And I only asked why Jews can’t live next to Palestinians on the West Bank….

GUPS representative, Martin Linton, Dibyesh Anand, Sarah Apps, Murad Qureshi

GUPS representative, Martin Linton, Dibyesh Anand, Sarah Apps, Murad Qureshi

And so to my final blog of 2014 and a public event I attended last month at the University of Westminster, London.

On 13th November 2014 a panel discussed Parliament Recognises Palestine: What Next?

The panel consisted of Sara Apps, Campaigns Officer for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Martin “tentacles” Linton, chair of Labour Friends of Palestine, Murad Qureshi, a Labour Party Member of the London Mayoral Assembly and, finally, a representative from the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS – UK).

The panel was chaired by Dr. Dibyesh Anand, Head of Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Westminster.

As ever there were repeated calls from the panel for a boycott of Israeli “settlements”. When it came to the Q&A I raised my arm and asked one simple question:

“Isn’t it racist to call for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank especially when considering that 1.7 million Muslim and Christian Arabs reside fairly happily in Israel ?”

Chaos ensued.

I was then referred to as “the enemy” by a man who walked out while giving me a rather unpleasant look. He also said, referring to me, “We are fighting these people”. Here’s the clip:

The head of Fatah in the UK then described how the Palestinians had welcomed the Jews from Nazi Germany and protected the Jewish community in Beirut during Lebanon’s civil war.

The most frightening aspect of his speech was not the lies but the applause. Here’s the clip:

Martin Linton then accused me of dangerously introducing “Jewish” into the discussion. But he then praised the anti-Israel group Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP).

Sarah Apps said she abhored anti-Semitism. However, her organisation’s logo dispenses with Israel altogether. So, if implicitly calling for the eradication of the Jewish state isn’t anti-Semitism then, one must ask, what is?

Anand Dibyesh said this event wasn’t at all anti-Semitic (I never claimed it was) before immediately, himself, going on to make a link between Nazism and Israel.

Finally, a student asked what she could do to help. Martin Linton responded that she should support Karen Buck, the Labour MP for Westminster North, who, he said, is very pro-Palestinian. It seems for some the needs of the Palestinians are more important than the needs of the good people of Westminster North.

On the way out I was encircled by some aggressive students who told me I was brainwashed and who asked repeatedly how much I was being paid.

So here’s to a less hypocritical and more constructive 2015 although with the May general election on the horizon many British politicians will be using the Palestinians as mere political fodder with which to try to secure their own re-election.

Thank you for all the supportive comments I have had throughout 2014. Thank you to those who have commented on my blog and those who have cross-posted me and many thanks for the support of the team at CIFWatch.

More importantly a huge “thank you” to those who continue to fight against anti-Semitism and Israel’s delegitimisation in the UK but who receive little, if any, credit in return.

A healthy and happy New Year to everyone.

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.

The Poetry of Hizbullah.

To say that my question “Is this book pro-Hezbullah?” wasn’t well received on Tuesday night at SOAS is an understatement.

I was at the book launch of The Hizbullah Phenomenon: Politics and Communication written by Lina Khatib, Dina Matar and Atef Alshaer.

After I had asked my question Dina Matar said “I knew you were going to ask that” and Lina Khatib waved the book at me and said “Why don’t you read it?”

The book explains how Hizbullah has been successful in staying relevant since its 1982 inception by adapting itself to changing situations and communicating these adaptations through various means such as poetry and social media.

Hizbullah are poets? Who knew.

One can imagine: “To kill a Jew, or not to kill a Jew. That is the question.”

So, according to the authors, Hizbullah’s 1980s narrative was one of “victimisation” to attract Lebanon’s marginalised Shia Muslims.

During the 1990s it was one of “resistance” against Israel and connection with “Palestine”.

From 2000 onwards it was focused on “defence” after Israel had left south Lebanon with Hizbullah disseminating the narrative that the Lebanese army is not strong enough to defend Lebanon from Israel.

Now Hizbullah is back to a “victimisation” theme after being implicated in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and others by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and also due to its fighting alongside Bashar Assad in Syria.

Dina Matar said that although Hasan Nasrallah has lost some credibility because of Syria he is still popular, and people in the Arab world listen out for his speeches.

She said there’s a sense that Nasrallah is “just like us, he’s approachable, he speaks the language of the people, he’s funny, he jokes and he’s humble in appearance”.

If this is true then it is a sad indictment on the Arab world that with Hasan Nasrallah complicit in the deaths of over 200,000 innocent Syrians he is still thought so highly of.

I wasn’t trying to be controversial when I asked whether this is a pro-Hizbullah book. I was concerned by this comment by Lina Khatib at the beginning of her presentation on the book to the large student audience:

“Books on Hizbullah seek to frame Hizbullah as a terrorist movement. This is primordial. We have evidence to the contrary. But this is the dominant discourse in America.”

Khatib lives in America. One might forgive Americans for thinking such a thing with the murder of 241 of their fellow citizens by Hizbullah in Beirut in 1983.

And what about the 200,000 dead in Syria and Hizbullah’s attacks on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aeries in 1992 (29 dead) and on the AMIA builing in Buenos Aeries in 1994 (85 dead), the Burghas Airport bombing in Bulgaria in 2012 (6 dead) and Hasan Nasrallah, true to his word of going after Jews worldwide, is now targeting Jews in Peru.

This book is worth reading (if you can stomach the 30 page chapter on Hizbullah poetry) but only with a view to finding out how a modern day Nazi group, totally funded by Iran, portraying itself as a positive force continues to hold a beautiful country like Lebanon to ransom while bringing death and destruction both to Lebanon’s citizens and to Syria all with the final objective of destroying Israel and the Jewish people that live there.

Professor Joel Beinin: “Palestinians are the victims of the victims of the Holocaust.”

Joel Beinin and John Chalcraft in discussion last Tuesday at LSE.

Joel Beinin and John Chalcraft in discussion last Tuesday at LSE.

It must be November because because Joel Beinin, Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University, was in town. Last November Beinin was telling a SOAS audience that “Israel is heading into the abyss” and that Israel is putting Bedouin “into what would effectively be concentration camps”.

At LSE last Tuesday when asked during the Q&A after his talk “Why has the world stood by while Israel built the wall when we boycotted South Africa in the 80s?” Beinin replied, inter alia, that:

“The state of Israel is in some measure a response to western guilt for having sat on their hands during the murder of six million Jews. Now the Palestinians had nothing to do with that but, as Edward Said said, they are ‘the victims of the victims’.”

Beinin’s talk was called High Risk Activism and the Popular Struggle Against the Israeli Occupation in the West Bank and was chaired by well-known Israel boycotter Dr John Chalcraft under the auspices of LSE’s Middle East Centre.

The talk was mainly in support of Anarchists Against the Wall founded by Jonathan Pollak. It is a group of “anarchist Jews” who travel to Palestinian villages on the West Bank to join Palestinians protesting against Israel’s security wall in what they like to call “non-violent action”.

Sometimes these Israelis get hurt in confrontations with IDF soldiers as when Gil Na’amati was apparently shot and injured.

Unsurprisingly Beinin made no mention of why Israel built the wall. His talk  was like a parallel universe in which suicide bombings had never happened, in which Hamas did not exist and where the International Solidarity Movement was a force for good in the world.

When I raised this during the Q&A Beinin responded: “Had there not been that extremely harsh repression (by Israel) of the second Intifada there likely wouldn’t have been any suicide bombings”.

LSE’s student audience lapped up all this nonsense with one of them thanking Beinin for giving a “very balanced talk”. The lecture theatre was full with 200 students.

Meanwhile, the previous Tuesday I was at SOAS to hear William Mathew from the University of East Anglia give a talk under the auspices of the London Middle East Institute on British Policy and Arab Displacement in Palestine, 1915-23: Contingency, Imperialism, and Double-dealing.

Mathew described a state of affairs leading up to the Balfour Declaration of powerless Arab delegates up against powerful and racist British diplomats and Zionist Jews in London.

Despite the very strong current of anti-Semitism running through Britain’s political establishment Mathew said that Britain trusted European Jews more than the Arabs, who they “treated with contempt”, to defend Britain’s colonial interests in Suez and the trading routes to India.

According to Mathew Chaim Weizmann described Arabs who came to London to lobby British diplomats as a “body of potential blackmailers and trash”. And Mathew went into detail about how, in his view, Britain had reneged on its promises in the McMahon-Hussein correspondence of 1915-16.

During this Q&A I asked how, if Arab delegates were so powerless, did they manage to persuade world powers to carve trans-Jordan out of three-quarters of British Mandated Palestine? Mathew’s ridiculous response was “I don’t know”.

So there you have it. Two talks given at two outwardly respectable organisations: The Middle East Centre at LSE and the London Middle East Institute at SOAS. Both speakers gave two completely different reasons for the rise of Israel: For Beinin it was the Holocaust, for Mathew it was all down to the powerlessness of Arabs pitted against powerfully racist Brits and Zionist Jews.

And the theatre of hate continues apace. On Tuesday SOAS’ LMEI talk is about the “charismatic” Hassan Nasrallah. I kid you not.

Now Amnesty International’s Kristyan Benedict compares Israel to Islamic State.

Amnesty International’s crisis response manager for Syria Kristyan Benedict just can’t help himself. In 2012 after Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defence against Hamas Benedict tweeted:

“Louise Ellman, Robert Halfon and Luciana Berger walk into a bar…each orders a round of B52s … #Gaza”.

Ellman, Halfon and Berger all happen to be Jewish.

Amnesty’s subsequent disciplinary investigation found that tweet “ill-advised and had the potential to be offensive and inflammatory but was not racist or antisemitic”. Benedict was merely made to apologise.

A year earlier Amnesty made Benedict apologise for physically threatening me after I questioned Benedict’s guest presenter Abu Dheer who produced to an Amnesty audience the following very possibly fake photo of a young Palestinian boy with a Star of David allegedly carved into his arm by an Israeli soldier using broken glass.

amnestyboy

Benedict called me a “war crimes denier” for questioning the photo and then threatened me physically.

As you can see, the Star of David is too perfect to have been made by broken glass on a screaming boy’s arm and the plaster doesn’t cover the supposed wound properly.

Now Benedict has compared Israel to Islamic State, also known as ISIL (Islamic State in the Levant), with this tweet:

kristben

#JSIL means “Jewish State in the Levant”, a sickening comparison to the murderous ISIL.

Obviously, not on any level can Israel be compared to Islamic State but in the prevailing febrile anti-Israel atmosphere Israel is now regularly being compared so alongside the usual comparisons to Nazism and apartheid South Afria.

So this latest tweet by Benedict, sadly, comes as no surprise. Maybe Amnesty will carry out yet another investigation and make him apologise a third time. Who knows.

But Amnesty does itself a disservice by continuing to employ Benedict. When considering his “JSIL” tweet, his B52 “joke” and his theatening behaviour in response to the questioning of that fake photo why would anyone seeking objectivity take seriously any report that Amnesty produces on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

(For your information here is a debunking of that latest Amnesty report accusing Israel of war crimes during this summer’s Operation Protective Edge)

 

Shlomo Sand’s sickening Guardian article slams both Israel and Judaism.

sand

Cross-posted at CiFWatch.

There are times when something is so obviously wrong that it shouldn’t even need pointing out. That the Guardian thinks there is no problem promoting someone who wants to “resign” from Judaism shows how little respect its editors have for Judaism.

Last Saturday the Guardian allowed Shlomo Sand, a Tel Aviv university professor, to write a lengthy piece in its pages about how he has had enough of being Jewish (see above).

Sand is relatively unknown in the UK. This might be a news story in Israel, but in the UK? In the UK it isn’t news, but will only incite anti-Semitism. The Guardian wouldn’t dare treat another religious minority in such a demeaning manner.

Sand writes in his article:

“I am often even ashamed of Israel, particularly when I witness evidence of its cruel military colonisation, with its weak and defenceless victims who are not part of the “chosen people”.”

How can this often repeated “chosen people” mantra be anything but anti-Semitism? I have personally been on the receiving end of it. The RMT’s Steve Hedley, disliking my questioning of his violent rhetoric at an anti-Israel event, told me in a derogatory manner that I was one of the “chosen people”. He meant Jewish.

When, in the Guardian article, Sand complains of Israel’s “ethnocentrism” he is really complaining about Israel’s Jewishness. Would the Guardian allow another country to be attacked because it is Islamic, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist?

For the Guardian it is par for the course to have articles containing unsubstantiated attacks on Israel. It has become so blase about this that the Guardian’s editors are now unable, or unwilling, to notice when their newspaper steps over the line into promoting racist diatribe that attacks Jews and Judaism.

Meanwhile, Sand’s crackpot theory is simple: He believes that today’s Jews have no connection to Israel because the Romans never evicted the Jews from the Holy Land and, therefore, the Jews have no right to return there. It was early Zionist thinkers who twisted the facts to argue that Jews be allowed to return to Israel. Sand claims that today’s Jews are merely descended from a north African tribe that converted to Judaism.

Last year at SOAS Sand described Israel, among other things, as “a shitty nation”.

Sand’s overall rhetoric is poisonous and racist and could cause a backlash against Britain’s small Jewish community with its strong affiliation to Israel and obvious adherence to Judaism.

On reading the headline to Sand’s piece in the Guardian Shlomo Sand: ‘I wish to resign from being a Jew’ I thought of those times a Jew might have wished to resign from being Jewish. As Jews were being herded by the Nazis onto trains headed for Auschwitz-Birkenau some may have liked to declare “I wish to resign from being a Jew” to try and save their own and their family’s lives.

Had Sand been around back then and submitted his resignation to the Nazi in charge of the Jew-herding he would have been mocked before being sent on his way to Auschwitz.

This may be a game to the Guardian and Sand but publishing this article was crass and on a par with writings at the extreme ends of the political spectrum.

Palestinian Al-Aksa Mosque preacher to NATO’s Arab partners: Kill the Jews instead

Cross-Posted at CiFWatch.

While British Parliamentarians spend today debating whether to recognise “a state of Palestine” they might wish to view MEMRI‘s clip below.

In the clip, which was recently posted to the internet, Palestinian Sheik Omar Abu Sara in a sermon given in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem asks the following of those Arab countries currently helping NATO to attack Islamic State:

“Whom are they fighting? Are they fighting the Jews? The Russians? The Hindus? They are fighting our brothers. These planes are bombing our brothers. Is the Al-Aqsa Mosque too far for them? Is Jerusalem too far for them? Are the Jews too far for them?”

It is sentiments like these that persist not just throughout Hamas but throughout the more respected Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas.

Here is a clip that was broadcast on Palestinian Authority television in which the PA Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Hussein urges his followers to kill Jews.

So are our own Parliamentarians really going to vote to recognise “a state of Palestine” that has religious leaders and an official television network that propagates the message that Jews should be murdered?

If that is today’s outcome then Britain’s Parliament should hang its head in shame.

H/T Ruthie Blum (Jerusalem Post)