Tag Archives: soas

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.

Students at SOAS told that Zionists paraded dead and mutilated Arab bodies through Jerusalem.

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There is currently a hate-filled anti-Israel exhibition in the library at SOAS. It has been up since October 25th and finishes on November 30th. During this time thousands of SOAS students will have been subjected to sick lies about Israel.

One exhibit is a cake filled with M16 bullets supposed to represent the time an Arab girl baked a cake for her sister in “Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron” in 1967.

The exhibition is called Memory Metamorphosis: An Exhibition of Palestine Remembered. The exhibits are based on interviews with Palestinians.

The exhibition will transfer to the Menier Gallery from 5th to 9th December when it will be sponsored by anti-Israel charity War On Want.

The introduction to the exhibition states:

“There are 6 million Palestinians living in the diaspora; most were displaced or expelled over the past 68 years by war and occupation. When a people’s history, culture and existence are being altered, erased or appropriated, holding onto their memories and creating their own historical record…is empowering and can be seen as an act of resistance.”

This 6 million figure is highly questionable and no proof is supplied. 6 million is, however, the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust so one has to ask whether the real aim here is to create a shameful Holocaust equivalence.

Another exhibit, by Father Khader N. El-Yateem, titled A Longing Heart is a picture of hearts pricked with thorns. The description contains the statement:

“Life in Palestine has a lot of unique characteristics…Unfortunately, this life has been marred by the Israeli occupation, its checkpoints and the racist separation wall, which upsets the mood of anyone coming back to visit after a long absence.”

Obviously absent is the narrative that Israel had to build the wall to stop Hamas blowing up Israeli teenagers outside nightclubs like the Dolphinarium where 21 Israeli younsters were murdered.

On Thurdsay night I went to a discussion at SOAS about this exhibition chaired by SOAS lecturer Rafeef Ziadah. On her panel were two of the artists; Jacqueline Reem Salloum and Suhel Nafar. Also on the panel was Hazem Jamjoum from New York University.

Jamjoun explained that someone they tried to interview for the exhibition had lived in Deir Yassin. Jamjoun told the audience what apparently happened there:

“There was a retributory attack on Deir Yassin. The bodies of the people who were killed and mutilated were then paraded around the Zionist neighbourhoods of western Jerusalem. It was a very intentional psychological warfare of getting stories of murder, rape and killing pregnant women to go far because it would scare and was extremely effective.”

A new book describes there being nothing of the sort having happened at Deir Yassin.

Jacqueline Reem Salloum told us how upset she was seeing Israelis cooking falafel which she described as being “our food”. She needs reminding that Jews have been living in Israel for over 2,000 years so it has been Israeli food also. She also told us that her cake exhibit was made of decommissioned bullets bought off the internet. So not even Israeli bullets, which kind of defeats her point.

She said they’d eventually expand the exhibition to include interviewees from Syria, Iraq and Yemen. I doubt that will come to fruition. Why would they want to dilute their anti-Israel propaganda?

Meanwhile it’s unsurprising War On Want are involved, again wasting resources that should be going to those in need on sick political agitprop instead. And the Menier Gallery is complicit in this by its hosting.

Banksy-inspired film that demonises Jews is shown at SOAS.

banksy

Jews are about to be demonised in the soon to be released From Balfour To Banksy, a new documentary film by Martin Buckley. In it Jews are portrayed as Nazis, thieves and thinking they’re the superior race.

Buckley is ex-BBC and now senior lecturer in journalism at Southampton Solent University. In From Balfour To Banksy, which was shown at SOAS on Monday night, he interviews Palestinians living next to Israel’s security wall. His cameraman/editor is Alexander Wilks, a 23-year-old graduate just out of film school. The producer is Miranda Pinch, a Christian-believing Jewish woman.

Soon into the film we hear a Palestinian describe Gaza as a “child concentration camp”. This evokes the image of Jews as Nazis.

We are also sold the lie that “Jewish-only highways feed the settlements”. Then, after more accusations that Israel is an “apartheid state”, Buckley says:

“It’s surely amazing that Israel, built by the survivors of Hitler’s Holocaust, could be accused of the notorious human rights violation that scars South Africa. But for over a decade critics outside and inside Israel, Jews as well as Arabs, have been accusing Israel’s right-wing governments of practising apartheid. Shocking as the accusation of apartheid is it has serious formal backing.”

In Jerusalem Buckley then finds a Jewish-Israeli family who invite him over for dinner. One of the family members tells Buckley that Israeli children are taught in school: “We are the chosen ones, everyone else is beneath us.” This false accusation is an antisemitic trope.

The scene moves to Tel Aviv where we are told “Palestinians have lived for hundreds of years”, eventhough Tel Aviv was founded in 1909. Buckley interviews Palestinian students at Tel Aviv University.  The claim is made that TAU is built over a Palestinian village.

A student tells him that when Palestinians had left their houses in Tel Aviv Jews simply chose which ones they wanted to live in. She said they “found gold and money” in these houses. It was also claimed that Palestinians are not allowed to tend their graves there.

There were some disturbing scenes of Israeli soldiers hitting Palestinians. The scenes were possibly culled from the websites of Breaking The Silence and B’Tselem. We are not told what, if any, criminal action was taken against the soldiers.

These scenes end with Israeli soldier Elor Azaria shooting dead a Palestinian terrorist in Hebron. It merely looks as if Azaria has shot dead an innocent Palestinian. There is no explanation, no context and no information about Azaria’s manslaughter conviction and jail sentence.

In another scene Buckley stands in front of a building and claims that on its balcony a Palestinian child was shot dead. We don’t get to see who the child was or learn his or her name, just that the child was “taken out” by an Israeli soldier.

Buckley then stays at Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. It’s situated next to the security wall. The hotel contains, inter alia, a statue of Lord Balfour and cheesy souvenirs from England like Lady Diana bric-a-brac. Buckley thinks this symbolises “the little Englandism of Brexit”.

The film ends claiming Israel “sells weapons to dictatorships and rogue regimes”.

Throughout the film there is no criticism whatsoever of Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups or interviews with Israeli victims of their bombings which would put the security wall in context.

During the Q&A I asked Buckley whether he found the reference to Gaza being a “child concentration camp” offensive. He merely answered that what was offensive was Palestinians living behind a wall.

He also said that many Palestinian views didn’t make it into the film for fear of offending. I’m not sure what could be more offensive than considering Gaza a “child concentration camp”.

With about 10 minutes left of the Q&A things got heated. Eventually some Israeli flags came out and Am Israel Chai was sung. I’m happy to report myself and others then had some decent discussions with other audience members.

Meanwhile, Wilks would do himself a favour by splitting from Buckley and Pinch while the film is still a rough cut. Its vile antisemitic rhetoric shouldn’t see the light of day again.

Anti-Israel meeting at SOAS stopped by peaceful pro-Israel protest.

Mike Cushman speaking at University London Union in 2012.

Mike Cushman speaking at University London Union in 2012.

Whenever I ask a question at SOAS it’s usually accompanied by abuse coming my way. For example, after asking a perfectly reasonable question in 2012 SOAS lecturer Gilbert Achcar accused me of being a “professional disruptor” and then falsely accused me of leaving insulting messages on his phone.

On Tuesday night at SOAS it was completely different and uplifting.

The members of the panel were Tony Lerman and ex-teacher Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi. Chairing was academic Mike Cushman who has more than a touch of Larry David about him in both look and mannerism. The subject of the evening was a new book they had contributed to called On Antisemitism.

The room of 50 sat relatively quiet listening to Lerman explain how “non-violent activism” like boycott, divestment and sanctions againt Israel (BDS) are under attack in America. And he quoted Judith Butler who claims that accusations of antisemitism, like those against BDS and anti-Zionists, “are meant to cause pain.”

Lerman went on to claim that “supremacist Zionism” attacks Israel’s internal critics like B’tselem and Breaking The Silence and he attacked the “notorious definition of antisemitism” adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance which he felt was “an attack on pro-Palestinian activism”.

Wimborne-Idrissi read out her favourite parts of the book one of which was about how American Jews have now placed themselves within the “tent of whiteness” due to their identifying with a “white supremacist Israel dominated by white Ashkenazi Jews”.

Cushman allowed me to ask a question and so I put it to Lerman how it could be that BDS, which calls for the right of return of some five million so-called Palestinian refugees, can be considered anything other than violently antisemitic when such a return would result in the demographic demise of the only Jewish state.

To my pleasant astonishment I received a large round of applause from the back of the room; a first after 10 years of blogging these events. I was embarrassed, but nicely so.

Lerman answered that he had never met a Palestinian who wanted to actually return to Israel, only that that they should have their rights recognised.

The evening then quickly disintegrated soon after a young South Korean man stood up to ask about the comparison between Israel and North Korea. Even Cushman told him to sit down.

Lerman again complained about the “demonisation” of BDS after which someone called out “What about the way you demonise Israel?”. Jonathan Hoffman then accused Wimborne-Idrissi of making light of antisemitism live on LBC Radio.

More interruptions followed before five Israeli flags were produced and accompanied by a beautiful rendition of Am Israel Chai.

Cushman, now channeling his inner Larry David, stood up, slammed the table and demanded silence. But silence there came none. So he called the police.

Once SOAS security appeared at the door the pro-Israel group left peacefully.

The meeting resumed but the attendance was now thoroughly depleted. And in a surprising show of contrition Wimborne-Idrissi attempted to answer Jonathan Hoffman’s accusation. She admitted her LBC interview “wasn’t my finest hour”.

As for that peaceful interruption of Israeli singing and flag waving I find it highly ironic than when I sit silently and wait patiently to be called to ask a reasonable question I am labeled a “disruptor” anyway. Those attending these vile events to put forward Israel’s case are criticised whatever we do, however well we behave. Such smears won’t stop us attending though.

(For more reflection on Tuesday evening’s events read Jonathan Hoffman)

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.

Israelis accused of rape and organ harvesting at SOAS.

Last night SOAS lecturer Rafeef Ziadah hosted SOAS’ first “Israel Apartheid Week” panel event in front of 300 students and it wasn’t long before the sickening propaganda started flying.

Sahar Francis of Addameer, a prisoner support group, said that Palestinian hunger striker Islam Hamed was threatened with rape by his guards and that Israel’s prison authorities hoped he would die so the courts would implement a “forced feeding bill”.

She continued that Israel has been rumoured to harvest organs from its own car accident victims and from dead Palestinians. However, she said, she couldn’t confirm this (search Israel Advocacy Movement on Facebook to see the video of Francis).

Steven Salaita, an American author, who was once hired and immediately fired by an American university was also on the panel. He claimed last night this was because his course, in which he would humanise indigenous Americans, was too emotional for Americans to cope with.

He spent most of his 20 minutes last night viciously attacking those who support Israel. He asked what a student should do when someone expresses a visceral attachment to Israel. He answered:

“Allow a Zionist’s internal conflict to exist. Exacerbate it!”

He said that “humanising Palestinians undermines the Zionist project” and so Zionists associate Palestinians with Hitler and “have a fear of binationalism which is actual democracy” (this drew huge applause and cheers).

He continued that “Israel directs so much of its violence at children and takes more Palestinian land for water and agriculture”.

He then mused on the symbolism of Palestinians throwing stones. He said there’s a miniscule chance of harm from stones (although tell that to the family of Asher Palmer who was killed along with his one year old son when a Palestinian thrown rock smashed through their car windscreen).

He said Israelis see stone-throwing as “an act of rejection” and that “stones assume primordial importance and an existential anxiety”.

He then compared the indigenous Americans to the Palestinians and spoke about his forthcoming book on the topic. I called out at the end of the Q&A why we shouldn’t be boycotting both himself and America to which he just gave me a vacant smile.

Black Students’ Officer, Malia Bouattia, was also on the panel fresh from her appearance on Channel 4 News when Jon Snow flummoxed her when he asked her which other countries besides Israel she was boycotting.

I asked her again. She replied that when the call comes from Saudi Arabians to boycott Saudi Arabia then she will. She obviously doesn’t know what happens to protesters in Saudi Arabia.

The event was sponsored by War On Want, yet again, and I confronted WOW executive director John Hilary at the end telling him how disgusting it was that WOW uses resources that should help disabled people on anti-Semitic events instead.

The evening became more farcical when six police officers appeared led by a middle-aged woman pointing them towards me saying I have orders against me and am banned from the area for disrupting a funeral!

The police were very, very nice towards me though. They had no idea why they were called or who called them.

It would have been nice to have leaflets to give out; something I have always asked for. As students filed out I told them “Don’t believe the lies, there are two sides to every story”. Many stopped and wanted to know the other side but I and my contemporaries had no leaflets and so some 300 students went home believing Israelis rape prisoners and harvest organs from dead bodies.

“Israeli Apartheid Week” continues for the next two weeks at SOAS where there is an exhibition of photos of Palestinian rock-throwers and dead Palestinians with claims that they have been “executed” by Israel. All this is going virtually unchallenged as is the case throughout the country.

Police called to SOAS event last night but they didn't know why.

Police called to SOAS event last night but they didn’t know why.