Tag Archives: jerusalem

Bar Standards Board clears Michael Mansfield QC of professional misconduct over anti-Israel speech.

Jessica Nero and Christopher Osmond lying on floor inside Ahava on November 22nd 2010 shortly after Michael Mansfield's speech at Amnesty.

Jessica Nero and Christopher Osmond lying on floor inside Ahava on November 22nd 2010 shortly after Michael Mansfield's speech at Amnesty.

Last night I went to Tooks Chambers for a Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers talk given by Antonia Mulvey, the Senior Justice Expert for the Norwegian Refugee Council based in New York, on Palestinian housing issues in East Jerusalem and the West Bank (specifically Area C).

This was not long after a complaint for professional misconduct against Michael Mansfield QC, one of the senior barristers at Tooks, had been dismissed by the Bar Standards Board.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine had held an anti-Israel hatefest at the Law Society on the weekend of 20th and 21st November 2010. RTOP is a Kangaroo Court where anti-Israel activists get together to make up international law with which to condemn Israel.

It’s a bit like playing doctors and nurses, but as lawyers.

They even have a “jury” and on 22nd November 2010 Michael Mansfield QC, as head juror, pronounced all the firms “on trial” guilty of complicity in Israel’s “breaches of international law”. This “judgement” was given at Amnesty International.

At the end of Mansfield’s “verdict” the following exchange occurred in response to a question on the legalities of civil disobedience. Mansfield was possibly encouraging the law to be broken, especially in light of what immediately took place at the Ahava shop in Covent Garden. The following transcript formed the basis of the complaint to the BSB (listen to audio at end of post):

Questioner:

“I just wanted to ask, do you think the findings have any ramifications on those engaging in civil disobedience as a means to highlight corporate complicity and promote the BDS campaign?” 

Mansfield:

“Yes, I can answer that one directly. The answer is yes.

In fact we heard from a lawyer who has been involved in two actions where there were criminal prosecutions. He represented those who had actively protested in relation to two different companies; one in Northern Ireland and one not.

And the position is very important and it stems again, not only from the advisory opinion, but it is there in the advisory opinion. Because what the advisory opinion is saying to governments and everyone; we all have an obligation to bring the wall and the settlements to an end, which means that those who wish to, as it were, actively protest in relation to that here, in this country or in Northern Ireland, wish to protest about that, are entitled if and when, they are not always prosecuted, if the prosecuting authority decides that they are, for criminal damage or whatever it happens to be, they are going to prosecute the individuals who entered offices or whatever it is, then the individuals who are prosecuted have a, a defence, sometimes called “necessity”, in which they are saying “there is a greater good”.

Yes, there is damage, but the damage was done as of “necessity” to prevent a greater evil being caused. So, actually…if people, come and tell us that is exactly what is being (unclear), and jurors, that’s the interesting thing, courts in the United Kingdom, juries, ordinary people in the United Kingdom, the democratic aspect of our system, are saying “we find you not guilty because of the greater good”.

So it’s extremely important that it’s a two-pronged thing: One is proactive, in other words actually going to companies and corporations, the other is reactive, if we get accused then we have a perfectly legitimate defence.

And may I just add a foot-note on this. I know time is restricted, what we are equally horrified to note is that the Israeli government is currently considering making protests and objections along these lines a criminal offence. So therefore this is, as I see it, a totally appropriate situation in as much as you are not going to be easily allowed to stick up against it.

Can I just add as a footnote – there is a protest, a perfectly lawful legitimate nonviolent protest, going on in London now, today, in relation to a company, Ahava, that you may have heard of, that produces goods that are mislabelled for a start off, but in any event are exploiting natural resources in Israel/Palestine and it is essentially complicit, we will be dealing with it in the full report, complicit in the illegality that people have already talked about. I don’t know exactly where it is happening in London, but it is happening now.”

A Woman:

“Monmouth Street, Covent Garden.”

Mansfield:

“Thank you very much….Dead Sea Products, yes….How are we doing on time….fine, any more questions?” 

So, at the very least, Mansfield seems to admit to knowledge of events at Ahava where Jessica Nero and Christopher Osmond entered the store either during or soon after his speech and were eventually arrested. On 21st April 2011 both Nero and Osmond were convicted of aggravated trespass, given 18 month conditional discharges and ordered to pay £250 costs each.

