While Amy Winehouse’s family are in deep mourning over her untimely death strangers continue to arrive outside where she used to live in Camden to put down flowers, light a candle, pin up a poem or simply write a short message on one of the nearby street signs.
They are saying Kaddish (Jewish mourning prayer) for her in their own unique way.
As if Camden hasn’t got enough tourist attractions, a new one has just been created. The BBC were still there today, but they were hard-pressed to find anyone to interview who spoke English.
Amy seemed to have passed away last Saturday pretty much from natural causes. The post-mortem itself found no cause of death and further findings are not due to be released for another month.
Part of the tragedy of all this is that Amy was on the up when she died. She had reached rock bottom in Serbia recently when, performing drunk, she was booed off stage and the rest of the tour was cancelled.
But in her last public appearance at The Roundhouse in Camden three days before her death she seemed relaxed and healthy when dancing on stage in the background while her god-daughter Dionne Bromfield performed.
Her father felt confident enough to leave her and was en route to New York to perform himself when he heard the news.
Even her security guard thought she was sleeping when he checked in on her in the morning. At the time she was probably already dead. Only when he checked on her a second time did he realise that all was not good.
So it was not the scene that we had all at first suspected; one of Amy sprawled out on the floor surrounded by half empty bottles of alcohol and pills all over the carpet.
Last Saturday, she did not seem to be someone reckless about her life or someone trying to take it, but someone fighting for it. But it was a time when all that had gone on before had, finally, taken its toll on her fragile body and it just gave up.
She seemed to love life and people, whether making music or just serving tea and chocolate biscuits to the photographers camped outside her front door.
As for her troubles she simply embraced them and turned them into fine songs that were made supreme by her mesmerising voice.
Without her dreadful experiences we wouldn’t have got the songs.
New organisation Yachad describes itself as a “a pro-Israel pro-peace grassroots movement that aims to harness the energy of large numbers of British Jews through education, debate and advocacy in support of the steps needed to create peace and long-term security for Israel”.
They have just written a letter to Daniel Taub, the new Israeli Ambassador to the UK, and launched an Ipetition to gain signatures to the letter (see text of letter below).
Last night I noticed an automated email thanking me for signing this petition.
I couldn’t recall signing it and presumed I must have somehow done it by mistake. Then this morning I got an automated follow-up email from Hannah Weisfeld, a Yachad director, thanking me for signing and asking me to get my friends to sign it and also asking me for money.
Looking through the other signatures I noticed Jonathan Hoffman’s name. But he told me that he hadn’t signed it either!
I have nothing against Yachad and wish them well in their search for “long-term security for Israel”, but their letter basically amounts to a call for Israel “to end the occupation”.
It’s a nice idea in fantasy, but in reality ending “the occupation” would lead to Hamas, with the help of Syria and Iran, unleashing destruction on Tel Aviv, and Israel in general, on a scale unseen for many years.
Yachad means well but following their cause won’t achieve anything worthwhile soon.
Oh, and please will someone remove my signature from the petition. Thanks.
Text of Yachad’s letter to the new Israeli Ambassador to the UK:
Dear Mr Ambassador,
We welcome you to the UK and the British Jewish community.
The British Jewish community has a long and proud connection to Israel as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people and we care deeply about its future. Each day without a peace agreement makes this future less secure.
We stand behind the cross section of voices inside Israel – including former chiefs of staff, major generals, leading academics and intellectuals – who have spoken in support of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps. We believe the need to create a Palestinian state is urgent, and the best way to safeguard Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and internationally recognised borders.
We urge the Israeli government to do everything in its power to make this vision more, not less likely, through taking steps to end the occupation and heeding the calls to return to the negotiating table.
We look forward to an ongoing dialogue with you throughout your term of office here and hope you will ensure our message of support is passed to the government of Israel.
Lush has opened in Brent Cross, north-west London, but its website is viciously anti-Israel.
Lush’s website says, inter alia, that “the catastrophe facing the Palestinian people is one of the defining global justice issues of our time” and “life for most Palestinians living under the illegal Israeli occupation is at least as bad as that endured by black South Africans in the bad old days of apartheid”.
