Category Archives: Jews

I ask my question to Israeli Arab MK visiting London through a torrent of abuse.

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Malia Bouattia, Dr. Durgham Saif, Baroness Hussein-Ece, Dr. Yousef T. Jabareen, Ben White

There was a burning question at the back of my mind when two highly successful Israeli Arabs came to London today to tell a crowd of 100 people at the P21 Gallery how oppressive Israel is towards its Arab citizens which make up 20% of Israel’s population.

For one hour I sat listening to Israeli Arab MK Dr. Yousef T. Jabareen tell us how Israel “treats its indigenous people as second and third class citizens” and how “Israeli law is similar to the racial classification during racial apartheid in America” and how Israel is “a Jewish state for its Arab citizens but a democracy only for its Jewish citizens”.

He told us how there’s a big difference in the education, welfare and infrastructure budgets between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. Nine to one, apparently.

I listened to Liberal Democrat Baroness Hussein-Ece OBE, who was chairing the event, complain that “a country that claims to be a democracy deprives people of freedom of speech”.

While Dr. Durgham Saif said “Israel is a fine democracy, but only for Jews” and how “Israel appropriates Palestinian land and Judaises it by transferring it to Jews” and that “We are the Indians of America”.

Then Malia Bouattia,the Black Students’ Officer of the National Union of Students, compared Israel’s apparent oppressive treatment of its Arab citizens to the UK’ “targeting of Muslims and pro-Palestine activists”. She claimed that “UK Muslims find their democratic freedoms are comprehensively stripped”.

And she seriously thinks that in this country “discussion about Palestine is all but illegitimate” which she blamed on “the Zionist and Neocon lobbies”.

Ben “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are” White was the final speaker. He referred to Israel as the “so-called Jewish state” before calling for Israel to become a “state of all it citizens, not a Jewish state”.

Then I had my arm up for another 55 minutes during the Q&A. The Baroness called everyone else in the room who wished to ask a question but ignored me. I asked if I could ask a question but she again ignored me. I then asked her why she was ignoring me and suggested she was doing it purposely to which she replied she didn’t know who I was.

So with two minutes left I rose and spoke. I just about managed to ask Dr. Yousef T. Jabareen how could he accuse Israel of oppressing its Arab citizens, of being undemocratic and of so underfunding the Israeli Arab education system when he himself was a Member of Parliament, a lecturer at the University of Haifa and Tel-Hai Academic College, had studied in Washington and was now here in London verbally attacking Israel?

I received such loud boos, hisses and abuse as I stood there that I swiftly took my seat. Needless to say I would have asked the same of Dr Durgham Saif, Professor at Al-Quds University in Abu-Dis, who also studied and lectured in Washington and who is a member of the Israeli Bar Association.

But by then I had already been shouted at by the Baroness for “disrespecting the meeting”.

In fairness to Dr Jabareen he listened to my question and answered, albeit unsatisfactorily. He simply complained that he was not allowed to visit the Al Aqsa Mosque and that many Israeli Arab leaders were banned from leaving Israel.

Meanwhile P21 itself is quickly becoming a hub of hate with constant anti-Israel lectures to the wider public. During the Q&A a young Romanian woman said she loved Jewish culture but not what Israel was doing to the Palestinians and she asked what she could do to help. Malia Bouattia said she should join the BDS movement.

One audience member did ask why we don’t hear from the other side to which Ben White, laughably, responded that Israel’s message is dominant in the media so there is no need to have any balance at events like today’s.

In 20 years time the lunatics in these audiences lapping up this extreme anti-Israel propaganda will have taken over the asylum so I just don’t understand why our supposed Jewish leadership organisations (JLC, BICOM, ZF, Board of Deputies etc.) are abdicating all responsibility where these horrendous events are concerned.

Israel accused of possible “genocide” by Arab Organisation for Human Rights.

Last night the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK held a meeting called “Violence and Conflict in Jerusalem: Examining the recent spike in violence towards Palestinians and the plight of Jerusalem’s historic sites” at the Holiday Inn in London’s Bloomsbury.

Despite the remarkably biased title the main reason to go was to hear Labour MP Gerald Kaufman who was due to speak. It would have been an opportunity to ask Kaufman about his recent comment that “Jewish money” is influencing British government policy and to see if he might consider making an apology at last.

Unfortunately, Kaufman couldn’t make it to the event due to ongoing parliamentary matters.

It was still an opportunity to catch up on the latest anti-Israel propaganda being disseminated by academics like Ilan Pappe, activists like Adeeb Ziadah and lawyers like Carl Buckley (who was chairing the event) and Toby Cadman who both regularly brief against Israel.

University of Exeter lecturer Ilan Pappe started proceedings off by claiming that Israel’s political party Jewish Home (Bayit Ha-Yehudi) is intent on destroying the Al Aqsa Mosque and replacing it with another Jewish temple.

He said that 20 years ago he would not have worried about this except that now Jewish Home is part of the Israeli government. Pappe also claimed that a major Israeli NGO (which he did not name) directed towards the rebuilding of a Jewish temple is funded by both the Israeli government and American Jews.

Israeli school children, including his own children, according to Pappe, are forced to visit this NGO to hear about the building of this Jewish temple in place of the Al Aqsa Mosque.

Pappe concluded by describing Israel’s “contempt for Islam”, Israel’s continued “Judaisation” of Jerusalem and he listed mosques that Israel has, since 1948, turned into, inter alia, restaurants, nightclubs, synagogues and yeshivas.

The most surreal part of the evening was when activist Adeeb Ziadah showed a video of the Neturei Karta calling for the end of Israel.

Ziadah seemed to find it highly amusing that a Jewish person was expressing sentiments better than any Muslim person could (see near end of clip below for Ziadah’s delight).

Ziadah also showed a procession of slides portraying how important the Al Aqsa Mosque is for Palestinians, how Palestinians “sacrifice themselves” for the Al Aqsa Mosque as a matter of “national dignity and religious obligation” and how the Western Wall actually belongs to Muslims (see below also).

Finally, lawyer Toby Cadman cited a list of war crimes Israel could be accused of by the International Criminal Court. He kept mentioning “genocide” which prompted my question during the Q&A as to how there can be “genocide” when the Palestinian population, we are repeatedly told, continues to grow apace with Gaza being, according to some, “the most densely populated place on earth”.

His response was that “genocide” can still occur even if a population is increasing.

Jonathan Hoffman then asked why the panel had overlooked Mahmoud Abbas’ incitement that “Jews should not be allowed to defile the Al Aqsa Mosque with their filthy feet”.

Ilan Pappe claimed that he had not heard Abbas say this and that he wasn’t sure if this amounted to incitement anyway.

However, Pappe thought that “the occupation” was enough on its own for young Palestinians to “take fate into their own hands” and become violent (hear both Jonathan’s question and Pappe’s response here).

The audience at the event was surprisingly small with only about 20 people present and it felt supportive to have quite a few pro-Israel activists there as well.

In fact we made up about a quarter of the audience so the Arab Organisation for Human Rights should really thank us for swelling their numbers for them.

Slides shown by Adeeb Ziadah:

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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:

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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.

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.

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: