Monthly Archives: February 2012

Mavi Marmara’s Ken O’Keefe compares Jews to Nazis: The Footage.

Tonge stays silent at Middlesex University after O'Keefe's horrendous attack on Jews.

Tonge stays silent at Middlesex University after O'Keefe's horrendous attack on Jews.

Here is the footage from last Thursday’s anti-Israel event at Middlesex University in Hendon, which I blogged about here, when Ken O’Keefe compared Jews to Nazis. Proof, if it was ever needed, that these events are held more out of spite against Jews than out of any concern for the Palestinians.

The event was sponsored by Interpal whose website asks you to “donate” or “sponsor” in order to “join in our efforts to help Palestinians in need”. If only.

Equally disturbing is that Jenny Tonge, a British Parliamentarian, sat on the panel next to O’Keefe all night and stayed silent after O’Keefe’s attack on Jews and his accusation later on when he blamed Israel for 9/11.

There has also been a deafening silence from Middlesex University. No doubt they will explain it all away as “freedom of speech”.

(thanks to Harry’s Place for the edit)

Ken O’Keefe compares Jewish people to Nazis.

Tonge, O'Keefe, Roberts, Karmi last night.

Tonge, O'Keefe, Roberts, Karmi last night.

Where to begin with last night’s event at Middlesex University’s campus in Hendon, North West London, sponsored by Interpal. It was billed as a discussion on “Is Israel an Apartheid State?“, but became an evening of unadulterated Jew hate.

The atmosphere was threatening. The highly aggressive chairperson Nik Roberts kept insisting on calling security to remove both dissenters and people wanting to film. I could only take limited footage. Two “authorised” people did film, so clips should be arriving on youtube soon.

There was a Jewish contingent of possibly 30 out of some 150 in the audience and much of the rhetoric seemed to be aimed directly at us.

O’Keefe, who was on board the Mavi Marmara, compared Jews to both the Nazis and to the German people whom, he implies, as a whole collaborated with the Nazis. I have transcribed the final part of his speech below. After referring to “the Jewish people” O’Keefe uses “you” or “your” twelve times to personally direct his rhetoric at the Jews in the theatre. He admits his intent was to inflame:

“So if Israel is inherently a racist state, if it is inherently an apartheid state, then I want no part of Israel, it has no place in this world. And it does in its current form, if you want me to use some inflammatory language, in its current form should be destroyed.

Just like the UN in its current form should be destroyed, just like the American empire in its current form should be destroyed, just like the British empire in its current form should be destroyed (next bit inaudible due to applause).

I make no special bones about Jewish people, but the bottom line is this. The Jewish state, that’s not my expression, the Jewish state of Israel is, therefore, acting on behalf of the Jewish people. You, like the Nazis, have now a special obligation.

The decent Germans, the so-called decent Germans of World War Two Nazi Germany, what did they do, what did the decent Germans do when the Nazis came to power and started to institute their policies, what did they do? They didn’t do enough, did they?

Did they do enough to stop the Nazis? No, they didn’t. And what are the Jewish people doing right now? Are you doing enough to stop your racist apartheid genocidal state? (applause)

If you think that you are I beg to differ. You have a special obligation brought upon you just like the Nazis brought upon the decent Germans. Good luck to you because the way of Israel, the way of Palestine is the way of the world. And you can mouth at me all you want, good luck to you, because guess what, you are making enemies of all the people, not just me and the falsely accused anti-Semites.” (huge applause)

Ken O’Keefe edit (audio of transcript)

Ken O’Keefe audio of speech 23/2/2012 (11 minute speech in full)

During the Q&A O’Keefe tried to fend off an accusation that he had embezzled funds from the pro-Palestinian movement. He claimed he never has more than £100 in his bank account and has never owned a property (see clip 1 below). He went on to claim that Israel was responsible for 9/11 (clip 2).

And on suicide bombings he said:

“What the so-called suicide bombings did was force the world by shocking the conscience of humanity to pay attention, and the Palestinians have paid a huge price for some within their ranks carrying out those tactics.”

