Tag Archives: soas

Bibi declared “most dangerous political world leader today” at Centre for Palestine Studies, SOAS.

khalidi2

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Khalidi said it doesn’t specify a time when the withdrawal of Israel’s armed forces should begin, a line for them to be withdrawn to or the name of the territories they are to be withdrawn from.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!

Jews under attack at Centre for Palestine Studies as Ilan Pappe comes to SOAS.

Jews came under fire last night at the Centre for Palestine Studies, based at SOAS and under the chairmanship of Gilbert Achcar. It was irrelevant if you are a Jew in Israel, Scotland, Wales or England. Ilan Pappe, the CPS guest speaker, doesn’t discriminate.

Pappe, a lecturer at Exeter University, started by saying he wished “to answer the riddle of the growing gap between the image Israeli Jews have of themselves and the external image the world has of them”. In North Korea the gap between the view North Koreans have of themselves and that of them by outside world would not be much different, but in Israel there is “genuine difference”.

He said the Zionist movement in Israel should be credited for its marketing skills, particularly the way it marketed both Palestine as a land without a people for a people without a land and also Israel as a European country. This helped “absolve them from what they did to the native population”.

Israel, he said, therefore appeared to be a democracy while actually being an “ethnic racist state”. Israel had succeeded in “marketing an oppressive reality as a democratic one”.

Israel had marketed Zionism, he said, to include such enlightenment concepts as liberalism, capitalism and social democracy. And Zionism was far more successful than other ideas because it was “born after the failures of Nazism and fascism”.

Such branding and marketing, according to Pappe, had been done via academia and fiction.

Israeli academics, he said, undertook a “willing role to commodify the Zionist project on the basis of so-called scientific research”. And books and films like EXODUS showed Zionist figures looking like “Aryan Israelis”, while the Palestinians looked “like either Osama Bin Laden or ET”.

But, Pappe said, at one stage certain Israelis had an “epiphany”. Using the same methodology of books, articles and films they challenged these “truisms of Zionism by re-examining the Zionist project from the beginning”.

They showed Israel was a “settler colonial society, an aggressive society and a discriminatory society”. However, they got “cold feet” when challenged and apologised before disappearing without trace, some being forced to leave Israel.

However, this same methodology has now been adopted by people outside Israel which, according to Pappe, worries Israel. Israel can “stifle criticism and crush those who don’t toe the line from within” but cannot do the same to those outside Israel.

In response to this, Pappe said, the Israeli elite has re-adopted the Zionist dogma in a “neo-Zionist” form, which is far harsher and less flexible than the original. Such “neo-Zionism” being symbolised by the likes of Netanyahu, Bennett and Lieberman.

Pappe said he was worried how Israel would react to a new, even non-violent, Palestinian Intifada as “the Israel of 2014 is worse than the Israel of 1987 and 2ooo. It is a more ruthless Israel”.

“Neo-Zionism”, Pappe explained, attempts to combine liberal and theocratic ideas of how to live as Jews in the twentieth century and is a “lethal combination if you are the enemy”. Pappe said this is “not easy to sell as a liberal democracy”.

“Israeli society is neo-Zionist. Most (Jewish Israelis) want an ethnic racist state. There are no liberal Zionists anymore,” he said. He cited Peter Beinart, J Street and Ari Shavit as the last possible bastions of liberal Zionism.

Pappe said that in 2005 the Israeli government created Brand Israel Group (BIG), to target the Jewish community in America, despite already having America “in its pocket”. Israel, he said, is doubtful of their support in the future.

Pappe said his publisher, Verso, would neither allow him to show the fairly explicit posters in his new book that were used by Israel to “appeal to the Jewish homosexual community in New York City” nor those aimed at Jewish heterosexuals. The idea being, Pappe said, if you like this sexy woman you might like Israel’s occupation.

By 2010, however, this campaign was seen by Israel to have failed and so, Pappe said, Israel’s new policy was to distract the opposition. Instead of trying to win an argument about “apartheid and ethnic cleansing” activists were urged to say, for example, “But Israel invented chewing gum!”.

Pappe said Israel had also been successful in convincing Jews in other countries that Israel is their story as well. He said he was once confronted by Jews in Edinburgh and that he had told them in no uncertain terms that Israel was not their story.

Then at the end of last night’s event when I criticised his lecture he asked me in Hebrew if I speak Hebrew, presumably to imply that Israel is not my story either. Ironically, your typical SOAS audience member has absolutely no connection with the Palestinians and cannot speak Arabic.

The final irony is that the marketing and branding Pappe accuses Israel of doing is just what he does! For example, during his talk he urged his audience to use “settler colonialism”, “Israeli apartheid”, “regime change” and “ethnic cleansing” when discussing Israel.

(I have been banned by SOAS, under threat of legal action, from filming or taking photos at these events without permission. All my requests for permission have since been declined. Others are permitted to film and take photos.)

Arab Israeli lecturer visits London, condemns “Judaisation” of Israel.

Imagine if a member of the English Defence League, or anyone else for that matter, came to the School of Oriental and African Studies in London to talk about the “Islamisation” of England or Europe or any place in the world. Do you think there’d be a riot?

SOAS would have barred such an invitation long before.

However, a discussion about “Judaisation” under the guise of academia is encouraged and applauded judging by last night’s audience at the Centre for Palestine Studies, which is based at SOAS, where the Arab Israeli (or Palestinian Israeli) lecturer Dr Thabet Abu Rass spoke on the topic of The Bedouin in the Naqab (Negev): The invisible Palestinians and the Prawer Plan.

I lost count how many times Dr Rass used “Judaisation” or “Judaising” to accuse Israel of nefariously attempting to make Israeli places like the Galilee, Nazareth and the Negev majority Jewish areas to the detriment of Israel’s Arab citizens already living there.

One has to ask the question,  if “Islamisation” is considered offensive then why is “Judaisation” considered not offensive?

Meanwhile, one has to strongly doubt whether the Bedouin will be happy to be considered Palestinian by both Dr Rass and the Centre for Palestine Studies. The Bedouin seem to have a completely different culture, history and relationship with Israel than the Palestinians do. But Dr Rass described the Bedouin last night as “part of the Palestinian people”.

Dr Rass is Adalah’s director of their Negev office, while Adalah styles itself  as “The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel”.

Dr Rass, who obtained a PhD in Geography and Regional Development from the University of Arizona, also lectures at Ben Gurion University and Sapir College but last night he started off by saying of those he teaches: “Some of my students are the most extreme settlers from Hebron.”

He continued that “Israel’s Arab minority is under attack”, that Avigdor Lieberman is attempting to “Judaise the Galilee” and that “the state of Israel is trying to increase its Jewishness”.

Dr Rass claimed there is “no free market of land in Israel” and that “93% of Israel is defined as state land” which, he said, was comparable to China, Cuba and North Korea.

Dr Rass then put the natural Bedouin growth rate at 4% and said there was only one group higher than this in the world.

Cue…pregnant…pause…

There then came derogatory laughter from the audience before some of them called out “ultra-orthodox Jews!” Sometimes, you do get a sense of total disparagement of Jewish people and for those few seconds I felt it.

Dr Rass mainly concentrated on the Bedouin town of Al-Araqib in the Negev, near Be’er Sheva, with its 300 residents. He accused Israel of demolishing its homes 49 times since July 2010 and described how Israel uproots Al-Araqib’s crops every spring.

And he described how a Bedouin village called Umm Al-Hiran was removed by Israel, soon to be replaced by a Jewish town called Hiran.

Dr Rass claimed Israel is trying to forcibly displace the Negev Bedouin and then confine them to just 1% of the Negev’s total area. He described this as “the severest attack of land confiscation since 1948″.

Dr Rass blames this, of course, on that policy of “Judaisation”. He continued that there was a “discourse of fear” in Israel which binds Israelis together. He said that when things were quiet with Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah it is “the Bedouin who become the enemy”. Such a “politics of fear”, he said, pushes Israel to the right.

He tried to make the case that the Bedouin had legal and historic rights to the Negev. He produced an old Bedouin voting card and a photocopied Arabic land certificate from 1941. He also produced an aerial photo from 1945 of the Negev showing its fertility presumably to emphasise the quality of the land he was accusing Israel of stealing.

His parting shot at Israel was “for the first time since 1948 Israel is closing places to the Bedouin. From Be’er Sheva to Ashkelon the Bedouin cannot own land. Israel is closing areas off on an ethnic basis. Israel is going to destroy Bedouin unrecognised towns and build Jewish settlements. It is going to criminalise the Bedouin for sitting on their ancestral lands. Israel is not an apartheid state, but it is creeping apartheid“.

As I understand it, Israel is not closing anything off “on an ethnic basis”. The Bedouin can apply to purchase property in any of the new Negev developments.

Chairing this Centre for Palestine Studies’ latest anti-Israel hatefest under the guise of academia was Sharri Plonski. Two years ago, while studying at SOAS, Plonski chaired a SOAS Israel Society event Is BDS working? Now she’s a SOAS lecturer.

Meanwhile, Adalah is being advised on the situation of the Bedouin by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, which calls for a racist boycott of Israel leading to Israel’s eventual obliteration. Adalah is also supported by Christian Aid in this project. Once again we see hard-earned charity funds wasted on projects primarily aimed at demonising Israel.

If you really wish to know the truth about the Prawer Plan see here and watch the clip below. You won’t be surprised to learn that Adalah and Dr Rass have misrepresented the Bedouin cause.

Many Bedouin are in favour of Prawer. The plan should improve their lives immeasurably, allowing them to live in far more advantageous locations with proper mains supplies and schools, while also benefiting financially from the move. Consultations are still taking place, though, and nothing has been set in stone yet.

The Bedouin might even, finally, be allowed to enjoy all the benefits of a full life in Israel that Dr Thabet Abu Rass has taken advantage of himself. He said that he has recently visited the British Foreign Office, the White House and Congress.

It seems that the only people against the Bedouin are Dr Rass, Adalah and anyone else who wants to stop the Bedouin from enjoying enhanced lives.

American Professor tells British audience “Israel is heading into an abyss.”

I only made it to the last 25 minutes of Joel Beinin’s talk at SOAS last night but, sadly, I still have enough material to write a blog about it.

Beinin’s talk, The New Internationalism, High-Risk Activism, and Popular Struggle against the Israeli Occupation in the West Bank, was chaired by Gilbert Achcar, who once publicly accused me of leaving insulting messages on his answering machine.

Meanwhile, Beinin is Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University. Admittedly, I hadn’t heard of him but Wikipedia has a surprisingly large page about him. According to the description he was “raised as a Zionist” and at one stage intended to make aliyah but having encountered some racist attitudes on a Kibbutz he returned to America instead.

Beinin has published a lot also. I only read one article of his when I got back last night but if I say that the article trashes Peter Beinart’s call for Israeli Jews living on the West Bank to be boycotted because this doesn’t go far enough you get the gist of Beinin’s politics.

In this article Beinin also denounces those who condone “indecent trivialisation of the Holocaust” when they compare levels of anti-Semitism today to those of the late 1930s. (That said, if anyone can explain the difference between boycotting Jewish-owned shops in the late 1930s and boycotting Jewish-owned shops, like Covent Garden’s Ahava and Brighton’s Ecostream, today then please let me know.)

But, hey, guess who is the real master of “indecent trivialisation of the Holocaust”? None other than Joel Beinin himself!

You see, last night, Beinin started discussing Israel’s Prawer Commission Plan to move the Negev’s Bedouin population into far better equipped towns in return for compensation. Beinin described this as “putting them into what would effectively be concentration camps.” (see here from 2 mins. 25 secs.)

Oh, really? So would that be concentration camps like Auschwitz or Treblinka, possibly?

But, of course, Beinin doesn’t indecently trivialise the Holocaust, remember.

Towards the end of the event Beinin said there was a “rightward drift of Israeli society”, “a degradation of whatever there ever was of the democratic process” and “Israel itself, besides the occupation, is heading into an abyss and it’s not clear at all what might stop that.” (see here from 30 secs.)

Abyss means an “An immeasurably deep chasm, depth, or void”. Alternatively, it means “The abode of evil spirits; hell.”

And all this because Beinin once encountered some racists on a Kibbutz?

Brighton University lecturer calls for abolition of Sussex University’s Israel Studies course.

Tom Hickey, a Brighton University lecturer, speaking at the start of Sussex University’s Palestine Awareness Week on Monday night called for the abolition of Sussex University’s newly established Yossi Harel Chair in Modern Israel Studies until questions relating to its “external sources of funding” and the process that established it are “satisfactorily answered.”

He also attacked already established Israel Studies courses at SOAS, Leeds University, Manchester University and Oxford University.

Hickey is a senior member of University and College Union’s National Executive Committee and a member of BRICUP (British Committee for the Universities of Palestine).

At the event, Academic Integrity or Political Propaganda: The Chair of Modern Israeli Studies, Hickey referred to Israel Studies courses as an:

“Israeli state propaganda initiative that operates under the name of Hasbara which means ‘explanation’ or, to put it more forcefully, ‘public relations’. In other words the Hasbara initiative to try to divert the world’s attention and to alter its perception of Israel as a state indelibly associated with such things as guns and warfare, dead children, demolished houses, drone led assassinations, phosphorus bombs and other similar war crimes and to shift the attention from that to the idea of the Israeli state as a centre of democracy, freedom and plurality etc.”

He complained that the newly established Sussex University Chair was named after Yossi Harel who, he said, “was open to the charge, if not guilty of the charge, of something that would today be called nefarious activities if not, literally, war crimes.”

Harel, who passed away in 2008, signed up for the RAF during World War Two  and in 1947 captained illegal immigrant ship Exodus which took 4,500 Holocaust survivors to British Mandate Palestine. Its passengers defiantly resisted British attempts to turn the ship back.

But Hickey said the use of Harel’s name made the Chair “look less like a dispassionate inquiry into what is going on and more like something divorced from academic scholarship”.

Hickey then questioned why there were no Chairs in Palestine Studies or the Palestinian/Israeli conflict before outlining the “external sources of funding” with which he was concerned.

The Israel Studies courses at SOAS (and here), Manchester University and Leeds University are funded by the Pears Foundation. The Chair at Oxford University is funded by the Stanley and Zea Lewis Family Foundation and the new Chair at Sussex University was established by Lord Weidenfeld.

Meanwhile, a BRICUP briefing document outlines “key hasbara names…driving new finance in academia”. It paints a picture of immorality amongst British, or Britain based, Jewish businessmen.

For example, Trevor Pears is described as a “British billionaire…who has been in much controversy…for his seemingly ruthless treatment of small shopkeepers and individual tenants”, Gerald Ronson as a “convicted felon”, while Leonard Blavatnik “has an outstanding debt to the Royal Bank of Scotland (and thus to the UK government) of £2.5bn, which he was granted in a loan and then never repaid….he is effectively subsidised by the UK government.”

Hickey even raised concerns about who would be allowed to teach an Israel Studies course. He said:

“If I were well known for a certain hostility to Israel and Zionism and were I to apply for the Chair would I, by dint of my political position on Israel, be debarred from it? If I was a Muslim would I be debarred from it? More sharply, if I was a Palestinian would I be debarred from it?”

He said that the lack of guarantees prohibiting such possible discrimination leads to the “legitimate suspicion” that this is a “propaganda exercise on behalf of Israel rather than a genuine academic exercise”.

Hickey suggested that students and staff should question Sussex University about the composition of the panel that appointed the Chair. He continued:

“all of the circumstantial evidence indicates the possibility of impropriety and the failure of the University of Sussex and the Vice-Chancellor to answer questions by staff and students reinforces the concern that suggests that this may be a major problem of academic impropriety…this university if it is to have any scholarly integrity should abolish this Chair until those questions can be satisfactorily answered.”

Hickey has previously claimed that Israel’s behaviour towards Palestinians is “more insidious” than the Nazis treatment of European Jewry. And on the way out of Monday night’s event a 26-year-old Sussex student, who claimed she had lived in the West Bank, screamed “there’s nothing wrong in blowing up Israeli buses”.

I really wish Professor David Tal, who will be teaching the new Chair at Sussex University, and his students a safe academic year ahead.

Here are some clips from Hickey’s talk on Monday night (note early in the first clip Hickey refers to Israel as a political name, not a geographical reference):

With great respect to Sussex Friends of Israel for their amazing work against bigotry.

War On Want event: “Palestinians live in apartheid ghettos.”

Jamal Juma, of Palestinian Stop the Wall Campaign.

Jamal Juma, of Palestinian Stop the Wall Campaign.

Last night 200 students crammed into Room G2 at SOAS where they heard a new phrase employed in order to accuse Israel; “apartheid ghettos”. “Apartheid ghettos” neatly combines the horrors of Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa. But this time, in sick role reversal, it’s Jews who are the Nazis (see photo above).

Meanwhile, Daniel Machover, a solicitor, called for “the destruction of the political system in Israel” and for “an end to the Zionist project”. All obvious code for the destruction of Israel, although he wouldn’t admit it.

This was all sponsored and organised by British charity War On Want, which, as has been well documented, is funded by Comic Relief. How War On Want can still get away with wasting hard earned Comic Relief donations on hate campaigns where the ultimate objective is the destruction of a country, Israel, is beyond me.

Contender for chief hypocrite was Jeremy Moodey, Chief Executive of Embrace, a Christian development charity (formerly known as BibleLands), who worked as a banker for Rothschilds for 15 years. Moodey described how Rothschilds “financed many of the earliest settlements in Palestine in the early 1920s and 1930s”.

I asked him if he was a hypocrite for working for such a firm, but he claimed he only saw the light after he left. Here he is, along with Jamal Juma of Stop The Wall, addressing that Rothschilds point and my concerns about the panel’s desire to destroy Israel (Christian Friends of Israel may be interested in Moodey’s initial talk here):

Daniel Machover spoke about the recent Russell Tribunal held in South Africa. The Russell Tribunal is their charade where they put Israel on trial for alleged crimes and then, surprise surprise, the “jury” finds Israel “guilty”. In the tribunal in South Africa the “jury” found Israel “guilty” of fitting the legal definition of apartheid in the so-called occupied territories and in Israel itself.

Machover said countries must be persuaded to accept legal responsibility for this “apartheid” and called for sanctions and the severing of diplomatic relations with Israel. He said that although this would not be forthcoming through the UN due to the American veto the Palestinians should sign up to the Treaty of Rome and request that the situation of “apartheid” be subject to investigation by the prosecutor.

He urged that companies that “aid and abet Israeli war crimes” must be stopped. He alleged that waste company, Veolia, had lost business because public bodies can exclude a company from contracts if they are guilty of “gross misconduct”.

However, an embarrassed Machover admitted that his own council Brent is about to award Veolia a huge contract! Veolia has conducted a lot of business in Israel.

Rafeef Ziadah, a War On Want employee, alleged that Israel boasts that the military equipment it exports is “field tested”, which means it is “tested on the bodies of Palestinians”.

Finally, it was time for Frank Barat, the comic relief. He said that he was still shaking from having drunk an extra strong coffee three hours earlier and he proudly announced the creation of the Palestine Legal Action Network.

PLAN will be working under the auspices of War On Want concentrating on activism, legal actions and media work. Barat was very excited and went as far as to say that he loves War On Want.

From Israel’s point of view one couldn’t think of a better person than Barat to project manage PLAN. It was Barat, of course, who interviewed Norman Finkelstein about the Boycott Israel movement where Finkelstein called it, inter alia, “a dishonest cult” whose victories you can count on the fingers of two hands, if that. For some reason Barat then uploaded said interview onto the internet.

Observing PLAN with Barat in charge, therefore, should provide a lot of laughter.

In the chair for this nasty event was Brenna Bhandar, a SOAS law lecturer, who blogged about Fraser v UCU. And in the front row overlooking his minions was cult leader himself, John Hilary, executive director of War On Want.

Brenna Bhandar (Chair), Daniel Machover, Jamal Juma, Fafeef Ziadah, Frank Barat.

Brenna Bhandar (Chair), Daniel Machover, Jamal Juma, Jeremy Moodey, Rafeef Ziadah, Frank Barat.

Shlomo Sand at SOAS: Israel is “a shitty nation” and “the most racist society in the world”.

Shlomo Sand in full flow at SOAS last night.

Shlomo Sand in full flow at SOAS last night.

Last night Tel Aviv University history professor Shlomo Sand referred to Israel as a “shitty nation” (clip 1). He called Israel “the most racist society in the world” and said that he has been fighting “Jewish racism all my life” (both clip 2). And he declared that anti-Semitism doesn’t exist in the western world today (clip 3).

He was speaking in London at the SOAS launch of his new book The Invention of The Land of Israel. The much discredited thesis of his previous book The Invention of The Jewish People is that there was no expulsion of the Jews from the Holy Land; diaspora Jews, therefore, must have all descended from converts and so have no right to return to Israel.

The already much discredited thesis of The Invention of The Land of Israel is, simply, that the land of Israel holds no religious significance for Jews either.

First, he claimed, there is no mention of “Israel” in the bible; it is only mentioned in the Talmud. This is not true (see note 1). Second, he claimed that political Zionism grew out of Christianity, not Judaism, and he solely credits Lord Shaftesbury and the evangelical Christian movement in London for the idea that Jews should return to the Holy Land.

But Sand, conveniently, regards great religious figures like Rabbi Alkalia and Rabbi Kalischer, who in the early nineteenth century wrote voraciously about the pressing need for Jews to return to Zion, as only minority influences.

Sand claimed that the Balfour Declaration came about due to three main reasons:

1. The ideological background of many leaders who wanted Redemption via a Jewish return to the Holy Land.
2. The colonialist interests of Britain in the Middle East.
3. Anti-Semitism – Balfour didn’t want suffering Jews from the East coming to Britain.

Sand said Jews preferred to move to America but after 1924, when America stopped eastern European immigration altogether, no country would accept Jews who then had no choice but to go to the Holy Land against their will.

Sand, again, conveniently ignores the examples of the Jewish pioneers in the Hibbat Zion and BILU movements who volunteered to move to the harsh conditions of the Holy Land during the 1880s to try to make a life there.

Sand views Israelis as a nation even if a “shitty one”. But, for Sand, they aren’t a Jewish nation because he doesn’t recognise such a concept exists. Sand views being Jewish as a purely religious concept and said that Hamas in Gaza are much more likely to be descended from the ancient people who once inhabited the Holy Land than he is.

Sand says he desires a two-state solution with equal rights for Arabs living in Israel and for Jews living in a future Palestine. Presumably, it would be an Israel where diaspora Jews would have limited, if any, rights to move to.

And on anti-Semitism Sand said:

“The century of anti-Semitism between 1850 and 1950 is finished. Pro-Zionists don’t understand history. I don’t think that political public anti-Semitism exists today in the western world. You cannot find members of Parliament in Britain or the United States who are openly anti-Semitic. You cannot find journalists who are anti-Semitic. You cannot find films that are anti-Semitic.”

This is what many in the audience wanted to hear. It was their official certificate that they are not Jew haters even though they focus solely on opposing the Jewish state while ignoring atrocities by both sides in Syria, by Hamas in Gaza and by the Saudi Arabian monarchy and the Iranian government which both brutally oppress their own people. To name but a few.

Once again, Sand conveniently ignores or is unaware of the example of Liberal Democrat David Ward who recently accused “the Jews” of inflicting something akin to a Holocaust on the Palestinians.

Sand is the master of cherry-picking anything that backs up his argument while ignoring anything inconvenient that might detract from it.

His recent books are not based on proper fact, record or history. They are simply driven by a hatred for the Jewish state.

Notes:

1. For a superb taking down of Sand’s new book see here via Elder of Ziyon.

2. For  a superb analysis of Sand speaking at The Frontline Club the previous night see here via Jonathan Hoffman.

Clips from last night (not good sound quality):

Clip 1 – Sand declares Israel a “shitty nation”:

Clip 2 – Sand declares Israel “the most racist society in the world” and says he has been fighting “Jewish racism all my life”:

Clip 3 – Sand claims there is no anti-Semitism in the west today:

Centre for Palestine Studies and UJIA swap roles on Israel for the night.

There must have been something in the London air last night. While the United Joint Israel Appeal, Union of Jewish Students and “Pro-Israel” Yachad hosted Israel boycotter Peter Beinart via Skype, further down the Northern Line SOAS’ Centre for Palestine Studies hosted Professor Jean-Pierre Filiu.

Beinart will have been trying his best to persuade his Jewish audience (the talk was restricted to Jewish students and members of Jewish youth groups only) to boycott the livelihoods of innocent Jewish families living in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

Meanwhile, at SOAS’ usually anti-Israel Centre for Palestine Studies Professor Filiu gave an interesting talk on the history of Gaza. Not only did Filiu recognise Israel’s security needs but he attacked Hamas for its mistreatment of Palestinian women. There were no calls for boycotts.

Filiu’s main thesis was that peace in the Middle East would only come via Gaza as, historically, control of Gaza was pivotal to control of the Middle East. The most recent example was General Allenby who won control of Gaza a month before entering Jerusalem.

Filiu said the Muslim Brotherhood opened a branch in Gaza in 1946 and its founder, Hassan al-Banna, visited Nuseirat sometime before May 1948 to urge his followers to fight for Palestine.

Filiu described Gaza as a “Noah’s Ark” for 200,000 Palestinian refugees, but it was  the Sinai Desert that kept the refugees in Gaza otherwise they would have journeyed on to Egypt. Gaza’s original population was 80,000.

Filiu splits Gaza’s recent history into three 20 year cycles:

“1947 – 1967 Obliteration of Palestine” - Filiu claimed that during the winter of 1948/1949 many children died of hunger and cold and that the Quakers and Turks were the first in to offer tents. The only two political parties were the Muslim Brotherhood and the Communists.

In 1955 Ariel Sharon’s Unit 101 launched a raid into Gaza to attack terrorists. An Intifada soon followed. The battle cry of the Brotherhood and the Communists was “Nasser dictator, traitor of the Palestinian cause.”

During Israel’s short occupation of Gaza to try to destroy Fedayeen nests 1,000 Palestinians died out of a population of 300,000. (NB. there are no proper archives on Gaza’s history so figures may well be inaccurate)

After the 1956 Suez Crisis Israel withdrew from Gaza. Egypt took over. The Fedayeen weren’t allowed to operate. Many left Gaza for the Gulf and founded Fatah. The Muslim Brotherhood went underground.

“1967 – 1987 Reoccupation” – This period was characterised by Palestinian civil resistance to Israel, the Muslim Brotherhood’s continued oppression by Nasser, infighting between Palestinian Nationalists and the Muslim Brotherhood and a boycott by President Sadat when the Palestinians condemned Egypt’s peace agreement with Israel.

Islamic Jihad was formed and they regarded Palestine as a priority, but not its Islamisation. The 1987 Intifada took both the PLO’s external leadership and the Muslim Brotherhood by surprise. The Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza turned itself into Hamas.

“1987 – 2007 Cycle of Intifadas” – Filiu said this was a time of collective sorrow, desolation and Palestinian infighting. Hamas’ Al Qassam Brigades executed many Palestinians for being collaborators.

The peace process brought hope but when Arafat divorced himself from Gaza Palestinians living there felt they had paid the price for bringing him back from Tunis, especially when Palestinian police opened fire on their own people and many were tortured to death. Gaza totally lost out in the peace process.

Israel again withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but it was Fatah’s change of rules for the 2006 Palestinian elections, hoping to prevent a Hamas victory, that actually allowed Hamas to win. Hamas immediately offered a national unity government but Fatah wasn’t interested in Gaza. After the 2007 coup Hamas fully controlled Gaza.

Filiu said that Palestinians in Gaza are fed up with Fatah and Hamas’ petty war. He acknowledged Israel’s security concerns but said Israel “should deal with the people, not bomb and kill them”. He said there is no other way but for Israel to lift the “blockade” of Gaza, which he viewed as helping Hamas to build a police state and control the population, especially the women.

During the Q&A Filiu was asked about the possibility of a one state solution. Filiu said a two state solution was the only way forward and that this is what the PLO had just asked for at the UN and that this had been celebrated even in Gaza.

Apart from Filiu’s wanting Israel to lift all restrictions on Gaza, which would lead to increased suicide bombings in Israel, it was as objective and interesting a talk about the conflict and Hamas as I have heard from any non pro-Israel organisation.

Yachad and UJS to host talk by boycotter Peter Beinart at UJIA.

Yachad calls itself “The pro-Israel pro-peace voice of British Jews”. It’s as if no other pro-Israel British Jew can possibly be “pro-peace”. Just those Jews who support Yachad, you understand.

At the United Nations in New York today at what is euphemistically called Observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, “Palestine” is due to be recognised as a non-member observer state.

However, today’s rhetoric has had nothing to do with Palestinian statehood, but has been tantamount to incitement to murder Jews and Israelis and to boycott Israel out of existence. One Arab delegate accused Israelis of burning the Koran, and Roger Waters spoke for 25 minutes. Waters accused Israel, inter alia, of apartheid and prioritising Jewish people above its other citizens. He demanded a boycott of Israel.

Delegate after delegate called for a two-state solution and for UNGA Resolution 194 to be implemented. 194 calls for a return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. As the UN classes ALL Palestinian descendants as refugees this would soon lead to the demographic destruction of Israel as the world’s only Jewish state. What UN delegates are, in effect, calling for is a two-state solution as long as both states are Palestinian.

Waters, ludicrously, claimed that Hamas has agreed to future peace with Israel as long as a Palestinian state is agreed along the 1967 ceasefire lines. He claimed that New Yorkers, cut off from the outside world, don’t know this. Hamas who, in their Charter, call for the murder of all Jews are hardly going to agree to any Jewish state along any lines. It is Waters who is cut off.

But, now, with this growing febrile atmosphere against Israel where Israelis are demonised and demands made that they be boycotted Peter Beinart has been invited by Yachad and the Union of Jewish Students to address a Jewish audience at the offices of the United Joint Israel Appeal (UJIA). UJIA, a charity, is supposed to have the interests of Israel and all Israelis at heart.

It is a student-only event. Here is the Facebook page where the location of the event has now been hidden:

As you can read Beinart calls for “a boycott of West Bank Settlement produce”.

So because Beinart disagrees with a group of people, in this case Israeli settlers, he wants their businesses and livelihoods immediately destroyed and their ability to feed their families and young children immediately curtailed. All they have worked for should be destroyed overnight on the say so of someone living thousands of miles away?

Hannah Weisfeld, who heads Yachad, claimed in March this year:

“While we hugely respect Peter Beinart and believe he adds an important voice to the debate, we believe that all forms of boycott are counter-productive.”

However, a month earlier at an Israeli Society event at SOAS discussing whether Israel should be boycotted Weisfeld was far more ambiguous when she said:

“I think we would be having a very different conversation in this room if the BDS movement was about a targeted (settlement) boycott. I am not saying that I would necessarily support it, but I think the entire debate would be different…”

Now Weisfeld, Yachad and the Union of Jewish Students have invited Beinart to make the case, via Skype, for just such a targeted boycott of those Israeli families living on the West Bank.

By all means disagree with their living their and make the case that they shouldn’t be. Try to achieve a gradual change in Israeli government policy, like when Ariel Sharon finally decided to order Israeli settlers to be removed from Gaza.

But for Beinart and others to encourage the wrecking of people’s livelihoods overnight is crossing a red line, let alone a green one. We hear it enough at the hundreds of anti-Israel events that take place annually.

Meanwhile, UJIA have confirmed that they are hosting the event:

Holocaust analogies and calls for Israel’s destruction at SOAS’ Centre for Palestine Studies.

Naomi Foyle, Rachel Shabi, Bidisha, Miranda Pennell, Selma Dabbagh last night.

Naomi Foyle, Rachel Shabi, Bidisha, Miranda Pennell, Selma Dabbagh last night.

This article by me also appears at CIFWatch

The London Middle East Institute (LMEI), which is based at the School of Oriental and African Studies, used to give serious lectures. Not any more. The recently established Centre for Palestine Studies (CPS) now sits like a cuckoo in the nest of the LMEI.

Last night the first LMEI lecture of the new academic year was presented under the auspices of CPS. Palestine Now: Writers Respond was all about attacking Israel; nothing about studying the Palestinians.

Bidisha (The Guardian), Rachel Shabi (The Guardian), Selma Dabbagh (author), Miranda Pennell (film-maker) and Naomi Foyle (British Writers in Support of Palestine) had simply come to talk about how to fight for “the Palestinian cause” and against “Hasbarah”.

New students heard calls for the destruction of Israel dressed up as justice for the Palestinians, racist calls to boycott Israel and a totally gratuitous Holocaust analogy. Shame on LMEI for allowing this.

Dabbagh, Pennell and Foyle said they supported BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) against Israel.

Dabbagh explained that she writes in order to get more people involved in the Palestinian cause and told of how she refused to speak at Jewish Book Week (JBW), when asked to, because of its Israeli government funding.

Bidisha suggested it might have been better for Dabbagh to go to JBW and get her message across to the audience, but Dabbagh said she felt she couldn’t break the call to boycott Israel.

Dabbagh, who is also a lawyer, has been living in Bahrain from where she said she has been helping to sue, not the Bahrain police, but the British police!

Bemusingly, Shabi said that she agreed with the ‘D’ of BDS (divestment) but not the ‘B’ (cultural boycott) which she viewed as a “witch-hunt”. Bidisha said she was equally “ambivalent” about the boycott.

During the Q&A I asked whether any of the panelists had accepted funding from a government whose actions they disagreed with and what the panelists were doing about the oppression of gays, women and dissidents under Hamas rule. I said BDS was racist and that it calls for the destruction of Israel by demanding “the return of Palestinian refugees”.

Naomi Foyle refused to accept that Israel would be destroyed by BDS. Using a crude Holocaust analogy she explained:

After the Holocaust Jews, who suffered in the Holocaust, were allowed reparations. They had their property returned to them. They were allowed to sue. Of course they were allowed to do it. That was their right. The Palestinian refugees, whose population has mushroomed, are living in squalid conditions, horrendous conditions with no passports, no freedom of movement, no sanitation, no hospital care. These people have keys to their family homes and their right to these family homes must be recognised. Once that right is recognised then the negotiations can begin on what this means for Israel as a state; whether it will become one state, whether it will become a secular state. No one is calling for the destruction of Israel. Is South Africa destroyed now because the blacks in South Africa have human rights? Israel is being asked to evolve.”

Obviously Israel would be destroyed as a Jewish state, but it would have been decent for another panelist to have pointed out to Foyle that it was slightly impossible for 6,000,000 Jews to have had their property returned because they were actually dead, having been murdered by the Nazis. However, no one uttered a word; not even Shabi.

And ignoring that more than 50 rockets had landed in Israel on Monday alone without condemnation from any quarter Foyle stated:

“Palestine is shrinking by the day. We have to say no, we have to put moral pressure on. Palestinians haven’t been allowed, in international opinion, to fight back with armed resistance. That’s been a complete disaster for them.”

Foyle continued that BDS doesn’t call for Israelis to go unfunded by the Israeli government, as “that’s their right as taxpayers”. She said it merely calls for Israelis not to leave Israel to perform and for performers not to go to Israel.

She said she had taken funding from the Canadian and British governments to support her writing and education, and then added:

“If there was a boycott of Great Britain that had any hope of helping the people of Afganistan or Iraq and all I was being asked to do was not travel abroad to a foreign festival; it’s a no brainer.”

This all goes to show that boycotting Israel has nothing to do with objecting to settlements. It is a racist boycott of Israel per se.

Anti-Israel activists neatly try to evade accusations of racism by claiming that “Palestinian society” has called for BDS. In reality, such a call has merely come from a large group of tiny anti-Israel NGOs posing as “Palestinian society”.

Shabi, who described herself as a British/Israeli/Iraqi, then told of her research for her book which involved her seeing how easy it is to buy a house in a settlement and how she had to perfect a “back story” to do this. She said she knew her back story was perfect when her neighbour asked why she was disguised as a “British Jewish religious tourist”.

Meanwhile, Dabbagh admitted that she was “uncomfortable with the way women and gays are treated by Hamas”, but blamed Israel’s “siege” for keeping Hamas in power.

And Bidusha, addressing me directly, said that Palestinian children are brutalised by “the siege of Gaza”. I replied that Egypt is also conducting “the siege”. She had no answer.

As for the future, Shabi concluded that there was already “one-state on the ground” and the discussion in Israel was now just centred around whether it will be a left-wing or right-wing state. This is, of course, pure fantasy from Shabi.

While this brainwashing of new students was taking place a brave girl, Malala Yousufzai, who is 14, was still recovering in hospital after being shot in the neck and head by the Taliban for standing up for women’s education in Pakistan.

SOAS’ students should look to the likes of Yousufzai, not to phoney human rights activists, for inspiration in fighting against real injustice.