December 31, 2009

Collaborators will be picketed - today!

Many thanks to David Hillman in the comments for drawing my attention to this:

Picket at the Egyptian Embassy

Thursday 31st December

1.00pm – 3.00pm

26 South Street, London, W1K 1DW, off Park Lane, Marble Arch/Hyde Park Corner Underground stations

Called by British Muslim Initiative and supported by PSC

Al Jazeera reports that these pickets are taking place world wide.

European human rights groups call for picketing Egyptian embassies

[ 29/12/2009 - 09:45 AM ]


European human rights groups have decided to organize demonstrations in front of Egyptian embassies in the European continent to protest Cairo's construction of the steel wall along its borders with Gaza Strip.

The European solidarity movement with the Palestinian people said in a press release late on Monday that the organizations would also protest the Egyptian blockage of humanitarian aid convoys to besieged Gaza.

The statement said that a demonstration would be organized in front of the Egyptian embassy in London on Thursday 31/12/2009 to be followed by similar demonstrations in Greece, Holland, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland and Sweden on Saturday 2/1/2010.

It said that the rallies target pressuring the Egyptian authorities to allow access for relief convoys and solidarity activists into the Strip.

The demonstrators would display their rejection and condemnation of the steel wall, which would negatively affect the life of citizens in Gaza.

The rallies also aim at shedding light on the suffering of the Gaza people due to the tightening siege imposed on them.

In Gaza, hundreds of Palestinian women marched in Rafah city, south of the Strip, on Monday against the Egyptian steel wall.

They hoisted Hamas banners along with signs saying "No to the wall of death" and chanting slogans asking the Egyptian government to stop building the wall and asking the Arab League to interfere.

The Egyptian steel wall would bury the tunnels and make digging new ones impossible for the Gaza people who depend on them for smuggling food and other life necessities in face of the Israeli siege on them.

December 30, 2009

On the false choices imposed by a Left that could use some antidepressant (or faith)

"More than a hundred of people have been killed, thousands of people have been imprisoned, hundreds of people have been tortured, executions occur daily. Why do some in West worry about the murder of an amed Basiji without even investigating the accuracy of the news? Some Western commentators treat Basijis as Zionist media would treat Israeli soldiers, and Iranian protesters as Zionist media would treat Palestinians. The accusations of violence among Iranian protesters is largely fabricated by the Iranian state media. Some commentators think the movement is pro-capitalism and US imperialism because they believe the protesters to be mostly students or members of the middle class, and rarely poor. I once asked such a commentator to consider an analogous situation in which university students in the US protested, say, the Vietnam war. If the students' protests are oppressed by primarily working class police, it does not imply that the students' cause is pro-capitalism and imperialism or it doesn't mean that the war with Vietnam is a good thing. Alternatively, consider the gay rights movement, which is mostly supported by the middle class, but is not pro-imperialism, Zionism, interventionism, or capitalism and doesn't mean that their cause is not important....thinks that people in the Middle East are capable of bringing two kinds of government to their societies: reactionary hardliners who will be on the US bad guys' list or dictators who are submissive to US-Israel*. I think people are capable of shattering this false dichotomy and through their struggle they will come up with more socialist secular progressive institutions. Better to rebel than to submit to tyranny, regardless of the outcome. Don't you agree? *Each one of these governments people in Middle East have, are warned of the danger of the other one. If your country is run by US-Israel puppets, you will be warned of hardliners. If the country is run by reactionary hardliners, you are warned of the danger of a government that submits to US-Israel. Thus Middle Eastern people are asked to do nothing." (Angry Reader responds to Angry Arab)

December 29, 2009

Feuding Fantasy Forces or Desperately seeking Redress

I wouldn't have noticed this Jewish Chronicle article but for the fact that a hoax is doing the rounds about how "whistle blowers" from the Board of Deputies, the Office of the Chief Rabbi and the offices of the Jewish Chronicle all trundled along to a one man site calling itself Redress to try to save the Jewish establishment from itself. A regular commenter to JSF left a comment to my previous post about the Gaza commemoration linking to the hoax and a zionist troll mentioned a name, Nureddin Sabir, as having something to do with it. A little googling showed Nureddin Sabir to be the "editor" of Redress and it turned up the JC article.

So first let's look at the JC article by Martin Bright:
Anti-Zionist activists are increasingly turning their attention to a web-based de-legitimisation campaign against Israel rather than high-profile public protests against individual politicians.

The Community Security Trust is particularly concerned about the organisation Redress, which highlights alleged injustice across the Middle East via its website and social networks Facebook and Twitter.

The editor of the site is not identified although it is thought to be Nureddin Sabir, and there is no information about how Redress is funded.

Now there is less content on Redress than there is on Jews sans frontieres so how much funding would it need? JSF requires none, Redress? Logically, less than none.

A good look at the site reveals no more than a casual glance does, that is most of its articles are by Gilad Atzmon (or someone called Balles) and I remember when I first saw the hoax I thought it looked like a cross between Jewdas, who I have time for, and Atzmon for whom I have no time. Ok apologies to Jewdas but let's have a look at the Redress article.
In recent weeks Redress Information & Analysis has been approached by a number of existing and former employees and volunteers of prominent Jewish bodies, all pointing to an acute internal crisis within their institutions.
I suppose recently, even a year ago, there has been a bit of a wobble in the Jewish establishment partly over the attack on Gaza and partly over the accession of Netanyahu and Lieberman to power in Israel. But the idea that whistle blowers from very small organisations would try to make contact with an anonymously run website is too outlandish to take seriously. Indeed, Redress comes close to making this point itself:
Naturally, we were curious as to why our interlocutors chose or were willing to talk to Redress Information & Analysis rather than voice their concerns to a national media outlet such as the Guardian, the Independent or the BBC. All said that they were worried that their names would be leaked back to their institutions or published in the press and that, as a result, they would be sacked or ostracized by their Jewish relatives and friends. Some feared the possibility of “moles” in the national media, or people in these media who have “special relations” with the Jewish institutions, doing the leaking.
First up, Redress appears to be not so much a "we"as a "me".

But let's look at what one of the "whistle blowers" from the Board had to say:
Our support for Israel, especially its attack on Gaza in 2008-09, is creating ruptures in the wider Jewish community in Britain and placing institutions such as ours under unbearable pressure. The fact that the Board of Deputies’ support for Israel is couched in relatively anodyne terms and in a superficially impartial context no longer works. The wider Jewish community, and the general public at large, are beginning to see through this.

For the first time in my memory, we are being pressed by British Jews to answer questions that have always been in the backs of our minds but which we can no longer brush aside. Are we British or are we Israelis? If we are British, then is it not incumbent upon us to question, as the wider British public is questioning, the policies and behaviour of the State of Israel without harbouring any feelings of disloyalty – because our loyalty is to the UK and not to Israel?
This is nonsense. It is anti-zionist Jews who are at odds with UK policy on Palestine, not zionists. That was the first of two BoD whistle blowers, by the way and the first of a few things that had me thinking that the article plays to a bit of an anti-Jewish agenda. Reading on we see the take of "Our second contact at the Board of Deputies of British Jews":
the question of our allegiance is the one that is the most serious and damaging in the long term. It does not help in this regard when some of our Jewish ministers, such as the foreign secretary, David Miliband, and the Foreign Office minister, Ivan Lewis, are either openly pro-Israel or are seen to be supporters of Israel. This casts doubt on the loyalty of all of us to Britain, our country.
The entire cabinet is openly pro-Israel and Miliband and Lewis are no more so than any of their colleagues and possibly less so than the Prime Minister himself. I don't even think the Jewish establishment considers Miliband to be Jewish given his leftist lineage. But let's get the view "According to our contact at the Office of the Chief Rabbi":
The Office of the Chief Rabbi, the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Chronicle and many other Jewish organizations up and down the country – at universities, for instance – are living in a time warp, as if today were 1948 or the eve of the 1967 war.

The world has changed, and the information the community has available to it shows that we Jews are not in peril – on the contrary, Jews in the UK and throughout Europe are prospering like never before. Anti-Semitism – by which I mean racist, anti-Jewish feeling – has all but vanished. In fact, it is the Muslims, not the Jews, who are bearing the brunt of racism in Europe. Islamophobia, spurred on by neo-Nazi parties and neo-conservatives, is what we Jews, as members of a wider multi-cultural community, should be fighting against.
Had the article have mentioned 1933 or 1938 it would have been more credible but it seems that the mole in the Chief Rabbi's office is lamenting the passing of the days when zionists had the British public fooled into seeing the zionist project as "plucky little Israel".

Anyway, on to "Our contact at the Jewish Chronicle who said:
As a strategy for extending the scope of the Jewish Chronicle’s appeal, the choice of Martin Bright as our chief political editor just underlines how out of touch with the real world Stephen Pollard is. It isn’t just a question of Martin’s neo-conservative and Israel baggage – and the circumstances under which he left the News Statesman – but what about the rest of the Jewish Chronicle’s coverage?

