Tag Archives: palestinians

Ben Gurion University lecturer tells SOAS students the Palestinians are living in “ghettoes” and “bantustans”.

I was hoping that halfway through last night’s talk at SOAS by Jewish Israeli lecturer Oren Yiftachel that another Jewish Israeli lecturer, Dr. Yair Wallach, would stand up and announce that it’s all just a Purim shpiel!

Mr Wallach and a third Jewish Israeli lecturer, Moriel Ram, had heavily promoted Mr Yiftachel’s talk under the auspices of the Centre for Jewish Studies. Mr Wallach was in last night’s audience while Mr Ram introduced Mr Yiftachel.

The talk was called Between Apartheid and Peace: Confederation for Israel/Palestine? It was part of a fairly hostile series of five talks crafted together by the European Association of Israel Studies.

Mr Yiftachel’s lecture was basically in two parts. The second part would have been fine as a stand alone topic in which he discussed his own plan for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. No one can reject hearing a possible peace plan however delusional it might be, especially considering that he headed B’Tselem until 2014.

He is currently on a sabbatical at UCL from Ben Gurion University with 10 months left.

But the first part was about Israel becoming an apartheid state and about how both a two state solution and a one state solution would not work: two states would fail because, he claimed, Palestine would be a “ghetto state” due to the Palestinians having been ghettoised and put into bantustans by the Oslo accords. A one state solution would fail due to the competing nationalisms.

Mr Yiftachel then showed slides with questions “Why has Israel destroyed large parts of Gaza and killed many?” and “Why is Palestinian resistance and terror continuing?”

He claimed Israel was carrying out one of the few remaining colonial projects while most of those of other countries had ceased in the 1950s.

Another slide* depicted what he termed “The Judaisation process” showing maps of how in 1917 there were 67 “Jewish settlements”, in 1947 there were 332, in 1967 there were 764, in 1993 there were 911 and now there are well over a thousand.

Next, a slide contained two maps showing the “Nakba: De-Arabization” between 1947 and 1949. Other slides* used the term “Deepening apartheid”.

One slide depicted how the economic gap between the Israelis and Palestinians had accelerated since 1975 which he said contributed to the “apartheid”.

He then showed a map* of South Africa depicting where all the bantustans used to be while explaining that the Palestinians are currently even more “encaged”. A subsequent slide* depicted how “citizenship” had been “stratified” under “the Israeli ethnocracy” into:

  1. Jews – ‘whites’ 
  2. Palestinian Arabs in Israel – ‘coloureds’
  3. Palestinian Arabs in the OT – ‘blacks’
  4. Foreigners – ‘grays’

One would think that the ex-head of a human rights organisation wouldn’t make light of the horrific historical conditions in ghettoes and under apartheid with such comparisons.

Mr Yiftachel should be ashamed of himself.

The second part of Mr Yiftachel’s talk was about his delusional peace plan called Two States, One Homeland. He explained it was a way for Israel to save itself from ‘apartheid’. It would involve two sovereign entities with joint institutions and gradual free movement ‘Schengen style’ between the two entities. There would be a right of return for Palestinians to Palestine and “redistributive justice”.

Gradually, according to Mr Yiftachel, the huge economic disparity between Israelis and Palestinians would disappear and so would terror attacks by Palestinians. He said “the Jews will remain the upper class but the gap will close…terror dies when the cause of terror dies…it’s worth trying because it is better than apartheid” although he admitted “there will be conflict”.

During the Q&A I asked how this ‘confederation’ could not ultimately lead to the end of the Jewish state. First, he wasn’t impressed with the term ‘Jewish state’ preferring to use ‘Israeli state’ which was a ‘state of all its citizens’. Second, he said the Palestinians wouldn’t have citizenship in Israel so there wouldn’t be a problem. Third, he reckons there were only a couple of hundred thousand Palestinian refugees anyway but that would depend on the definition of ‘refugee’.

That third assumption is ludicrous seeing as earlier in the talk he had claimed there were 2.5m refugees and according to UNWRA there are five million!

To sum up the awfulness of his talk an elderly gentleman asked about the possible consequences of having Hamas terror so much closer to Israel. Mr Yiftachel replied that Hamas had accepted the two state solution. Of course this is utter nonsense. Their 1988 Charter to annihilate every single Jew in the world is still alive and kicking. Hamas has never disowned it.

Embarrassingly for Mr Yiftachel he managed to secure for himself a 300 seat prime central London university lecture theatre but only 50 people turned up. Needless to say a waste of taxpayers’ money.

(* for these slides see Jonathan Hoffman’s blog)

The Guardian’s Donald Macintrye wants his book on Gaza to be read by Israelis.

gaza

Last night at SOAS in London another journalist came to the rescue of Israelis when The Guardian’s Donald Macintyre said he wanted his new book Gaza: Preparing for Dawn to be translated into Hebrew. He said that while Israeli intelligence has a good idea about the situation in Gaza “the Israeli public” didn’t which was made worse by Israeli journalists being banned from Gaza in 2006.

This reminds me of Tariq Ali’s “The end of Israel would benefit all Israelis.” Thank goodness for these wise men who can help the Israeli people!

Maybe Macintyre is unaware that Israelis have access to the internet and even have TV and radio.

He was speaking to the London Middle East Institute as well as the Centre for Palestine Studies, which are both based at SOAS.

He said his book was written to “challenge the myths” about Gaza. For example, that Arafat got a good deal at Camp David and that Israel had left Gaza in 2005 (because it still retains control over Gaza’s airspace and waters).

Another “myth” was that “the settlers’ installations had been destroyed by the Palestinians” after Israel withdrew. Macintrye said that there had been some looting but that it was “quickly brought under control” and there had been a successful harvest that year.

However, he said, only 4% of the harvest was able to leave Gaza with the remainder rotting or being sold on Gaza’s markets “at knock down prices”.

Macintyre said that Hamas were “a relatively pragmatic Islamist regime”. He also said that the conditions imposed on Hamas after their election win in 2005 were impossible for Hamas because they would overturn their “raison d’etre”.

He didn’t tell us what this “raison d’etre” was but judging by the wording in their 1988 Charter Hamas’ “raison d’etre” is to murder Jews and annihilate Israel.

But Macintyre only has sympathy for Hamas. He said that while there was “brutality on both sides” during the civil war between Hamas and Fatah “Hamas thought they were going to become victims of a coup which was a big factor in the ruthless way they took over.”

During the Q&A I asked Macintyre whether he thought Gazans were honest when he interviewed them for his book especially considering the brutality he had just described.

Macintyre replied that “Gaza is not a police state”, “people criticise Hamas like they criticise any local government”, “Hamas are not ISIS”, that the small Christian community is “protected” and Hamas’ Mahmoud Zahar meets the Christians there.

As for the Palestinians generally Macintrye said that their building of tunnels was “testament to their hard work and ingenuity” (so “ingenious” that many children die building them, something Macintyre didn’t mention).

Macintyre also took issue with a 2005 apparent change in the IDF’s military ethos which, he claimed, prioritised the lives of Israeli soldiers over Palestinian civilians pursuant to an article by Asa Kasher and Amos Yadlin.

During the Q&A Jonathan Hoffman challenged Macintyre on this. Jonathan, citing Colonel Richard Kemp, said that during Operation CastLead in 2008/2009 the ratio of Palestinian civilian to combatant casualties was approximately 1:1 which is “the lowest ever” and that Israel won’t attack if it sees Palestinian civilians in the line of fire.

Macintyre immediately tried to knock this statistic down by claiming that B’Tselem and the UN has different figures, but he showed that he really has no interest in proper discussion about civilian casualties during war when he simply blurted out that 1:1 is “still a hell of a lot of casualties.”

The manner in which Macintyre almost beautifies Hamas is vile and sickening, but one has to ask how his book about Gaza can be trusted when the book’s interviewees know that dissent could lead to Hamas-style justice: summary execution.

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.

Physically attacked at SOAS after anti-Israel event with Roger Waters.

A scene from the film shown at SOAS.

A scene from the film shown at SOAS.

It’s with great sadness I have to write this piece. Having attended hundreds of anti-Israel events throughout London and beyond for 10 years I have never been hit. I have been threatened repeatedly but never thought someone would follow through. Last night that changed at SOAS, where I’m also an alumnus.

Last night Prof. Gilbert Achcar hosted a film narrated by Roger Waters. About 275 people were in the auditorium, few of whom were students let alone students from SOAS. It was a publicly advertised event so anyone can just walk in off the streets; a security nightmare itself in these times.

The film lasts 80 minutes and contains multiple scenes of dead and mutilated Palestinian and Lebanese men, women and children. There is also footage and stills of Israeli soldiers who are shown to be committing violent acts against Palestinians.

Interspersed with these scenes were interviews with the usual anti-Israel protagonists: Finkelstein, Chomsky, Blumenthal, Greenwald, Walt to name but a few.

Their message was that “the Israel lobby” spends millions of dollars in America to reverse the narrative that “Israel is the aggressor” into one of “Israel is under attack”. The film claims that the American public is being duped into supporting Israel.

Waters also states that the Hamas Charter was “written by a few ideologues” but had been disowned by Hamas long ago and that UNSCR 242 simply called for Israeli soldiers to withdraw from the West Bank. And let’s not even go into Water’s potted history of the build up to 1948.

After the film Waters was skyped in live and I had my hand up throughout but Achcar managed to circumvent my outstretched arm. I wanted to ask Waters how a Star of David emblazoned on a pig at one of his concerts could be considered anything other than anti-Jewish.

Then there was a Q&A to a panel consisting of John Pilger, Dina Matar and Sut Jhally. At one stage they raised the propaganda of Goebbels and the Nazis, presumably by comparison to Israel’s “Hasbarah”.

Jonathan Hoffman asked a question and he also interjected when SOAS lecturer Matar claimed outrageously that “anyone who is pro-Palestinian is instantly labelled anti-Semitic”.

When the event finished I met up with Jonathan inside the auditorium and he was being quickly surrounded by those wanting to speak to him. I jokingly castigated him for asking an “unbiased question”.

A male next to Jonathan then turned to me and asked if I was with him (Jonathan) and I said “yes” presuming he wanted to chat about the film. But he was immediately face-to-face with me and I noticed he was totally drunk. He was a white male, much taller than me and much younger, probably in his mid to late twenties.

I tried to get away but had nowhere to go as the room was very crowded. There was no security around whatsoever. He was facing me very close telling me I was going to be “fucking mugged off”. I asked him to calm down and back off or I’d call the police and that I just wanted a relaxing evening to which he responded (here’s the audio):

“I’ll give you a relaxing exit. Would you like a relaxing exit? I’ll tell you what, you’ll get a fucking pasting. You’ll get a fucking pasting.”

I dialled 999 but he had walked away so I stopped. However, he then immediately returned, tried to slam my phone out of my hand and also punched me on the side of my head.

I had never seen the attacker before at any event. All he knew about me was that I was connected to Jonathan who had, during the Q&A, tried to put forward Israel’s narrative. This attacker, who had just watched a film with multiple scenes of dead and mutilated men, women and children wanted to find someone to take it out on.

Maybe he was just a fan of Waters. All I know is these meetings are now not safe to attend.

Tariq Ali: “The end of Israel will benefit all Israelis.”

DSCF5807

Arthur Goodman, Lindsey German, Walter Wolfgang, John Rose, chairperson, Weyman Bennett, Tariq Ali at ULU last night.

Just when you think you have heard it all along comes Tariq Ali to lecture Israelis on how the end of the Jewish state will benefit not only Palestinians but Israelis as well.

For Ali the main problem in Europe isn’t anti-Semitism but Islamophobia. He admitted there was some anti-Semitism in the Arab world but it was only brought about by reaction to Israel and that once Israel has disappeared antisemitism will disappear.

Ali was speaking last night at the University of London’s Student Union in front of an audience of 300 alongside anti-Israel author John Rose, Weyman Bennett of Unite Against Fascism, Lindsey German of Stop the War Coalition, Arthur Goodman of Jews for Justice for Palestinians and “As a Jew” activist Walter Wolfgang .

The main message of the evening was that antisemitism is being used merely to attack Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and to silence all criticism of Israel (aka the Livingstone formulation). Both John Rose and Ali then went on to explicitly call for the demise of Israel.

On entering we were handed an unsigned leaflet headed “Labour Jews Assert” which stated that “Some people…are wielding ‘antisemitism’ allegations as a stick to beat the Corbyn leadership”. Luckily, Jonathan Hoffman was on hand to circulate printed copies of the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism. EUMC shows that what these people claim isn’t antisemitism actually is!

Arthur Goodman said it wasn’t surprising that people conflate Jews and Israel when the British Jewish establishment says all Jews support Israel and Netanyahu says Israel represents all Jews.

He said that Jewish groups shouldn’t be allowed to define what antisemitism is as they have a vested interest. He called for an objective definition instead before going on to outrageously claim that Israel “ethnically cleansed” the Palestinians in 1948.

Goodman said that although the same had happened to the indigenous people of America their dispossession had finished long ago so it was wrong to revive any such similarity today. And he said for most UK Jews a love of Israel is part of their identity and so they see criticism of Israel as criticism of them.

Weymann Bennett said that Left was in the forefront of fighting antisemitism and gave as an example UAF’s protests against the leader of Jobbik when he visited the UK and he said similar protests will take place when Marine Le Pen visits.

Lindsey German didn’t like the fact that Israel’s new Ambassador Mark Regev was immediately allowed on Andrew Marr’s BBC show and said that this is going to happen a lot now (I hope she’s right!).

And she said that Zionism is a political ideology criticism of which should be allowed. She also said that many Jews do not support what Israel does (she didn’t say many Muslim people also don’t support what the Palestinians do).

Walter Wolfgang told us he was speaking “As a  Jew”. He gave us his own history of Zionism; he quoted Ahad Ha’am who, he said, wanted merely a cultural as opposed to a political centre in historic Israel, he (wrongly) claimed that in 1948 the Palestinians were “driven out of their habitations” and he (wrongly) asserted that Jabotinsky wanted Israel established by force of arms.

Wolfgang wanted Israel to exist but within the (indefensible) 1948-1967 ceasefire lines and a just settlement for “Palestinian refugees”.

The villains with the biggest lies of the evening were John Rose and Tariq Ali.

Ali (wrongly) claimed it was Israeli government policy to brand everyone who criticises Israel as antisemitic (see clip 1 below).

He also said that the way the Holocaust is “taught as a unique crime is not that helpful” because there were other crimes like in the Congo and if these other crimes are not taught in schools then no one will understand what the Muslims are suffering today (clip 2). And he continued:

“If what is being done with Muslim communities today were being done to the Jews again how many would tolerate it? Very few. And these are the double standards.” (clip 2)

He said that antisemitism is used to stop any campaigning against Israel but if there was a so-called one state solution then antisemitism and criticism of Israel would disappear and that Israelis and their children and grandchildren would benefit (clip 3).

Rose said he had spoken to an Israeli archaeologist who said the “Palestinians had all become Islamic terrorists”. This, Rose claimed, was symptomatic of the levels of racism in Israeli society today (clip 4).

Rose wanted (clip 5) there to be one person-one vote for Israelis and Palestinians including the so-called Palestinian refugees (90% of whom are not refugees at all by the way). Obviously Israelis would be outvoted so Rose is basically calling for the establishment of a 57th Muslim state in place of the only Jewish one.

Rose claimed that calling for a so-called one state solution isn’t antisemitic. However, in my opinion, denying the Jewish people their only state in their historic homeland (even when it could still be alongside a Palestinian one) can only be antisemitic especially when a boycott of Israel is also called for.

The superb Jonathan Hoffman took to the microphone during the Q&A to articulate Israel’s case under immense pressure (clip 6).

Last night there was no mention of Hamas and Hezbollah and their genocidal intent to destroy Israel and every Jewish person worldwide. Neither was it mentioned that Hezbollah flags are openly on display at Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Stop The War Campaign protests in London and that the Holocaust is flagrantly traduced.

This tells you ALL you need to know about PSC and STWC types however “anti-racist” they try to claim they are.

Relevant clips from last night:

Clip 1

Clip 2

Clip 3

Clip 4

Clip 5

Clip 6

Forced to turn off my camera at Jenny Tonge/David Ward event in Parliament while Al Jazeera films.

Last night I went to Parliament for an event staged by the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK. The event Gaza: Life in an occupied and besieged strip was obviously only concerned with the human rights of one group of Arabs.

It was chaired by the Liberal Democrat David Ward MP and the main attraction was Baroness Jenny Tonge who once said “Israel won’t be here forever”.

Tonge complained that “the Palestinians had been denied democracy because the wrong side (Hamas) won” and that Israel defies international law by denying the right of return to anyone who is not a Jew.

Her main complaint was about “the Israel lobby” which, she said, “has its claws in this country” and she claimed nothing was being done about Israel out of fear of being called anti-Semitic.

She called for a total boycott of Israel, said that Jews had led the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and finished off with:

“Let us show Israel; we love you very much but not in these circumstances”.

Here is the clip:

We were then addressed by “International Law Specialist” Toby Cadman. Cadman claimed he was not a political activist but went on to accuse Israel of “collective punishment and unlawful occupation” and having a “classic system of apartheid”.

He said that there was “No situation quite like Palestine” and he also blamed the “Powerful lobby movement” for ensuring injustices weren’t addressed.

Then came the Q&A. An audience member rose and said “Disease in Gaza is like in the concentration camps under the Nazis”.

Then directly behind me someone wanted to know more about “the Israel lobby” so he could boycott them too! He wanted the panel to expand on who exactly they were.

I felt compelled to turn my camera back on at this point.

During her talk Tonge had pointed me out to everyone. She described me as a “great blogger and contributor to the Jewish Chronicle”. And Sara Apps, of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, had already been over to me twice; to ask if I was registered for the event and then to see if my camera was turned off.

So, while Tonge was describing “the Israel lobby” as being both BICOM and the various political Friends of Israel groupings Mohammed Jamil, the organiser of the event, was bearing down on me.

He ordered me to switch my camera off and, which you don’t see, tried to snatch it.

Meanwhile, the cameras of Al Jazeera, who were there covering the event, continued to roll. Here’s the clip and I’m glad to say my little camera has survived yet another battering:

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.