And guess who represented Nero and Osmond at their trial? James Mehigan, a barrister at Tooks!

The BSB dismissed the complaint for professional misconduct against Mansfield in a letter from Natalya Browning, an assessment officer, on the following grounds (Browning’s response is edited for brevity):

1. Mr Mansfield QC incited the crime of aggravated trespass:

The BSB does not have the power to consider allegations of criminal conduct. If you consider that Mr Mansfield QC is guilty of a criminal offence, you should refer the matter to the police in the first instance. I would also point out that Mr Mansfield’s comments were made in his personal capacity and not in connection with the provision of a legal service.

2. Mr Mansfield QC profited from inciting a crime, by representing two defendants who had committed the crime, possibly with the use of public money in the form of legal aid:

Mr Mansfield QC would not have been paid a share of the fees earned by Mr Mehigan. I can see no evidence on the information before me to suggest that Mr Mansfield QC profited from Mr Mehigan’s representation of the defendants and, as explained above, we cannot consider whether or not Mr Mansfield has incited or encouraged a crime.

Sadly, the police should have been informed within six months of Mansfield’s speech, incitement being a summary-only offence.

I will leave you to draw your own conclusions, but please be careful if leaving a comment below the line. I don’t want to be sued.

As for last night’s Haldane Society talk, Antonia Mulvey spent an hour propagandising about alleged illegal evictions of Palestinian “women and children” and the route of Israel’s Security Wall. The case studies she mentioned are still being challenged through the Israeli court system.

She claimed that a Palestinian family had been fined for nuisance for sitting outside their old home having been recently evicted from it and that Palestinians must pay for the demolition of their homes and for removal of the rubble, which they can’t afford along with the huge fines for not having a valid building permit.

Sat among the audience, some of whom were calling for boycotts of Israel and for Israel to adhere to Jewish values as set out in the Torah (ex-Labour MP Martin Linton even accused Israel of “ethnic engineering” the Palestinians in east Jerusalem), I mentioned that many of the case studies given by Mulvey were no different to property disputes common in Britain.

I also pointed out that the backdrop of Palestinian terrorists constantly attempting to murder Israelis might mean that Palestinians were inconvenienced by the route of the security wall. I asked whether she preferred the inconvenience or more Israelis, like three-month old Hadas Fogel who was decapitated in her bed by a Palestinian, being murdered.

For her answer she relied on the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice 2004 on the legal consequences of the construction of the wall. Mulvey said that the opinion (which, being only an “advisory opinion”, is not binding) criticised the building of the wall inside the green line.

So one might infer that Mulvey has no qualms about the beheading of Hadas Fogel; it being preferable for the security wall to be moved to the green line so exposing even more Israelis to Hadas Fogel and her family’s tragic fate.

Audio of Mansfield at Amnesty (22nd Nov. 2010)

(Thanks to Sharon and Leslie for their cooperation)

Mulled wine and Israel-hate down at the Natural History Museum.

Yasser Arafat would have been proud.

Yasser Arafat would have been proud.

With Ahava having closed down those who devote their lives to Israel’s destruction needed somewhere else to vent their hate. Their slime led from Ahava to the Natural History Museum where Veolia is sponsoring an exhibition.

Veolia is helping to build a modern transport network in Jerusalem, which is helping both Israelis and Palestinians to move more easily around the city, but instead the anti-Israel activists fed the usual lies to museum-goers about Veolia being in breach of international law.

As ever they were led by Salim Alam, who is present at virtually every anti-Israel happening in London these days (in contrast to PSC chief Sarah Colborne who is rarely seen).

Here he is trying to force me to stop filming yesterday’s protest:

It was almost a replay of last Christmas when he threatened to knock the camera out of my hand and which earned him a trip to the nearby police station:

He doesn’t like being filmed, but is quick to film. And here’s someone else who doesn’t like being filmed for some reason:

Did I miss a change in the law to the effect that no one can film political protests now? Have the Taliban taken over?

The anti-Israel activists lined up outside the entrance to the museum to hand out anti-Israel leaflets before cracking open the mulled wine and singing defaced Christmas carols which accused Israel of, inter alia, apartheid, settler violence and stealing land and water:

This one is about Ahava:

More photos from yesterday:

Salim Alam displays anti-Veolia literature (pro-Israel leaflet in background).

