An MA in Palestine Studies is being introduced by SOAS. Judging by the last two nights at the Centre For Palestine Studies, which is based at SOAS, one can just imagine some of the questions on the end of year exam paper!
On Wednesday CPS hosted Ilan Pappe and last night it hosted Walid Khalidi who spoke on the subject of 100 years since WW1 and the Balfour Declaration.
Admittedly, unlike Pappe, Khalidi supports a two state solution due to its “global support” but also because “in a one state framework Israel would have the ideal alibi to remove whatever constraints remain on settlements. Within a twinkling the Palestinians would be lucky if they had enough land to plant onions in their back gardens and to bury their dead alongside”.
Khalidi is the Godfather of “Palestine Studies”. Gilbert Achcar introduced him as “the founder of the scientific study on the question of Palestine”. But at the Centre for Palestine Studies on Wednesday night Ilan Pappe had referred to the “so-called scientific research” of Zionism as nothing more than “marketing” by Israel.
Hypocrisy doesn’t come bigger than that. While the study of “Palestine” is “scientific”, the study of Israel is mere “marketing”!
The glitterati of the Palestine Lobby, including “Ambassador” Manuel Hassassian, were present to hear Khalidi describe the Balfour Declaration as “the single most destructive political document on the Middle East in the twentieth century”. But the 16 million dead of WW1 were not even mentioned by Khalidi.
Interestingly, Khalidi wasn’t too keen on UNSCR 242 either. While anti-Israel propagandists use 242 as proof that Israel is in the West Bank illegally, Khalidi said it doesn’t specify a time when the withdrawal of Israel’s armed forces should begin, a line for them to be withdrawn to or the name of the territories they are to be withdrawn from.
Neither does 242 mention the word “Palestinian” or describe who the “refugees” are. Khalidi said while the Balfour Declaration was the fountainhead of all developments from 1917 to 1967 UNSCR 242 was the fountainhead of the conflict since 1967 to this day.
Khalidi said the 1967 War’s “most profound and potentially catastrophic impact lies in the inspiration it gave to neo-Zionist religious fundamentalist Messianism and to its creation of conditions conducive to a clash over Jerusalem’s holy places between Jewish and Christian evangelical jihadists on the one hand and Muslim jihadists on the other.”
Khalidi doesn’t like Israel’s leaders much either. The last part of his talk was all about the influences on Benjamin Netanyahu, which included his grandfather (Nathan), father (Benzion) and brother, Yonatan, killed in Israel’s raid on Entebbe in 1976 to save Jewish and Israeli hostages from Palestinian terrorists.
Another influence was Jabotinksy who, Khalidi said, was referred to by Ben Gurion as “Vladimir Hitler”. Another was Menachem Begin who, according to Khalidi, introduced into the Middle East the letter bomb, the parcel bomb, the barrel bomb and the car bomb.
Khalidi thinks Arabs are powerless and he said “just how sorry the state of the Arab nation is can be gauged from the fact that the future of Palestine hinges more on the desires and prejudices of Benjamin Benzion Natan Netanyahu than those of any incumbent in the proud Arab capitals”.
Khalidi said Abbas is “committed to non-violence”, that there’s “evidence of pragmatism” in the Hamas leadership and that “civil disobedience” could well be common ground for Abbas and Hamas.
But Khalidi’s final dramatic rhetorical flourish, for which he received a standing ovation at which he waved his walking stick high in the air, was aimed solely at Israel’s Prime Minister:
“All the other protagonists are committed to a peaceful resolution…Obama’s understanding of the Palestine problem far surpasses that of all his predecessors. Abbas’ commitment to peace is genuine. At his age peace would be the crowning achievement of a lifetime.
We want to focus on the real enemy…Bibi will never share Jerusalem. Continued occupation and settlement while tightening the noose around East Jerusalem is a sure recipe for an apocalyptic catastrophe sooner or later over the Muslim holy places in the Old City.
With the continued surge in religious fundamentalist zealotry on both sides the road to Armageddon will lead from Jerusalem.
That is why, ladies and gentleman, Benjamin Benzion Ben Natan Netanyahu is the most dangerous political leader in the world today.”
Jewish holy places, anyone? Roll on those MA in Palestine Studies exam questions!
Last night in Parliament (ex-Liberal Democrat) Baroness Jenny Tonge said “If they had only obeyed their own Ten Commandments and half the stuff in the Old Testament…Israel could have been a force for good in the world” (see clip here from 8 mins. 35 secs.)
Tonge was speaking at the Palestine Return Centre eventBritain, It’s Time To Apologize for the Balfour Declaration.
Also speaking was Bradford East MP David Ward who in January condemned Jews who “could within a few years of liberation from the death camps, be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza”.
In July he tweeted that “the Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the apartheid State of Israel last?”. He was temporarily suspended from the Liberal Democrats.
But, last night, he claimed he had been suspended for something he didn’t say:
“I didn’t say Israel shouldn’t exist but that it should never have been created. I said it was an apartheid state. If Israel isn’t an apartheid state then find me one that is.”
And last night he said “Israel are winning. We are losing hands down”. His main concern was that there is no proper plan to counteract this. But it’s certainly quite a change from his July claim “the Zionists are losing”!
Also speaking was Lord Ahmed Nazir who was jailed in 2009 for dangerous driving where another road user died. Nazir then blamed his imprisonment on a Jewish conspiracy.
Last night he claimed that “we have a great moral responsibility” and “a huge burden on our conscience” in light of the Balfour Declaration.
“East Jerusalem is being evacuated slowly, there is ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people. Whether they are Christian or they are Muslim they are being thrown out of their own country,” he continued. (see clip here)
Jenny Tonge added Israel has the right to exist but “it must start behaving properly and treat people in the Middle East the way they want to be treated”. She said Israel is a “threat to world peace and a threat to itself” and continued:
“We must take on the pro-Israel lobby. We will not be silenced. We are not anti-Semitic, we are anti-injustice. What happened to the Palestinians is the greatest injustice in the last 100 years.
They are clever. They call it the Jewish state of Israel so if you criticise the Jewish state they say you are criticising Jews and that you are anti-Semitic. But it is directed against the Israeli government, not the Jewish people. Many Jews join us.
We must boycott Israeli goods. The Israel lobby puts so much pressure on politicians. We must do the same.”
Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian Authority’s diplomatic representative in the UK, condemned the Balfour Declaration. He said the Palestinians had been denied the right to self-determination and their basic human rights “due to the pledge by Great Britain to the Zionists”.
He said the Palestinian “right of return” was a “sacred right” and that the “non-Judaisation of the state of Israel is our red line”.
Hassassian continued by saying that Israel is acting as a “pariah state” and “let the Israelis go to hell” and that he would only negotiate with the Israelis when they had first drawn Israel’s borders for him.
He finished by saying “together we can march to Jerusalem” where there should be “no monopoly of one religion at the expense of others. Israel’s Jerusalem is a slap in the face of humanity.”
Meanwhile, if I was living in the Bradford East parliamentary constituency I would be flummoxed to see my MP David Ward spending a disproportionate amount of his time attacking Israel. Have the people of Bradford East had all their problems solved?
The 2015 general election is not too far away and Ward has a tiny majority. Maybe it’s time for the people of Bradford East to elect someone who focuses more on them.
Jeremy Corbyn MP, PSC’s Hugh Lanning, Manuel Hassassian in Parliament last night.
Last night Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian “Ambassador” to the UK, said he believes that the Jews are the children of God because nobody is stopping them from building their “messianic dream of Eretz Israel”. He called for a “one state solution” and looked forward to the world’s Muslim population reaching two billion.
He was speaking in Parliament at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s 4 years on from Israel’s ‘Operation Cast Lead’: Israel’s siege and attacks continue. Also speaking were Labour’s Shadow Justice Minister Andy Slaughter MP and Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather. Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn played host.
Addressing an audience of some 100 people Hassassian declared:
“We, the Palestinians, the most highly educated and intellectual in the Middle East, are still struggling for the basic right of self-determination. What an irony. How long are we going to suffer and be patient with Israel? You know I’m reaching the conclusion that the Jews are the children of God, the only children of God and the Promised Land is being paid by God! I have started to believe this because nobody is stopping Israel building its messianic dream of Eretz Israel to the point I believe that maybe God is on their side. Maybe God is partial on this issue.”