Ghada Karmi described Israel as a “gangster state” and gave us her definition of who is Jew:

“Is it somebody who practices the Jewish religion? They have never been able to find an agreed position.

At the beginning they talked about ‘a person born of a Jewish mother and/or a person who had been converted according to the orthodox system’. That’s it, nobody else.

Over time, when they saw that they were drying up, they started to make it much more elastic. So, now, anybody who has a Jewish parent or a Jewish grandparent is now Jewish.

Not only that. Among the million immigrants from Soviet Russia how many of you know that 40% of these people are not Jewish? They are not Jews! They go to Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches in Israel, ok? 40%.

Not only that. They brought in the Ethiopian Jews. They went fishing for Jews in Peru. They’ve gone to India. Anything. You know what the main purpose of it is? It’s that they should be non-Arab. Non-Arab. You can be any sort of person. You can call yourself ‘a Jew’. As long as you’re not an Arab, it’s alright.”

She called for the end of a majority Jewish state (Clip 3) and said the Israel treats the Palestinians as “a sub-human species” so when it kills them it “doesn’t have the same impact, as they are already sub-human” and finished off claiming that “if an Ethiopean gives blood to an Israeli blood bank people have objected because they don’t want a transfusion from an Ethiopian”.

Tonge, who describes herself as an “ethnic Christian” (see clip 4), started by telling the audience to beware of the Israel lobby because “once they have decided to go for you, they will go for you. I bear the scars” (clip 5). She finished by saying that “Israel is not going to be there forever” and warned that eventually Israel “will lose its support and then they will reap what they have sown.” (Clip 3)

Who are “they” and what does she imply will happen to them?

Another chilling threat to Jews from this British Parliamentarian.

Clip 1:

Clip 2:

Clip 3:

Clip 4:

Clip 5:

Rafeef Ziadah praises Islamic Jihad terrorist at UCL “Israeli Apartheid Week” event.

At Wednesday night’s “Israeli Apartheid Week” event Legalised Discrimination in Apartheid Israel, which took place at University College London, the chairperson, Rafeef Ziadah, began the proceedings by praising Khader Adnan.

She said that he “showed the will of the Palestinian people has not, and will not, be broken.”

Adnan recently ended a 66 day hunger strike against his administrative detention by Israel. He’s a member of the terrorist group Islamic Jihad. When he is not on hunger strike he does a nice sideline in inciting the killing of Jews.

Here is Ziadah, who now teaches at SOAS, praising Adnan and in the clip following that you can see Adnan screaming at someone’s funeral:

“Who among you is the next suicide bomber? Who among you will carry the next explosive belt? Who among you will fire the next bullets? Who among you will have his body parts blown all over?”

Ben White told the usual lies about Israel before making this quite unusual request to the mainly student audience (see clip at end):

“Don’t be dissuaded by the abuse of language like ‘coexistence’ and ‘dialogue’. Don’t be put off by people who use important words and important concepts like ‘coexistence’ and ‘dialogue’ in order to stifle what is a growing international justice movement. Don’t be frightened by people who sling around the smear of anti-Semitism as a way of trying to frighten people off taking real significant action.”

It is unusual for anyone to reject talk of coexistence and dialogue, unless you are from Islamic Jihad or Hamas.

The second panel speaker was Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, a South African student leader.

On his own admission Ndlozi has never visited Israel but he still said that the Palestinians faced “a worse evil” than apartheid South Africa:

“In Israel, it’s not just apartheid…What is worse in Palestine is that we didn’t have to be told that once we had left South Africa we can’t return. What makes it worse is the whole refugee situation. It is the whole denial of the people to return to their home…It means these people in Israel are close to achieving what nationalism in South Africa did not achieve. That is creating a community of separateness at the expense of an indigenous people…That is enough to make us angry…It cannot be true that on the face of the world today a peole still exist who think they can survive with a system of separateness at the expense of others.”

He said that “action through Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is the next step” before finishing by saying that the next time he comes to London he wants to “go to occupy the Israeli Embassy”.

I’d like to see him try that one!

Finally, Eyal Sivan, an Israeli documentary maker, described Israel as “a democracy for the Jews and Jewish for the Arabs”. He quoted Ehud Barak who he said described Israel as a “villa in the jungle” meaning that “the Jews are the humans and the others are the animals”. Sivan said that it was unlikely that an Israeli under the age of 18 would come into contact with an Arab.

This, ladies and gentlemen, was, believe it or not, a relatively mild event. What took place last night at Middlesex University’s campus in Hendon with Jenny Tonge, Ken O’Keefe and Ghada Karmi was on a different, and even more sickening, scale. More to follow.

Ben White at UCL on Wednesday night:

An Education in American Jewish power politics by the BBC’s Andrew Neil.

Last Wednesday I got a real education. I had asked Andrew Neil, presenter of the BBC’s political satire show This Week, on Twitter whether he would apologise on this week’s This Week for his insinuation on last week’s This Week that American Jews control America’s foreign policy and that America might get dragged into war with Iran because of it.

Andrew Neil had asked ex-Conservative politician Michael Portillo for his “moment of the week”. The exchange went like this (see above for the short clip):

Michael Portillo: “Mark Mardell, who’s the America editor of the BBC, produced a report, I think on Tuesday, in which he said that the White House now believes that Israel will attack Iran during the course of this year, possibly as early as the Spring, certainly before the Presidential election. The reasoning is that before long the nuclear weapons’ programme of Iran will be beyond reach. But also if you were to launch an attack before the Presidential election, both Presidential candidates, Republican and Democrat, would have to support Israel in an election situation so it’s a good time to launch an attack.”

Andrew Neil: “Because of the Jewish vote?”

Michael Portillo: “Because of the Jewish vote, of course. So, this appears to be the betting. Now if this happens, of course this may lure the United States in in one way or another. But it is a transformational occurrence if it happens. Iran could be expected to retaliate in all sorts of ways, possibly against Saudi Arabia, for example, possibly against the Sixth Fleet in Bahrain. I mean it’s going to make most of the things we are talking about at the moment seem pretty much like a Sunday picnic.”

Andrew Neil: “I’m sure Mr Obama needs that like a hole in the head as he tries to get re-election.”

Michael Portillo: “Well, on the other hand Presidential incumbents tend to do quite well in a war situation.”

Incredibly, Andrew Neil seems more concerned for Obama than Israel’s security in all this, but the above exchange also raises the tired, old slur of dual loyalty; that Jews are more loyal to Israel’s concerns than their own country’s interests.

After that my brief Twitter exchange with Andrew Neil last Wednesday went as follows:

Me: “are you going to apologise tomorrow night for talking about “the Jewish vote” in America or are you going to let it slide?Shameful”

Andrew Neil: “Bit hard since we’re not on. But no anyway. Jewish vote has been feature of US politics for over 100 years. Studied it at uni!!”

Me: “American Jews r 1.5% of American population. How can such a tiny vote affect American election?What about the Christian\Muslim vote?”

Andrew Neil: “Because Jewish turnout is huge, concentrated in key states and tends to vote in unison. Go get a book on US psephology.”

Me: “They always tend to vote Democrat whatever! You insinuated Jews control American foreign policy! Disgraceful. You should apologise.”

Andrew Neil: “I’m trying to educate you not offend you! But clearly not getting anywhere. There is no apology and no point in prolonging this”

It was disappointing that Neil didn’t wish to prolong the exchange as he may have learnt something. In last December’s article Why Republican efforts to corral Jewish vote may come up short Nathan Guttman is quoted as saying:

“Poll after poll, survey after survey, show that Jewish Americans love Israel and want their elected officials to support Israel, but don’t view this issue as decisive. Topping the Jewish voter’s priority list are economic and social issues. Israel is somewhere in the middle.”

