Category Archives: Dicks blog

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.

Claim that it is illegal to criticise Israeli illegal practices

 

A pro Israel Law lecturer, Lesley Klaff, has entered a legal opinion about Israel and the criticism of it.  

It is not about the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, which  I believe is a crime against humanity.  Nor about Israel’s defiance of UN resolution 194 which allows for Palestinian refugees to return home.  Nor about the illegal annexation by Israel of East Jerusalem after the six day war in 1967.  It is not about the Apartheid wall, (separation wall) which in the opinion of the International Court of Justice is contrary to international law.  Nor about Israel’s Settlements, which “have No Legal Validity, Constitute Flagrant Violation of International Law” according to the  Security Council of the UN.  No it is not Israel’s illegal practices she objects to it is opposition to those practices which are illegal according to her.

She writes “Israeli Apartheid Week in Britain – Why Student Unions are acting illegally

Her core complaint is this.

firstpic

Yes, a defender of Israel wants to set the limits as to what is legitimate criticism of Israel.  

My understanding is that for a charge of defamation to stick it must be untrue.

Is Israel Racist?  Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed in 1948 are not allowed to return to their homeland.  Jews who have never been to Israel or Palestine have the right to settle there  (The Law of Return 5710-1950).  Is that racist discrimination?  It looks like it to me.  Adalah has listed 50 laws that it claims are discriminatory. Ehud Barak said in 2000 “Maintaining our sovereignty over Jerusalem and boosting its Jewish majority have been our chief aims, and toward this end Israel constructed large Jewish neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city, which house 180,000 residents, and large settlements on the periphery of Jerusalem, like the city of Ma’ale Adumim and Giv’at Ze’ev. The principle that guided me in the negotiations at Camp David was to preserve the unity of Jerusalem and to strengthen its Jewish majority for generations to come.”[

Ensuring that there is a big majority of Jews in Jerusalem is racist. 

There are Palestinian villages that are destroyed to make way for Jewish settlements.

There are plans to move 30,000 Bedouin from their homes in the Negev/ Naqab.  A UN report calls these policies racist. (Some U.N. officials have distanced themselves from the report)

‘According to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Law for the Regulation of the Bedouin Settlement in the Negev is discriminatory and would legalize racist practices’.  I agree.

In the West Bank there are areas that are forbidden to Palestinians, there are roads that are forbidden, there are separate courts for Israelis and Palestinians.  That looks as though it satisfies the definition of Apartheid.

Even an Israeli ex Ambassador Alon Liel said the

 Joint Israel-West Bank’ reality is an apartheid state”.

Desmond Tutu wrote

 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”

“This report concludes that Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole… 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..” unescwa   

So let us suppose that there is a meeting that decries the policies of Israel as racist and a form of Apartheid.  Ms Klaff states pic2

Attacks on the Government of Israel, its policies and actions are not attacks on Jews, as the many Jewish anti Zionist, pro Palestinian organisations show.  I am not surprised that pro-Israel students have negative feelings during Anti Apartheid week.  Their vision of Israel is being contradicted by well documented reality.  We believe that the more people who look at what is being done to the Palestinians the more they will agree that it is racist and a form of Apartheid.  Only respectful political debate and discussion can create a future for the peoples of the region.  The starting point for the discussion has to be the systematic oppression of the Palestinians.

There was another attempt to use the law to stem political debate.  In 2012 Mr R Fraser accused the Lecturers union U.C.U. of harassment and institutional Anti Semitism.  It centred on a whole number of resolutions that the union had passed that criticised Israel and encouraged BDS. 

One key sentence sums up the tribunals findings.

“Lessons should be learned from this sorry saga.  We greatly regret that the case was ever brought. At heart, it represents an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means. It would be very unfortunate if an exercise of this sort were ever repeated”

Ms Klaff is repeating the same tactic with this document.  The central issue is whether Israel is imposing an Apartheid state or not.  We believe there is ample evidence that it is.  It is a shame that Ms Klaff put no effort at all into refuting this.  Instead she hopes to silence criticism of Israel by resorting to the courts.

Mail on line – unfounded attack on ex Sheffield student.

An ex Student Education Officer at Sheffield University is under an incredible slur by the Daily Mail. In a democracy people are supposed to meet discuss clarify each other’s positions perhaps reach an agreement perhaps not.  Suppose an opponent wilfully misstates someone’s position then attacks them for it.  There are at least two possibilities.  They do not wish for a coherent discussion that they may lose or they wish for a nasty cheap headline.   This is from the Daily Mail.  blog

The full sentence was

‘If terrorism means protecting and defending my land, I am so proud to be called terrorist. What an honour for the Palestinians!’

This statement is the same structure as this one.   

“If Donald trump loves Muslims then pigs can fly.”  Only a complete idiot or someone wishing to misrepresent would conclude that the speaker believes pigs can fly.

This is one definition of terrorist

“a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”

The UN states that every nation and person has the legal right to defend their land. 

So a Palestinian ‘protecting and defending my land’ is not of itself a terrorist. 

The United Nations resolution 2334 tells us that the West Bank settlements are a “flagrant violation” of international law and have “no legal validity”.

So any Israeli soldier helping the illegal settlements in the West Bank is acting illegally. They clearly use violence.  It is aimed at civilians.  It is clearly a political aim.  It really does look like they satisfy this definition of terrorist.

A debate on the issue of ‘spot the terrorist’ would be interesting.

On the one side we could have the young woman who believes “‘Together we are stronger, together we will win. Together our world will be brighter and more inclusive for all of us regardless of our differences and where we come from. Regardless of our religions and backgrounds or ethnicity. We can still disagree and still love each other through disagreement.’ 

On the other we could have an Israeli soldier using violence to help destroy a home in the West bank.

Apparently The Daily mail on line has 200million visits a month.  For an organisation of this size to attack a young Moslem student, and use her photograph is beyond disgusting.  Reading this Daily Mail article reminded me of another.

blogRothermere_-_Hurrah_for_the_Blackshirts

 

For what it is worth I have put in a complaint to the Independent Standards Organisation under harassment, discrimination, and accuracy.

Home Affairs Report on Anti-Semitism

The Home Affairs Committee has just produced a report into Anti-Semitism There is a huge amount of confusion about the subject.  This report does not help.  National PSC has given a reply here.

I want to take up just one point.

Under conclusions and recommendations (page 50) there is this sentence  ‘The word Zionist or worse Zio as a term of abuse however has no place in civilised society.’ 

The practice of  Zionism as implemented by successive Israeli Governments includes the following

1.       Ethnic cleansing of about 700,000 Palestinians in 1948. 

2.       Systematic land theft in Jerusalem and the West Bank since 1967.

3.       Theft of water from Palestinian lands.

4.       A systematic illegal house building program for Israelis on stolen land.

5.       The blockade of Gaza, the destruction of its economy and periodic devastating attacks.

6.       A systematic system of barriers in the West Bank that make travel for Palestinians very difficult.

7.       The establishment of an Apartheid regime in the area that Israel controls.

Let me expand on the last one.  There are roads that Palestinians are not allowed to drive on.  There are areas that Palestinians are not allowed to live.  There is a separate system of law for Palestinians.

 Three fourteen year olds who came to dance in Sheffield have been arrested.  We think it is for throwing stones.  They will be charged in a military court.  In the unlikely event that an Israeli was charged for the same act, (s)he would be tried in a civilian court.

 There is a set of clauses from the UN that define what is Apartheid.   The clauses of freedom of movement alone shows Israel is imposing an Apartheid state. 

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 [of Palestinian lands]….”

 “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,” Alon Liel Ex Israeli Ambassador to South Africa

We in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign oppose all racism.  The claim of the Israeli Government that it represents all Jews, and that it acts in the interests of all Jews is manifestly untrue, deeply offensive and breeds anti-Semitism.  Jews are not responsible for Apartheid Israel.  Probably the most important figure in the establishment of Israel was the Anti-Semitic Balfour.  He introduced the Aliens Act of 1905 to prevent Jewish refugees from coming to Britain.

I regard the practice of Zionism in creating Israeli Apartheid deeply offensive.  How do I use the word in a non abusive way?

The Tory Party supported South African Apartheid till very late.

It would be very nice if it did not wait as long to oppose Israeli Apartheid.

 

 

 

Paul Kelemen Antisemitism and the left

 

Antisemitism and the left
Paul Kelemen, author of The British Left and Zionism: History of a Divorce, looks at the roots of the recent controversies in the Labour Party
May 2016

If the mainstream media is to be believed, the Labour Party is seriously afflicted with antisemitism. Although most of the remarks cited as incriminating were directed at Israel and pro-Israeli activism, and not at Jews, they have been fused into a picture of a party leader that as a supporter of the Palestinian cause is indulgent of anti-Israel sentiment, sliding into antisemitism.

