Category Archives: Holocaust

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.

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.

Forced to turn off my camera at Jenny Tonge/David Ward event in Parliament while Al Jazeera films.

Last night I went to Parliament for an event staged by the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK. The event Gaza: Life in an occupied and besieged strip was obviously only concerned with the human rights of one group of Arabs.

It was chaired by the Liberal Democrat David Ward MP and the main attraction was Baroness Jenny Tonge who once said “Israel won’t be here forever”.

Tonge complained that “the Palestinians had been denied democracy because the wrong side (Hamas) won” and that Israel defies international law by denying the right of return to anyone who is not a Jew.

Her main complaint was about “the Israel lobby” which, she said, “has its claws in this country” and she claimed nothing was being done about Israel out of fear of being called anti-Semitic.

She called for a total boycott of Israel, said that Jews had led the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and finished off with:

“Let us show Israel; we love you very much but not in these circumstances”.

Here is the clip:

We were then addressed by “International Law Specialist” Toby Cadman. Cadman claimed he was not a political activist but went on to accuse Israel of “collective punishment and unlawful occupation” and having a “classic system of apartheid”.

He said that there was “No situation quite like Palestine” and he also blamed the “Powerful lobby movement” for ensuring injustices weren’t addressed.

Then came the Q&A. An audience member rose and said “Disease in Gaza is like in the concentration camps under the Nazis”.

Then directly behind me someone wanted to know more about “the Israel lobby” so he could boycott them too! He wanted the panel to expand on who exactly they were.

I felt compelled to turn my camera back on at this point.

During her talk Tonge had pointed me out to everyone. She described me as a “great blogger and contributor to the Jewish Chronicle”. And Sara Apps, of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, had already been over to me twice; to ask if I was registered for the event and then to see if my camera was turned off.

So, while Tonge was describing “the Israel lobby” as being both BICOM and the various political Friends of Israel groupings Mohammed Jamil, the organiser of the event, was bearing down on me.

He ordered me to switch my camera off and, which you don’t see, tried to snatch it.

Meanwhile, the cameras of Al Jazeera, who were there covering the event, continued to roll. Here’s the clip and I’m glad to say my little camera has survived yet another battering:

As Jews are murdered why is War On Want handing out fake guns to British students?

Protesting this morning outside War On Want's London HQ.

Protesting this morning outside War On Want’s London HQ.

With Jews being murdered in France, Belgium and Denmark there’s an ominous feeling that British Jews are awaiting their own round. With that in mind a group of concerned British Jews from Jewish Human Rights Watch protested this morning outside the offices of War On Want in central London (see above).

War On Want is one of Britain’s most respected charities but it is, sadly, now being run by people determined to import the Israeli-Palestinian conflict onto the streets of Britain.

Quite unbelievably, after what has happened this weekend and in Belgium and Paris, War On Want’s current campaign includes handing out fake guns to students to help mark what is sickeningly termed “Israeli Apartheid Week” which begins next week on British university campuses. See the last line from WOW’s website below:


Many British Jews are feeling insecure and accuse WOW of helping to spread propaganda and hate against the Jewish State which could well lead to the events of Paris, Belgium and Denmark being repeated in the UK. They are asking: Is War on Want helping to promote a War On Jews?

I questioned John Hilary (see below), WOW’s executive director, about this and other issues as he approached his offices. As you can see Hilary refused to answer my questions about WOW handing out guns to British students, a two-state solution, Israel’s future or the bombing of innocent Israeli civilians by Hamas.

Instead he had the nerve to accuse me of “using the current attacks on Jews in Europe for political purposes to support the Zionist dream”.

Admittedly, my interviews skills need brushing up but it is infuriating when someone refuses to answer very simple questions when there is so much at stake:

Conservative MP Angie Bray empty chairs despicable Palestine Solidarity Campaign event.

Rupa Huq (Lab.), Salim Alam, Jon Ball (LibDem), Tom Sharman (Green) last night.

Rupa Huq (Lab.), Salim Alam, Jon Ball (LibDem), Tom Sharman (Green) last night.

Angie Bray, Conservative MP for Ealing Central & Acton, refused to attend last night’s West London PSC event Palestine is Still the Issue.

The event was held at St Mary’s Church, Ealing and was hosted by Salim Alam, chair of West London PSC. The rather unpleasant Mr Alam once threatened to knock a camera I was holding out of my hands.

The remaining panelists were three challengers for Angie Bray’s Ealing Central & Acton seat at the upcoming general election this May: Rupa Huq (Labour), Jon Ball (Lib Dem.), Tom Sharman (Green).

Huq, Ball and Sharman were all anti-Israel automatons. Their party leaders would have been proud. All three were ready to confine Israelis to hell just as long as they won themselves some votes last night.

Sharman wanted Britain to stop supplying weapons to Israel and to stop buying weapons from Israel. He said “Israeli weapons are road tested on the Palestinians and so they are attractive to the British government”.

Ball started off by saying he wasn’t an expert on the Israeli-Palestinian issue but then went on to call for a boycott of “settlement” goods and for “ending the arms trade with Israel”.

He did, however, reject economic sanctions against the whole of Israel but not on the ground that such action was wrong but on the ground that it would only “fuel the collective paranoia of the Israeli government and its supporters overseas” and make them more hardline and right-wing.

Huq, meanwhile, was obsessed with Ed Miliband being Jewish. It was something she repeatedly mentioned without explaining the relevance.

Her second main obsession was that Israel is, apparently, starving the Palestinians of water (see clip below). She said “they’re basically shutting off the water supply to the Palestinians”. Lies and utter nonsense from a woman who attended Cambridge University.

During the Q&A an elderly woman quoted Albert Einstein in the 1930s about making peace with the Arab communities. She then said she was saddened that “the Jews are not smart enough to understand this”.

It would have been the decent thing for Huq, Ball and Sharman to have called her out on her anti-Semitism but maybe they were worried that might cost them votes.

Finally, Alam announced that UKIP had not been invited to speak at the event because they were the antithesis of what the PSC stood for. That’s ironic because PSC events are some of the most racist and anti-Jewish one could attend being on a par with those held by far right extremists.

For example, I once attended another event chaired by Alam also in a church. Afterwards I recorded one of that event’s attendees mocking the way Jews died in the Holocaust. The sickening statement released afterwards by the West London PSC said that she had been “harangued”.

And one of the guest speakers that night was the Reverend Stephen Sizer who recently posted a link to his Facebook suggesting Israel was behind 9/11.

So while Huq, Sharman and Ball all lowered themselves by contributing to yet another sickening PSC hatefest Angie Bray’s refusal to attend was the only dignified response.

Investigations and media coverage in aftermath of LSE Palsoc/Femsoc event.

Aitemad Muhanna-Matar, Zena Agha, Rana B. Baker,  Mezna Qato at LSE last week.

Aitemad Muhanna-Matar, Zena Agha, Rana B. Baker, Mezna Qato at LSE last week.

Last Tuesday, 27th January (Holocaust Memorial Day), at a joint Palestine Society and Feminist Society event at the London School of Economics Zena Agha accused Israelis of utilising the idea of rape as a “weapon of war” against Palestinian women, and Rana B. Baker glorified Sana’a Mehaidli who blew herself up in Lebanon in 1985 killing two Israeli soldiers.

I wrote about the event here and LSE’s online newspaper has been covering all the fallout in detail.

LSE’s Israel Society immediately lodged a complaint against the LSE Student Union over Baker’s remarks (Why not over Agha’s remarks also?) and the Feminist Society immediately apologised:

“Having reviewed the statements, regarding applauding an attack against Israeli soldiers, made by a speaker at our event we apologise unequivocally on behalf of the Feminist Society. We give platforms to oppressed peoples, including those under violent occupations, but that does not mean that their views always reflect our own. The Feminist Society is truly regretful that we have caused offence.”

Shamefully, the same cannot be said of the Palestine Society which stated:

“Although the LSESU Palestine Society does not necessarily share the views held by the speaker, we maintain that she is entitled to them and is free to express her analysis on the issue, whatever that may be.”

Incredibly, the chairperson of last week’s event Aitemad Muhanna-Matar, a research fellow at the LSE’s Middle East Centre, then took the issue to new depths with her equating of Israelis and Nazis. She said to the online newspaper:

“These resistance military actions were done in the western history by the IRA, during the American and French revolutions. At a lesser extent, Jews resisted against the Nazist (sic) kidnappers, but faced certain death, the same as Palestinians who committed violence against the Israelis certainly face certain death.”

LSE’s Jewish Society lodged a formal complaint over that remark. Samiha Begum, LSE Student Union Black and Minority Ethnics Students Officer, defended Muhanna-Matar by explaining “She doesn’t compare the regimes she compares the resistance.”

Meanwhile, Zena Agha wrote on her own blog that I had accused her of “urging the audience to see ISIS in a different light – an accusation made all the more hurtful given that my cousin was killed by ISIS activities in Baghdad six months ago and my family is still in mourning.”

I am sorry for Zena’s loss. However, Zena did say just that. She told the audience not to adopt the Western narrative about ISIS.

I will keep you updated on the results of the investigations.

But let’s be clear. Imagine how our universities would look if whenever there was an event one side falsely accused the other of weaponising rape and then went on to glorify those who kill.

And more to the point not only did two Israeli soldiers lose their lives in Mehaidli’s suicide bombing but Mehaidli lost hers also at the tender age of 16.

Three families are still in mourning for the needless loss of loved ones. That is, in effect, what Baker glorified last week.

On a brighter note as a result of my blog about the event Baker’s sickening glorification was reported in Saturday’s Times. On Page 13 the headline read: Suicide Bomber was praised by LSE speaker

The Times reported that Baker “called for applause for Sana’a Mehaidli” and that she said her attack was “worthy of a standing ovation”. The Times also reported that LSE’s Jewish Society and the Israel Society lodged complaints prompting investigations by LSE’s governance, legal and policy division.

How I confronted Palestinian “ambassador” over the Har Nof killings.

On Tuesday night in Parliament I asked Manuel Hassassian, the unofficial Palestinian ambassador to the UK, why in the speech he had just delivered in which he accused Israel of “war crimes” he made no mention of Palestinian violence, specifically the recent murders by two Palestinians of four Rabbis and a Druze policeman at a west Jerusalem synagogue.

He answered me directly but when he said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had condemned the killings I reminded him, as you can see in the clip below, that Abbas had incited the murders in the first place with his violent rhetoric including imploring Palestinians to use “all means” to stop Jews visiting the Temple Mount. Here is our confrontation:

Meanwhile, a woman had just told the room that the Palestinians were suffering a fate worse than that of Anne Frank.

What she said was bad enough but the most chilling aspect was the warm applause she received from both Hassassian and ex-Labour MP Martin Linton, now chairperson of Labour Friends of Palestine, as well as from the others present.

Here’s the clip of her mocking the memory of Anne Frank who was murdered by the Nazis at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the age of 15:

The actual event at Parliament was about that recent vote to recognise a Palestinian state at some time in the future. Although it was held under the auspices of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Third World Solidarity it was for all intents and purposes another sickening Labour Party anti-Israel event.

As well as Linton current Labour MP Khalid Mahmood spoke. Labour MP Richard Burden and Labour’s Lord Ahmed were also due to speak but were both absent.

Mahmood replied to my question on the role of Hamas in the conflict by accusing Israel of bombing the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza so leaving the road clear for a Hamas takeover.

Hamas had fought a bloody civil war against the PA but Mahmood’s response shows the serious level of misinformation gladly assumed by many British politicians. Here is Mahmood expressing his pure ignorance of events:

Finally there was Linton, now notorious for invoking anti-Jewish Nazi imagery when he once referred to “the tentacles of Israel” interfering in Britain’s political system.

At Tuesday night’s event while he mentioned that Mohammed Abu Khedair was murdered by Israelis he never mentioned that Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel were murdered by Palestinians. According to Linton the latter had been merely “kidnapped”. I interrupted to remind him of their fate as you can see here from 2 mins 40 secs:

Remarkably there were only 25 people present at the event with swathes of empty seats. Those present finally convened for a group photo, see below, and with numbers short I offered to help out with taking photos for those who wanted a memento of the sour night.

Group photo! Linton front 2nd from right, Hassassian front 3rd from right.

Group photo! Linton front 2nd from right, Hassassian front 3rd from right.