Tag Archives: Israel

Chris Tarrant’s Extreme Railways on Ch. 5: “Jewish people are good with money”.

What makes an editor leave in a comment such as “Jewish people are good with money”? And what makes the main presenter not pick up such a comment?

This was the scenario in Chris Tarrant’s Extreme Railways shown on Channel 5 on Monday night when Tarrant visited Jordan and Israel. In Jordan he travelled the route of the now defunct Hejaz Railway and visited Petra.

As he entered Israel Tarrant’s mood became inexplicably darker. This was his first visit and in response to a sign stating “Welcome to Israel” he asked “Am I welcome?”

He said there’s more money in Israel and, thus, better railways than Jordan and explained Zionism in terms of the spiritual home of Jews for thousands of years. But he described the railways as helping to bring thousands of “settlers” into Israel when referring to those Jews.

Tarrant described railways as the centre of tensions between Arabs and Jews dating back to the “second Arab revolt” (1936 to 1939). He described that revolt being due to Arab frustration at the influx of Jews.

There was no mention of the Peel Commission in 1937 that offered Arabs a state on 80% of the land and which they rejected and the Jews accepted. And no mention of the revolt leading to the closing of the doors of British Mandate Palestine to Jews in 1939 which contributed to six million Jewish deaths by the Nazis.

Tarrant merely continued that Jewish groups then attacked the trains in the 1940s due to being frustrated by the British.

In Haifa he visited a Jewish hummous restaurant the owner of which, Adam, he described as an “upstart”, although he enjoyed Adam’s hummous.

He then went to an Arab-owned hummous restaurant across the road and was discussing the idea of a hummus war with the Jews when the Arab owner said (see clip above):

“Jewish people are good with money, with politics.”

Tarrant merely replied “Arabs are good with hummus.” It was a totally free pass for an old antisemitic trope.

Despite describing Israel as “war torn”, “on an almost constant war footing” and saying, when trying to board a train with soldiers, “machine guns add to the stress of the morning commute”, Tarrant enjoyed Haifa.

On the train to Tel Aviv Tarrant analysed the 1947 UN partition map showing the areas meant for Jews and those for Arabs. He described the idea being that both countries would “coexist peacefully together” before adding “It was never going to work, was it?”

Nothing about Arab rejectionism of partition for the second time in 10 years before five Arab countries attempted to annihilate Israel at birth.

Tarrant described Tel Aviv as “fanatastic” before repeatedly referring to it as a “bubble” because “along the coastline is the Gaza Strip notorious for its desperate poverty and governed by the Hamas Palestinian group.”

So Hamas were now given a free pass. No mention of Hamas’ violence, its antisemitic 1988 Charter and the oppression by it of its own people in Gaza.

Finally to Jerusalem and to what Tarrant called “the Wailing Wall”.

Having briefly layed his hand on the Wall with a look of utter bemusement he was more intent on showing us another wall.

He took a journey on the Jerusalem Light Railway and then gratuitously gave us the haters’ narrative that some see the railway as a “typical act of Israeli aggression as it runs through illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land”. He acknowledged that others see it as a great place for people of all races and religions to get together.

Then in front of what he called the “separation wall” he said “Israel claims it prevents terror attacks”. However, Tarrant again gratuitously presented the haters’ narrative that “others see it as racial segregation against Palestinians.”

Then signing off to camera Tarrant said “I’m British and I think it was us that started the whole thing.”

No, Chris. You should have blamed the problems on Hamas violence and Arab rejectionism but you gave that and an ancient antisemitic trope a free pass.

Banksy-inspired film that demonises Jews is shown at SOAS.

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Jews are about to be demonised in the soon to be released From Balfour To Banksy, a new documentary film by Martin Buckley. In it Jews are portrayed as Nazis, thieves and thinking they’re the superior race.

Buckley is ex-BBC and now senior lecturer in journalism at Southampton Solent University. In From Balfour To Banksy, which was shown at SOAS on Monday night, he interviews Palestinians living next to Israel’s security wall. His cameraman/editor is Alexander Wilks, a 23-year-old graduate just out of film school. The producer is Miranda Pinch, a Christian-believing Jewish woman.

Soon into the film we hear a Palestinian describe Gaza as a “child concentration camp”. This evokes the image of Jews as Nazis.

We are also sold the lie that “Jewish-only highways feed the settlements”. Then, after more accusations that Israel is an “apartheid state”, Buckley says:

“It’s surely amazing that Israel, built by the survivors of Hitler’s Holocaust, could be accused of the notorious human rights violation that scars South Africa. But for over a decade critics outside and inside Israel, Jews as well as Arabs, have been accusing Israel’s right-wing governments of practising apartheid. Shocking as the accusation of apartheid is it has serious formal backing.”

In Jerusalem Buckley then finds a Jewish-Israeli family who invite him over for dinner. One of the family members tells Buckley that Israeli children are taught in school: “We are the chosen ones, everyone else is beneath us.” This false accusation is an antisemitic trope.

The scene moves to Tel Aviv where we are told “Palestinians have lived for hundreds of years”, eventhough Tel Aviv was founded in 1909. Buckley interviews Palestinian students at Tel Aviv University.  The claim is made that TAU is built over a Palestinian village.

A student tells him that when Palestinians had left their houses in Tel Aviv Jews simply chose which ones they wanted to live in. She said they “found gold and money” in these houses. It was also claimed that Palestinians are not allowed to tend their graves there.

There were some disturbing scenes of Israeli soldiers hitting Palestinians. The scenes were possibly culled from the websites of Breaking The Silence and B’Tselem. We are not told what, if any, criminal action was taken against the soldiers.

These scenes end with Israeli soldier Elor Azaria shooting dead a Palestinian terrorist in Hebron. It merely looks as if Azaria has shot dead an innocent Palestinian. There is no explanation, no context and no information about Azaria’s manslaughter conviction and jail sentence.

In another scene Buckley stands in front of a building and claims that on its balcony a Palestinian child was shot dead. We don’t get to see who the child was or learn his or her name, just that the child was “taken out” by an Israeli soldier.

Buckley then stays at Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. It’s situated next to the security wall. The hotel contains, inter alia, a statue of Lord Balfour and cheesy souvenirs from England like Lady Diana bric-a-brac. Buckley thinks this symbolises “the little Englandism of Brexit”.

The film ends claiming Israel “sells weapons to dictatorships and rogue regimes”.

Throughout the film there is no criticism whatsoever of Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups or interviews with Israeli victims of their bombings which would put the security wall in context.

During the Q&A I asked Buckley whether he found the reference to Gaza being a “child concentration camp” offensive. He merely answered that what was offensive was Palestinians living behind a wall.

He also said that many Palestinian views didn’t make it into the film for fear of offending. I’m not sure what could be more offensive than considering Gaza a “child concentration camp”.

With about 10 minutes left of the Q&A things got heated. Eventually some Israeli flags came out and Am Israel Chai was sung. I’m happy to report myself and others then had some decent discussions with other audience members.

Meanwhile, Wilks would do himself a favour by splitting from Buckley and Pinch while the film is still a rough cut. Its vile antisemitic rhetoric shouldn’t see the light of day again.

Anti-Israel meeting at SOAS stopped by peaceful pro-Israel protest.

Mike Cushman speaking at University London Union in 2012.

Mike Cushman speaking at University London Union in 2012.

Whenever I ask a question at SOAS it’s usually accompanied by abuse coming my way. For example, after asking a perfectly reasonable question in 2012 SOAS lecturer Gilbert Achcar accused me of being a “professional disruptor” and then falsely accused me of leaving insulting messages on his phone.

On Tuesday night at SOAS it was completely different and uplifting.

The members of the panel were Tony Lerman and ex-teacher Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi. Chairing was academic Mike Cushman who has more than a touch of Larry David about him in both look and mannerism. The subject of the evening was a new book they had contributed to called On Antisemitism.

The room of 50 sat relatively quiet listening to Lerman explain how “non-violent activism” like boycott, divestment and sanctions againt Israel (BDS) are under attack in America. And he quoted Judith Butler who claims that accusations of antisemitism, like those against BDS and anti-Zionists, “are meant to cause pain.”

Lerman went on to claim that “supremacist Zionism” attacks Israel’s internal critics like B’tselem and Breaking The Silence and he attacked the “notorious definition of antisemitism” adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance which he felt was “an attack on pro-Palestinian activism”.

Wimborne-Idrissi read out her favourite parts of the book one of which was about how American Jews have now placed themselves within the “tent of whiteness” due to their identifying with a “white supremacist Israel dominated by white Ashkenazi Jews”.

Cushman allowed me to ask a question and so I put it to Lerman how it could be that BDS, which calls for the right of return of some five million so-called Palestinian refugees, can be considered anything other than violently antisemitic when such a return would result in the demographic demise of the only Jewish state.

To my pleasant astonishment I received a large round of applause from the back of the room; a first after 10 years of blogging these events. I was embarrassed, but nicely so.

Lerman answered that he had never met a Palestinian who wanted to actually return to Israel, only that that they should have their rights recognised.

The evening then quickly disintegrated soon after a young South Korean man stood up to ask about the comparison between Israel and North Korea. Even Cushman told him to sit down.

Lerman again complained about the “demonisation” of BDS after which someone called out “What about the way you demonise Israel?”. Jonathan Hoffman then accused Wimborne-Idrissi of making light of antisemitism live on LBC Radio.

More interruptions followed before five Israeli flags were produced and accompanied by a beautiful rendition of Am Israel Chai.

Cushman, now channeling his inner Larry David, stood up, slammed the table and demanded silence. But silence there came none. So he called the police.

Once SOAS security appeared at the door the pro-Israel group left peacefully.

The meeting resumed but the attendance was now thoroughly depleted. And in a surprising show of contrition Wimborne-Idrissi attempted to answer Jonathan Hoffman’s accusation. She admitted her LBC interview “wasn’t my finest hour”.

As for that peaceful interruption of Israeli singing and flag waving I find it highly ironic than when I sit silently and wait patiently to be called to ask a reasonable question I am labeled a “disruptor” anyway. Those attending these vile events to put forward Israel’s case are criticised whatever we do, however well we behave. Such smears won’t stop us attending though.

(For more reflection on Tuesday evening’s events read Jonathan Hoffman)

Palestine Solidarity Campaign smears the Holocaust on anti-Balfour Declaration protest in London.

 

“Zionist Media Covers Up Palestinian Holocaust”

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign cannot kick its smearing-the-Holocaust habit. A banner proclaiming the media is, basically, Jewish-controlled and that Jews are, basically, Nazis (see above) was proudly paraded on the PSC’s anti-Balfour Declaration march through London today. There was no objection to it from any PSC stewards.

Added to that a woman wearing a Palestinian flag kept repeating there were “concentration camps” in Palestinian villages (part 1 below) and repeatedly accused a Jewish man holding a British flag of being “the anti-Christ” (part 2 below):

Smearing the Holocaust is a common theme now at PSC events and anti-Israel events generally.

As the some 3,000 PSC activists proceeded down Oxford Street a group of about 30 pro-Israel campaigners stepped into the road in front of the march and put a stop to it for about 30 minutes before the police finally moved everyone on allowing the protest to end up in Parliament Square where it was addressed by Jeremy Corbyn MP and Diane Abbott MP (via a live link), Ken Loach, Andy Slaughter MP, Salma Yaqoob and Dave Randall, amongst others.

The pro-Israel group were also called “Zionist pigs” by PSC activists but here they are in their full glory:

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More peaceful disruptions to these anti-Semitic marches through London will undoubtedly rightly follow.

Here are some other photos from the PSC march. As you can see the slogans incorporate Holocaust smearing, the Star of David, the blood libel, child killing, supporting violence against Israelis and also willing Israel’s destruction and are, of course, the slogans the above-named British politicians and celebrities will have stood in front of while addressing the PSC supporters in Parliament Square.

That’s quite a chilling prospect for Britain’s 280,000 Jews:

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“Pro-Israel” Labour MP Wes Streeting hosts Friends of Palestine event, afterwards attacks me on Twitter.

Labour MP Wes Streeting with anti-Zionist map depicting 1948, UN plan 1947, 1949-1967, 2005.

Labour MP Streeting with map depicting Palestinian land in 1947, UN plan 1947, 1949-1967, 2005.

It’s de rigueur at Labour chaired anti-Israel events in Parliament for those making Israel’s case to be branded “disrupters” and threatened with removal. In April Labour MP Mark Hendrick had myself and others removed by armed police after I, literally, asked a question.

Labour MP for Ilford North Wes Streeting threatened to have me removed on Tuesday night from his Gaza on the brink? event in Parliament. My crime: passionately asking why the panel spent their time totally blaming Israel for the plight of Gazans while giving Hamas a free pass.

Admittedly, I had also congratulated the three NGO representatives on Streeting’s panel for all making a great living out a desperate situation. Streeting immediately slammed me for questioning their motives.

But the “Palestine Industry”, so to speak, is the great untold story. Aimee Shalan of Medical Aid for Palestinians, Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch and Helen Thompson of Care International all came to Parliament and spoke about the same subject. They even repeated exactly the same phrase to describe Gaza’s situation: “De-development”.

They complained how little money Gaza is receiving which, in addition to Israel’s “occupation” of Gaza, is causing this “de-development”. Shakir, Thompson and Shalan are just three of thousands receiving salaries for the same work; money that could be spent on Gazans.

Not that pledged money gets to those Palestinians in need anyway. Hamas siphons off money to build terror tunnels into Israel and the Palestinian Authority financially rewards families of Palestinian terrorists.

Shalan described how critically ill Gazan babies have relatively little medical care from nurses compared to those in the UK, how 10% of Gazan children have stunted growth and how depleted medical supplies are.

Thompson described how the elecricity crisis affects livelihoods and demanded more money from DFID for Gaza.

Shakir claimed “Israel has kept Gaza permanently closed”, that Israel has “total control of Gaza” and, of course, that Gaza is an “open air prison”. The only mention of Hamas in all three talks was when Shakir mentioned its “arbitrary arrests”.

Shakir said “because of the closure responsibility falls fully on Israel” and then demanded the UK government call on Israel to stop the ban on freedom of movement from Gaza.

SNP MP Dr Philippa Whitford also spoke. She questioned why Gaza isn’t in the news and asked if the international community was too busy for Gaza. She said Israel’s ban on “dual use materials” meant Gazans scavenged for steel rods which they straightened out for use in buildings which could lead to such buildings collapsing.

Whitford said the drinking water is undrinkable, that Gaza City stinks of sewage and that there’s no radiotherapy in Gaza and only 45% of Gazans are allowed into Israel for radiotherapy (a statistic vigorously challenged by Jonathan Hoffman).

She said Israeli soldiers patrolling borders saps their potential as they are “bored out of their minds”. She claimed it isn’t a positive experience for Israel and Israelis and then said Israel should build HS2 as it builds “settlements” so quickly.

She finished off by showing the anti-Zionist map beloved of anti-Semites where Israel has taken virtually everything from the Palestinians (see above).

Whitford’s was also a Hamas-free talk and with no mention of the lengths Israel’s COGAT goes to supplying Gaza’s vital needs.

After Jonathan and I had spoken during the Q&A someone called Gary stood and complained about us “invading space and trying to disrupt the meeting.”

As described above Streeting then slammed me for questioning motives and demanded we all just concentrate on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. But when I questioned how on earth the anti-Zionist map was about the humanitarian situation Streeting threatened to have me removed.

Meanwhile, in response to my question about Hamas Shalan simply implied I was uncaring about the plight of Gazans.

Most of the remaining questions weren’t about the humanitarian situation at all. They were about the “one state solution”, the Balfour Declaration and how Israel is cracking down on NGOs like Breaking The Silence. Of course Israel isn’t doing that. Israel merely wants declarations of sources. The equivalent of Breaking the Silence, which seeks the indictment of Israeli soldiers, would never be allowed in the UK.

Streeting then finished his event with the sweeping “I’m worried about democracy in Israel.”

When he got home Streeting tweeted that I “sat there heckling and shouting” and called myself and Jonathan “rude yobs”. However, we were respectful and did absolutely nothing wrong.

Streeting is considered “pro-Israel” by many in the British Jewish community. But on this evidence, and considering the letter he signed slamming Israel “the occupying power in Gaza” and accusing Israel of “collective punishment”,  I have grave doubts about this.

(Read about Jonathan Hoffman challenging SNP MP Whitford’s 45% statistic)

Shakir (Human Rights Watch), Thompson (Care International), Streeting, Shalan (Medical Aid for Palestinians).

Shakir (Human Rights Watch), Thompson (Care International), Streeting, Shalan (MAP).

The Israeli flag flew high inside My Name Is Rachel Corrie.

Official handout and the

Official handout and the “Accompanying Notes”

The 31 performance run of Josh Roche directed My Name Is Rachel Corrie finally comes to an end on Thursday night. With the Young Vic Theatre rejecting all suggestions of balance including a small exhibition of the 19 Israeli Rachels murdered by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups and a pro-Israel voice on the after show panel discussions some activists produced “Accompanying Notes” to be handed out to theatre goers outside the Young Vic.

The “Accompanying Notes”, which look similar to the official handout (see above), explain what really happened to Rachel in 2003 when she tragically died in Gaza while naively standing in front of a bulldozer when Israel was fighting Hamas:

“The investigation and court judgement showed the driver could not see her and that her death was an unfortunate accident to someone who had trespassed in a clearly marked closed military area. Rachel Corrie was not protecting a ‘home’ but a shed shielding one of the terror tunnels used to smuggle weapons and explosives. Her death was a tragic accident.”

Rachel was, in fact, protecting tunnels Hamas were using to smuggle in weapons that were causing mass murder on the streets of Israel. That crucial part of the narrative, plus that her death was an accident, were absent from the play.

The “Accompanying Notes” also explain that the play contains “unsubstantiated, context-free allegations about supposed Israeli brutality. For example, the IDF is alleged to have stopped the International Solidarity Movement retrieving a corpse, is accused of destroying wells and being engaged in a ‘constant attempt to remove Palestinians from their home.'”

They also explain how Rachel, an ISM member, misinterprets the Fourth Geneva Convention.

We had tickets for the Saturday night production. The theatre holds 70 and when we entered the actress playing Rachel (Erin Doherty) was lying on the floor listening to music with the main prop on stage being a part of Israel’s security wall painted a light red, obviously denoting blood. The stage floor was also painted red.

The show was, basically, an hour and a half of emotional blackmail as Doherty played out edited scenes from the young Rachel’s diaries. The audience occasionally laughed at her naivety and attempts to change the world.

It was dull. The hour and a half passed slowly.

Nearing the end Rachel describes how the Israeli army, apparently, destroyed wells in Gaza, shot at children and how Rachel failed to retrieve a dead Gazan while being shot at by the IDF. Rachel also offers Gazans money for their hospitality but they wouldn’t take any preferring for Rachel to go back to America to tell their story.

At the end Doherty gives a very short, uncorroborated account of how Rachel died. It’s by “eyewitness Tom Dale” who described the Israeli bulldozer driver seeing Rachel before killing her. But, as stated above, this is not the case.

Israeli courts have sent Israeli soldiers to prison when evidence supports such a conviction so there’s no reason they wouldn’t have done the same in this case. Tom Hurndall’s killer, in similar circumstances, and IDF soldier Azaria were sent to prison.

As Doherty took her two ovations Jonathan Hoffman, from the middle of the audience, stood and unfurled the Israeli flag in front of her. It was a small act of defiance against a nasty play and staging that only adds poison to the world.

(For more analysis of the court case read here)

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.