All posts by Dick Pitt

BBC bias in reporting anti Semitism in Labour

The way that the media blindly repeats any accusation against Labour of anti Semitism is well exposed by Jewish Voices for Labour.

I did the above cartoon as an attempt to highlight the lack of objectivity of the BBC. Unfortunately very few people would understand it as it stands, so I wrote a long explanation.

The media have had a field day attacking the Labour Party for anti Semitism. 

It is clear that there are anti-Semitic people in the Labour Party.   They should be expelled, suspended or re-educated.

However the savagery, depth, and widespread nature of the attacks seem to me to have all the hallmarks of an orchestrated campaign.

Four facts are relevant.

  1. An Aljazeera undercover operation showed that the Israeli Embassy actively intervenes in British politics.  It shows an Israeli  embassy official wanting ‘to take’ down British politicians including a minister.   Israel is unhappy that a strong supporter of Palestinian rights, Jeremy Corbyn, would be elected as leader of the Labour Party.
  2. There was an opinion poll carried out by Institute for Jewish Policy Research.  It stated

‘levels of antisemitism in Great Britain are among the lowest in the world’.  

‘Levels of antisemitism among those on the left-wing of the political spectrum, including the far-left, are indistinguishable from those found in the general population’.

‘Yet, all parts of those on the left of the political spectrum – including the ‘slightly left-of-centre,’ the ‘fairly left-wing’ and the ‘very left-wing’ – exhibit higher levels of anti-Israelism than average.’

‘Although the prevalence of antisemitism on the far right is considerably higher than on the left and in the political centre’

https://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/JPR.2017.Antisemitism_in_contemporary_Great_Britain.pdf

  • There were two opinion polls measuring anti-Semitism, before Corbyn’s election to the leadership of the Labour Party and after.  The opinion poll showed

“YouGov polls show anti-Semitism in Labour has actually REDUCED DRAMATICALLY since Jeremy Corbyn became leader …The answers given for YouGov’s first statement show that not only are anti-Semitic views amongst Conservative voters significantly higher than Labour voters in general, the rate of decline for anti-Semitic views amongst Labour voters is more than double the rate of Conservative voters – falling 8% in two years for Labour voters compared to a 3% decline in anti-Semitic views among Tory voters.’

  • During the elections for the Labour Party leaders in 2010 between the Milliband brothers, the fact that both are Jewish was simply not an issue.

I believe that there was a campaign by the Israeli embassy, right wing Labour and the media to deliberately confuse anti-Semitism with anti Zionism.

Sadly a joke that requires a page of A4 to explain it is not much of a joke so it joined the reject pile.

Sheffield has adopted a definition of Anti-Semitism that curbs legitimate criticism of Israel and prevents some basic solidarity with the Palestinians.

We in the Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign are anti-racist.  National PSC is anti-racist.  It is a condition of membership and we have expelled racists in general and anti-Semites in particular.  

So why do we object to the council adopting the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism?  The actual definition is fine[i].  The problem is that examples of anti-Semitism include believing that Israel is a racist state.[ii]  Sadly there is plenty of evidence that it is.

In 1948 the embryonic state of Israel ethnically cleansed 750,000 Palestinians.  This is what a spokesman for the Jewish National Fund stated:  “Between ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both peoples together in this country. We shall not achieve our goal if the Arabs are in this small country. There is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to neighbouring countries – all of them. Not one village, not one tribe should be left.[iii]

Israel from its foundation adopted two policies 1.  Expel Palestinians and prevent them from returning to their homes which was in defiance of United Nations Resolution 194[iv] 2.  Give the right to emigrate to Israel to all Jews whether they have any desire to,  or have any reasonable links to Palestine-Israel.  This is clearly racist discrimination.

It continues to this day.  Last year Israel passed the Nation State law.  “Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it…”.[v]  There are nearly two million Palestinians in the state of Israel.  They have been relegated to second class citizens.

Adalah demonstrated that there are 65 laws in Israel that discriminate against Palestinians…”These laws limit the rights of Palestinians in all areas of life, from citizenship rights to the right to political participation, land and housing rights, education rights, cultural and language rights, religious rights and…during detention”[vi].

Israel continues to illegally annex Palestinian land.  Israel has illegally settled 600,000 Israelis in Palestinian lands[vii].  “Israel’s Settlements Have No Legal Validity, Constitute Flagrant Violation of International Law, Security Council Reaffirms”.[viii]  Netanyahu plans to annex the Jordan valley- a move condemned by the European Union[ix].

Worse, Israel is creating an Apartheid state in the West Bank.  There are separate laws for Palestinian children and Israeli children[x].  There are separate rules for water consumption in the West Bank[xi] [xii]  There are roads that Palestinians are not allowed to travel on[xiii].

An Israeli ambassador commented “In the situation that exists today, until a Palestinian state is created, we are actually one state. This joint state — in the hope that the status quo is temporary — is an apartheid state.”[xiv]  Desmond Tutu said “I am especially urging the Assembly to adopt the overture naming Israel as an apartheid state through its domestic policies and maintenance of the occupation, and the overture calling for divestment of certain companies that contribute to the occupation of the Palestinian people,”.  Five years ago, John Kerry, US spokesman, said that ‘Israel risks becoming an apartheid state if peace talks fail.’  That was five years ago, and talks did fail.[xv]

Two final points must be made.  Jews are not responsible for the policies of Israel.  The attitudes of Israel are the responsibility of the Government of Israel and the uncritical military, diplomatic and economic support of Western leaders like Donald Trump.

The final point is that the Labour council has tied solidarity for the Palestinians with the slur of anti-Semitism.  There are a number of Palestinian solidarity activities that have been curtailed because councils and other bodies have adopted this flawed definition of anti-Semitism.  The Big ride for Palestine has raised £130,000 pounds for children charities within Palestine. [xvi]   The final rally in London was due to finish up in Tower Hamlets.  The council cancelled the venue because the council had adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and they feared that they would be accused of anti-Semitism.  In the Sheffield debate, Council Leader Julie Dore stated article 10 of the Human Rights Act allows freedom of expression[xvii] and that this trumps whatever the council choses to adopt.  It makes no sense adopting a definition that is immediately trumped by a human rights act.  However, we know from experience that councils and other bodies will assume that basic solidarity with the Palestinians is somehow anti-Semitic and feel free to cancel venues and speakers. Pease read the letters overleaf and write to the council. 

Sheffield Town Hall

Dear Julie Dore

I have noted the adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism by the Sheffield City Council.

I have read some evidence that Israel is a racist state.

I conclude that the examples associated with the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism will have the effect of curtailing legitimate criticisms of Israel. 

I feel it will also curtail legitimate acts of solidarity with the Palestinians.

I ask the council to reconsider the adoption of the clauses associated with the IHRA definition of anti Semitism.

Yours

Name                                                                                    Address

Sheffield Town Hall

Dear Julie Dore

I have read the statement by Palestine solidarity Campaign.

I have read some evidence that Israel does appear to be racist and the IHRA definition does appear to be flawed.  Is there any statement in the PSC document that you would like to disagree with or question?

Many Thanks

Name                                                                                    Address  


[i] Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

[ii][ii] https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/node/196

[iii] http://www.csun.edu/~csunupj/israel.htm

[iv] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_General_Assembly_Resolution_194

[v] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-politics-law-idUSKBN1K901V

[vi] https://www.adalah.org/en/content/view/7771

[vii] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-38888649

[viii] https://www.un.org/press/en/2016/sc12657.doc.htm

[ix] https://www.timesofisrael.com/eu-condemns-netanyahu-plan-to-annex-jordan-valley/

[x] JURIST Guest Columnist Rifat Kassis, President of Defence for Children International (DCI), argues that Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military often face abuse, mistreatment and torture in violation of international law and human rights

[xi] But it’s also a day to remember, and fight for, 2.1 million Palestinians who suffer something different – an artificial water scarcity deliberately created and sustained by Israel’s military occupation, and the private Israeli water company Mekorot. https://theecologist.org/2014/mar/22/water-apartheid-palestine-crime-against-humanity

[xii] http://www.alhaq.org/monitoring-documentation/15167.html

[xiii] https://www.btselem.org/freedom_of_movement/checkpoints_and_forbidden_roads

[xiv] https://www.timesofisrael.com/joint-israel-west-bank-reality-is-an-apartheid-state/

[xv] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/28/israel-apartheid-state-peace-talks-john-kerry.  He did later regret using those words. 

[xvi] https://www.thebigride4palestine.com/

[xvii] https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/human-rights-act/article-10-freedom-expression

Sheffield City Council adopts Flawed IHRA definition of anti Semitism

We in PSC fight for justice for Palestinians. Jews in this country are not responsible for the oppression of Palestinians. We object to the structures and policies of the state of Israel that lead to the oppression of Palestinians inside Israel and the West Bank and Gaza.

We do not object to the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. We do strongly object to the clauses. One states that saying that Israel is racist can be taken as evidence of anti-Semitism. This clause has led to the banning of basic Palestine solidarity activities. Please read our statement and make representation to your councillor. Our comments during the council debate can be seen here after an hour.

Message From Louise Haigh

Message from Louise, 27/9/19
I’m so sorry that I can’t be with you this evening; due to turbulent events in
Westminster I have to be down in London but as ever I send solidarity to the
campaign and to all that you are trying to achieve.
Many things struck me on my visit to Palestine last year but one thing that will never
leave me is my experience in the military courts in Ofer.
Guided by Military Court Watch, our group attended sessions of the Israeli Military
Court where we met with families of defendants, many of them children, and saw
close up many of the well-documented ways in which the system abuses the rights
of juveniles and others.
We saw first-hand children being tried without an interpreter, not understanding what
was going on around them, we saw the sheer numbers of children being processed
through the courts, we met with families who had to travel for many hours, leaving
their livelihoods on hold to wait for the trial of their children only to be told the trial
wouldn’t take place that day and over and over again we saw children passed
sentences of six months for throwing stones.
Several people told us that child and other defendants would “confess” to offences
they had not committed and for which no evidence was often provided, knowing that
the system works against them and to seek to challenge invariably leads to a longer
time in prison.
But the one thing that will never leave me and which still brings tears to my eyes
even when writing to this message to you now is the moment when a 13 year old boy
was sentenced to prison for throwing stones, his parents had travelled from Hebron
at the back of the room only six or so feet behind him. Upon sentencing the young
boy asked if he could shake his father’s hand before he was sent to prison, he’d
already been on remand for several weeks and hadn’t seen him, but he was simply
told no and dragged out of the courtroom. This was under the eye of international
observers.
That simple action demonstrated to me the cruelty and inhumanity of the system
they have created to collectively punish the Palestinians, to wear them down and to
complete the occupation. We know that the Israeli Government breaches
international human rights law and the laws of war and we know that every day they
are pushing at the boundaries still further in their attempts to annex the Jordan
Valley.
Anything that we can do to offer solidarity and to challenge the actions of the Israeli
Government will help expose and hold to account the casual cruelty at the heart of
the child detention system and the illegal occupation of Palestine.
Thank you again for coming out to support this important cause, I’m sorry I can’t be
with you but I look forward to standing by your side in this crucial fight for human
rights.

Palestinian Child Prisoners

There was a meeting on Friday 27th at the Showroom.  .

Sadly, due to the chaos in London Louise Haigh, MP for Heeley, could not attend.  She did send a message of apology to the meeting and a strong supporting statement.

According to International Law, a child is defined as a human under the age of 18 years. Under Israeli military detention, Palestinian children as young as 12 are routinely:

• Taken from their homes at gunpoint in night-time raids by soldiers.  • Blindfolded, bound and shackled. 

• Interrogated without a lawyer or relative being  present and with no audio-visual recording.

 • Put into solitary confinement. 

• Forced to sign confessions (often in Hebrew – a language they do not understand).

The treatment of Palestinian children is in marked contrast to the treatment settler children.  There are separate courts, separate treatments and separate laws for Palestinians and Israelis. 

See here for more information.

The following films were shown.

  “Children in Chains” Jon Pullman 22 mins   

“Detaining Dreams” 21 mins long    

Rafeef Ziadah – short poem –  “We Teach Life, Sir!”