All posts by Dick Pitt

The Jewish National How is it for the public good?

The Jewish National Fund – is it really for the public good?

A report last month shows that a British Charity, the JNF, has behaved in an improper way. The Charity Commission has a record of going to extraordinary lengths to keep the JNF UK a listed charity. Its response to the latest scandal will need to be seen in the light of its previous rulings.

Last year a Palestinian family complained that the JNF had built the British Park on their land. The Charity Commission ruled that the family had no standing to complain.

Statements likeThe JNF is not the trustee of the general public in Israel. Its loyalty is     given to the Jewish people in the Diaspora and in the state of Israel…     The JNF, in relation to being an owner of land, is not a public body that works for the benefit of all citizens of the state. The loyalty of the JNF is given to the Jewish people and only to them is the JNF obligated. The JNF, as the owner of the JNF land, does not have a duty to practice equality towards all citizens of the state.” by the JNF in Israel were not regarded as evidence of racism by the Charity Commission.

Rabbis for Human rights state

“Unfortunately, over the last two decades KKL-JNF has also been amassing     property seized from Palestinians in East Jerusalem, evicting families, and     turning the property over to a settler organization with the express goal of     Judaizing Palestinian neighborhoods.”

This evidence of complicity in ethnic cleanisng is also ignored by the Charity Commission.

The 2014 JNF annual report stated it gave £114,000 to the “Gaza War Effort”. A war that killed 1462 Palestinian civilians. The Charity Commission either closed its eyes or deemed it for the public good.

The latest scandal involves a will by a very frail old man. The Funding Regulator investigated the writing of a will by the KKL a subsidiary of the JNF UK.

The wife, through her solicitors, claimed that the will was invalid on the “grounds of the testator’s lack of capacity, want of knowledge, approval and undue influence.”

She also complained that the “charity failed to manage a conflict of interests, to keep proper records and to maintain proper oversight of the activities of their subsidiary”.

The 2016 will left the wife £500,000 with the bulk of the nearly £20 million going in trust to the JNF.

“Witness B stated that the testator was not a practising Jew and they had never “showed any interest in Judaism or Jewish charities”.

The Fundraising regulator ruled:

“given the closeness of the two organisations, and the fact that KKL clearly work to promote and fundraise for JNF. This is a clear breach of Section 18.3.3(b) of the code.”

We in Stop the JNF want

honest reporting by the media

The JNF to be stripped of its Charitable status

In the event that the Charity Commission continues its dereliction of its statutory duty, we urge everyone to join the stop the JNF Campaign.

Covid 19

Dear supporter, 

Regretfully, we have had to postpone a number of meetings due to Covid 19 

Lowkey, tonight (Monday 16th March) , Postponed

Labour Party, Antisemitism and the Media, 7pm Wednesday 18th March Postponed 

Professor Salman Abu Sitta, The Right of Return: Sacred, Legal and Feasible March 27th Postponed


Two events are low risk since they are outside and are going ahead (but check Facebook Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign)
Wednesday 18 th March 12 noon Hallam Square Sheffield Hallam University Gathering to support Anti Israeli Apartheid Week, called by Palestine Solidarity Society

Saturday 28th March 12 noon Sheffield Town Hall – Palestine Land Day 

All of us are thinking of the impact of Covid 19 on our network of friends, neighbours and relatives. We would like you also to think of the impact on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.  They have a weak economy, few resources, a very weak health service and an unsympathetic occupying power.  The impact on them will be far worse.

UN List of companies active in Israeli illegal settlements.

Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign welcomes that the UN has at last published  a list of companies colluding in Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank. There are currently around 600,000 illegal settlers, part of a systematic policy to remove the Palestinian people from the land and expand Israel. Their number has been growing over the last 50 years. Some are economic settlers looking for cheap, state subsidised accommodation, others believe that they have a God given right to Palestinian land. The settlements exist because Israel is the dominant regional military power and is backed by the world’s only super power, the United States.

Stealing another people’s land is a throwback to colonial times. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, Britain intervened militarily, and when Russia annexed parts of Ukraine, Britain supported sanctions. By contrast, illegal Israeli settlements have been accompanied by mild rebuke but no sanctions. Consequently Israel has continued to expand with impunity and has been rewarded with aid and lucrative trade deals.

Now, the United Nations Human Rights Commission has produced a report that lists 112 companies that are active in these illegal settlements.The companies that profit from building and sustaining settlements, must be banned from trading in the UK.
The UN’s list of complicit companies is far from complete but it is a start. It is time for everyone committed todemocratic values to rally behind Palestinian civil society’s call for boycotting all trade with Israel until it abides byinternational law and ends the oppression and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

PSC has issued a statement here.

War on Want has issued a statement here.

Lawyers for Palestinian Human rights has issued a statement here.

Trees for Life: Trees for Palestine 7pm Wed. 26 February

Taysir Arbasi and Mohammed Ruzz, both from farming communities in Palestine to speak about their work and ivision at a public meeting during fairtrade fortnight.

Date: Wednesday 26th February 2020: 7 pm – 9 pm

Venue: Showroom 5, the Showroom cinema, Paternoster Row, S1 2BX

Sheffield PSC is hosting this meeting in partnership with a group of singers from Sheffield who will be visiting Palestine later this year. As part of our solidarity with Palestinian rural communities and in recognition of the carbon footprint of our air travel to Palestine we have made a donation to fund the planting of 680 olive trees by Palestinian farmers.

Taysir and Mohammed will be talking to us about their work in the tree planting programme, and the wider work of Zaytoun, which has been supporting Palestinian farmers through fairtrade since 2004. They will discuss the importance of building community resilience and their contribution to climate justice whilst living under the illegal Israeli occupation.

https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/food-drink/gift-tree-life

BBC bias in reporting anti Semitism in Labour

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

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

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

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

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

Four facts are relevant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sheffield Town Hall

Dear Julie Dore

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

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

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

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

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

Yours

Name                                                                                    Address

Sheffield Town Hall

Dear Julie Dore

I have read the statement by Palestine solidarity Campaign.

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

Many Thanks

Name                                                                                    Address  


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sheffield City Council adopts Flawed IHRA definition of anti Semitism

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

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

Message From Louise Haigh

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