Tag Archives: Security Wall

Palestine Solidarity Campaign holds anti-Israel hate event at P21 Gallery.

PSC at P21 Gallery, London last night.

PSC at P21 Gallery, London last night.

“Boycott, Boycott, Boycott. Boycott Israeli products and settlement products. Put pressure on Israel economically. It’s the language THEY understand,” Mahmoud Doughlas implored his audience last night.

Doughlas wasn’t pressed on what he meant by “they”, but the language certainly seemed to contain a racist undercurrent.

Doughlas was speaking, via Skype from Nablus, at a PSC event hosted by P21 Gallery. The event was Education under Occupation – stories from West Bank and Gaza students.

Doughlas, an electrical engineering student at Birzeit University, was speaking from Nablus because, he said, Britain had refused him an entry visa.

He began by telling the audience that when he was in 7th grade Israeli soldiers entered his school “randomly injuring people” and throwing teargas into the classrooms. He couldn’t breathe for 15 minutes and ended up in hospital.

He claimed that one of his friends had been imprisoned for 18 months for writing graffiti on a settlement wall and, if I heard correctly, he said Palestinians have even “been arrested for dreaming about doing something”.

Meanwhile, Jehan al Farra, an alumnus of the Islamic University in Gaza, definitely was in London. She had been in the UK since September studying for a Masters in Computer Studies.

Her main preoccupation last night was describing the problems of studying in Gaza, especially getting to and from academic institutions there due to fuel shortages.

During the Q&A an audience member pointed out that she is highly articulate and very confident, which is a tribute to her teachers and the syllabus. This was a difficult point for her to address without admitting that, just maybe, the situation isn’t as bad as her and her colleagues were attempting to portray.

But she did address another point when an audience member claimed that “Israel had worked hard to destroy Palestinian heritage”. Al Farra said that Israel had even “occupied Palestinian culture”. An example she gave was the Israeli keffiya.

Maybe al Farra should read this interesting statement on the Israeli keffiyeh:

“Jews indigenous to the Middle East, such as my family is, have worn some variation of the “kefyah” (cap/kippah) and keffiyah (head/neck scarves) for thousands of years.”

Here is al Farra last night describing how Palestinians sometimes get killed in accidents when using electricity generators:

Last night the PSC was sporting its brand new logo (see top photo – top left of screen). However, on the PSC website and their leaflets the logo is still the map of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, which is far more honest about their intentions for Israel:

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And PSC’s Ameena Saleem, who was chairing last night’s event, wasted no opportunity to call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. This, as we know, is merely code for calling for the Jewish state’s destruction.

P21 Gallery, itself, has a fairly large space at 21 Chalton Street. It supported St James’s Church’s Bethlehemfest over the Christmas period when St James’s Church ran a number of anti-Israel events while also erecting a copy of Israel’s security wall outside its premises in central London.

St James’s Church called for the real wall, which saves lives, to be dismantled. An astonishing £30,000 was spent building the copy wall.

Meanwhile, the charitable objectives of P21 Gallery (registered number 1153141) are:

“TO WORK IN COLLABORATION WITH BRITISH AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS, ORGANISATIONS, ARTISTS, CURATORS AND DESIGNERS TO PROMOTE, DOCUMENT AND FACILITATE PUBLIC ACCESS TO ARAB ART AND CULTURE IN BRITAIN BY ESTABLISHING AND MAINTAINING AN ART GALLERY AND CULTURAL CENTRE FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PUBLIC.”

But the website of P21 Gallery states:

“The P21 Gallery is a London-based non-profit organisation promoting contemporary Middle Eastern and Arab art and culture with distinct focus on Palestine.”

Judging by last night’s event I think that the charitable objectives could possibly be more clearly defined as: Facilitating the destruction of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian state.

But then that wouldn’t have sounded too charitable to the Charity Commissioners.

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Israel’s “beautiful resistance” to suicide bombers: A response to St James’s Church Rector Lucy Winkett

St James’s Church’s Rector Lucy Winkett’s defence of her church’s installation of a replica of Israel’s security wall in a piece for The Guardian is a legal and moral failure.

First the legal side. She states that Israel’s wall is “illegal under international law”. It is incredible that so many non-lawyers (and a few actual lawyers) state this with such ease when there is little proper evidence of such “illegality”.

Rector Winkett is relying on the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice. A frame repeatedly projected on to St James’s Church’s replica wall states “In 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague stated the Wall was illegal and it should be dismantled.”

But an advisory opinion is just that; advisory and an opinion. It sets no legal precedent.

Even if Israel’s wall was “illegal” there is the legal argument of self-defence. If I used illegal means to stop someone killing me I would be guilty of nothing more than self-defence. In parallel with this Israel’s wall has stopped Palestinian suicide bombers killing Israeli civilians.

There are legal opinions for and against Israel’s security wall, but for Rector Winkett to declare the wall “illegal under international law” makes a mockery of her claim in The Guardian that “we are not ‘pro’ one side or another”.

On the moral side Rector Winkett derides as “irresponsible” those who claim “we are aligning ourselves with those who support the Holocaust, suicide bombings or that we are antisemitic”.

But Rector Winkett’s wish for Israel’s security wall to come down will encourage suicide bombers sent by the likes of Islamist terror group Hamas to resume their murder of Israeli civilians, including those living on the West Bank, which the building of the wall has successfully disrupted.

The Hamas Charter specifically calls for the murder of Jews, so, yes, Hamas does support the Holocaust, suicide bombings and is blatantly antisemitic.

And then there are the organisations that St James’s Church has expressly aligned itself with for Bethlehem Unwrapped.

Rector Winkett writes that St James’s is supporting “a peaceful Palestinian principle known as ‘beautiful resistance’; expressed in theatres, music projects…”.

Sami Awad, director of the Holy Land Trust, might believe in “beautiful resistance” but that doesn’t exclude a belief in violence. Awad is on record as saying that such non-violent resistance “is not a substitute for the armed struggle.”

Incidentally, all net proceeds from Bethlehem Unwrapped go to the Holy Land Trust. (That is should there be any net proceeds, the cost of the 12 day replica wall installation being an incredible £30,000.)

Meanwhile, recent news footage shows Interpal’s primary trustee Essam Mustafa with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

And War On Want and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions are part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a movement that campaigns for Israel’s destruction.

Rector Winkett writes in her Guardian piece that all viewpoints are listened to without exception and that visitors have been allowed to write a prayer or message of peace on the wall and that anything offensive has been immediately removed. She also writes that most conversations have been respectful.

Sadly, many have not been. A woman going in to St James’s Church for Bethlehem Unwrapped’s comedy evening responded to a question about the Holocaust with “What Holocaust?” A supporter of Israel was called a “friggin Jew” and “quenelle 4 ever” appeared on the replica wall (see middle of replica wall below written in blue):

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Rector Winkett also writes that people have written “this wall saves lives”. However, this was subsequently changed to “this wall enslaves lives”.

Bethlehem Unwrapped is not a respectful project however much Rector Winkett is trying to convince us. It mocks Israel’s valid attempts to keep both Israelis and Palestinians alive. Palestinians cannot now be sent as suicide bombers by Hamas.

And it fails to recognise even the possibility that the main problem for Bethlehem’s Christians is not the security wall at all but intimidation by Hamas similar to that carried out by Islamists elsewhere.

Moreover, St James’s Church’s Bethlehem Unwrapped festival has attracted antisemites, Holocaust deniers, those campaigning for the destruction of Israel and those who condone violence to that end.

This may not have been St James’s Church’s intention but this is what has happened and for this Rector Winkett should apologise to Britain’s Jewish community which is bearing the main brunt of the backlash.

The biggest irony is that St James’s Church itself is protected by a security wall; a tall metal fence that contains a locked door. When the door is unlocked it is heavily guarded. Some may call this a checkpoint.

St James’s Church is, understandably, protecting itself from anyone harbouring ill feeling towards it and who may be inclined to carry out an atrocity similar to those carried out against Churches in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt by militant Islamists.

Israel is doing the same.

(This piece was originally posted at CiFWatch)

St James’s Church, Piccadilly, installs life size replica of Israel’s security wall during 12 days of Christmas.

The life size replica wall at St James's Church, Piccadilly for Bethlehem Unwrapped.

The life size replica wall at St James’s Church, Piccadilly for Bethlehem Unwrapped.

St James’s Church, Piccadilly, in London’s West End has installed a life size 8 metre tall/30 metre long replica of Israel’s security wall in its courtyard as part of its Bethlehem Unwrapped festival. The replica wall is so vast that it obscures the Church itself.

The replica wall will be lit up at night and for the next twelve days of Christmas (until 5th January) a montage of images and slogans will be continuously projected onto it. Scenes include parts of London with a wall passing through it.

What you won’t see projected onto the replica wall are scenes of bombed out Israeli buses, hotels, pizza restaurants, bars and nightclubs that were ubiquitous in Israel before the wall.

Bethlehem Unwrapped has evening events with anti-Israel polemicists including comedians Jeremy Hardy and Ivor Dembina, musician Nigel Kennedy, columnists Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Mark Steel, Jeff Halper of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and War On Want’s in-house poet Rafeef Ziadah.

Maybe Ivor Dembina will reprise his notorious Holocaust “joke” in which he mocks the Jewish people for wanting to hog the Auschwitz limelight. According to Dembina Jews don’t really want others to know that gays, gypsies and the disabled were also murdered at Auschwitz because we like to see it as “Ourschwitz, not Yourschwitz”.

Had someone made a joke about, for example, Srebrenica they would rightly be excluded but Dembina, host of the Hampstead Comedy Club, is one of the star turns at Bethlehem Unwrapped.

Or maybe poet Rafeef Ziadah will reprise her praising of Islamic Jihad chief Khader Adnan. Adnan, you may recall, is keen to incite Palestinians to become suicide bombers and blow up innocent Israeli children.

Unbelievably, into this political hatefest have stepped the supposedly “non-political” chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. They will be hosting the “Bethlehem Feast” at the church on Friday January 3rd.

Last night’s unveiling of the replica wall was introduced by St James’s Church Rector Lucy Winkett.

Rector Winkett said the reason behind the replica wall was that when 20 of them visited Israel and the Palestinian territories in October “one of the lasting memories of our time there was this wall” (see clip).

It is a shame Rector Winkett didn’t also visit the graves of Israeli children murdered by Palestinian suicide bombers or Israelis left disabled by them.

The microphone was then handed to Jeff Halper of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions who left those who made it to the church despite the dreadful weather conditions in no doubt as to what the next twelves days of Bethlehem Unwrapped had in store. Halper has previously expressed his wish to boycott Israel out of existence.

Last night Halper described Israel’s security wall as a “very deadly barrier that people cannot pass” and said “this wall is not built for security…it doesn’t protect Israelis in any way”. He continued “the wall defines the borders of the Israeli bantustan that is being created for Palestinians in an apartheid state…it defines those cantons in which Palestinians will be confined” (see clip below).

I understand that there are due to be a couple of last minute voices putting Israel’s case at the panel debate with Halper “Both sides of the Barrier: Separation or Security?” on January 4th but it is a drop in the ocean when compared to what is taking place over the entirety of the festival.

During the festival members of the public are being invited write on the wall. The address of St James’s Church is 197 Piccadilly. It’s very close to Piccadilly Circus tube station. Feel free to head away from the sales for a few minutes to balance out the hate and the lies. But take a good pen with you.

This replica wall has possibly cost thousands of pounds. There have been designers, architects, curators, materials, scaffolding and a team of builders. With mouths to feed and people freezing to death in this country alone it is shameful that St James’s Church, Piccadilly, has squandered so much on what is nothing more than an anti-Israel propaganda exercise.

Other Photos from last night:

St James's Rector Lucy Winkett and replica wall curator Justin Butcher singing "oh Little Town of Bethlehem" last night.

St James’s Rector Lucy Winkett and replica wall curator Justin Butcher singing “oh Little Town of Bethlehem” last night.

Justin Butcher with the replica wall's architect and its designer last night.

Justin Butcher with the replica wall’s architect and its designer last night.

Some of the projections on to replica wall until January 5th 2014:

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