Tag Archives: gerald kaufman

Israel accused of possible “genocide” by Arab Organisation for Human Rights.

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:



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

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

Qureshi had said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But let’s all feel sorry for Qureshi instead!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Labour MPs describe inhuman Palestinian conditions in Lebanon then call for boycott of Israel.

Kaufman calls for boycott of Israel. Andy Slaughter on his left and Jeremy Corbyn (scratching).

Kaufman calls for boycott of Israel. Andy Slaughter on his left and Jeremy Corbyn (scratching).

There were more surreal ongoings at Parliament on Monday night when the Palestinian Return Centre held a seminar on the Palestinian refugees, which was attended by four Labour MPs.

I was banned from filming and photographing by the organisers eventhough there were two camera crews in the room, one from Lebanon, and about 10 other people in the audience filming or taking photos.

Then at the end of the event Jonathan Hoffman and I were met by four police officers. Jonathan was taken aside by an officer and told that during the meeting he had said that the MPs were supporting terrorism by allowing terrorist supporters into Parliament. We were then given a police escort out of Parliament.

Jonathan never said anything of the sort. He only spoke during the Q&A when called upon by Gerald Kaufman MP and then only to remind Jeremy Corbyn MP that Israel had frozen settlement building to allow negotiations to resume but that the Palestinians never took Israel up on the offer.

It was Kaufman who raised the issue of terrorism. He said that every week The Jewish Chronicle sends him a complimentary issue and that this week he noticed the headline “Hamas gets a hearing in House of Commons”.

The JC article goes on to describe how Ismail Haniyeh was the guest speaker at PRC’s annual conference in 2009.

Jokingly, Kaufman asked if anyone in the room was from Hamas at which, to loud applause, a young woman raised an arm.

The meeting had started with Kaufman acknowledging the dreadful deprivations suffered by the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. He said that the refugee camps had no electricity or clean water and that sewage ran down the middle of the streets.

But, he said, despite these conditions he was moved that the main thing on the minds of the refugees was the “right of return”. He spoke of a Palestinian woman with an asthmatic baby and no medication who only wanted to discuss the “right of return”.

Mohammed Al Hamid, Chair of PRC Board of Trustees, said that the “seven million Palestinian refugees shared their indignities with another 44 million refugees worldwide”. He said refugees wanting to return home was a basic urge and that “we should defend this cause”.

Dr Arafat Shoukri, Director of the Council for European Palestinian Relations, said the Palestinians have no political or civil rights in Lebanon and that they are banned from working in 70 professions there.

He said that the right of return would not lead to the destruction of Israel because the Palestinians having the right is different from them actually exercising it. He thinks the Palestinians should be granted the right and it is up to them whether to exercise it.

He also said Lebanon thinks it is protecting the right of return by keeping the Palestinians in such oppressive conditions.

Dr. Tariq Tahboob, of the Association of Palestinian Doctors in Europe, said that the Palestinians are a very proud people with a 93% literacy rate. He said “Moses, the great prophet of Muslims, Christians and Jews said to Pharaoh ‘let my people go'”. Tahboob then repeated “let my people go”.

Tahboob also said Israel was created on Palestine in 1948 and he called for a two state solution with east Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital and for the right of return to be kept in place.

Andrew Love MP also acknowledged the lack of employment opportunities for Palestinians in Lebanon and how Lebanon imports labour from Syria and Egypt.

Love said that when the Palestinian refugees arrived in Lebanon only the Christian Palestinians were granted Lebanese citizenship by the Phalange government. Now, he said, if a Lebanese woman has a baby with a Palestinian man she will hide his name so the baby will become Lebanese.

Quite unbelievably, despite the obvious suffering of the Palestinians in Lebanon Gerald Kaufman MP and Jeremy Corbyn MP went on to call for a boycott of Israel.

Corbyn asked “Why are we trading normally with Israel?” He said that the Palestinians in exile were desperate to return home and that the conditions of the Palestinians in Gaza was morally wrong and a danger to the rest of the world.

Andy Slaughter MP, Labour’s shadow justice minister, said that the issue of the right of return had been sidelined as there have been so many injustices and abuses  and that the injustices since 1948 are not in the past but in the present.

During the Q&A I was allowed to ask the panelists whether they felt ashamed that, by contributing to this false hope of “returning” to Israel, they have helped to sentence the Palestinians to lives of hell in Lebanon. I didn’t get a constructive response.

And after that Jonathan and I had our appointment with the police.

(Here is an interesting update to the talk from Harry’s Place.)

Jenny Tonge: “I Have A Dream.”

Jenny Tonge dreaming of Palestinian refugees marching on Israel.

Jenny Tonge dreaming of Palestinian refugees marching on Israel.

Last night in Parliament I’d had my camera on for all of 23 seconds before the Parliamentary police were called by the organisers of the event to eject me from the committee room for “unauthorised filming” (see video clip below).

I turned the camera off pretty sharply as 60 sets of hostile eyes trained on you is a pretty uncomfortable feeling. Luckily, Gerald Kaufman MP, who was chairing, asked the police officer to leave in no uncertain terms.

The altercation came when I was filming Jenny Tonge’s contribution to the meeting. I had seen other people holding up cameras and Iphones and so I didn’t think it was a problem (listen to the audio clip below from 3 minutes 35 seconds in.)

The meeting was held by the Palestine Return Centre and it was mainly a report-back by a group of Parliamentarians who had recently visited the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

Liberal Democrat Baroness Tonge started her talk by welcoming the Jewish Chronicle if it was in the room hoping for a comment from her which they could then use to try to get her sacked.

She finished the talk by describing her dream that one day all the Palestinian refugees will unite and march together to claim back their homeland. She said it would be impossible for Israel to kill all of them.

She also said that there was no questioning of the right of return of Jews from Eastern Europe who had never even been to Israel, but the Palestinians, who had the right under international law, were not allowed to live there. And anyway, she said, even if the Palestinians were allowed to exercise this right to return not all of them would actually take it up.

She also warned that there will be no Israel in the long term if they did nothing about the Palestinian question.

While Tonge seemed to be having dreams of Palestinian civilians being used as a combined weapon with which to destroy Israel and which, on her own admission, might leave many of them dead the rest of the meeting was pretty much 0n-topic.

Jeremy Corbyn MP and Gerald Kaufman MP described the dangerous electric wiring they had seen in the Palestinian refugees camps in Lebanon and the sewage running down the middle of the streets.

Live cables were also seen dangling just above head height. Many Palestinians had, apparently, died after having been electrocuted by them.

Nadim Shehadi, of Chatham House, described the Palestinians as being trapped by the self-fulfilling prophecy of Lebanese political culture that viewed the Palestinians as likely to be going home.

This meant the Palestinian refugees would always have limited employment rights and little political clout.

Shehadi also pointed out that the refugee camps had originally been destroyed by fighting between the PLO and Syrian forces in Lebanon during the 1980s and they had never been rebuilt.

But the one question I should have asked during the short Q&A is how can Lebanon let people rot like this? The Lebanese Ambassador was apparently in the room. I wonder how she would have explained it.

The big downside of the trip was when the Parliamentarians met with Osama Hamdan, the Head of Hamas Foreign Affairs (see Page 26 of this report.)

Other Parliamentarians on the trip besides Kaufman and Corbyn were Alexandra Thein (a German MEP), Derek Vaughan (a Welsh Labour MEP), Frank Engel (a Luxembourg MEP), Michael Connarty (a Labour MP) and Robert Goebbels (another Luxembourg MEP). Tonge was not on the trip.

Meanwhile, my own dream is to get through one of these blasted meetings without being forced to turn off my camera.

Jenny’s Dream. (Jenny’s Dream starts at 11 mins 45 secs.)

Gerald Kaufman MP who at least stood up for democracy.

Gerald Kaufman MP who at least stood up for democracy.

Britain to spend £5m on “Arab human development programme”.

William Hague - "We say again that the blockade of Gaza is unsustainable and unacceptable." (Conservatives.com)

William Hague - "We say again that the blockade of Gaza is unsustainable and unacceptable." (Conservatives.com)

Foreign Secretary William Hague answered Parliamentary questions on the Middle East peace process yesterday.

Ben Gummer MP asked:

“I hope he (Hague) shares the excitement of many people in this country at seeing people stand up to one-party rule in Tunisia and Egypt. Will he explain what steps the Government are taking to encourage the spread of democracy—not just in the middle east, but in north Africa?”

Hague replied: “The spending I have announced in a written statement today includes £5 million for an Arab human development programme, which is intended to assist civil society and democratic development in the Arab world, so this will become part of the important issue my hon. Friend raises.”

With cuts across the public sector in this country, petrol prices up to 130p a litre and rising, university students being asked to pay up to £9000 a year and food prices rising is it really necessary to provide such money, especially when considering Arab oil wealth and multi billion pound Western subsidies.

Who is the money going to, how will it be used and what effect, if any, will it have? I thought this government was committed to cutting waste not adding to it.

Hague also seems to be under the misconception that there is a connection between democracy in the Middle East and a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I would respectfully submit to Mr Hague that Middle East authoritarianism is down to countries like ours propping certain regimes up for our own interests. Don’t blame this one solely on Israel, please.

Hague also thinks that “the blockade of Gaza is unsustainable and unacceptable”. That’s very easy for him to say when thousands of kassam rockets aren’t pointing at his family.

He also stated that “we regard settlements as illegal”. Although, as ever, he didn’t explain how they are illegal.

Gerald Kaufman was on the war path again saying that the “situation of destitution, dereliction and malnutrition in Gaza is still appalling because of the blockade.” Has anyone seen evidence of said “malnutrition”?

And Richard Burden MP was convinced that “the Palestine papers have proved pretty conclusively that it is not the Palestinians who have not been prepared to compromise.”

Just another normal day in Parliament then.

Beware the monster being created by the anti-Israel Lobby.

There are worrying developments in this country’s anti-Israel lobby. Maybe it is the continuing strength of Israel both militarily and economically while the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement is having limited, if any, success.

But while Israel and many Israelis continue to prosper, even more so in light of the upcoming change in the law of universal jurisdiction which will make it harder to arrest an Israeli official on allegations of war crimes, Diaspora Jews are still a target.

One might disagree with Israeli policies but what we think is irrelevant. We do not live there and so do not suffer the same threats as Israeli Jews.

Similarly, one would not expect Israeli Jews to advise UK Jews. Only those that live in a country can truly judge the appropriate action to take.

And Hasbarah is easy anyway. We all understand the history of the conflict. We know that Jews have a right to a sovereign state in the Middle East and that the Palestinians have a right to one also. The job may be big but that is no bar to trying to explain Israel’s position to office colleagues, friends and television audiences.

The main problem comes when you are attacked for what you are, a Jew, not what you think. Instead of being able to respond constructively the only response you are left with, apart from being left open-mouthed, is denial.

MP Gerald Kaufman claimed this year that rich Jews controlled the Conservative Party. Martin Linton, Chair of Labour Friends of Palestine, said that Israel’s “tentacles” were controlling our political system. Both accusations could be straight out of the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

And, on seventh night of Chanukah the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) staged Seven Jewish Children at the Polish Centre in Hammersmith. The choice of venue for this outrageous play seems particularly cruel when considering the plight of Jews in Poland during the Holocaust. The production is full of horrendous accusations about Jews.

I saw it at the Royal Court last year and felt uneasy amidst an applauding London audience. The show lasts 10 minutes and uses seven short acts to portray how the Jews have turned from being killed during the Holocaust into the killers themselves during Operation Cast Lead.

According to the play Jews are biblically driven, think of Palestinians as “filth” and “animals”, justify the killing of Palestinian babies to their own children and enjoy swimming in nice pools while the Palestinians become dehydrated.

There may be some Jews who think like this, Baruch Goldstein was an example, but to imply that all Jews do is racist. However, the play is available for anyone to put on for free, including in schools.

On the fifth night of Chanukah, Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of a London-based Arabic newspaper, gave a talk at LSE and allegedly pointed at Jewish students and accused them of bombing Gaza. In 2007 Atwan stated that he would “dance with delight” if Israel was hit by Iranian missiles. Imagine someone pointing at Muslim students while shouting they are all suicide bombers. That person would be accused of inciting religious hatred.

My suspicion, which may be wrong, is that the PSC came to the Polish centre via Ewa Jasiewicz, a Polish anti-Israel activist. During the summer Jasiewicz visited the Warsaw Ghetto and helped to daub “Free Gaza and Palestine” on the walls of one of the Ghetto houses in, what could be considered, a crude attempt to equate the Palestinians with the Jews under the Nazis. The Ghetto is now considered a grave to the 100,000 Jews that perished there.

More recently, the PSC and Middle East Monitor invited Richard Falk, the United Nations Human Rights Council’s representative to the Palestinian territories, to London to give a talk on Israel’s assault on human rights.

Yet, it was the same Falk who, in 2008, said that Israel’s treatment of Gaza was a “Holocaust in the making”.

Criticising Israeli policy is one thing but comparing the Palestinians with the fate of the Jews during the Holocaust and accusing today’s Jews of condoning the killing of babies while justifying it to their own children is another.

This will only lead to dangerous repercussions elsewhere. During the summer I had to intervene after seeing a Jewish teenager violently attacked by a Muslim teenager. Britain’s anti-Israel lobby should beware the monster it is helping to create.

(This piece appears in the latest edition of The Jewish News)