April 30, 2009

Israeli Apartheid is not Fiction!

Open letter to the organizers and attendees of Sci-Fi-London International Festival 2009

Israeli Apartheid is not Fiction!
Cancel the special tribute to Israel in the London Sci-Fi Festival!

Open letter to the organizers and attendees of Sci-Fi-London International Festival 2009

Ramallah, 29 April 2009

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is writing to the organizers of the Sci-Fi-London International Festival of Science Fiction and Fantasy Film to urge you to cancel the special “Focus on: Israel” in your festival in London from 29 April – 4 May. We also urge the attendees of this festival, if its organizers insist on the special tribute to Israel, to protest the inclusion of this session and to boycott the focus on Israel. Honoring Israel in any field right after its massacre in Gaza shows either apathetic disregard for the lives and rights of the Palestinian people or, worse, complicity in Israel’s grave violations of international law and human rights principles.

We understand that the focus on Israel is organized in cooperation with the British Council of Arts in Israel as part of the British Israeli Arts Training Scheme, BI-ARTS, which is funded by Israel’s Ministry of Science, Culture and Sports and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The latter, it is worth noting, is currently headed by the ultra-right racist Israeli politician, Avigdor Lieberman, who in response to the struggle of Palestinian citizens of Israel for equality and full citizenship rights has continuously advocated their ethnic cleansing, notoriously stating that “minorities are the biggest problem in the world.” By organizing this session celebrating Israel’s contributions to the field, you will be effectively welcoming into your highly esteemed international forum a state that maintains the world’s longest regime of occupation and colonization as well as the only surviving apartheid.

On the festival’s website it states that the focus on Israel aims to examine the sci-fi “what if’s” being explored in other countries. Yet, we wonder if you are aware of Israel’s over 60-year old colonial history of brutally subjugating the Palestinian people. Israel’s recent war on Gaza is the latest chapter in this history of colonial oppression. In this brutal military campaign, Israel killed over 1,440 Palestinians, of whom 431 were children, and injured another 5380 [1]. Israel subjected the besieged population of Gaza to three weeks of unrelenting state terror. Israeli warplanes targeted and bombed densely populated civilian areas, using illegal munitions, such as white phosphorous, and reduced whole neighbourhoods and vital civilian infrastructure to rubble, not to mention its wilful mass destruction of agricultural land. In addition to this, Israel also partially destroyed Gaza’s leading university and scores of schools, including several run by the UN and used as civilian shelters during the war of aggression. The UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory has described the Israeli attack on Gaza as “a war crime of the gravest magnitude under international law.”

Israel’s war on Gaza was not an anomaly but an integral part of the systematic policies of ethnic cleansing and colonial oppression that Israel has carried out against the Palestinian people. The state of Israel was established in 1948 by forcibly expelling the overwhelming majority of Palestine’s indigenous Arab population. For 60 years now, Israel has continued to deny the millions of displaced Palestinian refugees their UN-sanctioned rights to return to their homes of origin. For the last 41 years, Israel has maintained a repressive military occupation over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, violating Palestinians’ most fundamental human rights with impunity. Israel extra-judicially kills Palestinian activists and leaders; subjects Palestinians to daily military violence; routinely demolishes Palestinian homes and illegally confiscates Palestinian land. Israeli continues to expand illegal Jewish colonies on occupied Palestinian land, linking them to an apartheid system of Jewish-only roads, and the Wall that was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004. Israel’s policies of repression systematically target all aspects of Palestinian life and are designed to crush the Palestinian will, creativity and human spirit. Since the early 1970’s Israel has targeted and routinely closed Palestinian universities and cultural centres in the West Bank and Gaza, and imposed a repressive system of censorship, banning scores of books – effectively imposing a stranglehold designed to prevent Palestinian cultural expression. From 1979 to 1992, Birzeit University was closed 60% of the time by Israeli military orders [2].

The injustice and the violent suppression of the Palestinian struggle for freedom have lasted too long. To bring an end to this oppression, Palestinian civil society has called on people of conscience throughout the world to take a stand and support our struggle for freedom by adopting boycott, divestments and sanctions, BDS, against Israel until it fully complies with international law and recognizes our inalienable rights [3]. This BDS call has received resounding international support, and has been endorsed by a number of prominent international cultural figures and Israeli artists, including Aharon Shabtai, John Berger, Ken Loach, Arundhati Roy, Roger Waters, John Williams and others. Other high profile artists have also heeded our call by cancelling gigs in Israel; these included Bono, Bjork, Snoop Dogg and Jean Luc Goddard.

In calling on artists to support the cultural boycott of Israel, John Berger urged artists to adopt the boycott as a mechanism of protest and a means to end the silence surrounding the impunity with which Israel violates international law and denies Palestinian their basic human rights [4]. In endorsing the boycott, the prominent Israeli poet, Aharon Shabtai, said:

“A State which maintains an occupation and commits daily crimes against civilians does not deserve to be invited to whichever cultural week. We cannot accept to be part of that. Israel is not a democratic State but an apartheid State. We cannot support that State at all” [5].

To claim the cultural field is “neutral” in the face of systematic and persistent injustice is to effectively side with the oppressor. International solidarity and support for the boycott of South African played a pivotal role in helping bring down the apartheid regime. Similarly, we sincerely hope you will take a moral stand and cancel your tribute to Israel, until it meets its obligations under international law and recognizes the Palestinian people’s right to live in freedom and equality in their homeland.

Yours truly,

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)

[1] http://www.ochaopt.org/gazacrisis/index.php?section=3
[2] http://www.mediamonitors.net/parry1.html
[3] http://www.pacbi.org/campaign_statement.htm
[4] http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=415
[5] http://www.countercurrents.org/cattori260208.htm

Posted on 29-04-2009

Karmi, Simons and Strawson on Ahmadinejad

Sorry to return to this but I just noticed yet another bit of weirdness on the Engage site. What was I doing there? Well I was looking to see if they had any condemnation of the Anti-Defamation League for harassing that academic I did the previous post on but there was nothing. Scrolling down I noticed John Strawson had been enlisted to rubbish two letters that had appeared in the Guardian in response to Ahmadinejad denouncing zionism at the Durban II conference.

Dr Hirsh heads the piece ""Anti-racists" think Ahmadinejad was right" and tries to create the impression that the "anti-racists" he has in mind are agreeing with Ahmadinejad's holocaust denial. The video clip beneath his headline is itself headed, "Iran's Ahmadinejad on the Holocaust". Beneath that are quotes drawn from the letters of Gharda Karmi and Geoff Simons that the Guardian published on Saturday just gone, 25th April 2009.
“…Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s UN speech on 21 April struck many as obnoxious, but in terms of understanding the 1948 roots of the Middle East conflict he was spot on. Vilifying him may feel good, but it is a diversion form the real issue.”

Ghada Karmi, Author, Married to Another Man: Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine

“However we may deplore the tone of President Ahmadinejad’s speech at the UN conference on racism, it is difficult to deny the principal facts that he presented…”

Geoff Simons, Author, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

Karmi thinks Ahmadinejad was “spot on” in his understanding of the roots of the Middle East conflict.

Simons agrees with the “principal facts” that he presented.

Neither stops to wonder why it is they agree with a genocidal anti-Jewish racist on the central question concerning Jews in the contemporary world. Perhaps it is just a coincidence? A stopped clock is right twice a day?

But perhaps there are other lessons to be learnt from the fact that they agree with Ahmadinejad.

And why is the Guardian printing this support for the understanding and analysis of the world’s most powerful antisemite on its letters page?

What happened was that Ahmadinejad had brought up the issue of the zionists' colonisation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. He actually vented the bad analysis that it all happened or at least the west supported it on account of the holocaust. Now as far as that goes, Engage can't complain because David Hirsh also says that Israel exists because of the holocaust and he has even justified the UK Labour Party's call for the wholesale ethnic cleansing of Palestine back in 1944 on account of the holocaust. So Hirsh might just as well ask himself how it is that he is in agreement with Ahmadinejad but I won't hold my breath and wait for that admission.

But look at the extracts from Karmi and Simons's letters or read the letters in full which Hirsh does link to, they're not saying that the holocaust has anything to do with the establishment of the State of Israel and they're certainly not saying that the holocaust didn't happen. They are saying that the root of the problem goes back to the founding of Israel and not its expansion into what we now call the "occupied territories" of Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem.

So why does Hirsh go on to say this?
If people don’t understand what is racist about holocaust denial then they should make use of Deborah Lipstadt’s magnificent website, which is an excellent resource, Holocaust Denial On Trial. http://www.hdot.org/

Holocaust denial is antisemitic firstly because denial was part of the crime itself. Those who were murdered were told that nobody would ever believe that this happened and that nobody would ever know that they even existed. Denial is not a response to the Holocaust but it is part of the Holocaust.

Secondly because Holocaust denial necessarily assumes that the Jews are sufficiently powerful and sufficiently evil to have invented such a horrible lie and to have made believing it a precondition for acceptability in public life. It is antisemitic conspiracy theory.

Hmm, thank you Doctor, but what has that to do with what Karmi and Simons wrote?

So what's John Strawon's beef here?
UPDATE - John Strawson adds:

Karmi and Simons rely on ignorance of history in order to make their case: a case that Ahmadnejad is able to trade on.

“Their” history is that Western guilt for the Holocaust meant that the Jews were given Palestine in order to make amends. Nothing could be further from the truth. Reading the United Nations documents that led to the partition plan – debate in the General Assembly May through November 1947 and the report of United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) – there are no Western expression of guilt whatsoever. The only speeches that linked the creation of a Jewish State to the Holocaust were from the Soviet Union and Poland.

Indeed what is striking is that despite many anti-Semitic remarks, not one Western country rises to object. The partition plan itself explicitly stated that it was plan for the future of government of Palestine and not a solution to the “Jewish question” - the latter formulation being a reference to the survivors of the Holocaust in displaced peoples’ camps. Far from guilt there is indifference bordering on callousness. The Jewish population of between 600,00-650,000 (and 18,000 in detention in in Cyprus) [UN figures]) were of course in Palestine in 1947.

They constituted a clearly constituted a national community. It is this national identity that the Karmi et al wish to deny. Modern anti-Semitism mainly takes the form of discrimination against Jews as national community - something that the Durban II statement reinforces when it places anti-Semitism between “Islamaphobia” and “Christianophobia.” (draft article 10)

There is no ignorance of history betrayed in their letters. Both of them argue that the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict go back to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

As it happens, having falsely accused two people of ignorance of history by falsely accusing them of invoking the idea that the holocaust was the motivation for Israel's existence, Strawson does steer his comment back to something close to the crux of the matter.

See this again:
They [presumably Jews in Palestine] constituted a clearly constituted a national community. It is this national identity that the Karmi et al wish to deny. Modern anti-Semitism mainly takes the form of discrimination against Jews as national community
This mealy mouthed statement is saying that Jews in most of Palestine had a perfect right to carry out an ethnic cleansing campaign against the native predominantly Arab population. There is no other interpetation since Gharda Karmi probably doesn't care one way or another if Jews are a national community or not. The issue is that Jews in Palestine carried out an ethnic cleansing campaign to establish a state specifically for Jews at the expense of Palestine's natives. Gharda Karmi is a victim of the ethnic cleansing but for Strawson she is being antisemitic for objecting to it.

For John Strawson, it would appear that a national community is not a civic affair but an ethnic one and once it is decided that a community is national then that community has a perfect right to carry out an ethnic cleansing campaign against those that do not belong to the national ethnicity. And to object, even as a victim, is to be racist against the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing.

But Strawson has a strange relationship with Engage and Engage is a strange animal anyway. During "Operation Cast Lead" aka, the assault on Gaza, Strawson co-signed a letter to the Times castigating Israel for its war crimes. At the time, David Hirsh, or you might say Engage itself, was supporting what Israel was doing in/to Gaza. Last I checked, Strawson was on the "editorial board" of Engage and yet his co-signing of a letter to the Times was reckoned by one commenter to be a contradiction of the Engage position on "cast lead".

The letter to the Times noted that Hamas's rocket attacks were illegal acts warranting a "reasonable and proportionate" response from Israel but went on to say:
As things stand, its invasion and bombardment of Gaza amounts to collective punishment of Gaza’s 1.5m inhabitants contrary to international humanitarian and human rights law. In addition, the blockade of humanitarian relief, the destruction of civilian infrastructure, and preventing access to basic necessities such as food and fuel, are prima facie war crimes.
Any casual observer familiar with Engage will see this as quite a profound departure from the usual fare and as I said, one commenter (Keith P) did notice this. It was in a thread to a post where Dr Hirsh had graphically compared a call by Naomi Klein for a boycott of Israel to the nazi boycott of Jewish shops back in the 1930s:
This analysis seems inconsistent in tone, content, and logic to all that presented here and advanced by David in the name of Engage. Are we to assume that Engage’s editorial board is fundamentally divided as to whether what we are witnessing and have been witnessing in Gaza is a war crime or a justifiable act of defence against an existential threat to the lives of Jews?
Now this is where we get an insight into the relationship of Hirsh and Engage's collective existence, if indeed it has a collective existence. Here's Hirsh:
Engage has no collective position on “whether what we are witnessing and have been witnessing in Gaza is a war crime or a justifiable act of defence against an existential threat to the lives of Jews?”

Engage is a campaign against antisemitism, not an Israel/Palestine campaign or discussion group.

I tried to sum up what I feel are some of the central ideas of Engage, but it is only my attempt. Here http://engageonline.wordpress.com/about-engage/

John Strawson is one of the most incisive and committed campaigners against antisemitism that I know. I’m proud that he thinks of himself as being part of Engage.

Well something gave this fellow the impression that the Engage position on "cast lead" was that it was "a justifiable act of defence against an existential threat to the lives of Jews" and that Strawson was bucking what must have been the position of most of the other Engage associates that Hirsh had been linking to at that time. But within a minute of Hirsh's disclaimer, Strawson was on the thread:
Kieth P should read the letter more carefully. It is making a certain legal point - which I have made in comments here. The letter in addition to making it clear that Hamas’s rockets and suicide attacks are war crimes ends by saying

“We condemn the firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel and suicide bombings which are also contrary to international humanitarian law and are war crimes. Israel has a right to take reasonable and proportionate means to protect its civilian population from such attacks. However, the manner and scale of its operations in Gaza amount to an act of aggression and is contrary to international law, notwithstanding the rocket attacks by Hamas. “

Keith P had clearly read the letter and linked to it so the admonition suggesting he hadn't was purely gratuitous if not downright dishonest.

Hirsh then (two minutes later) provides another insight correctly stating that:
Incidentally Keith, I don’t think I’ve written anything at all on the current conflict in Gaza.
That was true at the time. All Hirsh had done was link to various articles supporting Israel in Gaza and denouncing Israel's critics as antisemitic. And he didn't link to the Times letter that Strawson had co-signed.

Well now Keith is very confused and so am I and so must you be, dear reader:
Thanks for your replies, David, John.

I did read the letter carefully. I understand that it includes the condemnation of Hamas’s actions as contrary to international law, and i did not for a second mean to imply John had meant to entirely absolve Hamas and entirely fix blame on Israel.

What I was surprised about was the fact that this letter includes clear and unequivocal statements describing the PAST year (+)’s “siege” of Gaza and the CURRENT/RECENT attacks on the Gaza Strip as war crimes. This may or may not be the case - i am not arguing against this on a legal basis (I am unqualified to do so) or suggesting it is false.

But I do think it departs from Engage’s previous posts and comments concerning both the “siege” and the conflict in content and tone. David, I know you say that Engage has shifted its concerns over the years and is less attentive to points on the conflict than it used to be perhaps, but you’ve also conceded that “Engage business overlaps with wider political issues in Israel and in Palestine - so these are editorial decisions and not clear and automatic rules.” (http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/comment.php?id=1551) and I think that its clear from your covererage of both Lebanon 2006 and the current violence, that the posts on Engage are either themselves concerned with the conflicts or are selected as ways of directing readers to sources selected from amongst many possibilities; it therefore follows that there is some position being articulated and not a random or ambivalent approach to the way the conflict is parsed here at Engage.

This brings me back to my original comment/question, which is whether or not Engage’s (and if its easier to answer David I would understand if you’d prefer to answer as an individual rather than for the whole campaign) position (unavoidable and implicit in the selection and recommendation of sources on the conflict) is also that the Israeli government and military are presently comitting war crimes and that they have been doing so for at least the last year in the form of the “siege” of Gaza.

I am not suggesting that there needs to be uniformity on the subject across your editorial board, but I am aware of and puzzled by the following:

1. Falk (a co-signatory of John’s) has been condemned quite harshly for “israel-hatred” and in particular for making Nazi-Zionism analogies that Engage has criticised very forcefully. David, I think you have yourself charged him with”being used by antisemites as cover” (http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1806) and have reproduced a “Flesh Is Grass” commentary where he Falk is charged with “publicity-seeking exaggerations and falsehoods” (again I’m for or against Falk - just observing that this appears to indicate a position which departs from the co-signing of statements with someone quite a bit) (http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2008/12/18/flesh-is-grass-on-richard-falks-exclusion-from-israel/)

2. If Engage does agree with the statement a member of its editorial board has signed on the current conflict - then surely it makes sense for it to be reproduced here or linked to in the way some dozens of external reports and commentaries on the current conflict have been linked to over the past fortnight.

3. If Engage does not agree with the statement made by its editorial board, how does it situate this statement published in the mainstream UK press that Israel is, and long has been, engaged in war crimes within its overall context of “defining and defending” the limits of “legitimate criticism” - is John, like Falk, not preparing the ground for demonization? is he lending credence to the arguments as well as the vocabularies of co-signers like Falk? Or is the attribition of war crimes to the Israeli state and armed forces unproblematic in this scheme?

Oh look at the time. I need to set myself a time limit. It's so easy to get carried away. Anyway, no further response from either Hirsh or Strawson was forthcoming.

So what have we learned here? Engage appears to be Dr David Hirsh with people described as contributing editors and editorial board members who are simply well wishers that agree with the central motive of Engage to try to set parameters as to what is permissible in criticising Israel. You might say that the mission is simply to protect Israel and especially zionism from serious criticism. But what of Strawson? He has clearly hooked up with people considered by Hirsh to be beyond the pale and yet Hirsh is proud if Strawson wants to consider himself an Engagenik even though that might not actually mean anything at all in terms of what you do for Engage or what you think about Israel, Jews, zionism, war crimes, Palestinians, Arabs or indeed, er, anything at all.

Is Engage a collective or is it Hirsh with a list of people saying "we like Hirsh, er, broadly speaking"?

And what of Strawson? What's he playing at? He has clearly misrepresented what Dr Karmi and Geoff Simons had to say in their letters, that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine explains the conflict over Palestine but then he comes close to misrepresenting a letter he signed himself when he pretends that it does significantly differ from condemning Israel's war crimes in Gaza during "cast lead" and the on-going war crime over the siege of Gaza.

But on the matter of whether or not Israel's existence is explained by reference to the holocaust, Hirsh's view is a little closer to Ahmadinejad's than the view expressed by Karmi and Simons. That could be better illustrated by the old Engage website but that is down at the moment unless it has been disappeared as happens with Engage posts sometimes.

April 29, 2009

US Israel lobby claims another academic victim

Here's a disturbing story in Inside Higher Ed about the Israel lobby in America trying to ruin yet another academic's career so as to stifle criticism of Israel. It's quite long but I think you'll get the gist here:
Everyone involved in the dispute over William I. Robinson talks about lines being crossed.

A tenured professor of sociology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Robinson said that his critics have crossed lines of fairness by equating his criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, and that the faculty judicial system is crossing lines that are supposed to protect academic freedom by investigating him.

His critics say that he crossed a line of professionalism by sending e-mail to all of the students in one of his courses material about "parallel" images of Nazi and Israeli attacks. Some students view the material as anti-Semitic, and they quit the course and filed a grievance against him.......

At issue is an e-mail message that Robinson sent to the approximately 80 students in January in a course about sociology and globalization. The e-mail contained an an article criticizing the Israeli military's actions in Gaza. Part of the e-mail was an assemblage of photos from Nazi Germany's persecution of Jews and from Israel's actions in Gaza. Students were invited to look at the "parallel images." A message from Robinson argued that Gaza would be like "Israel's Warsaw."

In February, the Anti-Defamation League's Santa Barbara office wrote to Robinson to protest the e-mail and to urge him to repudiate it.

It's always a toughie when cutting bits from an article. What to include, what to omit, that sort of thing. Here's a professor, a tenured professor, he's sent an email to eighty or so students comparing Gaza to the Warsaw ghetto and two of the students have gone to the Anti-Defamation League about it who in turn seem to have advised the students to make a formal complaint. The complaint appears to have no substance, if you read the article in full you will see that, but the college is pretending at least to take it seriously but not so seriously that it will adhere to its own procedures, just so seriously as to save themselves from hassle from the ADL but that much could leave the professor without a job. But please read the whole thing, see if I'm wrong.

Counterpunch has something on it here.

A petition has been got up for William I Robinson has been got up here.

7 Jewish children: a play for Gaza

I just watched this again and the idea that it is antisemitic is so dishonest it's quite breathtaking that anyone can watch it and make that false allegation whilst keeping a straight face. The smearing of Caryl Churchill isn't a job for the hasbara flock, this is one for the hasbara professionals, seasoned smear merchants. And boy, have they been busy lately.

Most of the play dwells more on the legitimate fears of Jews before it moves to Palestine and finally to Gaza and the whole thing takes the form of argument, one parent arguing one thing, the other counter-arguing and yet the the play is accused of portraying Jews as this one thing, or that one thing, or the other one thing. How can that be if Jews are arguing different points? How are Jews portrayed in an unfavourable light when they are arguing different points most of which are not unfavourable?

The hasbara brigade has claimed that the title of the play, 7 Jewish children, is itself antisemitic then they have selected this or that line, distorted its meaning and then claimed that one distorted line to typify the whole play. But the title of the play is 7 Jewish children: a play for Gaza and it's that last bit that makes it antisemitic in the wacky world of hasbara.

I don't know what the copyright issues are here so watch it while it lasts and if you can't see it here go watch it at at the Guardian site.

As I watched this for the umpteenth time I was reminded of the old cliché that two Jews need three synagogues to accommodate all their opinions. If the cliché is true then Caryl Churchill has portrayed it excellently as her Jewish parents argue over what to tell their Jewish children. So where do the zionists get the idea that this play is a uniformly negative portrayal of the Jews? It was a short play, maybe they weren't paying attention. Surely they wouldn't falsely accuse people of antisemitism?

April 27, 2009

Guardian hosts 7 Jewish children so Harry's Place hosts Jud Süß

I thought I had a bit of a scoop yesterday when someone wrote to me saying that David T of Harry's Place had literally gone mad over the Guardian's hosting of a film clip of one woman doing a reading of Caryl Churchill's play, Seven Jewish Children: a play for Gaza. The guy told me that there was a ridiculously over the top post followed by a thread that was pretty nutty even by HP standards and that later in the day, Engage style, the embarrassing post had disappeared. But no, my contact was wrong. David Hirsh disappears embarrassing posts but David T is made of mm, er, better? no that's not the word, worse? no that's not it either. David T is different from David Hirsh; a little bit anyway. That is, he didn't disappear the post that if he had any shame at all he would be painfully embarrassed about.

So what's all this? The Guardian decided, what with all the hooha about the play, they would commission an actor to perform 7 Jewish children: a play for Gaza. I posted the script some time ago, here. So now you can watch the play and read the script. I couldn't get into the script but it is very ably performed, indeed the script really comes alive when performed by Jennie Stoller so if you haven't watched it yet you might want to do so before reading on.

The HP post simply says the following:

Guardian Stages Seven Jewish Children

You can read the Guardian’s self-justification here.

You can watch it online here.

This is the Guardian’s next theatrical project.

And the next theatrical project is the notorious antisemitic nazi propaganda film, Jud Süß.

So that's all there is to the post. The Guardian has produced and presented 7 Jewish children and that apparently compares to a nazi propaganda film made, I believe, by Goebels and HP hosts the a youtube clip of Jud Süß helpfully subtitled in Magyar as if to emphasise (not) the widespread nature of antisemitic propaganda throughout the Anglosphere. The antisemitism of the play is held to speak for itself, in the title, in the comparison with Jud Süß and of course in the fact that HP has a beef about it. It's a curious paradox that for a hasbara parrot, David T isn't too big on the explain thing. He prefers enigmatic assertions, rhetorical questions and implied, sometimes even expressed, allegations.

See what I mean in the comments. The first one is quite a good one from an Andrew Adams :
So they’re staging a reading so that people can actually see for themselves what the fuss is about and make their own mind up. And that’s the same as showing a Nazi propaganda film. A sense of proportion is required here I think.
And the riposte from DT?
”tell her we’re chosen people”
See what I mean by enigmatic or am I doing it now? Is he saying that no Jewish children ever get told that they are chosen people? Where did the expression come from? Why was that film about frummer and reformers called "The Chosen"? or where I saw it, The Chosen PG. What about Tevia in Fiddler on the Roof? Why did he tell G-d to choose someone else? A similar thing gets said by one of the characters in the film Defiance. The chosen people thing runs very deeply in the Jewish religion and means different thing to different people but its incorporation into the zionist ideology, whether secular or religious, as an idea of Jewish superiority can't seriously be gainsaid. Personally I have had several Jews, Israelis and Christians say to me that Jews are the chosen people. So what's he saying?

DT needs time to think about what he is to say to firm up on the allegation that Caryl Churchill's play is comparable to a nazi propaganda film, so one minute after his first response comes his second:
Let me put it this way, Andrew.

You’re not an anti-racist. You’re happy to give anti-semitism a pass, as long as it is plausibly dressed up as anti-Zionism.
Goodness, all he said was it was a bit disproportionate suggesting that the Guardian was close to hosting nazi propaganda. For all we know Andrew might be very concerned about racism and possibly about antisemitism in particular. You really can't say one way or the other from the comment he made and sure enough, Andrew's having none of it:
You’re not an anti-racist. You’re happy to give anti-semitism a pass, as long as it is plausibly dressed up as anti-Zionism.

Crap. I don’t have a view about whether the play is anti-semitic or not, I haven’t seen it or read it. But it has certainly attracted a lot of controversy so why not give people an opportunity to make their minds up for themselves.

Typically the thread meanders a good bit while people try to outdo each other for allegations of antisemitism (I'm skimming) so whilst it's not entirely clear who DT is responding to here I'll assume it's this Andrew guy:
I’m not suggesting it should be banned.

I’m just explaining that people who do put on a play, the thesis of which is that Jewish children are told to celebrate the deaths of others, because they are “the chosen people” are antisemites.

I also think that people who do not see this is a racist argument, are tolerant of racism.

So Caryl Churchill has written an antisemitic play and anyone who hosts it for any reason is antisemitic. This includes the liberal zionist Jewish lobby theatre, Theatre J.

Now a lot more drivel follows, especially from DT but then in wades The Hasbara Buster :
It’s very amusing to see how many of Caryl’s negative reviewers have written critiques imitating the “Tell her that–” model. The play has hit home, not because of its literary merit, which it absolutely lacks, but because of how effectively it ridicules Zionist brainwashing. The crude, childish indoctrination depicted in the play is in fact what young –and adult– Jews are fed by their political and religious leadership.

You don’t like it? Then stop repeating moronic clichés like ”they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” “we’ll have peace when they love their children more than they hate us,” or “we can forgive their killing our children, but not their forcing us to kill theirs.” Each time you Zionists repeat them you expose yourselves as the brainwashed lot you are.

Now that was good, what are they going to do now? Up steps Gene:
It’s very amusing to see how many of Caryl’s negative reviewers have written critiques imitating the “Tell her that–” model.

On a first-name basis now? Does she call you Hasbara?

No, she calls you hasbara, Gene, at least she would if she knew you.

Things go from weird to weirder when "Joshua" suggests, by quoting Theodor Herzl's notorious acceptance of antisemitism, that resistance to antisemitism is futile given that:
anti-Semites and anti-Zionists will achieve the same result in their newspapers and on their blogs. They will simply redouble their efforts and attempt to diminish you and those like you at every turn.

What? DT's not having any of that with all his achievements and ends his response by saying:
we most certainly aren’t standing around doing nothing. Our enemies have a pretty good idea of what we’ve achieved and it makes them very nervous.
Oo-er! But back comes Joshua:
The notion that you have had anything but the slightest effect on those anti-Semites and anti-Zionists is utterly absurd. You have made them nervous? Hubristic twaddle.
Sorry about that. Two lunatics slugging it out over whether nazi propaganda can be stopped at the Guardian is no better than just the one. I just wanted to show that little hint of a Napoleon complex on DT's part.

Back to the Hasbara Buster, picking up on some of David T's claims within the thread:

1. Jews have not threatened violence over this, or any other of they myriad racist defamations to which we’ve been subject

Robert Faurisson has been repeatedly beaten to a pulp by Jews, and Serge Klarsfeld has approved of the beatings.

To the deafening silence of world Jewry.

Hmm, not a great move, that one. Earlier in the thread DT had said:
What a hilarious play Churchill has written. I would spit in her face.
And he gets support from a fan, Chas Newkey-Burden :
“What a hilarious play Churchill has written. I would spit in her face.”

Join the queue.

Ah, now when someone else with an appalling hasbara blog of his own writes the same thing as DT did, DT can see what a stupid thing it was to say and hastily withdraws:
Actually, I hope I wouldn’t. I hope I’d have the grace to walk away.
Me too, I'd hate him to bring the Jews into disrepute.

But HB plumped for an incident involving a holocaust denier. What a gift from HB to HP and especially to DT. Straight away, ignoring the point completely HB is asked if he supports Faurisson:
No; I’m just debunking the myth that Jews don’t threaten violence over the defamations they’ve been subject to.
And he was and he did and he moved on to debunk another myth in the making.

2. This play claims that Jewish parents encourage Jewish children to revel in the dead of a civil war. That is, quite frankly, untrue. It is also essentially a rehashing of the Blood Libel.

Where, David? Where does the play claim this? It is these small misrepresentations that in the end lead you to call the play antisemitic.

The play says:

Tell her about the family of dead girls, tell her the names, why not, tell her the whole world knows why shouldn’t she know? tell her there’s dead babies, did she see babies? tell her she’s got nothing to be ashamed of. Tell her they did it to themselves.

The play claims that Jewish children are told to blame the victims — NOT to take pleasure in their deaths.

We ALL know this is true. We all know the official Zionist line is that the dead children is something the Palestinians did to themselves.

You don’t live in Israel. However, a journo who does live there said:

I heard comments similar to these from some of my relatives during the war. Going back through the 24 years I’ve lived here, I’ve heard comments like these from relatives, neighbors, fellow soldiers - I’ve heard it and read it all over the place. I’ve heard it from Diaspora Jews too.

Caryl Churchill told the truth and she’s called an antisemite. The usual prescription.

This goes to the heart of the issue. Caryl Churchill's play is being grotesquely misrepresented. The worst possible spin and improbable spin is put on her words and her intentions and Hasbara Buster appears to have demonstrated that the overall allegation of antisemitism is based on a false interpretation of what was written. Now you'd expect David T to respond to that but instead he pretends to take this paranoid Joshua seriously and continues his discussion with him. Meanwhile, Hasbara Buster is now being accused of antisemitism, holocaust denial and being a nazi.

So where is DT? Ah here he is, a few trolls in tow and he thinks he's found a get out from his silly notion that Jews never threaten violence when something offends their political sensibilities and that is because the example out of many that HB chose was a holocaust denier who seems to have been beaten up by a small gang of Jewish youths. So anyway, here's DT:
I’m not getting into that; I’ll only say that Faurisson was beaten by Jews, who in turn were praised by a leading Jewish personality, for the sole crime of exercising his right to free speech.

You bloody well are getting into that!

“I’ll only say…”

You scumbag Faurrison supporter.

See, what a dumb move. The point in that discussion was never the views of Faurisson, it was whether he was beaten up by some Jews or not. By all means check but I think HB made his case very well. But that's not the main point either. The idea that someone can in all seriousness say that Jews never threaten violence over their political sensibilities being offended is downright silly even without reference to specific examples but this was a side issue.

The issue was the play and many zionists are saying it is antisemitic and David T is saying that it is antisemitic to even show the play for any reason and to make his case he is misrepresenting what it actually said. Hasbara Buster demonstrated that in a significant passage the play wasn't as represented by DT. And yet David T, having accused Caryl Churchill and certain unnamed people at the Guardian never returned to the thread to discuss his bizarre take on the play and the ludicrous comparison he made of the play with a nazi propaganda film.

Now, if you still haven't taken in the reading of 7 Jewish children: a play for Gaza, at the Guardian site, then I suggest that you do that now.

Wiping Palestine from the map?

The Guardian has been running these fact files setting out some stats and what have you about the member states of the United Nations plus Kosovo, Taiwan and the Vatican. I wouldn't have notice but for mild mannered complaint about the omission of Palestine in today's Guardian:
Your Fact Files are interesting and informative, but I was dismayed to discover that Palestine is subsumed under Israel. The page "Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories" shows only the Israeli flag and quotes only the Israeli anthem. Why not a page each to Israel and to the Palestinian territories?
Jill Osman
Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire
But Palestine is subsumed under Israel and hiving off the occupied territories won't change that.

April 26, 2009

Busting Durban myths

I haven't even read Hasbara Buster's post that I only just noticed in my sidebar. It's headed Durban Myths. I liked the headline so much I just had to blog it. So I'll read the post as I write about it, well almost. So here are the myths, enumerated:
1. Durban I produced an antisemitic document that only sought to bash Israel

2. It's outrageous that of all world leaders, none other than Ahmadinejad was invited to deliver the inaugural speech

3. The UN are a bunch of incurable antisemites anyway, so it's no use attending their conferences because it will change nothing

There you go, three myths and he busts them all just like it says on the tin. But go see for yourself and maybe add to the 24, or maybe 25 comments.

April 25, 2009

Ahmadinjed got something right...almost

That's true. Anyone can state the obvious, you don't have to be the president of a state to get something right. And of course when you get so much wrong it's easy for listeners to cop a deaf'un when you do get something right. Anyway, see this letter in today's Independent:
The Iranian government is wrong on many things. They've beaten Iranians, tortured them, jailed them without fair trial and murdered them. And President Ahmadinejad is wrong in doubting the Holocaust happened, but he's right about one thing: Israel's treatment of Israeli and Palestinian Arabs is racist.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and UN special rapporteur Professor John Dugard both visited Israel and the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories. Both compared it to the apartheid system they'd lived under.

When an Arab Knesset member proposed a binational state, with citizenship for Jews and Arabs, the Defence Minister Ehud Barak portrayed Israeli Arabs as a "fifth column"' inside the "Jewish state".

Duncan McFarlane

Carluke, South Lanarkshire

Hmm, that "Israel does naughty stuff" type argument doesn't quite do it for me really. What's this guy saying? There's an occupation and some high profiles have ticked Israel off about it. Further the most "left wing" member of the current Israeli government has incited racial hatred against the remnant of what was the Arab majority in that part of Palestine that fell to zionist occupation in 1948.

Now that reminds of what I heard the translator say when Ahmadinejad made his speech. He made a reference to a "racist government" or maybe "regime". Obviously Israel has a racist government and a racist regime but constitutionally it can't have anything else and reference to its government, the regime, the occupation, the racism of this or that politician all miss the point that Israel is a full-blown racist state. But as far as he went Ahmadinejad got something right and lost a chunk of audience for it.

I must say that it is nice to see so many letters in the Independent criticising Israel these days. It doesn't quite make up for the pro-zionist position of Comment is free over at the Guardian but it does show that the anti-zionist word is being spread and people shouldn't be too disheartened about the deterioration at Comment is free. It is much worse under Matt Seaton than it was under Georgina Henry but the Guardian has never been as critical of Israel as has been made out by zionists.

So, anything else in the Indie? Yes, a letter from Rosalind Preston OBE, Co-chair, Jewish Human Rights Coalition UK, Place des Nations, Geneva complaining that Ahmadinejad didn't mention the holocaust, at least I think she said that, and she applauded the people that walked out on account of Ahmadinejad's "genocidal mindset".

Finally there's a letter from my friend Ben Counsell exposing yet more published zionist dishonesty:
In his attempt to defend Zionism, Dr Jacob Amir asserts that the West Bank barrier is a "security barrier between Israel and the West Bank" (Letters, 17 April). The barrier does not run "between" Israel and the West Bank, but cuts deep into the West Bank.

The Israeli President, Shimon Peres, has said of the barrier: "The line is following a certain vision of the future. When that happens, it stops being a security fence and becomes a political fence. Nobody will admit that it is being built for these [political] reasons; nobody will admit that it is a political line."
Well thank goodness for an Israeli president with Shimon Peres's integrity. This covert openness repeats and repeats among zionist leaders. You get the absurd situation where some zionist leader says to a public audience, "we should do this, that or the other, but we should not say so publicly". And a supine western media has played along. But since Gaza some cracks are now appearing in the hasbara edifice and the widest of them appears to be at the Independent.

April 24, 2009

Death fest holiday of a lifetime

Whilst reading the Jerusalem Post article for the previous post I noticed an ad for "The ultimate mission to Israel".

General Information

A once-in-a-lifetime experience:
Monday, June 8 – Monday, June 15, 2009
Experience a dynamic and intensive eight day exploration of Israel’s struggle for survival and security in the Middle East today: "a military, humanitarian, historical, judicial, religious, and political reality check."

Mission Highlights
  • Briefings by Mossad officials and commanders of the Shin Bet.
  • Briefing by officers in the IDF Intelligence and Operations branches.
  • Inside tour of the IAF unit who carries out targeted killings.
  • Live exhibition of penetration raids in Arab territory.
  • Observe a trial of Hamas terrorists in an IDF military court.
  • First hand tours of the Lebanese front-line military positions and the Gaza border check-points.
  • Inside tour of the controversial Security Fence and secret intelligence bases.
  • Meeting Israel's Arab agents who infiltrate the terrorist groups and provide real-time intelligence.
  • Briefing by Israel's war heros who saved the country.
  • Meetings with senior Cabinet Ministers and other key policymakers.
  • Small airplane tour of the Galilee, Jeep rides in the Golan heights, water activities on Lake Kinneret, a cook-out barbecue and a Shabbat enjoying the rich religious and historic wonders of Jerusalem's Old City.
First Class Accomodation
  • Five-star accommodations at the Sheraton Plaza Jerusalem (Glatt Kosher);
  • Three meals a day (all Kosher);
  • Luxury bus transportation and knowledgeable tour guide;
  • A dedicated Executive Communications Center at the hotel;
  • Personal cell phone for each participant.

Click here for Application

Click here for Itinerary

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From past participants:

"I have traveled to Israel more than 15 times and have participated on a number of missions before, however, I have never in my life been part of such an incredible and emotional experience. Each day brought new and thought provoking speakers, unprecedented tours and visits to secured military bases we never could have gotten access to on our own. The `Ultimate Mission’ lived up to its name and is something which I will never forget. It is indeed the Israeli adventure of a life time".
Dr. Simon Goldberg, Los Angeles, CA

"Thank you for such an oustanding trip. The Mission was extremely well planned, organized with first rate accommodations, transportation and food. It exceeded all of my expectations. Any professional interested in experiencing first hand the reality of Israel cannot miss this Mission".
David Winer, Esq, Chicago, Il








I just love the testimonials from no lesser personages than a doctor and even an esquire, though what that latter means these days I'm not sure. Someone told me that it indicates a barrister in the USA but I really don't know. Check out more testimonials for the death fest of a lifetime here.

Churchill's wars?

No not that Churchill, Caryl Churchill. Here's a surprising review by Larry Derfner of the play Seven Jewish children: a play for Gaza in the Jerusalem Post. In it the reviewer says that not only is it not anti-Jewish it's not even particularly anti-Israel:
Read the "worst" monologue, the climactic one:

"Tell her, tell her about the army, tell her to be proud of the army. Tell her about the family of dead girls, tell her the names, why not, tell her the whole world knows why shouldn't she know? tell her there's dead babies, did she see babies? tell her she's got nothing to be ashamed of. Tell her they did it to themselves. Tell her they want their children killed to make people feel sorry for them, tell them I don't feel sorry for them, tell her not to be sorry for them, tell her we're the ones to be sorry for, tell her they can't talk suffering to us. Tell her we're the iron fist now, tell her it's the fog of war, tell her I laughed when I saw the dead policemen, tell her they're animals living in rubble now, tell her I wouldn't care if we wiped them out, the world would hate us is the only thing, tell her I don't care if the world hates us, tell her we're better haters, tell her we're chosen people, tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? tell her all I feel is happy it's not her."

I heard comments similar to these from some of my relatives during the war. Going back through the 24 years I've lived here, I've heard comments like these from relatives, neighbors, fellow soldiers - I've heard it and read it all over the place. I've heard it from Diaspora Jews too.

Who are we kidding? Does that monologue represent the voice of every Israeli and "pro-Israeli" Diaspora Jew? Of course not. But is it an authentic voice, a view of Palestinians held by many, many Jews here and abroad even if they don't express it publicly? Has that voice not gotten louder? And when push comes to shove with the Palestinians, as it did in Operation Cast Lead, does Seven Jewish Children not echo the inner (and often outer) voice of Israel at war?

The comments are so bizarre in that many of them could have formed the basis of play. Thankfully some of the thirty-eight comments point that out.

April 23, 2009

The holocaust, the nakba and the bad analogy

Hey did you hear about the guy that got the sack from Israel's holocaust museum, Yad Vashem? Apparently he compared the holocaust to the Palestinian catastrophe, the nakba. It's all over the net now but the story first broke, I believe, in Ha'aretz. See this:
Yad Vashem has fired an instructor who compared the trauma of Jewish Holocaust survivors with the trauma experienced by the Palestinian people in Israel's War of Independence.
Ok, so he compared the holocaust to the nakba.
He said he did so because the ruins of the Arab village, today a part of Jerusalem's Givat Shaul neighborhood, can be seen as one leaves Yad Vashem.

"Yad Vashem talks about the Holocaust survivors' arrival in Israel and about creating a refuge here for the world's Jews. I said there were people who lived on this land and mentioned that there are other traumas that provide other nations with motivation," Shapira said.

"The Holocaust moved us to establish a Jewish state and the Palestinian nation's trauma is moving it to seek self-determination, identity, land and dignity, just as Zionism sought these things," he said.
Well it's certainly a bad analogy. Zionism doesn't equate with the demand for Palestinian rights. Zionism is for privilege not rights.

Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid or, in one word, Zionism

I just got this notification of a meeting at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and it reminded of a letter that appeared in Private Eye's latest edition. A guy that withheld his name and address pointed out that "Ratbiter" had got the name wrong when he said that SOAS stood for the School of Oriental and Asian Studies. The guy (I'll assume it's a guy) said SOAS actually stands for the School of Organised Anti-Semitism (something likw that) and went on to say how the Students Union has was being hypocritical because it voted to boycott Israel and not to provide a platform for fascists at the same time as inviting someone from Hizbullah to give a talk on political Islam.

Just quickly, because that isn't the point of the post, apparently the Hizbullah chap is called Moussawi and he had said that Jews destroyed the World Trade Centre on 9/11 and maybe some other anti-Jewish things as well. The problem with this chap's reasoning is that Hizbullah isn't a state whereas Israel is. Israel is also a state whose existence is predicated on on-going abuses of human rights including very serious war crimes like ethnic cleansing. I don't know a lot about Hizbullah but I gather that their existence is predicated on its resistance to the State of Israel, a state that claims to represent the world's Jews. Further, there is a little bit more to fascism than saying nasty things about Jews. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that anti-Jewishness is clever, laudable or even ok but in the case of people on the receiving end of Israel's genocidal ambitions in Palestine and the south of Lebanon, I'd say it is understandable. But there is no double standard between boycotting Israel (and fascism) and engaging with a spokesperson for Hizbullah.

Now where was I. Ah yes, a meeting at SOAS. Here are the details:

Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid?

Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid?

Date: 16 May 2009Time: 10:00 AM

Finishes: 16 May 2009Time: 2:00 PM

Venue: Brunei GalleryRoom: Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Conference

This study considers whether Israeli practices in the OPT are consistent with colonialism and apartheid according to definitions provided by international law and the consequent implications for international action and responsibility, including prospects for bringing the question to the International Court of Justice.

Research was conducted by an international team of experts in human rights law and international humanitarian law, including Michelle Burgis, Shane Darcy, Max du Plessis, Fatmeh El-Ajou, Hassan Jabareen, Victor Kattan, Michael Kearney, Stephanie Koury, Godfrey Musila, John Reynolds, Rina Rosenberg, Iain Scobbie, Michael Sfard, Virginia Tilley, and Mays Warrad.

The study was supported by the Middle East Project (MEP), a project of the Democracy and Governance Programme of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), South Africa.

Organiser: HSRC Middle East Project and the Sir Joseph Hotung Research Programme

Contact email: sh84@soas.ac.uk, mep@hsrc.ac.za

Contact Tel: +44 20 7898 4561

Organised by: School of Law ,

Europe's dodgy characters, antisemitism and Israel's racism

Here's Adrian Hamilton in the Independent decrying the hypocrisy and childishness of European diplomats for walking out on Ahmadinejad the other day:
True, Iran's President is not the world's most endearing character. Some of the things he says are certainly contentious. But he is far from the most offensive leader on the block at the moment. With Silvio Berlusconi sounding off about women and sex, and Nicolas Sarkozy sounding off about everything from the quality of his fellow leaders to the unsuitability of Muslims to join the civilised nations, and a Polish president, Lech Kaczynski, giving his views on gays, Europe could claim its fair share of premiers who should not be allowed out in public.

Read Ahmadinejad's address at the UN conference on racism in Geneva this week and there is little to surprise and a certain amount to be agreed with. His accusations against the imperial powers for what they did with colonial rule and the business of slavery is pretty much part of the school curriculum now. His anger at the way the economic crisis originated in the West but has hit worst the innocent of the developing world would find a ready echo (and did) among most of the delegates.
But why specifically did they walk out?
It was not for this, however, that the countries of Europe and North America gathered up their skirts and walked out of Ahmadinejad's peroration. The UK's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Peter Gooderham, rather gave the game away when he said afterwards: "As soon as President Ahmadinejad started talking about Israel, that was the cue for us to walk out. We agreed in advance that if there was any such rhetoric there would be no tolerance for it." The Iranian leader, he went on to say, was guilty of anti-Semitisim.

Just how you can accuse a man of anti-Semitisim when you haven't stayed to hear him talk is one of those questions which the Foreign Office no doubt trains its diplomats to explain. But what basically was our representative trying to say here? That any mention of the word Israel is barred from international discussions? That the mere mention of it is enough to have the Western governments combine to still it? In fact, Ahmadinejad's speech was not anti-Semitic, not in the strict sense of the word. Nowhere in his speech did he mention his oft-quoted suggestion that Israel be expunged from the map of the world. At no point did he mention the word "Jews", only "Zionists", and then specifically in an Israeli context. Nor did he repeat his infamous Holocaust denials, although he did reportedly refer to it slightingly as "ambiguous" in its evidence.

Instead, he launched the time-honoured Middle Eastern accusation that Israel was an alien country imposed on the local population by the West, out of its own guilt for the genocide; that it was supported by a Zionist take-over of Western politics and that it pursued racist policies towards the Palestinians. Now you may find these calls offensive or far-fetched (if there is a Zionist world conspiracy, it is making a singularly bad job of it) but it is pretty much the standard view in the Muslim world. Western support of Israel is seen as a conspiracy, and it is not just prejudice. There are now books by Western academics arguing that the pro-Israeli lobby wields an influence in the US out of all proportion to its numbers. If the Western walkout in Geneva did nothing else, it rather proved the point.
Anything else:
Nor is it far-fetched to charge Israel with being a racist state. As the only country in the world that defines itself and its immigrants on racial grounds, it could be regarded as fair comment. And if you doubt that this founding principle leads Israel into racist attitudes to non-Israelis, then you only have to read the comments of its new Foreign Secretary, Avigdor Lieberman, to disabuse you.
Hello? We'd better watch that. They used to pull that one with Sharon, you know, I'm no fan of Sharon but.... Lieberman's just another zionist politician. He is not significantly different from any other zionist leader.

Still, it's a good fun article. I enjoyed it anyway. Look out for zios infesting the letters page tomorrow.

April 22, 2009

UK considers arms embargo against Israel

Yup, like the sign says, the UK is considering an arms embargo against Israel. Here's AP:
Britain says it will review all weapons exports to Israel following the country's recent war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The move comes amid pressure from British lawmakers who had demanded that the government ensure U.K. weapon parts were not used against Palestinians.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband told Parliament Tuesday that all export licenses would be reviewed "in light of recent events in Gaza." Israel's three-week offensive ended in mid-January.

He says all future applications to export arms to Israel will also be assessed with the Gaza conflict in mind.

Miliband says Britain supplies less than 1 percent of Israel's military imports.
That's not really the point though, is it? And what's this?

Palestine's friends in the north

The north of England that is, where calls for BDS have been made in the Lancashire town of Preston. Here's the Lancashire Evening Post:
Published Date: 20 April 2009
Preston should boycott any goods which come from Israel, a city councillor has said.
Socialist councillor Michael Lavalette, who represents the town centre on Preston Council, has called for the council to ban all Israeli goods in protest over the conflict in Gaza.

He is set to submit a notice of motion asking the council to back the call this week.

He also wants to ensure no council resources are invested in Israel.

And he says civic chiefs should write to supermarkets across the city and councils across the country urging them to join the protest.
But not everyone is so keen.
Tory and council leader Ken Hudson said: "I'm not sure this is something that is really for Preston.

"I'm not sure that we are going to invest in Israel and I'm not sure how many goods come into local supermarkets from Israel.

"I am, as I said at the special council meeting on Gaza, very keen that there is a peaceful world out there, but I'm not sure just exactly what we are doing by stirring up racial hatred."

Danny Gallagher, leader of the Lib Dem group on the council, said: "I can't see what he is going to gain from it, that's my personal view. What good is it going to do?"
And look who's here to put a word in for the Palestinians:
Joy Wolfe, of the Manchester Zionist Central Council, said: "I think it is highly inappropriate for our councils to do anything of this nature.
The very people he would want to help – the Palestinian people – will be the ones who suffer as a result of boycotting goods because they help to produce them."
Joy Wolfe, of course, has a bit of form when it comes to articulating Palestinian aspirations.

Still BDS is travelling well.

Take the apartheid out of Israel?

Hmm, here's a curiously honest letter from a friend, nay more, a lover of Israel in today's Independent:
Israel and the situation in the region is a constant vortex of spin, and the truth is not helped by the President of Iran's inaccurate grasp of history. The sources of modern Israel's existence can be traced to Russian anti-Semitism and the rise of nationalism in the 19th century.

But what must be clear to anyone who has spent time in the Arab areas of Israel is that there is a clear system of apartheid. Arabs are discriminated against in terms of housing, education and healthcare as well as opportunities after education.

For anyone to ignore this is to ignore one factor which will do great harm to Israel: and any lover of Israel needs to seek for Israel as a state to be a more pluralist society.

The Revd Stephen Griffith

Woking, Surrey

Hmm, the trouble there, Reverend, is that if you take away the apartheid from Israel there might not be anything left.

There are more letters slagging Israel too. Don't leave any hostages to fortune Mark, whatever you do. I can't help it. Don't do it. I must, I must. Sorry, I was just grappling with my cautious self. The Independent letters page is becoming a bit of a playground for Israel's critics these days. There I did it. It's becoming for Israel's critics what the Guardian's Comment is "free" is for the hasbara brigade. Woah! I did it again. See this next letter:
No wonder Durban II was boycotted by Israel and the USA. No wonder the British delegate led out a flock of others after hearing (but obviously not listening to) Ahmedinejad.

As my mother used to say whenever she rebuked me: the truth hurts. The simple truth in this case being that the Palestinian people have, with the help of colonialist Britain initially, been made to pay the price of crimes against the Jewish people. When will the world understand that two wrongs do not make a right?

Elizabeth Morley

Oh purlease!? Israel does not exist because of the holocaust. Foreign policy is not constructed by reference to who the foreign policy makers feel most sorry for. Still, criticism is criticism but we ought to get it right and we need to challenge every zionist narrative.

But moving on, the next one is a reminder of a post by Gabriel here. Ok class, hand up anyone that can remember Gabriel's post saying that we call Israel apartheid because we are polite. Well that's precisely what this woman is saying here:
Perhaps the BBC Trust should study President Ahmedinejad's text at the UN conference and learn to appreciate the accuracy and restraint of Jeremy Bowen's reporting?

Colin V Smith

Rainford, Merseyside
Alright, not precisely but close.

Ok, last one, refuting the myth of Israeli generosity over the Gaza disengagement:
Jeremy Sharman (Letters, 18 April) does nothing but repeat Zionist propaganda when he intimates that the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza settlements was some sort of concession. The abandonment of these settlements was not a concession or even part of the peace process but, as Ariel Sharon said at the time, a disengagement from the peace process.

To understand the thinking behind such a move one only has to read the teachings of Chief Rabbi Kook (1865-1935), one of the leading figures in combining religious and political Zionism. Kook often stated that to achieve the aims of Zionism, those outposts (settlements) which prove not to be viable should be abandoned to strengthen those that are (West Bank).

Michael W Cook

Soulbury, Buckinghamshire
And that, of course, is without getting into the fact that Israel still pretty much controls Gaza, its boundaries, its electricity supplies, its airspace, the sea, almost everything.

Still it's a good start to the day for our side.

April 21, 2009

Holocaust lost in translation

Most readers who come here, deliberately anyway, will have seen or heard or heard something about the speech of Iranian President Ahmadinejad to the Durban II conference. I watched several BBC newses last night and all they had Ahmadinejad saying was that Israel was a cruel and racist government and that the west had used "Jewish suffering" (I'm literally quoting, that is what the translator said) to migrate Jews from Europe and America to Palestine, drive out the Palestinians and establish, what the translator said was a "racist government".

Well the Guardian has an article headed thus:
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's attack on Israel triggers walkout at UN racism conference

• Iran's president launches tirade at tolerance summit
• Diplomats stage protest as speech denies Holocaust

And in the article it says this:
"Following world war two, [powerful states] resorted to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless, on the pretext of Jewish suffering and the ambiguous and dubious question of the Holocaust .... and they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive racists in Palestine," he said.
But the same passage in the Iranian state broadcaster, Press TV's website it says this:
Following World War II, they resorted to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering and they sent migrants from Europe, the United States and other parts of the world in order to establish a totally racist government in occupied Palestine. And, in fact, in compensation for the dire consequences of racism in Europe, they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive racist regime in Palestine.
Sensitive stuff except the support of western governments for zionism goes back to WWI not WWII and the only government to change its position from the end of WWI to the end of WWII was that of Joe Stalin. I don't think he was ever in the business of compensation for ethnic cleansing.

But anyway, if you see the Guardian video clip, it has no translation going on while he talks. What you hear is what you get. It's the man himself, Ahmadinejad. I can't load the clip here but if you go there and listen, he clearly says the word "holocaust". So why does it not appear in the Press TV transcript?

It's like that ridiculous carry on when that Israeli minister prematurely announced "cast lead" by saying that Israel was going to inflict an "even bigger shoah" on Gaza. I think mad Mel Phlips called that the "mother of all mistranslations". I wonder what she'll say about this.

The West's awake. Galway and Sligo boycott Veolia

The West of Ireland, that is. In February, Sligo (birthplace of Yeats) County Council unanimously adopted a resolution to boycott Veolia. Veolia, for those who don't know, is a French multinational building a settler tramline through East Jerusalem. They specialise in public contracts for waste disposal, transport etc and so are much easier to pressure than companies solely in the private sector. And indeed they've been under a fair amount of international pressure recently, losing a couple of huge contracts.

Last night the pressure was increased that little bit extra when a motion calling on Galway county council not to sign or renew any further contracts with Veolia was passed, again unanimously. Galway is one of Ireland's largest counties (larger in fact than the West Bank) and so it's a fairly significant motion.

For more about the campaign - here's a link

April 20, 2009

Israeli troops troupe too hot for some

There's an Israeli army theatre group being promoted by the Zionist Federation. They were going to appear at the Bloomsbury Theatre but the theatre cancelled the arrangement because it doesn't want to inadvertently host war criminals. Here's the Guardian:
An Israeli Defence Force song-and-dance troupe is to perform in London at a show to commemorate the founding of Israel, provoking anger among groups that campaign for the rights of Palestinians.

The IDF group was likened by the event organisers, the Zionist Federation, to the troupe portrayed in the 1970s BBC comedy It Ain't Half Hot Mum – but not everyone sees the funny side.

Human rights groups accused the IDF of committing war crimes during the three-week invasion of the Gaza Strip, which began in December – allegations denied by the Israeli government – and the army is the subject of a UN investigation.

"This is akin to singing and dancing on the graves of the 400 Palestinian children that the IDF was responsible for killing in January," said Chris Doyle, chair of the Council for Arab-British Understanding.

"We should not be permitting a dance troupe from an army currently under a UN investigation for possible war crimes to be coming to the United Kingdom. It is sick."

The family show, an annual event run by ZF, was due to be held at the Bloomsbury theatre in central London but was moved to a new venue, which is being kept under wraps, after the Bloomsbury pulled out last week on discovering that the IDF troupe was on the bill.

"Obviously we couldn't have them perform here," said a theatre spokeswoman. A number of groups had contacted the Bloomsbury theatre to protest about the show.

Another blow for BDS. There is something in the air these days.

You'll notice that I've tagged this with Gaza, cast lead and war crimes together with the boycott and BDS that you would expect. That's to show what a rip-roaring success Israel's assault on Gaza was. It was a great success, for BDS.

April 19, 2009

Order of the Bath: boycott Israel

I think this might be the first time I have done a post from the Bath Chronicle and it's more good news on BDS. It's a letter headed, Shoppers, let's boycott Israel:
On behalf of the newly-formed WestWilts Palestine Support Group, (Justice for Palestine, Peace for Israel) I would like to thank all those in Melksham and Bradford on Avon who took leaflets or signed the petition last week asking Sainsbury's to boycott produce from Israel.

Israel was born in 1948, following the UN General Assembly vote to divide the former Palestine into Israel (57 per cent ) and Palestine (43 per cent)

Palestine is now reduced to 22 per cent and is broken up by 129 illegal Israeli Settlements – 480,000 settlers – and Israeli-only roads. The 4th Geneva Convention states that no occupying power should transfer its peoples into occupied land.

Since 1967 Israel has flouted the convention with impunity, confiscating Palestinian land and water to do so, supported, alas, by many Western governments.

Netanyahu is now in power, and has stated he will continue this policy and dismisses the two-state solution originally envisaged, preferring 'economic' help for the Palestinians.
Click here!

The World Bank has stated that the number of Palestinians living below the poverty line rose from 20 per cent in 1988 to a massive 64 per cent now.

Boycotts, sanctions and divestment finally ended the apartheid regime in South Africa.

We can all make a difference now by refusing to buy Israeli oranges, avocados, dates and herbs etc from our local supermarkets and so give support to the Israeli Peace Activist groups which are working tirelessly to end the occupation which has caused such suffering to Israelis as well as Palestinians.

New members to the group are welcome. Call 01225 708021 or 01225 868195

JUDITH HAMMOND WestWilts Palestine Support Group, Bradford on Avon
Think global act local.

Scots TUC to boycott Israel

Good news on the BDS front but then it often is lately. Here's the Marcus Dysch in the Jewish Chronicle:
The Scottish Trades Union Conference is expected next week to rubber-stamp plans for a boycott of Israel.

Delegates at its annual congress will vote on whether to implement recommendations from a two-year investigation by its general council into alleged Israeli violations of human rights.

And the case against boycott action?
The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) has warned that the proposal for boycott, divestment and sanctions would expose Jews to attack, and has requested an urgent meeting with the organisation.
So what made the STUC decide:
Delegates met Israeli and Palestinian trade union representatives and were given guided tours of Sderot, Yad Vashem, and towns in the West Bank and Gaza. They laid a wreath at Yasir Arafat’s grave in Ramallah.

Their report of the visit concluded: “In light of what we witnessed and heard in our meetings… it is the delegation’s view that the General Council should recommend to the annual congress the need to take a position of supporting boycott and divestments, and calling for sanctions against Israel because of the Israeli state’s violation of human rights.”
Anything else against?
SCoJeC director Ephraim Borowski said: “We are saddened that the delegation ignored the growing level of expressly antisemitic abuse in this country and seem prepared to accept allegations against Israel virtually without question. They have given no consideration to the impact that a boycott would have on the Jewish community in Scotland, particularly since there is ample evidence that anti-Israel campaigners are often less than scrupulous in distinguishing Jews from Israelis.”
Oh not more grief over 7 Jewish Children.

Any more against?
At Trade Union Friends of Israel, Steve Scott said the consequences of a boycott would be far-reaching.....

“A boycott would affect Palestinian workers as much as Israelis, particularly in the agriculture and processing industries.”
My goodness, a boycott would make Israelis and Palestinians equal. I thought that was the idea. Now get boycotting, you good people.

Gaza now

Here's Gideon Levy in Ha'aretz on the state of Gaza three months after the assault that was so popular with the Israeli Jewish public:
Abu-Aun sounded particularly bitter this past weekend; the Red Cross refused his family a bigger tent. He has also had enough of eating beans.

For three months, the Abu-Aun family and thousands of others have been living in five tent encampments built after the war. They have not begun clearing away the ruins of their homes, let alone build new ones. Thousands live in the shadow of the ruins of their homes, thousands in tents, thousands crowded together with their relatives, tens of thousands who are newly homeless and whom the world has lost interest in. After the conference of donor countries, which convened to great fanfare in Sharm el-Sheikh a month and a half ago, which included 75 countries and agreed to transfer $1 billion to rebuild Gaza, nothing happened.

Gaza is besieged. There are no building materials. Israel and the world are setting conditions, the Palestinians are incapable of forming a unity government, as is needed, the money and concrete are nowhere to be seen and the Abu-Aun family continues to live in a tent. Even the $900 million promised by the United States is stuck in the cash register. It's doubtful whether it will ever be taken out. America's word.

It's exactly three months since the much-talked-about war, and Gaza is once again forgotten. Israel has never taken an interest in the welfare of its victims. Now the world has forgotten, too. Two weeks with hardly a Qassam rocket has taken Gaza completely off the agenda. If the Gazans don't hurry up and resume firing, nobody will take an interest in their welfare again.
And hasbara sites are plutzing about Bil'in. No wonder.

T is for Terrible but also for Typical

There something curious going on at Harry's Place. There's a guest post by a chap called Alex Stein drawing attention to what he calls a murder by an Israel soldier or soldiers, if members of the unit of the man who shot a Palestinian in the chest with a tear gas canister or something that looks like one decide to cover for their colleague who managed to get himself filmed in the act.

The first comment is by Mr T himself. Aghast that such a terrible Israeli crime should be caught on film he is at his eloquent best as he cries, "That is terrible". No Mr T, as you know, it is typical.

Now HP was very supportive of Operation Cast Lead and Alex Stein was happy enough with it too, though he may have had one or two gripes about actions within the assault on Gaza. Here's a post I just dug up by David T during the assault on Gaza. And here's one from Alex Stein. I'm guessing they're fairly typical of both so what's brought on this sudden outpouring of liberal angst? David T certainly doesn't usually wring his hands about Israeli atrocities and within Israel's murderous scheme of things, shooting one person at close range with a tear gas canister isn't exactly the worst of it.

Oh I know these hasbara sites can do their liberal angst when denouncing the illiberalism of various islamist regimes and parties but I'm not used to seeing any criticism of Israel. They've even shocked some of their own.

Gene who seems to share status with Mr T at Harry's Place, comments thus:
The IDF claims there was a riot, although it doesn’t appear violent from the video. But please, let’s be precise about the word “murder.” It was only murder if the soldier fired the tear gas canister with the intent of killing someone.
And of course you can know that by asking him, can't you? In the UK recklessness counts as intent for certain violent crimes including murder. (but see the corrective comment by Tony Greenstein below) According to Gene, that's not the case in Palestine. You can fire a tear gas canister at close range at someone's chest and it's for prosecutors, such as there are, to establish what you actually intended by that.

There's no surprise about Gene's comment and Alex Stein fancies himself on the left of the zionist spectrum so not much surprise with him. Ok, Mr T pretending that the incident was somehow atypical isn't that surprising but what brought it on just now? Someone has said in the comments that Alex Stein has pulled a bit of a Seth Freedman. You know, a kneejerk outpouring against nasty things he must have known about in the first place. But that explains it appearing on Stein's blog. Why the rush to get it on to Harry's Place?

And why did he pour his heart out the post before the post before the "Murder" about all these people who he claims hate him and are lucky he doesn't sue them for their expressions of hatred of him? It's an apparently diverse list of islamists, a fascist, a trot, and me and I'm described as an "oddball". I think that must be because he's tried the antisemitism smear a few times on me, he can't link me too closely to the SWP and he just finds it odd that someone with no particular axe to grind on other issues finds colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and segregationist laws kind of repugnant.

I don't get many mentions on HP and I didn't get much of one on this post but the thread is dominated by references to me and Mr T makes a couple of appearances to stress that I am the oddball he lists me as in the post and to say that I am, wait for it, an elf. Fiendishly funny that man.

A couple of people make out that I am a troll on other people's blogs, that I manipulate the comments in Jews sans frontieres to win arguments by avoiding them and that I just ignore superior arguments and pretend they never happened. There's no corrective from the poor libelled Mr T in spite of the fact that he tends to do just that when his bogus antisemitism innuendoes fall flat here and on other blogs he makes the mistake of venturing into without his own troll army. Another thing the poor libelled Mr T does is allow someone to post a comment suggesting that I promote the idea that zionists are responsible for the holocaust. Is that libel? Let's face it, in the plaintiff friendly regime that is the UK's libel laws, anything critical of a person can be libel.

Hasbara Buster has some critical words for the post:
Let’s not be paranoid — if someone attacks you it doesn’t necessarily follow that they hate you.

Also, I don’t agree with the thesis that if people criticize you it’s because you’ve told truths that they don’t like to hear. In some cases it may be because you’re wrong.
To which T responds with a typically cryptically rhetorical question:
Let’s not be paranoid — if someone attacks you it doesn’t necessarily follow that they hate you.

I think I can be pretty sure with the guys above.

Also, I don’t agree with the thesis that if people criticize you it’s because you’ve told truths that they don’t like to hear. In some cases it may be because you’re wrong.

You do appreciate that certain political philosophies are described as ‘extreme’ for a reason?

To which HB responds with some kind words for me:
I believe one-sidedness is not the same as extremism. The only person I know from your list, Mark Elf, is by no means an extremist.

Unless we want to trivialize the word “extreme,” just like we’ve done with the word “antisemite.” In that case, who among us would be safe from being called an extremist? Would you?

Needless to say T disappears but just before HB's appearance one of the troll army popped in to enjoy the fun of misrepresenting me so T knew he was leaving his thread in hands as er capable as his own. This is someone called "amie"
I was shocked to find my name in Google linked to a comment by one Mark Elf where he gleefully wrote that I had been ripped apart by Shlaim,
I had no idea what he was talking about but back comes Hasbara Buster:
And rip you apart he did. In your letter, you exonerated Betar because Ben Yosef’s attack on a bus was botched — when you know perfectly well that Betar member David Raziel bombed marketplaces on at least 5 occasions, killing scores of completely innocent Arabs! That’s why Shlaim, correctly, said “That the operation was botched does not make it any less reprehensible. It is the intention that counts and the intention was to murder a busload of innocent Arab civilians. And this was only one in a long series of terrorist attacks mounted by the Irgun and the Stern Gang on Arab buses and marketplaces.”
But get this in reponse to another comment faintly, you might say, supportive of me:
7. Mark Elf - oddball

he might not disagree with that characterization.

for all the dismissive comments made here, you all seem to pay attention to him. How do you figure?

His writing is interesting and always with a touch of humor. He makes clear points without feigning scholarship. He doesn’t pretend to be an expert on subjects he has just looked up on Wikipedia. I like him very much.

I also like David T. Do I need a shrink?

No, you need a life! Not really, stout fellow. But it was still too much for the hated libelled David T. He still didn't come back.

But what's all this about? This phoney angst about one of Israel's many thousands of unarmed victims? And this bleating about being libelled but being too principled to take action? There's a game on. I just know it. And why didn't he mention all the people that clearly like him like Melanie Phillips, David Hirsh, Matt Seaton and more recently Ian Hislop? Some people have got persecution mania. But what's the game here?