Monthly Archives: October 2017

“Pro-Israel” Labour MP Wes Streeting hosts Friends of Palestine event, afterwards attacks me on Twitter.

Labour MP Wes Streeting with anti-Zionist map depicting 1948, UN plan 1947, 1949-1967, 2005.

Labour MP Streeting with map depicting Palestinian land in 1947, UN plan 1947, 1949-1967, 2005.

It’s de rigueur at Labour chaired anti-Israel events in Parliament for those making Israel’s case to be branded “disrupters” and threatened with removal. In April Labour MP Mark Hendrick had myself and others removed by armed police after I, literally, asked a question.

Labour MP for Ilford North Wes Streeting threatened to have me removed on Tuesday night from his Gaza on the brink? event in Parliament. My crime: passionately asking why the panel spent their time totally blaming Israel for the plight of Gazans while giving Hamas a free pass.

Admittedly, I had also congratulated the three NGO representatives on Streeting’s panel for all making a great living out a desperate situation. Streeting immediately slammed me for questioning their motives.

But the “Palestine Industry”, so to speak, is the great untold story. Aimee Shalan of Medical Aid for Palestinians, Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch and Helen Thompson of Care International all came to Parliament and spoke about the same subject. They even repeated exactly the same phrase to describe Gaza’s situation: “De-development”.

They complained how little money Gaza is receiving which, in addition to Israel’s “occupation” of Gaza, is causing this “de-development”. Shakir, Thompson and Shalan are just three of thousands receiving salaries for the same work; money that could be spent on Gazans.

Not that pledged money gets to those Palestinians in need anyway. Hamas siphons off money to build terror tunnels into Israel and the Palestinian Authority financially rewards families of Palestinian terrorists.

Shalan described how critically ill Gazan babies have relatively little medical care from nurses compared to those in the UK, how 10% of Gazan children have stunted growth and how depleted medical supplies are.

Thompson described how the elecricity crisis affects livelihoods and demanded more money from DFID for Gaza.

Shakir claimed “Israel has kept Gaza permanently closed”, that Israel has “total control of Gaza” and, of course, that Gaza is an “open air prison”. The only mention of Hamas in all three talks was when Shakir mentioned its “arbitrary arrests”.

Shakir said “because of the closure responsibility falls fully on Israel” and then demanded the UK government call on Israel to stop the ban on freedom of movement from Gaza.

SNP MP Dr Philippa Whitford also spoke. She questioned why Gaza isn’t in the news and asked if the international community was too busy for Gaza. She said Israel’s ban on “dual use materials” meant Gazans scavenged for steel rods which they straightened out for use in buildings which could lead to such buildings collapsing.

Whitford said the drinking water is undrinkable, that Gaza City stinks of sewage and that there’s no radiotherapy in Gaza and only 45% of Gazans are allowed into Israel for radiotherapy (a statistic vigorously challenged by Jonathan Hoffman).

She said Israeli soldiers patrolling borders saps their potential as they are “bored out of their minds”. She claimed it isn’t a positive experience for Israel and Israelis and then said Israel should build HS2 as it builds “settlements” so quickly.

She finished off by showing the anti-Zionist map beloved of anti-Semites where Israel has taken virtually everything from the Palestinians (see above).

Whitford’s was also a Hamas-free talk and with no mention of the lengths Israel’s COGAT goes to supplying Gaza’s vital needs.

After Jonathan and I had spoken during the Q&A someone called Gary stood and complained about us “invading space and trying to disrupt the meeting.”

As described above Streeting then slammed me for questioning motives and demanded we all just concentrate on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. But when I questioned how on earth the anti-Zionist map was about the humanitarian situation Streeting threatened to have me removed.

Meanwhile, in response to my question about Hamas Shalan simply implied I was uncaring about the plight of Gazans.

Most of the remaining questions weren’t about the humanitarian situation at all. They were about the “one state solution”, the Balfour Declaration and how Israel is cracking down on NGOs like Breaking The Silence. Of course Israel isn’t doing that. Israel merely wants declarations of sources. The equivalent of Breaking the Silence, which seeks the indictment of Israeli soldiers, would never be allowed in the UK.

Streeting then finished his event with the sweeping “I’m worried about democracy in Israel.”

When he got home Streeting tweeted that I “sat there heckling and shouting” and called myself and Jonathan “rude yobs”. However, we were respectful and did absolutely nothing wrong.

Streeting is considered “pro-Israel” by many in the British Jewish community. But on this evidence, and considering the letter he signed slamming Israel “the occupying power in Gaza” and accusing Israel of “collective punishment”,  I have grave doubts about this.

(Read about Jonathan Hoffman challenging SNP MP Whitford’s 45% statistic)

Shakir (Human Rights Watch), Thompson (Care International), Streeting, Shalan (Medical Aid for Palestinians).

Shakir (Human Rights Watch), Thompson (Care International), Streeting, Shalan (MAP).

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The Israeli flag flew high inside My Name Is Rachel Corrie.

Official handout and the

Official handout and the “Accompanying Notes”

The 31 performance run of Josh Roche directed My Name Is Rachel Corrie finally comes to an end on Thursday night. With the Young Vic Theatre rejecting all suggestions of balance including a small exhibition of the 19 Israeli Rachels murdered by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups and a pro-Israel voice on the after show panel discussions some activists produced “Accompanying Notes” to be handed out to theatre goers outside the Young Vic.

The “Accompanying Notes”, which look similar to the official handout (see above), explain what really happened to Rachel in 2003 when she tragically died in Gaza while naively standing in front of a bulldozer when Israel was fighting Hamas:

“The investigation and court judgement showed the driver could not see her and that her death was an unfortunate accident to someone who had trespassed in a clearly marked closed military area. Rachel Corrie was not protecting a ‘home’ but a shed shielding one of the terror tunnels used to smuggle weapons and explosives. Her death was a tragic accident.”

Rachel was, in fact, protecting tunnels Hamas were using to smuggle in weapons that were causing mass murder on the streets of Israel. That crucial part of the narrative, plus that her death was an accident, were absent from the play.

The “Accompanying Notes” also explain that the play contains “unsubstantiated, context-free allegations about supposed Israeli brutality. For example, the IDF is alleged to have stopped the International Solidarity Movement retrieving a corpse, is accused of destroying wells and being engaged in a ‘constant attempt to remove Palestinians from their home.'”

They also explain how Rachel, an ISM member, misinterprets the Fourth Geneva Convention.

We had tickets for the Saturday night production. The theatre holds 70 and when we entered the actress playing Rachel (Erin Doherty) was lying on the floor listening to music with the main prop on stage being a part of Israel’s security wall painted a light red, obviously denoting blood. The stage floor was also painted red.

The show was, basically, an hour and a half of emotional blackmail as Doherty played out edited scenes from the young Rachel’s diaries. The audience occasionally laughed at her naivety and attempts to change the world.

It was dull. The hour and a half passed slowly.

Nearing the end Rachel describes how the Israeli army, apparently, destroyed wells in Gaza, shot at children and how Rachel failed to retrieve a dead Gazan while being shot at by the IDF. Rachel also offers Gazans money for their hospitality but they wouldn’t take any preferring for Rachel to go back to America to tell their story.

At the end Doherty gives a very short, uncorroborated account of how Rachel died. It’s by “eyewitness Tom Dale” who described the Israeli bulldozer driver seeing Rachel before killing her. But, as stated above, this is not the case.

Israeli courts have sent Israeli soldiers to prison when evidence supports such a conviction so there’s no reason they wouldn’t have done the same in this case. Tom Hurndall’s killer, in similar circumstances, and IDF soldier Azaria were sent to prison.

As Doherty took her two ovations Jonathan Hoffman, from the middle of the audience, stood and unfurled the Israeli flag in front of her. It was a small act of defiance against a nasty play and staging that only adds poison to the world.

(For more analysis of the court case read here)