Tag Archives: London School of Economics

Investigations and media coverage in aftermath of LSE Palsoc/Femsoc event.

Aitemad Muhanna-Matar, Zena Agha, Rana B. Baker,  Mezna Qato at LSE last week.

Aitemad Muhanna-Matar, Zena Agha, Rana B. Baker, Mezna Qato at LSE last week.

Last Tuesday, 27th January (Holocaust Memorial Day), at a joint Palestine Society and Feminist Society event at the London School of Economics Zena Agha accused Israelis of utilising the idea of rape as a “weapon of war” against Palestinian women, and Rana B. Baker glorified Sana’a Mehaidli who blew herself up in Lebanon in 1985 killing two Israeli soldiers.

I wrote about the event here and LSE’s online newspaper has been covering all the fallout in detail.

LSE’s Israel Society immediately lodged a complaint against the LSE Student Union over Baker’s remarks (Why not over Agha’s remarks also?) and the Feminist Society immediately apologised:

“Having reviewed the statements, regarding applauding an attack against Israeli soldiers, made by a speaker at our event we apologise unequivocally on behalf of the Feminist Society. We give platforms to oppressed peoples, including those under violent occupations, but that does not mean that their views always reflect our own. The Feminist Society is truly regretful that we have caused offence.”

Shamefully, the same cannot be said of the Palestine Society which stated:

“Although the LSESU Palestine Society does not necessarily share the views held by the speaker, we maintain that she is entitled to them and is free to express her analysis on the issue, whatever that may be.”

Incredibly, the chairperson of last week’s event Aitemad Muhanna-Matar, a research fellow at the LSE’s Middle East Centre, then took the issue to new depths with her equating of Israelis and Nazis. She said to the online newspaper:

“These resistance military actions were done in the western history by the IRA, during the American and French revolutions. At a lesser extent, Jews resisted against the Nazist (sic) kidnappers, but faced certain death, the same as Palestinians who committed violence against the Israelis certainly face certain death.”

LSE’s Jewish Society lodged a formal complaint over that remark. Samiha Begum, LSE Student Union Black and Minority Ethnics Students Officer, defended Muhanna-Matar by explaining “She doesn’t compare the regimes she compares the resistance.”

Meanwhile, Zena Agha wrote on her own blog that I had accused her of “urging the audience to see ISIS in a different light – an accusation made all the more hurtful given that my cousin was killed by ISIS activities in Baghdad six months ago and my family is still in mourning.”

I am sorry for Zena’s loss. However, Zena did say just that. She told the audience not to adopt the Western narrative about ISIS.

I will keep you updated on the results of the investigations.

But let’s be clear. Imagine how our universities would look if whenever there was an event one side falsely accused the other of weaponising rape and then went on to glorify those who kill.

And more to the point not only did two Israeli soldiers lose their lives in Mehaidli’s suicide bombing but Mehaidli lost hers also at the tender age of 16.

Three families are still in mourning for the needless loss of loved ones. That is, in effect, what Baker glorified last week.

On a brighter note as a result of my blog about the event Baker’s sickening glorification was reported in Saturday’s Times. On Page 13 the headline read: Suicide Bomber was praised by LSE speaker

The Times reported that Baker “called for applause for Sana’a Mehaidli” and that she said her attack was “worthy of a standing ovation”. The Times also reported that LSE’s Jewish Society and the Israel Society lodged complaints prompting investigations by LSE’s governance, legal and policy division.

Israeli deaths glorified at LSE on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Aitemad Muhanna-Matar, Zena Agha, Rana B. Baker,  Mezna Qato at LSE last night.

Aitemad Muhanna-Matar, Zena Agha, Rana B. Baker, Mezna Qato at LSE last night.

Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau but last night at the London School of Economics at a joint Palestine Society and Feminist Society event Israelis were portrayed as rapists and those who killed Israelis were applauded.

In front of a banner that read “Towards Freedom and Independence the Uprising Continues” a panel of four women described the role Palestinian women should play in the “uprising”.

Rana B. Baker, a student at SOAS who also writes for the Electronic Intifada, said Leila Khaled‘s “hijacking of planes was amazing”. The only problem, Baker said, was that Khaled had now aligned herself with the Assad regime.

Baker reserved her highest admiration for Sana’a Mehaidli who she said “deserves a standing ovation”. She told how, in 1985 in south Lebanon, Mehaidli “drove a car full of explosives and blew it up near an Israeli convoy killing two Israeli soldiers and injuring between 10 and 12 more.”

Baker described Mehaidli  as “the first female to carry out a suicide bombing in south Lebanon” and said Mehaidli was “more admirable for not being well-known and for not being Palestinian”.

Baker concluded by saying that Mehaidli’s “will calls for men and women to armed struggle against a colonial regime based on violence”.

Zena Agha portrayed Israelis as rapists of Palestinian women (see footage below). She said that “in Israel the view of Palestinian women is very derogatory and that rape had become a very prevalent idea. Rape for Israelis was almost a weapon of war against Palestinian women.”

She quoted Mordechai Kedar’s controversial “rape as terror deterrent” statement which, she said, was “illuminating about Israeli democracy”. She also described a sign in an Israeli coastal town which, apparently, read “Pound Their Mothers” as having “sexual connotations”.

She urged the student audience not to adopt western narratives about Hamas, Hizbollah and ISIS etc. who, she said, are all referred to as “terrorists”. She complained that “calling Hamas ‘terrorists’ robs them of any agency and delegitimises them”.

Mezna Qato, a research fellow at Cambridge University, said that boycotting Israel “is a small but powerful tactic that allows women to be lifted up by the spirit of the Palestinian struggle”.

And the event was chaired by Aitemad Muhanna-Matar, a research fellow at the LSE’s Middle East Centre, who said that the Palestinians had no choice “but to sacrifice their bodies” and that “radical Jewish settlers are more a threat to Israel than the Palestinians”.

It was a truly sickening event the most frightening part of which was when Zena Agha proclaimed “We are the future leaders”.

I, for one, wouldn’t want to be living in this country should that ever come to pass.

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:

Habima’s Merchant of Venice rocks London’s Globe Theatre

I really enjoyed last night’s performance of Habima’s The Merchant of Venice at The Globe on the south bank of the River Thames on a beautiful summer evening in London.

The cast received a prolonged standing ovation at the end (see above). The Globe was the perfect setting with its open roof allowing you to peer into the ever darkening sky as the constant movement of small planes readied you for the inevitable interruptions.

My main concerns were whether I would follow a play in Hebrew and whether the interruptions would ruin the experience, but two small screens kept us nicely updated in English and The Globe’s security knew when to act and when not to.

Security removed protesters swiftly so limiting the disruption but they allowed a very weird protest, where six protesters stood silently on the first balcony for virtually the entire first half with their lips taped up, to proceed.

First protest during last night's show.

First protest during last night’s show.

Second protest during last night's show.

Second protest during last night’s show.

The performance itself brought to the fore the comedy of The Merchant of Venice with a humourous gondola impression each time the action transferred to Venice, reminiscent of a sideways Moonwalk.

Seeing Shylock dispossessed of everything when Antonio’s defence lawyer finds a loophole in his contract with Shylock and watching Shylock forced to convert to Christianity to escape going to prison himself was maybe a Shakespearian premonition of the treatment in store for the Jews of Europe and Arab countries in the centuries to come.

In all there were some 20 protesters and I recognised two of them straight off.

Peter Scott recently tried to have me arrested and charged with harassment for doing nothing more than photographing him for my blog holding a Palestinian flag at an anti-Israel protest. Last night he donned a smart Panama hat. When I noticed him during the interval I pointed him out to security who, again, did nothing.

I went out to get a drink but when I came back two friends said that a man wearing a Panama had just been removed by security after he had approached them to discuss the disturbances. As they were talking to him they noticed he was wearing an electronic recording device on his lapel. Here is Scott during the interval:

I saw the following protester going into The Globe last night and when I called his name he looked round. I then called security but he made haste away from me until he was eventually caught by security and, out of breathe and shaking, gave a butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth look.

I felt traumatised that I might have unjustly accused an innocent person and ruined his evening, but just before the interval he did unfurl a banner and was removed by security:

The protester about to be removed by Globe security last night.

The protester about to be removed by Globe security last night.

Meanwhile, the foyer was packed with police dealing with the protesters. In the top left corner here you can spot ubiquitous anti-Zionist activist Tony Greenstein:

Outside The Globe the Zionist Federation and Stand With Us had arranged a pro-Israel protest. There was also a pen for Palestine Solidarity Campaign activists. One PSC man had donned a mask with a big nose, but swore it wasn’t an anti-Semitic gesture.

I asked some of the PSC  lot whether they saw the recent production of Richard II by the Palestinian theatre company also at The Globe. They said they didn’t as it was a matinee and they had work commitments. They must have conveniently failed to spot the Saturday performance at 7.30pm then; proof, if ever it was needed, that PSC activists don’t give a damn about the Palestinians.

Habima is expecting another packed house tonight and many thanks should be paid to The Globe, its security and the police for allowing the show to go on despite the efforts of those with ignorant views.

Meanwhile, the London Evening Standard described last night’s performance by Habima as “a tricky evening triumphantly negotiated” and The Times said it was “an evening to remember for reasons of art as well as politics”.

Photos from outside The Globe last night:

This is not an anti-Semitic gesture by a PSC comrade, apparently.

This is not an anti-Semitic gesture by a PSC comrade, apparently.

Having fun outside The Globe.

Having fun outside The Globe.

Sweet.

Sweet.

Precisely.

Precisely.