Take a look at some of our commentators and columnists. The average British reader would take one glance and say “What a rogues gallery!” You have Tzipi Livni, that broken record Melanie Phillips and, worse of all, Geoffrey Aldeman. For God’ sake, Geoffrey Alderman is one of our regular columnist, believe it or not! For a newspaper that’s struggling to keep its readers, the choice of Geoffrey Alderman is a damn strange one, but that’s Stephen Pollard for you.
Yes, Livni, Phillips and Alderman would appear in any gallery of Jewish rogues, as would Pollard with Bright as a particularly unrighteous gentile, but would "the average British reader" pick up on that? I hope so, I desperately hope so. But I am not so desperate as to believe so, still less to believe that there are insiders in mainstream Jewish organisations that would worry about that.

But what is all that about Martin Bright? Isn't he the chap who wrote the article inflating Redress's importance beyond even the Redress editor's fevered imagination? Er, yes he is. If Mr Bright is stupid enough to think that Redress is a threat to anything bar the credibility of those who promote its articles then he might just believe that he has a mole in his office who meets up with another mole in the Chief Rabbi's office who in turn meets up with two moles from the Board of Deputies and that they all get together to spill kosher beans to a silly conspiracy site.

There is nothing in the article in terms of facts that you would have to be an insider to know and the article does reflect some disquiet that has been expressed in the community but mostly in the early 1980s rather than more recently. It is an entertaining read for those of us who like a bit of wishful thinking. It would be nice to think that there are rumblings against the ridiculous Stephen Pollard, that the Board and the Office of the Chief Rabbi are growing weary of the false allegation of antisemitism and the uncritical support for the State of Israel. But the resort to tropes like "dual loyalty" and the concern about Jewish ministers as distinct from the rest of the imperialist "rogues gallery" that is the cabinet is too absurd to take seriously. Redress did well to get taken seriously by the JC and CST but honesty has never been the strong suit for either of them, any more than it has been for Redress. It appears that the fantasy forces' feud is a wind-up, nothing more.

UPDATE: Final proof if proof were needed: Liar, racist and buffoon Gilad Atzmon has posted the "Redress" article on his website. Redress has posted the Gilad Atzmon article on its website. Oh no, it's so confusing. The article clearly purports to be a Redress article. But what's this on Gilad Atzmon's site?
Britain’s Jews in crisis over national loyalty, identity and Israel By Redress Information & Analysis

And on the Redress site?
Britain’s Jews in crisis over national loyalty, identity and Israel

Whistleblowers say top Zionist institutions in unprecedented crisis

By Redress Information & Analysis

26 December 2009
See the dates. Gilad, you imbecile! Redress was supposed to post it first. It was their exclusive. Oi gevalt! Better hurry on over before he doctors his post.

UPDATE II - the whistle blowers were so scared they had to cross the international dateline to conceal themselves.

December 27, 2009

Israeli Embassy in London - be there about now!

Sorry all, I just don't find the Palestine Solidarity Campaign website very navigable sometimes but thankfully David Rosenberg (of the Jewish Socialist Group) emailed me the following notice and lent me his cyber compass. So here I am:

One year since the Beginning of the Attacks on Gaza

Join the Vigil Outside the Israeli Embassy

End the Siege on Gaza

Sunday 27 December 2009


High Street Kensington, W8, London (High St Kensington Underground)

Called by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, British Muslim Initiative, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Stop the War Coalition

Supported by: Amos Trust, Communication Workers Union, Fire Brigades Union, Friends of Al Aqsa, Friends of Lebanon, Greater London UNISON, The Green Party, ICAHD UK, IJAN – the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Jewish Socialists' Group, Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East, Palestinian Return Centre, The Peace Cycle, Public and Commercial Services Union, Thompsons Solicitors.



Liverpool 27 December 2-4pm

Sheffield 27 December 4-5pm

Wolverhampton 29 December 4:30pm

Leicester PSC is holding a vigil for Gaza in the centre of Leicester on December 28th. between 2 and 3pm

Brighton PSC Gaza vigil in Brighton on 27th December

Birmingham 27th December, Victoria Square, 2pm - 4pm

Halifax, George Square from 5.00 to 6.00 p.m. on Tuesday 5th January and Tuesday 13th January

December 26, 2009

Carter U-turn or "told you so"

I think we may be in a bit of a "told you so" situation here. Apparently Jimmy Carter is trying to ingratiate himself with the Israel lobby. As coincidence would have it, his grandson is going into politics. This is from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
Jimmy Carter is asking the Jewish community for forgiveness -- and insists it’s not simply because his grandson has decided to launch a political career with a run for the Georgia state Senate.

Jason Carter, 34, an Atlanta-area lawyer, is considering a run to fill a seat covering suburban DeKalb County should the incumbent, David Adelman, win confirmation as President Obama's designated ambassador to Singapore.

The seat, which is university heavy -- Emory, among others, is situated there -- also has a substantial Jewish community.

The senior Carter outraged Jewish leaders with his book “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid,” and they strongly criticized the former U.S. president for what appeared to be his likening of Israel's settlement practices to apartheid and seeming to place the brunt of the blame for a lack of peace on Israel.

