Category Archives: Dicks blog

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

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.

Gaza journalists seek a voice

By Musheir El Farra and Dick Pitt

When the Israelis stop mass killings in Gaza, the media turns its unblinking eyes away.  Life goes on in, what David Cameron called, a huge prison.  Why do we not hear about life in Gaza? What is their daily life like?  What are the day to day discussions?  What are the shortages? How is people’s mental health? What are the political discussions?

On Friday 14th June, a group of  local journalists from Sheffield were in a video discussion with journalists from Gaza. 

The Gaza journalists had got together and approached Palestine Solidarity Campaign Chairman Musheir El Farra about how they can contact British journalists to talk to them about their work in blockaded Gaza.  Over a period of two hours we got to hear bits of the story that they want the world to know.

The journalists pointed out that they were non-combatants.  They were there to report the facts.  The demonstrations, ‘The right of Return’ was not an invasion, not organised by any faction.  They were the march of a people who wished to return home from forced exile.  

The Journalists’ tools are cameras not guns.  They need to write and become witnesses for a voiceless people.  They need to be able to show their photographs in exhibitions and tell their stories free from harassment arrest, wounding or killing.  Journalists wear very distinctive, easily identifiable gear.  Yet 200 journalists had been injured by various projectiles, tear gas canisters, and bullets since the start of the protests, March 2018.  The journalists were clear that they felt Israel has targeted Journalists.  It was also pointed out that Israel is holding 40 journalists in prisons. 

A representative present from Human Rights organisation explained the frustration of getting no results to their hundreds of complaints to the Israeli authorities regarding attacks on Palestinian journalists. 

There is also repression by the Hamas authorities.  One journalist described how she obtained a story on corruption in the obtaining exit permits for medical treatment.  The result was that she was arrested, and four separate charges were filed against her, including one of impersonation (she had worn a face veil to avoid recognition).   The case against her collapsed.  Reports of demonstrations against Hamas were repressed. 

One Palestinian journalist described how he built up a following of 35,000 people and 5000 friends.  His website was cyber attacked by the Israelis leaving him to restart the hard grind of building it up again from nothing.  In total, 100 Facebook accounts for journalists in the Gaza Strip were cyber attacked by Israel in an identical way.

Some of the journalists present explained how they received threatening phone calls and text messages from unknown numbers to try to intimidate them to stop covering attacks by the Israeli army against civilians.

They pointed out that they needed to get to journalist conferences to share knowledge and experiences.  To do their work properly that have to have freedom of movement.  

They needed to challenge the bias of programs like the BBC A day in Gaza.  At present they are not able to.

Everyone agreed that further such conference calls would be very useful.  

One journalist explained the frustration of being in his thirties and being unemployed as a result of the Israeli blockade.  However, this doesn’t stop journalists from rushing to places were Israeli attacks are happening. 

The Palestinian journalists present; asked the British journalists to work on a plan to create a mechanism by which they, the British journalists,  become their voice among the British people. The British journalists promised to do their best to try to pass the message to as many journalists as possible within the NUJ.

 It was agreed that this meeting was the start of cooperation between journalists in Palestine and Britain.   Campaigning work should start to organise a tour in Britain to repeat similar meeting format with audience from the media and the public.  

It was also agreed that Sheffield PSC and the South Yorkshire branch of NUJ will try their best to help with supporting small projects like short videos made by the Palestinian journalists to counter bias Western media reporting such as the BBC programme “A day in Gaza “ and others.

BDS and Justice for the Palestinians

I signed up for Future Learn.   They run a huge collection of on-line courses on a vast section of subjects from different Universities.  I thoroughly recommend them. 

I believe that people learn from people they disagree with.  (On the grounds that it if two people agree, there will not be much learning going on.)

I signed up to an on-line course on Anti-Semitism at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Centre.  I believe that the holocaust was an incredibly evil act.  The process by which an advanced first world country can be organised for the industrial slaughter of six million Jews should never be forgotten and never be repeated.  (The process is, I believe, at the start of being repeated today, with a new target, Muslims.)

However, the course is irredeemably Zionist.  That is, the course ceased to be educational and flipped over to propaganda.  I only want to talk about one example. 

Here is a video on Boycott Sanctions and Disinvestment, BDS.  The description promises us –  What is the BDS movement, what are its goals and what characterizes its activity?

We are given bland material about Boycotts and South Africa, and that choosing a Spanish orange rather than an Israeli one is not anti-Semitic.  We are told that the aims of BDS are deliberately kept vague, in order to bring in a wide variety of people.  This is not true. Then we are told that behind the nonviolent campaign of BDS is a global invitation to mass violence.  No individual, or organisation is quoted as supporting any violence let alone mass violence.

The key questions are “who called for BDS?” and “What are their demands?”  The presenters both have PhDs.  It took me about 5 seconds to look up BDS on Google and find the answers.  So why would academics with honed research skills not look it up?  I cannot believe that they do not know.  That is when they moved from objective academics to pro-Israel propagandists.  So what do they want to hide?

  1. The BDS movement was launched by 170 Palestinian unions, political parties, refugee networks, women’s organisations, professional associations, popular resistance committees and other Palestinian civil society bodies in 2005.
  2. There are three demands

A             Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall

B             Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality

C             Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194

The demand comes from a people who have lived under Israeli oppression for 71 years.   Palestinians do not like the occupation, the Apartheid Laws, the kidnappings, the daily humiliations let alone water and land thefts.

These academic spokespeople for the oppressor refuse to even accept that the oppressed have made demands.  They refuse to discuss those demands.

It is much easier for them to attack people who answer the call for solidarity with the smear of anti-Semitism than discuss why Palestinians are oppressed and how we can end it.  It is clear to me that we need to build BDS till Israel starts to listen. <

Stop the Jewish National Fund

Stop the Jewish National Fund (JNF) – campaign update 2019 

Background: 

In the Nakba of 1948, the wanton destruction of over 500 villages, seizure of land and property, not to mention massacres of inhabitants, were all war crimes committed to establish the new state of Israel.  The JNF was, and still is, a direct beneficiary of these crimes, having received much of the land it now “owns” as a by-product of the ethnic cleansing. Indeed, the JNF has been described as “the principal tool for the Zionist colonization of Palestine.” (Ilan Pappe) The historic complicity of the JNF in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine during the Nakba has not ended – the JNF remains actively involved in the ongoing forced displacement of Palestinians from their land. 

The JNF tries to give a veneer of legitimacy to stolen land. It has planted forests, created parkland and claims to be working to enhance the environment. One such venture is the park named British Park, funded by the JNF UK. This park has been created over the ruins of three Palestinian villages, ethnically cleansed in 1948. The park  

Campaign to de-register the JNF UK: 

As registered British charity, the JNF UK receives all the associated financial and reputational benefits of this status and it is this privileged position which the campaign challenges. The campaign to persuade the Charity Commission to withdraw the charitable status of the JNF UK began in 2013 and a new appeal was lodged in 2018. 

This appeal highlights the case of a Palestinian family whose land in Ajjur was taken from them by force in 1948 and lies beneath British Park. A young Palestinian member of the family has produced a strong case, evidenced with title deeds and tax receipts related to the family land. Her family lands are open as a leisure facility for Israelis, but inaccessible to their rightful owners. Her case was supplemented by statements and evidence from UK supporters. The submission to the Charity Commission shows the unsuitability of the JNF UK to hold charitable status. 

Despite all this the Charity Commission has rejected the case. 

Tribunal appeal: 

On appeal, the case has been granted an oral hearing by the First Tier Tribunal (Charity). This takes place in Manchester on April 2nd 2019. We see this as a step forward in advancing the argument against the JNF. 

Speaking Tour: 

After the Tribunal, there will be a speaking tour, featuring the Palestinian applicant, lasting 2 weeks. Dates and venues are being arranged. It is possible that a second such tour will be staged later in the year as the campaign unfolds. (Tour being arranged by Manchester and Sheffield PSC

For further information re tour: enquiries.sheffieldpsc@gmail.com 

Stop the JNF website:  http://www.stopthejnf.org/ 

2103 complaint to the Charity Comission: http://www.stopthejnf.org/media-release-human-rights-campaigners-charity-commission-failing-to-follow-own-guidelines-to-end-abuse-of-charity-status/ 

Stop the JNF ebook, Volume 1: http://www.stopthejnf.org/documents/JNFeBookVol1ed2x.pdf 

Stop the JNF ebook Volume 2: http://www.stopthejnf.org/documents/JNFeBookVol2.pdf 

Stop the JNF ebook Volume 3: http://stopthejnf.org/documents/JNFeBookVol3.pdf 

Stop the JNF ebook Volume 4: http://www.ijan.org/projects-campaigns/stopthejnf/e-book-v-4/ 

BBC – Bias

This is a headline that was in the I News

‘BBC to tackle fake news in new project The BBC is launching a new project called Beyond Fake News‘.

The arrogance of the BBC is staggering.  As that story broke the BBC reported 

‘More than 460 rockets have been fired into Israel by militants since Monday night, while Israeli aircraft have hit 160 militant targets in response.

Seven Palestinians, several of them militants, died in the strikes on Gaza, while a Palestinian civilian was killed in a rocket attack in southern Israel.’

If you read the full story you can sort out cause and effect.  Israel sent in an under cover special forces unit into Gaza.  They were discovered.  There was a flare up with Hamas soldiers.  Israel used air power and tanks in order to extract their soldiers.  Seven Palestinians and one Israeli infiltrator were killed.  Hamas fired rockets into Israel in response to the killings.  Israel responded to the rockets by demolishing a number of buildings which it claims were Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The BBC appears incapable of saying that Israel initiated the violence and Hamas retaliated.  The BBC states that Palestinians die as a result of Israeli attacks but Hamas rockets kill one person (a Palestinian from the occupied West Bank).

The BBC repeats that Hamas does not recognise Israel’s right to exist, but never states that Israel’s occupation and settlements have made a Palestinian state impossible.

BBC please note:-

The Israeli occupied territories are illegally occupied.

Israel is the aggressor, stealing land and water and it is establishing an Apartheid regime.

An Israeli armed attack is not an ‘incursion’.

Israel refuses to recognise Palestinian borders or rights.

Boycott Divestment and Sanctions of Israel was asked for by Palestinian civil society.

Israel kills Palestinians,  they did not die in an attack.

BBC misreporting was specifically pointed out in a report called ‘Labour, Antisemitism and the News- A disinformation paradigm’.

While the BBC has refuses to adopt honest reporting on the oppression of the Palestinians, we should take their offer to help us identify fake news with a kilo sized packet of salt.  Both the salt and BBC reports on Palestine are indigestible.

Labour NEC bends under pressure

The massive pressure by right wing Labour, Zionists, and the right wing media has paid off.  The Labour NEC has adopted the IRHA definition and its examples.  Previous blogs have explained why we in PSC do not like some of the examples given.

The right wing succeeded in framing the debate.  The key issues were about Israel.  The NEC had previously accepted the IHRA definition of anti Semitism but not adopted four clauses about Israel. 

Imagine if all the headlines over the summer had been “Labour split on the issue of Israel” “Labour NEC split on whether Israel is an Apartheid state”.  What would have followed would hopefully have been a rational debate on the policies of the Israeli Government (which evidence shows to be racist) and what is the way forward.

Instead we had an appalling string of headlines attacking Corbyn and the Labour left as an anti-Semite.

“The NEC has today adopted all of the IHRA examples of antisemitism, in addition to the IHRA definition which Labour adopted in 2016, alongside a statement which ensures this will not in any way undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of Palestinians.”

We in the PSC feared that the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism was an attempt to silence criticism of Israel.  This is shown by the reaction to the NEC addition.

‘Labour Against Anti-Semitism said the move “appears to be about protecting the freedom of racists to present vile views”.  A spokesman said: “There can be no caveats, no conditions and no compromises with racism.  “We are disappointed by the decision of Labour’s governing body, the NEC, to diminish the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism via the attachment of a ‘clarification’ that risks giving racists in the party a get out of jail card.”

