Well done, Tal Ofer! After I reported on Thursday that during Wednesday’s parliamentary debate on Gaza Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi had compared the situation of the Palestinians in Gaza to that of Jews living in Nazi Germany Labour Party activist Ofer immediately reported her remarks to Labour’s HQ and brought it to the attention of the media generally.
Qureshi had said:
“What has struck me in all this is that the state of Israel was founded because of what happened to the millions and millions of Jews who suffered genocide. Their properties, homes and land—everything—were taken away, and they were deprived of rights. Of course, many millions perished. It is quite strange that some of the people who are running the state of Israel seem to be quite complacent and happy to allow the same to happen in Gaza.”
You cannot get more offensive to the few remaining Holocaust survivors and to those who lost loved ones in Auschwitz, Belsen etc.
Gaza is no Belsen. And the suffering in Gaza is at the behest of Islamist-terror organisation Hamas which is happy to oppress its own people so that useful idiots in the West will blame Israel.
The response to Qureshi’s remarks from the Labour Party itself was an utter disgrace:
“These remarks were taken completely out of context. Yasmin Qureshi was not equating events in Gaza with the Holocaust. As an MP who has visited Auschwitz and has campaigned all her life against racism and anti-Semitism she would not do so.”
However, soon after, Qureshi must have had a pang of conscience and came out with this apology:
“The debate was about the plight of the Palestinian people and in no way did I mean to equate events in Gaza with the Holocaust. I apologise for any offence caused. I am also personally hurt if people thought I meant this. As someone who has visited the crematoria and gas chambers of Auschwitz I know the Holocaust was the most brutal act of genocide of the 20th Century and no-one should seek to underestimate its impact.”
So Qureshi is “personally hurt”? Poor her. Not as “personally hurt” as those who were in Auschwitz or Belsen etc or lost family there.
But let’s all feel sorry for Qureshi instead!
It is also pretty frustrating that Labour List’s Mark Ferguson thinks “Qureshi’s apology should draw a line under this, and rightly so. If there was no intention to cause offence or equate events in Gaza with the Holocaust I am happy to accept that.”
How can there have been “no intention”? Her words are 100% clear. There is no nuance!
And then what does Ferguson think of Gerald Kaufman MP’s words about Israelis?:
“Go to Tel Aviv, as I did not long ago, and watch them sitting complacently outside their pavement cafés. They do not give a damn about their fellow human beings perhaps half an hour away.”
The remainder of Qureshi’s speech was also disgraceful, especially the way she frames Jews solely by religion. She said, referring indirectly to Kaufman:
“I want to praise the people in Israel and the Jewish people in this country who campaign actively for the rights of Palestinians. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton, I am sure that they are criticised by other Jewish people perhaps for trying to betray the state of Israel”.
But the likes of Kaufman are criticised not just by “Jewish people” but people of all religions and none. It is this division of Jews into “good Jew/bad Jew” that is almost tantamount to inciting racial hatred.
Meanwhile, these Holocaust comparisons are slowly, slowly becoming the norm.
American Professor Joel Beinin told a student audience at SOAS recently that Israel is putting the Bedouin into “concentration camps” and at a recent War On Want talk at SOAS students were told that the Palestinians are living in “apartheid ghettos”.
Thanks to the rhetoric of Beinin, Qureshi, War On Want and others Israeli Jews (and, by extension, any Jew that supports Israel) are slowly becoming thought of as Nazis.
Ismail Patel, Yasmin Qureshi MP, Megan Driscoll, Linda Ramsden in Parliament .
“It was supposed to be Never Again” declared Ismail Patel but the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, he said, are “oppressed”, undergoing “ethnic cleansing” and suffering a “genocide”.
Patel, Chair of Friends of Al Aqsa, was speaking in the Grimmond Room of Britain’s Houses of Parliament last night at an event to launch his organisation’s “Jerusalem Report” which focuses on “Protecting Palestinian Citizenship Rights in East Jerusalem.”
According to Megan Driscoll, Advocacy Officer at Coalition for Jerusalem (based in Jerusalem), who spoke first, Israel’s “Jerusalem Masterplan” is to secure the Jewish majority in the city.
Driscoll said that the Palestinian population there is currently 34% and that Israel’s aim is to drive this down to 30% and probably lower.
The way Israel is doing this, she continued, is through “residency revocation” which makes Jerusalem Palestinians “stateless”.
Driscoll said Israel revokes residency if Palestinians have lived abroad for more than seven years or have taken citizenship in another country.
She said there is also a Jerusalem “centre of life” test that Palestinians must pass. This, she said, is so stringent that even Palestinians still living in Jerusalem have not been able to prove such centrality and have lost their residency rights.
Driscoll claimed that since 1967 there have been over 14,000 such “residency revocations”. She referred to this as the “Quiet Deportation” and said it was successful because instead of being “mass collective punishment” it received less attention in the media because it was executed against individuals and families.
Linda Ramsden, Director of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, said that Israel’s “policy of displacement began in 1948 when 530 Palestinian villages were demolished and 750,000 Palestinians made refugees”.
She described how most Palestinians applying for building permits are refused because they cannot prove ownership of land due to a lack of documents (does it not occur to Ramsden that maybe, just maybe, they do not own the land in question?).
Ramsden said that once a house is built without a permit a Palestinian family will suffer from stress worrying which day their home will be demolished. She said this causes a lot of “stress related illness”.
When a house is due to be demolished, she continued, hundreds of police and dogs arrive which, she said, is “very frightening”. Bulldozers are used for the demolition and pneumatic drills destroy the base of the house.
She claimed the families are fined and sent a bill for the demolition and that some Palestinians demolish their own homes to avoid these “horrendous costs”.
Meanwhile, last night’s event was hosted and chaired by the Labour MP for Bolton South-East Yasmin Qureshi. Qureshi was fresh from the House of Commons debate that afternoon on the situation in Gaza.
Qureshi is very quietly spoken but the words that come out of her mouth are pure poison where Israel is concerned. If one thinks that Ismail Patel’s application of the term “Never Again” to the Palestinians was bad enough Qureshi’s Holocaust minimization is more shocking.
“What has struck me in all this is that the state of Israel was founded because of what happened to the millions and millions of Jews who suffered genocide. Their properties, homes and land—everything—were taken away, and they were deprived of rights. Of course, many millions perished. It is quite strange that some of the people who are running the state of Israel seem to be quite complacent and happy to allow the same to happen in Gaza.” (my emphasis)
This followed Labour MP Gerald Kaufman’s attack on ALL Israelis in the same debate:
“Again and again, Israel seeks to justify the vile injustices that it imposes on the people of Gaza and the west bank on the grounds of the holocaust. Last week, we commemorated the holocaust; 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza are being penalised with that as the justification…It is totally unacceptable that the Israelis should behave in such a way, but they do not care. Go to Tel Aviv, as I did not long ago, and watch them sitting complacently outside their pavement cafés. They do not give a damn about their fellow human beings perhaps half an hour away.” (my emphasis)
This is how Britain’s Parliament is sometimes so abused. While innocent Syrians are being murdered and left permanently disabled by barrel bombs dropped out of the sky by Assad’s forces certain MPs are offensive about Israel, Israelis and the Holocaust instead.
While Kaufman voted against any intervention in Syria, Qureshi couldn’t even be bothered to turn up to that vote last August!
Last night’s event launching the “Jerusalem Report” was sold out but due to the strike on the London underground not many people could get there.
It must be galling that when so much effort has been put into producing an evening of hatred, lies and Holocaust minimization so few people are there to appreciate your efforts.
Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn, Richard Burden and Yasmin Qureshi owe Theresa May, the Home Secretary, a huge debt of gratitude for having had Sheikh Raed Salah detained on Tuesday night. She might just have saved their careers.
Had the homophobic preacher been allowed to speak at wednesday night’s event at the Houses of Parliament there would now be photographs circulating of them sharing a platform with him.
These photos would, no doubt, have featured in the political literature for the next general election and would probably have led to these MPs’ crushing defeats, as sharing platforms with self-confessed homophobes is not something the British public would wish to be associated with.
Instead Salah is awaiting deportation back to Israel.
Meanwhile, in his defence Middle East Monitor and Palestine Solidarity Campaign have been raising the straw man that Salah is not an anti-Semite on the basis of lack of proof.
While he is accused of claiming that Jews use the blood of children to make their bread, his blatant homophobia has not been made a huge issue of. His supporters are defending him only against claims of anti-Semitism.
What is your opinion of the legislation now being discussed in the Knesset, which would grant Muslim women rights similar to those of Jewish women in matters of personal status?
“That bill is tantamount to a war on Islam. It is an attempt to dictate different, foreign values that are neither Muslim nor Palestinian values.”
What is your opinion of homosexuality?
“It is a crime. A great crime. Such phenomena signal the start of the collapse of every society. Those who believe in Allah know that behavior of that kind brings his wrath and is liable to cause the worst things to happen. There is no solution for this, unless the individual’s faith is strengthened.”
In this statement Salah denies most of the accusations:
“It has been claimed that he repeated a ‘blood libel’ by saying, ‘among those whose blood was mixed with the sacred (Jewish) bread’; this is an absolute lie and a malicious fabrication.”
“With regard to the statement that ‘the Creator made from you [the Jews] monkeys and losers’, this is again a lie and fabrication.”
“I unequivocally condemn all forms of racism, including anti- Semitism, Islamophobia, and racism towards my own people, the Palestinians.”
There are no denials about his homophobia and thoughts on the inequality of women.
So what does Sarah Colborne think of sharing a platform with someone who thinks homosexuality “is a crime…that is liable to cause the worst things to happen”. Obviously nothing.
Colborne uses her own homosexuality as a political weapon. She recently wrote to Marc Almond complaining about “real homophobia confronted by the LGBT community inside Israel” and urged him to cancel his tour to Israel. He did cancel, although Almond said it “was not for any political reason”:
“Dear Marc Almond,
I was shocked to hear that you were scheduled to perform in Israel. Listening to your music, I always assumed that you had a clear and unstinting compassion for those who face discrimination and oppression. Your music provided the soundtrack to many lesbians and gay men growing up in a hostile society. And as a lesbian who has been actively supporting Palestinian rights for over a decade, I felt obliged to write to you personally.
Israel is attempting to ‘pinkwash’ itself as tolerant, and gay-friendly in an attempt to paint over the discrimination, racism and apartheid that Palestinians face on a daily basis. It is an attempt to cover up Israel’s flouting of international law and its violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Those who support Israel’s crimes continue to propogate the colonialist fantasies of a civilised and gay-friendly Israel, as opposed to hostile, homophobic Palestinians. This not only denies the real homophobia confronted by the LGBT community inside Israel, but also the reality of life as a lesbian or gay Palestinian living under a brutal military occupation. By propogating this fantasy, Israel is attempting to co-opt support from LGBT artists and activists in other countries for its violence towards Palestinians.
I have worked with the Palestinian community in Britain and internationally, travelled to Palestinian towns and villages, and I was on the Mavi Marmara last year when it was attacked by Israeli commandos whilst in international waters, taking aid to Gaza. Our shared experiences of homophobia and discrimination should make us even more sensitive to, and supportive of, the cause of equality, freedom and justice for Palestine.
I urge you to listen to the voices of Palestinian gay and lesbian organisations, for example Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (PQBDS). Please listen to those of us in the LGBT community in Britain, who believe that until Palestinians are free, none of us are free.
The cause of Palestine is the cause of justice and freedom. Please do not taint the love of the LGBT community for your music by playing in Israel.
Yet, here she is sitting next to him on Monday night at an event sponsored by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which she heads, and Middle East Monitor.
Conway Hall: Salah and Sarah Colborne in the middle
It just goes to show that Salah’s vile views can be overlooked where the joint goal is the vilification of Israel.
Will Qureshi, Corbyn and Burden now denounce Salah as a homophobe or do they consider homophobia to be less serious than anti-Semitism?
At the next general election the British public will be made well aware that these three Labour MPs were due to share a platform with someone who has clearly expressed homophobic views.
And what about the PSC, which sponsored the event on Monday night where Salah spoke and sponsored the event at Parliament on Wednesday where he was due to speak?
Will the PSC’s patrons stay silent about an organisation they support, but which has now sponsored a homophobic preacher?
Those patrons include Tony Benn, actress Julie Christie, Victoria Brittain, playwright Caryl Churchill (who wrote Seven Jewish Children), RMT leader Bob Crow, writer William Dalrymple, the reverend Garth Hewitt, Ghada Karmi, Bruce Kent, Lowkey, Karma Nabulsi, Ilan Pappe, Alexei Sayle and Benjamin Zephania.
On the Reverend Stephen Sizer’s blog there is also a defence of Salah. Salah is referred to as a “well-respected Palestinian leader”.
Do Salah’s views on homosexuality make him a well-respected leader?
On The Apprentice the project manager on the losing team is invariably fired for the team’s losing performance. In the case of PSC chief Sarah Colborne Alan Sugar would already be pointing his finger and saying:
Sheikh Raed Salah was gone but not forgotten last night at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign event in the House of Commons at which he was due to speak alongside four Labour politicans and one Liberal Democrat.
Many speakers stood up to denounce his detention and potential deportation.
Salah had been arrested the night before after slipping into Britain last Saturday before the Home Office had properly informed the Border Agency that he had been excluded as not being conducive to the public good.
But before last night he had already spoken at Conway Hall on Monday night, in Leicester and in the House of Lords.
Yesterday, the Daily Mail’s front page headline screamed “Secure Britain…What a Joke” and attributed the following, alleged, statements to Salah:
On homosexuality: “It is a crime. A great crime. Such phenomena signal the start of the collapse of every society.”
On Jews: “We have never allowed ourselves to knead (the dough for) the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children’s blood. Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the (Jewish) holy bread.” (After this, alleged, speech 1,000 people rioted).
Salah had served two years in prison for confessing to having financed the terrorist group Hamas.
As last night’s PSC event took place Salah was languishing in prison.
Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn said that Salah’s lawyers, the PSC and Corbyn, himself, were going to challenge the decision. Corbyn also insinuated that the “orchestrated campaign by the Daily Mail” might be behind the decision not to allow Salah into the country.
The meeting itself was on Building Peace and Justice in Jerusalem. Speakers included Muslims, Christians and Jews. The intention was to portray Jerusalem as equally important to all the faiths and, therefore, having to be fairly shared with the Palestinians having east Jerusalem as their capital and the Jews having west Jerusalem as Israel’s.
At no stage was it stated that this would leave virtually every Jewish holy site under the control of the Palestinians.
While Palestinians would be able to worship on the Temple Mount, it is highly unlikely that many Israeli Jews would be allowed to pray at the Western Wall. This was certainly the case when Jordan controlled the Western Wall between 1949 and 1967. And they have the cheek to describe Israel as an “apartheid state”!
Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi spoke first. She referred to the “apartheid wall that digs deep into the West Bank”. She said Israel has “created a Jewish buffer zone around Jerusalem” and that it had appropriated huge swathes of land in order to Judaise Jerusalem.
Then Palestinian Ambassador Dr. Manuel Hassassian said that the Palestinians will “never compromise over the sovereignty of east Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the heart of the Palestinian state and the hardest nut to crack. If there is political will on the part of Israel, then everything has a solution. But we have a right wing fascist Israeli government that only wants to build settlements and confiscate land. We Palestinians don’t have a partner for peace. We made our historic compromise when we gave up 78% of Palestine in 1988.”
Considering Hassassian’s Fatah party has just joined forces with anti-Jewish terrorist group Hamas Hassassian’s hypocrisy reeks stronger than his aftershave.
Hassassian also referred to the “apartheid wall” and to Israel’s policies in Jerusalem as “ethnic cleansing”. He said that America keeps Israel immune from international law. On Salah’s arrest he said that Salah is in prison now for fighting for Palestinian rights in Jerusalem.
He finished off by saying:
“We are resilient, diligent and we will get our state in September with east Jerusalem as our capital. The UK government must be proactive and give us money and aid and say to Israel that you are the occupier and must end this occupation. We hope Palestinians and Israelis, Jews, Christians and Muslims will live in unity in Mosaic Jerusalem, where I was born. I will never quit defending the rights of Palestinians in that city.”
Ismail Patel, from Friends of Al Aqsa, said it was a “sad day today that his (Salah’s) voice should be silenced in a country known for its freedom of speech. He has more free speech in Israel than in Britain”.
He claimed that the Romans expelled the Jews but it was the Muslims who ended the Jewish dispersion in 637AD and that until 1967 Jerusalem was an open city, apart from 100 years of Crusader rule.
He said “Israel’s slogan was a land without a people for a people without a land”. But now, he said, Israel has a new slogan: “There is no meaning to Israel without Jerusalem as its capital and there is no meaning to Jerusalem without the Temple Mount on which Al Aqsa stands”.
“Israel’s Zionist ideology of occupation, oppression and expulsion wishes to create an exclusively Jewish state. It wants to be a Jewish democracy only, by denying other faiths equal rights. Never again should mankind oppress another because of the difference in their faith as was done in Germany during the Holocaust. The Palestinians have been expelled just because they are Palestinians. If we want ‘Never Again’ to come true we must motivate ourselves to keep the Palestinian presence in former Palestinian land, in a state where all faiths are equal and not a state where only Jews have the right to exist.”
Hind Khoury, of Sabeel, which is described as “an ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians”, said she wanted east Jerusalem to be the capital of a Palestinian state and west Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel.
She said that Israel is seeking to Judaise and de-Palestinise the city. She agreed with Ambassador Hassassian that the Palestinians had recognised Israel’s existence in 1988. She said that nothing justifies Israel’s exlusive claim to the West Bank and she was worried that “our churches will become Museums”.
Labour MP Richard Burden said that Palestinians must pay $26,000 for a building permit in Jerusalem and that the permits take many years to obtain from the Israelis. He said it was a case of the “creeping ethnic cleansing of a city by bureaucratic decree”.
Burden, referring to the Salah affair, said he had no truck with racism or anti-Semitism, but a person should be convicted on the basis of evidence, not innuendo:
“If the Home Secretary can produce evidence then fair enough, but the obligation is on her. If our government is as activist as this maybe it could show more activism and tell the Israeli authorities that it is about time they stopped demolishing Palestinian homes…Brave Jewish Israelis are also saying this.”
Last night BBC’s Newsnight had a piece about the Salah affair and as the credits were about to roll the presenter said that Burden had just phoned in to say that although he had been due to speak alongside Salah last night he had no input into arranging Salah’s visit. And his point is?
Labour Lord Alf Dubs had recently returned from his first ever visit to the West Bank and was “shocked” by what he saw: “Israel’s government is its own worst enemy.”
He called for a peaceful two state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital, but this, he said, would be impossible with Israel’s “deliberate” settlement policy. He also described his visit to an Israeli military court:
“The security was so tight we had to leave our business cards on entering. In the dock were two Palestinian kids aged 14 and 15. Their handcuffs had been removed, but their legs were still shackled. The fifteen year old was in tears, which was very disturbing to see.”
Diana Neslen, of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, said she is a “dissident Jew”. She spoke of the “obscene wall that snakes around” Jerusalem. She said that until 1967 another wall divided the city, but although Jews could not visit the Western Wall then, they were “otherwise free and without restriction”.
She said that Israel had destroyed the houses that faced the Western Wall when it captured the Old City in 1967, but “gaining territory was no substitute for losing one’s soul”.
She also said that now many Palestinian cannot pray on the Temple Mount and that “this shows how unfit Israel is to be the guardian of the Holy sites…Israelis do not see the non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine worthy of human decency”.
She described how on June 1st “white shirted young people” marched through east Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah district screaming “Death to Arabs”, “Burn the Arabs” and “Burn the Arab villages”:
“It was like Mosley marching through the East End protected by the police, but Mosley was prevented from marching. Those who like to excavate anti-Semitism never condemn these outrageous scenes. Shameful silence breeds violence”.
She said some “brave Israeli and Jewish dissidents” did make a stand. One was Lucas Kerner who, she said, was wearing both a “Jewish skullcap and a Palestinian keffiya”, but he was attacked by police.
Liberal Democrat Baroness Jenny Tonge brought down the curtain. Her whole talk was about the Salah affair. She berated “the power of the Israel lobby here as well as in the USA”. She said she is “deeply ashamed of the Liberal Democrat part of our government”. She said that if you met Salah you would know that what has been said about him is not true.
She said that the proposed change in the law on universal jurisdiction was a case of “the Israel lobby at work. They lobbied on that and are getting their way and I suspect they lobbied on this. I am deeply ashamed and I am considering my future in my party.” (see poll below)
Jenny, you’ll be doing everyone a favour if you resign, mostly the Liberal Democrat party.
Meanwhile, Reverend Stephen Sizer was there last night as the official photographer. He is back from his recent trip to Malaysia where he said on TV:
“The far right in Britain is forming an alliance with Zionists because their common enemy are the Muslims.”
And so ended another evening where the Palestine Solidarity Campaign sunk to new lows. For my part even if Salah did not say what he is accused of saying about Jews and homosexuals the fact that he has been convicted of financing Hamas is enough to exclude him from Britain. (UPDATE: Sheikh Salah is a homophobe. Read Haaretz interview with him)
Would we let in to Britain someone who has financed Al Qaeda?
Meanwhile, in the queue for last night’s event someone was telling me that the Zionists controlled the world financial system and that Israel controlled British foreign policy and was responsible for 9/11. But, he assured me, he was not anti-Semitic.
Photos/audio from last night:
Sarah Colborne (PSC Chief), Martin Linton, Ben White, Diana Neslen last night.
Jeremy Corbyn MP congratulates "dissident Jew" Diana Neslen.
Palestinian Ambassador Dr Manuel Hassassian, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Richard Burden MP, Lord Alf Dubs
Richard Burden MP, Lord Alf Dubs, Hind Khoury (Sabeel)
Lubna Masarwa (Middle East Monitor), Jeremy Corbyn MP, Ben White (anti-Zionist activist)