Channel 4 News’ Jonathan Miller doesn’t mention the 1948 war, and gets away with it.

In a cunning twist to that famous Fawlty Towers scene when Basil Fawlty tries to not mention the war when serving German guests but fails, Channel 4 News journalist Jonathan Miller does his best to not mention the war and succeeds!

The war that would not pass Miller’s lips was the one of 1948 when Israel beat five Arab armies and more to establish its legal state. Whereas the putative Israelis accepted UN Resolution 181 (the Partition resolution) the Arab world rejected it hoping to inflict on Israel’s Jews a second Holocaust instead.

To add to the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust another 6,000 Jews needlessly lost their lives in that 1947-49 war.

Not that such history seems to be of much concern to Jonathan Miller.

In his five-minute piece on Gaza for Channel 4 News last night he shows Palestinians playing football. Miller describes how “teams are named after the home towns from which previous generations were cleansed 66 years ago”. In one match we are told “Jaffa are playing Ashkelon”.

So Miller reduces the 1947-49 conflict down to one malicious word: Cleansed. The Palestinians were not “cleansed”, but Jews are cast as evil-doers nevertheless.

Miller tells us that Hamas and Fatah supporters play on the same team. It’s very touching to see guys taking time out from planning another genocide of the Jewish people (see Hamas’ Charter) and inciting racial hatred against Jews (see PA/Fatah TV) to play a bit of footy. The vicious fight at the end between two players possibly betrays the existing hatred between these two factions.

Miller starts his piece to camera with the common slur that Israel is cruel to Palestinian children. We are introduced to Abdel Karim who has a brain tumour and who has suffered a relapse after his first operation. Miller explains:

“Abdul Karim’s lifesaving treatment was delayed because Israel refused permission for his mother to accompany him to Jerusalem. They had to reapply for his grandmother to go instead. The process took two months. The oncologist is sending him to Israel again. This time for radiotherapy.”

Miller doesn’t tell us that Israel suspects Abdul’s father and mother of involvement in terrorism. Miller clearly outlines this on the Channel 4 News website where he writes:

“Arafat al-Dalo is not permitted to enter Israel because he had once been shot in the leg by an Israeli high-velocity bullet. Arafat, who is a tailor by trade, insisted categorically that he was not a militant. He had got caught up in a shooting incident at a border crossing, he said.

Ghada thinks she was refused because one of her brothers had been shot dead in a clash with Israeli forces. This made him a “shahid”, a “martyr” in Palestine; in Israel, it made Ghada a suspect.”

So why was this left out of the Channel 4 News footage?

Miller finishes his piece to camera with this cynical and unsubstantiated allegation against Israel:

“Paediatricians here cite several cases in which permissions to cross into Israel have taken so long that very sick children have died waiting.”

Jews responsible for the deaths of children is a long-standing anti-Semitic slur.

Last night Miller tweeted that he isn’t anti-Semitic:

millerC4

What is truly shocking is Channel 4′s increasing attacks on Israel and the Jewish people.

Channel 4′s Dispatches Inside The Israel Lobby presented by Peter Oborne begins with Oborne’s ominous words:

“Tonight on Dispatches how British policy is influenced by supporters of a foreign power…We investigate the Israel Lobby’s bankrolling of British politicians.”

That’s another long-standing anti-Semitic slur of Jews using money and power for nefarious reasons.

Sadly, Oborne is allowed to continue plying his vile trade in spurious allegations against Israel and its supporters for the Daily Telegraph (here and here).

Channel 4 also showed Peter Kosminky’s The Promise which ended with the words of a British soldier:

“After Bergen Belsen, I thought that the Jews deserved a state, but now I’m not so sure…Their precious state has been born in violence and cruelty to its neighbours, and I’m not sure I want it to prosper…”

Channel 4 also broadcast Going for Gold in Gaza about disabled Palestinians training for the Paralympics. One Palestinian described in Arabic how he was able to rehabilitate himself at Israeli hospitals after the accident that left him disabled, but the word “Israeli” was suspiciously left out of the subtitles.

Finally, there was the time that Jon Snow, Channel 4′s main news presenter, lunged at me when I questioned him about his persistent use of the term “the Jewish lobby”.

Feel free to complain to OFCOM about Miller’s piece if you don’t want Miller to get away with it. Write to ofcomstandardsteam@ofcom.org.uk but you must mention the date and time of the programme: Channel 4 News at 7pm on 18th February.

And here is that famous “Don’t mention the War” scene from Fawlty Towers. Instead of Basil Fawlty, think Jonathan Miller.

See also Honest Reporting’s response to Jonathan Miller’s Channel 4 piece to camera.

Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi apologises for comparing Gaza to the Holocaust.

Well done, Tal Ofer! After I reported on Thursday that during Wednesday’s parliamentary debate on Gaza Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi had compared the situation of the Palestinians in Gaza to that of Jews living in Nazi Germany Labour Party activist Ofer immediately reported her remarks to Labour’s HQ and brought it to the attention of the media generally.

Qureshi had said:

“What has struck me in all this is that the state of Israel was founded because of what happened to the millions and millions of Jews who suffered genocide. Their properties, homes and land—everything—were taken away, and they were deprived of rights. Of course, many millions perished. It is quite strange that some of the people who are running the state of Israel seem to be quite complacent and happy to allow the same to happen in Gaza.”

You cannot get more offensive to the few remaining Holocaust survivors and to those who lost loved ones in Auschwitz, Belsen etc.

Gaza is no Belsen. And the suffering in Gaza is at the behest of Islamist-terror organisation Hamas which is happy to oppress its own people so that useful idiots in the West will blame Israel.

The response to Qureshi’s remarks from the Labour Party itself was an utter disgrace:

“These remarks were taken completely out of context. Yasmin Qureshi was not equating events in Gaza with the Holocaust. As an MP who has visited Auschwitz and has campaigned all her life against racism and anti-Semitism she would not do so.”

However, soon after, Qureshi must have had a pang of conscience and came out with this apology:

“The debate was about the plight of the Palestinian people and in no way did I mean to equate events in Gaza with the Holocaust. I apologise for any offence caused. I am also personally hurt if people thought I meant this. As someone who has visited the crematoria and gas chambers of Auschwitz I know the Holocaust was the most brutal act of genocide of the 20th Century and no-one should seek to underestimate its impact.”

So Qureshi is “personally hurt”? Poor her. Not as “personally hurt” as those who were in Auschwitz or Belsen etc or lost family there.

But let’s all feel sorry for Qureshi instead!

It is also pretty frustrating that Labour List’s Mark Ferguson thinks “Qureshi’s apology should draw a line under this, and rightly so. If there was no intention to cause offence or equate events in Gaza with the Holocaust I am happy to accept that.”

How can there have been “no intention”? Her words are 100% clear. There is no nuance!

And then what does Ferguson think of Gerald Kaufman MP’s words about Israelis?:

“Go to Tel Aviv, as I did not long ago, and watch them sitting complacently outside their pavement cafés. They do not give a damn about their fellow human beings perhaps half an hour away.”

The remainder of Qureshi’s speech was also disgraceful, especially the way she frames Jews solely by religion. She said, referring indirectly to Kaufman:

“I want to praise the people in Israel and the Jewish people in this country who campaign actively for the rights of Palestinians. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton, I am sure that they are criticised by other Jewish people perhaps for trying to betray the state of Israel”.

But the likes of Kaufman are criticised not just by “Jewish people” but people of all religions and none. It is this division of Jews into “good Jew/bad Jew” that is almost tantamount to inciting racial hatred.

Meanwhile, these Holocaust comparisons are slowly, slowly becoming the norm.

American Professor Joel Beinin told a student audience at SOAS recently that Israel is putting the Bedouin into “concentration camps” and at a recent War On Want talk at SOAS students were told that the Palestinians are living in “apartheid ghettos”.

Thanks to the rhetoric of Beinin, Qureshi, War On Want and others Israeli Jews (and, by extension, any Jew that supports Israel) are slowly becoming thought of as Nazis.

A day of anti-Israel hatred and Holocaust minimization in Parliament.

Ismail Patel, Yasmin Qureshi MP, Megan Driscoll, Linda Ramsden in Parliament .

Ismail Patel, Yasmin Qureshi MP, Megan Driscoll, Linda Ramsden in Parliament .

“It was supposed to be Never Again” declared Ismail Patel but the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, he said, are “oppressed”, undergoing “ethnic cleansing” and suffering a “genocide”.

Patel, Chair of Friends of Al Aqsa, was speaking in the Grimmond Room of Britain’s Houses of Parliament last night at an event to launch his organisation’s “Jerusalem Report” which focuses on “Protecting Palestinian Citizenship Rights in East Jerusalem.”

According to Megan Driscoll, Advocacy Officer at Coalition for Jerusalem (based in Jerusalem), who spoke first, Israel’s “Jerusalem Masterplan” is to secure the Jewish majority in the city.

Driscoll said that the Palestinian population there is currently 34% and that Israel’s aim is to drive this down to 30% and probably lower.

The way Israel is doing this, she continued, is through “residency revocation” which makes Jerusalem Palestinians “stateless”.

Driscoll said Israel revokes residency if Palestinians have lived abroad for more than seven years or have taken citizenship in another country.

She said there is also a Jerusalem “centre of life” test that Palestinians must pass. This, she said, is so stringent that even Palestinians still living in Jerusalem have not been able to prove such centrality and have lost their residency rights.

Driscoll claimed that since 1967 there have been over 14,000 such “residency revocations”. She referred to this as the “Quiet Deportation” and said it was successful because instead of being “mass collective punishment” it received less attention in the media because it was executed against individuals and families.

Linda Ramsden, Director of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, said that Israel’s “policy of displacement began in 1948 when 530 Palestinian villages were demolished and 750,000 Palestinians made refugees”.

She described how most Palestinians applying for building permits are refused because they cannot prove ownership of land due to a lack of documents (does it not occur to Ramsden that maybe, just maybe, they do not own the land in question?).

Ramsden said that once a house is built without a permit a Palestinian family will suffer from stress worrying which day their home will be demolished. She said this causes a lot of “stress related illness”.

When a house is due to be demolished, she continued, hundreds of police and dogs arrive which, she said, is “very frightening”. Bulldozers are used for the demolition and pneumatic drills destroy the base of the house.

She claimed the families are fined and sent a bill for the demolition and that some Palestinians demolish their own homes to avoid these “horrendous costs”.

Meanwhile, last night’s event was hosted and chaired by the Labour MP for Bolton South-East Yasmin Qureshi. Qureshi was fresh from the House of Commons debate that afternoon on the situation in Gaza.

Qureshi is very quietly spoken but the words that come out of her mouth are pure poison where Israel is concerned. If one thinks that Ismail Patel’s application of the term “Never Again” to the Palestinians was bad enough Qureshi’s Holocaust minimization is more shocking.

Here is what she said in yesterday’s Parliamentary debate:

“What has struck me in all this is that the state of Israel was founded because of what happened to the millions and millions of Jews who suffered genocide. Their properties, homes and land—everything—were taken away, and they were deprived of rights. Of course, many millions perished. It is quite strange that some of the people who are running the state of Israel seem to be quite complacent and happy to allow the same to happen in Gaza.” (my emphasis)

This followed Labour MP Gerald Kaufman’s attack on ALL Israelis in the same debate:

“Again and again, Israel seeks to justify the vile injustices that it imposes on the people of Gaza and the west bank on the grounds of the holocaust. Last week, we commemorated the holocaust; 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza are being penalised with that as the justification…It is totally unacceptable that the Israelis should behave in such a way, but they do not care. Go to Tel Aviv, as I did not long ago, and watch them sitting complacently outside their pavement cafés. They do not give a damn about their fellow human beings perhaps half an hour away.” (my emphasis)

This is how Britain’s Parliament is sometimes so abused. While innocent Syrians are being murdered and left permanently disabled by barrel bombs dropped out of the sky by Assad’s forces certain MPs are offensive about Israel, Israelis and the Holocaust instead.

While Kaufman voted against any intervention in Syria, Qureshi couldn’t even be bothered to turn up to that vote last August!

Last night’s event launching the “Jerusalem Report” was sold out but due to the strike on the London underground not many people could get there.

It must be galling that when so much effort has been put into producing an evening of hatred, lies and Holocaust minimization so few people are there to appreciate your efforts.

Arab Israeli lecturer visits London, condemns “Judaisation” of Israel.

Imagine if a member of the English Defence League, or anyone else for that matter, came to the School of Oriental and African Studies in London to talk about the “Islamisation” of England or Europe or any place in the world. Do you think there’d be a riot?

SOAS would have barred such an invitation long before.

However, a discussion about “Judaisation” under the guise of academia is encouraged and applauded judging by last night’s audience at the Centre for Palestine Studies, which is based at SOAS, where the Arab Israeli (or Palestinian Israeli) lecturer Dr Thabet Abu Rass spoke on the topic of The Bedouin in the Naqab (Negev): The invisible Palestinians and the Prawer Plan.

I lost count how many times Dr Rass used “Judaisation” or “Judaising” to accuse Israel of nefariously attempting to make Israeli places like the Galilee, Nazareth and the Negev majority Jewish areas to the detriment of Israel’s Arab citizens already living there.

One has to ask the question,  if “Islamisation” is considered offensive then why is “Judaisation” considered not offensive?

Meanwhile, one has to strongly doubt whether the Bedouin will be happy to be considered Palestinian by both Dr Rass and the Centre for Palestine Studies. The Bedouin seem to have a completely different culture, history and relationship with Israel than the Palestinians do. But Dr Rass described the Bedouin last night as “part of the Palestinian people”.

Dr Rass is Adalah’s director of their Negev office, while Adalah styles itself  as “The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel”.

Dr Rass, who obtained a PhD in Geography and Regional Development from the University of Arizona, also lectures at Ben Gurion University and Sapir College but last night he started off by saying of those he teaches: “Some of my students are the most extreme settlers from Hebron.”

He continued that “Israel’s Arab minority is under attack”, that Avigdor Lieberman is attempting to “Judaise the Galilee” and that “the state of Israel is trying to increase its Jewishness”.

Dr Rass claimed there is “no free market of land in Israel” and that “93% of Israel is defined as state land” which, he said, was comparable to China, Cuba and North Korea.

Dr Rass then put the natural Bedouin growth rate at 4% and said there was only one group higher than this in the world.

Cue…pregnant…pause…

There then came derogatory laughter from the audience before some of them called out “ultra-orthodox Jews!” Sometimes, you do get a sense of total disparagement of Jewish people and for those few seconds I felt it.

Dr Rass mainly concentrated on the Bedouin town of Al-Araqib in the Negev, near Be’er Sheva, with its 300 residents. He accused Israel of demolishing its homes 49 times since July 2010 and described how Israel uproots Al-Araqib’s crops every spring.

And he described how a Bedouin village called Umm Al-Hiran was removed by Israel, soon to be replaced by a Jewish town called Hiran.

Dr Rass claimed Israel is trying to forcibly displace the Negev Bedouin and then confine them to just 1% of the Negev’s total area. He described this as “the severest attack of land confiscation since 1948″.

Dr Rass blames this, of course, on that policy of “Judaisation”. He continued that there was a “discourse of fear” in Israel which binds Israelis together. He said that when things were quiet with Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah it is “the Bedouin who become the enemy”. Such a “politics of fear”, he said, pushes Israel to the right.

He tried to make the case that the Bedouin had legal and historic rights to the Negev. He produced an old Bedouin voting card and a photocopied Arabic land certificate from 1941. He also produced an aerial photo from 1945 of the Negev showing its fertility presumably to emphasise the quality of the land he was accusing Israel of stealing.

His parting shot at Israel was “for the first time since 1948 Israel is closing places to the Bedouin. From Be’er Sheva to Ashkelon the Bedouin cannot own land. Israel is closing areas off on an ethnic basis. Israel is going to destroy Bedouin unrecognised towns and build Jewish settlements. It is going to criminalise the Bedouin for sitting on their ancestral lands. Israel is not an apartheid state, but it is creeping apartheid“.

As I understand it, Israel is not closing anything off “on an ethnic basis”. The Bedouin can apply to purchase property in any of the new Negev developments.

Chairing this Centre for Palestine Studies’ latest anti-Israel hatefest under the guise of academia was Sharri Plonski. Two years ago, while studying at SOAS, Plonski chaired a SOAS Israel Society event Is BDS working? Now she’s a SOAS lecturer.

Meanwhile, Adalah is being advised on the situation of the Bedouin by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, which calls for a racist boycott of Israel leading to Israel’s eventual obliteration. Adalah is also supported by Christian Aid in this project. Once again we see hard-earned charity funds wasted on projects primarily aimed at demonising Israel.

If you really wish to know the truth about the Prawer Plan see here and watch the clip below. You won’t be surprised to learn that Adalah and Dr Rass have misrepresented the Bedouin cause.

Many Bedouin are in favour of Prawer. The plan should improve their lives immeasurably, allowing them to live in far more advantageous locations with proper mains supplies and schools, while also benefiting financially from the move. Consultations are still taking place, though, and nothing has been set in stone yet.

The Bedouin might even, finally, be allowed to enjoy all the benefits of a full life in Israel that Dr Thabet Abu Rass has taken advantage of himself. He said that he has recently visited the British Foreign Office, the White House and Congress.

It seems that the only people against the Bedouin are Dr Rass, Adalah and anyone else who wants to stop the Bedouin from enjoying enhanced lives.

Families of Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall continue their war on Israel.

When Craig Corrie approached a group of pro-Israel activists outside the Hackney Empire before the start of a memorial concert for Rachel Corrie everyone was worried he would be angry. It was 1st November 2005, more than two years after Rachel Corrie, his daughter, was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza. She was 23.

The activists were holding up photos of Israeli Rachels murdered by Palestinian terrorists. Rachel Thaler was 16 when she died. She was also a British citizen. The others were Rachel Levy, 17, Rachel Levi, 19, Rachel Charhi, 36, Rachel Gavish, 50, Rachel Ben Abu, 16, Rachel Kol, 53, and Rachel Shabo, 40.

As Tom Gross wrote in 2005 “Even though Thaler was a British citizen, born in London, where her grandparents still live, her death has never been mentioned in a British newspaper.”

But Mr Corrie was not angry. Instead, he was very polite and after he had looked over the photos of the Rachels he said that they were all in his thoughts.

Sadly, his and his wife’s Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice now engages in the childish, ignorant politics of the average anti-Israel activist. The foundation calls for a boycott of Israel and for “the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes”, which would inevitably mean Israel’s destruction.

When I searched the foundation for mentions of the Israeli Rachels it returned “No posts found”.

Yesterday, I was at SOAS in London for the Not Afraid To Look exhibition, which is based on the photos and quotes of Tom Hurndall, aged 22 when he died from his injuries after being shot by an Israeli soldier in Gaza, and Rachel Corrie.

Both were “trained by” the International Solidarity Movement. ISM, the exhibition states, “provided support through non-violent action against arbitrary house demolitions and land theft by the occupying Israeli forces”.

Nowhere, was it mentioned that Israel imprisoned the soldier that shot Tom or that a thorough investigation acquitted the bulldozer driver of intentionally killing Rachel.

In a sideroom at SOAS I also attended a four-way Skype session that linked up activists in London, Gaza, Edinburgh and Olympia in Washington state, USA where the Corries are based. Tom’s mother, Jocelyn, was in the room in London.

Sadly, Rachel and Tom’s memories were commemorated by racist, childish songs sung from Edinburgh calling for Israel to be boycotted.

Here are some of the lines:

Don’t buy dates, don’t buy jaffa fruits, don’t buy Israeli wines, there’s a boycott going on.

Just read the labels, no looking back, if made in Israel, it stays on the rack.

Tell all your neighbours, don’t be shy, read all the labels before you shop, Israel’s apartheid’s got to stop.

Afterwards, Cindy Corrie praised those lyrics. Haider Eid, in Gaza, told the four-way Skype audience that Israel’s Operation Cast Lead “happened in response to harmless rockets from Gaza”. Meanwhile, the main guest, Jeremy Corbyn MP, failed to show up.

I can understand that the families of Tom and Rachel want justice but when you read the quotes of their children below, especially Tom’s, one has to question just what they were doing in such a dangerous predicament, especially considering that Tom arrived in Gaza AFTER Rachel had been killed.

The two families will, no doubt, continue their quest against Israel but their children should not have been in Gaza and complicity in their tragic deaths lies not just with Israel but with Yasser Arafat, who launched the bloody Second Intifada, themselves as parents for not dissuading their children from going to a war zone and with the ISM who took them there.

Quotes from Not Afraid To Look:

“It is strange to know that each night people are shot and killed for breaking military curfew. And in the darkness on the north west side there is an Israeli settlement a few hundred metres away with a military sniper in between. Any one of us four could be being watched through a sniper’s sights at this moment. The certainty is that they are watching and it is on the decision of any one Israeli soldier or settler that my life depends. I know that I’d probably never know what hit me, but it’s part of the job to be as visible as possible.” Tom Hurndall 6/4/03

“Two ‘young’ brothers shot at by snipers in the tower. Mustafa hit in leg, Rushdie in throat while in the bathroom (through a misted glass window). Ironically, his best hope of survival is if his family pays $4,000 and apply to take him to Israel for treatment.” Tom Hurndall 11/4/03

“Our job is to keep water pumping machinery on-line during the curfew because Palestinian technicians would be shot at if they came out to do it. We stand a better chance.” Tom Hurndall 6/4/03

“It seems that all over Palestine the strategy is the same…They shoot at water tanks on the top of houses for fun. They destroy wells, give all the water supply to settlements and place the off-switch in settlers’ hands to use as a weapon. Everything is deliberately designed to lower the standards of life for Palestinians so that they just get up and leave.” Tom Hurndall 7/4/2003

“I think it is maybe official now that Rafah is the poorest place in the world.” Rachel Corrie 27/2/03

“Rachel (Corrie) was killed in Rafah a few weeks ago. It seems so unfair. Not just on the surface but looking at the images. I wonder how few or how many heard of it on the news and just counted it as another death, just another number…” Tom Hurndall 3/4/03

Israel’s “beautiful resistance” to suicide bombers: A response to St James’s Church Rector Lucy Winkett

St James’s Church’s Rector Lucy Winkett’s defence of her church’s installation of a replica of Israel’s security wall in a piece for The Guardian is a legal and moral failure.

First the legal side. She states that Israel’s wall is “illegal under international law”. It is incredible that so many non-lawyers (and a few actual lawyers) state this with such ease when there is little proper evidence of such “illegality”.

Rector Winkett is relying on the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice. A frame repeatedly projected on to St James’s Church’s replica wall states “In 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague stated the Wall was illegal and it should be dismantled.”

But an advisory opinion is just that; advisory and an opinion. It sets no legal precedent.

Even if Israel’s wall was “illegal” there is the legal argument of self-defence. If I used illegal means to stop someone killing me I would be guilty of nothing more than self-defence. In parallel with this Israel’s wall has stopped Palestinian suicide bombers killing Israeli civilians.

There are legal opinions for and against Israel’s security wall, but for Rector Winkett to declare the wall “illegal under international law” makes a mockery of her claim in The Guardian that “we are not ‘pro’ one side or another”.

On the moral side Rector Winkett derides as “irresponsible” those who claim “we are aligning ourselves with those who support the Holocaust, suicide bombings or that we are antisemitic”.

But Rector Winkett’s wish for Israel’s security wall to come down will encourage suicide bombers sent by the likes of Islamist terror group Hamas to resume their murder of Israeli civilians, including those living on the West Bank, which the building of the wall has successfully disrupted.

The Hamas Charter specifically calls for the murder of Jews, so, yes, Hamas does support the Holocaust, suicide bombings and is blatantly antisemitic.

And then there are the organisations that St James’s Church has expressly aligned itself with for Bethlehem Unwrapped.

Rector Winkett writes that St James’s is supporting “a peaceful Palestinian principle known as ‘beautiful resistance’; expressed in theatres, music projects…”.

Sami Awad, director of the Holy Land Trust, might believe in “beautiful resistance” but that doesn’t exclude a belief in violence. Awad is on record as saying that such non-violent resistance “is not a substitute for the armed struggle.”

Incidentally, all net proceeds from Bethlehem Unwrapped go to the Holy Land Trust. (That is should there be any net proceeds, the cost of the 12 day replica wall installation being an incredible £30,000.)

Meanwhile, recent news footage shows Interpal’s primary trustee Essam Mustafa with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

And War On Want and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions are part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a movement that campaigns for Israel’s destruction.

Rector Winkett writes in her Guardian piece that all viewpoints are listened to without exception and that visitors have been allowed to write a prayer or message of peace on the wall and that anything offensive has been immediately removed. She also writes that most conversations have been respectful.

Sadly, many have not been. A woman going in to St James’s Church for Bethlehem Unwrapped’s comedy evening responded to a question about the Holocaust with “What Holocaust?” A supporter of Israel was called a “friggin Jew” and “quenelle 4 ever” appeared on the replica wall (see middle of replica wall below written in blue):

wallquenelle

Rector Winkett also writes that people have written “this wall saves lives”. However, this was subsequently changed to “this wall enslaves lives”.

Bethlehem Unwrapped is not a respectful project however much Rector Winkett is trying to convince us. It mocks Israel’s valid attempts to keep both Israelis and Palestinians alive. Palestinians cannot now be sent as suicide bombers by Hamas.

And it fails to recognise even the possibility that the main problem for Bethlehem’s Christians is not the security wall at all but intimidation by Hamas similar to that carried out by Islamists elsewhere.

Moreover, St James’s Church’s Bethlehem Unwrapped festival has attracted antisemites, Holocaust deniers, those campaigning for the destruction of Israel and those who condone violence to that end.

This may not have been St James’s Church’s intention but this is what has happened and for this Rector Winkett should apologise to Britain’s Jewish community which is bearing the main brunt of the backlash.

The biggest irony is that St James’s Church itself is protected by a security wall; a tall metal fence that contains a locked door. When the door is unlocked it is heavily guarded. Some may call this a checkpoint.

St James’s Church is, understandably, protecting itself from anyone harbouring ill feeling towards it and who may be inclined to carry out an atrocity similar to those carried out against Churches in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt by militant Islamists.

Israel is doing the same.

(This piece was originally posted at CiFWatch)

St James’s Church’s replica of Israel’s security wall cost….£30,000.

Take a look at the above photo. That is what £30,000 looks like. That is the cost of St James’s Church’s replica of Israel’s security wall according to St James’s churchwarden Jo Hines.

Hines said the money was all privately raised, presumably from the likes of vicious anti-Israel charity War On Want, Amos Trust, Holy Land Trust, Interpal, Jews For Justice For Palestinians, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, P21 Gallery, Tipping Point North South, Zaytoun CIC all of whom are “associated with” Bethlehem Unwrapped.

Last night it was the turn of Jewish comedians Ivor Dembina, Dave Cohen and Andy Zaltzman to go on stage for Bethlehem Unwrapped, which is pretty ironic seeing as one of their audience members was Jane Green, probably a pseudonym, who is a notorious Holocaust mocker. As she went in to the church last night I asked her what she thought of the Holocaust to which she replied “What Holocaust”.

Then, of course, there is this clip of a discussion outside St James’s Church where a supporter of Israel is called “a frigging Jew” (see from 4 mins. 15 secs.).

All pretty disturbing stuff especially in the week of Nicolas Anelka’s alleged reverse Nazi salute.

When I put it to Hines that the £30,000 could have been better spent feeding the homeless and heating the elderly she responded that that argument could also be made in relation to statues and that there are 20 or so homeless people sleeping in St James’s Church at night.

Imagine had St James’s Church’s courtyard, where the replica wall stands, been made into a structure for the 12 days where even more people could sleep, be fed and be kept warm. Churches, I thought, were in the business of looking after the poor and caring for the elderly.

After the 12 days of Christmas are over the replica wall is due to be taken down. That amounts to a cost of £2,500 a day. At least a statue usually stays up for the long term so over time its daily cost is minimal.

So what is St James’s Church’s replica wall going to achieve? St James’s Church states “All net proceeds to the ‘Future Peacemakers Appeal’, Holy Land Trust, Bethlehem.” I’d be amazed if there are any “net proceeds” when you take into account the £30,000 cost of the replica wall. Admittedly, chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s friday night £125/head “Bethlehem Feast” could make inroads into the £30,000.

For British Jews the replica wall and Bethlehem Unwrapped are a disaster. I agree with Melanie Phillips when she states that its inevitable effect will be “to incite hatred against Israel and all who support its defence”, which means even more vigilance at synagogues, Jewish schools and Jewish events.

Some will benefit though. Ottolenghi and his chef partner Sami Tamimi and Dembina, Zaltzman and Cohen will have had their faces and names plastered all over the gates of the Church which looks out onto one of the busiest roads in London. Not forgetting Justin Butcher, Geof Thompson, Dean Willars and Deborah Burton who all helped to design the replica wall (see below).

In the end the £30,000 cost of the wall could have been donated to help those that St James’s Church, Piccadilly, really claims to care for: the people of Bethlehem.