Monthly Archives: June 2013

History lecturer: “Britain should apologise for Balfour Declaration.”

James Renton and Deborah Maccoby of JfJfP at SOAS.

James Renton and Deborah Maccoby of JfJfP at SOAS.

A little known history lecturer is quickly becoming the new poster boy of the anti-Israel movement. Last night at SOAS James Renton detailed why he thinks the British government should apologise for the Balfour Declaration. He was invited to speak by Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

The thrust of Renton’s argument is that there should be such an apology because the Balfour Declaration lacked clarity on the meaning of “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, which, he said, unleashed an expectation of statehood amongst Jews that was never intended. He blames the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on this “misconceived, ill thought through policy of the British government”.

He also argued that the Declaration was based on the mistaken and anti-Semitic assumption that Jews had great power in America and Russia and that they were mainly Zionist. Therefore, such a declaration would encourage Russia and America against Germany during the Great War.

Renton thinks that there was never an intention to create a Jewish state and he quoted from a letter from David Lloyd George to the then Archbishop of Westminster, who told Lloyd George in 1919 that the Zionists in Palestine were “causing a stink and claiming that the country would soon be coming under their control”. Lloyd George replied to the Archbishop:

“If the Zionists claim domination of the Holy Land under a British protectorate then they are certainly putting their claims too high.”

Renton criticised Britain for advertising that it was a big supporter of Zionism while at the same time promoting national freedom for Arabs but without thinking either side really expected political independence in Palestine. This was because the British viewed both Jews and Arabs as “politically backward”.

You can read Renton’s thesis in Haaretz (contact me in you cannot access the link and I will send you the article).

However, his thesis is facile. For one he contradicts himself by saying both that the British thought the Jews had immense power but that they were also politically backward. Which is it?

For Renton the Balfour Declaration was mainly down to anti-Semitism. As he puts it “Balfour and Mark Sykes said nasty things about Jews” (Sykes was the government’s advisor on the Middle East at the time). And he downplays the role of Christian support for a Jewish state as well as Chaim Weizmann’s efforts in manufacturing ammunition for Britain during the Great War.

This campaign to have Britain apologise for the Balfour Declaration was dreamt up by the Palestine Return Centre. They launched a petition with the view to obtaining one million signatures in support of an apology by the time of the centenary of the Declaration in 2017. Unlike Renton, the PRC thinks the apology should be for the “tremendous injustices” the Balfour Declaration has caused to the Palestinian people.

The PRC are now using the recent decision in the Mau Mau rebellion case, where Britain has been found guilty of complicity in the torture of victims in the Mau Mau uprising against British rule in Kenya in the 1950s and 1960s, to give their campaign a boost.

Renton spotted one difficulty with the PRC’s campaign though. He noted that there will be no one alive from the era of the Balfour Declaration to attest. So he suggested to a representative of the PRC who was in the audience last night that the PRC might have more success if they asked the British government for an apology for the Arab losses during the Arab uprising of 1936-1939.

The problem with that is that the PRC’s raison d’etre is the destruction of Israel via the so-called Palestinian “right of return”. They want an apology to undermine Israel’s existence. I doubt that Arabs were killed during that Arab uprising is of great significance to the PRC in the scheme of things. Renton might not know of the PRC’s politics, but there’s a good clue in their name Palestine Return Centre as to why they might want an apology.

Anyway, the wording of the Balfour Declaration is clear. What is meant by “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” if not a state? The clue is in the words “national home”.

Renton gave us a sheet of homework asking all 10 of us in the audience some questions:

1. Did today’s talk differ from your previous understanding of this issue?
2. Has Dr Renton’s talk affected how you think about the Balfour Declaration?
3. What aspects would you challenge, and why?

Maybe you could email him at james.renton@edgehill.ac.uk with your answers. He wants to hear from you.

British Labour MP: “No justice in Israeli legal sytem. Palestinian children found guilty on flimsy evidence.”

Labour MP Lisa Nandy (Shadow Minister for Children) and Palestine Solidarity Campaign's Sara Apps in Parliament last night.

Labour MP Lisa Nandy (Shadow Minister for Children) and Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s Sara Apps in Parliament last night.

In the House of Commons last night Wigan’s Labour MP Lisa Nandy (Shadow Minister for Children) described how she found herself disturbed by a recent visit to an Israeli military court after seeing how “Palestinian children were treated” and how they were found “guilty on flimsy evidence”. She said there was “no justice in the (Israeli legal) system”. Judging by Nandy’s articles she is no friend of Israel anyway.

The event was commemorating one year since the publication of Children in Military Custody, a report compiled by nine lawyers on a UK Foreign Office funded trip to the West Bank. The nine lawyers reported on:

1. The formal differences affecting Palestinian and Israeli children respectively in Israel’s criminal justice process and

2. The welfare of Palestinian child suspects.

The lawyers hard at work. Jude Lanchin is on the left. (http://www.childreninmilitarycustody.org/background/)

The lawyers hard at work. Jude Lanchin is on the left. (http://www.childreninmilitarycustody.org/background/)

Last night’s event was held to review whether the situation had improved for Palestinian child suspects since last year. You wouldn’t be shocked to hear that the answer given by Jude Lanchin was “not much”.

Lanchin, one of the nine lawyers and who, herself, works for Bindmans solicitors, said that apart from two military orders nothing much had changed on the ground for Palestinian child suspects. She highlighted the main procedural differences still affecting Palestinian and Israeli children respectively in the criminal justice process (see page 7 of the report).

During the Q&A I asked Ms Lanchin whether the procedural differences in the criminal justice process between Israeli and Palestinian child suspects could possibly be attributed to the difference in the nature of offences committed by Israeli and Palestinian children with Palestinian children being mainly arrested for stone throwing; a security/terrorist type offence that can kill and maim Israelis.

Unbelievably, Lanchin responded that there was too little evidence of death or injury caused by stone throwing. As the nine lawyer committee reported last year (see para 46):

We were grateful to receive a response to a comprehensive list of enquiries from the Israeli Government; however, the evidence was limited to one stone-throwing incident in September 2011 which caused the death of an adult and a child, and sight of a photograph of a man with fairly severe facial injuries.

“The evidence was limited” to two deaths? How many more do these lawyers want?

This is the same argument put forward when Israel is accused of acting disproportionately in defending itself against Kassam rockets that have killed relatively few Israelis but which are, still, deadly.

Stones, like Kassam rockets, kill and maim. Ask the family of the murdered “adult and child”: Asher Palmer and his infant son, Yonatan.

Asher Palmer and his son both murdered by a Palestinian stone-thrower.

Asher Palmer and his son both murdered by a Palestinian stone-thrower.

The report also criticises Israel’s welfare treatment of Palestinian child suspects. However, the evidence relied on by the nine lawyer committee is both mainly anonymous AND provided by organisations traditionally hostile to Israel like Breaking The Silence, Btselem and Defence for Children International Palestine, to name but a few.

A main criticism of Israel in the report is Israel’s arrest of Palestinian child suspects very late at night. Israel’s Ministry of Justice responded that “nighttime arrests are necessary for security” (see paras 51 and 52 of the report). The report recommends that a summons should be used instead, but the Ministry of Justice replied that this is not feasible.

Israeli police or soldiers entering a Palestinian neighbourhood during the day to make arrests would have major security risks. As ever, Israel is criticised whatever it does.

Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC, of Bindmans solicitors (Jude Lanchin’s employer), was also on hand last night to condemn Israel as usual. He spoke of “Israel committing outrageous and illegal acts, yet getting away with it” and said it was all part of Israel’s strategy “to maintain the occupation and prevent a Palestinian state being created”.

In summary, the self elected jury of nine lawyers who put the initial report together last year did so while shamefully accepting at face value anonymous evidence from organisations traditionally hostile to Israel while rejecting the legitimate concerns of Israel’s Ministry of Justice.

However, it was the presence of another parliamentarian last night, which really spoke volumes: Jenny “Israel won’t be here forever” Tonge.

Tonge was sat next to Jude Lanchin while Lanchin repeatedly referred to the help that Tonge was offering the nine lawyer committee, especially in trying to get questions asked in Parliament about Israel.

If there was ever evidence of the contempt of court in which this nine lawyer committee should now be held, what more does one need than this?

England left crushed by Israel’s winning goal in Jerusalem.

Israel Defence Forces soldiers having fun before the Israel v England game.

Israel Defence Forces soldiers having fun before the Israel v England game.

England’s Under-21 football team, already eliminated from the UEFA Under-21 Finals in Israel after losing their first two games, were beaten 1-0 by Israel in Jerusalem’s Teddy Kolleck stadium to be left bottom of their group having achieved no points and having scored just one goal in their three group games (and that goal was from the penalty spot).

Israel also finally went out having won one, drawn one and lost one, although it all could have been so different had they not conceded a last minute equaliser against Norway in their first game. England left the tournamount in disarray which doesn’t bode well for the future of England’s senior team.

Over 22,000 fans in Israel’s capital Jerusalem watched a first half in which both teams matched each other but with neither side being able to finish. However, Israel stepped up a gear towards the end of the game and struck the bar with a dipping shot from 30 yards out and then almost chipped the England goalkeeper who found himself stranded before Israel finally crashed the ball home with just ten minutes left to the delight of the home fans.

Here are Israel’s fans celebrating the winning goal:

More scenes from inside the stadium in Jerusalem:

Israel's goalkeeper clears the ball as Israel go on the attack.

Israel’s goalkeeper clears the ball as Israel go on the attack.

Yours truly with Cifwatch's Adam Levick at half time during the game.

Yours truly with Cifwatch‘s Adam Levick at half time during the game.

Wearing the scarf with pride.

Wearing the scarf with pride.

Aston Villa on your.

Aston Villa on your.

Water melon being served up at the game.

Water melon being served up at the game.

The lads.

The lads.

Supporting both sides.

Supporting both sides.

The Israeli team celebrates at the end of the game.

The Israeli team celebrates at the end of the game.

Herzliya Beach, Israel, June 8th 2013.

This is dedicated to Nuha who made the following comment on my last blog about the successful Closer To Israel 65 celebration in London’s Trafalgar Square on Sunday June 2nd 2013:

“My interest in your invented culture brought me to the parade, and I kept my mouth shut when I was in the middle of your crowd out of respect to the freedom of expression offered in this country! But the minute I found a tiny spot where I can express my extreme anger, I started shouting like a total lunatic ‘FREE FREE PALESTINE’, my favorite three words.. I never felt better, when I finally got to shout these words while you, ZIONIST, were listening…For God’s sake, you served FALAFEL as an ISRAELI dish, you already made a joke of yourselves..”

Nuha continued:

“thrive all you want for now, it is temporary.. We will get rid of you, just like Salahudeen once did to other invaders..”

I asked where Nuha originates from but she replied that it is “irrelevant”. I was just wondering whether she might come from a country with real human rights problems especially where women are concerned.

Anyway, wherever she is from I hope the men and women are “thriving” like they were on Herzliya beach all day yesterday. Meanwhile, don’t try this at home (apologies for the poor sound quality):

Photos:

DSCF4547

DSCF4556

DSCF4559

DSCF4568

Meanwhile, things were more peaceful a little further up the beach:

DSCF4543

Extremists fail to disrupt Closer To Israel 65 in London’s Trafalgar Square.

A group of 30 extremists failed to dampen spirits as some 3,000 Jewish and non-Jewish pro-Israel supporters came out to show their support and appreciation for the Jewish state at the Closer to Israel 65 event in London’s Trafalgar Square today. Even the sun finally shone!

The 30 extremists were from the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), the tiny Jewish religious sect the Neturei Karta, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Jews For Justice For Palestinians.

A favourite racist chant of those from the IHRC was “Judaism yes, Zionism no, the State of Israel must Go”. How awfully nice of Islamic Human Rights Commission members to allow Judaism to be practiced. Now, all one needs to know is how much tax British Jews must pay to be allowed to continue practicing their Judaism.

Here are some IHRC members allowing Jews to practice Judaism in the UK in 2013. We can only thank them:

The hate of the extremists was drowned out by the words of Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks who declared that if the Jewish people had to choose between world criticism of or sympathy for Israel they would choose world criticism rather than be homeless and defenceless with the sympathy of the world:

Here are the photos of the day with some commentary. First, the good people:

The coolest person at Closer To Israel 65. Dig the glasses.

The coolest person at Closer To Israel 65. Dig the glasses.

A Spurs "Yiddo" at CTI65. It's not racist, it's an affectionate nickname!

A Spurs “Yiddo” at CTI65. It’s not racist, it’s an affectionate nickname!

Harif's lovely Michelle Huberman doing what she does best at CTI65. Bellydance!

Harif’s lovely Michelle Huberman doing what she does best at CTI65. Bellydance!

The brilliant and handsome Kasim Hafeez at CTI65.

The brilliant and handsome Kasim Hafeez at CTI65.

Yours truly and superb political commentator and author Carol Could at CTI65.

Yours truly and superb political commentator and author Carol Could at CTI65.

This cool lady was spotted just dancing to the extremists' racist chanting.

This cool lady was spotted just dancing to the extremists’ racist chanting.

A packed and sunny Trafalgar Square for CTI65 listening to the Chief Rabbi.

A packed and sunny Trafalgar Square for CTI65 listening to the Chief Rabbi.

Taking a break from CTI65 to face down the extremists.

Taking a break from CTI65 to face down the extremists.

Israel supporters come face to face with extremism on the streets of London.

Israel supporters come face to face with extremism on the streets of London.

An Israel supporter defiant in the face of hate and lies.

An Israel supporter defiant in the face of hate and lies.

The extremists:

Praying for the Jewish people to experience more bloodshed just because Israel wasn't directly created by the Messiah?

Praying for the Jewish people to experience more bloodshed just because Israel wasn’t directly created by the Messiah?

I agree with this placard. But the Palestinian children are being murdered by the Hamas government.

I agree with this placard. But the Palestinian children are being murdered by the Hamas government.

As I was saying this Palestinian father's grief (see placard) was finally proven by the UN to have been caused by a stray Hamas rocket that killed his young son.

As I was saying this Palestinian father’s grief (see placard) was finally proven by the UN to have been caused by a stray Hamas rocket that killed his young son.

I wonder if this lady is standing up against real evil currently taking place in Syria.

I wonder if this lady is standing up against real evil currently taking place in Syria.

I actually felt sorry for this poor kid. He looks unhappy being pushed to do the vile bidding of his elders.

I actually felt sorry for this poor kid. He looks unhappy being pushed to do the vile bidding of his elders.

Thanks for coming. I hope you all managed to fit into the minivan for the trip home.

Thanks for coming. I hope you all managed to fit into the minivan for the trip home.

An anti-Israel agitator pointing out yours truly to a new recruit.

An anti-Israel agitator pointing out yours truly to a new recruit.

Yes! We've also had enough of Jews For Justice For Palestinians!

Yes! We’ve also had enough of Jews For Justice For Palestinians!