Should Israel’s friends be critical of her conduct? Panel discussion at UCL next Monday.

Please support UCL Jewish Society and UJS in their panel discussion and Q&A on whether Israel should ever be criticised by its friends even though it is becoming increasingly isolated?

There will be something that you don’t normally get on a Palestine Society panel; diversity of opinion.

The panellists below come from across the political spectrum.

Also, if you have questions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or are just Zionist-curious then please go along.

It will also be a chance to ask Stephen Pollard why the JC has just shot up from £1.10 to £1.50.

If you can’t make it then leave a short comment below, which might get read out on the night.

When: 6:00pm – 7:00pm, Monday 31st October 2011

Where: UCL Cruciform Building, 5 University Street, London, WC1E


Stephen Pollard – Editor of the Jewish Chronicle and former Chairman of the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism.


Jonathan Arkush – a barrister and the Senior Vice President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Davis Lewin – Political Director at the Henry Jackson Society and a specialist in Middle East politics.

Hannah Weisfeld
– Director of Yachad, a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” NGO.

Ed West – Blogs for The Daily Telegraph, regularly writes about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and specialises in ‘politics, religion and low culture.’

Here is the Facebook page.

26 responses to “Should Israel’s friends be critical of her conduct? Panel discussion at UCL next Monday.

  1. How can one party criticize another party, if that party is in a constant debate within itself? If this criticism turns into a dialog, there’ll be nothing to distinguish one party from the other.

  2. Yachad needs to be cornered, questioned and slammed at this event. They are in no way pro Israel. The director is a liar. I don’t want to go as the anger I have of that stupid group might get the better of me.

    • You took the words right out of my mouth – that was my immediate reaction.

      As to Pollard, he has allowed the JC blogs to become the stomping ground of utterly vile antisemites. There is little to distinguish it now from CiF. The whole tone of the paper is craven, as of course is the whole of the useless BoD.

  3. Criticising Israel is for Israelis living in the country and for them only (and yes I criticize them on occasion for laying it on themselves the way they do)

    Whoever does it publicly from the outside is not really a friend because:

    as long as a country’s right to exist is considered a topic worthy of discussion in claiming to be polite society any criticism from the outside by necessity implies that somehow it is Israel’s own fault that her neighbours and foes behave and voice of the way they do.

    i.e. it says however unintentionally if only Israel would do this that or the other things her foes would see the light and mend their ways.

    • Excellent points – agree entirely.

      • attilathecricketer

        disagree – I question the right of Kosovo to exist and I will certainly question the right of the Scots to independence. I do not think that their existence should be beyond debate. Whilst I think Israel should exist I allow others to question it.

      • richardmillett

        Do you think England’s existence should be beyond debate?

      • Nobody is denying the right of antisemites to be antisemites, or your right to be a bigot, attila. Now how about answering the question?

  4. As I have so often noticed, Silke has expressed the case very well. It is only about Israel than anyone ever asks this question. We can be critical of any other country in the world without thereby seeming to side with people who want to obliterate it. If you are critical of the policies of France or Spain, you are not playing into the hands of countries that aim to destroy it. Two question have become hopelessly muddled: do Israelis behave ideally all the time, and should the state of Israel exist? The problem with these two questions existing side by side is that criticism of this or that policy can be taken to support the contention that the existence of the state is also in doubt. Silke is right that the policies of a democracy are up to the voters to decide or complain about. Friends can always be critical, but in this case it can look like the kind of “critical” that enemies are so lavish with.

  5. Really, could anyone say, “If you are a friend of Switzerland, can you be critical of her conduct?” For a start, Switzerland has not polarized the world and you are not asked to decide whether to support it or work for its downfall. There is no need for a “Friends of Switzerland”. There are no public demonstrations with people chanting “Death to the Swiss”. If you criticise cuckoo clocks or Alpine skiing, no one will take it as a veiled comment on whether Switzerland should exist or not. There are no French or Italian or Austrian maps that leave Switzerland out and show their borders coming together somewhere in the middle of the Alps.
    Given the circumstances of Israel, there is too much to praise it for to bother with very much criticism. Why do people even ask this question–except to suggest that anyone who supports Israel must therefore be blind to its defects?

  6. attilathecricketer

    Interesting – may try to make it although I will have to brave the stench of that godless institution. Long live Kings

  7. I don’t think being critical or not is really the question.
    The only question is whether one Jew is giving ammunition to hurt another.
    For example a Jew could be critical of the Gilad Shalit deal made by Isreal on the grounds that it frees murderers who will kill more Jews, without giving our enemies ammunition.
    But it is certainly a two way thing.
    Jews in Israel must also be careful not to endager their brothers elsewhere.

  8. “Jews in Israel must also be careful not to endager their brothers elsewhere”

    Not long ago you described Jews not living in Israel as little better than pondscum, in your disgusting rant aimed at Roberta.

  9. Ari is of course right – Yachad must be asked about their connections to J Street. Some transparency on the subject of their funding would be helpful too.

