Monthly Archives: November 2010

Jews go to Church.

Clare Short helping to rebuild a demolished Palestinian house in east Jerusalem in summer 2010 (clareshort.co.uk)

Clare Short helping to rebuild a demolished Palestinian house in east Jerusalem in summer 2010 (clareshort.co.uk)

Monday night was AsaJews night out in London.

AsaJews tend to define their Judaism by their total opposition to Israel and preface their criticisms with “As a Jew….”

Last night former Labour MP Clare Short hosted Yahav Zohar, an Israeli Jew, and Julia Alfandari, a German Jew, in St Botolph’s Church , Bishopsgate.

The event was put on jointly by Greenbelt, Amos Trust and ICHAD (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions).

A small audience of 30, decimated by the tube strike, was packed with members of jfjfp (Jews For Justice For Palestinians), including Glyn Secker, who captained the recent Jewish Boat to Gaza.

Yohav, who gives tours around Jerusalem, and Julia, who is studying at SOAS, belong to Young Jewish Voices for Peace.

Julia believes Israel is a fascist state “sometimes worse than apartheid South Africa, sometimes better than apartheid South Africa”.

She said that just like there shouldn’t be any Muslim states Israel shouldn’t be a Jewish one and she welcomed the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

She told us how the German Jewish community is quite conservative, that people are scared to speak out against Israel and that she is famous in Germany for her anti-Israel activism.

Yohav said that he never quite fitted in as a teenager and was always looking to rebel.

He feels there can be a two state solution because Israelis and Palestinians are very nationalistic. However, he hopes that the two states will eventually become one.

He also welcomed the growing BDS movement which, he hopes, will pressurise Israel to leave the West Bank and Mick Davis’ comments in the Jewish Chronicle which, he feels, will encourage diaspora Jews to speak out more against Israel.

Clare Short told us about her time spent during the summer helping to rebuild Palestinian homes. I cannot recall her helping to rebuild Israeli hotels or restaurants blown up by Hamas suicide bombers.

But for just £2000 Amost Trust will take you to Palestine next April so you too can help rebuild a Palestinian home.

On numerous occasions Short referred to Israel as an apartheid state. After the meeting I tried to explain to her the difference between Israel, which has to take severe security precautions, and apartheid South Africa.

But she kept quoting Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak and Jimmy Carter, who all “said the same thing about Israeli apartheid”.

I explained Hamas’ expressed intention in their Charter to killing Jews.

But while Short can give you verbatim accounts of controversial comments by Israelis like Avigdor Lieberman she is conveniently ignorant about the wording of the Hamas Charter.

She thinks we should speak to Hamas like we spoke to the IRA and the South African apartheid government and hoped for a two state solution although “time is running out”.

Meanwhile, other AsaJews were speaking at Queen Mary College, London.

They were Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, a school-teacher, and Mike Cushman, of JBig (Jews For Boycotting Israeli Goods).

Naomi can regularly be found in supermarkets imploring shoppers not to buy Israeli products.

The most sinister aspect about this talk though was the letter sent by Queen Mary Palestine Society to Queen Mary Jewish Society:

Dear Members of the Jewish Society,

The Queen Mary Palestine Solidarity Society would like to invite you to an event we are holding on this coming monday. If you could send out this invite to your members that would be great, details of the event are below. Hopefully we will see some of you soon.

QM PSS EVENT 29/11/2010

Why Jews and all others should boycott Israel – two Jews speak out

Monday 29th November • 5pm – 7pm • David Sizer LT, FB ground floor
David Sizer LT, Francis Bancroft Building, Ground floor

The Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel is gaining more and more support across the world and even within Israel!

SPEAKERS

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG) ~ Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi is a school teacher,former Reuters journalist and secretary of J-BIG.

Mike Cushman, British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) ~ active BRICUP committee member and a founding member of J-BIG. He has spoken and written extensively in support of Palestinian rights.

Naomi and Mike will discuss why support for BDS is important for Jews as well as all others. They will describe the history of Israel’s actions that makes this call both moral and essential. They will talk about how attempts to describe BDS as anti-Semitic are not only false but also put all Jews, supporters and opponents of Israel’s actions at risk. They will describe the different aspects of BDS activity including the academic, cultural and consumer boycotts and the need for institutional divestment.

FB link – http ://www . facebook . com/?search _terms=QMUL&page=1&sk=messages& tid=1053439673870#!/event . php?e id=172058469490391

Best Wishes,

Grace Buchanan-Kilbey
QMPSS

Sadly, JSocs can probably expect to receive more of these unappreciated emails.

Yahav Zohar (greenbelt.org.uk)

Yahav Zohar (greenbelt.org.uk)

Julia Alfandari (greenbelt.org.uk)

Julia Alfandari (greenbelt.org.uk)

Norman Finkelstein: “Israel could nuke Lebanon.”

Norman Finkelstein (New Jersey Jewish News Online)

Norman Finkelstein (New Jersey Jewish News Online)

Last friday I attended a round table discussion at CAABU (Council for Arab-British Understanding) with anti-Israel polemicist Norman Finkelstein.

Mr Finkelstein was coming to the end of his week’s speaking tour of British Universities.

Before he arrived CAABU’s education officer detailed CAABU’s recent trip to Gaza. They took two Lib Dem MPs, one Conservative MP and a Labour Lord and crossed into Gaza via the Rafah crossing.

There are two sets of schools in Gaza; those of a higher standard run by the UN and those run by “the government”. The government schools have their own syllabus which has a strong religious theme with no emphasis on human rights, unlike the UN run schools.

The CAABU party left behind “an expensive piece of medical equipment” which they are now trying to retrieve via the smuggling tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt. Basically, one of the politicians left his dentures behind.

Eventually Mr Finkelstein walked in with the air of Norman Bates and proffered his theory on where the Middle East could be going in the next 12 to 18 months.

It centred on Lebanon.

He thinks there is a United Nations plot brewing to wipe out Hezbollah as follows:

Israel had recently left the town of Ghajar in Lebanon only so it could claim that as it was now in full compliance with UN Resolution 1701 Hezbollah should be fully disarmed.

Michael Williams, the UN’s representative to Lebanon, has reiterated this call.

Israel will now try to escalate resolutions at the UN which call for Hezbollah to be disarmed.

Sanctions against Lebanon will be announced and once they start to bite the Lebanese people will call for Hezbollah to be disbanded.

Conveniently, the UN’s Special Tribunal on Lebanon is about to indict several members of Hezbollah over the killing of Lebanese PM Rafiq Hariri in 2005.

This will ratchet up sectarian tensions in Lebanon as Hariri was a Sunni Muslim while Hezbollah is Shia.

Finkelstein’s own sources tell him that Hezbollah was not involved in the killing of Hariri, but it could have been Sunni extremists.

Meanwhile, CBC has just played a documentary in Canada, approved by the Harper government, detailing evidence linking Hezbollah to the assassination (view here).

Inevitably Iran will want to support Hezbollah.

But Hezbollah will be portrayed as a demonic power and a threat to international security making it impossible for Iran to support Hezbollah.

It will be similar to before the 1991 Gulf War when Sadaam was made to look like Hitler.

But the Lebanese will want to avoid 2006 again and so will comply with demands to disarm Hezbollah.

But Israel won’t want Hezbollah to disarm. They will want to show they have militarily defeated Hezbollah.

Israel is reconciled to Hezbollah rockets hitting Tel Aviv. There could be several hundred casualties but Israel will then destroy everything in Lebanon. It could be Armageddon.

Nasrallah thinks that Israel cannot absorb significant civilians lossed but he is mistaken. After the bungled operations on the Mavi Marmara and in Dubai Israel needs to prove its military prowess to deter others.

Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria and Turkey are tightening the noose around Israel. It is like the build up to 1967.

But Israel will deliver a big blow to cut the Muslims and Arabs, who only understand the language of war, down to size.

In 1967 Israel was fighting radical Arab nationalism. Now it is Islamic fundamentalism.

Israel has already stated it will apply the Dahiya Doctrine. This is “the use of pulversing force against a civilian population” as happened in Dahiya in 2006 when Israel destroyed the poor Shia town.

The first application of this doctrine was in Gaza.

Israel will then gloat that “we beat Hezbollah” and it will be like the miracle of the 1967 war again.

The war will probably come one June as June seems to be Israel’s “favourite month for raining death on neighbouring Arab countries”.

