Monthly Archives: October 2015

Author Tom Sperlinger: “Poem about ‘Zionist SS’ is not anti-Semitic.”

Tome Sperlinger reading from his Romeo and Juliet in Palestine on Thursday.

Tome Sperlinger reading from his Romeo and Juliet in Palestine on Thursday.

Tom Sperlinger is the author of a new book Romeo and Juliet in Palestine: Teaching Under Occupation. He launched the book last Thursday at Blackwell’s bookshop in the Institute of Education.

Sperlinger is Reader in English and Community Engagement at the University of Bristol and this is his first book. He has also been a regular contributor to the Guardian on education issues and his new book was reviewed in that very newspaper.

In 2013 Sperlinger taught English literature at the Abu Dis campus of Al Quds University for a term. The book is an account of his time there and the affinity he built up with Palestinian students while teaching them works like Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet.

Zero Books, his publisher which also published Gilad Atzmon’s anti-Semitic book The Wandering Who?, are selling it as an academic memoir with important questions like: “What does it mean to read under occupation? What might such encounters reveal about the nature of pedagogy and the role of university?”

However, from what I read of the book at the event it is just another anti-Israel diatribe which will now go into bookshops and libraries and onto student reading lists.

Before going into Sperlinger’s account of his time at Abu Dis the book opens with the usual biased account of Israel’s creation. Anti-Israel author Ilan Pappe is heavily quoted and Sperlinger mentions Ali Abunimah and Jeff Halper, both anti-Israel propagandists, for their writings on the so-called one state solution.

Sperlinger goes on to describe an Israeli soldier kicking a Palestinian child as the child is going to visit his father’s grave (P. 108). He also describes how he helped in the translation of the play Seven Jewish Children when it is staged by Palestinian students at Abu Dis (P. 65).

Seven Jewish Children is a very short anti-Semitic play which portrays Jews as slowly metamorphosing from being victims of the Holocaust into baby-killers.

When I put this to him Sperlinger didn’t agree Seven Jewish Children is anti-Semitic. He also didn’t agree that a poem by Tom Paulin is anti-Semitic.

Paulin has given an endorsement of Romeo and Juliet in Palestine for its front cover. I questioned Sperlinger about the poem and whether he might consider having Paulin’s endorsement removed in light of it. Sperlinger said he didn’t find Paulin’s poem anti-Semitic.

Here’s Paulin’s poem with its preceding quote as printed in the Guardian in 2001:

paulin

CAMERA pointed out at the time: “While he (Paulin) condemns Zionists as Nazi murderers, his usage of the term “dumb goys” echoes Hitler’s similar use of it in Mein Kampf.”

The CAMERA article states that the quote chosen by Paulin to precede his poem is also anti-Semitic.

Considering Sperlinger is a Reader in Community Engagement it would have been reassuring for the Jewish community to think that he at least had a problem with “Zionist SS”, “dumb goys”, “Zionists…nosing after blood” and Seven Jewish Children.

Sadly, it seems, this isn’t the case.

Blackwell's selling Sperlinger's book with Tom Paulin's endorsement on front cover.

Blackwell’s selling Sperlinger’s book with Tom Paulin’s endorsement on front cover.

Blackwell's know their audience.

Blackwell’s know their audience.

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Israel supporters and PSC square off outside Palestinian mission.

Yesterday afternoon about 40 Israel supporters heeded the call of the Zionist Federation and the Board of Deputies to protest the incitement by the Palestinian leaders to murder Israeli citizens. For once the protest was outside the Palestinian mission in London.

Protesters waved Israeli flags and held placards of some specific statements that have driven Palestinians to murder numerous Israelis over the last month or so. As a result Palestinians have also died but then, as we know, Palestinian leaders have little concern for their own people.

There should be permanent protests outside all Palestinian missions as they are at the heart of the current bloodshed being representatives from Fatah and of Mahmoud Abbas himself.

That said any protests are likely to fall on deaf ears. Manuel Hassassian, the head of the London mission, enjoys his jibes about Jews.

The ZF’s Arieh Miller gave an excellent speech calling for the Palestinian leaders to stop the incitement.

But, unsurprisingly, the PSC’s supporters were intent on heightening the tensions with their call for the destruction of the Jewish state.

The destruction of Israel is the PSC’s ultimate objective and it obviously doesn’t matter how many Israelis and Palestinians die in the process.

After a few minutes taking photos of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign counter-protest I was outed as a “Zionist”. I was then assailed by a police officer and asked to leave. Apparently, my presence was upsetting the PSC.

Such sensitive souls. Some people have no problem inciting bloodshed but woe betide if you photograph them.

Here are some pics and the clip of my being “outed” by the PSC while they call for the Jewish state’s demise.

Meanwhile the PSC will be back outside the Israeli Embassy this Saturday and probably showing the usual lack of concern for the continued bloodshed:

Self-explanatory

Self-explanatory

She wants "occupation" ended not the stabbings of Jews?

She wants “occupation” ended not the stabbings of Jews?

Another ZF banner quoting from the horse's mouth (apologies to horses everywhere).

Another ZF banner quoting from the horse’s mouth (apologies to horses everywhere).

So if the "occupation" continues Jews will continue to be murdered?

So if the “occupation” continues Jews will continue to be murdered?

Can there really be a Palestinian state with the state of the region?

Can there really be a Palestinian state with the state of the region?

A few rebellious Jews as ever.

A few rebellious Jews as ever.

No concern for the dead there either then.

No concern for the dead there either then.

Israel supporters giving it their best.

Israel supporters giving it their best.

A Nice destruction of the Jewish state.

Professor Sir Geoffrey Nice QC (credit: Gresham College)

Professor Sir Geoffrey Nice QC (credit: Gresham College)

On Wednesday I went to the legal heart of London to hear a talk given by Professor Sir Geoffrey Nice QC. The talk Gaza-Israel: The Legal Military View was at Gresham College.

It was due to start at 6pm but I arrived at 5.50pm and by then every seat was taken including those in the overflow room. Latecomers were turned away with a copy of the talk, all 22 pages, Professor Nice  was about to deliver.

On the tube home I read the Professor’s fantasyland; let’s call it Niceland.

In Niceland everyone is nice, except all Israelis (P.17):

“Widespread discrimination against the Arabs in Israel is revealed by Rabbis, Israeli politicians and pro-Zionist activists. Such unsanctioned/uncontrolled racism and religious intolerance creates an environment that can encourage sectarian violence as well as inspire ‘morale’ of IDF soldiers during military campaigns such as Protective Edge.”

Nice quotes Major General Giora Eiland who, apparently, compared the Palestinians who voted for Hamas to the Germans who voted for Hitler and then Nice continues:

“…these extreme views are widely shared by the defence establishment and by the Israeli public at large”.

But in Niceland Hamas are nice. In Niceland Hamas doesn’t really wish to put Palestinian civilians in danger or use them as human shields. It’s just that they have no choice because Gaza is so small (Page 13):

“…in Gaza, the whole area is a battle zone. In these circumstances, where this is so little tactical depth, the mixing of civilians and fighters means that it is almost impossible for Hamas not to appear to use civilians as a shield.”

Meanwhile, Google’s satellite map shows vast empty spaces in Gaza where Hamas could have taken on the IDF. That’s if Hamas were brave enough.

And in Niceland history can be whatever you want it to be (P. 3):

“Israel as a state was thus imposed on and within Palestine in 1948…an as yet unfinished state project because the territorial ambitions of Israel were not satisfied. Thereafter, claiming to fight for the security of their people and preservation of their land, Israel fought their Arab neighbours, expanding Israel’s borders.”

And in Niceland those fantastical disappearing maps of Palestine used by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign are accurate (P. 5).

And in Niceland Israel never handed back the Sinai and made peace with Jordan (P.6):

“The 1967 war encouraged a revival of the “Greater Israel”, envisaged by the founder of Zionism, Theodore Herzl, as extending “from the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates””. 

In Niceland (P.7) Israeli government policy is “the accelerated Judaization of East Jerusalem“.

In Niceland (P.8) 83% of Gaza’s casualties during Operation Cast Lead were civilians. (B’Tselem puts that figure nearer to 55% while the IDF claims 60% were terrorists)

In Niceland (P.9)  “The Israeli authorities knew that the teenagers were killed soon after their abduction but they did not announce the death (sic) until eighteen days later.” So in Niceland there was no possibility last year that those three abducted Israeli teenagers may have been still alive after those shots, which were only heard down a mobile phone, were fired.

In Niceland (P.10) when Israel searched for those Israeli teenagers and “350 Palestinians were arrested…Reluctantly rising up to the challenge, Hamas responded with rockets.”

In Niceland (P.13) “there is no credible tactical, territorial military threat to Israel from Gaza”.

In Niceland (P.12) Sderot is merely a “settlement” which “shows that the Government encourages its people to live under the threat of rockets”.

In Niceland (P.12) “the population density of Gaza City is rated as the fifth highest in the world“. In Wikipedia Gaza City doesn’t even appear in the top 38.

At a war crimes trial in Niceland (P.19) Hamas could defend itself by arguing it fired inaccurate rockets because Gaza is “an imprisoned state/entity…there is other way to defend and advance its citizens’ interest”.

And, finally, in Niceland there’s no Jewish state at all (P.20):

“Should all the walls…be dismantled and the entire land of Palestine administered by outsiders until a single state of equal citizens can exist on the basis that there may yet be scope for true democracy of those peoples in a land they all claim to call home?”

Here is the talk for you to peruse in your own time.

You can complain to the provost of Gresham that such anti-Israel propaganda has no place at Gresham College. His name is Sir Richard Evans rje36@cam.ac.uk

Or you can go straight to the author himself geoffreynice@hotmail.com and enquiries@gresham.ac.uk

Alternatively you can politely protest such discourse when Professor Nice gives his next lecture which is on November 4th at Gresham College and which will be discussing the Mavi Marmara: Does The Citizen Have The Right To Protest On The High Seas?

It is at 6pm but to be sure of getting a seat you need to be in the queue by 5pm!