Then removing his “PLO and Palestinian Authority hat” he continued:
“There is no two state solution. Democracies don’t fight each other. If Israel is a democracy I would claim that the Palestinians are also a democracy. If democracies cannot fight each other then why not have one state?; one man, one vote.”
On Israel’s future he said:
“Israel will never continue to exist as a pariah state. Israel could never continue to fight wars against the Palestinians, against the Arabs and the Muslims. The United States is not going to be Israel’s strategic ally for time immemorial. And today we have 1.5 billion Muslims. In 20 years we will have 2 billion. And those 2 billion, forget about politics, from a religious perspective will not allow Israel to continue desecrating their religious rights (in Jerusalem). And then what?”
And on what could have been Hassassian said:
“What does Israel want? In 2002 the Arabs gave them the Arab Peace Initiative. Relinquishing territories occupied in 1967 would have led to normalisation of relations with Israel. If the Israelis had accepted that the flag of Israel would have been hoisted in Mecca, in Iran, in Tehran! If they had accepted. But Israel does not want peace. Israel nurtures on conflict, and the Zionist Ideology is to have the entire West Bank, the entire Palestine.”
Andy Slaughter MP accused Israel of deliberately killing whole Palestinian families and controlling the Palestinians’ calorie count. He said Israel supplied Palestinians just enough to stop them from starving and he described, what he called, Israel’s failure to supply clean water, electricity and decent homes as “collective punishment”.
Sarah Teather MP accused Israel of “wiping out five thousand homes” in one part of Gaza alone and that nothing could justify this. She said that Israel must let “basic goods” into Gaza.
PSC Chair Hugh Lanning said he noticed that during Operation Cast Lead CNN only reported on the Hamas rockets. Lanning then claimed that “while the occupation and siege continues Israel is ALWAYS the aggressor”. He also claimed that Israel had banned 180 life saving medicines from Gazan hospitals “because they might save lives”.
Jeremy Corbyn spoke about Gazans who had “never known the ability to move out of Gaza”. Ironically, he then introduced us to Rania Al-Najjar who has just completed a Masters in International Relations at London’s City University. Rania is from Gaza. She said, inter alia, that there are no economic opportunities in Gaza and that unemployment there is the highest in the world, relatively.
We then heard from two “1948 Palestinians” who live in Israel. One of them had spent three spells in Israeli prisons, his sentences ranging from one to eight years. He spoke about the remaining prisoners who had forgotten what the sky and moon look like and how they had not touched the hands of their mothers or children for many years.
Finally, Hugh Lanning announced that there will be a “controversial PSC conference” on April 13th where there will be “an open dialogue with the people of Gaza and their leaders”.
I wondered whether to write about this as it will come as a surprise to very few. Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian ambassador* to Britain, delivered, while speaking at Caabu’s Emergency Meeting on the Crisis in the Middle East held in Parliament on Wednesday evening moments after the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, what seemed to be the unofficial line of the Palestinian Authority on the future of Israel and the Palestinians.
Hassassian claimed it was his personal view but if this is the approach taken by other Palestinian ambassadors then there is no hope for peace.
Hassassian offered two completely contradictory positions. He wanted a two state solution but, personally, thought that a one state solution was the only way forward. He said:
“I would like to see a two state solution, but the Oslo peace treaty is dead. If you look at the ground, what is happening today, there is nothing left to salvage of a two state solution. As a representative of the Palestinian authority I must tell you that I am for a two state solution. But I want to remove my authority cap and put it aside and become the kind of person who is observing what is left of the two state solution. Ladies and gentleman, there is no two state solution left. We have to look to other, what I call, ingenious ideas and look outside the box and the only thing that comes to my mind is very simple; there is only one solution, which is a one state solution. Of course liberals from Israel’s centrists, and extremists, are going to panic and be terrified when you say ‘One state solution’”.
Hassassian also spoke of Israel not being interested in peace and having a “war agenda” and time “being not on the side of Israel”.
He finished his speech with this:
“We (the Palestinians) are the only, the only, country in the Middle East that are practicing democracy par excellence.”
“I think they (Israel) should be lucky to have the Palestinians as their neighbours.”
During the Q&A I asked the Ambassador how long he thought, in the event of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, it might take for Hamas to murder or imprison Fatah/PLO officials in the West Bank like they did in Gaza?
“If Israel strikes a deal with the PLO to relinquish the occupied territories…any kind of solution on the West Bank, any kind of a breakthrough in peace with Israel, I think, will undermine the power of Hamas.”
These are fine words, but how can Israel “relinquish the occupied territories” and still be sure that Palestinian terrorists won’t bomb Tel Aviv or Ben Gurion airport, for example? Can Israel afford to take such a risk after seeing what is unfolding in Syria with a future takeover by Islamists opposed to Israel’s existence? And just because Egypt and President Morsi are being reasonable now doesn’t mean they will always be, does it?
But far more than that, Israelis are never going to vote their own country out of existence after all they have worked for and sacrificed. Demanding a one state solution is only a recipe for further Israeli and Palestinian blood to be spilled.
At the end even a CAABU member came over to tell me he thought the Palestinian Ambassador’s rhetoric wasn’t progressing the Palestinian cause much.
Hassassian has been an ambassador here for seven years. Is such a long term normal? Or do ambassadorial changes go the same way as Palestinian elections; few and far between, if at all?
I have nothing against Hassassian. However, his call for a one state solution is deeply problematic considering that the international formula, supposedly accepted by the Palestinian Authority, is two states for two people.
As Herzl said of a future Jewish state, which seemed a distinct impossibility anywhere at the time, “If you will it, it is no dream”. If Hassassian and his fellow diplomats can’t even bring themselves to will a separate Palestinian state then they should step aside and let others take the opportunity of working towards that desired national goal.
* I am informed that Manuel Hassassian is technically not an “Ambassador” seeing that there is no formally recognised Palestinian state. He is, therefore, referred to as Palestinian General Delegate in London.
Israel is considering annexing the West Bank settlement blocs if the Palestinians carry through with their threat of asking the United Nations to formally declare a Palestinian state.
According to Jonny Daniels, Chief of Staff to the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Danny Dannon, such a move would bolster the security of the settlements and give them the same legal status as east Jerusalem, making it more difficult for the settlement blocs to form part of a future peace accord. The idea is gaining momentum in Congress with members of the House of Representatives starting to push for a motion supporting the decision.
Regarding the settlements Dannon, himself, has previously stated that Israel has “a full right to this land”.
Meanwhile, on 20th September Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas still looks set to ask the United Nations to pass a resolution declaring Palestine the 194th member of the United Nations. It will be along the 4th June 1967 boundaries, which would have the effect of leaving the settlement blocs inside a new state.
The United States is certain to block a Palestinian state being legally declared by using its veto on the Security Council, but the resolution should be passed easily in the General Assembly instead. Britain is still to declare its voting intentions.
Professor Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian Ambassador to London, said that a non-binding General Assembly resolution upgrading Palestine’s current observer status to that of non-member state would significantly raise the stature of the Palestinians in the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court:
“Our position will be bolstered. We won’t need Qatar or Lebanon to represent us anymore. We will be able to pursue war criminals ourselves, which will put more pressure on Israel,” he said.
Hassassian says that Israel gave the Palestinians no option but to go down the UN route:
“There has been no peace process with the current Israeli government, although we always hoped for a breakthrough. Israel has continued embarking on its settlement activities, and this has aborted the prospects for a two-state solution. None of this has encouraged the Palestinians or the international community and has proved that Israel is not serious in wanting peace. Our going to the UN will be a wake-up call for America and Israel,” he continued.
Jonny Daniels refutes this accusation:
“Even when Ehud Barak offered Arafat everything he asked for in 2000 the Palestinians rejected it. If the Palestinians were serious they would have recognised Israel as a Jewish state by now. By going to the UN they are breaking the Oslo Peace Accords, which state that no side can take a unilateral decision. My friends in Judea and Samaria are now in greater danger,” he responded.
He said that because the Palestinians lacked democracy Israel does not know whether it is Fatah or Hamas making the decisions, but he was still optimistic that the Palestinians could one day recognise Israel as a Jewish state:
“The Middle East is a very volatile area. Who could have predicted that the Egyptians would have ousted Mubarak like they did? Things can change very quickly, but until then we must look after ourselves,” he said.
Daniels views the proposed UN vote as another attempt by the Palestinians to delegitimise Israel, something that will add to the anti-Israel atmosphere at Durban III at the UN in New York on 22nd September.
Some commentators and politicians are predicting a return to violence after the UN vote, with the Arab Spring adding a potentially volatile ingredient.
Professor Charles Tripp, of the London Middle East Institute, said:
“Palestinian expectations may be raised, at least on the West Bank, making the likelihood of demonstrations and clashes even stronger. There have been reports that the IDF have been preparing for such an eventuality, including, it seems, training settlers in ‘crowd control’. This will exacerbate things even further.”
“The Israeli government has also hinted at various ‘symbolic’ reprisals like further building and settlement projects and other moves designed to infuriate the Palestinians.”
Professor Yaacov Bar-Siman-Tov, of the Department of International Relations at the Hebrew University, thinks Abbas might organise mass protests similar to those on the recent Naksa and Nakba days when hundreds of Lebanese and Syrian citizens were bussed to Israel’s border leading to clashes with the IDF.
“The Arab Spring could have a big influence. After the overthrow of Mubarak and others people are starting to understand its effectiveness. If the demonstrations can be contained then all well and good, but if protesters get into the settlements then violence could escalate rapidly if there are clashes with the IDF,” he said.
Professor Benny Morris, of the Middle East department at Ben-Gurion University, believes such violence “may spiral into a third Intifada” and thinks terrorism likely. More ominously, Emanuele Ottolenghi, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, thinks it could lead to all out war against Israel:
“A UN resolution recognising Palestine as a state on paper will not give Palestinians a state in reality. It will instead spark a fire in the region that could quickly burn out of control, very much like happened in late September 2000 with the Second Intifada.”
“The difference, this time, is twofold. First, Hamas rules Gaza and has an arsenal to terrorize Israeli civilians. It will seek to exploit the situation to trigger a war with Israel. Second, the region has dramatically changed since the Arab Spring toppled Mubarak, which means that, this time, Arab countries may be dragged in,” he said.
Manual Hassassian said that violence is not part of the strategy of the Palestinian leadership and that any demonstrations will remain non-violent. He addressed concerns in the Arab world that declaring a state without agreement with Israel could spell the end of the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees:
“After the vote we will not be giving up on a negotiated settlement. We will be continuing with the diplomatic onslaught to resolve permanent status issues like the right of return. Everything will still be on the negotiating table, but eventually there will be an independent Palestinian state,” Hassassian stated.
Dr. Jonathan Spyer, of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, thinks the UN vote will not bring any significant change for the Palestinians:
“Israel was created because of facts on the ground, notably the ability of Israel to prevail against any force in the eastern Mediterranean wishing to prevent its birth. This is not the case with the West Bank Palestinian Authority. The only way to a successful re-partition of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, if this is what the Ramallah leadership desires, is by way of negotiation. This will still be true after 20th September,” he said.
While Kadmina MK Yoel Hasson blames both Netanyahu and the Palestinians for the breakdown of negotiations and notes the potential for “violent incidents”, he doesn’t think that there will be any change on the ground regarding the settlements:
“I fear that the result of the Palestinian move will be isolation of Israel in the international community and it will definitely lead to greater pressure to evacuate the settlements. However, I have always believed that the settlements are not a real obstacle to peace. Israel proved twice, in the Sinai and Gaza, that it is willing to remove the settlements,” he said.
As a result of all this Israel could swing back left or go further right, but Hasson thinks it too early to gauge how events will affect Israel politically:
“No one knows yet whether Israelis will criticise the government or whether blame will be directed towards the Palestinian side,” he said.
But Professor Colin Shindler, of the European Association of Israel Studies, blames the Palestinians going to the UN on the “politics of stagnation in Israel” and believes that renewed isolation of Israel could lead it further to the right with Lieberman as a possible contender for the premiership:
“The Israeli government is a pantomime horse of the centre Right and the far Right – the former would like to negotiate, the latter does not. Therefore the lack of initiative prevents serious division within the government and ensures its survival. The Geneva Initiative, the Saudi Peace Plan and many other suggestions are dismissed. This leaves a vacuum which is being filled by the proposal to recognise a Palestinian state at the UN,” Shindler said.
Daniels dismisses the prospect of a Lieberman premiership pointing out that Yisrael Beitenu came a distant third at the last general election and neither does he think that Kadima will benefit from the Palestinian push at the UN:
“During the recent social protests in Israel Kadima was up in the polls and Likud down, but the polls have now swung back to the right. The right wing bloc is strong. People know that the right of Israeli politics is about security. The only real chance for peace is if there is change in the education systems of the Palestinian Authority and the Arab world generally where Israel is concerned”.
This piece appears on pages 4 and 5 of this week’s Jewish News.
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.
Jeremy Corbyn MP congratulates "dissident Jew" Diana Neslen.
Palestinian Ambassador Dr Manuel Hassassian, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Richard Burden MP, Lord Alf Dubs
Richard Burden MP, Lord Alf Dubs, Hind Khoury (Sabeel)
Lubna Masarwa (Middle East Monitor), Jeremy Corbyn MP, Ben White (anti-Zionist activist)
Karmi describes herself as Palestinian eventhough she has spent most of her life in Britain. The title of her talk was Ending the Naqba.
She said she regretted that so few people were at the conference (200 in an auditorium that holds about 450).
But instead of taking this as proof that people are not interested in giving up a Saturday to hear lies she insisted that until more people were engaged it would be difficult to change the situation for the Palestinians.
She blamed Israel’s crimes on the West: “The Zionist project would never have succeeded without Western complicity. Criminals might want to rob you, kill you, rape your daughters but normally they do not get away with it. Israel’s total impunity is so unusual today.”
She thought that a two state solution was impossible and was therefore disappointed that the Palestinian Authority is now calling for a Palestinian state to be recognised on the West Bank.
Instead she suggested going back to the roots of the conflict, which involved “dispossession and theft of a whole country. That a thief is allowed to get away with it and is still thieving and stealing is the basis of the conflict. The only way to reverse that is on the basis of rights and justice; that is the right of return of the refugees and the dispossessed and the exiles back to their homeland. If that were to happen we know very well that that would be the end of a Jewish state in our region.”
This induced a rant (see clip below) from Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss of the Neturei Karta. Farcically, Weiss refused to use the microphone as it was Shabbat although he was freely producing business cards from his satchel.
Rabbi Weiss’s Shabbat rant at Palestinian Return Conference.
You can see Weiss telling Karmi not to confuse “Jewish” with “Zionist”. Karmi tried to wriggle out of it claiming that she had nothing against Jews or Judaism and that she had meant “Zionist state”, but that it was Israel’s fault for defining itself as “Jewish” in the first place.
After carefully trying to build an argument that the Palestinians had been wronged in 1948 it was finally clear that, for Karmi, the basis of the conflict is that there is “a Jewish state in our region”.
Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, who is the author of Atlas of Palestine, spoke on the Mechanisms of Expulsion.
He referred to the “original sin” as being the Balfour Declaration and constantly compared the Israelis to the Nazis. He described how during the 1948 War Palestinians were made to dig their own graves before being shot dead. Others were shoved into concentration camps, which were referred to as “POW camps”.
He referred to all kibbutzim as “semi-military structures” and claimed that the reason for Israel’s existence was not to accommodate people but to create “the largest military base in the world” and if only these bases were removed then the Palestinians could return to their old homes.
He said that the people of Gaza are just “throwing projectiles” into southern Israel as a message to the people there to get out of their old homes.
He concluded that in this age of the internet no one can say they didn’t know about the “racism and apartheid” practised by Israel and, therefore, silence is tantamount to complicity with these crimes.
This farce was played out in front of the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, Dr. Manuel Hassassian.
Dr. Salman Abu Sitta compares Israelis to the Nazis.