It gets worse:
“Israel’s siege of Gaza has condemned its 1.5 million inhabitants to levels of poverty more commonly associated with sub-Saharan Africa – a humanitarian disaster with no end in sight.”
Lush’s website is promoting the song Freedom For Palestine in its “Our ethical campaigns” section (a link to the song has suddenly reappeared having been originally removed).
For most of those appearing in the video “Freedom for Palestine” means campaigning for a racist boycott of Israel hoping that Israel will eventually disappear to be replaced by a Palestinian state in toto.
Ironically, some of those in the video have regularly appeared outside Ahava in Covent Garden, another natural cosmetics shop (a competitor to Lush you could say). Due to these noisy and, at times, violent protests Ahava has now been forced to close at the end of September.
The song itself talks of, inter alia, “more than six million (Palestinian) refugees”. This is a convenient number that alludes to the six million Jews gassed in the Holocaust. It is nothing less than an attempt to equate the Palestinian situation with the plight of those six million Jews.
The song also speaks of “racial segregation”.
Yes, there is segregation, but if there wasn’t then Palestinian suicide bombers would be getting into Israeli restaurants and onto Israeli buses on a regular basis in order to blow themselves up and kill as many innocent people as possible.
Is that what Lush supports in its promotion of this crude song?
Potential Lush shoppers should at least be made aware of Lush’s politics.
I spoke to someone at Lush’s HQ this morning (Tel: 01202667830) and I put this all to her and she said she “understood where I was coming from” and would put it to her Campaigns Department. I told her that someone had already spoken to this department which was pretty unsympathetic. I will be waiting for the return of the MD, Sofie, next Monday.
Please phone Lush and make it known to them that their campaign is not “ethical” and tell your friends what Lush stands for in its support for people that wish to see the ending of Israel’s existence and a song that denigrates the Holocaust.
On Monday pro-Israel activists protested outside the London Jewish Cultural Centre in Golders Green that the LJCC was allowing anti-Zionist activist and International Solidarity Movement volunteer Ivor Dembina to perform his comedy act.
People going in on the night said they did not know about Dembina’s political activism and said they would not have bought a ticket had they known. One man who had not bought a ticket refused to go in to see him.
But, now the spotlight moves to Lush with the hope that those who support Israel’s existence and a peaceful two-state solution will be aware that Lush seeks to defame Israel in such cruel terms as those outlined above.
Considering that Ahava is due to close at the end of September, due to the relentless bullying by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, there was no let up in the verbal attacks on Israel as about 15 activists harangued shoppers going in and out of the shop in London’s Covent Garden today.
Even PSC Chief Sarah Colborne made a rare appearance to rally her devoted followers. Maybe next time she will bring along her new best friend Sheikh Raed Salah, who has just been let out of prison on bail after having been arrested for entering Britain despite being on an exclusion list.
As soon as I arrived I, myself, was mindlessly haranged as you can see in these next two clips.
The first clip shows a PSC activist standing in front of me literaly flashing away (warning: flash photography) and in the next clip I am surrounded by three people filming me while the police are called because I was, apparently, the one doing the intimidating! (warning: flash photography also)
But (it gets better) in this next clip PSC activists are complaining to the police that I am filming them without authority. The clip is comedic. Off camera I was told I was a “Murdoch journalist”.
In the next clip we hear the old familiar song “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free” for those who think that this is just about “the settlements”.
Even the literature handed out by the activists, which is printed by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, reads “Don’t buy Ahava products, Israeli or Settlement Goods”.
Proof, if any were needed, that this is a racist boycott of a country, not a political one about “settlements”.
The next clip shows PSC Chief Sarah Colborne singing her little heart out and the final clip shows how loud and intimidating the anti-Israel activists are when outside Ahava.
There were three people (myself, Jonathan Hoffman and Martin) making the case for Israel but soon there will, hopefully, be news of where and when Ahava is due to re-open. Maybe all is not yet lost for Ahava.
Martin making the case for Israel today.
Some pro-Israel resistance.
PSC activist reporting yours truly to the police for "intimidation".
Take That are currently touring the UK and during a recent concert at Wembley national treasure Robbie Williams approached a group of screaming teenage girls who were sporting cheesy Israeli head-wear and took away one of their Israeli flags, promptly kissed it and then took it on to the stage with him (see clip below).
It is, at least, a bit of welcome respite from the vicious antics of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which solely desires to kill off the Jewish state.
Meanwhile, the evil single Freedom for Palestine has, so far, reached number 79 in the charts. It is actually higher than I thought it would be. I am not sure how many purchases that equates to, but it would be interesting to find out.
Sometimes Jewish people never miss an opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot.
I refuse to go to the London Jewish Film Festival anymore having once paid good money to see Defamation, a film that, basically, portrays Israel as forcing Israeli teenagers to visit Auschwitz and using the visit to brainwash them into thinking that the whole world hates them because they are Jewish.
The same applies to London Jewish Book Week. Among the long list of Israel bashers invited to speak once was The Independent’s Johann Hari who has claimed that “untreated sewage was being pumped from illegal Israeli settlements on to Palestinian land, contaminating their reservoirs”.
Not only had he seen it with his own eyes, but Friends of the Earth had documented it, you understand.
Mick Davis, head of UJIA, addressed the possibility of Israel becoming an apartheid state and Breaking the Silence were given repeated platforms at Limmud to tell of the supposed evils of Israeli soldiers.
Now the London Jewish Cultural Centre has an advert out for their forthcoming Comedy Festival that reads:
“Enjoy a week of Jewish comedians previewing their outrageous, hilarious and irreverent acts at Ivy House for the next stop – this year’s Edinburgh festival.”
One of the comedians, Ivor Dembina, is doing a sketch harmlessly called “Jewish Comedy” on Monday July 18th.
But while Dembina is actually quite funny his other job is his one man show This Is Not A Subject For Comedy, which is about “Israel, Palestine and the Jews” and which he has been performing for some 8 years.
In it he tells, inter alia, about his confrontation with Israeli soldiers and thinks that Jews somewhat downplay the deaths of homosexuals and Communists at Auschwitz because “this is Ourschwitz, not Yourschwitz”.
Dembina has volunteered for the International Solidarity Movement and in an interview last year is quoted as saying that “the specter of anti-Semitism is raised by Zionists” and is “a manipulation of a tragedy to Zionism’s own advantage”.
He is also quoted as saying of Zionists:
“I think they’ve learned to their cost that it just makes people more determined to speak out publicly and that hate campaigns can be counter-productive. I think they’re starting to try and engage in discussion and going for the whole positive PR angle, like this email campaign about sending medical aid to Haiti. Or they’re going to use Iran as an excuse. They keep coming up with these reasons that the Jewish community has to support Israel and one by one they get exposed as nonsense…You’re left with a rump of very angry people who are used to getting their own way. Things have to be handled very carefully in the months and years ahead”. He also, apparently, compares Israel to apartheid South Africa.
Considering the audience at the LJCC is likely to be entirely pro-Israel and “Zionist”, I would expect they would like to know that Dembina considers them “angry people” and that he would like to see the end of Israel as a Jewish state. Then they can decide whether or not they would like to go in to see him perform.
At least with other anti-Zionists like Ken Loach one is usually fully informed of their politics. I would never go to see Looking for Eric, for instance, as much as I would probably enjoy it.
But, I suspect that Dembina won’t be playing his full anti-Zionist set at the LJCC and, therefore, many in the audience who are paying good money to see him won’t know of his politics.
Maybe, it would be helpful if someone stood outside the gates of the LJCC next Monday to hand out a list of Dembina’s quotes as people are going in to see him (any volunteers?).
I’m sure he wouldn’t expect anything less from a bunch of angry Zionists.
Last Wednesday Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas MP joined a group of brave Palestine Solidarity Campaign activists in a daring and courageous attempt to break the siege of Gaza.
Instead of sailing to Gaza they only sailed up the River Thames and back again. But, all they had to sustain themselves on this hazardous two hour trip was beer (see youtube clip below).
They survived a rare London heatwave but there was some grotesque Guantanamo-style torture in the form of the constant repetition of just four or five songs including Freedom For Palestine, Free Free Palestine, From the River To The Sea Palestine Will Be Free, and End The Siege Of Gaza End The Siege Now.
“It has been brought to my attention that the PSC logo appears to reflect 1917, pre-creation of Israel, borders and as such could be open to interpretation by some as implying non-recognition of Israel’s right to exist. I am following this up with the director of the PSC since I am quite sure that PSC does indeed recognise Israel’s right to exist, and it is unhelpful and damaging if any other impression is given.”
Here’s that confusing logo:
True, the PSC’s proposed Palestine looks exactly like a map of Israel, but the PSC doesn’t really mean that they want the Jewish state to be replaced by a Palestinian one. It’s probably all just some mistake or, similar to the Hamas Charter that calls for the death of Jews, the logo is simply out of date and hasn’t been changed yet.
But our intrepid explorer Caroline took time out from her tough Parliamentary schedule representing her constituents on important green issues (you know, the ones she was voted in to work on) to find out the truth. She boarded the Thames Flotilla along with some Palestine Solidarity Campaign activists.
From between 2 minutes 20 seconds and 3 minutes 15 seconds she can be seen posing for cameras before joining in with a rendition of the anthem Free Free Palestine. Then a chorus of From The River To The Sea Palestine Will Be Free is immediately struck up.
To give her the benefit of the doubt Lucas would probably explain that the song Free Free Palestine is all to do with freeing the poor Palestinians from the settlements and checkpoints. But, how would she explain From The River To The Sea Palestine Will Be Free?
The river is the Jordan and the sea is the Mediterranean. Between those two geographic points sits a tiny country called Israel. The song seems to imply that these PSC activists want only Palestine to exist between those two geographic points.
Maybe the Jewish Chronicle can contact Lucas again and ask her whether her little boat trip along the Thames gave her any clarity on the PSC’s stance towards the existence of Israel.
One song the PSC activists kept repeating Guantanamo-style was Gaza Gaza Come What May, Freedom Boats Are On Their Way.
Except they aren’t.
The real Gaza flotilla looks like it has collapsed. The Captain of the main boat has been arrested and Greece won’t let the flotilla set sail.
Instead, the flotilla has now turned into a flytilla with pro-Palestinian activists due to fly into Ben Gurion airport on Thursday night to make their protest there instead.
Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn, Richard Burden and Yasmin Qureshi owe Theresa May, the Home Secretary, a huge debt of gratitude for having had Sheikh Raed Salah detained on Tuesday night. She might just have saved their careers.
Had the homophobic preacher been allowed to speak at wednesday night’s event at the Houses of Parliament there would now be photographs circulating of them sharing a platform with him.
These photos would, no doubt, have featured in the political literature for the next general election and would probably have led to these MPs’ crushing defeats, as sharing platforms with self-confessed homophobes is not something the British public would wish to be associated with.
Instead Salah is awaiting deportation back to Israel.
Meanwhile, in his defence Middle East Monitor and Palestine Solidarity Campaign have been raising the straw man that Salah is not an anti-Semite on the basis of lack of proof.
While he is accused of claiming that Jews use the blood of children to make their bread, his blatant homophobia has not been made a huge issue of. His supporters are defending him only against claims of anti-Semitism.
What is your opinion of the legislation now being discussed in the Knesset, which would grant Muslim women rights similar to those of Jewish women in matters of personal status?
“That bill is tantamount to a war on Islam. It is an attempt to dictate different, foreign values that are neither Muslim nor Palestinian values.”
What is your opinion of homosexuality?
“It is a crime. A great crime. Such phenomena signal the start of the collapse of every society. Those who believe in Allah know that behavior of that kind brings his wrath and is liable to cause the worst things to happen. There is no solution for this, unless the individual’s faith is strengthened.”
In this statement Salah denies most of the accusations:
“It has been claimed that he repeated a ‘blood libel’ by saying, ‘among those whose blood was mixed with the sacred (Jewish) bread’; this is an absolute lie and a malicious fabrication.”
“With regard to the statement that ‘the Creator made from you [the Jews] monkeys and losers’, this is again a lie and fabrication.”
“I unequivocally condemn all forms of racism, including anti- Semitism, Islamophobia, and racism towards my own people, the Palestinians.”
There are no denials about his homophobia and thoughts on the inequality of women.
So what does Sarah Colborne think of sharing a platform with someone who thinks homosexuality “is a crime…that is liable to cause the worst things to happen”. Obviously nothing.
Colborne uses her own homosexuality as a political weapon. She recently wrote to Marc Almond complaining about “real homophobia confronted by the LGBT community inside Israel” and urged him to cancel his tour to Israel. He did cancel, although Almond said it “was not for any political reason”:
“Dear Marc Almond,
I was shocked to hear that you were scheduled to perform in Israel. Listening to your music, I always assumed that you had a clear and unstinting compassion for those who face discrimination and oppression. Your music provided the soundtrack to many lesbians and gay men growing up in a hostile society. And as a lesbian who has been actively supporting Palestinian rights for over a decade, I felt obliged to write to you personally.
Israel is attempting to ‘pinkwash’ itself as tolerant, and gay-friendly in an attempt to paint over the discrimination, racism and apartheid that Palestinians face on a daily basis. It is an attempt to cover up Israel’s flouting of international law and its violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Those who support Israel’s crimes continue to propogate the colonialist fantasies of a civilised and gay-friendly Israel, as opposed to hostile, homophobic Palestinians. This not only denies the real homophobia confronted by the LGBT community inside Israel, but also the reality of life as a lesbian or gay Palestinian living under a brutal military occupation. By propogating this fantasy, Israel is attempting to co-opt support from LGBT artists and activists in other countries for its violence towards Palestinians.
I have worked with the Palestinian community in Britain and internationally, travelled to Palestinian towns and villages, and I was on the Mavi Marmara last year when it was attacked by Israeli commandos whilst in international waters, taking aid to Gaza. Our shared experiences of homophobia and discrimination should make us even more sensitive to, and supportive of, the cause of equality, freedom and justice for Palestine.
I urge you to listen to the voices of Palestinian gay and lesbian organisations, for example Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (PQBDS). Please listen to those of us in the LGBT community in Britain, who believe that until Palestinians are free, none of us are free.
The cause of Palestine is the cause of justice and freedom. Please do not taint the love of the LGBT community for your music by playing in Israel.
Yet, here she is sitting next to him on Monday night at an event sponsored by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which she heads, and Middle East Monitor.
Conway Hall: Salah and Sarah Colborne in the middle
It just goes to show that Salah’s vile views can be overlooked where the joint goal is the vilification of Israel.
Will Qureshi, Corbyn and Burden now denounce Salah as a homophobe or do they consider homophobia to be less serious than anti-Semitism?
At the next general election the British public will be made well aware that these three Labour MPs were due to share a platform with someone who has clearly expressed homophobic views.
And what about the PSC, which sponsored the event on Monday night where Salah spoke and sponsored the event at Parliament on Wednesday where he was due to speak?
Will the PSC’s patrons stay silent about an organisation they support, but which has now sponsored a homophobic preacher?
Those patrons include Tony Benn, actress Julie Christie, Victoria Brittain, playwright Caryl Churchill (who wrote Seven Jewish Children), RMT leader Bob Crow, writer William Dalrymple, the reverend Garth Hewitt, Ghada Karmi, Bruce Kent, Lowkey, Karma Nabulsi, Ilan Pappe, Alexei Sayle and Benjamin Zephania.
On the Reverend Stephen Sizer’s blog there is also a defence of Salah. Salah is referred to as a “well-respected Palestinian leader”.
Do Salah’s views on homosexuality make him a well-respected leader?
On The Apprentice the project manager on the losing team is invariably fired for the team’s losing performance. In the case of PSC chief Sarah Colborne Alan Sugar would already be pointing his finger and saying: