Monthly Archives: December 2013

St James’s Church’s replica of Israel’s security wall cost….£30,000.

Take a look at the above photo. That is what £30,000 looks like. That is the cost of St James’s Church’s replica of Israel’s security wall according to St James’s churchwarden Jo Hines.

Hines said the money was all privately raised, presumably from the likes of vicious anti-Israel charity War On Want, Amos Trust, Holy Land Trust, Interpal, Jews For Justice For Palestinians, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, P21 Gallery, Tipping Point North South, Zaytoun CIC all of whom are “associated with” Bethlehem Unwrapped.

Last night it was the turn of Jewish comedians Ivor Dembina, Dave Cohen and Andy Zaltzman to go on stage for Bethlehem Unwrapped, which is pretty ironic seeing as one of their audience members was Jane Green, probably a pseudonym, who is a notorious Holocaust mocker. As she went in to the church last night I asked her what she thought of the Holocaust to which she replied “What Holocaust”.

Then, of course, there is this clip of a discussion outside St James’s Church where a supporter of Israel is called “a frigging Jew” (see from 4 mins. 15 secs.).

All pretty disturbing stuff especially in the week of Nicolas Anelka’s alleged reverse Nazi salute.

When I put it to Hines that the £30,000 could have been better spent feeding the homeless and heating the elderly she responded that that argument could also be made in relation to statues and that there are 20 or so homeless people sleeping in St James’s Church at night.

Imagine had St James’s Church’s courtyard, where the replica wall stands, been made into a structure for the 12 days where even more people could sleep, be fed and be kept warm. Churches, I thought, were in the business of looking after the poor and caring for the elderly.

After the 12 days of Christmas are over the replica wall is due to be taken down. That amounts to a cost of £2,500 a day. At least a statue usually stays up for the long term so over time its daily cost is minimal.

So what is St James’s Church’s replica wall going to achieve? St James’s Church states “All net proceeds to the ‘Future Peacemakers Appeal’, Holy Land Trust, Bethlehem.” I’d be amazed if there are any “net proceeds” when you take into account the £30,000 cost of the replica wall. Admittedly, chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s friday night £125/head “Bethlehem Feast” could make inroads into the £30,000.

For British Jews the replica wall and Bethlehem Unwrapped are a disaster. I agree with Melanie Phillips when she states that its inevitable effect will be “to incite hatred against Israel and all who support its defence”, which means even more vigilance at synagogues, Jewish schools and Jewish events.

Some will benefit though. Ottolenghi and his chef partner Sami Tamimi and Dembina, Zaltzman and Cohen will have had their faces and names plastered all over the gates of the Church which looks out onto one of the busiest roads in London. Not forgetting Justin Butcher, Geof Thompson, Dean Willars and Deborah Burton who all helped to design the replica wall (see below).

In the end the £30,000 cost of the wall could have been donated to help those that St James’s Church, Piccadilly, really claims to care for: the people of Bethlehem.

St James’s Church, Piccadilly, installs life size replica of Israel’s security wall during 12 days of Christmas.

The life size replica wall at St James's Church, Piccadilly for Bethlehem Unwrapped.

The life size replica wall at St James’s Church, Piccadilly for Bethlehem Unwrapped.

St James’s Church, Piccadilly, in London’s West End has installed a life size 8 metre tall/30 metre long replica of Israel’s security wall in its courtyard as part of its Bethlehem Unwrapped festival. The replica wall is so vast that it obscures the Church itself.

The replica wall will be lit up at night and for the next twelve days of Christmas (until 5th January) a montage of images and slogans will be continuously projected onto it. Scenes include parts of London with a wall passing through it.

What you won’t see projected onto the replica wall are scenes of bombed out Israeli buses, hotels, pizza restaurants, bars and nightclubs that were ubiquitous in Israel before the wall.

Bethlehem Unwrapped has evening events with anti-Israel polemicists including comedians Jeremy Hardy and Ivor Dembina, musician Nigel Kennedy, columnists Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Mark Steel, Jeff Halper of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and War On Want’s in-house poet Rafeef Ziadah.

Maybe Ivor Dembina will reprise his notorious Holocaust “joke” in which he mocks the Jewish people for wanting to hog the Auschwitz limelight. According to Dembina Jews don’t really want others to know that gays, gypsies and the disabled were also murdered at Auschwitz because we like to see it as “Ourschwitz, not Yourschwitz”.

Had someone made a joke about, for example, Srebrenica they would rightly be excluded but Dembina, host of the Hampstead Comedy Club, is one of the star turns at Bethlehem Unwrapped.

Or maybe poet Rafeef Ziadah will reprise her praising of Islamic Jihad chief Khader Adnan. Adnan, you may recall, is keen to incite Palestinians to become suicide bombers and blow up innocent Israeli children.

Unbelievably, into this political hatefest have stepped the supposedly “non-political” chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. They will be hosting the “Bethlehem Feast” at the church on Friday January 3rd.

Last night’s unveiling of the replica wall was introduced by St James’s Church Rector Lucy Winkett.

Rector Winkett said the reason behind the replica wall was that when 20 of them visited Israel and the Palestinian territories in October “one of the lasting memories of our time there was this wall” (see clip).

It is a shame Rector Winkett didn’t also visit the graves of Israeli children murdered by Palestinian suicide bombers or Israelis left disabled by them.

The microphone was then handed to Jeff Halper of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions who left those who made it to the church despite the dreadful weather conditions in no doubt as to what the next twelves days of Bethlehem Unwrapped had in store. Halper has previously expressed his wish to boycott Israel out of existence.

Last night Halper described Israel’s security wall as a “very deadly barrier that people cannot pass” and said “this wall is not built for security…it doesn’t protect Israelis in any way”. He continued “the wall defines the borders of the Israeli bantustan that is being created for Palestinians in an apartheid state…it defines those cantons in which Palestinians will be confined” (see clip below).

I understand that there are due to be a couple of last minute voices putting Israel’s case at the panel debate with Halper “Both sides of the Barrier: Separation or Security?” on January 4th but it is a drop in the ocean when compared to what is taking place over the entirety of the festival.

During the festival members of the public are being invited write on the wall. The address of St James’s Church is 197 Piccadilly. It’s very close to Piccadilly Circus tube station. Feel free to head away from the sales for a few minutes to balance out the hate and the lies. But take a good pen with you.

This replica wall has possibly cost thousands of pounds. There have been designers, architects, curators, materials, scaffolding and a team of builders. With mouths to feed and people freezing to death in this country alone it is shameful that St James’s Church, Piccadilly, has squandered so much on what is nothing more than an anti-Israel propaganda exercise.

Other Photos from last night:

St James's Rector Lucy Winkett and replica wall curator Justin Butcher singing "oh Little Town of Bethlehem" last night.

St James’s Rector Lucy Winkett and replica wall curator Justin Butcher singing “oh Little Town of Bethlehem” last night.

Justin Butcher with the replica wall's architect and its designer last night.

Justin Butcher with the replica wall’s architect and its designer last night.

Some of the projections on to replica wall until January 5th 2014:

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BBC News at 10 advertises Israel hate organisation from Mandela memorial event in Johannesburg.

BBC reporter's piece to camera for News at 10 on Tuesday night.

BBC reporter’s piece to camera for News at 10 on Tuesday night.

I don’t know what the definition of an “advert” is but I don’t expect to see any adverts on the BBC considering every British household with a tv has to stump up £145.50 a year for the BBC not to show them.

Had a BBC reporter been standing directly in front of a banner showing of box of, let’s say, Persil Automatic at the memorial event for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg on Tuesday for a piece for the BBC’s News At 10 I am sure complaints would have come in thick and fast.

Instead, for part of her piece to camera, a BBC reporter stood directly in front of a banner advertising the Palestine Solidarity Alliance. Underneath that name and their logo was Nelson Mandela’s quote “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”. The reporter then walked away to give a clear view of the banner:

The piece in front of the banner lasted for some 15 seconds, which would have commanded a fair return in terms of advertising revenue. This is some of what those lovely folk at the Palestine Solidarity Alliance desire:

“The PSA strives to build a National and International Movement that supports the campaign to isolate Apartheid Israel and promote solidarity with the people of Palestine in their quest for self determination. In this we draw attention to the human rights violations perpetrated by Apartheid Israel, the inequality that defines the racism inherent in Zionism and the injustices that continue to cause conflict and suffering. Furthermore, we also celebrate the heroic battles and victories of Palestinian people and movements in their struggle for freedom and human dignity.

Expose the evil nature of Zionism as a racist colonial venture in defiance of four Geneva Conventions, UN Resolutions 181, 194, 242, 338 and other multilateral and international human rights conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Align with solidarity movements to build a strong (BDS) Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement with the freedom loving people and leaders of South Africa”

The PSA also explicitly calls for “the right for return of the Palestinian refugees”. This is, in other words, the demographic destruction of the Jewish state.

I am not sure that Nelson Mandela, known for his desire for conciliation at any cost, would have been too proud of the BBC. Despite what Nelson Mandela might have said in favour of the Palestinians he was also quite understanding of Israel’s security needs.

But I wouldn’t bother complaining to the BBC. When a viewer complained to the BBC about anti-Israel activist Tony Greenstein wearing a Palestine Solidarity Campaign shirt and badge on the BBC’s The Big Question the BBC replied that his attire “was another form of expression”.

Sadly, I’m sure the BBC will respond in a similar ridiculous vein to any complaints about that PSA banner.

The Lancet, MAP and Sir Iain Chalmers’ “interesting figure” of Six Million.

Sir Iain Chalmers discussing "Zionist control in so many different domains".

Sir Iain Chalmers discussing “Zionist control in so many different domains”.

Since 2009 The Lancet medical journal has been working with Medical Aid For Palestinians and other researchers as part of the Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance (LPHA).

LPHA researchers mainly consist of Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza and the Palestinian diaspora, which includes Palestinians living in the twelve Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. They are also non-Palestinian medical practitioners like Dr Richard Horton, The Lancet’s editor, and Professor Mads Gilbert. This research has been amalgamated into publications for the years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The 2013 publication was launched last night by The Lancet and MAP at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. The 2013 publication focuses on “the direct and indirect health effects of the Israeli occupation and conflict”.

Dr Richard Horton, The Lancet’s editor, outlined the benefits of LPHA saying “science can bring an often internationally excluded people into the mainstream of global political dialogue”, “Palestinian science can anatomise the pathology of occupation”, “science can confer a dignity and a humanity for a people who are otherwise living in a situation of invisibility” and:

“By linking this kind of health research with human rights one can identify important and fresh perspectives. One example is the report about the denial of passage to Palestinian women during labour across the territory which fully fulfills the criteria of a crime against humanity.”

Professor Rita Giacaman discussed “words as ideology”. She explained:

“Israel uses ‘collateral damage’ for killing innocent bystanders including children. It screams ‘self-defence’ hiding the root cause which is Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and injustice to Palestinians. While Palestinians living in Israel call themselves ‘Palestinians living inside the Green Line’, Israel insists on calling them ‘Arab’ trying to deny them their identity”.

Then to the lectern came the main instigator of LPHA, Sir Iain Chalmers. Chalmers has been an almost permanent fixture in Gaza since 1970. He met his wife there and they even went to Gaza to celebrate their recent 70th birthdays.

Chalmers started by reading out a statement on the front cover of a 2009 edition of The Lancet. It mentioned “Palestinian”. He said:

“What really pleases me is that the word ‘Palestinian’ is in there. And it’s one way in which the Zionists have failed. They have not stopped the use of the word ‘Palestine’ or ‘Palestinian’. They have control in so many different domains. This is one that they cannot suppress.”

One of Chalmers’ slides then showed this cartoon by Carlos Latuff, who has drawn many cartoons with anti-Semitic themes which include comparing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to The Holocaust:

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During the Q&A I criticised Chalmers for his statement about “Zionist control” before asking whether LPHA reports mentioned the role of Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA in prolonging poor health conditions for the Palestinians. My remarks only led to this eye-opening exchange with Chalmers:

Chalmers: “Let me ask you a question. I was asked to write a commentary for The Lancet after the Cast Lead attack. I ended it by saying a self-defined Jewish state now controls the lives of almost as many non-Jews as it does of Jews. What will that Jewish state do with the six million, it is an interesting figure, the six million non-Jews whose lives it controls? You answer that question.”

Me: “Why is six million an interesting figure?”

Chalmers: “Well, actually it is the same number of Jews that were killed by the Nazis.”

Me: “Whats your point?”

Chalmers: Six million is a lot of people. How will the Jewish state deal with the non-Jews whose lives it controls?

I think we know the nasty tactic behind Chalmers’ reference to “six million”. And his nasty rhetoric extends as far as endorsing “the end of a Jewish state”. Here he is in his own words during an interview in 2010:

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Dr Richard Horton concluded by relating to us his visit to the Israeli Medical Association:

“When we started this I went to visit the Israeli Medical Association to talk to them about what we were doing and to see if I could build a bridge between the LPHA and the official voice of Israeli physicians and I sat down with the with the director or chairman, whatever the title is I cannot recall now, and the person who chaired their ethics (division). And in that discussion one of them called Palestinians ‘animals’. And I realised that there was no way that I was going to find an alliance to try to bring them in because there was a fundamental discontinuity of their understanding of what we were trying to do.”

I wonder if others in that meeting recall those words being used.

Afterwards I pressed Dr Horton into answering my question about whether LPHA reports mention the effect Hamas has on the health of Palestinians. His reply was along the lines of “That is a good question but this is an evolving work in progress”.

So, no mention of the effect of Hamas’ oppression of women, gays and dissidents on the mental health and physical well-being of Gazans in five years of LPHA publications?

But, then, would you criticise Hamas if you lived in, or regularly visited, Gaza?

I think Sir Iain Chalmers’ “that would be very good” response when asked about “the end of a Jewish state” during that 2010 interview possibly answers everything one needs to truly know about the politics of LPHA.

Professor Rita Giacaman, Lancet editor Dr Richard Horton, MAP's  Head of Advocacy Aimee Shalan at Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

Professor Rita Giacaman, Lancet editor Dr Richard Horton, MAP’s Head of Advocacy Aimee Shalan at Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

A bad week for “Britain’s powerful Israel Lobby”.

IMO secretary-general Koji Sekimuzu addresses Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub last week.

IMO secretary-general Koji Sekimuzu addresses the Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub last week.

In the last few weeks accusations of Britain having a “powerful Israel Lobby” are being reiterated once again.

David Ward MP tweeted “shame there isn’t a powerful, well funded Board of Deputies for Roma”. This seems to be an indirect reference to the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Meanwhile, in his opinion piece for the Daily Telegraph Peter Oborne described Conservative Friends of Israel as “by far Britain’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group”.

Oborne attacks CFI for acting “as if every Jew in the country is a Likud supporter” on the basis that CFI seemed to be parroting Netanyahu’s criticisms of Iran’s interim nuclear agreement with Britain, USA, France, Russia, Germany and China.

In 2009 Oborne made a documentary for Channel 4 called Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby which he introduced with the sinister line “Tonight on dispatches how British policy is influenced by supporters of a foreign power”.

So I thought about how effective these lobbies actually are and the recent picture doesn’t look rosy.

The irony of Oborne’s piece for the Daily Telegraph is that “by far Britain’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group” did not achieve for Israel what Israel had wanted, namely the total dismantling of Iran’s nuclear programme.

For, let’s remember, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has said that “Israel is a cancer that must be removed”. No, not the “Zionist entity” or even “the Apartheid state”, but Israel, hook, line and sinker.

Then we discover that Britain has been carrying on behind-the-scenes negotiations with Hezbollah. Hezbollah is Iran’s surrogate in Lebanon and Syria and is also determined to annihilate Israel.

Britain, unlike America, quite unbelievably recognises Hezbollah’s political wing, despite this political wing, no doubt, directing the military wing to bomb American and Jewish targets around the world. Britain’s talks with Hezbollah were not explicitly condoned by America, which doesn’t recognise either wing of Hezbollah, but America “will listen with interest” to what is being said.

Then Universities UK produced a document on preserving free speech in universities and in one section the document gives a case study on what to do in the event that any speaker is disrupted. Remarkably, it is British Jews who are the transgressors in this fictional case study.

Case Study 4 “Israel and Palestine” describes how a university’s Jewish society and the local synagogue have expressed concerns about a pro-Palestinian speaker. The local Rabbi has even written to the local paper. During the event “there are concerted attempts to shout the speaker down and prevent him from speaking”. People are asked to leave and do so voluntarily (see page 30 of said document).

I have never heard of British Jews actually trying to prevent a pro-Palestinian speaker from speaking. It is pro-Israel speakers who are regularly shouted down as was the case recently in Sheffield when protesters stormed the stage at the Model United Nations student conference while Israeli deputy ambassador Alon Roth-Snir was speaking.

Finally, the International Maritime Organisation is currently meeting in its 28th session in London. On the agenda was the election of 40 member states to the IMO’s Council.

Israel was up for election and a few days before the vote I found myself in a bar in Westminster among diplomats from various IMO member countries. Israel’s Ambassador Daniel Taub gave a speech and the secretary-general of the Council lit the Chanukah candles.

Over canapes and an endless supply of wine the idea was to mingle and sing Israel’s praises. The Bahamas delegation assured me Israel and they were voting for each other so I moved on. The Turkish delegate assured me that “there was every possibility” that he would vote for Israel.

Turkey and the Bahamas were among those elected, but Israel failed despite the incredible contribution Israel can make to important seafaring issues such as security, safety and technology.

It was yet another failure chalked up by Britain’s “powerful Israel Lobby”.