Tag Archives: ilan pappe

Avi Shlaim goes to St James’s Church to slam Israel’s creation and anti-Semitism “allegations”.

Rt Rev Michael Langrish appealing for money for Palestinians in northern Israel's

Rt Rev Michael Langrish appealing for money for Palestinians in northern Israel’s “refugee camps”.

Historian Avi Shlaim was invited to speak on Balfour and Palestine: From Balfour to May on Tuesday night at St James’s Church in central London.

St James’s is a church hostile to Israel and no expense is spared. In 2013 St James’s dedicated its entire Christmas to demonising Israel’s security wall at a cost of £30,000.

St James’s knows how to harness extremists’ hatred for Israel and on the way out on Tuesday The Rev Lucy Winkett was beaming with pride at seeing 300 people in her church. One can only imagine the usual turnout on Sunday mornings.

Su McClellan, of Embrace the Middle East (see below), set the dire tone for the evening when she described Shlaim’s family as simply having “left Iraq for Israel for various reasons”.

Those “various reasons” might have included the Farhud massacre visited on Baghdad’s Jewish community in 1941 which was followed up with continued oppression and confiscation of property by the Iraqi government. Shlaim’s father lost everything it seems. None of this was mentioned.

Farhud and Hamas were the main words totally absent from Shlaim’s talk. He blamed the lack of peace between Israel and the Palestinians solely on Israel. He claimed “settlements only are continuing the conflict.”

Shlaim seems proud to be a part of the British establishment. Throughout the evening he repeated that he married the great-grand-daughter of David Lloyd George and said that although “his wife was proud of her great-grand-father she was ashamed of the role he played in Palestine”. Palestine, he said, had been “wiped off the map”.

Lloyd George was Britain’s PM at the time of the Balfour Declaration which promised a national home to the Jewish people “in Palestine”. Shlaim ascribed the Declaration to Lloyd George’s “anti-semitic view that the Jews were uniquely influential.”

Meanwhile, Shlaim repeated Christian metaphors to appeal to his audience. He condemned Winston Churchill as a “dog in a manger” for overly praising Jews during the 1936 Peel Commission and he criticised the “old historians who stick to Israel’s beginning as one of immaculate conception”.

Quite incredibly Shlaim then praised Ilan Pappe as his inspiration. Pappe has been described by Benny Morris as “one of the world’s sloppiest historians”. Pappe has also been caught on film agreeing propaganda may be more important than facts.

Shlaim then claimed the Balfour Declaration meant Palestine had been “twice promised”, having already been promised by the British to the leader of the Arab world, via an exchange of letters, in return for Arabs fighting the Muslim Ottomans during World War One.

Shlaim continued that the “intrusion of a foreign entity in the shape of the Zionist movement showed a total disregard (by the British) for the indigenous population”.

He concluded by praising the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC dedicates itself to the demonisation and eradication of Israel) and saying that only recognition of a Palestinian state as a UN member can “save Israel from itself”.

During the Q&A Shlaim defended the Labour Party against “alleged anti-semitism within the Labour Party” and praised Jeremy Corbyn (warning: this kicks off a bit):

Shlaim should watch the film Whitewashed: Anti Semitism in the Labour Party.

At the end Rt Rev Michael Langrish gave a fundraising appeal for the church’s Embrace the Middle East charity to raise money for the Palestinians (this despite the Palestinian Authority having paid out $1bn to Palestinian terrorists over the last four years).

Last year the appeal was for Gaza. This year it was for Palestinians in the “occupied West Bank” and….Israel.

According to Langrish “In Israel, many Palestinian girls living in the northern city of Acre, families who lost their homes in that 1948 war, live in a cramped neighbourhood that resembles a refugee camp in all but name…Many of them have been abused in various ways. They battle mental illness. They face pressure to drop out of school and marry young.”

Here he is:

If only St James’s Church gave such thought and money to those really struggling in Britain or, dare one suggest, Syria.

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:

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Author Tom Sperlinger: “Poem about ‘Zionist SS’ is not anti-Semitic.”

Tome Sperlinger reading from his Romeo and Juliet in Palestine on Thursday.

Tome Sperlinger reading from his Romeo and Juliet in Palestine on Thursday.

Tom Sperlinger is the author of a new book Romeo and Juliet in Palestine: Teaching Under Occupation. He launched the book last Thursday at Blackwell’s bookshop in the Institute of Education.

Sperlinger is Reader in English and Community Engagement at the University of Bristol and this is his first book. He has also been a regular contributor to the Guardian on education issues and his new book was reviewed in that very newspaper.

In 2013 Sperlinger taught English literature at the Abu Dis campus of Al Quds University for a term. The book is an account of his time there and the affinity he built up with Palestinian students while teaching them works like Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet.

Zero Books, his publisher which also published Gilad Atzmon’s anti-Semitic book The Wandering Who?, are selling it as an academic memoir with important questions like: “What does it mean to read under occupation? What might such encounters reveal about the nature of pedagogy and the role of university?”

However, from what I read of the book at the event it is just another anti-Israel diatribe which will now go into bookshops and libraries and onto student reading lists.

Before going into Sperlinger’s account of his time at Abu Dis the book opens with the usual biased account of Israel’s creation. Anti-Israel author Ilan Pappe is heavily quoted and Sperlinger mentions Ali Abunimah and Jeff Halper, both anti-Israel propagandists, for their writings on the so-called one state solution.

Sperlinger goes on to describe an Israeli soldier kicking a Palestinian child as the child is going to visit his father’s grave (P. 108). He also describes how he helped in the translation of the play Seven Jewish Children when it is staged by Palestinian students at Abu Dis (P. 65).

Seven Jewish Children is a very short anti-Semitic play which portrays Jews as slowly metamorphosing from being victims of the Holocaust into baby-killers.

When I put this to him Sperlinger didn’t agree Seven Jewish Children is anti-Semitic. He also didn’t agree that a poem by Tom Paulin is anti-Semitic.

Paulin has given an endorsement of Romeo and Juliet in Palestine for its front cover. I questioned Sperlinger about the poem and whether he might consider having Paulin’s endorsement removed in light of it. Sperlinger said he didn’t find Paulin’s poem anti-Semitic.

Here’s Paulin’s poem with its preceding quote as printed in the Guardian in 2001:

paulin

CAMERA pointed out at the time: “While he (Paulin) condemns Zionists as Nazi murderers, his usage of the term “dumb goys” echoes Hitler’s similar use of it in Mein Kampf.”

The CAMERA article states that the quote chosen by Paulin to precede his poem is also anti-Semitic.

Considering Sperlinger is a Reader in Community Engagement it would have been reassuring for the Jewish community to think that he at least had a problem with “Zionist SS”, “dumb goys”, “Zionists…nosing after blood” and Seven Jewish Children.

Sadly, it seems, this isn’t the case.

Blackwell's selling Sperlinger's book with Tom Paulin's endorsement on front cover.

Blackwell’s selling Sperlinger’s book with Tom Paulin’s endorsement on front cover.

Blackwell's know their audience.

Blackwell’s know their audience.

Bibi declared “most dangerous political world leader today” at Centre for Palestine Studies, SOAS.

khalidi2

An MA in Palestine Studies is being introduced by SOAS. Judging by the last two nights at the Centre For Palestine Studies, which is based at SOAS, one can just imagine some of the questions on the end of year exam paper!

On Wednesday CPS hosted Ilan Pappe and last night it hosted Walid Khalidi who spoke on the subject of 100 years since WW1 and the Balfour Declaration.

Admittedly, unlike Pappe, Khalidi supports a two state solution due to its “global support” but also because “in a one state framework Israel would have the ideal alibi to remove whatever constraints remain on settlements. Within a twinkling the Palestinians would be lucky if they had enough land to plant onions in their back gardens and to bury their dead alongside”.

Khalidi is the Godfather of “Palestine Studies”. Gilbert Achcar introduced him as “the founder of the scientific study on the question of Palestine”. But at the Centre for Palestine Studies on Wednesday night Ilan Pappe had referred to the “so-called scientific research” of Zionism as nothing more than “marketing” by Israel.

Hypocrisy doesn’t come bigger than that. While the study of “Palestine” is “scientific”, the study of Israel is mere “marketing”!

The glitterati of the Palestine Lobby, including “Ambassador” Manuel Hassassian, were present to hear Khalidi describe the Balfour Declaration as “the single most destructive political document on the Middle East in the twentieth century”. But the 16 million dead of WW1 were not even mentioned by Khalidi.

Interestingly, Khalidi wasn’t too keen on UNSCR 242 either. While anti-Israel propagandists use 242 as proof that Israel is in the West Bank illegally, Khalidi said it doesn’t specify a time when the withdrawal of Israel’s armed forces should begin, a line for them to be withdrawn to or the name of the territories they are to be withdrawn from.

Neither does 242 mention the word “Palestinian” or describe who the “refugees” are. Khalidi said while the Balfour Declaration was the fountainhead of all developments from 1917 to 1967 UNSCR 242 was the fountainhead of the conflict since 1967 to this day.

Khalidi said the 1967 War’s “most profound and potentially catastrophic impact lies in the inspiration it gave to neo-Zionist religious fundamentalist Messianism and to its creation of conditions conducive to a clash over Jerusalem’s holy places between Jewish and Christian evangelical jihadists on the one hand and Muslim jihadists on the other.”

Khalidi doesn’t like Israel’s leaders much either. The last part of his talk was all about the influences on Benjamin Netanyahu, which included his grandfather (Nathan), father (Benzion) and brother, Yonatan, killed in Israel’s raid on Entebbe in 1976 to save Jewish and Israeli hostages from Palestinian terrorists.

Another influence was Jabotinksy who, Khalidi said, was referred to by Ben Gurion as “Vladimir Hitler”. Another was Menachem Begin who, according to Khalidi, introduced into the Middle East the letter bomb, the parcel bomb, the barrel bomb and the car bomb.

Khalidi thinks Arabs are powerless and he said “just how sorry the state of the Arab nation is can be gauged from the fact that the future of Palestine hinges more on the desires and prejudices of Benjamin Benzion Natan Netanyahu than those of any incumbent in the proud Arab capitals”.

Khalidi said Abbas is “committed to non-violence”, that there’s “evidence of pragmatism” in the Hamas leadership and that “civil disobedience” could well be common ground for Abbas and Hamas.

But Khalidi’s final dramatic rhetorical flourish, for which he received a standing ovation at which he waved his walking stick high in the air, was aimed solely at Israel’s Prime Minister:

“All the other protagonists are committed to a peaceful resolution…Obama’s understanding of the Palestine problem far surpasses that of all his predecessors. Abbas’ commitment to peace is genuine. At his age peace would be the crowning achievement of a lifetime.

We want to focus on the real enemy…Bibi will never share Jerusalem. Continued occupation and settlement while tightening the noose around East Jerusalem is  a sure recipe for an apocalyptic catastrophe sooner or later over the Muslim holy places in the Old City.

With the continued surge in religious fundamentalist zealotry on both sides the road to Armageddon will lead from Jerusalem.

That is why, ladies and gentleman, Benjamin Benzion Ben Natan Netanyahu is the most dangerous political leader in the world today.”

Jewish holy places, anyone? Roll on those MA in Palestine Studies exam questions!

Jews under attack at Centre for Palestine Studies as Ilan Pappe comes to SOAS.

Jews came under fire last night at the Centre for Palestine Studies, based at SOAS and under the chairmanship of Gilbert Achcar. It was irrelevant if you are a Jew in Israel, Scotland, Wales or England. Ilan Pappe, the CPS guest speaker, doesn’t discriminate.

Pappe, a lecturer at Exeter University, started by saying he wished “to answer the riddle of the growing gap between the image Israeli Jews have of themselves and the external image the world has of them”. In North Korea the gap between the view North Koreans have of themselves and that of them by outside world would not be much different, but in Israel there is “genuine difference”.

He said the Zionist movement in Israel should be credited for its marketing skills, particularly the way it marketed both Palestine as a land without a people for a people without a land and also Israel as a European country. This helped “absolve them from what they did to the native population”.

Israel, he said, therefore appeared to be a democracy while actually being an “ethnic racist state”. Israel had succeeded in “marketing an oppressive reality as a democratic one”.

Israel had marketed Zionism, he said, to include such enlightenment concepts as liberalism, capitalism and social democracy. And Zionism was far more successful than other ideas because it was “born after the failures of Nazism and fascism”.

Such branding and marketing, according to Pappe, had been done via academia and fiction.

Israeli academics, he said, undertook a “willing role to commodify the Zionist project on the basis of so-called scientific research”. And books and films like EXODUS showed Zionist figures looking like “Aryan Israelis”, while the Palestinians looked “like either Osama Bin Laden or ET”.

But, Pappe said, at one stage certain Israelis had an “epiphany”. Using the same methodology of books, articles and films they challenged these “truisms of Zionism by re-examining the Zionist project from the beginning”.

They showed Israel was a “settler colonial society, an aggressive society and a discriminatory society”. However, they got “cold feet” when challenged and apologised before disappearing without trace, some being forced to leave Israel.

However, this same methodology has now been adopted by people outside Israel which, according to Pappe, worries Israel. Israel can “stifle criticism and crush those who don’t toe the line from within” but cannot do the same to those outside Israel.

In response to this, Pappe said, the Israeli elite has re-adopted the Zionist dogma in a “neo-Zionist” form, which is far harsher and less flexible than the original. Such “neo-Zionism” being symbolised by the likes of Netanyahu, Bennett and Lieberman.

Pappe said he was worried how Israel would react to a new, even non-violent, Palestinian Intifada as “the Israel of 2014 is worse than the Israel of 1987 and 2ooo. It is a more ruthless Israel”.

“Neo-Zionism”, Pappe explained, attempts to combine liberal and theocratic ideas of how to live as Jews in the twentieth century and is a “lethal combination if you are the enemy”. Pappe said this is “not easy to sell as a liberal democracy”.

“Israeli society is neo-Zionist. Most (Jewish Israelis) want an ethnic racist state. There are no liberal Zionists anymore,” he said. He cited Peter Beinart, J Street and Ari Shavit as the last possible bastions of liberal Zionism.

Pappe said that in 2005 the Israeli government created Brand Israel Group (BIG), to target the Jewish community in America, despite already having America “in its pocket”. Israel, he said, is doubtful of their support in the future.

Pappe said his publisher, Verso, would neither allow him to show the fairly explicit posters in his new book that were used by Israel to “appeal to the Jewish homosexual community in New York City” nor those aimed at Jewish heterosexuals. The idea being, Pappe said, if you like this sexy woman you might like Israel’s occupation.

By 2010, however, this campaign was seen by Israel to have failed and so, Pappe said, Israel’s new policy was to distract the opposition. Instead of trying to win an argument about “apartheid and ethnic cleansing” activists were urged to say, for example, “But Israel invented chewing gum!”.

Pappe said Israel had also been successful in convincing Jews in other countries that Israel is their story as well. He said he was once confronted by Jews in Edinburgh and that he had told them in no uncertain terms that Israel was not their story.

Then at the end of last night’s event when I criticised his lecture he asked me in Hebrew if I speak Hebrew, presumably to imply that Israel is not my story either. Ironically, your typical SOAS audience member has absolutely no connection with the Palestinians and cannot speak Arabic.

The final irony is that the marketing and branding Pappe accuses Israel of doing is just what he does! For example, during his talk he urged his audience to use “settler colonialism”, “Israeli apartheid”, “regime change” and “ethnic cleansing” when discussing Israel.

(I have been banned by SOAS, under threat of legal action, from filming or taking photos at these events without permission. All my requests for permission have since been declined. Others are permitted to film and take photos.)

Jon Snow lunges for my phone while I question him about his “Jewish lobby” comment.

Ilan Pappe, Peter Kosminsky, Jon Snow, Karma Nabulsi, Rosemary Hollis at LSE.

Ilan Pappe, Peter Kosminsky, Jon Snow, Karma Nabulsi, Rosemary Hollis at LSE.

Last night Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow was at the London School of Economics to chair a panel of hardcore anti-Israel polemicists but as I was questioning him face to face about his own use of the term “the Jewish lobby” (Clip 1 below) he violently grabbed my mobile phone attempting to dislodge it from my hand accusing me of trying to secretly record our conversation. He then repeatedly called me “a creep” and claimed a breach of his human rights.

He had been explaining to me that “the Jewish lobby” is a common term in America. I asked him if he would use the term “the Muslim lobby” to which he replied that he would.

This was how the event itself was described:

On this panel discussion, chaired by Jon Snow of Channel 4 News, the speakers will discuss aspects of the current situation in Palestine, including: Palestinian domestic politics, Israel’s position, the international dimension of the impasse and the insights into the conflict provided by film-making.

I went mainly to hear Peter Kosminsky, director of Channel 4’s drama series The Promise which portrayed Jews in British Mandate Palestine and contemporary Israel by using anti-Semitic stereotypes. For example, Israeli Jews were shown to be stunningly wealthy, and there were lines like these spoken by a British soldier:

“The Jews and Arabs have been living here in relative harmony for years. But our victory over the Germans has turned the trickle of Jews coming to this land into a flood. You must understand, the Jews see it as their holy land. But the Arabs, who have been here for over a thousand years, see them as stealing their land. Our job is to keep the two sides apart…..”

and

“After Bergen Belsen, I thought that the Jews deserved a state, but now I’m not so sure…. Their precious state has been born in violence and cruelty to its neighbours, and I’m not sure I want it to prosper….”

Last night Kosminsky said that after the series had aired:

“Nothing prepared me for the level of vitriol that was going to drop on me from the Zionist lobby…personal, vicious stuff came my way….If I choose to criticise my country, and I often do, nobody calls me ‘a racist’. They accept that it’s a legitimate thing in a free society to criticise the political and diplomatic behaviour, the domestic and foreign policies of a sovereign state. It just means that you disagree with its political behaviour. But if you’re Jewish, as I am, and you criticise the domestic and/or foreign policy of the sovereign state of Israel you are immediately called an anti-Semite. Very clever isn’t it.” (Clip 2)

No it’s not clever actually because Kosminsky doesn’t just “disagree with its political behaviour”. He disagrees with Israel’s existence and calls for Jews in Israel to be boycotted (presumably he doesn’t wish those of other religions in Israel to be boycotted). He said:

“the boycott creates so much anger in Israelis. They really hate the idea, particularly the academic boycott, which suggests to me it would probably be quite effective. So I think, yes, we should do it.” (Clip 3)

I hear the Nazis also boycotted Jews. In the 1930s it was considered anti-Semitic but apparently in 2013 it isn’t.

On America’s support for Israel and the similarity of the creation of both countries he said:

“this is why America finds it so hard to take a stand against the illegality and the disgusting behaviour of the state of Israel, because that’s how they (the Americans) came into existence, guys!” (clip 4)

There was also a lengthy discussion on how much Jews were hated by America and Britain, this being the main driver by these countries to create Israel in order to get Jews to go there instead.

Kosminsky put it like this:

“America was very keen to strong arm Britain into accepting a Jewish-controlled state in what had been Palestine because…they really didn’t want any more Jews in New York, please.” (clip 4 also)

As for Rosemary Hollis, former director of research at Chatham House, she claimed that at the same time Lord Balfour was drafting the Balfour Declaration he was also driving anti-Jewish immigration legislation through Parliament. (clip 5)

Hollis also claimed that it wasn’t the Jews that invented Jewish nationalism but “the Europeans”. She said “it was the Europeans who decided somehow that Judaism was something above and beyond a religion”. Incredible! Who was Theodore Herzl anyway and that book he published in 1896. Der Judenstaat, anyone?

Jon Snow didn’t hold back either but suggested that Britain might well have delayed bombing the railway lines to the concentration camps because of Britain’s hatred of Jews. (clip 6)

Snow had also started the evening claiming that there was “Palestine fatigue” in the media (clip 7). Palestine fatigue! Has he not picked up The Independent or The Guardian recently or watched his own beloved Channel 4 which aired The Promise and many other programes about the Palestinians including one being aired while we were at the event!

To round things off nicely Ilan Pappe implicitly compared Israel to Nazi Germany (clip 8). He said Israel is beginning to look like “your own worst enemy” in its obsession with having as many Jews in Israel as possible.

Meanwhile, Karma Nabulsi spent most of the evening calling for the so-called “right of return”, commonly known as a pretext to the demographic destruction of the Jewish state. Nothing new there then from ex-PLO Ms Nabulsi.

(Read Jonathan Hoffman’s account of the event here)

Clips from the event (customer warning: may contain anti-Semitism)

Clip 1:

(Snow mentions “the Jewish lobby” at 1 min 34 secs.)

Clip 2:

Clip 3:

Clip 4:

Clip 5:

Clip 6:

Clip 7:

Clip 8:

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: