Category Archives: Sheffield activists’ blogs

All blogs written by Sheffield PSC activists

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.

 

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.