But it won’t come for a while yet as the UN resolutions will take time. The “UN lends legitimacy to these outrages” as in the Balkans, Iraq 1990-91 and Iraq 2002.

Nasrallah is “smart, competent and incorruptible”, exactly the sort of person the West doesn’t like.

Mr Finkelstein said he can understand why the Lebanese will want to avoid their country becoming like Gaza. In Gaza there were 650,000 tons of rubble and you’d have to multiple that several times for Lebanon next time.

“Israel will want to smash Lebanon to show the Arab world not to mess with us. Therefore, it won’t work by disarming Hezbollah.”

The 2006 war was unavoidable as Israel had been planning it since 2001 and is again working to re-establish its deterence capacity. Their mentality is to be patient and to slowly build up the facts like they did when they came to Palestine at the turn of the nineteenth century and in 1967.

Israelis are “crazy” and they will “send in everything. If everything doesn’t look like it is working and it looks like Israel is losing it won’t accept a third defeat. They will threaten the ultimate”.

He confirmed this as meaning nuclear.

In the meantime, if anyone finds a set of dentures in Gaza please contact CAABU……

Voting now open for Elder Of Ziyon’s 2010 Hasbarah Awards

Forget X Factor, go to Elder Of Ziyon and vote for your favourite piece of Hasbarah throughout the last year.

There are 16 moments to choose from including footage of Israeli soldiers being brutally attacked as they land on the Mavi Marmara, Gabriel Latner’s speech at Cambridge Union on “Why Israel is a rogue state”, the Flotilla Choir’s “We Con the World”, David Horowitz’s chilling exchange with a student at an American University, the dancing IDF soldiers in Hebron and an American high-school kid holding high an Israeli flag in the face of screaming anti-Israel activists.

I am proud to say that my video of Israeli tourists singing to the anti-Israel activists outside Ahava on 9/11 is on the short list also.

EOZ will be giving the results of the poll live while somehow remaining anonymous at an event in NYC on December 7th. Please go to EOZ and vote for your choice.

EOZ deserves his own particular award but in no particular order, here are the nominees.

1. The IDF releasing video of soldiers being attacked on the Mavi Marmara within hours of the event, causing most viewers to see that the “peace protesters” were hardly peaceful:

2. The Im Tirtzu organization on publicizing the recipients of New Israel Fund monies going towards anti-Israel testimony in the Goldstone Report.

3. Gabriel Latner’s speech at the Cambridge Union Society on “Why Israel is a Rogue State.”

4.Latma’s We Con the World:

5. HRW founder Robert L. Bernstein’s speech on Human Rights in the Middle East.

6. David Horowitz asking a question from a student at UCSD and getting a chilling answer:

7. RabbiLIVE revealing Helen Thomas’ true thoughts and ending her career:

8. 16-year old Elad Daniel Pereg facing off, alone, against an angry anti-Israel mob in Los Angeles with an IDF shirt and Israeli flag:

9. Israeli tourists sing Hebrew songs to the consternation of protesters outside the Ahava store in London on Rosh Hashanah.

10. The IDF’s instant field hospital in Haiti after the earthquake:

11. The Emergency Committee for Israel’s TV campaigns against anti-Israel candidates, specifically Pennsylvania’s Joe Sestak, who lost:

12. The IDF’s soldiers rocking the casbah in Hebron:

13. Rupert Murdoch’s pro-Israel speech at the ADL dinner.

14. Pilar Rahola’s article, “The Anti-Israel Hysteria

15. Canadian PM Stephen Harper’s speech at an anti-semitism conference:

16. Paris Zionists’ unique protest against the anti-Israel Gaza photo exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris:

It’s good to talk, so reconnect to BT.

There is, currently, a concerted campaign by War On Want, a British charity, to force BT to disconnect from its alliance with Bezeq, Israel’s largest telecommunications group.

According to a War On Want email “Thousands of you have already complained to BT over its complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. Thank you.”

The War On Want website is more like a War On Israel one, which is fine if that is how they wish to spend their donor’s money but, as I have documented in the past, one of the biggest donors to War On Want is BBC’s Comic Relief (see the 2009 accounts).

One of War On Want’s favourite stunts is to invade British and American supermarkets, dump all Israeli produce into trolleys and run away when the police arrive.

The WOW website states: “War on Want supports the call from Palestinian civil society to build a global movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law and meets the following three demands: an end to the Occupation; the right of return for Palestinian refugees; and equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel itself.”

I agree with the last requirement but the rest of this statement is simply a call for the total destruction of Israel.

Fortunately, the man at the helm of BT can see right through WOW’s campaign.

The WOW email states that “War on Want have yet to receive a formal response from BT, but supporters who have taken our e-action have received the following response.”

On Behalf Of michael.prescott@bt.com
Sent: 15 November 2010 17:43
To: Emma Stanforth
Subject: Hang up on the Occupation

Dear Emma
Many thanks for your email to Ian Livingston, who has asked me to respond.

BT has indeed admitted Bezeq International to the BT Alliance. We do not see an issue in dealing with what is, in effect, the national telecoms company for Israel.

We are not alone in this. I gather that PalTel, the Palestine Telecommunications Company, also has dealings with Bezeq. Their website carried an announcement on March 21 2010, detailing an arrangement enabling customers who use their prepaid phone cards to have direct access to the fixed line network of Bezeq International.

BT delivers services in 170 countries worldwide. Communication can be vital in helping to resolve conflict and disagreement. In that spirit, while respecting the strong views that you express, we feel unable to pursue the course of action you suggest.

Yours sincerely,
Michael Prescott
Group Director of Communications
BT Group

So although the Palestinians don’t wish to boycott Bezeq War On Want does, which reveals WOW’s true motive.

Unsurprisingly, War on Want doesn’t like seeing their hypocrisy exposed and, for once, their agenda hitting a brick wall.

More sinisterly, in the email to supporters War On Want says “Its time to communicate to BT through a medium they understand”.

War On Want’s motto is “Fighting Global Poverty”.

It should concentrate on that instead of wasting donations on puerile anti-Israel stunts.

If not then Comic Relief and the Charity Commissioners should really be hanging up on War On Want instead.

War On Want visits BT (waronwant.org)

War On Want visits BT (waronwant.org)

Ahava shut down again; two arrested.

anti-Israel activists inside Ahava today shutting it down

anti-Israel activists inside Ahava today shutting it down

I wasn’t intending to go to Ahava today. I went down to hear the judgment of the second Russell Tribunal on Palestine at Amnesty International in London.

As Michael Mansfield QC led the other “jury” members in to the room the whole audience rose in silence as if this was some properly constituted legal court instead of the embarrassing sham kangaroo spectacle that it was.

Mr Mansfield read out the judgment and told us that no witnesses of the companies on trial had been present over the two days of the tribunal.

Then the “jury” took questions. I asked whether Israel’s security had come into the “jury’s” deliberations at all. Mr Mansfield told me they had but that one must balance the security of Israeli civilians with human rights as a whole and he quoted the opinion of International Court of Justice which said that Israel’s “separation wall” was disproportionate to its needs.

Mr Mansfield QC (5th from left) reading out the "judgement" today.

Mr Mansfield QC (5th from left) reading out the "judgement" today.

Mr Mansfield, in his summing up, concluded that one tactic that should be pursued was of popular action and that if defendants find themselves in court after entering offices or wherever then they could use the defence of “necessity” and argue that they were doing it for the greater good.

As a footnote he told us there is one such non-violent protest taking place at Ahava “now, today” and that Ahava is complicit in illegality.

So I quickly went down to Ahava and found the entrance cordoned off with police tape and a police car on the pavement outside the shop. There was a heavy police presence coming and going from the door of the shop as police took statements from shoppers who were in the shop when it was stormed by two anti-Israel activists.

The activists had locked themselves down on the floor and after being freed were eventually led away to a police van (see footage below).

There were already protesters outside Ahava when I arrived but soon many more made their way from the Russell Tribunal press conference at Amnesty and started taunting Ahava and handing out leaflets to passers-by.

Sadly, the Law Society now has its signature all over this kind of behaviour by hosting the Russell Tribunal in the first place.

As I understand it the Law Society asked for its name to be taken off the literature advertising the tribunal but the first line of today’s “judgment”, as read out by Mr Mansfield, reads:

“The RTP London Session took place at the Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL on 20-21 November 2010.”

This “judgment” will now be taken all around the world and used in unsuspecting legal systems everywhere and judges will see “The Law Society” quoted and presume this tribunal has some sort of legal standing.

The Law Society and the law have now well and truly crossed over into politics.

The great Lord Denning will be spinning in his grave.

Audio:
Michael Mansfield QC at RTOP

Clips:

an activist on the floor of Ahava today

an activist on the floor of Ahava today

Police bringing out some of the activists' belongings today

Police bringing out some of the activists' belongings today

Outside Ahava's boarded-up windows

Outside Ahava's boarded-up windows

Outside Ahava today while the shop is shut

Outside Ahava today while the shop is shut

Watch the Russell Tribunal on Palestine farce live.

If you want to watch the Russell Tribunal on Palestine farce being held this weekend then please click on this link:

<a href="http://www.ustream.tv/flash/live/1/6302209?v3=1“>

See and listen for yourself to the ignorance of Israel’s enemies beamed live from the Law Society in London (although don’t forget that this weekend is also the Ahava BUYcott where you can get 10% of Ahava products at the store at 39, Monmouth Street, Covent Garden).

Transmission starts at 10am on both Saturday and Sunday. Here’s the schedule for both days:

Programme

Day One: Saturday 20th November

113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL

09:15 Doors Open
10:00 Pr. Pierre Galand (Belgium) will open the London session in the name of the International Organising Committee of the RToP.

Introduction to the Second Session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine by Ambassador of France Stéphane Hessel (France) and Michael Mansfield QC (U.K.).
10:15 I. The Legal Framework Relevant to Corporate Conduct

Legal experts, Richard Hermer QC (UK), Yasmine Gado (U.S.A.) and Dr. William Bourdon (France) will set out the tribunal’s legal framework. Each expert will discuss the details of U.K., U.S.A.and French law respectively, their relevance to the application of international law as well as their relevance to this session’s focus upon corporate complicity.
11:30 Coffee Break
11:50 II. Implications of Corporate Activities In and Around Settlements (Part 1)

Dr. Dalit Baum (Israel) and Hugh Lanning (UK) will provide an overview of the issues relating to business practices in relation to settlements and the settlement industry.

Fayez Al Taneeb (Palestine) and Wael Natheef (Palestine) will speak about the direct impact this is having on Palestinians as workers and residents in and around settlements.
13:30 Lunch
14:45 II. Implications of Corporate Activities In and Around Settlements (Part 2)

Adri Nieuwhof (Netherlands), will speak as the lead expert on public contracts regulations and the French multinational, Veolia, and its business practices in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Ghaleb Mashni (Palestine) will offer an account of the impact this has had on Palestinians.

John Dorman (Ireland) will round off the session with an account of the relationships between Cement Roadstone Holdings and the construction of the wall.
15:50 III. Trade and Labelling of Settlement Goods

A Representative from Al Haq (Palestine) will offer an overview of the legal issues relating to the trade and labelling of settlement goods.
16:10 Coffee Break
16:30 Christophe Perrin (France) will follow with an account of the business practices of agricultural producers, Carmel Agrexco.

Nancy Kricorian and Rae Abileah (U.S.A.) will discuss the cosmetics company Ahava and its production of spa products.

Phon Van Den Biesen (Netherlands) will discuss issues relating to labelling of products from Israeli settlements and the day will be closed by Genevieve Coudrais (France), who will speak about Soda Stream.
18:00 End of Day One

Day Two: Sunday 21st November 2010

113 Chancery Lane, London. WC2A 1PL
10:00 Doors Open

Pr. Pierre Galand (Belgium)will open the second day in the name of the International Organising Committee of the RToP.
10:30 IV. Financial Services Sector

Merav Amir (Israel) Will offer an overview of both Israeli and international finance companies and their connection to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Mario Franssen (Belgium) will speak on the Dexia group.

Saskia Muller (Netherlands) will speak on the PFZW Pension Fund.
11:40 Coffee Break
12:00 V. The Security Industry and the War Industry

An overview of the security industry and the nature of corporate involvement will be set out by John Hilary (U.K.).

Maria LaHood (U.S.A.) will provide information on Caterpillar and the use of its equipment in Israeli military practices.

Josh Ruebner (U.S.A.) will follow with additional information and evidence relating to Caterpillar’s business practices.

Merav Amir and or Dr. Dalit Baum (Israel) will follow with an account of British private security firm G4S .
13:30 Lunch
14:45 V. The Security Industry and the War Industry

Shir Hever (Israel) and Jamal Juma’a (Palestine) will speak about Elbit Systems and their role in security practices by the Israeli state.

Paul Troop (U.K.), will discuss recent court cases against UK based arms manufacturing companies EDO ITT and Raytheon.

The final speaker, Ben Hayes (U.K.) will give details relating to EU subsidies to the security industry.
16:10 Break
16:30 Speaking time for corporations**

Wrap up questions

The Tribunal may want to ‘recall’ experts from the session itself or other international legal experts to ask for clarification on legal issues in light of what will have been heard throughout the two days.

Closing

Round up and overview of the two days, what has taken place and the way forward.
17:30 End of Day Two
19:00 The jury withdraws for deliberations

Day Three, Monday 22nd November 2010
10:30 Press Conference

The Amnesty International Human Rights Action Centre will host a press conference setting out conclusions from the second session of the RToP.

**All corporations whose business practices will been interrogated during the session have been contacted by registered post and invited to attend the session.

Baroness Tonge still doesn’t get it!

Baroness Jenny Tonge (bbc.co.uk)

Baroness Jenny Tonge (bbc.co.uk)

Last night Liberal Democrat Baroness Jenny Tonge complained about her treatment at the hands of the pro-Israel lobby and Labour’s Lord Nazir Ahmed complained that after a recent visit to Gaza certain websites called him Lord Nazi Ahmadinejad.

No one can condone such dreadful comparisons but seeing as Israelis are often compared to the Nazis by more than a few pro-Palestinian supporters maybe he will start to speak out against this.

The meeting at the House of Lords was to raise the profile of humanrightsfund which is “dedicated to supporting Palestinians in accessing international justice”.

Humanrightsfund concentrates solely on the law and has patrons, an advisory board, directors, staff and partners but many of those named are the usual suspects in the field of pro-Palestinian activism.

Mr. Michel Abdel Massih QC of Tooks Chambers, a Palestinian, told us that Israel’s breaches of international law are clearcut.

But anyone who knows the law appreciates just how unclearcut it is otherwise there wouldn’t be so many lawyers doing so well out of it.

He also spoke about trying to stop a change in the law of universal jurisdiction and said that stopping the change was “nothing to do with me being a Palestinian”.

Currently, anyone can ask for an arrest warrant to be issued by a local magistrate on scant evidence of war crimes and visiting Israeli politicians and military personnel are the main aim. The law could be changed soon so that an arrest warrant has to be approved by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

There was the usual mention by other participants of Israeli apartheid before Baroness Tonge opened her heart:

“I have found as a Parliamentarian I can work my butt off going around the country trying to spread the word. In Parliament if I stick to Palestine and what is going on in Palestine it’s ok. But if you want to question why Israel is doing it or what Israel is up to you really, really, really do run a great risk. And I’m a prime example. I’ve been thrown off the front benches and have lost count of the amount of times I have been reprimanded and the Board of Deputies of British Jews have complained about me because I have questioned what Israel is up to and what the lobby is up to. That’s all. And this is the problem all Parliamentarians have. If you want a political career, you stay clear of Israel.”

But the Baroness might recall that her sacking in 2004 was not for questioning Israel but for saying that she would become a suicide bomber if she were a Palestinian.

And similarly with her more recent sacking when she ridiculously claimed that Israeli troops sent to Haiti after the earthquake were trafficking organs.

And still at that defence debate last friday she accused Israel of being the “cause of terrorism” and said the West’s treatment of Muslims was due to “Holocaust guilt” and the power of the pro-Israel lobby.

As Israel and its supporters have always argued, criticism of Israel’s policies is fine. Unfortunately the comments of many in the pro-Palestinian lobby are well outside the parameters of reasoned debate.

Baroness Tonge is still in denial about how warranted her sackings were.

Israeli Army Refusenik speaks to Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Israeli Refusnik Rotem Mor speaking to Merton PSC last night.

Israeli Refusenik Rotem Mor speaking to Merton PSC last night.

Israeli army refusenik Rotem Mor, 29, spoke to Merton Palestine Solidarity Campaign last night at the Irish Centre in Wimbledon and, unwittingly, exposed the hypocrisy of his audience.

Rotem is only a half-refusenik. He had served one and a half years in the Israeli Army as a teacher and subsequently served a one month prison sentence for not completing the three years.

Last night Rotem detailed his political activitism which included fighting the wall that divides Israelis and Palestinians, helping to rebuild demolished Palestinian homes, holding seminars where Israeli youngsters could talk freely about being conscripted into the army and creating a summer camp where Israelis and Palestinians could meet.

He said that many young Israelis who had been to his seminars had gone on to refuse army service and in Beit Surik he was instrumental in having the wall re-routed on to the Green Line after a Supreme Court judgment.

At the start of his talk he spoke about the discrimination of Sephardi Jews in Israel after they were expelled from Arab countries. A member of the audience, already getting impatient, angrily asked “Are you a Zionist?”

Rotem didn’t answer.

Again “Are you a Zionist?” But Rotem continued talking about Sephardi Jews.

After his fourth request was ignored the man shouted “This is bullshit” and stormed out.

Actually, Rotem believes no states, including Israel, should exist unlike PSC audiences who believe that only the Jewish state should not exist.

Rotem went on to show us photos and newspaper cuttings of his travels throughout the world with other Israeli refusniks.

The headline in one French newspaper read: “Ils preferent le geole a l’uniforme.”

He showed us pictures of him meeting Palestinians and felt that Israelis and Palestinians should meet more. Then, he said, during war Israelis might think twice before attacking Palestinian friends and Palestinians might think the same about their Israeli friends.

He also showed us pictures of his friend Yehuda who lives on a settlement. Yehuda, although religious, moved to the settlement because it was cheap. Rotem said that is was only a minority of settlers that burn Palestinian olive trees.

All this talk of cross communal dialogue was very nice but during the Q&A the audience was determined to hear more criticism of Israel.

Rotem was asked why refused. Was it due to the illegality of the occupation? Rotem told the audience that international law was complex and his refusal was based merely on seeing how soldiers suffer.

He was also asked whether people should boycott Israeli goods. He said Palestinians should as they were the ones suffering but that the English had no moral grounds for doing so due to the occupation of Afghanistan. He said he could easily boycott 99% of British rock groups if he wished to.

The audience tried to persuade Rotem that they hadn’t themselves voted for the war in Afghanistan and that Israel was on a par with apartheid South Africa.

But Rotem told them that they had responsibility for their own government’s choices and whereas in boycotting South Africa the reasonable objective had been one man one vote in boycotting Israel there was no objective.

By now the audience was not happy that a young Israeli was preaching to them about their hypocrisy.

Finally, he was asked about the difficulty of living in Israel (Rotem lives just outside Jerusalem) after refusing. He said it wasn’t difficult.

Socially things are fine for him and being a refusenik has allowed him to travel the world, give talks and meet people. He now owns Jerusalem Reality Tours and is currently writing a book about his experiences.

Obviously refusing to serve in the IDF can be a potentially lucrative business idea.

Rotem Mor in action giving one of his many tours of Israel (jerusalemrealitytours.com)

Rotem Mor in action giving one of his many tours of Israel (jerusalemrealitytours.com)

There is no such thing as anti-Semitism.

Outside St Michael & All Angels Parish Hall, Chiswick last night.

Outside St Michael & All Angels Parish Hall, Chiswick last night.

St Michael & All Angels Parish Hall, Chiswick was the quaint setting for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s latest event to try to tear down the only Jewish state in the world.

When I arrived I accidentally walked into the main church where there was a carol service rehearsal taking place.

In stark contrast to the hymns as I climbed the steps to the large room on top I could hear Ben White spewing out poison about Israel.

Inside St Michael & All Angels Parish Hall last night.

Inside St Michael & All Angels Parish Hall last night.

Ben White is on a mission to sell his book Israeli Apartheid, A Beginner’s Guide.

He regaled us with maps, quotes and general distortions about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while a mostly sympathetic audience shook their heads and tut tutted the whole way through.

For 45 minutes he built up a picture of Israel as a “racist apartheid” state in readiness for the book signing afterwards.

Andrew Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith and Shadow Justice Minister, was there listening in.

Last week Slaughter met Muhammad Totah and Ahmad Atoun of Hamas.

The chairman for the evening, a prominent anti-Israel figure outside Ahava and British supermarkets, told us that to resist is to exist.

In the Q&A White was asked whether he could extend his apartheid analogy to the treatment of the Palestinians in Arab countries where they are deprived of their rights to work, to vote and to citizenship. White remarked that they were indeed treated badly but that the real culprit is Israel who won’t implement the right of return. Once that right has been exercised there will be equality for all Palestinians.

But last night was not so much about White and Slaughter but the audience.

It is the mingling afterwards where you really get to know the nature of the beast you are dealing with.

When you explain that Israel has to do certain things to stop rockets landing in Israel and suicide bombings the standard response is “Well, Palestinian casualties are much higher”.

One man told me that anti-Semitism doesn’t exist anymore. He also said that no state has ever recognised Israel as a Jewish state and that David Ben Gurion only accepted United Nations Resolution 181, the partition resolution, when he found out that the Palestinians were going to reject it.

One woman asked me to prove I was British and twice I was asked why I still lived here.

On the way out another woman asked me, “How can you justify a fucking Jewish state?” I tried to explain the basis for nationalism but she wasn’t having it. She told me she was a lesbian and how absurd it would be for a group of gays to get together to form their own country.

And all this in a church.

Ben White signing his book Israeli Apartheid, a Beginner's Guide

Ben White signing his book Israeli Apartheid, a Beginner's Guide

Does Lord Phillips believe there is a well organised “Jewish lobby” at work or not?

Lord Andrew Phillips of Sudbury

Lord Andrew Phillips of Sudbury

Lord Andrew Phillips of Sudbury has made a remarkable intervention on the Jewish Chronicle website.

Last week Lord Phillips spoke at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign event at Parliament. The title of the event was Gaza – Eyewitness reports from the Viva Palestina convoy, Parliamentary delegations, and Westminster University Architects

Jonathan Hoffman blogged Lord Phillips’ speech that night.

Lord Phillips has blogged back as follows:

I have just had drawn to my attention a contribution made to The JC.com website on 3rd November by Jonathan Hoffman. It comments on a short speech I made at a PSC meeting last week. It does not report what I said fairly, or accurately (sadly, not for the first time in the JC as far as I am concerned.)

I will not try the patience of the readers of this blog (and my own!) by detailing all his studied distortions. One example, taken from the start of his piece, may serve to give the flavour.

He states that I said “I do believe in the right of Israel to exist”, he adding “Well thanks buddy – and France? Germany? England?”

In fact I emphasised that I believe “passionately” in the right of Israel to exist in freedom and security, adding that I believed in a similar right for Palestine. I did not also say, but could have, that I volunteered to fight for Israel in 1973.
Israel is in my view destroying its long-term security and harmony inter alia and particularly by its military occupation and colonisation of the West Bank (now extending to 42% of that territory, according to the latest Foreign Office estimate).

I will not be deterred from speaking out against that self-defeating, provocative and illegal policy, and its awful impact on the Palestinians.

The only alleged distortion Lord Phillips chooses to go on, so as not to try our patience you understand, is about Israel’s right to exist.

He is silent on Hoffman quoting him as saying, “Europe cannot think straight about Israel because of the Holocaust and America is in the grip of the well-organised Jewish lobby”.

Making suggestions of Jewish power, an anti-Semitic trope, is bad enough but invoking the Holocaust so gratuitously at a meeting which has nothing to do with the Holocaust is a particularly low way of gaining an audience’s attention.

Someone who feels the need to invoke 6,000,000 innocent dead souls at a political rally is totally lacking in moral integrity.

People really don’t care whether Lord Phillips thinks Israel should exist or not or whether he keeps wishing to speak out against Israeli policy. It is his right and no one will try to stop him.

He is a Liberal Democrat after all and it is an unofficial Liberal Democrat policy, and one it definitely won’t renege on, to bash Israel publicly.

But either Lord Phillips really doesn’t want to try our patience, as he claims, and he didn’t speak of a “Jewish lobby” and gratuitously invoke the Holocaust or his deafening silence on these matters is an admission that he did.

If it is the latter then he should make a public apology.

So, Lord Phillips, which is it? Our patience are all yours to try.