Tag Archives: right of return

Labour MPs describe inhuman Palestinian conditions in Lebanon then call for boycott of Israel.

Kaufman calls for boycott of Israel. Andy Slaughter on his left and Jeremy Corbyn (scratching).

Kaufman calls for boycott of Israel. Andy Slaughter on his left and Jeremy Corbyn (scratching).

There were more surreal ongoings at Parliament on Monday night when the Palestinian Return Centre held a seminar on the Palestinian refugees, which was attended by four Labour MPs.

I was banned from filming and photographing by the organisers eventhough there were two camera crews in the room, one from Lebanon, and about 10 other people in the audience filming or taking photos.

Then at the end of the event Jonathan Hoffman and I were met by four police officers. Jonathan was taken aside by an officer and told that during the meeting he had said that the MPs were supporting terrorism by allowing terrorist supporters into Parliament. We were then given a police escort out of Parliament.

Jonathan never said anything of the sort. He only spoke during the Q&A when called upon by Gerald Kaufman MP and then only to remind Jeremy Corbyn MP that Israel had frozen settlement building to allow negotiations to resume but that the Palestinians never took Israel up on the offer.

It was Kaufman who raised the issue of terrorism. He said that every week The Jewish Chronicle sends him a complimentary issue and that this week he noticed the headline “Hamas gets a hearing in House of Commons”.

The JC article goes on to describe how Ismail Haniyeh was the guest speaker at PRC’s annual conference in 2009.

Jokingly, Kaufman asked if anyone in the room was from Hamas at which, to loud applause, a young woman raised an arm.

The meeting had started with Kaufman acknowledging the dreadful deprivations suffered by the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. He said that the refugee camps had no electricity or clean water and that sewage ran down the middle of the streets.

But, he said, despite these conditions he was moved that the main thing on the minds of the refugees was the “right of return”. He spoke of a Palestinian woman with an asthmatic baby and no medication who only wanted to discuss the “right of return”.

Mohammed Al Hamid, Chair of PRC Board of Trustees, said that the “seven million Palestinian refugees shared their indignities with another 44 million refugees worldwide”. He said refugees wanting to return home was a basic urge and that “we should defend this cause”.

Dr Arafat Shoukri, Director of the Council for European Palestinian Relations, said the Palestinians have no political or civil rights in Lebanon and that they are banned from working in 70 professions there.

He said that the right of return would not lead to the destruction of Israel because the Palestinians having the right is different from them actually exercising it. He thinks the Palestinians should be granted the right and it is up to them whether to exercise it.

He also said Lebanon thinks it is protecting the right of return by keeping the Palestinians in such oppressive conditions.

Dr. Tariq Tahboob, of the Association of Palestinian Doctors in Europe, said that the Palestinians are a very proud people with a 93% literacy rate. He said “Moses, the great prophet of Muslims, Christians and Jews said to Pharaoh ‘let my people go'”. Tahboob then repeated “let my people go”.

Tahboob also said Israel was created on Palestine in 1948 and he called for a two state solution with east Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital and for the right of return to be kept in place.

Andrew Love MP also acknowledged the lack of employment opportunities for Palestinians in Lebanon and how Lebanon imports labour from Syria and Egypt.

Love said that when the Palestinian refugees arrived in Lebanon only the Christian Palestinians were granted Lebanese citizenship by the Phalange government. Now, he said, if a Lebanese woman has a baby with a Palestinian man she will hide his name so the baby will become Lebanese.

Quite unbelievably, despite the obvious suffering of the Palestinians in Lebanon Gerald Kaufman MP and Jeremy Corbyn MP went on to call for a boycott of Israel.

Corbyn asked “Why are we trading normally with Israel?” He said that the Palestinians in exile were desperate to return home and that the conditions of the Palestinians in Gaza was morally wrong and a danger to the rest of the world.

Andy Slaughter MP, Labour’s shadow justice minister, said that the issue of the right of return had been sidelined as there have been so many injustices and abuses  and that the injustices since 1948 are not in the past but in the present.

During the Q&A I was allowed to ask the panelists whether they felt ashamed that, by contributing to this false hope of “returning” to Israel, they have helped to sentence the Palestinians to lives of hell in Lebanon. I didn’t get a constructive response.

And after that Jonathan and I had our appointment with the police.

(Here is an interesting update to the talk from Harry’s Place.)

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Jenny Tonge: “I Have A Dream.”

Jenny Tonge dreaming of Palestinian refugees marching on Israel.

Jenny Tonge dreaming of Palestinian refugees marching on Israel.

Last night in Parliament I’d had my camera on for all of 23 seconds before the Parliamentary police were called by the organisers of the event to eject me from the committee room for “unauthorised filming” (see video clip below).

I turned the camera off pretty sharply as 60 sets of hostile eyes trained on you is a pretty uncomfortable feeling. Luckily, Gerald Kaufman MP, who was chairing, asked the police officer to leave in no uncertain terms.

The altercation came when I was filming Jenny Tonge’s contribution to the meeting. I had seen other people holding up cameras and Iphones and so I didn’t think it was a problem (listen to the audio clip below from 3 minutes 35 seconds in.)

The meeting was held by the Palestine Return Centre and it was mainly a report-back by a group of Parliamentarians who had recently visited the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

Liberal Democrat Baroness Tonge started her talk by welcoming the Jewish Chronicle if it was in the room hoping for a comment from her which they could then use to try to get her sacked.

She finished the talk by describing her dream that one day all the Palestinian refugees will unite and march together to claim back their homeland. She said it would be impossible for Israel to kill all of them.

She also said that there was no questioning of the right of return of Jews from Eastern Europe who had never even been to Israel, but the Palestinians, who had the right under international law, were not allowed to live there. And anyway, she said, even if the Palestinians were allowed to exercise this right to return not all of them would actually take it up.

She also warned that there will be no Israel in the long term if they did nothing about the Palestinian question.

While Tonge seemed to be having dreams of Palestinian civilians being used as a combined weapon with which to destroy Israel and which, on her own admission, might leave many of them dead the rest of the meeting was pretty much 0n-topic.

Jeremy Corbyn MP and Gerald Kaufman MP described the dangerous electric wiring they had seen in the Palestinian refugees camps in Lebanon and the sewage running down the middle of the streets.

Live cables were also seen dangling just above head height. Many Palestinians had, apparently, died after having been electrocuted by them.

Nadim Shehadi, of Chatham House, described the Palestinians as being trapped by the self-fulfilling prophecy of Lebanese political culture that viewed the Palestinians as likely to be going home.

This meant the Palestinian refugees would always have limited employment rights and little political clout.

Shehadi also pointed out that the refugee camps had originally been destroyed by fighting between the PLO and Syrian forces in Lebanon during the 1980s and they had never been rebuilt.

But the one question I should have asked during the short Q&A is how can Lebanon let people rot like this? The Lebanese Ambassador was apparently in the room. I wonder how she would have explained it.

The big downside of the trip was when the Parliamentarians met with Osama Hamdan, the Head of Hamas Foreign Affairs (see Page 26 of this report.)

Other Parliamentarians on the trip besides Kaufman and Corbyn were Alexandra Thein (a German MEP), Derek Vaughan (a Welsh Labour MEP), Frank Engel (a Luxembourg MEP), Michael Connarty (a Labour MP) and Robert Goebbels (another Luxembourg MEP). Tonge was not on the trip.

Meanwhile, my own dream is to get through one of these blasted meetings without being forced to turn off my camera.

Jenny’s Dream. (Jenny’s Dream starts at 11 mins 45 secs.)

Gerald Kaufman MP who at least stood up for democracy.

Gerald Kaufman MP who at least stood up for democracy.

Omar Barghouti’s Guardian love-in

Omar Barghouti (Guardian.co.uk)

Omar Barghouti (Guardian.co.uk)

The new mantra of the far-left is that the “South Africa moment” has arrived in relation to Israel.

Reasonable people around the world recognise what Israel is up against when confronting Palestinian terrorists groups. They recognise that Israel’s battle is a mirror-image of the battle that NATO troops are fighting in Afghanistan. While the focus of Al Qaida, the Taleban and Hamas are different all Islamist terror groups employ the same brutal tactic of deliberately targeting and murdering innocent civilians.

Yet in an article for The Guardian Omar Barghouti praises Desmond Tutu, Richard Falk and Mairead Maguire for endorsing the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and that some artists have decided not to entertain in Israel. Many superb artists do play in Israel including Elton John, Madonna and Joan Armatrading.

Far from being a “South Africa moment” Barghouti would know, seeing as he is studying for a Masters at Tel Aviv University, that Israel is booming. The currency is very strong (Israeli banks took on no toxic debt), investments continue to poor in and low cost carriers have started to fly there. Exports flourish with tasty Israeli fruit and vegetables gracing the shelves of British supermarkets. Technological and scientific innovation continues apace (Israeli scientists have recently created a breathe test to detect common forms of cancer).

In his article Barghouti argues that BDS wants three main objectives of the Palestinian people realised:

1. The “occupation” ended – This is understandable but it can only be done around a negotiating table. Israel’s security is paramount and Israel has a right to be in the West Bank. Israeli forces are authorised to be there pursuant to UNSCR 242 drafted after the 1967 war. Arguably the settlers are there in accordance with the Balfour Declaration (“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people..”) that was incorporated into the British Mandate of Palestine, a legal instrument endorsed by the League of Nations and incorporated into the United Nations.

2. An end to the racial discrimination against Israel’s Palestinian citizens – Barghouti believes Israel is an “apartheid state” because he thinks it privileges Jews over its own Arab population (some 18% of the total). He didn’t give examples but we all know by now that Israeli Palestinians are well represented politically and some are very nicely off thank you very much. If you want to make money in Israel you can. While things in Israel, like most western countries, are not perfect Israeli Palestinians can fight politically to improve their conditions if they feel they are being slighted.

3. The so-called “right of return” for Palestinian refugees – The outcome of this would be the demographic destruction of the Jewish state, which is the real objective of the BDS movement. Israel obviously won’t agree to this but Barghouti thinks this “right” has UN approval and he disingenuously quotes UNSCR 194, which is not a “right” at all.

UNSCR 194 “Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date..

Anyone read the Hamas Charter recently?:

The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.

I’m not sure that “killing the Jews” correlates too well to wishing to “live at peace with their neighbours”.

Which brings us, finally, on to the most pernicious aspect of the BDS movement. An increasing amount of the Palestinian and pro-Palestinian narrative is being aimed at Jews per se. Anti-Semitic cartoons are rife in the Arab world and Hamas is open about what it thinks of Jews.

Pro-Palestinian activists have no qualms about equating Gaza to a Nazi concentration camp. Placards at anti-Israel rallies proclaim “Stop the Holocaust in Gaza” while pictures of children behind barbed wire abound.

Then there are the boycotts themselves. Anthony Julius has recognised that historically the boycott has been the main tool used to isolate the Jews. In his Trials of the Diaspora – A History of anti-Semitism in England he cites France in the 1890s, Limerick in 1904, Nazi Germany, Egypt in 1945 and Saudi Arabia in 1952. In the UK during the 1930s and 1960s right-wing fascists carried out boycotts.

Today it is Israel, which is disproportionately Jewish, that is being similarly boycotted. The sole qualification is to be Israeli. Organisations like Boycott Israeli Goods (BIG) make no bones about this.

Targeting someone because of their origin is normally considered racist but not, apparently, when it comes to Israel. Although the BDS movement is unsuccessful what makes a respected British newspaper like The Guardian unable to recognise the vicious ideology it is promoting is totally beyond me.