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?

7 responses to “Whiskey, dips and human rights.

  1. Richard,

    I’ll have to assume that Zionists never celebrate or have a lavish do.

    Didn’t Helena realise that philo-Semitism is the new anti-Semitism?

    Philosemitism isn’t the ‘new antisemitism’: it’s simply the other side of the antisemitic coin. If Jews are just people (and thus neither innately ‘evil’ nor ‘good’, as is self-evident) like everyone else, they are neither deserving of persecution nor veneration. Karpf forgot one blatant case of philosemitism: the execrable Chas Newkey-Burden (you’re one of his heroes, apparently…)

    So you condone the Occupation, huh? A real ‘Mensch’. And you still maintain you’re not a Zionist?

  2. richardmillett


    You are right out of the Hamas school of charm sometimes. I just don’t know why you have to be so rude and unpleasant about people you disagree with.

    No, I’m not a Zionist. I just know that Israel, UK, USA etc. are taking the measures they need to to secure their own citizens’ safety.

    You are parroting the ridiculous mantra of Anne Karpf, who thinks Gove and Burchill resemble anti-Semites. My point is the hypocrisy of the JNews audience who love Karpf but when they heard Kennedy describe herself “an honorary Jew” no one battered an eyelid.

    These audiences are just so hypocritical. You can’t deny that!

    Anyway, please don’t be so abusive to people. It really just isn’t nice.

  3. Richard:

    More Hamas. You definitely are a one trick pony.

    You don’t seriously believe the Occupation improves Israel’s security, do you?

    You can’t see that philosemitism and anti-Semitism are two sides of the same coin? You must be soooooo pleased with the support of Jewlie Burchill. As regards Newkey-Burden, he’s simply an Israel hagiographer…

  4. richardmillett

    Without the occupation kassams would be hitting Tel Aviv et al en masse.

    I really do not see what is wrong with admiring or respecting another religion. Loads of people convert to Islam and I am sure you don’t object.

    Would you even dare to suggest Yvonne Ridley is Islamophobic? You just seem to have it in for people who respect Judaism for some reason. People who respect and love Islam, you leave alone.

    As for Burchill, she is one of hell of a contributor to British culture, a quite incredible person. And I thought this before I even knew she had any empathy for Judaism which, for me, is irrelevant.

    Her religious affiliation or empathies are between her and her conscience and absolutely nothing to do with you or me.

    It is her life and as long as she is happy, that is the most important thing.

    As for Chas, he just respects Israel for being the sole beacon in the Middle East where you can express yourself in any way you wish without being under any threat. Compare that to Mohammad-Amin Valian, 20, who it has just been announced will be executed in Iran for throwing a stone during a pro-democracy demonstration.

    That said, Gert, I will delete anymore personal attacks by you on anyone. Stick to the Middle East.

  5. Richard:

    I really do not see what is wrong with admiring or respecting another religion. Loads of people convert to Islam and I am sure you don’t object.

    If Burchill had the honesty to convert to Judaism (yes, the religion) she would be entirely within her rights. But it’s clear you’ve not read any of Burchill’s semitophilic pieces: they aren’t about ‘admiring the religion’. You’re just being hopelessly reductionist here by reducing Jewry to a religion, because opportunistically it suits you for this argument. You’ve started off from the wrong premise, no wonder you get lost.

    Ridley converted to Islam, as is her right. She can hardly be accused of being an apologist for Radical Islam or for the many despotic and semi-despotic ME Arab/Muslim regimes though. ‘Jewlie’, by contrast, can’t find a snippet wrong with Israel. Damn, I tell a lie: she did castigate Sharon for ‘pulling Jews out of the Gaza’!

    Your sympathy for Burchill’s ‘contribution to British culture’ seems totally faked: I can’t see a little bourgeois like you having much in common with a coke sniffing, ‘communist’ (my *rse!), ‘lesbian for a few weeks’, child abandoning shock jock whose sole raison d’être seems to be to cause lucrative controversy by insulting entire groups (one I happen to belong to).

    Your first line is simply not worth refuting, too farcical to even entertain…

  6. Gert, what a pompous astoundingly arrogant primitive person you are!