Daily Archives: March 17, 2010

Whiskey, dips and human rights.

Soon after Live8 was announced in 2005 I received an email which advertised a very expensive package for the concert including champagne breakfast and VIP access at the concert.

But I couldn’t understand how anyone would want to sip champagne while they were supposed to be thinking about the starving of Africa.

On Monday night it was a similar experience at the launch of JNews (not to be confused with the Jewish News).

JNews was launched by Brian Klug, who set up both Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JFJFP) and Independent Jewish Voices (IJV).

JFJFP, IJV and JNews are big on human rights and see themselves in opposition to other Jews, like me, who they think aren’t big on human rights because we condone Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

At the JNews launch Anthony Lerman told us that JNews will approach “the Israel-Palestine conflict from a concerned Jewish perspective” and that “we are living at a time when the situation in Israel-Palestine is becoming increasingly desperate”.

When hasn’t it been desperate, Anthony!

Next Klug sat before us preaching about human rights and social justice and quoting heavily from the Talmud.

Then it was quiz time: “What do you think the “J” in “JNews” stands for?”, he asked us.

Some, he said, would think it stood for “Jews for Genocide” or “Traitors to the Jewish people” or “Self Hating Jews”.

Finally, he ended our suspense: “The ‘J’ stands for Jews and Justice and, as it says in the Talmud, these two should be as one”

He wants JNews to be non-partisan but being the committed anti-Zionist activist that he is I doubt very much JNews will succeed in that.

Baroness Helena Kennedy

Then we heard from Baroness Helena Kennedy who said she was proud to be a patron of JNews. She actually spoke with true concern for what was happening in Israel/Palestine.

And she quoted Amos Oz’s short work Please help us to Divorce which really is a must read for people who wish to understand the psychological complexities that both Israelis and Palestinians must overcome before there can be a two-state solution.

Unlike the myopic JFJFP, IJV and JNews Oz doesn’t blame everything on Israel.

Then there was a big faux pas when Baroness Kennedy said “I’m an honorary Jew” due to her experience of growing up in Glasgow “where both the Catholics and the Jews got it in the neck at the same time”.

So Helena loves Jews but she obviously hasn’t been reading Anne Karpf lately. Didn’t Helena realise that philo-Semitism is the new anti-Semitism?

According to Karpf, who co-edited IJV’s A Time to Speak Out:

“We live in postmodern times where some of what looks like anti-Semitism isn’t, but, conversely, some of what doesn’t look like anti-Semitism in fact is. Consider the “philo-Semitism”, for instance, of Michael Gove and Julie Burchill (“the Jews are my favourites”; “Jews do things so well”). Burchill’s philo-Semitism is a form of anti-Semitism, I’d suggest, because it bunches all Jews together as though we were a single, uniform entity. The idea that all Jews are wonderful is little different from all Jews being hateful: in both cases Jews are stripped of individual characteristics, and are nothing except Jewish – a view to which most racists happily subscribe.”

So if Burchill and Gove are “anti-Semites” what does that make Baroness Helena Kennedy who thinks of herself as an “honorary Jew”? Would the 90 members of this Karpf-loving audience shout “anti-Semite” at Kennedy, I wondered? Of course not.

Miri Weingarten (Guardian)

Then it was time for Miri Weingarten who said that “as Jews we can offer the public a unique voice out of genuine concern for Israelis and Palestinians”.

Finally, it was short film time. The film (see end) showed us the real perspective that JNews is coming from which is of the Palestinian refugees returning to Israel. The film makes the Israeli public out to be dishonest.

It is called On the Day Yafa’s Refugees Return.

Then it was time for wine, whisky, potato wedges and dips served by waitresses and all of which reminded me of that Live8 email of five years ago.

Would it not have been better if the money put into this expensive catering had gone to promote the human rights that JNews cares so much about?

So what is JNews?

It seems to be just another version of JFJFP and IJV; same patrons, same audience.

It has expensive office space in the heart of Farringdon.

It sees itself as Britain’s answer to J Street which is trying to challenge AIPAC’s influence in Washington. AIPAC is America’s pro-Israel lobby.

It claims it will take articles from any perspective, even a Zionist one, as long as it comes from a human rights perspective.

It likes to serve delicious food and alcohol.

Duck pancakes, anyone?

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