Tag Archives: ben white

What does David Hearst mean by “the folk”?

On Friday night I went to Amnesty’s London HQ to hear Ben White publicise his updated book Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide. The event was chaired by journalist David Hearst, former chief foreign leader writer of The Guardian.

Hearst refused to allow me the opportunity to put a question to White during the Q&A instead preferring to announce in front of everyone there:

“I know exactly what you’re up to. And who you are. And who you write for.”

I sent Hearst the blog I wrote about all this. CifWatch crossposted it over at their site. Here is Hearst’s response together with my reply:

What does Hearst mean by “the folk”?

There was an apparent attempt by the Israeli Embassy in London to have the Amnesty event called off. White has his own version of that supposed attempt. We don’t know the Israeli Embassy’s side yet.

I had nothing to do with any alleged attempt. Neither did CifWatch. I don’t work for the Israeli Embassy. Hearst knows this.

Hearst may have meant generally “the Israel lobby”. Peter Oborne describes “the Israel lobby” as supporters of a foreign power who influence British policy. It’s a nice idea that I can influence British policy, but my solitary vote at the ballot box apart I just can’t.

Hearst hasn’t replied to my request for clarification of what he meant by “the folk”. One wouldn’t wish to come to a conclusion without his explanation.

Debate and full disclosure are to be encouraged unlike what, sadly, passes for “debate” at Amnesty.

Unless I hear from Hearst his use of “the folk” will remain a complete mystery.

(For more on this see CifWatch)

Boycotted at Ben White Amnesty event as David Hearst announces “I know who you write for”.

White and Hearst in discussion at Amnesty last night.

White and Hearst in discussion at Amnesty last night.

Last night (shabbat) I was at Amnesty International’s London HQ for the launch of Ben White’s updated Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide. The event was chaired by David Hearst, former chief foreign leader writer of The Guardian.

After White’s talk he had a Q&A with Hearst after which members of the audience were allowed to ask White questions. Well, most of them anyway.

I had my arm raised for half hour while Hearst took questions from those sitting around me, before taking questions from the other side of the room. While my arm was still raised Hearst called an end to questions.

Feeling rather frustrated I asked whether I could put a question to White. Hearst declined my request and replied:

“I know exactly what you’re up to. And who you are. And who you write for.”

Sinister or what! Here’s the exchange:

So, what was I up to? Who am I? Who do I write for? Well, since starting this blog in 2009 I have mainly written for myself. I have occasionally written for the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish News, the Jewish Chronicle and CifWatch, but I never realised writing could get me boycotted.

But here’s the point; I have never had any dealings with Hearst. So, how did he know who I was?

He was obviously primed but why? I have never been disallowed from asking a question at Amnesty before, although I was once threatened at an Amnesty event by Amnesty Campaign Manager Krystian Benedict, who has since been moved to work on Syria and who was present last night.

My question to White was going to be simply this: Seeing that White relies heavily on statements by Israeli politicians to paint Israel as racist (see slides below) I wanted to know whether the same could also be said of White particularly after he once stated that (British Jewish author) Howard Jacobson’s face was “another reason to support a boycott of Habima”, the Israeli theatre company.

I’m sure White would have batted that away quite easily, wouldn’t he? He reads my blog (he mentions it), so he should feel free to leave an answer below.

White started his talk addressing the Israeli Embassy’s apparent attempt to stop last night’s event taking place and went on to dedicate the evening to “all those people, including the Palestinians, who have sacrificed so much for liberation”.

Here’s the clip:

He then proceeded to talk about Israel’s continued “Judaisation”, particularly in the Negev and Galilee, and Israel’s “brutality”, “racism” and “apartheid” (including towards Israel’s own Ethiopian and Mizrahi Jews).

White loves nothing more than portraying Israel and Israelis as child killers. Apparently, Israeli soldiers hide near schools so they can kill Palestinian children (see slides below).

White finished off by telling his love struck audience that “Israel is afraid”.

Meanwhile, if last night is anything to go by I’m sure that Middle East Eye, David Hearst’s new website, will be a beacon of democracy and one of many and varied views…..

Slides used by Ben White last night:

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Ben White and the Christian speaker who forgot to mention that Palestinians were massacred by…Christians.

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“Israel Apartheid Week” kicked off on Tuesday night with star guests Ben White and Dr Ang Swee Chai speaking at a UCL Friends of Palestine event on Medicine And Apartheid in Palestine.

Dr Ang Swee Chai, an orthopaedic surgeon, set up Medical Aid For Palestinians and is a self-confessed fundamentalist Christian. She said that when she was growing up she had lots of Jewish friends and supported Israel. Then in 1982 she turned on the TV and saw Israeli planes dropping bombs on Lebanon. Many of those killed and wounded, she said, were non-combatants.

So she immediately resigned from her hospital job and flew to Beirut under the auspices of Christian Aid. She ended up joining the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, which, she admitted, was affiliated to the PLO.

She worked in Beirut’s Gaza Hospital near to Sabra and Shatila and learnt from Palestinians that “many lost their homes when Palestine became Israel”.

She said that the first two things Palestinian children in Sabra and Shatila learn are “their name and the village in Palestine they came from”. “Palestine was never a desert, but a rich centre of civilisation, culture, art and dance,” she continued.

Then she turned to the horrific events of 16th-18th September 1982 in Sabra and Shatila. She said that the day before 700 Israeli tanks drove from South Lebanon to Beirut and when the Israelis arrived they started shooting people.

At Gaza Hospital, she continued, the Israelis demanded that any foreigners leave. She presumed they were going massacre the patients. But two doctors refused to leave and so “our patients survived”.

Throughout her talk she showed graphic images (see below) of dead, dying and badly wounded  people and of a mass grave containing, she said, “800 t0 1,000 bodies”. She finished off with that notorious map of a “disappearing Palestine”.

She described how an 11 year old boy, who survived, was lined up along with his family as they were “systematically killed” and how he “heard his sister and aunties being raped and crying”.

She finished with an emotional plea:

“I realised what was going on. If I had any doubt about what the Palestinian refugees said to me about how they lost Palestine and had been brutalised, I had no doubt now. Why was I brought up to be so bigoted and prejudiced against the Palestinians. Will G-d give me a chance to do something right for the rest of my life? This story should be told. The Palestinians are still dying and suffering today.”

During the Q&A a Jewish student asked her whether being Christian was the reason for her failure to mention that the massacres at Sabra and Shatila were actually carried out by Christians, to which she responded (see clip here):

“This particular group of Christians was trained by Israel. Six of them confessed that Israel set them up…Where this kind of atrocity happens we need to know who made it possible, who planned it, who sealed the camps so nobody can escape, who flared the skies so the massacre can continue, who provided the bulldozers and all that. The Israeli Kahan Commission found Sharon indirectly responsible. The Christian militia itself was actually under the command of Israel.”

She said she now has further evidence, which has upset her Jewish friends, that the IDF were inside Sabra and Shatila when the massacres occurred.

She was awarded the Star of Palestine.

Meanwhile, Ben “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are” White did his usual “Israel is an Apartheid state” rant using slides to attempt to make some sort of case (see below). One slide is humorously headed “Israel is worried”.

Inevitably, White explained the aims of the BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) movement, called for a boycott of Israel and finished off quoting ex-IAF captain Yonatan Shapira:

“It is no longer enough to try and change Israel from within. Israel has to be pressured in he same way apartheid South Africa was forced to change.”

White didn’t mention that Shapira once sprayed “Free Gaza” and “Liberate all the ghettos” on to a wall nearby the Warsaw Ghetto where so many Jews lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis.

The same Jewish student asked White why anything he says about Israel is to be trusted considering he “is an anti-Semite”. White responded (see clip here) by saying that he had already made his “opposition to anti-Semitism perfectly clear”. It was a shame White wasn’t pressed about this racist tweet.

When I asked White to explain the difference between the tactics of the Nazis targeting German Jews in the 1930s and those of the BDS movement targeting Israeli Jews in 2014 he kindly plugged my blog before responding (see clip here):

“In one case you are talking about a fascist regime targeting a minority and persecuting them on an anti-Semitic basis. The other case you’re talking about a tried and tested method of civil society to resist oppression, a way of the weak challenging the powerful…Most people can tell the difference…”

White will be doing a reprise of his UCL talk at Amnesty International’s HQ in London on 21st March.

It’s obviously a very quiet time in foreign affairs for Amnesty to be hosting such an event.

Images used by Dr Ang Swee Chai:

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"Mass grave of 800,000 bodies."

“Mass grave of 800,000 bodies.”

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Slides used by Ben White:

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Palestine Solidarity Campaign presents the case for a cultural and academic boycott of Israel.

View from the back last night.

View from the back last night.

The once hero of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign Norman Finkelstein recently declared the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against Israel “a cult” and its activists dishonest about their real motive which is the destruction of Israel, not solidarity with the Palestinians.

Last night PSC cultists came to the University of London Union with the platform being given to Rafeef “the poet” Ziadah, Ben “I can understand why some people are anti-Semitic” White, Mike “I’m only Jewish because my mother is” Cushman and, finally, Ronnie “I’m a privileged Jew” Barkan.

Their aim was to brainwash, I mean persuade students to boycott Israel.

In the Chair for the evening was Salim Alam. The last time Alam chaired a PSC event I was accosted afterwards by an audience member who claimed, inter alia, that Jews only died in the Holocaust because “they had their foreskins chopped off.”

Ziadah started by claiming that “Israel has oppressed the Palestinians for decades” and has “denied them their fundamental rights of freedom, equality and self-determination” and that eventhough there were “drawers of UN resolutions saying Israel is wrong”, still nothing has happened.

She took offence that the Dome of the Rock, a Palestinian icon, appeared in Israeli travel brochures and that hummus and falafel had been appropriated by Israelis for their national dish.

She presented the case for a cultural boycott of Israel and started by saying that “Israel sees culture as political and as Hasbara”, and that “all Israeli cultural institutions are complicit unless proved otherwise. All Israeli institutions must be boycotted.”

Mind you, this type of rhetoric is actually an improvement for Ziadah. When she spoke earlier this year at UCL she praised Islamic Jihad terrorist Khader Adnan. In 2007 Adnan made his thoughts known as to what he thought should happen to innocent Israeli men, women and children. Addressing his followers he asked:

“Who among you is the next suicide bomber? Who among you will carry the next explosive belt? Who among you will fire the next bullets? Who among you will have his body parts blown all over?”

Last night Ziadah painstakingly detailed the PACBI guidelines for boycotting Israel, including any event that promotes “balance” between Israelis and Palestinians, even if it should “encourage dialogue”. Although, seeing as Ziadah said that all Israeli institutions are complicit , unless proved otherwise, the guidelines do seem rather surplus to requirements.

But here was her deal for Israeli artists: Should they announce that they agree to the BDS requirements of ending the occupation, ending discrimination of Arabs in Israel and allowing the return of some five million so-called Palestinian refugees to Israel then such Israeli artists won’t be boycotted.

Basically, she approves of any Israeli that wants to destroy their own country:

Meanwhile, Mike Cushman, of Bricup, gave exactly the same talk that he gave at the corresponding ULU event last year. He demanded an academic boycott of Israel and once again told the audience that he’s Jewish because his mother is and that “If you thought Jewish Zionists were scary, these Christian Zionists are far, far worse.” The only blessing is that this time he didn’t grab the microphone like last year to repeatedly scream into it “Free, Free Palestine”:

During the Q&A a student asked how to defend the accusation that the call for BDS was comparable to the Nazis’ treatment of Jews. Cushman said their was a huge difference between peaceful protest and Stormtroopers standing outside a shop.

Next up was the Israeli Ronnie Barkan who heads up Boycott From Within. Yes, that’s right, such an, apparently, “oppressive state” as Israel actually allows such an organisation to operate in Israel.

Barkan described himself as a “privileged Jew” and viewed Israel as an “ethnic supremacist state”, which had ethnically cleansed and ethnically segregated the Palestinians. In fact segregation, according to Barkan, was so complete that Arabs are unlikely to be spotted in Tel Aviv. He said you wouldn’t find an Arab living there as they are confined to Jaffa. I’m sure my Israeli friends will tell me this is far from the truth.

Ben White also demanded an academic boycott of Israel. He said that “Israeli institutions are in bed with state organisations of oppression”. He condemned Tel Aviv University, Bar Ilan University, Ben Gurion University and even Haifa University for its National Security Studies Centre which has “trained hundreds of senior offices in the IDF that then go onto commit war crimes”.

There were some good pro-Israel questions asked during the Q&A, but it would have been good to have seen audience members leafleted with balancing literature on their way out of the venue (ZF, BICOM, CFI etc. where are you at times likes this?).

Apart from the woman next to me accusing me of being a “Zionist spy” and claiming that I “want to exterminate all Palestinians”, it really wasn’t as bad as some of the PSC events I have been to. Although, that’s not really saying much.

Admin: X7BNEB4HB2PB

London Evening Standard journalist: “I’m prejudiced against Jews.”

Twitter is a good way of seeing what our elected politicians are up to. One in particular is a voluminous anti-Israel tweeter. Labour MP Richard Burden, for it is he, is also an enthusiastic retweeter of Ben White:

and

In my opinion, for an elected politician to promote Ben White, considering White’s views, is highly offensive.

It is Ben White who, in his article for Counterpunch in 2002 Is It Possible to Understand the Rise in Anti-Semitism?, wrote:

“…I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are.”

More recently White tweeted:

and this was the picture he linked to:

Joseph W. at Harry’s Place argued:

“Ben White appears to be linking Howard Jacobson – an English Jew – and Israeli Jewish Habima actors, by aesthetics and looks. If you are aware of the history of antisemitism, you will know that a great deal of attention was given to the physical appearance of Jews, who were portrayed as people whom one could legitimately hate based on how they look.”

The Warped Mirror neatly recounts what happened.

As I was concerned that Richard Burden MP was promoting someone such as White with such contemptuous views, I tweeted Burden about it. However, it was Mira Bar-Hillel, who writes for the London Evening Standard newspaper, who responded. Here’s Bar-Hillel’s Twitter profile first:

In response to my tweet to Burden pointing out White’s view that he can “understand” why some people are anti-Semitic Bar-Hillel stated that she “can understand it too”:

When challenged as to whether she could also “understand” people who were Islamophobic she, somewhat ambiguously, responded:

“I understand hatred for anyone one who feels wronged – or unjustly treated – by. Racism I abhor.”

Good to know Bar-Hillel abhors racism. But then how would one explain the following quote apparently attributed to her in Anshel Pfeffer’s article in Haaretz in June which discussed the set exam question “Why are some people prejudiced against Jews?” (Haaretz might be behind a pay-wall for some so I have copied and pasted the full article below for context purposes):

“The Jews of today scare me and I find it almost impossible to talk to most of them, including relatives. Any criticism of the policies of Israel – including the disgraceful treatment of Holocaust survivors as well as refugees from murderous regimes – is regarded as treason and/or anti-Semitism. Most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash. Goyim (gentiles) are often treated with ill-concealed contempt, yet the Jews are always the victims. Am I prejudiced against Jews? Alas, yes.” (Emphasis added)

So Bar Hillel abhors racism, but is “prejudiced against Jews”. Work that one out.

Meanwhile, I continued to question Richard Burden MP as to whether he found White’s view offensive. Sadly, instead of agreeing that it was he refused to give a straightforward answer:

It is very concerning that a British MP, who does denounce anti-Semitism, still goes on to promote someone like White with such views and doesn’t see anything wrong in that. Or maybe, as Burden suggested, I should just “grow up”.

Anshel Pfeffer’s Haaretz article in full:

Anti-Semitism in 100 words or less
In rhyme, in sorrow and in a single word, readers took my challenge. Which one gets the bottle of wine?

By Anshel Pfeffer | Jun.22, 2012 | 2:42 AM | 2

Nine years ago, I found myself hanging out with a group of Pakistani journalists I met at a seminar abroad. At the time, we were all hearing about secret and not-so-secret dealings between Israel and Pakistan, and one of them showed me his passport. On the bottom of every page was written, “For travel to every nation in the world except Israel.” “It’s just politics” he explained to me. “There is no anti-Semitism in Pakistan; there are no Jews.”

Technically, that may be true, as the small Jewish communities of Karachi and Peshawar dispersed decades ago. But it is interesting that he felt the need to create a distinction between a hatred of Israel and the shunning of Jews.

There is anti-Jewish rhetoric in the local media in Pakistan. Many would argue that in a nation without a history of local anti-Semitism, this is actually a manifestation of anti-Western sentiments, along with the country’s intense hostility with neighboring India, which is increasingly becoming a strategic ally of Israel. It doesn’t seem as though Pakistan has a homegrown tradition of Jew-hatred.

On Wednesday, a British woman of Pakistani origin, Shasta Khan, was charged in a Manchester court for planning, along with her husband Mohammed Sajid, what could have been the worst anti-Semitic attack on British soil in living memory. Born and raised in the Manchester region, she would have seen and recognized Jews from the large Orthodox community in the city. The couple is alleged to have scouted out targets in the Prestwich neighborhood, where thousands of Jews live and work.

A different duo of young British-Pakistanis, Asif Mohammed Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif, became radicalized after traveling to study in Damascus, where they were recruited by Hamas and carried out a suicide attack at a Tel-Aviv pub, killing three people, in 2003. In contrast, Khan and Sajid are accused of embarking on their Jihad after surfing radical websites. They allegedly learned how to build homemade bombs from Al-Qaida’s Inspire magazine, and instead of travelling to the Middle East to strike at the Zionist enemy, they decided to avenge the Palestinians by murdering fellow Britons, members of a neighboring religious community.

But that is how anti-Semitism has evolved: Defying reason and ideology, overcoming geographic and social divides, it adapts to new environments and conditions. Anti-Semitism is the most flexible and versatile of hatreds. That is my main conclusion from the many answers I received over the last two weeks, following the question I posed to readers: “Why are some people prejudiced against Jews?” But that was not the only conclusion.

A brief reminder: I decided to open up the column to readers following the hysterical reactions of some politicians and community leaders in Britain when this question was posed to high school students in a national exam. Financial blogger Henry Blodget was inundated with angry responses when he asked the same question with sincerity and seriousness. I had hoped that this column’s readers would prove both more intelligent and display a greater sense of equipoise than those who expressed outrage over the exam question. The reader responses exceeded my expectations.

There were a handful of responses such as the commenter who wrote, “Anti-Semitism should be condemned not explained – full stop.” But most readers who answered believe, like I do, that no subject should be beyond discussion, even if some of the responses do not make for easy reading. Of course, there were a few nasties, such as the writer who tried to convince me that the world doesn’t have anything against Jews in particular, but rather just against Israelis. After all, he wrote,”the Internet has shown the world what kind of people you are.”

Others were also critical but from a place of sorrow. Mira Bar-Hillel wrote that “The Jews of today scare me and I find it almost impossible to talk to most of them, including relatives. Any criticism of the policies of Israel – including the disgraceful treatment of Holocaust survivors as well as refugees from murderous regimes – is regarded as treason and/or anti-Semitism. Most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash. Goyim (gentiles ) are often treated with ill-concealed contempt, yet the Jews are always the victims. Am I prejudiced against Jews? Alas, yes.”

Honorable mentions

I know that some would label Mira with the despicable title of “self-hating Jew,” and while I don’t necessarily agree with all she writes, I think she expresses genuine concerns and should be heard. Mira’s answer is one of my two honorable mentions.

The other honorable mention goes to Richard Asbeck, who managed in verse to convey the uneasy feeling of many Jews and non-Jews at the separateness, perhaps aloofness, that Jews have conveyed over the millennia.

“How could I by virtue of reciprocity,

blessed by the honor of having been treated as a friend,

remembering the humanity of a shared meal,

remembering the hachnasat orchim (hospitality ), how could I, in the attempt of responding in kind, avoid the self-allegation of impurity and ‘unchosenness’ clearly marked by the catered dinner on a stranger’s plate, or worse: the foil-wrapped carton board plate?”

Although I allowed up to 100 words, some readers made do with just one or two words: Envy; jealousy; religion; Zionism; ignorance; Jesus Christ. All are indeed reasons why people are prejudiced against Jews, and there are of course many more, often conflicting, and never justified reasons. And that is why I said that anti-Semitism is the most flexible of hatreds and why I chose Mark Gardner’s entry as the winner. My only hesitation is that the writer is a professional in the field, who serves as director of communications of the Community Security Trust (CST ), of British Jewry. My choice of Mark as winner is not an endorsement of the CST; indeed I criticized the organization in a column on an unrelated matter two months ago. But unlike others who monitor anti-Semitism, I think that his entry proves he can address the issue in a balanced manner. So he gets the (kosher ) bottle of wine.

Here is his answer to why some people are prejudiced against Jews. “If prejudice is hating someone more than is necessary, then you must consider the anti-Semites’ charge sheet. So, let us be brief: Allied with the Devil to kill the son of God; lost God’s covenant; fought God’s last prophet; visible rejecters of God; kill children and drink their blood; conspiratorial; money hoarding; greedy; corrupting; mean-spirited; physically grotesque; contemptible; ferocious; ingratiating yet always alien and never authentic; devious, evil, corrupting geniuses; unchanging and unassimilable; racially distinct, self-superior hypocrites; financiers of war; harbingers of revolution; pornographers; hucksters and fraudsters; whiners and liars; imperialists and colonizers; thieves, racists, war-mongering destroyers. More briefly: scapegoat.”

Yachad’s Ben White love-in.

What to do about Yachad?

This UK based organisation that calls itself “pro-Israel, pro-peace” had an inauspicious start in the UK.

On October 31st last year at a panel event at UCL Yachad’s Hannah Weisfeld endorsed two of Israel’s main demonisers; Israeli human rights organisation Yesh Din and the vicious anti-Israel website +972 Magazine.

And at SOAS on January 30th this year on a panel to discuss Is BDS working? Weisfeld hinted that she just might endorse a boycott of part of Israel’s Jewish community when she said of the “settlements”:

“I think we would be having a very different conversation in this room if the BDS movement was about a targeted 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.”

The legality of the “settlements” is a valid argument to have in my book but not to condemn outright a boycott of Jews is unforgivable and in my book “I am not saying that I would necessarily support it” is tantamount to saying “I might support a boycott of Jews living on the West Bank”.

Seeing that Yachad calls itself “pro-Israel” and that Israel needs all the friends it can get in a time of increasing anti-Semitism not so cleverly disguised as anti-Zionism Yachad should have been given time to prove its credentials.

We’ve tried, we’ve listened but Yachad has done Israel no favours at all so far.

Yachad is pro-Israel to the extent that, unlike the Palestine Solidarity Campaign for example, it believes the Jewish state should exist. Incidentally, I have heard it put that the reason that some mainstream Jewish organisations embrace Yachad is that they see Yachad as a buffer to stopping young British Jews joining the PSC.

Some endorsement!

One of Yachad’s main arguments is that if Israel does not vacate the West Bank Israel will inevitably lose its Jewish and democratic status as the West Bank’s alleged 2.5 million Palestinians will, when added to Israel’s own Arab population, eventually outnumber Israel’s Jews.

Such a calculation has been deconstructed in this study by Bar-Ilan University which puts the number of Palestinians on the West Bank at 1.41 million.

I wanted to compare Yachad’s claim to the BIU study so I sent an email to Yachad on March 27th asking for their source. I received no response.

I did receive an invite to Yachad’s upcoming events at The Jewish Museum (June 10th), the Marjorie and Arnold Ziff Community Centre, Leeds (June 14th), Finchley Reform Synagogue (June 17th), Hampstead Synagogue (June 18th) and the London Jewish Cultural Centre (June 19th) on the proviso that we “start a conversation within UK Jewry about these issues which are at the heart of the ongoing conflict”.

First, Yachad wants these issues to be discussed amongst “UK Jewry”. What about the views of the UK’s Muslim and Christian etc. friends of Israel? Yachad may as well hang a “Only Jews welcome here” sign outside their events. And, yet, Yachad has the nerve to compare Israel to an apartheid state.

Second, is it not the height of arrogance for Yachad to presume that the democratic wishes of Israel’s electorate can be so easily overridden by “a conversation within UK Jewry”?

Supporters of Yachad could do no better than make aliyah and win hearts and minds in Israel in order to change government policy. Jews in the UK have no vote and little, if any, influence on Israeli government policy. Yachad should be having the “conversation” in Israel where it might actually count.

Supporting Yesh Din and +972 Magazine is one thing and scaremongering over the demographics of the region is another but Yachad can’t get much lower than reaching out to one of Israel’s main enemies and demonisers; Ben White.

It did just that on Twitter when on April 27th, in the name of “diversity”, it asked White to comment on their new blog and, in particular, a piece by David Landau which makes the scaremongering argument over the demographics of the region I have outlined above:

The piece, by the way, attracted just four comments.

As Yachad is all for “diversity” it is a surprise they didn’t reach out to far-right fascists because the difference between their views and some of the views of Ben White is minimal.

Like those on the extreme far-right White is a hardcore anti-Israel polemicist who wants the Jewish state destroyed. And in his book Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide White cites an essay by Roger Garaudy who was fined the equivalent of $20,000 by a French court for questioning the Holocaust.

On June 29th last year White was due to share a platform with homophobic preacher Sheikh Raed Salah at a panel discussion until Salah could not appear due to having been arrested after entering this country despite being on a banned list.

Salah eventually won his deportation case despite, inter alia, believing that homosexuality is a “great crime” which signals “the start of the collapse of every society” and laughing at the memory of taunting a Jewish teacher with a Swastika.

White has also written “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are.”

And White tweeted this comment in light of Habima’s upcoming recent performance at The Globe:

Here is that “massive picture of Howard Jacobson’s face”:



As Joseph W writes over at Harry’s Place
:

“Ben White appears to be linking Howard Jacobson – an English Jew – and Israeli Jewish Habima actors, by aesthetics and looks. If you are aware of the history of antisemitism, you will know that a great deal of attention was given to the physical appearance of Jews, who were portrayed as people whom one could legitimately hate based on how they look.”

Incidentally, for anyone looking to defend White on the basis that he might have been talking about the expression on Jacobson’s face here’s Joseph W again pointing out that White didn’t mention Jacobson’s expression, simply his face.

So, if you are going to any of those Yachad events keep in mind the sickening company Yachad keeps; all in the cause of “diversity”!

Rafeef Ziadah praises Islamic Jihad terrorist at UCL “Israeli Apartheid Week” event.

At Wednesday night’s “Israeli Apartheid Week” event Legalised Discrimination in Apartheid Israel, which took place at University College London, the chairperson, Rafeef Ziadah, began the proceedings by praising Khader Adnan.

She said that he “showed the will of the Palestinian people has not, and will not, be broken.”

Adnan recently ended a 66 day hunger strike against his administrative detention by Israel. He’s a member of the terrorist group Islamic Jihad. When he is not on hunger strike he does a nice sideline in inciting the killing of Jews.

Here is Ziadah, who now teaches at SOAS, praising Adnan and in the clip following that you can see Adnan screaming at someone’s funeral:

“Who among you is the next suicide bomber? Who among you will carry the next explosive belt? Who among you will fire the next bullets? Who among you will have his body parts blown all over?”

Ben White told the usual lies about Israel before making this quite unusual request to the mainly student audience (see clip at end):

“Don’t be dissuaded by the abuse of language like ‘coexistence’ and ‘dialogue’. Don’t be put off by people who use important words and important concepts like ‘coexistence’ and ‘dialogue’ in order to stifle what is a growing international justice movement. Don’t be frightened by people who sling around the smear of anti-Semitism as a way of trying to frighten people off taking real significant action.”

It is unusual for anyone to reject talk of coexistence and dialogue, unless you are from Islamic Jihad or Hamas.

The second panel speaker was Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, a South African student leader.

On his own admission Ndlozi has never visited Israel but he still said that the Palestinians faced “a worse evil” than apartheid South Africa:

“In Israel, it’s not just apartheid…What is worse in Palestine is that we didn’t have to be told that once we had left South Africa we can’t return. What makes it worse is the whole refugee situation. It is the whole denial of the people to return to their home…It means these people in Israel are close to achieving what nationalism in South Africa did not achieve. That is creating a community of separateness at the expense of an indigenous people…That is enough to make us angry…It cannot be true that on the face of the world today a peole still exist who think they can survive with a system of separateness at the expense of others.”

He said that “action through Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is the next step” before finishing by saying that the next time he comes to London he wants to “go to occupy the Israeli Embassy”.

I’d like to see him try that one!

Finally, Eyal Sivan, an Israeli documentary maker, described Israel as “a democracy for the Jews and Jewish for the Arabs”. He quoted Ehud Barak who he said described Israel as a “villa in the jungle” meaning that “the Jews are the humans and the others are the animals”. Sivan said that it was unlikely that an Israeli under the age of 18 would come into contact with an Arab.

This, ladies and gentlemen, was, believe it or not, a relatively mild event. What took place last night at Middlesex University’s campus in Hendon with Jenny Tonge, Ken O’Keefe and Ghada Karmi was on a different, and even more sickening, scale. More to follow.

Ben White at UCL on Wednesday night:

(Ben) White Wash at Amnesty.

Ben White showing off his well-trolled quotes at Amnesty last night.

Ben White showing off his well-trolled quotes at Amnesty last night.

Ben White was last night handed the opportunity by Amnesty’s UK branch to call for the destruction of Israel. Not necessarily in the way Hamas would wish to achieve it, but White wants Israel changed from a Jewish state into another Muslim Arab state. This is what White thinks is “justice”.

Lest we forget, White once wrote “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are.”

For that and other statements of his there was a small protest outside Amnesty last night. Once sign read “Amnesty is great, except on Israel”, which is probably about right. Amnesty will stand up against other human rights’ abuses except when they are against Israel. They raised their voice in anger when Gaddafi was cruelly tortured before being executed, but when Israeli soldiers are kidnapped or Israeli children are bombarded by Hamas rockets from Gaza Amnesty falls silent.

Amnesty’s opposition to Israel’s existence is now, sadly, almost policy. Virtually no month passes without there being an anti-Israel event and never will there be a pro-Israel voice on the platform. One of Amnesty’s roles is to try to bury Israel.

White was promoting his new book Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy and it will be instructive to jump straight to the end of last night’s talk.

After calling for “A future based on a genuine co-existence of equals, rather than ethno-religious supremacy and segregation”, with its obvious anti-Semitic connotation of Jewish supremacy, White said (see clip):

“Instead of asking ‘can we return?’ or ‘when will we return?’ Palestinian refugees can ask ‘what kind of return do we want to create for ourselves?’ I think that’s a kind of beautiful phrasing actually that speaks to the liberation of the imagination that has to take place as we move towards securing a peace with justice”:

I can’t see Israelis ever voting for their state being changed into a Muslim Arab state, so what White is basically promoting is more war and bloodshed.

White’s talk, probably like his book, was a long list of out-of-context and out-of-date quotes.

He started with an apparent quote by Balfour in 1919 – “in Palestine we do not propose to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country” – and ended with one by Moshe Dayan’s father, MK Shmuel Dayan, from 1950 – “Maybe (not allowing the refugees back) is not right and not moral, but if we become just and moral, I do not know where we will end up”.

White must spend many nights trolling through the internet and old books looking for quotes that support his pursuit of Israel, but it is obviously a money-making exercise judging by the queue of people waiting for him to sign their copy of his 90-page book.

In between quotes he criticised Israel for what he calls the “Judaisation” of the Galilee and the Negev and for Israel not allowing “Palestinian citizens of Israel”, as he calls them, to live in Israel with their spouses who come from the West Bank and Gaza. The serious security implications for Israel if it allowed the latter are obvious, but Israel’s security isn’t high up on the list of White’s priorities.

During the Q&A he praised the protests during the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert at the Royal Albert Hall saying that the protests:

“Were targetting a body, the IPO, that receives funding from the Israeli state and also does concerts and stuff for Israeli soldiers.”

He raised the accusation of anti-Semitism aimed at him and said:

“The irony of the accusation of anti-Semitism against me in this context is that it is precisely opposition to all racism that informs my personal opposition to Israeli apartheid”.

And when someone asked him about Hamas and its policies White simply said that the evening wasn’t about Hamas but he hoped that the questioner would “support efforts to end the discriminatory practices against the Palestinians”.

It seems that Hamas is not much of an issue for White or Amnesty, whereas the Jewish state’s existence is.

More clips and photos from last night:

Ben White on “Jewish and Democratic?”

Ben White on “Judaisation” -

I bought this last night as no one else was buying.

I bought this last night as no one else was buying.

Oh, Mehdi, feel free to tell us to “bugger off to Tel Aviv”.

Mehdi Hasan.

Mehdi Hasan.

Last Friday Luke Bozier, a Labour blogger, said of Mehdi Hasan, the embattled Senior Editor (politics) at the New Statesman magazine:

“Wouldn’t it be good if he just buggered off to Tehran.”

It was in response to Hasan’s article the previous day If you lived in Iran, wouldn’t you want the nuclear bomb? which some commentators have interpreted as a call by Hasan for Iran to develop a nuclear bomb.

Yesterday Hasan posted a response to the criticism of his article and made the following curious remark about Bozier:

Can you imagine the media reaction if a British Jew wrote a column about Israel which prompted the response of “bugger off to Tel Aviv”?

I can’t see the parallel myself. Hasan isn’t Iranian and neither does Bozier’s remark seem to be an attack on Hasan’s Muslim identity.

It might be in dispute as to whether Hasan’s article amounts to a call for an Iranian nuclear bomb, but what is not in dispute is his coming to the defence of the vile Iranian regime, describing it as “surrounded on all sides by virulent enemies” and he doubts whether Iran is looking to create a nuclear bomb when he gives credence to the regime’s rhetoric that its “goal is only to develop a civilian nuclear programme, not atomic bombs”.

And so Bozier’s comment is not so different from those by people who tell apologists for Hamas to move to Gaza if they love Hamas so much. It’s the same with telling Hasan to go to Tehran. It isn’t a racist slur.

And in reality, and Hasan must know this, the equivalent far-left racial slur against British Jews is for us to bugger off to Russia. I, myself, was once told to go back to Poland at an anti-Israel event in London.

So what a nice change it would be for British Jews to be told to “bugger off to Tel Aviv”.

Implicit in such a suggestion would at least be a recognition of the Jewish connection to Israel, a connection which both the Palestinian leadership and the far-left refuse to make.

But it wasn’t like that before 1948 when the common refrain of racists in the UK was for Jews to go back to Palestine. After 1948 it became politically inconvenient for the racists to suggest Jews go back to Israel, so Poland and Russia are now the new hot spots designated for us by the far-left, irrespective of the fact that Jews got slaughtered there in their millions by the Nazis.

And how ironic that Hasan now chooses to employ British Jews in his defence when he has previously shown us such disregard with his casual attitude to anti-Semitism.

In an echo of Ben White’s article in 2002 Is It Possible to Understand the Rise in Anti-Semitism? in which White wrote “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are” Hasan wrote in his article Does Israel “cause” anti-Semitism?:

“Nothing justifies anti-Semitism…But I do find it both tragic and ironic that the state of Israel…through its actions today…provokes such awful anti-Semitic attacks against diaspora Jews who have nothing to do with the actions of the IDF or the policies of Netanyahu, Olmert and Sharon.”

As The CST‘s Dave Rich wrote in the comment section of that post:

“The people who are primarily responsible for racist hate crimes are the racists who perpetrate them; the “cause” is their bigotry and hatred for a chosen ‘other’…You would not write an article lamenting that fact that Muslim immigration “caused” the recent arson attack on the Luton Islamic Centre…Don’t make excuses for racists, and don’t use racism as an excuse to score political points.”

And anyway, Hasan and President Ahmadinejad do have similar ideas which suggests that Hasan might actually feel at home in Tehran. For example, they both wish for Israel to be wiped off the map. In his article I’ve changed my mind about a two-state solution Hasan describes his own solution as being:

“a single, secular and binational state for Israelis and Palestinians. No longer ‘two states for two peoples’, but ‘one person, one vote’.”

And in mid-July 2009 he wrote of the Iranian regime’s Press TV that “not a single critic so far has claimed that his or her views were ever censored”. However, two weeks earlier Press TV interviewed Hossein Mousavi in his prison cell in Iran asking him questions prepared by the Iranian regime with Mousavi reading his answers from a script also prepared by the regime. (OFCOM recently upheld the complaint of unfair treatment and unwarranted infringement of privacy in making the programme containing Mousavi’s interview.)

So, Mehdi, by all means hate Israel, excuse anti-Semitism and support the Iranian regime if you are that way inclined but please don’t try to use British Jews in your defence when it suits you politically. And if anyone does tell me to “bugger off to Tel Aviv” I will be happy that, finally, they will have stopped trying to force me back to Poland.

Why is a liberal blog continuing to publish a defender of a homophobic hate preacher?

Sheikh Raed Salah (2nd from Left), who Ben White defended, at PSC/MEMO event the day before his arrest.

Sheikh Raed Salah (2nd from Left), who Ben White defended, at PSC/MEMO event the day before his arrest.

Sunny Hundal runs respected left-wing blog Liberal Conspiracy and regularly appears as a commentator on Sky News and the BBC. But last week I was appalled when he published yet another piece by Ben White, the author of Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide.

White’s piece attacked Louise Mensch MP for speaking at a London student conference run by Israel advocacy organisation Stand With Us, who he accuses “of promoting extreme positions and working with disturbing allies”.

Sunday’s conference kicked off with a talk by the Israeli ambassador and was followed by a presentation by Andrew White of Beyond Images. In the afternoon there was advocacy training and Louise Mensch MP closed the conference with a passionate talk.

She basically reiterated her Daily Telegraph articleA family slaughtered in Israel – doesn’t the BBC care?” about the five members of the Fogel family who were murdered in their beds by a Palestinian terrorist earlier this year. She said that she only found out about the massacre on twitter when she followed a link to Mark Steyn’s pieceDead Jews is no news” .

She said that there had been no mention of the attack on BBC TV news and that it was only mentioned briefly on BBC radio, while on the BBC website the attack was given a cursory description.

The BBC responded to her query as to why by explaining that the Japanese earthquake and Libya campaign had dominated the news that day. But, as Mensch pointed out, the BBC has many radio channels and a dedicated 24 hour rolling news channel.

She reckoned that if an Israeli settler slit the throat of a four year old Palestinian boy leaving him to slowly die and then decapitated a three month old baby Palestinian girl in her bed it would have been fully covered.

She said that after apathetic responses to her enquiries the BBC had finally admitted its mistake in not covering the attack more fully.

Her conference talk wasn’t to everyone’s liking. She described the settlements as a “road-block to peace”, but then she implored the students to always remember “the others” who were also suffering in conflicts:

“Keep thinking of your Muslim brothers and sisters who are also victims of suicide bombers, like today in Afghanistan,” she said.

Meanwhile, White’s own attempts to smear Stand With Us as “extreme” are risible.

He cites the UK Chair of Stand With Us’ assertion that the “settlements” might not be illegal.

However, the question of the legality of settlements was recently put to the test in a British court when four anti-Israel activists were tried for “aggravated trespass”. They entered the Ahava shop in Covent Garen and caused it to shut down for some hours. Their main defence was that Ahava’s factory at Mitzpe Shalem on the West Bank is illegal and so they were stopping the Ahava shop from selling illegal products. But, the judge found that Ahava shop was “trading lawfully” and all four defendants were convicted.

White spuriously claims that Stand With Us’ donors “have been accused of anti-Muslim propaganda” and that some Stand With Us activists had intimidated “Palestine solidarity activists”.

Meanwhile, what of Ben White himself?

On June 29th this year White was slated to share a panel at the Houses of Parliament with homophobic hate preacher Sheikh Raed Salah who lives in Israel and who came to Britain intent on preaching that Israel is planning on destroying the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem so it can rebuild the Third Temple.

Two days earlier Salah had preached this at a joint Palestine Solidarity Campaign/Middle East Monitor event at Conway Hall in London. Salah has also previously said of homosexuality that:

“It is a crime. A great crime. Such phenomena signal the start of the collapse of every society.”

But Salah did not make it to Parliament for the panel discussion having been arrested the night before. He was on the Home Secretary’s exclusion list as “not being conducive to the public good” but had still managed to pass through customs and into Britain.

Ben White (right) waiting to speak at Sheikh Raed Salah panel discussion on 29th June.

Ben White (right) waiting to speak at Sheikh Raed Salah panel discussion on 29th June.

When it came to White’s turn to talk he first defended Salah against his detention:

“It is shameful that because of the actions of the British government another Palestinian will spend the night in prison.”

Here is White in his own words:

Audio: Ben White defending Salah.

Harry’s Place also writes of Salah’s total disparagement of Jews when Salah:

1. Claimed the Jews baked the blood of children into their holy bread.
2. Claimed 4,000 Jews skipped work at the World Trade Centre on 9/11.
3. Laughed at the memory of taunting a Jewish teacher of his with a Swastika.
4. Wrote a poem referring to Jews as “monkeys and losers” and being “the bacteria of all times”.
5. Funded Hamas.

And here is the recent decision of the tribunal that dealt with these points and which then decided, pending an appeal, to deport Salah. It states, inter alia,:

“We are satisfied that the Appellant has engaged in the unacceptable behaviour of fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK. We are satisfied that the Appellant’s words and actions tend to be inflammatory, divisive, insulting, and likely to foment tension and radicalism.”

Maybe after all this White has retracted his defence of Salah, but I haven’t heard anything.

But even if he has so retracted his defence White’s own record on anti-Semitism isn’t too impressive either.

He has written of himself, in an article for Counterpunch in 2002, that he isn’t anti-Semitic, but he can understand why some people are. Would Hundal publish on his Liberal Conspiracy blog someone who claimed not to be Islamophobic but who can also understand why some people are?

White also writes that while comparisons between Israel and the Nazis are unwise they are not anti-Semitic (although under the EUMC working definition of anti-Semitism such comparisons actually are anti-Semitic). But then White goes onto implicitly compare Israel to the Nazis anyway when he writes:

“Comparisons between the Israeli government and the Nazis is unwise and unsound, since the Israelis have not (at the time of going to press) exterminated in a systematic fashion an enormous percentage of the Palestinians. Cold-blooded killings, beatings, house demolitions, vandalism, occupation, military assaults, and two historical pushes at ethnic cleansing–yes. Full fledged genocide–no”

What does “at the time of going to press” imply?

While on his own blog White states the Palestinians have “had to endure massacres, death-marches, and ethnic cleansing”, all of which took place in the Holocaust. (See Cifwatch for commentary on the deputy-editor of The Guardian’s Comment is Free’s ridiculous defence of White on this point. David Shariatmadari claims that there can be no such comparison without an explicit reference to, for example, Auschwitz.)

And according to Seismic-shock, in the bibliography of Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide White cites an essay by convicted Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy.

White has also defended President Ahamadinejad against accusations that he called for Israel to be wiped off the map and against accusations of Holocaust denial.

With the above in mind White felt forced to write an article for Liberal Conspiracy defending himself against accusations of anti-Semitism. Maybe he should have made himself clearer in the first instance.

When I tweeted Hundal about why White was writing for Liberal Conspiracy he replied:

“I’ll only say this once – I don’t really care what either of you say about what I should publish on libcon.”

and

“why don’t you carry on witch-hunting Jews who don’t toe your line and leave the rest of us in the real world, yeah?”

So I ask again, why is a defender of a homophobic preacher of hate writing for a liberal blog?