For creating this perfect storm, elements in and outside the party, wanting for a range of rightwing reasons to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, latched on to a controversy initiated by pro-Israeli activists seeking to pre-empt Labour moving away from its traditional pro-Israeli stance. Several of the newspapers that have eagerly joined the hunt to root out Labour’s antisemites are unlikely champions for this cause. Not so long ago, they had been insinuating that the previous Labour leader’s Jewish origins – highlighted by such apparently telltale signs as his foreign-born Marxist father and alleged ineptness in eating a bacon sandwich – made him unsuitable material to be a British prime minister. But their newfound outrage over antisemitism has a wider agenda than undermining the current Labour leader.

The Bradford MP Naz Shah and the newly elected first Muslim president of the National Union of Students, Malia Bouattia, have been prominent among those accused of antisemitism – and this against the immediate backdrop of a London mayoral election in which the Muslim background of the Labour candidate, Sadiq Khan, was turned into a campaign issue. Notwithstanding Khan distancing himself from Corbyn and declaring fidelity to the interests of the financial sector, he has been tagged, not least by David Cameron, as someone who may be a Trojan horse for Islamic extremists. It is not without bitter irony that London’s Jewish community, which prior to the First World War was stigmatised as the hotbed of dangerous fanatics infected by such foreign ideologies as anarchism and communism, is now cheered on by the Daily Mail to lead the charge in castigating another ethnic minority as the carriers of antisemitism and other contagions.

In seeking to win Anglo-Jewry’s tacit approval for this ignominious task, leading communal organisations such as the Board of Jewish Deputies, the National Union of Jewish Students and the Zionist Federation have played up the threat of antisemitism which, as recent YouGov and Pew surveys show, is at an all-time low in the UK. The fear that really haunts them is that a future Labour government might abandon its traditional close ties with Israel, which under the Blair and Brown governments had seemed beyond challenge.

Righteous indignation

Blair’s Middle East interventions, in tamely following US policy, included giving unreserved backing to the Israeli bombings of civilians in Gaza and Lebanon. Although he distanced himself by a whisker from some of the cruder neo-conservative versions of the ‘clash of civilisation’ thesis by arguing that Islam had a moderate wing with which the West could engage, he nevertheless maintained that what fuelled Islamist movements were not political and economic grievances but intolerant values, inimical to liberal ideals and modernisation.

Failing to acknowledge that the politics of Hamas and Hezbollah was born from the debris of Israeli occupation and military aggression, he sought to placate pro-Palestinian pressure from the party’s grassroots by a rhetorical triangulation. Thus Blair repeatedly affirmed that addressing Palestinian grievances was central to resolving the conflicts and enmity in the Middle East but instead of demanding that Israel end its occupation and settlement expansion he prioritised Israeli security concerns, focusing on underpinning the occupation with the Palestinian Authority’s collaboration, thereby discrediting it in the eyes of its own people.

Years of successive British governments underwriting the status quo in the Occupied Territories have dulled the sensibility of Anglo-Jewry’s leadership to Israel’s brutal military rule and to its consequent right-wing drift and ever more racist political culture. This leadership, which launched an avalanche of righteous indignation at Shah’s flippant remark that Israel should be moved to the US to resolve the Palestine conflict, has for years watched in silence as Israeli politicians routinely advocate that Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza be ‘transferred’ to neighbouring countries.

What ‘singles out’ Israel is not the ‘original sin’ of the Palestinians’ expulsion… but that it is continuing its ethnic cleansing to this day

And Israeli threats of ‘transfer’ are not just musings on the internet. By a host of measures – some by administrative ploys such as the revoking of work permits or ID passes on all manner of pretexts, some by military muscle such as house demolition and decreeing areas to be security zones – Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the Negev, Jordan Valley and East Jerusalem are being systematically ethnically cleansed. In Israel itself, withholding from Palestinians certain state provisions, concentrating them into smaller territory or removing them altogether is the reality of deepening the Jewish character of the state, the Zionist goal to which all Israel’s main parties are committed.

Double standards?

But why single out Israel for criticism? There are, after all, other states born through the ethnic cleansing of their indigenous population. The US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and countless others, argues Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian, ‘were hardly born of immaculate conception. Those nations were forged in great bloodshed. Yet Israel alone is deemed to have its right to exist nullified by the circumstances of its birth’. Leaving aside Freedland’s use of ‘nullified’ (was South Africa ‘nullified’ with the dismantling of apartheid?), he overlooks an important difference. Each of the states he mentions has come round to subscribing to a multi-ethnic nation. What ‘singles out’ Israel is not the ‘original sin’ of the Palestinians’ expulsion, though that unleashed a dynamic that would be hard to remedy, but that it is continuing its ethnic cleansing to this day, still faithful to the logic of settler colonialisms.

The passions unleashed and mutual incomprehension of the two sides in the Israel/Palestine conflict stem from two disastrously intertwined but nonetheless relatively distinct histories. For most Jews, Israel is linked to being a persecuted minority in Europe and regards the state’s formation as at least a partial redemption for the Holocaust. For Palestinians, and others in the Arab and Muslim worlds, Israel is the product of the Western imperial aggression and colonisation.

These are two narratives deeply rooted in conflicting collective memories but unequal in relevance to informing a resolution to the conflict in the Middle East. The Zionist aspiration for self-determination in the form of a Jewish state could not be, and still cannot be, realised without relying on Western imperial power and denying the self-determination of the indigenous people. The emotional charge of left wing hostility to Israel comes not from its claim to be Jewish but from the fact that in relation to the Palestinians it is ‘white’: an extension of Western power and racial privilege.

If the West European left is to be criticised, it is for the length of time it has taken to rally in support of the Palestinians. In the post-9/11 globalised Islamophobic mobilisation in which the Israeli government claims frontline status, Palestine solidarity has become integral to the anti-racist struggle. The support for the Palestinians through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign builds on the anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles of the past.

Dr Paul Kelemen is the author of The British Left and Zionism: History of a Divorce (Manchester University Press, 2012). The son of a survivor of the Mauthausen concentration camps, he has been active in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign since 1982.

Antisemitism and the left
Paul Kelemen, author of The British Left and Zionism: History of a Divorce, looks at the roots of the recent controversies in the Labour Party
May 2016

If the mainstream media is to be believed, the Labour Party is seriously afflicted with antisemitism. Although most of the remarks cited as incriminating were directed at Israel and pro-Israeli activism, and not at Jews, they have been fused into a picture of a party leader that as a supporter of the Palestinian cause is indulgent of anti-Israel sentiment, sliding into antisemitism.

For creating this perfect storm, elements in and outside the party, wanting for a range of rightwing reasons to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, latched on to a controversy initiated by pro-Israeli activists seeking to pre-empt Labour moving away from its traditional pro-Israeli stance. Several of the newspapers that have eagerly joined the hunt to root out Labour’s antisemites are unlikely champions for this cause. Not so long ago, they had been insinuating that the previous Labour leader’s Jewish origins – highlighted by such apparently telltale signs as his foreign-born Marxist father and alleged ineptness in eating a bacon sandwich – made him unsuitable material to be a British prime minister. But their newfound outrage over antisemitism has a wider agenda than undermining the current Labour leader.

The Bradford MP Naz Shah and the newly elected first Muslim president of the National Union of Students, Malia Bouattia, have been prominent among those accused of antisemitism – and this against the immediate backdrop of a London mayoral election in which the Muslim background of the Labour candidate, Sadiq Khan, was turned into a campaign issue. Notwithstanding Khan distancing himself from Corbyn and declaring fidelity to the interests of the financial sector, he has been tagged, not least by David Cameron, as someone who may be a Trojan horse for Islamic extremists. It is not without bitter irony that London’s Jewish community, which prior to the First World War was stigmatised as the hotbed of dangerous fanatics infected by such foreign ideologies as anarchism and communism, is now cheered on by the Daily Mail to lead the charge in castigating another ethnic minority as the carriers of antisemitism and other contagions.

In seeking to win Anglo-Jewry’s tacit approval for this ignominious task, leading communal organisations such as the Board of Jewish Deputies, the National Union of Jewish Students and the Zionist Federation have played up the threat of antisemitism which, as recent YouGov and Pew surveys show, is at an all-time low in the UK. The fear that really haunts them is that a future Labour government might abandon its traditional close ties with Israel, which under the Blair and Brown governments had seemed beyond challenge.

Righteous indignation

Blair’s Middle East interventions, in tamely following US policy, included giving unreserved backing to the Israeli bombings of civilians in Gaza and Lebanon. Although he distanced himself by a whisker from some of the cruder neo-conservative versions of the ‘clash of civilisation’ thesis by arguing that Islam had a moderate wing with which the West could engage, he nevertheless maintained that what fuelled Islamist movements were not political and economic grievances but intolerant values, inimical to liberal ideals and modernisation.

Failing to acknowledge that the politics of Hamas and Hezbollah was born from the debris of Israeli occupation and military aggression, he sought to placate pro-Palestinian pressure from the party’s grassroots by a rhetorical triangulation. Thus Blair repeatedly affirmed that addressing Palestinian grievances was central to resolving the conflicts and enmity in the Middle East but instead of demanding that Israel end its occupation and settlement expansion he prioritised Israeli security concerns, focusing on underpinning the occupation with the Palestinian Authority’s collaboration, thereby discrediting it in the eyes of its own people.

Years of successive British governments underwriting the status quo in the Occupied Territories have dulled the sensibility of Anglo-Jewry’s leadership to Israel’s brutal military rule and to its consequent right-wing drift and ever more racist political culture. This leadership, which launched an avalanche of righteous indignation at Shah’s flippant remark that Israel should be moved to the US to resolve the Palestine conflict, has for years watched in silence as Israeli politicians routinely advocate that Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza be ‘transferred’ to neighbouring countries.

What ‘singles out’ Israel is not the ‘original sin’ of the Palestinians’ expulsion… but that it is continuing its ethnic cleansing to this day

And Israeli threats of ‘transfer’ are not just musings on the internet. By a host of measures – some by administrative ploys such as the revoking of work permits or ID passes on all manner of pretexts, some by military muscle such as house demolition and decreeing areas to be security zones – Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the Negev, Jordan Valley and East Jerusalem are being systematically ethnically cleansed. In Israel itself, withholding from Palestinians certain state provisions, concentrating them into smaller territory or removing them altogether is the reality of deepening the Jewish character of the state, the Zionist goal to which all Israel’s main parties are committed.

Double standards?

But why single out Israel for criticism? There are, after all, other states born through the ethnic cleansing of their indigenous population. The US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and countless others, argues Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian, ‘were hardly born of immaculate conception. Those nations were forged in great bloodshed. Yet Israel alone is deemed to have its right to exist nullified by the circumstances of its birth’. Leaving aside Freedland’s use of ‘nullified’ (was South Africa ‘nullified’ with the dismantling of apartheid?), he overlooks an important difference. Each of the states he mentions has come round to subscribing to a multi-ethnic nation. What ‘singles out’ Israel is not the ‘original sin’ of the Palestinians’ expulsion, though that unleashed a dynamic that would be hard to remedy, but that it is continuing its ethnic cleansing to this day, still faithful to the logic of settler colonialisms.

The passions unleashed and mutual incomprehension of the two sides in the Israel/Palestine conflict stem from two disastrously intertwined but nonetheless relatively distinct histories. For most Jews, Israel is linked to being a persecuted minority in Europe and regards the state’s formation as at least a partial redemption for the Holocaust. For Palestinians, and others in the Arab and Muslim worlds, Israel is the product of the Western imperial aggression and colonisation.

These are two narratives deeply rooted in conflicting collective memories but unequal in relevance to informing a resolution to the conflict in the Middle East. The Zionist aspiration for self-determination in the form of a Jewish state could not be, and still cannot be, realised without relying on Western imperial power and denying the self-determination of the indigenous people. The emotional charge of left wing hostility to Israel comes not from its claim to be Jewish but from the fact that in relation to the Palestinians it is ‘white’: an extension of Western power and racial privilege.

If the West European left is to be criticised, it is for the length of time it has taken to rally in support of the Palestinians. In the post-9/11 globalised Islamophobic mobilisation in which the Israeli government claims frontline status, Palestine solidarity has become integral to the anti-racist struggle. The support for the Palestinians through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign builds on the anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles of the past.

Dr Paul Kelemen is the author of The British Left and Zionism: History of a Divorce (Manchester University Press, 2012). The son of a survivor of the Mauthausen concentration camps, he has been active in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign since 1982.