Simon Johnson, the JLC’s chief executive, said in a second statement that Corbyn had “attempted shamefully to undermine the entire IHRA definition”, adding that the free speech caveat “drives a coach and horses” through that definition.’

 ‘Labour Friends of Israel director Jennifer Gerber called the NEC’s decision “appalling” and claimed the “freedom of expression” clause “totally undermines the other examples the party has supposedly just adopted”.’

‘Dame Margaret Hodge, who is herself Jewish, said: “He should have simply adopted the full international definitions with absolutely no ifs and buts… “He’s sullied it. I’m saddened that it was sullied by this attempt that there is a get-out clause – the sullying that he was reluctant to go forward.”  She had described the NEC’s decision as: “Two steps forward and one step back.”

So the right to defend Palestinians and attack Israel is ‘a step back’ according to Hodge and ‘appalling’ according to Gerber.

While the media has a frenzied attack on Corbyn the ‘Israeli government announced a further enlargement of its massive colonial project in the occupied West Bank. Plans were now advanced, it said on Wednesday, for a further 1,000 “homes” in Jewish “settlements” – still the word we must use for such acts of land theft’

Last week is was announced that ‘Trump cuts more than $200 million in U.S. aid to Palestinians’

This is part of an attempt to remove refugee status for the Palestinians.

 

The blockade of Gaza goes on.  The prevention of free movement to Palestine goes on.  The oppression goes on.

The fact is that Israel is built to privilege people of Jewish ethnicity over that of the Palestinians.  Its racist policies flow from defending and perpetuating that structure.  It steals Palestinian lands and water.  In the west Bank it has established an apartheid state.  These are unpalatable facts to the right wing Labour, the media, and to the Zionists.  The statements are not anti Semitic.  Only a minority of Jews and some right wingers, support expansionist Israel and its establishment of Apartheid.  We need to shift the debate from a flawed definition of anti Semitism, to what is happening in Palestine.

 

It’s about justice for the Palestinians

Margaret Hodge has launched an attack on Jeremy Corbyn.  Corbyn’s key crime according to her is the NEC’s decision not to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism ‘in full’.  This accusation is repeated by many other right wing and Zionist commentators.

The central problem for them is that the NEC has adopted the full definition.  It is

‘Antisemitism 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.’

What the NEC of the Labour Party did not do was to accept the guidelines which are pro Zionist.  Anthony Lerhman writes eloquently on the issue.  In a blog he shows that the roots of the IHRA clauses were the activities of pro-Israel lobby group.   The media seem reluctant to mention the 36 Jewish Groups that back Labour’s NEC.

Meanwhile in Palestine /Israel a number of events have occurred this week.   This was from the BBC on the 15th July.

‘Israel has carried out its biggest attack against Hamas militant targets in Gaza since the war in 2014, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says.’

On July 20th there was a headlineIsraeli soldier killed by gunmen, retaliatory airstrikes kill 4 Palestinians[vii]

Yesterday, 23rd July, a 15 year old Palestinian boy in the West Bank was killed by Israeli troops.

These events come after Israeli snipers killed about 140 unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza.

A week ago there was a demonstration against the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar.  It is a Palestinian village just outside Jerusalem.  The Israeli authorities plan an illegal settlement.  This threatens to link Jerusalem with the illegal settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.  This is a further step in cutting Palestine in half and making a Palestinian state impossible.

On Thursday 19th July the Guardian had a headline ‘EU leads criticism after Israel passes Jewish ‘nation state’ law’This law enshrines the idea that Israel is the nation state of the Jews and ends the status of Arabic as an official language.   One Arab-Israeli politician, Ayman Odeh, denounced it as “the death of our democracy” and added “[The Knesset] has passed a law of Jewish supremacy and told us that we will always be second-class citizens.”

There are 65 other laws that entrench the oppression of the Palestinians within Israel.

Overall Israel is stealing land, oppressing the Palestinians, killing them when they dare to protest, killing them when they fight back and making a two-state solution impossible.

A very powerful lobby of right wingers, Zionists and a right-wing media want to stifle attacks on Israel under a slur of anti-Semitism.  They are doing a huge disservice to the cause of justice for the Palestinians and also obscuring real anti-Semitism.

 

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.