Last night the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK held a meeting called “Violence and Conflict in Jerusalem: Examining the recent spike in violence towards Palestinians and the plight of Jerusalem’s historic sites” at the Holiday Inn in London’s Bloomsbury.
Despite the remarkably biased title the main reason to go was to hear Labour MP Gerald Kaufman who was due to speak. It would have been an opportunity to ask Kaufman about his recent comment that “Jewish money” is influencing British government policy and to see if he might consider making an apology at last.
Unfortunately, Kaufman couldn’t make it to the event due to ongoing parliamentary matters.
It was still an opportunity to catch up on the latest anti-Israel propaganda being disseminated by academics like Ilan Pappe, activists like Adeeb Ziadah and lawyers like Carl Buckley (who was chairing the event) and Toby Cadman who both regularly brief against Israel.
University of Exeter lecturer Ilan Pappe started proceedings off by claiming that Israel’s political party Jewish Home (Bayit Ha-Yehudi) is intent on destroying the Al Aqsa Mosque and replacing it with another Jewish temple.
He said that 20 years ago he would not have worried about this except that now Jewish Home is part of the Israeli government. Pappe also claimed that a major Israeli NGO (which he did not name) directed towards the rebuilding of a Jewish temple is funded by both the Israeli government and American Jews.
Israeli school children, including his own children, according to Pappe, are forced to visit this NGO to hear about the building of this Jewish temple in place of the Al Aqsa Mosque.
Pappe concluded by describing Israel’s “contempt for Islam”, Israel’s continued “Judaisation” of Jerusalem and he listed mosques that Israel has, since 1948, turned into, inter alia, restaurants, nightclubs, synagogues and yeshivas.
The most surreal part of the evening was when activist Adeeb Ziadah showed a video of the Neturei Karta calling for the end of Israel.
Ziadah seemed to find it highly amusing that a Jewish person was expressing sentiments better than any Muslim person could (see near end of clip below for Ziadah’s delight).
Ziadah also showed a procession of slides portraying how important the Al Aqsa Mosque is for Palestinians, how Palestinians “sacrifice themselves” for the Al Aqsa Mosque as a matter of “national dignity and religious obligation” and how the Western Wall actually belongs to Muslims (see below also).
Finally, lawyer Toby Cadman cited a list of war crimes Israel could be accused of by the International Criminal Court. He kept mentioning “genocide” which prompted my question during the Q&A as to how there can be “genocide” when the Palestinian population, we are repeatedly told, continues to grow apace with Gaza being, according to some, “the most densely populated place on earth”.
His response was that “genocide” can still occur even if a population is increasing.
Jonathan Hoffman then asked why the panel had overlooked Mahmoud Abbas’ incitement that “Jews should not be allowed to defile the Al Aqsa Mosque with their filthy feet”.
Ilan Pappe claimed that he had not heard Abbas say this and that he wasn’t sure if this amounted to incitement anyway.
However, Pappe thought that “the occupation” was enough on its own for young Palestinians to “take fate into their own hands” and become violent (hear both Jonathan’s question and Pappe’s response here).
The audience at the event was surprisingly small with only about 20 people present and it felt supportive to have quite a few pro-Israel activists there as well.
In fact we made up about a quarter of the audience so the Arab Organisation for Human Rights should really thank us for swelling their numbers for them.
Slides shown by Adeeb Ziadah: