Tag Archives: Victoria Brittain

Jackie Walker brings her “lynching” to SOAS.

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Jackie Walker is a political activist who thinks she has been lynched by supporters of Israel who don’t like Jeremy Corbyn. To use “lynching” is a pretty strong metaphor. It means to “kill (someone) for an alleged offence without a legal trial, especially by hanging.” This is obviously what she thinks has happened to her. Some exaggeration.

When I walked into SOAS last night for her performance of The Lynching there was a black doll in front of us with a noose around its neck.

The first half of the show is about her tragic life. She was the product of an affair between her mother and Jack Cohen, a Jewish jeweller, who met each other during their fight for black rights in America. She held up a photo of two black men hanging by their necks.

She came to the UK, via Jamaica, with her mother and suffered racism in the UK. Her mother died prematurely from an asthma attack when she was 11 and she was taken into care which she left at 18. She became a teacher. In 1991 she joined the Labour Party and was eventually elected vice-chair of Momentum, the hard-left Corbyn supporting group within Labour. She was then sacked as vice-chair of Momentum and suspended from Labour over allegations of anti-Semitism against her.

The show then turns into her own trial of the accusations against her where she plays both prosecution and defence. The accusations are: 1. She accused Jews of financing the slave trade 2. She said there’s no such thing as anti-Semitism. 3. She belittled the Holocaust.

She defended herself against each. On 1. she claimed that instead of writing on Facebook that “And many Jews, my ancestors too, were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade” she should have written “amongst the chief financiers” and that missing out just one word does not make her an anti-Semite.

On 2. she claimed that she was merely asking for a definition of anti-Semitism she could work with. On 3. she claimed that she merely wanted all who had suffered similar, like the millions killed in the slave trade, to be remembered.

She didn’t explain why she raised Jews as being “financiers of the slave trade” at all considering all religions and nationalities were.

But why were these accusations made against her? She says it was merely because Jeremy Corbyn had been elected and that “he was a supporter of the Palestinians.” His enemies were the “establishment and people on the side of Israel”. And then to huge applause (there were about 200 hard-left activists in the room) she said “Get rid of right wing Labour MPs!”

She said the accusations were an “attack on a movement for change and that Jackie Walker was not a Jew hater but innocent…I don’t seek the destruction of Israel but to save Israel from its descent into racism and far-right nationalism…We must be free to fight for a Palestinian homeland without being accused of anti-Semitism…I refuse to go to the back of the bus because the media or anyone else says I should.”

Then Walker was joined for a Q&A by three other anti-Israel activists: film director Ken Loach, author and journalist Victoria Brittain, and academic Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead.

The Q&A session basically turned into a full attack on the Jewish Chronicle and those writing for it who Walker called “proto-fascists”, The Jewish Labour Movement (Walker thinks the JLM should not give training sessions on anti-Semitism), the Israel Advocacy Movement who Walker accused of digging into her Facebook, the Labour Party compliance unit who Walker thinks is leaking everything to the Jewish Chronicle, the Campaign Against Antisemitism and the Community Security Trust who Walker said “churn out biased surveys all the time”, the so-called “weaponisation of antisemitism” (see above), the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of AntiSemitism which is being increasingly adopted by governments and councils, and, of course Israel.

These hard-left activists want the IHRA defintion changed because they only recognise the neo-Nazi type anti-Semitism as seen at Charlottsville. That means they, in their opinion, can never be considered anti-Semitic.

They don’t like the IHRA classifying “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” as anti-Semitism. That’s because they want the end of the only Jewish majority state.

Rosenhead said “it was a shame racism had reared its head in Israel of all places…and it was a shame Jews in this country are supporting a racist state” and that it was “convenient for the British government to plant them (Jews) there (in the Middle East)”.

It was then time for audience members to claim victimhood. Dave Watson said he was an opponent of Stella Creasey MP and that he’d tweeted “anti-Israel things, not anti-Semitic and I supported Naz Shah (presumably when Shah said Israel should be relocated to America). He said he “criticised Zionism and supporters of Israel but not Jews.” (It seems he also, inter alia, compared Mossad to Nazis).

Graham Bash, Walker’s partner, said he’s Jewish and has only come across anti-Semitism once in 49 years in the Labour Party.

A Hungarian lady said “Anti-Semitism is misused which is an insult to those who died in the Holocaust.”

Once Loach had declared “No arms trade with Israel, no trade with Israel” I took to the microphone:

I said that most people in the room, including the four panelists, just wanted the end of Israel. I challenged the four panelists to admit that they wanted the end of the only Jewish majority state. I said that calling for the end of the only Jewish majority state, while not calling for the end of any other state, was anti-Semitic. I told them that they obviously wouldn’t admit to being anti-Semitic and that another way of, therefore, expressing anti-Semitism was to call for the destruction of the Jewish state. I also said they didn’t care about the Palestinians.

In response to this challenge I received idiotic responses.

Loach said he was merely here to help Walker get justice. Walker said she was a “socialist and internationalist” and Rosenhead said he didn’t want the destruction of Israel but a country with five million Jews and five million Palestinians (note to Rosenhead: that is the destruction of the only Jewish majority state.)

In conclusion, Walker’s play possibly gives an insight into her animus towards Israel. She was rejected by her father who was a wealthy Jewish man. Ever since then she’s felt the victim but now she has spotted the opportunity to take revenge. It will get her nowhere but continue to eat her and her supporters up as Israel continues to thrive.

Abdel Bari Atwan at Amnesty: “I get worse coverage in the Jewish Chronicle than Hitler would!”

Greg Philo, Victoria Brittain, Abdel Bari Atwan and Tim Llewellyn at Amnesty last night.

Greg Philo, Victoria Brittain, Abdel Bari Atwan and Tim Llewellyn at Amnesty last night.

Last night at Amnesty journalist Abdel Bari Atwan held up an old JC front page, which had a headline about him that he didn’t like, and claimed he gets worse coverage than Adolf Hitler.

He spoke along with Tim “But Hamas was democratically elected” Llewellyn and Phil “We wait in fear of phone calls from the Israelis” Philo, while Victoria Brittan chaired and made sure not to take any pro-Israel questions in the Q&A. So much for Amnesty claiming:

“Those who disagree with MEMO, or indeed any apsect of the event, are of course welcome to attend and make their point in a reasonable way.”

We were treated to default rhetoric about Israel controlling the media and dominating ALL the political parties. Llewellyn said the problem was with the political system in this country where “the Liberal, Labour and Conservative parties, were definitely completely and utterly dominated by the pro-Israeli lobby”.

And during the Q&A Abe Hayeem, of Architects for Palestinians, complained that “Jewish Media, specifically the JC and Jewish News, ingrain propaganda in the community”.

Philo was there to, basically, flog his new book More Bad News From Israel but spared the time to accuse Israel of having a “sophisticated propaganda system” which led to the BBC making inappropriate statements like “Israel’s attack on Hamas enters its second week” when it should be speaking of “Israel’s attack on the Palestinians”.

He spoke of the way the media portrayed Israel as just responding to rockets, but ignored Israel’s attacks in the previous three years and that “many children had been killed”.

As a consequence, said Philo, although the public had sympathy for the Palestinians they wanted the Palestinians to stop firing rockets at Israel. They were repeating the language of the news that Israel “had to respond”.

He quoted a woman in one of his focus groups who said:

“When I saw the pictures of the dead children, it was dreadful. I was in tears. But it didn’t make me feel that the Palestinians and Hamas were right. I think the Palestinians haven’t taken the chance to work towards a peaceful solution.”

Philo said it was like she was reading out the Israeli press material. Philo asked the interviewee afterwards what was the source of her beliefs and her reponse was “(BBC) Radio 4. Avid Radio 4 listener. I got it all from there”.

When Philo told her that it was Israel that broke the ceasefire before Operation Cast Lead and that Hamas had agreed to stop the rockets if the blockade was lifted she claimed, apparently quite affronted, “that can’t be so, I would have known that”.

He said the reason for the lack of truthful information in the media was the pressures that journalists, especially those at the BBC, were coming under. One said “We wait in fear of the phonecall from the Israelis. The only issue then is how high up from their organisation has it come and how high up our organisation it has gone.” He said that minutes before going on air journalists have been discussing words they are allowed to use.

“That is the level of tension inside the organisation. Journalists aren’t biased, but are just playing it safe,” he said.

Former BBC Middle East correspondent Tim Llewellyn, couldn’t wait to slag off his old employer. He had already written a Guardian piece that day accusing the BBC of “imbalance and distortion” over their “coverage of Israel and Palestine”. The piece is a rehash of his Guardian article of seven years ago. What fun around the dinner table Llewellyn must be!

His main complaint last night though was about the BBC’s Death in the Med which, he said, portrayed the Israeli soldiers who boarded the boat as acting in “self-defence” when they killed some of those on board the Mavi Marmara.

His talk was basically a rant about how the BBC didn’t properly address his complaints. He referred to one response from the BBC as a “tendentious piece of garbage”. Well, join the club, Tim!

He even felt sorry for Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s current Middle East correspondent, who is also, apparently, constrained in what he is allowed to say:

“Short of defying their bosses at the BBC I cannot see what they can do. Defying their bosses means they will be shoved sideways or fired. The system is weighted against many BBC, ITV and other reporters. I can feel Jeremy Bowen’s pain as he is dancing around the basic question. If he has no courage to confront the BBC, then I despair.”

As for Bari Atwan, or Barry as he likes to be called, he really is “the special one”. He moaned about how BBC’s Newsnight kept mysteriously dropping him at the last minute for the likes of Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak. Imagine that, Barry being dropped in favour of a world statesman! How low down can Newsnight get.

And, apparently, the Israel lobby even caused the BBC to stop him being referred to as a Middle East “Expert” or “Analyst” and he was targeted by said lobby for being the “most impressionable”. Talking about putting onself on a pedestal.

But then came his Hitler rant. To suggest that Jews might think him worse than Hitler really is a case of exaggerating his self-importance.

You can hear all this below and there are some photos of the protest outside Amnesty and a clip of Victoria Brittain summing up. In the clip she is referring to Abdullah Abul Rahma, who has recently been released from prison, and the village of Nabi Saleh and what happened there “last Friday”. She wants you to ask yourself why you didn’t see this on any TV screen. I have watched the clip (below) but cannot see anything that could possibly knock Al Qaeda, Libya, Syria or Bahrain out of the headlines.

But then, having been brainwashed by the Jewish Chonicle, I would say that wouldn’t I.

Counterintuitively, I came out of the meeting pleased that they were creating their own monster about Israel. Making people feel paranoid must be Israel’s latest weapon.

Peter Benenson was the founder of Amnesty.

Peter Benenson was the founder of Amnesty.

Pro-Israel activist outside Amnesty. MEMO is accused of supporting Hamas.

Pro-Israel activist outside Amnesty. MEMO is accused of supporting Hamas.

Audio of last night’s talks:

Greg Philo at Amnesty, 23rd May.

Tim Llewellyn at Amnesty, 23rd May.

Abdel Bari Atwan at Amnesty, 23rd May.

Q&A at Amnesty, 23rd May.

Ahava feels the heat

Thirty anti-Israel protesters congregated outside Ahava in Covent Garden for two hours on Sunday handing out leaflets and singing anti-Israel slogans. There was, as ever, a small counter-demonstration.

The incessant chants of “Israeli mud, Palestinian blood” disturb adjacent shop-owners and residents who might now ask Ahava’s landlords not to renew Ahava’s lease.

Obviously this is unfair. The protests, that take place every two weeks now, have nothing to do with Ahava. It is a perfectly legitimate business that provides a valid service to a strong customer base.

The protesters handed out leaflets sponsored by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Boycott Israeli Goods that call for the banning of “illegal settlement produce”. International Solidarity Campaign is also an organiser.

But as with all of these protests, it isn’t really about settlement produce.

An organisation called “Boycott Israeli Goods” gives away the true nature of the protests and when you start speaking to the protesters the settlements are the last thing they mention.

They talk of the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Arabs from Israel in 1948, the seige of Gaza and the supposedly awful treatment of Palestinian Israelis.

As for the latter I am sure that there is much more than Israel can do to alleviate poor conditions for many of the 1.2 million Palestinian Israelis that live inside Israel.

But many of them do very well economically and enjoy all social freedoms. Such freedoms they could only dream of if they lived under other Arab governments, including a Palestinian one. Recently, Islamic extremists destroyed a United Nations summer camp for children in Gaza.

As for “ethnic cleansing” I am still trying to get my head around the arithmetic of how 600,000 Jews could possibly ethnically cleanse 750,000 Palestinians while fighting both them and the invading armies of Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon.

And as for the siege, the protesters forget that it is enforced by Egypt also. Most Israelis are unhappy with such a “siege” but know the tragic consequences of allowing Hamas to appropriate imported materials meant for the people of Gaza. This would allow Hamas to quickly replenish its deadly stock of Kassam rockets.

Even the leaflets the protesters hand out make no pretence that this is only about settlement produce.

The leaflets state: “This call for a ban on illegal settlement produce is part of a campaign to boycott all Israeli goods until Israel abides by international law and respects human rights.”

So now, it seems, anyone can find a political issue they are passionate about and harrass a legitimate business connected with that issue just to make a point. If Ahava closes, which now seems quite possible, people will lose their jobs and livelihoods.

Ahava’s manager came out towards the end of the protest to speak to the protesters and to explain this point but, as polite as they were, they just explained back to her that she is “an innocent bystander in all this” and that “there’s a far bigger cause at stake”.

Would these self-styled “peace activists” stand outside a Palestinian owned business protesting Hamas’ atrocities against not just innocent Israeli civilians but Palestinian opposition activists? “Of course,” they claim, “we don’t support Hamas but the Palestinians have a right to elect who they wish.”

But electing a government doesn’t mean that government has the right to fire thousands of Kassam rockets into Israel and summarily execute its own people.

The PSC’s patrons are: Jenny Tonge, Tony Benn, Victoria Brittain, Julie Christie, Caryl Churchill, Jeremy Corbyn, Bob Crow, William Dalrymple, Reverend Garth Hewitt, Dr Ghada Karmi, Bruce Kent, Karma Nabulsi, Illan Pappe and Benjamin Zephaniah.

However much these people disagree with Israel’s policies, and even its very existence, surely the likes of Socialists Tony Benn and Bob Crow must be able to see the injustice of bullying a legitimate business in order to close it down with the consequent loss of jobs. Maybe just not when it comes to Israeli workers.

Section 11 of the Human Rights Act emphasises the right to peaceful assembly but what takes place outside Ahava is not peaceful. Shoppers quickly pass Ahava and the adjacent shops and restaurants to avoid the terrible noise. Takings of all businesses in the vicinity are down.

And who would wish to walk into a shop like Ahava that is flanked by four police officers and a security guard there to stop the inevitable invasion that would take place if they were absent (as happened on the first occasion these protesters turned up outside Ahava)?

Sadly, Britain is a society that protects the human rights of suspected al-Qaida terrorists more than those of employers and employees wishing to earn a living here.