    Of course it is legitimate to criticise Israel (Israelis do it all the time!), but in my experience at least, many of those in the UK insisting that they are my ‘friend’ (shouldn’t that word imply some sort of a two-way relationship?) are actually not motivated by or interested in constructive criticism and often know disturbingly little about the subjects on which they pass judgement. That’s not criticism.

  10. Richard’s gone bonkers again!

    What do you mean ‘can criticism of Israel be allowed’? OF COURSE NOT! She cannot be criticised by friend or foe, do you hear? She is above and beyond criticism, whether it is from pesky Goys or second class Jews, never mind the ‘towelheads’.

    France? That’s different matter, they’re only the French, who cares?

    Maybe (maybe, maybe) mild criticism of a sandstorm in Israel could just about be allowed, provided the critic also mentions a blizzard in Finland in the same sentence!

    • Richard,

      I assume that by “towelheads” Gert is referring to people of Arab descent. I consider this expression to be a further manifestation of ignorant racism and demand that it be erased and replaced by “Arabs” or some term less offensive. Although in the above comment the word “towelheads” appears in inverted commas, as if to suggest that it is a quote, I challenge anyone to produce a single instance of it having been used on this excellent blog, except by Gert.

      This showing of contempt for the population whose cause he claims to champion proves as a thousand witnesses that he has neither respect for them nor genuine concern for their plight, but rather he sees their unfortunate plight as a convenient means of giving vent to his depraved hostility to the Jewish People.

      We were rightly enraged when a Palestinian commentator called us “Kikes” and demanded he apologize, which he did. I am at a loss to understand why this shameful display of bigotry is any more acceptable and should be permitted to defile and tarnish the name of this excellent blog.

  11. Gert
    What the hell are you on about . You’re even more obscure than the strange people at the jfjp meeting last night .

  12. attilathecricketer

    Rich – sadly I think the UK’s existence will be debated and in a result that I am not happy with (either with Scottish independence or further EU integration). I don’t like the questions being put by the Scots or EU federalists but they have right to put the suggestion (and not be called bigots for putting it) however annoyed I may be at them.

    • richardmillett

      Er, I think my question related specifically to England, not the UK. You answered the wrong question.

      • attilathecricketer

        I’m a citizen of the UK. That is the direct comparison. England – yes I would find it strange for it to be questioned now after a millenia of existence but it would have been less strange to ask that in the 12th century.

      • richardmillett

        So don’t people question Pakistan’s existence?

  13. JanSuzanne Krasner

    Friends of Israel, along with citizens of the western world, need to be more critical of the Arabs, beginning with the lie that Israel is an Apartheid” State. This indictment made by Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly in his speeches is an Orwellian distortion of the truth, but it has been extremely effective in the public relations war of words that plays out in the United Nations, on the international stage, in the media and on college campuses everyday.

    This is a grave and toxic travesty that needs to be made right. In light of the “Arab Spring” spreading seeds of ‘Shariah Law’ throughout the Middle East, Western civilization needs to see the truth. Americans are being hijacked by propaganda against Israel…and not defending Israel’s right to be a Jewish state will lead to our own eventual downfall.

    The analogy of Israel to South African apartheid commands a response. Because of its catchy, slick word combination and its connotations that evoke vivid images of human unfairness and suffering, it became a fashionable narrative for the media and international community’s discourse. But it is not factual and is very deceptive.

    Labeling Israel as ‘apartheid’ is meant to provoke worldwide criticism and elicit human rights’ anger that sanctions demonstrations, boycotts, and denigrates the morals of Jews. This finger pointing is an intentional attack on Israel. It condones terror in the guise of ‘freedom fighters;’ encourages prosecution of Israeli officials in foreign courts; promotes laws against Israeli goods and supports boycotts of stores selling their products; it sees the advantage of kidnapping soldiers; allows the destruction of Jewish artifacts and religious sites; and tries to exclude Jews from their legitimate claim to their historic homeland.

    Factually speaking, apartheid was the policy of the South African government as a way of dealing with the White and Non-White social, political and economic issues up until 1992. It was the official policy that established and maintained racial segregation and racial discrimination. The South African Non-Whites could not vote and had to carry a “Pass Book” or they risked being jailed or deported. By contrast, all citizens of Israel have equal voting rights. Arabs have eleven of their representatives in Israel’s Knesset, including an Arab on the Israeli Supreme Court. Every citizen must carry an identity card, along with all legal residents.

    In addition, Non-White South Africans were kept from a wide range of jobs. They had no free elementary thru high school education; mixed sexual relationships were restricted and segregated; hospital and ambulance services were segregated; they could not use most public amenities, sports were segregated, and public facilities were labeled for correct racial usage. Non-Whites could not enter a building thru the main entrance, be a member of a union or participate in a strike. That is apartheid and Israel is NOT an apartheid state.