Salim Alam displays anti-Veolia literature (pro-Israel leaflet in background).

Handing out anti-Israel leaflets at museum door.

Handing out anti-Israel leaflets at museum door.

Drinking mulled wine which they refused to share with us. "Bah, humbug!"

Drinking mulled wine which they refused to share with us. "Bah, humbug!"

The mulled wine begins to take its toll.

The mulled wine begins to take its toll.

Showing commitment to the cause: $55 in Vietnam.

Showing commitment to the cause: $55 in Vietnam.

Nice keffiyeh, shame about the hat.

Nice keffiyeh, shame about the hat.

Tuning up for the carols.

Tuning up for the carols.

The singing begins. Don't call us, we'll call you.

The singing begins. Don't call us, we'll call you.

Baroness Jenny Tonge threatens to quit Liberal Democrats over Sheikh Salah detention.

Martin Linton and Jenny Tonge last night.

Martin Linton and Jenny Tonge last night.

Sheikh Raed Salah was gone but not forgotten last night at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign event in the House of Commons at which he was due to speak alongside four Labour politicans and one Liberal Democrat.

Many speakers stood up to denounce his detention and potential deportation.

Salah had been arrested the night before after slipping into Britain last Saturday before the Home Office had properly informed the Border Agency that he had been excluded as not being conducive to the public good.

But before last night he had already spoken at Conway Hall on Monday night, in Leicester and in the House of Lords.

Yesterday, the Daily Mail’s front page headline screamed “Secure Britain…What a Joke” and attributed the following, alleged, statements to Salah:

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

On Jews: “We have never allowed ourselves to knead (the dough for) the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children’s blood. Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the (Jewish) holy bread.” (After this, alleged, speech 1,000 people rioted).

Salah had served two years in prison for confessing to having financed the terrorist group Hamas.

As last night’s PSC event took place Salah was languishing in prison.

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn said that Salah’s lawyers, the PSC and Corbyn, himself, were going to challenge the decision. Corbyn also insinuated that the “orchestrated campaign by the Daily Mail” might be behind the decision not to allow Salah into the country.

The meeting itself was on Building Peace and Justice in Jerusalem. Speakers included Muslims, Christians and Jews. The intention was to portray Jerusalem as equally important to all the faiths and, therefore, having to be fairly shared with the Palestinians having east Jerusalem as their capital and the Jews having west Jerusalem as Israel’s.

At no stage was it stated that this would leave virtually every Jewish holy site under the control of the Palestinians.

While Palestinians would be able to worship on the Temple Mount, it is highly unlikely that many Israeli Jews would be allowed to pray at the Western Wall. This was certainly the case when Jordan controlled the Western Wall between 1949 and 1967. And they have the cheek to describe Israel as an “apartheid state”!

Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi spoke first. She referred to the “apartheid wall that digs deep into the West Bank”. She said Israel has “created a Jewish buffer zone around Jerusalem” and that it had appropriated huge swathes of land in order to Judaise Jerusalem.

Then Palestinian Ambassador Dr. Manuel Hassassian said that the Palestinians will “never compromise over the sovereignty of east Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the heart of the Palestinian state and the hardest nut to crack. If there is political will on the part of Israel, then everything has a solution. But we have a right wing fascist Israeli government that only wants to build settlements and confiscate land. We Palestinians don’t have a partner for peace. We made our historic compromise when we gave up 78% of Palestine in 1988.”

Considering Hassassian’s Fatah party has just joined forces with anti-Jewish terrorist group Hamas Hassassian’s hypocrisy reeks stronger than his aftershave.

Hassassian also referred to the “apartheid wall” and to Israel’s policies in Jerusalem as “ethnic cleansing”. He said that America keeps Israel immune from international law. On Salah’s arrest he said that Salah is in prison now for fighting for Palestinian rights in Jerusalem.

He finished off by saying:

“We are resilient, diligent and we will get our state in September with east Jerusalem as our capital. The UK government must be proactive and give us money and aid and say to Israel that you are the occupier and must end this occupation. We hope Palestinians and Israelis, Jews, Christians and Muslims will live in unity in Mosaic Jerusalem, where I was born. I will never quit defending the rights of Palestinians in that city.”

Ismail Patel, from Friends of Al Aqsa, said it was a “sad day today that his (Salah’s) voice  should be silenced in a country known for its freedom of speech. He has more free speech in Israel than in Britain”.

He claimed that the Romans expelled the Jews but it was the Muslims who ended the Jewish dispersion in 637AD and that until 1967 Jerusalem was an open city, apart from 100 years of Crusader rule.

He said “Israel’s slogan was a land without a people for a people without a land”. But now, he said, Israel has a new slogan: “There is no meaning to Israel without Jerusalem as its capital and there is no meaning to Jerusalem without the Temple Mount on which Al Aqsa stands”.

“Israel’s Zionist ideology of occupation, oppression and expulsion wishes to create an exclusively Jewish state. It wants to be a Jewish democracy only, by denying other faiths equal rights. Never again should mankind oppress another because of the difference in their faith as was done in Germany during the Holocaust. The Palestinians have been expelled just because they are Palestinians. If we want ‘Never Again’ to come true we must motivate ourselves to keep the Palestinian presence in former Palestinian land, in a state where all faiths are equal and not a state where only Jews have the right to exist.”

Hind Khoury, of Sabeel, which is described as “an ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians”, said she wanted east Jerusalem to be the capital of a Palestinian state and west Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel.

She said that Israel is seeking to Judaise and de-Palestinise the city. She agreed with Ambassador Hassassian that the Palestinians had recognised Israel’s existence in 1988. She said that nothing justifies Israel’s exlusive claim to the West Bank and she was worried that “our churches will become Museums”.

Labour MP Richard Burden said that Palestinians must pay $26,000 for a building permit in Jerusalem and that the permits take many years to obtain from the Israelis. He said it was a case of the “creeping ethnic cleansing of a city by bureaucratic decree”.

Burden, referring to the Salah affair, said he had no truck with racism or anti-Semitism, but a person should be convicted on the basis of evidence, not innuendo:

“If the Home Secretary can produce evidence then fair enough, but the obligation is on her. If our government is as activist as this maybe it could show more activism and tell the Israeli authorities that it is about time they stopped demolishing Palestinian homes…Brave Jewish Israelis are also saying this.”

Last night BBC’s Newsnight had a piece about the Salah affair and as the credits were about to roll the presenter said that Burden had just phoned in to say that although he had been due to speak alongside Salah last night he had no input into arranging Salah’s visit. And his point is?

Labour Lord Alf Dubs had recently returned from his first ever visit to the West Bank and was “shocked” by what he saw: “Israel’s government is its own worst enemy.”

He called for a peaceful two state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital, but this, he said, would be impossible with Israel’s “deliberate” settlement policy. He also described his visit to an Israeli military court:

“The security was so tight we had to leave our business cards on entering. In the dock were two Palestinian kids aged 14 and 15. Their handcuffs had been removed, but their legs were still shackled. The fifteen year old was in tears, which was very disturbing to see.”

Diana Neslen, of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, said she is a “dissident Jew”. She spoke of the “obscene wall that snakes around” Jerusalem. She said that until 1967 another wall divided the city, but although Jews could not visit the Western Wall then, they were “otherwise free and without restriction”.

She said that Israel had destroyed the houses that faced the Western Wall when it captured the Old City in 1967, but “gaining territory was no substitute for losing one’s soul”.

She also said that now many Palestinian cannot pray on the Temple Mount and that “this shows how unfit Israel is to be the guardian of the Holy sites…Israelis do not see the non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine worthy of human decency”.

She described how on June 1st “white shirted young people” marched through east Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah district screaming “Death to Arabs”, “Burn the Arabs” and “Burn the Arab villages”:

“It was like Mosley marching through the East End protected by the police, but Mosley was prevented from marching. Those who like to excavate anti-Semitism never condemn these outrageous scenes. Shameful silence breeds violence”.

She said some “brave Israeli and Jewish dissidents” did make a stand. One was Lucas Kerner who, she said, was wearing both a “Jewish skullcap and a Palestinian keffiya”, but he was attacked by police.

Liberal Democrat Baroness Jenny Tonge brought down the curtain. Her whole talk was about the Salah affair. She berated “the power of the Israel lobby here as well as in the USA”. She said she is “deeply ashamed of the Liberal Democrat part of our government”. She said that if you met Salah you would know that what has been said about him is not true.

She said that the proposed change in the law on universal jurisdiction was a case of “the Israel lobby at work. They lobbied on that and are getting their way and I suspect they lobbied on this. I am deeply ashamed and I am considering my future in my party.” (see poll below)

Jenny, you’ll be doing everyone a favour if you resign, mostly the Liberal Democrat party.

Meanwhile, Reverend Stephen Sizer was there last night as the official photographer. He is back from his recent trip to Malaysia where he said on TV:

“The far right in Britain is forming an alliance with Zionists because their common enemy are the Muslims.”

And so ended another evening where the Palestine Solidarity Campaign sunk to new lows. For my part even if Salah did not say what he is accused of saying about Jews and homosexuals the fact that he has been convicted of financing Hamas is enough to exclude him from Britain. (UPDATE: Sheikh Salah is a homophobe. Read Haaretz interview with him)

Would we let in to Britain someone who has financed Al Qaeda?

Meanwhile, in the queue for last night’s event someone was telling me that the Zionists controlled the world financial system and that Israel controlled British foreign policy and was responsible for 9/11. But, he assured me, he was not anti-Semitic.

Photos/audio from last night:

Sarah Colborne (PSC Chief), Martin Linton, Ben White, Diana Neslen last night.

Sarah Colborne (PSC Chief), Martin Linton, Ben White, Diana Neslen last night.

Jeremy Corbyn MP congratulates "dissident Jew" Diana Neslen.

Jeremy Corbyn MP congratulates "dissident Jew" Diana Neslen.

Palestinian Ambassador Dr Manuel Hassassian, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Richard Burden MP, Lord Alf Dubs

Palestinian Ambassador Dr Manuel Hassassian, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Richard Burden MP, Lord Alf Dubs

Richard Burden MP, Lord Alf Dubs, Hind Khoury (Sabeel)

Richard Burden MP, Lord Alf Dubs, Hind Khoury (Sabeel)

Lubna Masarwa (Middle East Monitor), Jeremy Corbyn MP, Ben White (anti-Zionist activist)

Lubna Masarwa (Middle East Monitor), Jeremy Corbyn MP, Ben White (anti-Zionist activist)

Jenny Tonge resigning?

“dissident Jew” Diana Neslen

Palestinian Ambassador Dr. Manuel Hassassian

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Lord Alf Dubs

Ismail Patel (Friends of Al Aqsa)

Richard Burden MP

Hind Khoury (Sabeel)

TravelPalestine advert banned by ASA.

The Advertising Standards Authority has deemed it “misleading” for TravelPalestine to advertise Jerusalem as part of Palestine. The same potentially applies to Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nablus and Gaza, which were also mentioned in this TravelPalestine advert:

TravelPalestine advert (click to enlarge).

TravelPalestine advert (click to enlarge).

The advert drew 149 complaints which challenged the advert on three grounds:
1. Palestine was not a recognised country.
2. It was misleading to describe Palestine as being between the Mediterranean Coast and the Jordan River, when Israel is also there.
3. It was misleading to suggest Jerusalem was part of Palestine.

The complaints were only made after this advert by the Israeli Tourist Board had to be withdrawn after complaints that Israel was misleadingly advertising Jerusalem:

Israel Tourist Board's advert.

Israel Tourist Board's advert.

In their Final Adjudication the ASA responded to the three grounds as follows:

1. Not upheld – The advert did not claim that Palestine was a recognised country and, so, was not misleading.

2. Not upheld – Not misleading because the description “between the Mediterranean Coast and the Jordan Sea” did not suggest the whole area was Palestinian-administered territory.

3. Upheld – The status of Jerusalem is in dispute. “From the famous cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jerischo, Nablus and Gaza…Palestine lies between…” was misleading because these cities are not universally accepted as being part of Palestine (the latter five cities were not the subject of the current complaint).

The ASA ordered that the advert must not appear again in its current form and that future adverts must not suggest that it was universally accepted that locations were part of Palestine when they weren’t.

It is a shame it came to this. Jerusalem is an increasingly impoverished city for all the people that live there.

Jerusalemites desperately need tourism but we now seem to be at the ridiculous juncture where neither Israel nor the Palestinians can advertise Jerusalem. Not only that but, unprompted, the ASA went further by making it difficult for TravelPalestine to advertise ANY of the cities that the Palestinians are claiming!

It just goes to show that those who try to tear down Israel will only be tearing down the Palestinians as well. But then again, as we know, most of them don’t really give a damn about the Palestinians. It’s the Jewish state, stupid.

Israel cannot advertise this!

Israel cannot advertise this!

Shlomo Sand: Israelis could massacre the non-Jews in Israel.

Sand and Achcar: Let's talk anti-Zionism.

Sand and Achcar: Let's talk anti-Zionism.

Gilbert Achcar asked me to leave last night’s talk at SOAS given by Shlomo Sand. If I didn’t he said he would call security.

The talk was called On the Nation and the ‘Jewish People’, although it was all taken from Sand’s The Invention of the Jewish People.

For an hour I bit my lip while Sand tore into the idea that the Jews had any connection with Israel. He said there had never been an exile of the Jews under the Romans and so, as there was no exile, there could never be a return.

But all Israeli school textbooks spoke of this mythical “exile” he said.

He claimed the Jews were merely a religious phenomenon and as they came from all over the world, and so had no connection with each other, they could not be described as “a people”. Sand is an Israeli Jewish atheist.

Today’s Jews, he said, are just descendants of converts from African tribes i.e. the Khazars and the Berbers. These tribes had simply converted en masse to Judaism.

Zionists had only recently taken Jewish myths and cultured them into a nationalist ideology.

But Jews had never wanted to originally go to Palestine. Only after 1924, when America closed the gates, and eventually the British too, did they finally set sail for Palestine.

Most Jews don’t live in Israel, but outside it.

And Golda Meir had, apparently, said that when a Jew marries a non-Jew he or she “adds to the six million”.

Then, after defining Nazi Germany as an ethnocentric state, he said he was against Israel being defined as a Jewish state because “I am sure it will finish with the massacre in the Galilee, because 20% are non-Jews in this state.” (Listen to audio at end)

What is the point of an unopposed two hour verbal attack on Israel and the Jewish people at a British university? No one learns a thing apart from more anti-Israel propaganda.

During the Q&A I asked Sand what is the problem with the Jews calling themselves “a people” if they wanted to. He might not like it but most Jews think of themselves as being part of “a people”. That is how nationalism works.

I challenged him on whether Jewish history really spoke of the Jews being “exiled” by the Romans. Instead, the Jews had lost sovereignty to the Romans and many Jews left the area to become the Jewish diaspora. Therefore, Jews have a historical right to return.

What about “Next Year in Jerusalem” and the ancient religious festivals when Jews look to return to Israel and Jerusalem one day? Was that all made up by Zionists?

Anita Shapira’s destruction of Sand’s book is good on this.

Sand answered that 93% of the Jews living under the Romans were peasants and so they couldn’t leave. And diaspora Jews had only ever thought of Israel as a “Holy Land”, not as a “Home land”. “Israel” is a theological notion, not a political one.

Jews felt that the land did not belong to them, but to G-d and Jews went to Palestine only to die, not to live, so they could be the first to be resurrected when the Messiah came.

I understood the religiousness of the “Holy Land” point he was making but Sand wasn’t answering my main question: What is wrong with Jewish nationalism?

I called him a coward for not answering that question, which eventually spurred him into action.

“The Jews only came to Palestine because the doors to America and Britain were closed,” he screamed at the audience.

Even if that were true it still doesn’t preclude Jews from recognising themselves as “a people” and calling for a Jewish state.

It is not too disimilar from what the Palestinians have done. Many of them are not indigenous to what is now Israel and the Palestinian territories either, but came to the area when Jews started arriving from Europe. But they are also demanding a state.

I continued to try to question Sand but he just mocked me for being a Zionist who can’t speak Hebrew and who doesn’t even live in Israel like he does.

By then Achcar was out of his chair and bearing down on me insisting that I leave or he would call security.

I refused to leave but sat there, silent, like a good boy for the rest of the Q&A.

On the way out I was surrounded by people wanting to lecture me, including one woman who insisted that I apologise to Sand for calling him Shlomo, instead of Mr Sand, and a coward.

Shlomo Sand SOAS talk.

Shlomo Sand on a massacre in the Galilee (after 31 minutes) (This is in the Q&A).

“Free Palestine, Vote Labour.”

Tony Benn

Last night’s meeting in Parliament arranged by Friends of Al Aqsa was due to be about Israel’s building in east Jerusalem but turned out to be a party political broadcast for the Labour Party.

The three Labour MPs that spoke mainly turned their guns on the Conservatives.

Martin Linton, Labour MP for Battersea (majority – 163 votes):

“There are long tentacles of Israel in this country who are funding election campaigns and putting money into the British political system for their own ends. Now there are a number of Conservatives who have a very good record on this issue, I am not saying it’s a simple party political issue, but you must consider over the next few weeks, when you vote and when you make your constituents aware, of the attempt by Israelis and pro-Israelis to influence the election in this country and you must draw your own conclusions from that. If they get the message that trying to buy a Conservative victory, what’s more trying to buy Conservative support for Israel, is successful then they will carry on doing it. If they can see that it is not going to work, then they will desist. It is important for not only this country but also for the future of the Middle East that the result of the election in this country does not send that message.”

Gerald Kaufman, Labour MP for Manchester, Gorton (majority – 5808 votes):

“Just as Lord Ashcroft owns one part of the Conservative Party, right-wing Jewish millionaires own the other part.” (That’s a bit “rich” coming from someone who, according to the Daily Telegraph “charged the taxpayer £1851 for a rug he imported from a New York antiques centre and tried to claim £8865 for a television”).

Andrew Slaughter, Labour MP for Ealing Acton Shepherd’s Bush (majority – 5520 votes):

“There is no will in the Conservative Party to support anything other than the state of Israel. There has been a sea change on the Conservative Party over the course of a generation. That didn’t used to be the case. They are as firmly locked in now as the Republicans are in America. We have to challenge that through political power in this country.” (Did Slaughter not see William Hague’s condemnation of Israel in Parliament yesterday?)

It was stated by the Chairman of the meeting that the Conservatives were offered an invitation for someone to speak last night but they said that no one was available.

There was a sense that the pro-Palestinian campaign is suffering from event fatigue. With meetings and protests virtually every day over the last few weeks on the Goldstone Report, the arrests of british protestors over Gaza, protests against Mayor Nir Barkat as well as International Israel Apartheid Week recently finishing, things are losing steam.

Tony Benn spoke briefly but with nothing like his normal passionate anti-Zionist rhetoric. And Dr Phyllis Starkey, Labour MP for Milton Keynes South-West, who was due to speak last night, was a no-show.

And even Kaufman displayed some sort of concern for the future of Israel by explaining that its future is in jeopardy: “Either meaningful talks will take place soon or the population equation will take over.” It wasn’t an anti-Israel tirade, which one might have expected in front of this audience.

The meeting was told that all the main religions should be allowed to pray properly in Jerusalem “the third most Holy place in the world to Muslims”. Even this was met with light applause and nothing like Benjamin Netanyahu’s “Jerusalem is not a settlement, it is our capital”, which raised the roof at the AIPAC meeting in Washington on Monday in front of 7500 actvists and members of Congress.

Hugh Lanning of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign then spoke of future events including a global boyott, divestments and sanctions weekend, a campaign to ban Israeli settlement goods being sold in the UK, Naqbah Day on 15th May, a TUC action day in June and the six pledges* that all Parliamentary candidates must sign up to, but by then it was a case of information overdose.

The Six Pledges*:

1. Call on Israel to end its violations of international law, including ending its illegal occupation.
2. Oppose any attacks on universal jurisdiction and support bringing Israeli war criminals to justice
3. Work to end the siege on Gaza
4. Call on the government to ban the import of settlement goods
5. Call on the government to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement
6. Call for an end to the arms trade with Israel

Protests as Mayor Barkat visits Chatham House

The Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, visited Chatham House tonight to deliver a presentation on his modern vision for Jerusalem.

As ever anti-Israel protestors were outside chanting the usual “Free, Free, Palestine” as well as “Shame on you, Chatham House”.

The Neturei Karta turned up late but at least they made the effort.

The transcript of what the Mayor said should appear on the Chatham House website first thing in the morning.

Here are some photos of the protest (click to enlarge):