Author Archives: richardmillett

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:


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.

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:



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

Or you can go straight to the author himself and

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!

Fanatics sing on despite racist protests as Maccabi Tel Aviv crash at Chelsea.

Chelsea and Maccabi Tel Aviv line up before kick off last night.

Chelsea and Maccabi Tel Aviv line up before kick off last night.

Chelsea and Maccabi Tel Aviv supporters were greeted with the usual racist scenes before and after last night’s UEFA Champions League match at Stamford Bridge which the Israeli side lost 4-0.

Maccabi Tel Aviv were never really in it as the step up to Champions League football after 11 absent years proved beyond them.

However, their 3000 traveling supporters, the Fanatics, jumped up and down and sang throughout the game. And they had a chance to celebrate when Eden Hazard blasted his penalty over the bar when the score was still 0-0.

Before the game about 8 to 10 anti-Israel activists outside the ground welcomed refugees but not the players of the Israeli side. And after the game a more aggressive group screamed for the destruction of Israel. The protests had little impact on the fans of both sides apart from being a little irritating.

The Chelsea programme had an interview with ex-Maccabi Tel Aviv player, now Chelsea’s Technical Director, Michael Emenalo who had good things to say about the Israeli club and Tel Aviv:

“Tel Aviv exceeded my expectations in every possible way. A lot of cities claim to be fun, but Tel Aviv was definitely a fun city. From a football point of view, the atmosphere was good and it got better when Maccabi played Hapoel Tel Aviv. You really feel the fever when they play each other in the Bloomfield Stadium, which they now share.”

Tough games against Dynamo Kiev and Porto are on the horizon and the return game against Chelsea in Israel is on November 24th.

The Fanatics will be enjoying their away days but it’s hard to see Maccabi Tel Aviv qualifying for the next stage.

Eden Hazard about to blast his penalty over the bar in front of the 3000 Fanatics.

Eden Hazard about to blast his penalty over the bar in front of the 3000 Fanatics.

At least look as if you're having fun.

At least look as if you’re having fun.

Surely a breach of copyright law. Anyone want to litigate?

Surely a breach of copyright law. Anyone want to litigate?

All dressed up, nowhere to go.

All dressed up, nowhere to go.

Cold, wet and miserable...

Cold, wet and miserable…

Watching you watching me.

Watching you watching me.

Isn't hanging signs from neck reminiscent of Jews during the Holocaust?

Isn’t hanging signs from neck reminiscent of Jews during the Holocaust?

Screaming for Israel's destruction after the match.

Screaming for Israel’s destruction after the match.

Neturei Karta hurl abuse at C4T’s anti-Iran protest.

Flor, Michelle, Ambrosine, Rachel and Sharon about to deliver the letter to No. 10.

Flor, Michelle, Ambrosine, Rachel and Sharon about to deliver the letter to No. 10.

Campaign For Truth activists went to 10 Downing Street today to protest the nuclear deal recently signed by America, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China with the Iranian regime which basically grants Iran the bomb after 10 years have expired. But that’s only if the mullahs don’t cheat earlier.

Letters of support, one of which was from Colonel Richard Kemp who commanded British forces in Afghanistan, were read out.

Colonel Kemp’s letter started: “I am sorry I am unable to be with you in London to support you in this important event. I thank you and congratulate you for making the effort to come here today to protest this truly ill-judged and dangerous agreement.”

He then described the Iranian regime as a “fascist, imperialist, totalitarian, murderous dictatorship”, criticised the release of funds that will “enable the Ayatollahs to expand their imperialist violence many times over” and said the Iranian mullahs are the “most duplicitous double-dealing and deceitful regime in history”.

Then just as C4T representatives were about to deliver a letter to David Cameron the Neturei Karta extremists suddenly appeared brandishing an Iranian flag and a Palestinian one. They spent 20 minutes yelling “Israelhell” and telling Zionists that they are not Jews.

I asked them why they weren’t in synagogue for Tisha B’av but I was lectured that they didn’t need to be. Fair enough. Eventually the police moved them on for protesting without advanced permission.

Here’s a clip and a chance for you to learn some Yiddish:

Eventually Flor, Michelle, Rachel, Ambrosine and Sharon delivered the letter to Number 10 which signed off urging David Cameron “to dissent from this deal, to be the lion amongst the sheep”.

More photos from today’s protests:

C4T's Paul proudly wearing a T Shirt he bought in St Albans.

C4T’s Paul proudly wearing a T Shirt he bought in St Albans.

An NK member looking with bemusement at Paul.

An NK member looking with bemusement at Paul.

Ok, so these are the true Jews. Just so you know...

Ok, so these are the true Jews. Just so you know…

Other protesters look with curiosity at C4T's protest.

Other protesters look with curiosity at C4T’s protest.

Waving their beloved Iranian flag. The mullahs would be proud!

Waving their beloved Iranian flag. The mullahs would be proud!

C4T merchandise decorating Whitehall.

C4T merchandise decorating Whitehall.

At least hold the Palestinian flag the right way up!

At least hold the Palestinian flag the right way up!

Sharon reads out supportive letter from Colonel Kemp.

Sharon reads out supportive letter from Colonel Kemp.

Neturei Karta finally being moved on for not following procedure.

Neturei Karta finally being moved on for not following procedure.

Corbyn slams Israel at JW3; Admits he met Hamas.

Liz Kendall gives her closing appeal to become Labour leader as Corbyn and Jonathan Freedland (chairing) listen

Liz Kendall gives her closing appeal to become Labour leader as Corbyn and Jonathan Freedland (chairing) listen

Jeremy Corbyn laid into Israel at the Labour Leadership hustings at JW3 on Monday night and admitted he met Hamas but said “you have to have talks with everybody to bring about a long term settlement”.

In that case when will he meet Islamic State?

Corbyn claimed Israel had “put Gaza under siege” and that there were “serious issues concerning the bombardment of Gaza, the failure to reconstruct Gaza, the level of poverty and unemployment that exists in Gaza and there are also questions of children held in Israeli prisons. And there are also questions of the number of African refugees that are not being allowed into Israel and that are being deported from Israel.”

Children in Israeli prisons? For anti-Israel activists a “child” is anyone under 18 and these “children” may have thrown stones at a car with intent to murder its occupants, so they are not necessarily as angelic as Corbyn seems to imply.

Corbyn said he supported an arms boycott of Israel and a boycott of settlement products but said he did not support an academic boycott or an economic boycott of “Israel proper”.

On the issue of calling Hezbollah and Hamas “friends” at a House of Commons event Corbyn claimed he was just being “inclusive” but said that didn’t mean he agreed with the “social attitudes, social policies or legal views of those organisations” and claimed he has made that clear to them when he has met them.

He was also asked whether he would withdraw his support for the Stop The War Coalition due to its sponsorship of the Al Quds Day annual demonstration through London where Hezbollah flags are waved and which is a festival of hatred. Corbyn replied that it is “not designed to be a festival of hatred”.

But placards that have appeared at Al Quds Day demonstrations include: “Israel is a disease, We are the cure“, “Listen Israel, Leave!!!”, “For world peace Israel must be destroyed“, “Israel your days are numbered”, “Death to Israel”, “The world stopped Nazism…the world must stop Zionism”.

For an organisation of which he is the Chair he is pretty ignorant of the hatred it helps to incite on the streets of London.

Corbyn also stated that the Balfour Declaration was “imposed by some of the Jewish members of the cabinet” at the time but has since backtracked to claim that he meant to say “opposed”. It is worrying that a potential leader can get something so wrong from what he meant to say.

As for Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper who are the other Labour leadership contenders they all condemned Corbyn’s use of “friends” to describe Hamas and Hezbollah. Cooper said that language is very important when discussing terrorists. Burnham said he would have sanctioned Corbyn for such language.

Meanwhile, Burnham said that he had voted in favour of the “Palestine” recognition resolution last year only because the vote had been whipped by Labour but that the first country he would visit on becoming leader would be Israel.

Kendall said that the vote was not whipped and that she had abstained because passing resolutions either at the House of Commons or the UN wasn’t the right way to achieve peace and a two state solution which should come about only via negotiations. She said she was a friend of Israel.

Finally, there was a lot applause for Corbyn but that can be explained by the many anti-Israel activists I recognised in the audience including ex-Labour MP Martin Linton.

Clips from Monday’s JW3 event:

Jeremy Corbyn attempts to explain away his description of Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”:

Corbyn says Jewish cabinet members “imposed” Balfour Declaration:

Corbyn slams Israel and its holding of “children” in prison:

Opening remarks of each contender. Liz Kendall explains why she abstained on “Palestine” recognition resolution:

Galloway gone! Ward ousted! Liberal Democrats demolished! Labour decimated! SNP in.

The country knew by 10pm on Thursday night that there had been a political bloodbath.

Contrary to all the opinion polls putting Labour and the Conservatives level the Exit Poll published at 10pm told a different story; the Conservatives had won a crushing general election victory. Labour had lost many seats and the Liberal Democrats had virtually disappeared.

An Exit Poll is pretty trustworthy and within minutes of its announcement the British Pound was surging on the financial bourses. The United Kingdom had voted for stability.

All that was left to be decided was the scale of Cameron’s victory (the Conservatives finally ended up with 331 MPs, Labour 232, the Liberal Democrats just 8) and which MPs had lost their seats. Famous names were about to disappear from the political scene.

The Liberal Democrats won 56 seats in 2010 but were heavily punished due to Nick Clegg’s pre-2010 election promise that he would abolish tuition fees for university students. He reneged once he was in coalition with the Conservatives.

For those supportive of Israel the demise of the Lib Dems is sweet. If the Israeli army was called on to defend Israelis from Hamas’ rockets Nick Clegg would call for an arms embargo on Israel.

And one has to question how Clegg can lay claim to any morals after not sacking David Ward who suggested that Jews had not learned the lessons of the Holocaust.

After minimal admonition from his party leader Ward was free to continue as a Liberal Democrat. Pleased to report that Ward has now been swept away politically by the good people of Bradford East.

And the good people of Bradford West swept away the Respect Party’s  George Galloway. Maybe they felt that Galloway was far more concerned with Tehran West than Bradford West.

It would be nice to think that Bradfordians also felt uncomfortable with his venomous anti-Zionist rhetoric (he declared Bradford an Israel-free zone) and were concerned for Bradford’s small Jewish population.

It was also goodbye to Simon Hughes and Bob Russell, two more anti-Israel Liberal Democrats swept away in the political tsunami.

Meanwhile, Labour lost 24 seats from last time! Much of Labour’s Parliamentary party is still anti-Israel and Labour’s main anti-Israel firebrands survived, including the likes of Gerald Kaufman, Andy Slaughter and Richard Burden who has met with Hamas. Labour also added Rupa Huq to their anti-Israel numbers.

For five years Labour has been isolationist on the foreign policy front. It voted not to assist the Syrian people being slaughtered by Assad.

There was, however, one country on which Labour was not isolationist: Israel. Precious parliamentary time was wasted by Labour MPs these last five years smearing Israel as evil and debating, and voting for, a future Palestinian state.

But despite the election results there is no room for complacency for British Jews. The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) have virtually swept away Labour in Scotland. They grew from six to an astonishing 56 MPs!

The SNP like to paint themselves as supportive of multiculturalism but there is, again, one country they are not too accepting of: Israel.

These are SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s words to the ‘Ending Scottish Arms Trade with Israel’ conference only yesterday:

“As you may be aware, during the recent conflict in Gaza the Scottish Government wrote to the UK Government urging an embargo on arms sales to Israel. The Scottish Government is a firm friend of Palestine and we will continue to press this issue after the election.”

An SNP council also once voted to ban Israeli books in its libraries.

No doubt the SNP will soon be joining forces with Labour, what’s left of the Liberal Democrats and Caroline Lucas of the Green Party to attack Israel.

In the meantime the average hard-working grassroots pro-Israel activist can enjoy some well-earned schadenfreude at the demise of Galloway and Ward.