Tag Archives: 972 Magazine

Pappe, Yachad, Chalcraft, +972 Mag. seize control of SOAS’ Israel Society.

Plonski, Pappe, Chalcraft, Weisfeld, Reider, Jones having a "discussion" at SOAS.

Plonski, Pappe, Chalcraft, Weisfeld, Reider, Jones having a "discussion" at SOAS.

When I did my Masters at the School of Oriental and African Studies the Israel Society there was a genuine counter-balance to the anti-Israel propaganda being disseminated by the SOAS Palestine Society. Students of all political persuasions could question Israeli politicians and diplomats and watch superb Israeli films like Beaufort.

Now, sadly, the SOAS Israel Society has been taken over by anti-Zionist activists Sharri Plonski and Dimi Reider (of the anti-Zionist+972 Magazine website) who desire so-called Palestinian refugees (including many who were never born there but, what the hell, let’s call them “refugees” anyway) to be allowed into Israel and destroy its Jewish sovereignty. On Monday they held the event Is BDS Working?

Their Facebook page states:

“The global campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel almost always sparks polarized discussion on its legitimacy and desirability, but the nuanced question of its effect on the ground is often lost in the debate. Join our panel discussion as we explore the effectiveness of BDS and its stated goals: End of occupation, right of return, and equality for the Palestinian citizens of Israel.”

Plonski said she looked forward to a “discussion”, but warned (clip 1) that if there were any untoward interruptions she would call security (and you wouldn’t want to upset the dictatorial Plonski). Each speaker then slammed Israel after which they got asked compliant questions by a compliant audience. But there was no “discussion”.

The evening reached its Orwellian zenith when the panel was criticised for the lack of a Palestinian presence. Plonski agreed and said she would work hard to have one next time. But what about the Israeli government’s views, one might have asked? I doubt Plonski will be working too hard to have those aired on one of her “discussion” panels.

Where was the “discussion” in allowing an unchallenged Ilan Pappe to state:

“What do you do about a rogue state like Israel? How do you treat it? What is the right policy towards a country, a state, that violates systematically all the United Nations’ resolutions, that violates systematically and abuses civil and human rights? This is now the conversation, this is why all these pro-Zionist Jewish communites are so fidgety, this is why all the Israeli Embassies have nightly meetings ‘what do we do?’, not changing Israeli immoral behaviour, ‘how do we now justify Israeli immoral behaviour?’”

And in allowing him to demean what blacks went through in apartheid South Africa when he said:

“South Africa had the right to exist. And Israel has the right to exist. Apartheid had no right to exist. Therefore, we all worked for the change of regime in South Africa. The kind of regime Israel maintains in the occupied territories, the kind of regime it maintains towards its Palestinian minority in Israel and the kind of policies it pursies against Palestinian refugees has no right to exist. And I think that is what the (bds) campaign is all about…We are talking about a change of regime and we don’t even suggest bombing the Israelis to change the regime as we would have if it had been an Arab country.”

Where was the discussion in allowing Dr John Chalcraft to make the ridiculous assertion that BDS was responsible for loss of business amounting to $7bn? (I would be surprised if it were even $7)

Chalcraft thinks that organisations that are usually unconcerned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when conducting business with Israel will now start to be concerned about the prospect of “nasty, grungy looking campaigners” (clip 5) showing up on their doorsteps with pictures of murdered Palestinian babies (incidentally, see here for Daniel Hochhauser’s total demolition of Chalcraft’s arguments when they debated This House Believes in an Academic Boycott of Israel).

Chalcraft denied BDS was racist by simply stating:

“Is there any other state in the world that is, right now, engaged in a project which has all sorts of affinities with nineteenth century settler colonialism?”

But we know that just like Pappe, Plonski and Reider, for Chalcraft the real problem is not “the occupation”, but Jewish Nationalism.

Chalcraft spoke of:

“interesting rifts in both Israeli society and academia that are opening up right now that BDS can exploit, because if you have a non-violent strategy of resistance then you do have to divide, in this case, Zionism”.

He spoke of rifts between the settlers and the IDF, between the segregationist movements on the buses and the more liberal Zionists and also between Liberal Zionists in America, like Thomas Friedman, and other “Newt Gingrich-style-Adelson-casino-owning movements in the United States”.

Chalcraft’s mention of Sheldon Adelson with its strong implication of Jewish money and power (see CiFWatch for analysis on why this can be considered anti-Semitism) was a theme taken up by Dr Lee Jones of Queen Mary’s College. Jones was there as a sort of constructive critic of the BDS movement. He thought that BDS on its own wouldn’t succeed without some bigger overall strategy, so he gave advice:

“Attacking the idea that you must not ever criticise Israel in the United States, otherwise you are some kind of disloyal Jew, for example. That does need to be challenged in the US and opening up different options for US foreign policy could be a start…which then forces the government into changes. So that’s the kind of dynamic that I’m talking about.” (clip 4)

Hannah Weisfeld’s (from “pro-Israel” Yachad) main arguments were that Israel has a right to exist, that BDS has had little impact on Israel and that BDS wouldn’t work anyway as it keeps Israelis on the defensive. She didn’t think BDS was anti-Semitic, but she described what Israel was doing beyond the Green Line as “criminal”.

Weisfeld just wants Israel to end “the occupation”, even if that is achieved by BDS. But because she also doesn’t think BDS will succeed she also gave some advice to the BDS movement (clip 3):

“A unified Palestinan strategy is hugely important and you are much better placed than me to suggest whether BDS is having that impact on Palestinian society. I come from the perspective of what I think is going to end the occupation…I don’t think the BDS movement is racist. I think there are elements in it that are questionable and I think there are parts of its aims that are highly questionable in terms of whether you think Israel has a right to exist or not. I don’t think people who engage in BDS engage in it because they are anti-Semites.”

and:

“I think we would be having a very different conversation in this room if the BDS movement was about a targeted (settlement) boycott. I am not saying that I would necessarily support it, but I think the entire debate would be different, because I think the position would be a position that does not put people on the defensive because it recognises the legitimacy of the other side to exist and I think that the level of criminality that exists inside the Green Line, over the Green Line is not distinguished…is exactly the reason BDS will not succeed in ending the occupation.”

How disappointing that Weisfeld thinks that neither singling out the one country that just happens to be Jewish for a boycott nor the desire of BDS to end Israel’s Jewish sovereignty are racist. And neither does she totally dismiss the possibility of herself supporting a targeted boycott of Israelis who live on the West Bank.

On top of all this Weisfeld never articulated what she expected to happen after any such unilateral settlement withdrawal by Israel. What happens if rockets fired from the West Bank then start hitting Tel Aviv, for example?

And how has the Israel Society at SOAS been hijacked like this? You would have thought that university societies existed to reflect their subject matter in a positive light. However, students at SOAS are now being fed horrendous lies about Israel not only by the SOAS Palestine Society but now by the SOAS Israel Society as well.

Clips:

1. Plonski introducing event:

2. Weisfeld talks about Yachad and adresses BDS:

3. Pappe speaks of Israel’s “criminality” as an admiring Plonski watches on and Weisfeld ponders a targeted settlement boycott:

4. Dr Lee Jones of QMC on “the Jews”:

5. Chalcraft on anti-Israel activism:

6. Dimi Reider on the cultural and academic boycott:

+972 Magazine’s Joseph Dana wows the Palestine Society at SOAS.

Kill Jews and you're a political prisoner according to "human rights" group Addameer.

Kill Jews and you're a political prisoner according to "human rights" group Addameer.

Last night SOAS’ Palestine Society unveiled Joseph Dana, an anti-Israel blogger for +972 Magazine, and Gemma Houldey, of Jerusalem based “human rights” organisation Addameer, for an event called Palestine: Resistance and Occupation.

Larry Derfner also writes for +972 Magazine. Derfner justified the recent Eilat terror attacks when he wrote on his blog:

“Whoever the Palestinians were who killed the eight Israelis near Eilat last week, however vile the ideology was, they were justified to attack.”

Joseph Dana made aliyah in 2005, after having completed a degree in America in Jewish history, with a view to exploring his cultural and Jewish secular identity. He describes himself as an American Israeli Jew who was brought up in America in a Zionist indocrination programme but who was able to free himself.

After completing a degree in Israel, also in Jewish history, he found that the “predominant nationalist rhetoric in Israel was at odds with the secular Judaism” he was trying to explore, specifically the idea of “life on the periphery, marginality and dispossesion”.

Instead, he said, he opened up to the Palestinian narrative and started to visit the West Bank and “observed the protests around the wall and settler violence”. To deal with the “emotional discharge” he started his blog.

He now lives and works in Ramallah reporting and tweeting full time on the protests.

Of course there is no “predominant nationalist rhetoric” in Ramallah where they name streets after suicide bombers, where children are taught in school to hate Israel and where two Israeli soldiers were lynched, but Dana obviously feels more comfortable there than in Israel for some mystifying reason.

He showed us a youtube clip of Israeli soldiers violently dispersing a demonstration. Dana said that in his experience he had never seen a rock thrown first by a Palestinian but it was always the IDF who started the violence.

During the Q&A nearly every question was about the possibility of a Third Intifada. Students never tire of seeing violence and destruction. Dana responded that a Third Intifada would be “unproductive” and plumped for boycotts and demonstrations instead.

But Dana seems to have been badly inconvenienced by the new boycott law in Israel where organisations and individuals can now be sued for boycotting settlements, a law which was voted through 47-36 in the Knesset.

It’s a law that Dana seems to have a bit of trouble understanding.

He explained to his starry-eyed audience that if he called for a boycott of settlements then he could be sued. He said that a settler did not have to prove any economic loss, only that Dana intended to damage the settler financially.

What the law actually says is that a settler would have to prove that “economic, cultural or academic damage” could be reasonably expected from such a move.

This is an important distinction as there probably would have had to have been some sort of preparatory action taken by Dana towards a boycott. Dana’s intention alone wouldn’t suffice.

The highly dramatic Dana was concerned that even mentioning boycotting Israel could get him or his +972 Magazine sued. Here’s Dana attempting to explain the law. He excitedly refers to my camera which, he thinks, could get him sued if I put this clip on youtube. The law has yet to be tested but maybe now will be:

Moreover, as I understand it, the law applies to the whole of Israel so, for example, an Israeli calling for a boycott of an Arab business, whether in Israel or the West Bank, can also be sued. And I’m not sure that these laws are so different from those in other countries where you can sued in similar circumstances.

In the Q&A Dana was asked whether Zionism is “the work of the devil”. It’s a racist question seeing as Zionism refers to Jewish self-determination in their ancient homeland. Instead of ignoring such a question, which any self-respecting commentator would have done, Dana responds:

I asked Dana what it is like for women, gays and political dissenters living in Ramallah and what he thought about neither Jews or Palestinian refugees being allowed to live in any future Palestinian state.

Instead of addressing these points he conveniently picked up on my commment about the Hamas Charter calling for the killing of Jews, which I thought might be an example of why Palestinian prisoners are treated differently from Israeli ones. The latter had been the subject of the previous talk by Gemma Houldey.

Dana thought that some of the comments by Hamas were horrific but that they were just as horrific as comments by Israelis. As an example he quoted accusations that Palestinian schoolchildren do not have maps of Israel in their schoolbooks, but said that Israeli children do not have maps of Palestine in their schoolbooks either.

He also quoted an unnamed Israeli MK who wanted to move all Palestinians to an island off the coast of Gaza. Apparently, this story appeared in Maariv.

His summary of the situation was:

“Almost everything we can accuse Hamas of we can find the equal and sometimes worse situation inside of Israel.”

Before such nonsense we heard more nonsense from Gemma Houldey, of Addameer, who described, without giving any evidence, how Israelis deprive Palestinian prisoners of proper medication, sexually harass Palestinian women during interrogation and target Palestinian children for arrest because they are easy targets. Here she is in her own words:

And as you can see from her slide (see top) Addameer classes every Palestinian prisoner as “political”, whatever they did.

Such a “political prisoner” would presumably include Amna Mouna, included in the recent prisoner exchange, who formed an online relationship with 16 year old Ofir Rahum before luring him into a deadly ambush near Ramallah when his body split into two parts having had so many bullets pumped into him.

And now all Addameer is concerned about is that some of these released prisoners will be exiled.

As ever the unquestioning students at SOAS lapped it all up.

Extra clip:

Here is Dana introducing himself before showing us the youtube clip I have linked to above:

Audio: Joseph Dana at SOAS during Q&A.

Halloween horror for Israel as Yachad appears on campus.

Jonathan Arkush, Davis Lewis, Daniel Hochhauser (Chair), Hannah Weisfeld, Ed West.

Jonathan Arkush, Davis Lewis, Daniel Hochhauser (Chair), Hannah Weisfeld, Ed West.

Hannah Weisfeld, director of Yachad which describes itself as “pro-Israel, pro-peace”, last night joined a JSoc panel at UCL to discuss whether Israel’s friends should be critical of her conduct. She was debating alongside Jonathan Arkush, of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Davis Lewin, of the Henry Jackson Society, and Ed West, of the Daily Telegraph.

Weisfeld is a campaigner by profession and has worked on climate change, fairtrade and Darfur awareness campaigns. She studied at Sussex University and the LSE and has lived in Israel and Malawi. She’s 30.

Her main argument is that Israel has to be “Jewish and democratic” and she thinks that by 2050 it won’t be when considering that the population of Greater Israel (her words) by then will be half Palestinian and half Jewish. Therefore, “the occupation” has to end.

But one word that Weisfeld does not use often, if at all, is “security”.

She was asked why she doesn’t live in Israel near the West Bank and set up a political party to campaign against “the occupation”, instead of sitting in a safe London university theatre, but she thought the question unfair as it wouldn’t be asked of anyone else with differing political views to hers.

She also fully endorsed two organisations which are major demonisers of Israel; Israeli human rights organisation Yesh Din and the website +972 Magazine.

But, it was Jonathan Arkush who summed up the position of the majority of British Jewry. The first part was addressed to a representative of Yesh Din in the audience. The second part addressed “the settlements”:

“It is the existence of a body like Yesh Din, which means in English ‘there is a law’, that actually makes me most proud of the state of Israel. That’s not because I agree with everything Yesh Din says or does, and I don’t have a detailed knowledge but I read the same as lots of people. I think it is an extraordinary thing for a country that is beset by so many attempts to delegitimise her and to threaten her militarily and to say she’s got no right to exist and that those seven and a half million citizens of Israel should somehow be swallowed up in another country or if you listen to the man in Tehran sent back to Germany to have a body like Yesh Din which is so self-critical of Israel and it makes me proud. But it’s about context. I think it’s great that there is a Yesh Din in Israel arguing as Israeli citizens for change in Israel. Maybe we could do with some more Yesh Dins in this country who also look at human rights questions in this country. I don’t know if there is much by way of a comparison. You certainly won’t find a Yesh Din in most of the countries of the United Nations that do so much to denigrate the state of Israel. But do I think that Yesh Din should be over here in London joining in with the chorus of denunciation, the boycotters, the delegitimisers? Absolutely not. Go back to Israel and do it there. Don’t come here to a British University where Israel is already on the defensive from people who’ve got a completely different motive from you I suspect. And that is to destroy Israel. Don’t come here and align yourselves with the likes of the ‘Destroy Israel Campaign’, which to my mind is another description of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and lend your voice. Do it in Israel and I will support you, but it’s about context, it’s about how you do it.

And on settlements:

“This is such a misunderstood subject, it’s incredible. “Settlements”, a term bandied around to mean, apparently, anything that happens on land which came under Israeli control as a result of the Six Day War. So I say to any people who are genuine friends of Israel: ‘Ok, what about the Old City of Jerusalem? What about the Wall? What about the Jewish quarter? What about the Jewish villages that were overrun in 1948 and the inhabitants butchered? Is that a settlement?’ It’s much too glib to talk about “settlements”. There are places way out there on the West Bank which were not Jewish before 1948 which you might fairly call a “settlement” and say Jews shouldn’t settle there. Maybe. That’s an argument. I can see the argument. But don’t treat everywhere as not being under Israeli control in 1967 as a “settlement” and, therefore, somehow illegal and wrong. It’s too simple and it shows a depressing lack of understanding of a complex conflict.”

Tonight Weisfeld and Lewis will be on a panel at King’s College to discuss whether the two state solution is dead (Room K- 1.56, Raked Lecture Theatre, King’s College, The Strand from 7pm)

Some clips from last night’s JSoc event: