. This is some of what those lovely folk at the Palestine Solidarity Alliance desire:

“The PSA strives to build a National and International Movement that supports the campaign to isolate Apartheid Israel and promote solidarity with the people of Palestine in their quest for self determination. In this we draw attention to the human rights violations perpetrated by Apartheid Israel, the inequality that defines the racism inherent in Zionism and the injustices that continue to cause conflict and suffering. Furthermore, we also celebrate the heroic battles and victories of Palestinian people and movements in their struggle for freedom and human dignity.

Expose the evil nature of Zionism as a racist colonial venture in defiance of four Geneva Conventions, UN Resolutions 181, 194, 242, 338 and other multilateral and international human rights conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Align with solidarity movements to build a strong (BDS) Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement with the freedom loving people and leaders of South Africa”

The PSA also explicitly calls for “the right for return of the Palestinian refugees”. This is, in other words, the demographic destruction of the Jewish state.

I am not sure that Nelson Mandela, known for his desire for conciliation at any cost, would have been too proud of the BBC. Despite what Nelson Mandela might have said in favour of the Palestinians he was also quite understanding of Israel’s security needs.

But I wouldn’t bother complaining to the BBC. When a viewer complained to the BBC about anti-Israel activist Tony Greenstein wearing a Palestine Solidarity Campaign shirt and badge on the BBC’s The Big Question the BBC replied that his attire “was another form of expression”.

Sadly, I’m sure the BBC will respond in a similar ridiculous vein to any complaints about that PSA banner.

The Lancet, MAP and Sir Iain Chalmers’ “interesting figure” of Six Million.

Sir Iain Chalmers discussing "Zionist control in so many different domains".

Sir Iain Chalmers discussing “Zionist control in so many different domains”.

Since 2009 The Lancet medical journal has been working with Medical Aid For Palestinians and other researchers as part of the Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance (LPHA).

LPHA researchers mainly consist of Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza and the Palestinian diaspora, which includes Palestinians living in the twelve Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. They are also non-Palestinian medical practitioners like Dr Richard Horton, The Lancet’s editor, and Professor Mads Gilbert. This research has been amalgamated into publications for the years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The 2013 publication was launched last night by The Lancet and MAP at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. The 2013 publication focuses on “the direct and indirect health effects of the Israeli occupation and conflict”.

Dr Richard Horton, The Lancet’s editor, outlined the benefits of LPHA saying “science can bring an often internationally excluded people into the mainstream of global political dialogue”, “Palestinian science can anatomise the pathology of occupation”, “science can confer a dignity and a humanity for a people who are otherwise living in a situation of invisibility” and:

“By linking this kind of health research with human rights one can identify important and fresh perspectives. One example is the report about the denial of passage to Palestinian women during labour across the territory which fully fulfills the criteria of a crime against humanity.”

Professor Rita Giacaman discussed “words as ideology”. She explained:

“Israel uses ‘collateral damage’ for killing innocent bystanders including children. It screams ‘self-defence’ hiding the root cause which is Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and injustice to Palestinians. While Palestinians living in Israel call themselves ‘Palestinians living inside the Green Line’, Israel insists on calling them ‘Arab’ trying to deny them their identity”.

Then to the lectern came the main instigator of LPHA, Sir Iain Chalmers. Chalmers has been an almost permanent fixture in Gaza since 1970. He met his wife there and they even went to Gaza to celebrate their recent 70th birthdays.

Chalmers started by reading out a statement on the front cover of a 2009 edition of The Lancet. It mentioned “Palestinian”. He said:

“What really pleases me is that the word ‘Palestinian’ is in there. And it’s one way in which the Zionists have failed. They have not stopped the use of the word ‘Palestine’ or ‘Palestinian’. They have control in so many different domains. This is one that they cannot suppress.”

One of Chalmers’ slides then showed this cartoon by Carlos Latuff, who has drawn many cartoons with anti-Semitic themes which include comparing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to The Holocaust:

Save_Gaza_now_by_Latuff2

During the Q&A I criticised Chalmers for his statement about “Zionist control” before asking whether LPHA reports mentioned the role of Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA in prolonging poor health conditions for the Palestinians. My remarks only led to this eye-opening exchange with Chalmers:

Chalmers: “Let me ask you a question. I was asked to write a commentary for The Lancet after the Cast Lead attack. I ended it by saying a self-defined Jewish state now controls the lives of almost as many non-Jews as it does of Jews. What will that Jewish state do with the six million, it is an interesting figure, the six million non-Jews whose lives it controls? You answer that question.”

Me: “Why is six million an interesting figure?”

Chalmers: “Well, actually it is the same number of Jews that were killed by the Nazis.”

Me: “Whats your point?”

Chalmers: Six million is a lot of people. How will the Jewish state deal with the non-Jews whose lives it controls?

I think we know the nasty tactic behind Chalmers’ reference to “six million”. And his nasty rhetoric extends as far as endorsing “the end of a Jewish state”. Here he is in his own words during an interview in 2010:

iainchalmers2

Dr Richard Horton concluded by relating to us his visit to the Israeli Medical Association:

“When we started this I went to visit the Israeli Medical Association to talk to them about what we were doing and to see if I could build a bridge between the LPHA and the official voice of Israeli physicians and I sat down with the with the director or chairman, whatever the title is I cannot recall now, and the person who chaired their ethics (division). And in that discussion one of them called Palestinians ‘animals’. And I realised that there was no way that I was going to find an alliance to try to bring them in because there was a fundamental discontinuity of their understanding of what we were trying to do.”

I wonder if others in that meeting recall those words being used.

Afterwards I pressed Dr Horton into answering my question about whether LPHA reports mention the effect Hamas has on the health of Palestinians. His reply was along the lines of “That is a good question but this is an evolving work in progress”.

So, no mention of the effect of Hamas’ oppression of women, gays and dissidents on the mental health and physical well-being of Gazans in five years of LPHA publications?

But, then, would you criticise Hamas if you lived in, or regularly visited, Gaza?

I think Sir Iain Chalmers’ “that would be very good” response when asked about “the end of a Jewish state” during that 2010 interview possibly answers everything one needs to truly know about the politics of LPHA.

Professor Rita Giacaman, Lancet editor Dr Richard Horton, MAP's  Head of Advocacy Aimee Shalan at Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

Professor Rita Giacaman, Lancet editor Dr Richard Horton, MAP’s Head of Advocacy Aimee Shalan at Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

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.