Tag Archives: labour party

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.

Corbyn slams Israel at JW3; Admits he met Hamas.

Liz Kendall gives her closing appeal to become Labour leader as Corbyn and Jonathan Freedland (chairing) listen

Liz Kendall gives her closing appeal to become Labour leader as Corbyn and Jonathan Freedland (chairing) listen

Jeremy Corbyn laid into Israel at the Labour Leadership hustings at JW3 on Monday night and admitted he met Hamas but said “you have to have talks with everybody to bring about a long term settlement”.

In that case when will he meet Islamic State?

Corbyn claimed Israel had “put Gaza under siege” and that there were “serious issues concerning the bombardment of Gaza, the failure to reconstruct Gaza, the level of poverty and unemployment that exists in Gaza and there are also questions of children held in Israeli prisons. And there are also questions of the number of African refugees that are not being allowed into Israel and that are being deported from Israel.”

Children in Israeli prisons? For anti-Israel activists a “child” is anyone under 18 and these “children” may have thrown stones at a car with intent to murder its occupants, so they are not necessarily as angelic as Corbyn seems to imply.

Corbyn said he supported an arms boycott of Israel and a boycott of settlement products but said he did not support an academic boycott or an economic boycott of “Israel proper”.

On the issue of calling Hezbollah and Hamas “friends” at a House of Commons event Corbyn claimed he was just being “inclusive” but said that didn’t mean he agreed with the “social attitudes, social policies or legal views of those organisations” and claimed he has made that clear to them when he has met them.

He was also asked whether he would withdraw his support for the Stop The War Coalition due to its sponsorship of the Al Quds Day annual demonstration through London where Hezbollah flags are waved and which is a festival of hatred. Corbyn replied that it is “not designed to be a festival of hatred”.

But placards that have appeared at Al Quds Day demonstrations include: “Israel is a disease, We are the cure“, “Listen Israel, Leave!!!”, “For world peace Israel must be destroyed“, “Israel your days are numbered”, “Death to Israel”, “The world stopped Nazism…the world must stop Zionism”.

For an organisation of which he is the Chair he is pretty ignorant of the hatred it helps to incite on the streets of London.

Corbyn also stated that the Balfour Declaration was “imposed by some of the Jewish members of the cabinet” at the time but has since backtracked to claim that he meant to say “opposed”. It is worrying that a potential leader can get something so wrong from what he meant to say.

As for Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper who are the other Labour leadership contenders they all condemned Corbyn’s use of “friends” to describe Hamas and Hezbollah. Cooper said that language is very important when discussing terrorists. Burnham said he would have sanctioned Corbyn for such language.

Meanwhile, Burnham said that he had voted in favour of the “Palestine” recognition resolution last year only because the vote had been whipped by Labour but that the first country he would visit on becoming leader would be Israel.

Kendall said that the vote was not whipped and that she had abstained because passing resolutions either at the House of Commons or the UN wasn’t the right way to achieve peace and a two state solution which should come about only via negotiations. She said she was a friend of Israel.

Finally, there was a lot applause for Corbyn but that can be explained by the many anti-Israel activists I recognised in the audience including ex-Labour MP Martin Linton.

Clips from Monday’s JW3 event:

Jeremy Corbyn attempts to explain away his description of Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”:

Corbyn says Jewish cabinet members “imposed” Balfour Declaration:

Corbyn slams Israel and its holding of “children” in prison:

Opening remarks of each contender. Liz Kendall explains why she abstained on “Palestine” recognition resolution:

Galloway gone! Ward ousted! Liberal Democrats demolished! Labour decimated! SNP in.

The country knew by 10pm on Thursday night that there had been a political bloodbath.

Contrary to all the opinion polls putting Labour and the Conservatives level the Exit Poll published at 10pm told a different story; the Conservatives had won a crushing general election victory. Labour had lost many seats and the Liberal Democrats had virtually disappeared.

An Exit Poll is pretty trustworthy and within minutes of its announcement the British Pound was surging on the financial bourses. The United Kingdom had voted for stability.

All that was left to be decided was the scale of Cameron’s victory (the Conservatives finally ended up with 331 MPs, Labour 232, the Liberal Democrats just 8) and which MPs had lost their seats. Famous names were about to disappear from the political scene.

The Liberal Democrats won 56 seats in 2010 but were heavily punished due to Nick Clegg’s pre-2010 election promise that he would abolish tuition fees for university students. He reneged once he was in coalition with the Conservatives.

For those supportive of Israel the demise of the Lib Dems is sweet. If the Israeli army was called on to defend Israelis from Hamas’ rockets Nick Clegg would call for an arms embargo on Israel.

And one has to question how Clegg can lay claim to any morals after not sacking David Ward who suggested that Jews had not learned the lessons of the Holocaust.

After minimal admonition from his party leader Ward was free to continue as a Liberal Democrat. Pleased to report that Ward has now been swept away politically by the good people of Bradford East.

And the good people of Bradford West swept away the Respect Party’s  George Galloway. Maybe they felt that Galloway was far more concerned with Tehran West than Bradford West.

It would be nice to think that Bradfordians also felt uncomfortable with his venomous anti-Zionist rhetoric (he declared Bradford an Israel-free zone) and were concerned for Bradford’s small Jewish population.

It was also goodbye to Simon Hughes and Bob Russell, two more anti-Israel Liberal Democrats swept away in the political tsunami.

Meanwhile, Labour lost 24 seats from last time! Much of Labour’s Parliamentary party is still anti-Israel and Labour’s main anti-Israel firebrands survived, including the likes of Gerald Kaufman, Andy Slaughter and Richard Burden who has met with Hamas. Labour also added Rupa Huq to their anti-Israel numbers.

For five years Labour has been isolationist on the foreign policy front. It voted not to assist the Syrian people being slaughtered by Assad.

There was, however, one country on which Labour was not isolationist: Israel. Precious parliamentary time was wasted by Labour MPs these last five years smearing Israel as evil and debating, and voting for, a future Palestinian state.

But despite the election results there is no room for complacency for British Jews. The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) have virtually swept away Labour in Scotland. They grew from six to an astonishing 56 MPs!

The SNP like to paint themselves as supportive of multiculturalism but there is, again, one country they are not too accepting of: Israel.

These are SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s words to the ‘Ending Scottish Arms Trade with Israel’ conference only yesterday:

“As you may be aware, during the recent conflict in Gaza the Scottish Government wrote to the UK Government urging an embargo on arms sales to Israel. The Scottish Government is a firm friend of Palestine and we will continue to press this issue after the election.”

An SNP council also once voted to ban Israeli books in its libraries.

No doubt the SNP will soon be joining forces with Labour, what’s left of the Liberal Democrats and Caroline Lucas of the Green Party to attack Israel.

In the meantime the average hard-working grassroots pro-Israel activist can enjoy some well-earned schadenfreude at the demise of Galloway and Ward.

And I only asked why Jews can’t live next to Palestinians on the West Bank….

GUPS representative, Martin Linton, Dibyesh Anand, Sarah Apps, Murad Qureshi

GUPS representative, Martin Linton, Dibyesh Anand, Sarah Apps, Murad Qureshi

And so to my final blog of 2014 and a public event I attended last month at the University of Westminster, London.

On 13th November 2014 a panel discussed Parliament Recognises Palestine: What Next?

The panel consisted of Sara Apps, Campaigns Officer for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Martin “tentacles” Linton, chair of Labour Friends of Palestine, Murad Qureshi, a Labour Party Member of the London Mayoral Assembly and, finally, a representative from the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS – UK).

The panel was chaired by Dr. Dibyesh Anand, Head of Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Westminster.

As ever there were repeated calls from the panel for a boycott of Israeli “settlements”. When it came to the Q&A I raised my arm and asked one simple question:

“Isn’t it racist to call for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank especially when considering that 1.7 million Muslim and Christian Arabs reside fairly happily in Israel ?”

Chaos ensued.

I was then referred to as “the enemy” by a man who walked out while giving me a rather unpleasant look. He also said, referring to me, “We are fighting these people”. Here’s the clip:

The head of Fatah in the UK then described how the Palestinians had welcomed the Jews from Nazi Germany and protected the Jewish community in Beirut during Lebanon’s civil war.

The most frightening aspect of his speech was not the lies but the applause. Here’s the clip:

Martin Linton then accused me of dangerously introducing “Jewish” into the discussion. But he then praised the anti-Israel group Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP).

Sarah Apps said she abhored anti-Semitism. However, her organisation’s logo dispenses with Israel altogether. So, if implicitly calling for the eradication of the Jewish state isn’t anti-Semitism then, one must ask, what is?

Anand Dibyesh said this event wasn’t at all anti-Semitic (I never claimed it was) before immediately, himself, going on to make a link between Nazism and Israel.

Finally, a student asked what she could do to help. Martin Linton responded that she should support Karen Buck, the Labour MP for Westminster North, who, he said, is very pro-Palestinian. It seems for some the needs of the Palestinians are more important than the needs of the good people of Westminster North.

On the way out I was encircled by some aggressive students who told me I was brainwashed and who asked repeatedly how much I was being paid.

So here’s to a less hypocritical and more constructive 2015 although with the May general election on the horizon many British politicians will be using the Palestinians as mere political fodder with which to try to secure their own re-election.

Thank you for all the supportive comments I have had throughout 2014. Thank you to those who have commented on my blog and those who have cross-posted me and many thanks for the support of the team at CIFWatch.

More importantly a huge “thank you” to those who continue to fight against anti-Semitism and Israel’s delegitimisation in the UK but who receive little, if any, credit in return.

A healthy and happy New Year to everyone.

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

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

Qureshi had said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But let’s all feel sorry for Qureshi instead!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MPAC, the General Election and British Jews

With the gun for the general election having been fired British Jews are expecting open season on them and on Israel.

Even before the announcement of the May 6th election, which is expected to be close and could result in a hung Parliament with the highly anti-Israel Liberal Democrats holding the balance of power between Labour and the Conservatives, the attacks have been vicious. Recent accusations of Jewish political financing and Israel pulling the strings behind the electoral scenes have been hitting the headlines.

Martin Linton, a Labour MP, recently gave a talk in Parliament to the Friends of Al Aqsa and spoke of Israel’s “long tentacles” that fund British election campaigns and which try to buy a Conservative victory. Linton said that he failed to appreciate the Nazi symbolism of the Jewish octopus controlling the world with its tentacles and he apologised but he stands by his thesis of Israelis and pro-Israelis trying to buy a Conservative win.

At the same meeting Gerald Kaufman, a Jewish Labour MP, spoke of Lord Ashcroft owning part of the Conservative Party and right-wing Jewish millionaires owning the other part.

These are, of course, unfounded and defamatory accusations that paint many British Jews as being Fifth Columnists dedicated to another country only, Israel.

Then there is the election literature that has been doing the rounds. The Liberal Democrats are expert at manipulating the religious and ethnic sympathies of the voting public. They have already called for a ban on the sale of arms to Israel. Woe betide Israel if a hung Parliament results in Nick Clegg as Foreign Secretary as a quid pro quo for the Liberal Democrats supporting either Gordon Brown or David Cameron if neither wins a majority on May 6th.

In London there are two neighbouring constituencies where the policy of Liberal Democrats towards Israel depends wholly on the ethnic and religious make-up of the voters. In Holborn and St. Pancras, with its disproportionately high Bangladeshi community, the leaflets of the Liberal Democrat candidate scream “Stop Arming Israel”.

But in Hampstead and Kilburn, where the voters are disproportionately Jewish, the leaflets are pro-Israel with pictures of the Liberal Democrat candidate’s recent visit to Israel and there is even Hebrew writing included. Mezuzahs are very useful in determining whether to push said leaflet through a door or not.

MPAC: “Get out the Muslim vote II”

There is also the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, which is sure to have a big say in some constituencies on who gets elected or not. A page on the MPAC website asks “is your MP a Zionist?” and then goes on to list those MPs and candidates that it deems to be so. You don’t have to be Jewish. The only qualification seems to be that you are affiliated to a Friends of Israel group of one of the three main political parties.

The current list contains 36 names. In 2005 Lorna Fitzsimons, now head of British Israel Communications and Research Centre, lost her seat as a Labour MP partly because of MPAC. The 2006 Report of the All Parliamentary Committee into anti-Semitism found that MPAC, in order to help unseat Fitzsimons, distributed leaflets stating “she had done nothing to help the Palestinians because she was a Jewish member of the Labour Friends of Israel”. Lorna Fitzsimons is not Jewish.

The media will play its role. The Independent has committed anti-Israel writers like Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Johan Hari and Robert Fisk and the Guardian’s Comment is Free section is replete with anti-Israel polemic. A recent Guardian editorial on the Dubai passports affair and Israel’s building in east Jerusalem spoke of Israel as “an arrogant nation that has overeached itself”. This seems to be an implicit attack not on Israel specifically but on Jews generally.

But with four weeks to go until election day we can expect Jewish and Muslim sensitivities to be manipulated to the full in order to propel a political candidate into Parliament, or to reduce their chances.

So who will you be voting for and why?

“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