As of a few months ago, there were 6,588,065 Jews in America out of 308,745,538; just some 2.1% of the American population. Tiny!

These Jews are mainly based in New York
which has 1,635,020 Jews representing 8.4% of New York’s population, California (1,219,740 @ 3.3%), Florida (638,635 @ 3.4%) and New Jersey (504,450 @ 5.7%). These states represent respectively 29, 55, 29 and 14 of the 270 electoral votes needed to secure a Presidential win.

New York (29) has voted Democrat in the last six Presidential elections, California (55) has voted Democrat for the last five as has New Jersey (14). Admittedly, Florida (29) is a major swing state having vote Republican in seven out of the last 10 Presidential elections; although it voted for Obama in 2008.

Jews have overwhelmingly vote Democrat historically: 78% of them voted for Obama in 2008, 76% for Kerry in 2004, 79% for Bush in 2000, 78% for Clinton in 1996, 80% for Clinton in 1992, 64% for Dukakis in 1988, 67% for Mondale in 1984, 45% for Carter in 1980 and 71% for Carter in 1976.

Meanwhile, a Pew Poll released a few days ago shows that only 5% of the American public thinks that America should not support Israel if it attacks Iran, while 39% think it should support Israel. 51% think America should remain neutral. The Poll also found:

“Fully 64% of white evangelical Protestants say that the U.S. should support Israel if it attacks Iran in an effort to stop their nuclear weapon program. That compares with 42% of white mainline Protestants and 41% of white Catholics.”

It isn’t just about religion either. The Poll suggests that “There are large demographic differences in views about what the U.S. should do if Israel attacks Iran”, for example depending on whether you are male or female, young or old.

But in all of the categories listed far more Americans think that if Israel attacks Iran then America should support Israel (see results of Pew Poll below).

So, in conclusion, it isn’t, as Michael Portillo thinks, that Presidential candidates “would have to support Israel” but that Americans generally identify with Israel. America, like Israel, is also under attack and America was created in the same way as Israel; in both cases mostly uninhabited land was colonised. In the 1880s when Jews started to return to the area that was eventually to become Israel there were only some 550,000 Arabs and Jews in an area that now holds seven million in Israel.

And Andrew Neil’s claim that “Jewish turnout is huge, concentrated in key states” is wrong. The Jewish vote is tiny and not in key states, apart from Florida. It’s the American Christian evangelical vote that is huge, there being some 50 – 80 million of them in America.

The only claim Neil gets right is that Jews tend to vote in unison. But they vote on a range of issues, only one of which is Israel, which is why they vote mainly Democrat.

Finally, an American President is going to do what is in the best interests of America and not just America’s Jews. In 1980 Reagan received 39% of the Jewish vote, which was relatively high for a Republican, but in 1981 he forced through Congress the sale of Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) to Saudi Arabia despite fierce pro-Israel lobbying against the sale.

Reagan’s Jewish vote did fall back to 31% in the 1984 election, but it didn’t stop him getting re-elected.

So, it really isn’t about “the Jewish vote” at all, although the likes of Andrew Neil and Michael Portillo, in their ignorance, will continue to tell you that it really is.

Pew Research Center Poll

Pew Research Center Poll

BDS blunder as Frank Barat posts anti-BDS video on youtube.

I have come as close as is humanly possible to feeling sorry for someone in the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which is aimed solely at Israel.

A week ago Frank Barat, who is behind the kangaroo court Russell Tribunal on Palestine, where BDS movement activists meet once a year to put Israel, and companies that do business with Israel, on trial for various “charges” and then finds them all “guilty” without hearing from the “defendants”, interviewed Norman Finkelstein, one of Israel’s biggest critics, about BDS.

Barat sat there for half an hour looking like a rabbit caught in headlights as Finkelstein tore apart every one of Barat’s flimsy arguments before, finally, hearing Finkelstein describe the BDS movement as “a cult” and “dishonest”.

Barat then shakes hands with Finkelstein and thanks him. At that point, if you were Barat, you’d have never let the interview see the light of day, but someone uploaded it to youtube. After realising the positive feedback it was receiving from the pro-Israel blogsphere, the clip was deleted but not before the guys at Huffington Post Monitor had downloaded it.

So here it is again. It has already been re-posted and discussed at places like CiFWatch, Harry’s Place and the JC (via Jonathan Hoffman). Hopefully, as many people as possible will watch it, if anything as further proof that those in the BDS movement are not very bright, and also because of the way Finkelstein lays bare the dishonesty of the movement.

Finkelstein describes the BDS movement as “a cult” because everyone in the movement just nods their heads in approval when told how successful they are, eventhough, as Finkelstein admits, he can count their successes on the fingers of his two hands, if that.

He accuses the BDS movement of only choosing those bits of “international law” that suits it. It doesn’t recognise Israel’s right to exist, which is also, he says, part of “international law”.

He also calls the BDS movement “dishonest” because of their refusal to admit that their real aim is the destruction of Israel.

However, he says, they know they can’t admit this because the wider general public would never agree to the destruction of another country, which would be the effect of six or seven million (even this figure Finkelstein views as artificially inflated) Palestinians “returning” to Israel; the latter being one of the requirements of the BDS movement. But for such dishonesty, Finkelstein says, the BDS movement doesn’t deserve to reach the mainstream.

As for Barat’s claim that the call for BDS against Israel originated from Palestinian civil society Finkelstein says the Palestinian organisations named are nothing more than one-man NGOs and that the BDS movement cannot galvanise more than a few hundred Palestinians to protest against Israel or even stop the Palestinians themselves buying produce from “the settlements”.

First is the full 30-minute unedited clip and below the 5 minute highlights:

Muslim Brotherhood’s Dr Kamal El-Helbawy defines who is a Jew, and who isn’t.

Dr Kamal El-Helbawy, Andrew Murray, Seumas Milne at the SOAS Respect meeting.

Dr Kamal El-Helbawy, Andrew Murray, Seumas Milne at the SOAS Respect meeting.

When I went to SOAS on Sunday for the Respect Party’s public meeting Where now for Egypt and the Middle East?, chaired by The Guardian’s Seumas Milne, I didn’t expect a sermon on who is, and who is not, a Jew.

Dr Kamal El-Helbawy, Chair of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and former speaker for the Muslim Brotherhood in the West, was updating us on the political situation in Egypt as he saw it. He welcomed the fact that 75% of the new Egyptian parliament was now Islamic, but said that he hoped for increased Coptic Christian participation and the promotion of women.

The Muslim Brotherhood isn’t especially keen on Jews. For example, Hamas, the Brotherhood’s subsidiary in Gaza, remembers us in their Charter by calling for us to be killed.

However, Dr Kamal El-Helbawy seemed to be concentrating on Egypt’s pressing internal issues. Could this be a new Egypt; a Light Unto the Arab nations, I thought? Fifteen minutes into his speech and Dr Kamal El-Helbawy still hadn’t mentioned Israel and the Palestinians.

Finally, Dr Kamal El-Helbawy, a self-proclaimed scholar of comparative religion, introduced the subject as follows (see clip 1 below):

“I have Jewish friends who are really Jewish. They stay with me, they eat with me, they sleep with us at home. Who are real friends. Like Neturei Karta people. Like Dovid Weiss and hundreds of others, who are real Jews. And we respect them and we love them. We are brothers in humanity if not in religion. But unfortunately the ones we have in Israel, the Zionists, are not Jews. I am happy with what usually my dear brother George Galloway says ‘atheist Jews’. Even I say they are Zionists. They have nothing, nothing at all related to Jewish religion. Moses did not order people to kill each other and the Christ did not ask people to kill each other or colonise each other or destroy each other or stop, for example, Iran doing good research in atomic energy.”

During the Q&A I said I thought it disrespectful of him to tell us who is, and who isn’t, Jewish and that just because one might disagree with someone’s political view shouldn’t make anyone less of a Muslim, Jew or Christian for it. To applause he responded (see clip 2 below):

“I have 100% right to define. I am a scholar of comparative religion as well. And I understand, and I have many friends who are Jews, and I don’t believe that the Nobel Laureate Peres is a Jew at all, is a Jew. Who is a Jew is the one who follows Moses, peace be upon Him. Who’s a Christian is the one who follows Jesus Christ, peace upon Him. Who is a Muslim is the one who follows Muhammad the Prophet, peace be upon Him. So it is not difficult to define who is a Jew and can measure who is a Jew, who is not. If you kill you are not a Jew, because Moses did not ask you to kill people. If you ousted them from their lands and houses and destroy them you are not a Jew.”

Meanwhile, Gorgeous George described (see clip 3) the Balfour Declaration as “142 words that have produced nearly a hundred years of misery and disaster in the Middle East” before continuing:

“Mark Sykes hated Jews. He was a vicious, foul anti-Semite, but he loved Israel and he loved the idea of Israel. Like so many he saw Zionism as a means of ensuring that he would never have to look at Jewish people on the streets of London. He talked openly about ‘we’ll be able to clean the East End of London if we can create Israel and, by one means or another, encourage or otherwise, the Jews of the East End of London to go and live in Palestine’. He hated Arabs also who he described as venal and lazy.”

Amid all this fascination with Jews Galloway, Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND, and Andrew Murray, founder of the Stop The War Coalition, rejected all types of outside intervention in the affairs of Syria instead calling for the revolution to be allowed to take place from the ground upwards on the basis that there had never been an example of outside intervention working effectively in the Middle East and that such intervention always took place out of pure self-interest.

Clip 1: Dr Kamal El-Helbawy discusses Israel and the Palestinians

Clip 2: Dr Kamal El-Helbawy responds to criticism of his definition of Jews

Clip3: George Galloway on Mark Sykes and more

Anti-Israel activists in London: “Slaughter in Syria? What slaughter?”

Outside the Natural History Museum today.

Outside the Natural History Museum today.

Anti-Israel activists in London didn’t seem to have a care in the world today about Bashar Assad’s continued slaughter of his own people in the cities of Homs, Aleppo and Damascus.

Instead, they urged people queuing for the Natural History Museum to boycott an exhibition sponsored by Veolia because it does business with Israel.

They could have joined Syrian opposition activists outside the Syrian Embassy or Amnesty’s Mass Rally in Trafalgar Square for Syria, Egypt and the wider Middle East, but, instead, they handed out leaflets which falsely claimed that:

1. Veolia placed job adverts for the Jerusalem Light Railway which were racist being “deliberately designed to stop Palestinian citizens of Israel from applying”.
2. Veolia operates buses to “illegal” Israeli settlements on the West Bank and that “Palestinians are often stopped from using the buses that Veolia runs”.
3. “Veolia takes waste and rubbish from Israel and illegal Settlements and dumps this on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank.”

The leaflet concludes by asking you to tell the Natural History Museum that you disagree with Veolia being the sponsor of the Exhibition and to “ask the museum to drop Veolia”.

Well, luckily, the Natural History Museum hasn’t capitulated to the lies and the Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is set to run until 11th March 2012. Judging by the long queues it’s a must-see.

Although there were some 20 anti-Israel activists there were about 10 pro-Israel counter-demonstrators to give some balance to the proceedings, including Phillip who brilliantly drove down from Wales to add his support.

Things did almost kick-off as one anti-Israel activist spent the two hours intent on making his presence known, including this incident when he accosted Jonathan Hoffman until being ushered away by museum security:

The final counter-demos. against the Israel-haters outside the Natural History Museum are due to take place on Feb. 25th and March 10th, if you can make it. Until then please tweet your approval of the exhibition @NHM_London

In the meantime, if you are an anti-Israel activist this is for you. It’s a clip (thanks Daniel Marks) of one of Bashar Assad’s tanks looking for more innocent Syrian civilians to slaughter. Just in case you hadn’t heard:



And more photos from today outside the Natural History Museum:

Why so ashamed?

Why so ashamed?

Handing out lies to museum goers.

Handing out lies to museum goers.

Sadly, reading the lies.

Sadly, reading the lies.

Phillip from Wales, placard in hand, shows his support for Israel.

Phillip from Wales, placard in hand, shows his support for Israel.

Two Israel-haters show their love for each other.

Two Israel-haters show their love for each other.

Still ashamed.

Still ashamed.

Pappe, Yachad, Chalcraft, +972 Mag. seize control of SOAS’ Israel Society.

Plonski, Pappe, Chalcraft, Weisfeld, Reider, Jones having a "discussion" at SOAS.

Plonski, Pappe, Chalcraft, Weisfeld, Reider, Jones having a "discussion" at SOAS.

When I did my Masters at the School of Oriental and African Studies the Israel Society there was a genuine counter-balance to the anti-Israel propaganda being disseminated by the SOAS Palestine Society. Students of all political persuasions could question Israeli politicians and diplomats and watch superb Israeli films like Beaufort.

Now, sadly, the SOAS Israel Society has been taken over by anti-Zionist activists Sharri Plonski and Dimi Reider (of the anti-Zionist+972 Magazine website) who desire so-called Palestinian refugees (including many who were never born there but, what the hell, let’s call them “refugees” anyway) to be allowed into Israel and destroy its Jewish sovereignty. On Monday they held the event Is BDS Working?

Their Facebook page states:

“The global campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel almost always sparks polarized discussion on its legitimacy and desirability, but the nuanced question of its effect on the ground is often lost in the debate. Join our panel discussion as we explore the effectiveness of BDS and its stated goals: End of occupation, right of return, and equality for the Palestinian citizens of Israel.”

Plonski said she looked forward to a “discussion”, but warned (clip 1) that if there were any untoward interruptions she would call security (and you wouldn’t want to upset the dictatorial Plonski). Each speaker then slammed Israel after which they got asked compliant questions by a compliant audience. But there was no “discussion”.

The evening reached its Orwellian zenith when the panel was criticised for the lack of a Palestinian presence. Plonski agreed and said she would work hard to have one next time. But what about the Israeli government’s views, one might have asked? I doubt Plonski will be working too hard to have those aired on one of her “discussion” panels.

Where was the “discussion” in allowing an unchallenged Ilan Pappe to state:

“What do you do about a rogue state like Israel? How do you treat it? What is the right policy towards a country, a state, that violates systematically all the United Nations’ resolutions, that violates systematically and abuses civil and human rights? This is now the conversation, this is why all these pro-Zionist Jewish communites are so fidgety, this is why all the Israeli Embassies have nightly meetings ‘what do we do?’, not changing Israeli immoral behaviour, ‘how do we now justify Israeli immoral behaviour?’”

And in allowing him to demean what blacks went through in apartheid South Africa when he said:

“South Africa had the right to exist. And Israel has the right to exist. Apartheid had no right to exist. Therefore, we all worked for the change of regime in South Africa. The kind of regime Israel maintains in the occupied territories, the kind of regime it maintains towards its Palestinian minority in Israel and the kind of policies it pursies against Palestinian refugees has no right to exist. And I think that is what the (bds) campaign is all about…We are talking about a change of regime and we don’t even suggest bombing the Israelis to change the regime as we would have if it had been an Arab country.”

Where was the discussion in allowing Dr John Chalcraft to make the ridiculous assertion that BDS was responsible for loss of business amounting to $7bn? (I would be surprised if it were even $7)

Chalcraft thinks that organisations that are usually unconcerned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when conducting business with Israel will now start to be concerned about the prospect of “nasty, grungy looking campaigners” (clip 5) showing up on their doorsteps with pictures of murdered Palestinian babies (incidentally, see here for Daniel Hochhauser’s total demolition of Chalcraft’s arguments when they debated This House Believes in an Academic Boycott of Israel).

Chalcraft denied BDS was racist by simply stating:

“Is there any other state in the world that is, right now, engaged in a project which has all sorts of affinities with nineteenth century settler colonialism?”

But we know that just like Pappe, Plonski and Reider, for Chalcraft the real problem is not “the occupation”, but Jewish Nationalism.

Chalcraft spoke of:

“interesting rifts in both Israeli society and academia that are opening up right now that BDS can exploit, because if you have a non-violent strategy of resistance then you do have to divide, in this case, Zionism”.

He spoke of rifts between the settlers and the IDF, between the segregationist movements on the buses and the more liberal Zionists and also between Liberal Zionists in America, like Thomas Friedman, and other “Newt Gingrich-style-Adelson-casino-owning movements in the United States”.

Chalcraft’s mention of Sheldon Adelson with its strong implication of Jewish money and power (see CiFWatch for analysis on why this can be considered anti-Semitism) was a theme taken up by Dr Lee Jones of Queen Mary’s College. Jones was there as a sort of constructive critic of the BDS movement. He thought that BDS on its own wouldn’t succeed without some bigger overall strategy, so he gave advice:

“Attacking the idea that you must not ever criticise Israel in the United States, otherwise you are some kind of disloyal Jew, for example. That does need to be challenged in the US and opening up different options for US foreign policy could be a start…which then forces the government into changes. So that’s the kind of dynamic that I’m talking about.” (clip 4)

Hannah Weisfeld’s (from “pro-Israel” Yachad) main arguments were that Israel has a right to exist, that BDS has had little impact on Israel and that BDS wouldn’t work anyway as it keeps Israelis on the defensive. She didn’t think BDS was anti-Semitic, but she described what Israel was doing beyond the Green Line as “criminal”.

Weisfeld just wants Israel to end “the occupation”, even if that is achieved by BDS. But because she also doesn’t think BDS will succeed she also gave some advice to the BDS movement (clip 3):

“A unified Palestinan strategy is hugely important and you are much better placed than me to suggest whether BDS is having that impact on Palestinian society. I come from the perspective of what I think is going to end the occupation…I don’t think the BDS movement is racist. I think there are elements in it that are questionable and I think there are parts of its aims that are highly questionable in terms of whether you think Israel has a right to exist or not. I don’t think people who engage in BDS engage in it because they are anti-Semites.”

and:

“I think we would be having a very different conversation in this room if the BDS movement was about a targeted (settlement) boycott. I am not saying that I would necessarily support it, but I think the entire debate would be different, because I think the position would be a position that does not put people on the defensive because it recognises the legitimacy of the other side to exist and I think that the level of criminality that exists inside the Green Line, over the Green Line is not distinguished…is exactly the reason BDS will not succeed in ending the occupation.”

How disappointing that Weisfeld thinks that neither singling out the one country that just happens to be Jewish for a boycott nor the desire of BDS to end Israel’s Jewish sovereignty are racist. And neither does she totally dismiss the possibility of herself supporting a targeted boycott of Israelis who live on the West Bank.

On top of all this Weisfeld never articulated what she expected to happen after any such unilateral settlement withdrawal by Israel. What happens if rockets fired from the West Bank then start hitting Tel Aviv, for example?

And how has the Israel Society at SOAS been hijacked like this? You would have thought that university societies existed to reflect their subject matter in a positive light. However, students at SOAS are now being fed horrendous lies about Israel not only by the SOAS Palestine Society but now by the SOAS Israel Society as well.

Clips:

1. Plonski introducing event:

2. Weisfeld talks about Yachad and adresses BDS:

3. Pappe speaks of Israel’s “criminality” as an admiring Plonski watches on and Weisfeld ponders a targeted settlement boycott:

4. Dr Lee Jones of QMC on “the Jews”:

5. Chalcraft on anti-Israel activism:

6. Dimi Reider on the cultural and academic boycott: