Category Archives: Dicks blog

Razan al Najjar so sad

Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign had a sad task last week.  Where and when do we wish to protest against the killing in Gaza of  Razan al Najjar.  She was a 21 year old medic, clearly identifiable, there to provide help to injured Palestinians.  Her whole life ahead of her, snuffed out by an Israeli sniper.  The images of her smiling face linger on in our minds.  Perhaps we could have called a vigil for the 14 children killed over the last few weeks.  What about the others among the 119?  They were protesting that their right of return enshrined in UN Resolution 194 was being denied them.  They need to be remembered as well.

It is worth pointing out that killing civilian protesters is a war crime.   This is B’stalem’s legal opinion.

‘Israel’s position that it may use live and potentially lethal fire against unarmed demonstrators who are endangering no one undermines every moral principle, contradicts the provisions of international law and is unlawful.’

Along with the 119 dead we should consider the injured.  This is from a report in the BMJ.

‘As of 18 May, the death and injury toll, rising every day, is 117 dead, including 13 children, and no less than 12,271 injured. 6,760 have been hospitalised, including 3,598 with bullet wounds. 19 clearly identified medics have been shot to date…Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has been operating in Gaza and says that people have been shot with bullets that have caused fist-sized wounds of “unusual severity”. Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, head of MSF Palestine says in their report that “half of the more than 500 patients we have admitted in our clinics have injuries where the bullet has literally destroyed tissue after having pulverised bone. This is what we are facing. I have seen a great deal of physical trauma in Gaza following Israeli attacks but have not seen these kind of injuries before. From the appearance of the wounds there appears to have been systematic use by Israeli Defence Force snipers of ammunition with an expanding ‘butterfly’ effect.”.

We cannot rely on justice from the Israeli legal machinery.   In 2013 Samir Awad, 16, was shot dead by two Israeli snipers.  He was shot in the leg, then as he ran away from the soldiers he was shot in the shoulder and in the back of the head.  According to Hebrew-language news outlet Walla, the Israeli Central District Attorney’s office formally retracted all charges on Tuesday, saying there was insufficient evidence of wrongdoing.

‘During the hearing, attorneys for the accused argued that their clients should not be convicted because it was not proven that they acted negligently and because the law was being selectively enforced in their case. The attorneys presented military data showing that in the last seven years, out of 110 cases in which soldiers had shot and killed Palestinians, only four indictments were filed’.

They were saying in effect, because the Israeli state did not prosecute the others, it is wrong to prosecute these two.

Nor can we rely on the United Nations.  Kuwait tabled a motion at the security council arguing that Palestinians need to be protected.  It was vetoed by the United States.

When we cannot rely on others to help defend Palestinians, we have to do it ourselves.  The vigils are important, events like the Small Park Big Run are important, Adam’s cycle ride to Amsterdam, and a thousand others.  They make a difference.

We have been here before.  South African Apartheid was defended by the British and US authorities.  Nelson Mandela was denounced as a terrorist.  We were the extremists.  Today only outright  racists and fascists defend South African Apartheid.  David Cameron has apologised saying the Tories were wrong over Apartheid.

We were right then, and we are right now.  It is wrong that unarmed demonstrators are killed by Israeli snipers, that medics and children were injured or killed, that hundreds will be maimed for life.

The sooner that the media, and the politicians regain a sense of morality, the sooner they will take up the cause of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, the sooner Israel will look upon Palestinians as equals as opposed to targets, the sooner there will be peace.

 

Paul Keleman – On trying to silence the left on Palestine

 

Paul  Kelemen
3 April 2018

The author wishes it to be clear that he is not a member of the Labour Party


What has unfurled this vehement denunciation of the left for antisemitism?  Only a few months ago, the largest survey on attitudes in Britain to Jews and Israel was published by the Institute of Jewish Policy Research (IJPR).  It concluded that a ‘relatively small group of the general population can justifiably be described as antisemitic’ and that ‘the very left-wing are, on the whole, no more antisemitic than the general population, but neither are they less antisemitic’. A still more recent YouGov survey shows that since Jeremy Corbyn has been the Labour party leader, antisemitism has declined among Labour voters.  Whereas, for example, in 2015, 22 percent of Labour voters agreed with the suggestion that ‘Jews chase money more than other people’, this had declined in 2017 to 14%.

Among Conservative voters, the decline over the same period to this question was much smaller and the overall levels of prejudice much higher: 31 percent in 2015, and 27 percent in 2017. Opinion polls give, at best, a rough assessment and opinions are fluid but the decline of antisemitism among Labour voters probably results from younger people, more at ease with multiculturalism, indentifying, in greater numbers, with Labour since Corbyn has become leader.  Whatever the reason, it belies the ideological assault to drum into public consciousness that the party and its supporters released from the grip of New Labour’s rightwing agenda are descending into antisemitic bigotry.

If, indeed,  antisemitism had been the principal concern of  those Jewish community leaders and  Labour MPs who now condemn Corbyn for being ‘soft ‘ on antisemitism, they would surely be demanding action not only from the Labour leader but from May and other leaders of the political right.  Or, if they want to seriously address the issue of antisemitism, they would be looking to build broad support for it by pointing to the connection between antisemitism and other forms of racism.  There is potential for alliances.  As the IJPR report noted, there are much higher levels of hostility in Britain to Muslims.

The eagerness with which the charge of left-wing antisemitism has been seized on by the right of the Labour party has naturally lead to the conclusion that this issue has been inflated to weaken and preferably replace Jeremy Corbyn.  Yet, this is only one of the ingredients.  For the pro-Israeli lobby, which is  the main driving force in this campaign, Corbyn would be merely collateral damage.  Since assuming the party leadership, Corbyn, has tried to fend off criticism of his past sympathy for the Palestinian cause by reaffirming, mainly through Emily Thornberry, the party’s shadow foreign affairs minister, Labour’s commitment to the two-state solution – a convenient fiction to perpetuate international collusion in Israel’s policy of dispossessing and marginalising the Palestinian people. Thornberry has accompanied her repeated affirmations of Labour’s historic support for a Jewish state in Palestine by eulogising Israel’s ‘egalitarianism’, not withstanding the well documented discrimination between Israelis and the Palestinians both in Israel and in the West Bank. The inequality is inseparable from the Zionist project of taking over the land and supplanting the indigenous population in favour of Jewish settlement.  In 1948,  just 8 percent of the territory that is now Israel belonged to Zionist organisations and the rest to the Arabs. Today, the Israeli state or the Jewish citizens of Israel to whom the state has allocated land, own 97 percent and the same process of dispossessing the Palestinians of their land is far advanced in the West Bank through the settlement expansion. However, for the pro-Israeli lobby, Labour’s call for the British government to recognise a Palestinian state, even a feeble and mini,  is undesirable and what it dreads still more is that a Corbyn led government, under left-wing pressure, may break the longstanding Western consensus in favour of unconditional support for Israel

Interviewed on Channel 4 News (29 March), Tony Blair, indicated the source of the alarm. He identified the radical left as responsible for the Labour party’s alleged antisemitism:  ‘their position on Israel goes far beyond criticising the Israeli government and actually criticises the existence of the state’.  Yet,  opposing the current constitutional form of the Israeli state, in which anti-Palestinian discrimination is inscribed,  is no more racist than it was to oppose the institutional arrangements that produced the South African apartheid state or the Protestant domination of the Ulster state. The radical left’s critique of the Israeli state can accommodate Israel’s Jewish population’s self-determination, stripped of its exclusiveness and anti-Arab racism.   It merely circumscribes the limits within which that democratic right can be practised in order that it does not negate the national rights of the indigenous people.

The frenzied campaign that purports to have detected  a tidal wave of leftwing antisemitism is aimed at closing down debate on Israel’s continuing settlement expansion and military occupation that is fragmenting the Palestinian population into ghettos, fenced off behind walls, barriers and army checkpoints and deprived of land, water, adequate housing, medical services and opportunities for work.   The besieged and impoverished people of Gaza who these last few days have been confronting the Israeli army to demand an end to their invisibility, need international support. The left far from allowing its solidarity with the Palestinians to be delegitimised and criminalised, must redouble its campaign in their support.

 

Opposition to racism

The story is that Freud told a woman that she was obsessed with sex but was in denial.  “No I am not” came the indignant reply.  “See you are in denial” replied Freud smugly.

The British Board of deputies accuse the left of anti-Semitism but claim we are in denial.  Those of us on the left deny it strongly.  Our accusers nod knowingly “see they are in denial”.

A Jewish research group showed “Levels of anti Semitism among those on the left-wing of the political spectrum, including the far-left, are indistinguishable from those found in the general population.”

And “The most anti-Semitic group on the political spectrum consists of those who identify as very right-wing: the presence of anti-Semitic attitudes in this group is 2 to 4 times higher compared to the general population.”

So why is the Board of Deputies attacking the Labour Party rather than the right wing of the Tory Party or UKIP?  The answer is the issue of Israel.  The letter that the Board of Deputies sent to Corbyn contains the following sentence.

“The Party should circulate the IHRA definition of antisemitism, with all its examples and clauses, to all members and branches. The Party should work with mainstream Jewish community organisations to develop and implement education about antisemitism.”

IHRA gives an example of  anti-Semitism  “by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour”.  We have nearly seventy years since the establishment of Israel.  Its land policies, water policies, development policies, immigration policies are racist.  That is not an anti-Semitic slur, it is an evidence-based observation.

So when the British Board of Deputies wrote about rooting out Anti Semitism in the Labour Party they meant rooting out Palestine solidarity.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign has expelled people who let anti Israel sentiments merge with anti Semitism.  Their ideas are offensive in themselves. They are also gold dust for people who support Israel. We will expel others if and when they appear.

We are not about to let supporters of Israel lecture us on how to combat racism.

Facts are important

Blog bullet points

On Saturday 17th February, I was, with others, giving out leaflets for the Stop the War Coalition meeting       ( 1st March at the Central United Reform Church 7pm. Our Chairman Mushier Al Farra is speaking).

We were approached by a young man who said he was opposed to what we were saying.  Given that we were arguing for peace, we were a little taken aback.  It turned out that he objected to one of the placards.  It said ‘Free Gaza’.  He then stated why he believed the slogan was wrong.   We could have just dismissed him as ill informed.  However given the vast misinformation in the media, we would dismiss a huge chunk of the British population if we adopted that approach. It was clear that we were not going to win him over to a solidarity position there and then.  What we did was to flag up where we disagreed.  We asked him to check a number of things that showed that Israel was an expansionist, racist state, that was oppressing the Palestinians.  It would have been nice if he had asked us to accept ‘facts’ that were uncomfortable to us.  He declined to do so.

This blog is intended to highlight some of the key facts that Israeli supporters don’t like but cannot hide.

  1.  Israel was born with the ethnic cleansing of 700,000 Palestinians.  The ethnic cleansing was well under way before any Arab army intervened.  See for example “Daniel Blatman, an Israeli historian and head of the Institute for Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, penned an op-ed for the Israeli daily Haaretz stating that ethnic cleansing “is exactly what happened in 1948.” To support this, “determined that most of the Arabs in the country, over 400,000, were encouraged to leave or expelled in the first stage of the war—even before the Arab nations’ armies invaded” or   The ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Illan Pappe  The UN passed a resolution stating that the Palestinian refugees should have a right of return to their homes.  This right was denied by Israel.
  2. Israel is expansionist   Disappearing-PalestineL (From PSC)             Israel won wars in 1948 and 1967. It has expanded its illegal settlements ever since.  The UN security council stated1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;’ 2334 December 2016   Israel ignored the resolution and just over a month later announced a new settlement. There are between  600,000 and 800,000 illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank.
  3. Israel has established an Apartheid state There is a definition here.   If there are separate laws, separate courts, separate areas, separate roads then there is Apartheid.  This is the ex Israeli Ambassador to South Africa Alon Liel “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,”                                                                  A UN sub committee stated that “This report concludes that Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole. Aware of the seriousness  of this allegation, the authors of the report conclude that available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and  practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in  instruments of international law”.  Desmond Tutu: ‘U.S. Christians Must Recognize Israel as Apartheid State’
  4. Israel mistreats Palestinian children.  Sarah Champion has described the abuse of Palestinian in Israeli courts here.
  5.  Israel steals Palestinian water.  Israel won the war in 1967.  Its military dominance lets it take 80% of the water that Palestinians need.  Israelis get four-fifths of scarce West Bank water, says World Bank   
  6. Blockade of Gaza “Gaza is a prison camp” Davis Cameron                     “…the policy of blockade that preceded the operations and that in the Mission’s view amounts to collective punishment intentionally inflicted by the Government of Israel on the people of the Gaza Strip.” and “U.N. Goldstone report. “ and “deeds by the Israeli armed forces and words of military and political leaders prior to and during the operations indicate that, as a whole, they were premised on a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed not at the enemy but at the “supporting infrastructure.” In practice, this appears to have meant the civilian population.” The Goldstone report.

We had hoped he would return a little less ill-informed and ready to continue the discussion.  Sadly, he did not.  I am putting this as a blog in the hope that he and other pro Israelis will read it.  I am human, I may have made a mistake.  Please point out any errors.  If you read it and find no errors, surely you should join us and demand justice for the Palestinians.

Dr Summerfield’s talk on Israeli Torture

Dr Paul Keleman

The campaign against medical complicity with Israel’s torture of Palestinians is ‘the best thing I have done in my career’, a senior academic psychiatrist told his audience in Sheffield at a meeting organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

 

Dr.Derek Summerfield has led a campaign to hold to account the medical professions’ cynical disregard of its most sacred ethic, ‘First do no harm’. He has helped to expose that members of the Israeli medical profession have been participating for decades in assisting and covering up the torture of Palestinian prisoners and, still worse, that the organisations which are meant to oversee that the medical profession upholds its professed ethical conduct and international humanitarian law, have turned a blind eye.

In 2016, 71 UK-based doctors made a fresh appeal to the UN’s World Medical Association (WMA) to act. This time, The submission pointed to the 2011 Physicians for Human Rights-Israel report, Doctoring the Evidence, Abandoning the Victim: the Involvement  of the Medical Professionals in Torture and Ill treatment in Israel.  The report detailed the work of Israeli doctors in security units where torture of detainees was routine.

 

The WMA did not respond.  The British Medical Association’s leadership has responded by exonerating the Israeli Medical Association for failure to act over its members participation in torture. ‘Unfortunately,’ Derek notes,  ‘as the case with Israel illustrates, the WMA seems unwilling to act against those with powerful friends like the US. It is far less hesitant in raising concerns with other less powerful countries like Iran or Bahrain, to name but two.’

See Derek Summerfield’s article on the battle against the medical establishment’s collusion in the torture of Palestinian prisoners:

 

We call for an end to oppression we get Emily Thornbury’s insult

I sent this in to the Guardian letters as a response to Emily Thornbury.

 

Emily Thornbury in Thursday’s guardian called those of us who call for Boycott, Sanctions and disinvestment against Israel as supporting bigotry.  When a politician is reduced to name calling her opponents rather than seriously discussing the issues, it belittles her and raises questions about the weakness of the case she is trying to put.

It is not an individual Israeli Government that we oppose.  It is only those Governments which illegally confiscate Palestinian land, ignore UN resolutions and support ethnic cleansing, and the establishment of an Apartheid regime in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.  (We could also add making Gaza into a huge prison camp, stealing Palestinian water and build weapons of mass destruction).  That would seem to be every Israeli Government for at least the last fifty years.

For international comparisons Iraq was invaded for having stolen land from Kuwait.  Sanctions were imposed on Iraq because it was accused (falsely) of building weapons of mass destruction.  It was then invaded on the same false accusation.

Sanctions were placed on Russia because it was seen to be stealing Ukrainian land (the Crimea and Donetsk area).   (The wishes of the locals have apparently no bearing on the issue.)

‘Tough even brutal’ sanctions were placed on Iran because it was thought to be developing nuclear weapons.

Israel has developed nuclear weapons.  It has also stolen land.  It has constantly defied the UN.  Like South Africa is has established an Apartheid state (in East Jerusalem and the West Bank).

We do not advocate hatred.  We do not advocate boycott of individual Israeli academics.  We are simply responding to a call from hundreds of Palestinian organisations who ask us to help them get basic justice and an end to Israeli racism.

They asked us to do something non violent to help them get basic human rights.  They asked us to boycott Israeli goods, disinvest in Israel, and impose sanctions.

When we respond to the call by a deeply oppressed people, we expect abuse from the Tories (who supported South African Apartheid).  To be accused of bigotry by a senior member of the Labour Party is a poor reflection on that party.

Why demonstrate

Why protests are a good idea
Trump has recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Gone is the façade of even handedness. This year is the fifty-year anniversary of the 1967 war. The pattern of Israeli land theft and expansion and lack of action by world leaders to prevent it is clear to all who would look. Trump’s action is different. He is rewarding Israel’s land thefts and its creation of a new Apartheid in occupied Palestine. There is not even the fig leaf of impartiality. So we protested.
We do not expect Trump to learn of the protests across the world and finally find a moral compass. We do not expect Theresa May to retract her statement that Israel “is a beacon of tolerance” and overthrow decades of UK Governments accepting Israeli racism and oppression of Palestinians (although that would be nice). No, demonstrations serve a different purpose.
In the runup to the demonstration we mobilised. Put adverts on social media and in the press (where possible). Our supporters will have spoken about it to a network of relatives, friends, neighbours and workmates.
On the day of the demonstration we gave out hundreds of leaflets explaining why Israel is creating Palestinian ghettoes in their own homeland and what we need to do about it.
It reinforced the idea that Israel is an Apartheid state and that we have a largish number of people prepared to put time and effort seeking justice for Palestinians and a great many more who could not come to the protest at such short notice but stand with us. All these people who were there on Saturday, or who wished they were there will, be encouraged to talk to their friends, neighbours and workmates about the issue.
Of those hundreds, perhaps someone will have a birthday and rather than asking for presents ask for donations to our children’s projects. Perhaps a few people at one of the hospitals will get together to twin with a hospital in Gaza. Perhaps a few people will get together to help with fund raising for our wellbeing (trauma) centre in Gaza. Perhaps a few people will start organising to oppose Trump’s visit in February. Perhaps a few more people will join our monthly protest actions outside shops and banks that profit from Israeli Apartheid. The idea that we should boycott Israeli products will grow. Investors and fund managers will find it easier to argue for disinvesting in Israel. The political argument that sanctions need to be applied to Israel for its illegal practices will also grow.
There is a huge amount that needs doing. Every bit that we do will convince others. The facts are clear Israel is a settler colonial state. It is takes Palestinian land because it is powerful enough to do so. It will continue stealing Palestinian water because, supported by the Western powers, it is powerful enough to do so It will continue on its path until it meets resistance. We believe that the best form of resistance is boycott, disinvestment and sanctions. If each of us does a little, we can build a movement that puts pressure on Israel and forces our leaders to act or be replaced.
Today very few people will publicly defend South African Apartheid. Not even the Tories who for decades supported the white minority regime. An international movement was built that helped end Apartheid in South Africa.
We are building a movement that can help end Israeli Apartheid. Every little bit of solidarity that each of us can weave into our everyday lives helps bring forward the day when we have justice for the Palestinians.

Anti Semitism Part two

This is the second blog addressing a new report on anti-Semitism brought out by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research

Two questions arise from the report that need a serious answer.  The first is that ‘all political groups located on the left, are no more anti-Semitic than the general population.’   Given that antiracism is a fundamental principle for us on the left, this is concerning.   We should be better.  The second is the following ‘we find that the existence of an association between the anti-Semitic and the anti-Israel attitudes tested, is unambiguous.’

This is a puzzling result.  Traditionally, those of us who are strongly for justice for the Palestinians want Jews to live fulfilled lives in the UK, USA or France.  We do not want them to emigrate to Israel to oppress the Palestinians, so why does this report not reflect that? There are a number of possible explanations for this result.

The questionnaire

I have asked for the actual questionnaire but so far without success.  (The organisers feel it is of commercial value.)  There are a couple of problems.  I cannot understand why there is no question about the illegal Israeli settlements, though this is likely to be a major ground for hostility to Israel.

The second set of problems is to do with the IJPR survey’s methodology.  The survey has a string of questions about attitudes to Israel interspersed with attitudes to Jews.  If the responder is still thinking of their answer to Israel is deliberately trying to wipe out the Palestinian population (23% agreement), Israel is committing mass murder in Palestine (24%), Israel is an apartheid state (21%) they may answer ‘yes’ to the question ‘Jews think they are better than other people’ (13%) because they are thinking within the context of Israel.  The answer is still anti-Semitic but the confusion is made easy. This factor could have been reduced by having separate sections, one about attitudes to Israel and another about attitudes to Jews.

A wider source of conflating anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism comes from the definitions used. Britain has adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.   The definition is not a legal document (and hence is useless for many situations).  Worse, because the definition is fuzzy it needed a set of guidelines.   For a legal opinion see here .  These guidelines can brand people who want justice for the Palestinians as anti-Semitic. (According to one guideline claiming ‘State of Israel is a racist endeavour’ is an example of anti-Semitism.)

Another guideline says ‘Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel’ is anti-Semitic.  I agree.

Israeli spokespeople could help clarify the situation. They could issue the true statement

‘The Israeli Government killed 10 people trying to get aid to Gaza, built an illegal wall, stole Palestinian land, and has established an Apartheid state.   We wish to make it clear that Jews in Britain, France, the USA etc. took no part in planning or carrying out these activities and should in no way be held responsible.  The planners and the people who did these things were Zionists please blame us.

Signed Israel

They could update it every time they carry out an atrocity.

Instead they repeat ad nausea, that the state of Israel is the home of all Jews (irrespective of the ideas of the Jews themselves).  The crimes listed above were done in the name of the ‘Jewish state’.  If a Jew has the temerity to say that Israel is a racist state and they want nothing to do with it, they are roundly condemned by the likes of Mark Regev (Israeli ambassador) as anti-Semitic or a self-hating Jew. The claim that Israel is the home of the Jews is then repeated followed by another atrocity.

This was on the PSC called protest against Balfour.

blogpic

We in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign have a huge interest in combatting anti-Semitism.  Racism of any sort undermines the democratic and socialist ideas on which a progressive political movement has to be based.   We want Jews to be part of that and to live happy and fulfilled where they are, and not emigrate to Israel.  We are constantly abused by people who want mass Jewish emigration, and have an interest in misstating our position.

They want to drown out criticism of Israel in a sea of slanders alleging anti-Semitism.  We want to oppose racism here and in Israel-Palestine.

Anti Zionism is not Anti-Semitism

There is a new report on anti-Semitism brought out by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research. Given the mass of confusion and misconceptions, I think it deserves serious study.  It reports a snapshot of views at a specific time.   We need more work to understand the underlying dynamics however two conclusions drawn by the author need highlighting.

The first conclusion of the report

Indeed, in both diagrams we see that most of those holding the anti-Israel attitudes tested (whether measured at a level of one or more, or six or more) do not hold any anti-Semitic attitudes.

This is important.  There is an oft repeated view that says anti Israel and anti Semitism are the same thing.  This view is simply wrong.   People do distinguish between disliking Israel and holding anti-Semitic views.  The idea that people start from prejudice against Jews then move on to hostility to Israel is also wrong. (If that was the trajectory those disliking Jews would be a bigger group than those disliking Israel.)

Second conclusion

The left is not more hostile to Jews than the general public.

levels of anti-Semitism in Great Britain are among the lowest in the world. British Jews constitute a religious and ethnic group that is seen overwhelmingly positively by an absolute majority of the British population: about 70% of the population of Great Britain have a favourable opinion of Jews and do not entertain any anti-Semitic ideas or views at all.

The very left-wing, and, in fact, all political groups located on the left, are no more anti-Semitic than the general population.

Why is there such a huge gap in the reality and the media coverage?

Israel’s new ambassador to the United Kingdom on Sunday said parts of Britain’s left are ‘in denial’ about the ‘disease’ of anti-Semitism.

Sir Eric Pickles, chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel, said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn must shoulder some blame for failing to challenge antisemitism in his party.

Joan Ryan MP is a spokesperson for Labour Friends of Israel.  She is opposed to Corbyn.  She wrote an article headed Anti-Semitism cannot go unchallenged.

I agree with Avi Shlaim

Israeli propagandists deliberately, yes deliberately, conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism in order to discredit, bully, and muzzle critics of Israel; in order to suppress free speech; and in order to divert attention from the real issues: Israeli colonialism, Israel’s apartheid, its systematic violation of the human rights of Palestinians, and its denial of their right to independence and statehood.

I would add that the right wing in the Labour Party are using the issue as a stick to hit Corbyn.

Given that ‘The very left-wing, and, in fact, all political groups located on the left, are no more anti-Semitic than the general population’ it would appear that the attacks on the left for anti-Semitism are disproportionate and a deliberate slur to attack the Labour Party and Corbyn and the Palestine solidarity movement.  This filthy slur of anti-Semitism does three other things.

  1. It hides the fact that Islamophobia is a bigger problem.  While debates and expulsions over accusations of anti Semitism dominate debate the bigger problem of Islamophobia in the Labour Party and society is not addressed enough.  The report shows that the general public shows unfavourable attitudes to Muslims at nearly three times the level of hostility to Jews. (15.4 against 5.4).  There are countless examples that illustrate this.  Labour MP, Sarah Champion wrote an article in the Sun “Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls.”  Why highlight white girls?  Asian girls were raped too.  Why highlight Asian men?   The majority of rapes on young girls are carried out by white men. Trevor Kavanagh from the Sun can write about the ‘Moslem problem’ with its horrible echoes of the 1930s.
  2. It spreads fear within the Jewish community.   According to the report ‘levels of anti-Semitism in Great Britain are among the lowest in the world’.   However about 30%  hold at least one anti-Semitic view.  (The majority of these will also hold positive attitudes to Jews.  The hardened Jew haters are about 3 %).  This means that Jews will experience anti Semitic views and ideas.  They will hear many more anti-Israel views than anti Semitic ones.  ‘56% of the general population hold at least one anti-Israel attitude’.  Each time Israel steals more land, kills more people, introduces a new racist law, or reinforces the apartheid regime in the west bank, more people will become anti-Israel.  Any confusion between Anti-Israel attitudes and anti-Semitism will unnecessarily raise the fears of British Jews.  Israel wants mass emigration of European Jews to Israel.   Sadly the campaign by the Israeli Embassy, the Friends of Israel appear to have done this. ‘One in three British ‘Jews thinking about leaving UK’ as anti-Semitism soars leaving one in six feeling unwelcome.’ 
  3. It possibly allows anti Semitic ideas to be ignored. Jackie Walker was expelled from the Labour Party because she has been alleged to be anti-Semitic.  (She is married to a Jew and the daughter of a Jew and a consistent campaigner against racism.)  Does anyone believe that she is anti-Semitic or wants to spread hostility to Jews?  Moshe Machover was also expelled from the Labour Party (since reinstated) for ‘an apparently anti-Semitic article.  He is an Israeli Jew who has consistently fought Zionism and racism.  Their real crime was effective campaigning against Israel.  Some people on the left feel that all charges of anti-Semitism are malicious inventions of the pro Zionist right.  This cannot be the case. ‘all political groups located on the left, are no more anti-Semitic than the general population’  Given that those of us on the left pride ourselves on anti-racism we should be doing far better than the general public. We need to understand why this is not the case. I will address this in the next blog.

We can draw 3 conclusions

  1. Being Anti Israel is not the same as anti Semitic
  2. The left does not have an anti Semitism problem (but it perhaps could do better)
  3. Pro Israel propagandists use the anti Semitism charge to shut down criticism of Israeli Apartheid practices.

 

BDS and our critics

How do we persuade people to support BDS?  We point out the ethnic cleansing of 700,000 Palestinians in 1948.  We point out the systematic theft of Palestinian land in 1967 to today with a further 25,000 new illegal dwellings in occupied East Jerusalem, announced in June.  We point out the theft of water in the West Bank and possibly the most serious is the establishment of an Apartheid state in the West Bank.  Finally we point out that the people who are oppressed by Israel, the Palestinians, via their organisations have asked us to do something non-violent to enable them to get basic human rights.

We rightly expect scrutiny of what we claim.  The most controversial is that Israel has established an apartheid state.  Are there separate roads for Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank?  Are there separate schools? Are there separate law enforcement systems for Palestinians and Israelis?  Are there separate residential areas?  As a matter of observable fact the answers to all these are yes.  These are sufficient for the system to be designated Apartheid.  Many of us opposed the South African Apartheid, as racist and oppressive, and see the same with Israeli Apartheid.

We meet opposition.  Douglas Murray is associate Director of the Henry Jackson Society. (Last Wednesday, 5th July, the BBC Today program called it a “highly respected” think tank, I beg to differ.)  The objectors raise three strategies.  The first is insult/slander.

“There are a lot of Nazi caparisons being thrown around these days. Where might they be most accurately directed? Toward the State of Israel? Or against the growing number of people who believe that it is permissible to boycott any herb, any product or indeed any tune if it comes from the hand or the heart of a Jew?”

I know of no individual or organisation that proposes a boycott of Jewish products.  The nasty piece of misinformation slanders us, and if taken seriously, spreads fear within the Jewish community.  It is pollution in the arena of public debate.

Secondly there is “Israel is wonderful” approach.  This is Douglas Murray again.  “How can a man as brilliant as Hawking boycott Israel when it makes the microchip that enables him to talk?”  This is called a non sequitur.  Israel has created some wonderful products therefore it can create an Apartheid state, really?

Finally there is the “other places are worse” here and here.

Can a burglar say let me go because there is a murderer free?   Or can a murderer say “Ah but I only killed one person.  Why pick on me when Assad/Bush/ Blair killed tens or even hundreds of thousands?” Of course not.

Douglas Murray believes the solution is a Palestinian state beside Israel with only some of the illegal settlements being removed.  Why on earth would Israel accept even this miserable compromise?  It is taking chunks of Palestinian land because it has the military power to do so.  It is robing Palestine of its natural capital, Jerusalem, by systematic building of Israeli estates because it has the power to do so.  It ignores the ICJ ruling on the illegality of the Apartheid wall because it has the power to do so.  Israel can do these things while ever it has Western Governmental support and cheerleaders like Douglas Murray.  He makes me think of a man on the flying Scotsman who professes to want to go to London, while heaping coal into the boiler of the Edinburgh bound train.

Israel has created an Apartheid state.  It robs Palestinians of land, water and freedom of movement.  Israeli Apartheid is not the only bad thing in the world.  But it is one that anti-racists, anti-Apartheid activists, and people who want dignity for everyone should campaign against.  Join us.