Tag Archives: LSE

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.

Professor Joel Beinin: “Palestinians are the victims of the victims of the Holocaust.”

Joel Beinin and John Chalcraft in discussion last Tuesday at LSE.

Joel Beinin and John Chalcraft in discussion last Tuesday at LSE.

It must be November because because Joel Beinin, Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University, was in town. Last November Beinin was telling a SOAS audience that “Israel is heading into the abyss” and that Israel is putting Bedouin “into what would effectively be concentration camps”.

At LSE last Tuesday when asked during the Q&A after his talk “Why has the world stood by while Israel built the wall when we boycotted South Africa in the 80s?” Beinin replied, inter alia, that:

“The state of Israel is in some measure a response to western guilt for having sat on their hands during the murder of six million Jews. Now the Palestinians had nothing to do with that but, as Edward Said said, they are ‘the victims of the victims’.”

Beinin’s talk was called High Risk Activism and the Popular Struggle Against the Israeli Occupation in the West Bank and was chaired by well-known Israel boycotter Dr John Chalcraft under the auspices of LSE’s Middle East Centre.

The talk was mainly in support of Anarchists Against the Wall founded by Jonathan Pollak. It is a group of “anarchist Jews” who travel to Palestinian villages on the West Bank to join Palestinians protesting against Israel’s security wall in what they like to call “non-violent action”.

Sometimes these Israelis get hurt in confrontations with IDF soldiers as when Gil Na’amati was apparently shot and injured.

Unsurprisingly Beinin made no mention of why Israel built the wall. His talk  was like a parallel universe in which suicide bombings had never happened, in which Hamas did not exist and where the International Solidarity Movement was a force for good in the world.

When I raised this during the Q&A Beinin responded: “Had there not been that extremely harsh repression (by Israel) of the second Intifada there likely wouldn’t have been any suicide bombings”.

LSE’s student audience lapped up all this nonsense with one of them thanking Beinin for giving a “very balanced talk”. The lecture theatre was full with 200 students.

Meanwhile, the previous Tuesday I was at SOAS to hear William Mathew from the University of East Anglia give a talk under the auspices of the London Middle East Institute on British Policy and Arab Displacement in Palestine, 1915-23: Contingency, Imperialism, and Double-dealing.

Mathew described a state of affairs leading up to the Balfour Declaration of powerless Arab delegates up against powerful and racist British diplomats and Zionist Jews in London.

Despite the very strong current of anti-Semitism running through Britain’s political establishment Mathew said that Britain trusted European Jews more than the Arabs, who they “treated with contempt”, to defend Britain’s colonial interests in Suez and the trading routes to India.

According to Mathew Chaim Weizmann described Arabs who came to London to lobby British diplomats as a “body of potential blackmailers and trash”. And Mathew went into detail about how, in his view, Britain had reneged on its promises in the McMahon-Hussein correspondence of 1915-16.

During this Q&A I asked how, if Arab delegates were so powerless, did they manage to persuade world powers to carve trans-Jordan out of three-quarters of British Mandated Palestine? Mathew’s ridiculous response was “I don’t know”.

So there you have it. Two talks given at two outwardly respectable organisations: The Middle East Centre at LSE and the London Middle East Institute at SOAS. Both speakers gave two completely different reasons for the rise of Israel: For Beinin it was the Holocaust, for Mathew it was all down to the powerlessness of Arabs pitted against powerfully racist Brits and Zionist Jews.

And the theatre of hate continues apace. On Tuesday SOAS’ LMEI talk is about the “charismatic” Hassan Nasrallah. I kid you not.

Benny Morris fends off allegations of “racism” at LSE.

Benny Morris taking a question at LSE.

Benny Morris taking a question at LSE.

Israeli revisionist historian Benny Morris gave a talk at the London School of Economics on Tuesday night and was labeled a “racist”, “theologian” and a “social darwinist” by some anti-Zionists in the audience and others protesting his presence outside.

His talk was called Reconsidering the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

The “theologian” accusation (see second video clip below) is absurd on two counts.

First, as Morris suggested, if anyone has a problem with his thesis all they need do is look at the footnotes in his book 1948 and then go and check the documents referred to and if they disagree with his interpration of the documents then they can challenge him.

Second, Morris questions the narrative, that many  Zionists hold dear, that the Palestinians simply left during the 1948 war on the orders of the surrounding Arab countries with a view to returning once the Jews had been defeated.

He cited incidences of transfer of Palestinians and massacres of Palestinians by Jewish/Israeli militias during the 1948 war, although, he said, whether any of this happened as a matter of “policy” is another matter; no governmental documentation was ever discovered that indicated such orders, and it is likely that such decisions were made independently by generals on the ground during individual battles (incidentally, it was the British that introduced the idea of transfer in the 1937 Peel Commission report)

He said that during the 1948 war 800/900 Palestinians were massacred by Jewish/Israeli militias, while 200/300 Jews were massacred by Arab militias; the disparity was because Jewish/Israeli militias conquered some 400 Palestinian towns and villages, whereas the Arabs conquered only a dozen Jewish settlements.

He said that as wars go 1948 was not, in the scheme of things, as bloody as many try to make it out to be when considering that, for example, 8,000-9,000 Muslim men and boys were killed at Srebrenica in the space of just two days during the Bosnian war.

He also said that the 1948 war created two refugee problems; a Palestinian one and a Jewish one. 700,000 Palestinians were displaced as were some 600,000 to 700,00 Jews who were intimidated and harassed and forced to leave their Arab countries; for example, in 1956 Jews were literally expelled from Egypt.

The difference is that the expelled Jews were aborbed into other countries, while the Palestinians were not. 700, 000 Jews and 150,000 Palestinians remained in Israel in 1949 and even today, after Israel has absorbed 3,000,000 Jewish immigrants, the ratio of Jews to Arabs remains the same in Israel, indicating the high birthrates of Arabs living in Israel.

On the war itself Morris said it was fought in two phases; the civil war from 29th November 1947, when the UN partitioned British Mandate Palestine, until 14th May 1948, when Israel declared independence. The first shots of the civil war were fired by Palestinian guerillas who ambushed a bus and killed seven Jews near Tel Aviv.

The second phase was from 14th May 1948, when Israel declared independence and the surrounding Arab armies invaded, until the ceasefire in 1949. Israel won the war possibly due to their purchase of airplanes after they declared independence. Until that time the Jews had no planes. The Israelis still had far fewer planes than the combined Arab armies, but were able to fly far more missions and had better trained pilots.

Morris also suggested that, in additon to the 1948 war being one about territory, it was regarded by the Arab side as a Holy Jihad. Many Imams declared a pan-Muslim Jihad and called for the mobilisation of Muslims to fight the Jewish state.

This was hotly disputed by some in the audience who asked for proof. Morris said he wasn’t an expert, as it would involve going through every Arab newspaper between 1947 and 1949, but this is his view based on what he has read and it is an issue that only occupies four pages in his book.

But, and this seemed to be the crux of the matter, all of the Arab archives remain closed. If they were opened it would shed light on this issue.

One woman in the audience claimed that, if anything, it was the Zionists who were waging a Holy Jihad due to their nature of wanting a Jewish state. Another woman suggested that proof that the Jews were fighting a holy war was their desire to reclaim Jerusalem.

Morris refuted both claims (see video clips below) by answering that most Israeli Jews in 1948 were either atheist or agnostic and that ben Gurion had decided against the mention of “God” in Israel’s Declaration of Independence as he thought it would alienate many Jews; in 1948 Israel was totally dominated by socialist thinking.

As for Jerusalem he said that the Jews simply saw it as an issue of reclaiming their old capital city, as opposed to a religious requirement.

He did say, though, that he believed that Jerusalem should become internationalised, as was originally foreseen by the UN. He is also against the settlements.

Morris was also asked to explain his comments in 2004, when he was quoted in Haaretz as saying that the Palestinians should be fenced in or have a cage built for them. He answered that at the time Palestinian suicide bombers were getting into Israel on a daily basis and his comments were aimed at the suicide bombers; if they couldn’t be stopped from entering Israel, then they should be fenced in or caged. He said that the questioner was taking his comments completely out of context.

On leaving the talk we were met with the same old faces of the small group of anti-Israel activists. They hadn’t been in the talk but had “Morris is a racist” stickers on their foreheads and were giving out leaflets headed “Is Benny Morris a Serious Historian or a Plain Old Racist?”

Video clips and photos:
The clips below are worth watching if you have time because Morris is very entertaining and sometimes the audience just won’t let him answer.

Protester with sticker cleverly stuck to her forehead.

Protester with sticker cleverly stuck to her forehead.

Can someone please explain this to me!!!

Can someone please explain this to me!!!

Hypocrite of the Month: Vote now.

March has been a busy time for hypocrites, so before the list grows any longer now might be an appropriate time to take stock of those who say one thing at one time but say another when the situation suits them. Please vote at end.

William Hague:

When Israeli agents, allegedly, assassinated a Hamas terrorist in Dubai William Hague, then shadow Foreign Secretary, stood shoulder to shoulder with then Foreign Secretary David Miliband in his condemnation of Israel for using faked foreign, including British, passports and was in full agreement with Miliband’s decision to expel an Israeli diplomat from the London embassy.

Last week Hague sent in that secret service mission to eastern Libya to make contact with rebel forces only to find them detained by those rebels in the confusion when the secret mission dropped in from a helicopter in the the dead of night. And the mission was found to have in their possession…….faked foreign passports.

Shami Chackrabarti:

Shami is the director of human rights group Liberty and in this capacity behaves as the conscience of Britain appearing regularly on BBC’s Question Time to berate the government over such human rights laws as the length of detention without trial for suspected terrorists.

She is also a member of the council of the London School of Economics and was part of the decision making process that allowed LSE to accept a huge donation from Colonel Gadaffi. She accepts she was fooled but fooled by what? Didn’t she know the human rights situation in Libya? Howard Davies resigned as Director of LSE but there is, currently, silence from Shami.

Omar Barghouti:

Omar detests Israel and ideally wants it gone as a Jewish state. He lives in Ramallah but is studying for a Ph.D at Tel Aviv university while calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, which includes an academic boycott. Meanwhile, he consumes Israeli products on a huge scale, taking for himself the best Israel has to offer.

The United Nations
:

Last week nine children were accidentally killed in a NATO air strike when trying to knock out Taliban positions but the UN has been silent. When Israel killed nine terrorists aboard the Mavi Marmara there was a worldwide outcry and the UN called for a full investigation.

Stop The War Coalition
:

While calling vociferously for successful revolutions against the ruling autocrats in Arab countries you will be hard pushed to find STWC support for the opposition in Iran despite the murders, arrests and sackings of opposition figures and anyone who dissents from the murderous ways of the evil Ahmadinejad/Khamenei twins. And despite the fact that Iran had been caught red-handed trying to heavily arm the Taliban in order to kill NATO troops.

Newsnight:

On Tuesday night BBC’s Newsnight gratuitously introduced the anarchist Noam Chomsky as being “Jewish” in a piece about the left-wing liberals in the West. I thought the time had passed when someone’s religion is relevant. In the following piece Jeremy Paxman went on to interview Chomsky who was then allowed to air unchallenged attacks on Israel.

Neil Warnock:

A bit of fun amidst the gloom, unless you are a QPR supporter. QPR are on the verge of promotion to the Premier League but now stand accused of failing to properly register a player when they signed him in 2009. This could lead to a big points deduction and the end of their hopes of reaching the big time.

When QPR’s current manager, Neil Warnock, was managing Sheffield United in the Premier League West Ham United had incorrectly registered Carlos Tevez. It was argued that West Ham should have had points deducted. This would have relegated them instead of Sheffield United.

There was no points deduction and Sheffield United were relegated. Warnock claimed that Sheffield United would have stayed up if the rules were adhered to. Now the boot is on the other foot can he morally argue against a points deduction for QPR if they are found guilty?

“You’re a Holocaust denier and you’re Scum.”

These were the words left ringing in my ears last night when I questioned the thesis that Palestinian nationalism or a Palestinian state had existed when the Jews began to return to the Middle East at the beginning of the 20th century.

I was at LSE again for Ben White’s talk Democracy or Apartheid? Israel’s regime of control and the Palestinians .

The talk that was part of the sixth international Israel Apartheid Week.

Israel Apartheid Week is basically two weeks of propaganda and lies spoken against Israel to demonise both Israel and its supporters.

We were a tiny audience, 20 at most. White put this down to “event fatigue” but “Ben White fatigue” would be more accurate. White has a book to flog and so has been back and forth across the Atlantic racking up the airmiles trying to do exactly that.

His presentation consists of little more than accusation after accusation against Israel. His evidence mainly consists of random quotes of Israeli politicians, past and present, a few photographs and some maps. White does maps a lot.

But he started off by demeaning Zionism. My loose definition of Zionism is:

The will of the Jewish people for national determination in a land where they used to live in great numbers before being expelled by Roman conquest. Just 96 years ago that “land” consisted of provinces of the Ottoman Empire (see my own map below) and contained approximately 525,000 people. It was not a state. Today that same area contains over 10 million people.

White demeans Zionism as anti-democratic and having been implemented by force:

“Zionist colonisation could only be carried out in defiance of the will of the native population,” Jabotinsky, 1923.

“Were I an Arab I would rise up against immigration liable sometime in the future to hand the country over to Jewish rule,” Ben Gurion, 1939.

Sure, Zionist leaders were hardtalking and pragmatic but, apart from the Irgun and the Stern Gang of the 1940s, Zionism established itself via negotiations with politicians and opinion formers, not with force.

White then described what he views as Israel’s apartheid measures against Israel’s own Palestinian community (“don’t call them ‘Israeli Arabs'”), against East Jerusalem’s Arab population and against the Palestinians in the West Bank.

On the Israeli Arabs he mentioned martial law, land confiscations and Judaization of the Galilee and the Negev. “Judaization” is moving of Jews into these areas:

“The project of ‘Judaizing the Galilee’ commenced when the state was founded and has continued in various guises to the present day.” Prof. Hillel Cohen.

On the Arabs of East Jerusalem he spoke of their “residency” status being somewhere between the Palestinians in the West Bank, who have no status, and the Israeli Arabs, who are “citizens”.

“Residency” means they can move about freely in Israel but cannot vote in national elections but this “residency” can be stripped without notice as, apparently, happened to 4,500 East Jerusalem Arabs in 2008.

He quoted a Jerusalem Post headline: “Jerusalem Mayor Barkat: Arab population in capital a strategic threat.”

About the West Bank White spoke about settlement building “which is a consensus issue in Israel as the settlement project accelerated even under a Labour government from 1993 to 1996” and about house demolitions.

Then he brought out his maps of “disappearing Palestine”.

White's map of West Bank before settlements

Based on his maps for White there is only one conclusion: a one-state solution.

In the Q&A I made the point that the West Bank settlements aren’t necessarily there to stay but can be removed as part of a negotiating process so leaving a fully functioning Palestinian state.

But White answered that the settlements are deeply ingrained in Israeli policy.

Then I made my point about Palestinian nationalism for which I was called a Holocaust denier and scum.

White's West Bank map as of now

Some 96 years ago the area now comprising Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria were merely provinces of the Ottoman Empire. There were towns, villages and provinces, but not a Palestinian state.

Neither did Palestinian nationalism exist. It grew in direct opposition to Zionism. That is not to say that the Palestinians should not have a state now. They are a now a people. But to say there ever was a Palestinian state is just not the truth and there is scant evidence of Palestinian nationalism at the time.

“Palestine” was not a land without “people” but it was a land without “a people”.

You can call me a “Holocaust denier and scum” but do your own research.

This map shows how “Palestine” looked just 96 years ago.