July 17, 2006

Engage exposes Jews for Justice's real agenda!

Cor, this is cloak and dagger stuff. Under the headline Anti-Israel ad group floats boycott plan the Jewish Chronicle has carried out an "investigation" into Jews for Justice for Palestinians. The terms of reference are to find out:
who are the people behind it, and what is their agenda?
The main source document for the "investigation" is some minutes of a JfJfP meeting and a couple of people from Jews for Justice and their detractors.

Ok, now let's look at the article.
Minutes from the last Jews for Justice for Palestinians meeting, seen by the JC, reveal proposals including a campaign for divestment from Israel and a possible full boycott of Israeli products.
They make this look like some kind of leak and I suppose it could be said that it was, but you may recall from an earlier post of mine about the Times advert, that the signatories were a diverse bunch in terms of where they stand on the question of Palestine. I noted that some of the signatories claimed to be doing their bit for Israel by signing the statement and I'm sure they were sincere. This, you will note, belies the headline's reference to an "Anti-Israel ad group." But anyway, with signatories to either the ad or to the JfJfP statement signing up because they care for the State of Israel and are fearful of its self-destruction, there is plenty of scope for "leaks" of documents, even from sincere signatories. So much for the minutes.

Now for the main defendant, our own Deborah Fink:
“I think it is important to discourage Jews from supporting Israel financially and otherwise,” Deborah Fink, a member of the Jews for Justice executive, stated in a paper presented to the meeting.

“Unfortunately, I would think that most Jews who do support Israel in this way are least open to reason.”

Warning that JfJfP — which organised the £10,000 Times advert, signed by 300 supporters - was losing credibility by not overtly supporting the boycott movement, she suggested forging links with other groups internationally. In this way, “we could be a powerful alternative Jewish lobby without worrying about bringing the local shul on board.”
Since the article is aimed at undermining Jews for Justice they eventually get around to this Danny Shek guy from Bicom, the British Israel Communications and Research Centre, who said that:
he did not deny the legitimacy of “fringe” groups such as JfJfP, “I’d rather have them out in the open clearly stating their agenda, which opposes what most people believe.”
A hint there that JfJ are being somehow dishonest and from the CEO of a zionist propaganda outfit!

Well next up we have the eminent barrister, Adrian Cohen. I find this chap a bit nutty. He is an Engage contributor and yet in spite of that he calls himself Malachi when he posts to various blogs including the Engage one. I'm not sure if there was subterfuge involved but I must say that when, as Malachi, he seemed to be accusing me of the non-existent offence of "criminal defamation" with regard to Linda Grant and David Hirsh, I wrote to him to ask if he was really Adrian Cohen and he told me that he was. He also assured me that he wasn't accusing me of anything illegal or libellous which was big of him. Strange behaviour for a barrister though. He said:
The idea of publicly declaiming as Jews is very dubious. The problem is that while these people are few in number, they are seized upon by those who seek cover to demonise Israel. It’s like a licence for bad behaviour.
Is he saying that Jews can denounce (declaim? whatever) Israel but they mustn't say or let on that they are Jewish because groups that seek to "demonise Israel" will use them for cover. It's funny that, he accused me of demonising Israel once and when I asked him what he meant he didn't come back. I don't like it when people cherry pick what they will respond to but leaving that to one side I think we've hit on to something here. I've often wondered what's the point of groups like say Jews for Justice and Jews against zionism and I have been told that it's important to let as many as possible know that not all Jews support Israel or even agree with its existence. This barrister chap, Adrian Cohen, has now settled the argument for me. When he refers to people who "demonise Israel" without saying what or who he means, he seems to mean critics of Israeli policies, anti-occupationists and anti-zionists. He therefore seems to not want people to know that there are Jews who are opposed to a Jewish state based on colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and racist laws or that there are Jews who are opposed to the occupation. Now I would say that that leaves the field clear for the likes of, say, Engage, for whom (as I said before) this guy is a contributor to accuse Israel's critics and anti-zionists of antisemitism which is pretty much all Engage exists for.

But there's a problem here. David Hirsh is a signatory to the Jews for Justice statement. He also claims that Engage is opposed to the occupation. He even ran a post announcing (though not explicitly supporting) a little demo "against" Israel when the onslaught against Gaza began. Engage isn't an essentially Jewish group, but it is predominantly Jewish. So how does Adrian Cohen coexist as a contributor to Engage with David Hirsh when David Hirsh is a signatory of Jews for Justice and Adrian Cohen thinks that one shouldn't criticise Israel as a Jew? I should point out here that Alexandra Simonon manages the Engage site and yet she hasn't signed the JfJ statement. She usually supports David Hirsh in everything he does, sometimes using the name Alf Green to do so and indeed to denounce Engage supporters to keep them in line.

Anyway, back to the article. Peace Now said that zionists can't coexist with anti-zionists. Fair enough but if Peace Now really wants to end the occupation they would work with others who also want to end the occupation. Clearly their preference is for Jewish supremacy, much like Engage.

Labour Friend of Israel say this:
it is not always helpful to talk about pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian lobbies. We’d rather people talked about a pro-peace, pro-two-state-solution lobby that appreciates the complexities and seeks to understand both sides. That is mainstream debate in the UK political arena.
Got that? Labour Friends of Israel isn't pro-Israel.

And the last word in the article goes to the Israeli Embassy, from where the JC takes its cue. It isn't happy.

So the zionist, including the Engage, take on Jews for Justice is to smear their campaigning as being covert when it's overt, to say that one should never oppose Israel as a Jew because this helps those who demonise Israel (better to form a solid block of Jews for Israel) and to ostentatiously support their (JfJ's) basic statement but not to support their campaigns. It's all so simple. But can we expect a statement from Engage on where it stands regarding Jews for Justice? Or are they happy with their contributor's smear? I'm guessing the latter.

Now then, my headline was wrong, misleading even. I said "Engage exposes Jews for Justice's real agenda." Actually thanks to Adrian Cohen, Engage has once more exposed its real agenda: to defend Israel from criticism and condemnation by raising the spectre of "demonisation" but congrats to the barrister for avoiding the A-S word. Engage doesn't usually manage that. First class advocacy by a first class advocate!

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