    Although many pro-Palestinian organizations are aware that the Israel-apartheid analogy is inaccurate, this rhetoric is continually used to condemn and isolate Israel. Just visit Israel to see the truth…Israeli Arabs shopping at Jerusalem’s Mamila Mall, enjoying Tel Aviv beaches, enrolled in the universities, getting hospital care, going on school trips to the zoos and having free access to public places.

    One of the more out-spoken defenders of Israel is Benjamin Pogrund, a Jew born in Cape Town, now living in Israel. Pogrund lived under apartheid, and as an anti-apartheid activist he took grave risks by reporting the injustices against Blacks. He often comments that the comparison of Israel to South African apartheid “greatly minimizes the oppression and misery caused by apartheid and is debasing to its victims.”

    In his rebuttal, Pogrund argues: “Israel is not unique in declaring itself a state for a specific people.” Everyone knows that Egypt is for Egyptians, Ireland is for Irishmen, France for the Frenchmen, Italy is for Italians, Serbia for Serbs, China for the Chinese, Iran for the Persians…and the list goes on.

    ‘Apartheid’ supporters substantiate their stance by claiming that Israel discriminates against Israeli-Arabs by barring them from buying land.
    The facts regarding land ownership are clarified by Mitchell Bard, the Executive Director of the non-profit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) and a foreign policy analyst who frequently lectures on US-ME policy:

    “In the early part of the century, the Jewish National Fund was established by the World Zionist Congress to purchase land in Palestine for Jewish settlement. This land, and that acquired after Israel’s War of Independence, was taken over by the government. Of the total area of Israel, 92% belongs to the State and is managed by the Land Management Authority. It is not for sale to anyone, Jew or Arab. The remaining 8% of the territory is privately owned. The Arab Waqf (the Muslim charitable endowment), for example, owns land that is for the express use and benefit of Muslim Arabs. Government land can be leased by anyone, regardless of race, religion or sex. All Arab citizens of Israel are eligible to lease government land.

    The reality is Arabs have built homes illegally throughout Israel while Jewish homes were frozen for a while. The number of illegal Arab homes scheduled for demolition is miniscule compared to Jewish homes that must adhere scrupulously to the rules for fear of condemnation. (Please check Bard’s point-by-point rebuttal:

    The problems in Israel’s Arab communities are much like conditions others face in various places in the world, but Arabs don’t point a finger at them. Only Israel is labeled and attacked as ‘apartheid.’ Arabs need only to look at their neighboring countries in the Middle East to find real apartheid. Does anyone honestly believe that Muslim women do not suffer from apartheid in countries with Shariah Law? Or Christians and Jews in some Arab nations are being attacked and killed purely because of their religion? More pointedly, both Jordan and Saudi Arabia do not allow Jews to live there, and Saudi Arabia doesn’t even let Jews visit.

    There are many ‘no-class’ citizens in the world that Arabs don’t care to talk about. One must believe that Abbas just doesn’t recognize ‘apartheid’ as he declares that the State of Palestine will be ‘Judenrein,’ a Jewish-free state. Instead, the label of ‘apartheid’ is stuck on Israel keeping eyes focused away from the intolerance and bigotry the PLO and Hamas preach.

    One question needs to be asked of all those who accuse Israel of being an apartheid state: If Israel gave up all the land rights, all of the natural resources and agreed to a One-State Solutions with the ‘Right of Return,’ would the Jews be able to live in peaceful coexistence? The answer to this question determines the fate of the Jewish People and whether peace is ever attainable.

  14. I do not understand why an anti-Arab racist comment has been allowed to remain on this blog for so long. I am, of course, referring to Gert’s disgusting:

    “She is above and beyond criticism, whether it is from pesky Goys or second class Jews, never mind the ‘towelheads’.”

    I have already explained that such references to members of the Arab nation are totally unacceptable on any blog, Zionist or otherwise, and the identity of the commentator as ant-Israel or anti-Jewish does nothing to mitigate this obscenity.

    Since that line of reasoning has not yet brought you to the conclusion that this obscenity should be erased, let me remind you that both this commentator and his cohort Greenstein, both have proven track records of concocting filthy racially prejudiced quotes, accrediting them to the supporters of Israel and then planting them on the net. The next stage is to accredit the dirt to Zionism and call its supporters to justify them.

    If all this sounds far-fetched, consider a Gert comment from January:
    “And perhaps Millett would also care to report on the increasing incidencents of Israelis calling for ‘Arabs to the ovens’? No, thought not.”

    This was another racist lie invented by a sick anti-Semitic mind. When challenged to provide a source, he referred readers to Greenstein’s blog.
    By leaving this depraved comment on your blog you pave the way to his, or Greenstein’s, future claim that such terms are used on a pro-Israel blog. They shall again conveniently forget to mention who it was that posted them.

    Once again I ask you to remove the racist comment.

  15. @attilla: Even in the 12th century the existence of England or the English was not in question. There are not many suitable analogies for Israel. Conquerors have often ruled countries, but i can’t think when they have wanted to annihilate the populace, except the Nazis vis-a-vis European Jews.