On the subsequent book tour, Carter further enraged many Jews by intimating that the pro-Israel lobby inhibited an evenhanded U.S. policy.

Such bad blood could potentially translate into problems for Carter’s grandson as he considers launching a political career.

Now if the Israel lobby either doesn't exist or doesn't have the power that Carter suggests that it does, why should Carter be back-peddling on what he was saying in his book?

And what's this "told you so" all about? For that, check out an earlier JSF post together with the comments.

December 23, 2009

So what is zionism?

I just had a letter published in the UK's Independent newspaper responding to a throwaway line by Howard Jacobson that covered a "multitude of sins" by the racist war criminals of the State of Israel. Here's Jacobson:
When does sympathy for Zionist aspiration – the return of Jews to their ancient homeland – become "support", and when does that support become "active"?
And here's me:
Howard Jacobson is being economical with the truth by describing the "Zionist aspiration" as "the return of Jews to their ancient homeland" (5 December). Zionism is the idea that there should be a state in what used to be Palestine specifically for the world's Jews, and that Jews, no matter when or where they or their ancestors became Jewish, should have more right to Palestine and more rights in Palestine than the native non-Jewish population.

Mark Elf

Dagenham, Essex

I think that definition works for zionism today but I'm open to correction.

December 22, 2009

Israel does not discriminate?

What? That can't be right, can it? Well apparently it is true that Israel did not discriminate when it came to harvesting body parts from dead people without consent. The Guardian has just had to run one of its famed "Corrections and clarifications" following the headline, "Israel admits harvesting Palestinian organs". The headline now appears so, Doctor admits Israeli pathologists harvested organs without consent.

Here's how it all appears in the Corrections and clarifications section:
We should not have put the headline "Israel admits harvesting Palestinian organs" on a story about an admission, by the former head of the Abu Kabir forensic institute near Tel Aviv, that during the 1990s specialists at the institute harvested organs from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers without getting permission from the families of the deceased (21 December, page 15). That headline did not match the article, which made clear that the organs were not taken only from Palestinians. This was a serious editing error and the headline has been changed online to reflect the text of the story written by the reporter.
There was nothing wrong with the original headline. It was correct, Israel did harvest Palestinian organs. The fact that the Palestinians are a captive population and that most of those killed by Israel have been innocent civilians does compound the scandal of what Israel did. Of course, harvesting body parts without consent is always a scandal in societies where organs are only donated with consent from either the deceased or their families but nicking the body parts from people who, while alive, are treated under the law as racially inferior is a far greater scandal and far more newsworthy.

I wonder who got the headline changed.

Israeli repression wave targets activists

From The Real News Network, Dec 22:

Here's RNN's summary:

In recent months, since the public push for The Goldstone Report, Israeli authorities have intensified their repression of activists on both sides of the segregation wall. Though Israel tries Palestinians and Israelis under separate legal systems, with the former being prosecuted in a military court and the later in domestic, civil courts, both have seen an escalation in detentions. The recent cases include Mohammad Srour, Mohammad Othman, and Abdullah Abu Rahma, all activists from the Occupied West Bank. The most recent arrest is of Jamal Juma', an international known human rights activist and the coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign, a grassroots network of popular committees fighting Israel's segregation wall.

Jamal Juma' was born in Jerusalem and attended Birzeit University, where he became politically active. Since the first Intifada, he has focused on grassroots activism. He is a founding member of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees, Palestinian Association for Cultural Exchange and Palestinian Environmental NGO Network. Juma' is since 2002 the coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. He has been invited to address numerous civil society and UN conferences, where he has spoken on the issue of Palestine and the Apartheid Wall. His articles and interviews are widely disseminated and translated into several languages. On December 16th, 2009 Jamal Juma' was arrested and is now detained at The Russian Compound in Jerusalem without charge, and without the right to see a lawyer.

On Dec. 21 The Media Line ran an article titled, Palestinians Spend Half Billion on Settlement Products. The PA recently decided to ban the sale of settlement goods in Palestinian stores in the West Bank. They say no settlement goods will be on the shelves after 2010. To underscore their seriousness, they staged a Dec. 16 photo op of PA customs officials dumping $55,000 worth of Ahava cosmetics seized from stores in Jericho, then destroyed them:

But banning settlement goods isn't all they're up to:

Beyond buying products produced on Israeli settlements, at least 25,000 Palestinians are legally employed in Israeli communities, about half of them in West Bank settlements.

Earlier this month Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad said the Palestinian Authority would begin a process of finding alternative employment for Palestinians working in Israeli settlements and eventually ban such employment altogether.

While Palestinians working on West Bank settlements are socially stigmatized, an outright ban on Palestinian employment on settlements has never materialized.

Jamal Juma, the director of the Stop the Wall campaign who met with Fayyad last week to discuss the ban, said the number of Palestinians employed in Israeli communities in the West Bank is much higher than the official numbers.

"Officially Israel gives permissions to between 10,000 and 15,000 Palestinians to work in settlements but it's more like 30,000 workers when you include Palestinians working both legally and illegally," he told The Media Line after the meeting with Fayyad. "The settlements are completely dependent on cheap Palestinian labor for their infrastructure so I think we can really hurt the settlements if all Palestinians stop working there."

Juma was arrested by Israel less than 48 hours after speaking with The Media Line.

Clearly Juma has Fayyad's ear & the PA is implementing his ideas. Thus he's a genuine threat to the settlement project, & that's why Israel has locked him up.

Stop The Wall has issued this Dec. 21 action call to demand the release of Juma, Othman, Abu Rahme & all the anti-wall activists currently rotting in the occupier's prisons.

December 21, 2009

The Gaza Freedom March: First roadblock - Egypt

One didn't expect the collaborationist Egyptian government to be friendly, but still, this is a reminder that there is no bottom to this particular pit. Max Ajl from Egypt:

I had thought to write something inspiring about my upcoming voyage to Cairo and Gaza. I still will. But first, more important matters. The Egyptian government, citing security concerns, has semi-officially decided not to let the Gaza Freedom March cross into Gaza. This is unacceptable, but beyond that, we'll skip the moral exhortations and ask for action. First, the press release, roughly, then, a few concrete steps you can take to bring polite, targeted, and heavy pressure on the government of Egypt:

Please take action.

Gaza Freedom March

December 21, 2009

We are determined to break the siege
We all will continue to do whatever we can to make it happen

Using the pretext of escalating tensions on the Gaza-Egypt border, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry informed us yesterday that the Rafah border will be closed over the coming weeks, into January. We responded that there is always tension at the border because of the siege, that we do not feel threatened, and that if there are any risks, they are risks we are willing to take. We also said that it was too late for over 1,300 delegates coming from over 42 countries to change their plans now. We both agreed to continue our exchanges.

Although we consider this as a setback, it is something we've encountered-and overcome--before. No delegation, large or small, that entered Gaza over the past 12 months has ever received a final OK before arriving at the Rafah border. Most delegations were discouraged from even heading out of Cairo to Rafah. Some had their buses stopped on the way. Some have been told outright that they could not go into Gaza. But after public and political pressure, the Egyptian government changed its position and let them pass.

Our efforts and plans will not be altered at this point. We have set out to break the siege of Gaza and march on December 31 against the Israeli blockade. We are continuing in the same direction.

Contact your local consulate here:

Contact the Palestine Division in Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cairo

Ahmed Azzam, tel +202-25749682 Email:

In the U.S., contact the Egyptian Embassy, 202-895-5400 and ask for Omar Youssef or email

You signed on to join the the Gaza Freedom March, that was the first step. Now call the Egyptian embassy and ask your elected official to call on your behalf. Contact your local media/press to tell them you are going to Gaza. Then pack your bags and come to Cairo ready to march with our brothers and sisters in Gaza.

We look forward to seeing you all in the coming week.

The GFM Steering Committee

* * Sample text

I am writing/calling to express my full support for the December 31, 2009 Gaza Freedom March. I urge the Egyptian government to allow the 1,300 international delegates to enter the Gaza Strip through Egypt.

The aim of the march is to call on Israel to lift the siege. The delegates will also take in badly needed medical aid, as well as school supplies and winter jackets for the children of Gaza.

Please, let this historic March proceed.

Thank you.

Israel Jails leading rights activist

Israel intensifies the assault on non-violent Palestinian resistance. Jamal Juma from Stop the Wall was arrested last week.

Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Stop the Wall Campaign announced on Sunday that its coordinator, Jamal Juma, has been imprisoned by Israel since 16 December.

Juma’s arrest follows what activists say is a military-legal crackdown on popular expressions of rejection of Israeli occupation. Dozens of protest leaders, boycott campaigners, and other civil society advocates have been arrested in recent weeks.

The Ramallah-based Stop the Wall Campaign, a coordinating body for local anti-wall initiatives said in a statement “This latest arrest is yet another escalation of Israel's attack on Palestinian human rights defenders and clamp down on the right to freedom of expression and the right to association.”

According to the campaign, Israeli security summoned Juma for interrogation at midnight 15 December. After questioning he was brought to his home.

“Juma was handcuffed while soldiers searched his house for two hours as his wife and three young children looked on helplessly,” the anti-wall campaign said in a statement.

The soldiers told Juma’s wife “she would only see her husband again through a prisoner exchange.”

“Since then, Juma has been detained, and banned from speaking to a lawyer or his family, with no explanation for his arrest,” the organization added.

A prominent figure in Palestinian civil society Juma, 47, served as coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign since 2002 and helped found the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC).

In September, another well-known member of the Stop the Wall campaign, Mohammad Othman, was detained by Israeli forces at the Allenby border crossing upon returning to the West Bank from Norway where he met with the country’s Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen and other officials.

On 10 December Israeli soldiers seized Abdullah Abu Rahmah, the coordinator of the anti-wall Popular Committee in the West Bank village of Bil’in, during a raid on his house.

Witnesses said that the Israeli military raided houses in Bil’in and another village, Nil’in, early on Saturday. Both villages hold weekly demonstrations against the construction of the separation wall on their land.

According to the Stop the Wall Campaign, Jamal Juma’s court date is set for Monday. (Ma'am News)

December 19, 2009

BBC rumbled

Spot the difference between the BBC post I blogged below and the story that now appears at the same url.

Here's the original:
Jewish man jeered at SOAS university debate

Page last updated at 21:28 GMT, Thursday, 17 December 2009
Footage has emerged of a man being told he is "not welcome" after revealing his Jewish name at a School of Oriental and African Studies debate on Palestine.

The film shows Jonathan Hoffman ask why Soas university allowed a man condemned as an anti-Semite by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHR) to talk.

Upon revealing his name there are boos and shouts of "Jewish!" Anti-racism campaigners called it "chilling".

A spokesman for the London university said nobody broke hate speech rules.

The event, entitled The Case for Sanctions and Boycott [of the nation of Israel] was organised by the School of Oriental and African Studies' [Soas] Palestinian Society.

They invited South African trade unionist Bongani Masuku to speak.

The SAHR has condemned Mr Masuku for "hate speech", saying his comments "are of an extreme nature that imply the Jewish community are to be despised, scorned and ridiculed".

The overpowering racist jeering as displayed by some audience members at the event is stark and chilling

Raheem Kassam, Student Rights

The film, posted on YouTube, shows Mr Hoffman ask: "Why does the University and College Union (UCU) invite somebody who practises hate speech?"

Once boos have subsided the chairman of the debate, Tom Hickey, of the UCU, directs the speakers to "ignore" the question.

Mr Hoffman has described himself as "cross" after the "anti-Semitic" meeting.

The name Hoffman is of German-Jewish origin.

Raheem Kassam, of student anti-racism campaigners Student Rights, said: "The overpowering racist jeering as displayed by some audience members at the event is a stark and chilling revelation of what can happen when extremism is allowed to take root in universities.

"This man was first shouted down, then ignored by the event chair and panellists.

"Why? From what we hear shouted when he is speaking, because he is, 'Jewish', and 'not welcome here'."

'No law breach'

A Soas University spokesman said: "Soas has strict guidelines against hate speech and incitement to violence at public events.

"Event chairs are authorised to stop proceedings if any speaker or audience member breaks the law or engages in speech or behaviour that violates that policy."

He added: "From what is shown in the clip in question, that appears not to have been the case at this event."

The spokesman refused to say whether the university condoned the appearance of Mr Masuku.

Mr Hoffman and the university's Palestinian Society were unavailable for comment.

Mr Masuku categorically denies accusations of racism.

The incident follows recent rows about the appearance of controversial Islamist speakers at both Queen Mary, University of London, and University College London.

And now see the revised version:

Row breaks out over university meeting

A row has broken out over a meeting about Israel at a University of London college that one man described as "anti-Semitic".

Jonathan Hoffman, vice-chairman of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain, made the claim in a blog relating to a meeting at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

But others have insisted the meeting was fair and there were no anti-Semitic undertones. Other Jewish audience members spoke without being heckled.

Mike Cushman, who was part of the audience, said: "It was an extremely serious and positive meeting.

'Very sensitive'

"The jeering was directed at Jonathan Hoffman because of his individual beliefs, not because of his religion.

"It is worth noting many of the audience were of Jewish origin."

Also in the audience was Naomi Wimborne Idressi. She said: "I am a Jew and I am very sensitive about anti-Semitism. There was no anti-Semitism at the meeting.

"It was a meeting which was fervent about human rights. There was a lot of learned discussion."

Mr Hoffman had criticised the appearance of South African trade unionist Bongani Masuku, who has been condemned for hate speech by the South African Human Rights Commission.

In a blog, he described the event as an "anti-Semitic meeting" and wrote: "There were many anti-Semitic statements about Israel as an apartheid state."

After viewing the footage of the meeting, which has been published on the internet, Raheem Kassam, of campaigners Student Rights, said the response to his question constituted racist jeering.

'Strict guidelines'

But Ms Wimborne Idressi said he was booed because he is a high-profile Zionist, well known for controversial views on the Palestinian territories.

A Soas University spokesman said: "Soas has strict guidelines against hate speech and incitement to violence at public events.

"Event chairs are authorised to stop proceedings if any speaker or audience member breaks the law or engages in speech or behaviour that violates that policy.

"From what is shown in the clip in question, that appears not to have been the case at this event."

Ok, they're still trying it on but the changes to the piece beg the question of how the original piece got on to the beeb site in the first place.

Hat-tip to BRICUP for posting the original.

UPDATE 00:01 20/12/2009 - I had an email from that Raheem Kassam saying that he is no longer a member of the Conservative Party nor of the exec of the Conservative Future thingy. I now gather from a comment by Jonathan Hoffman at Harry's Place that Kassam was the originator of the allegation that Hoffman was abused specifically for being "Jewish" or "Jew-ish" whatever that latter means.

December 18, 2009

BBC lying for the Zionist Federation?

I'm not long back from a walk in the snow covered forest with my dog and a friend. The friend isn't particularly political but he told me that there had been a meeting about Israel at which a guy wasn't allowed to speak when the people found out he had a "Jewish name, Hoffman or something". He'd seen the report on BBC 1 TV teletext. I told him that I knew of a Jonathan Hoffman and he has a reputation for noisily disrupting meetings and that he may not have been allowed in or to speak because of that. Knowing my commitment to the Palestinian cause my friend was more sceptical about what I was saying than about the report he read.

When I got home I had two emails telling me about a BBC website report on the same thing together with what one of them thought was a video clip of the meeting in question.

Here's a piece of the BBC report under the headline, Jewish man jeered at Soas university debate:

Footage has emerged of a man being told he is "not welcome" after revealing his Jewish name at a School of Oriental and African Studies debate on Palestine.

The film shows Jonathan Hoffman ask why Soas university allowed a man condemned as an anti-Semite by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHR) to talk.

Upon revealing his name there are boos and shouts of "Jewish!"

Whoever wrote the piece could find "Raheem Kassam, of student anti-racism campaigners Student Rights", who said:
"The overpowering racist jeering as displayed by some audience members at the event is a stark and chilling revelation of what can happen when extremism is allowed to take root in universities.

But they don't seem to have been able to find any of the people, including Jews other than the Zionist Federation's Jonathan Hoffman, who actually spoke at the meeting. Nor did they take the time to watch the youtube clip they said "emerged" as if it hadn't been on youtube since two days after the meeting:

Maybe I've been too hasty, maybe the clip isn't the one in question. Maybe I'm being too hasty in wondering what's the agenda of this "Student Rights" chap, Raheem Kassam? I googled him and he appears to be an activist with a group called Conservative Future, the youth wing of the Conservative Party in the UK. It doesn't mean he can't be anti-racist but it's very strange to seek a comment on a meeting about BDS from a Tory. Especially when you don't seem to have sought any comment from people who actually spoke at the meeting, except for the notorious Jonathan Hoffman.

Woops, I just remembered there's something about this on Jonathan Hoffman's own blog on the Jewish Chronicle's website. What a way to run a blog post - that's mine, not his. Sorry but I'm going to have to reproduce the whole thing here because it reveals the sheer dishonesty, on many levels, of the BBC posting. So, heeeeeere's Jonny:

Antisemitic meeting at SOAS

By Jonathan Hoffman
December 13, 2009

On 4 December Bricup held a meeting at SOAS. There were around 300 there. The Chair was Tom Hickey(UCU, UCU NEC, BRICUP). Other speakers are listed here:

There were many antisemitic statements about Israel as an apartheid state.

The video of the Q+A is here. At 4:50 I ask why UCU had invited a speaker (Bongani Masuku of COSATU) who had been found guilty of hate speech by the South African Human Rights Commission. I read out the last paragraph of the HRC finding. I was shouted down but managed to ask the question. When I had finished asking the question Hickey said that no-one should answer my question - not in the lecture theatre and not on the Panel. It is all in the video on YouTube.

The rest of the meeting is on videos, click on the above link

This must be one of the things that makes Hoffman such an embarrassment to the Zio establishment. See his post from four days before the BBC post. He doesn't mention anything about being hassled about his Jewish name or of suffering any antisemitic abuse himself. He also alludes to the video that was posted by supporters of BDS and the Palestinian cause whereas the Beeb made out that the video "emerged" as some kind of embarrassment for the organisers.

The BBC has something to answer for here. What are they playing at colluding with a ZF activist in a smear campaign?

Complaints to the BBC can be fobbed off, I mean made here:

December 16, 2009

Global forum for stifling criticism of Israel

I wouldn't know about this conference if it wasn't for a letter in today's Jerusalem Post from Dr David Hirsh, former doyen of the Engage website:
Sir, - David Newman expresses one facet of a complex reality ("Smoke screen strategies," December 15) when he says that sometimes right-wing Jewish voices portray criticism as though it were anti-Semitism. Rabbi Eliezer Melamed's blood libel accusation against Defense Minister Ehud Barak is a case in point.

But by failing to take seriously the anti-Semitic potentiality of the contemporary anti-Zionist movements, Newman does little to untangle the knotted relationship between anger with Israel and hostility toward Jews. We have seen how the campaign to exclude Israelis, and only Israelis, from the global academic, cultural and economic community brings anti-Semitic ways of thinking wherever it goes. We have seen activists accusing anti-boycott lawyers of being financed by stolen Lehman Brothers money. We have seen a man found guilty of hate speech in South Africa being hosted by trade unions in the UK. We have seen "critics of Israel" drawing on far-Right conspiracy theory. We have seen any attempt to raise the issue of anti-Semitism routinely howled down by the cry, "Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic!"

The threat of contemporary anti-Semitism, including when it comes packaged in the language of Israel criticism, is real. There will be a significant stream of opinion at the Global Forum Against Anti-Semitism, which is critical of both anti-Semitism and Israeli human rights abuses. Anti-Semitism ought not to be allowed to appear as a right-wing issue.

Of course, it does not help the fight against anti-Jewish racism that this conference is hosted by Avigdor Lieberman, a man who has done nothing to demonstrate an understanding of how best to oppose racist ways of thinking.


Delegate to the Global Forum


Hirsh wasn't always so averse to accusing the "Israeli right" of "devalu[ing] the coinage of antisemitism". In fact he suggested that Netanyahu himself was guilty of that sort of thing.

Anyway, the conference is being hosted by Israel's foreign ministry and, as I said, chaired by Avigdor Lieberman. The invite is here. And the participants' list is here.

A glance down the list shows a few of the usual suspects when it comes to false charges of antisemitism and I can't see anyone with a reputation for being "critical of both anti-Semitism and Israeli human rights abuses" as per Hirsh's assertion. I did notice, however, that Hirsh isn't using his Goldsmiths University email address. I wonder why that is. Is he still employed by Goldsmiths. Have the university authorities asked him to keep their name out of this hasbara exercise? I think we should be told.

Deane Disses Dodgy Daniel's Divan

This is an excellent article by Raymond Deane

Utopia as Alibi: Said, Barenboim and the Divan Orchestra

As a classical musician involved in pro-Palestinian activism, I frequently encounter the assumption that I am an unconditional admirer of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (WEDO). My reservations on this score tend to produce shocked disapproval: How could I not enthuse about such an idealistic project, particularly since it was co-founded by the late Edward Said, a figure for whom I have frequently expressed respect and admiration?

In truth, I have always been a little wary of Said’s veneration for the eighteenth/nineteenth century canon of European classical music. I look in vain in his writings on the subject[1] for a historical and political contextualisation of music comparable of that to which he so perceptively subjected literature in his indispensable Culture and Imperialism.[2]

In his 2002 speech accepting the Principe de Asturias Prize, Said claimed that he and his friend the Israeli pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim founded the WEDO “for humanistic rather than political reasons”. This surprising dualism implies that music belongs to a utopian sphere somehow removed from the dialectical hurly-burly of hegemony and resistance.

The paradoxes of Said’s position have been ably dissected by the British musicologist Rachel Beckles Willson.[3] She quotes her colleague Ben Etherington’s critique of Said’s tendency “to assert the intrinsic value of Western elite music without really exploring how that tradition escapes mediation.” Paraphrasing Said’s critique of literary scholars in his Humanism and Democratic Criticism[4] she convincingly claims that he “omitted to make ‘a radical examination of the ideology of the [musical performance] field itself.’” (Willson’s chain brackets).

Undoubtedly Barenboim has a less sublimated view of the classical repertoire than Said, and has been more broadminded than many of his superstar peers in his willingness to perform and advocate modern and “avant-garde” music. He has also displayed great independence and personal courage by criticising the Israeli establishment and repeatedly flouting Israeli laws to travel to the occupied West Bank - even bringing the orchestra to Ramallah in 2005.

In 2008, Barenboim accepted honourary Palestinian “citizenship” from the Palestinian Authority. The dissident Israeli journalist Amira Hass put this in context: “It could just as well have [been] said that the PA granted Barenboim citizenship of the moon, since the PA has no authority to grant citizenship… to anyone.”[5] She tellingly points out the broader political implications of such an action: “The PA is seen as a ’state’ with the sovereign right to grant ‘citizenship.’” The illusion of Palestinian statehood, fostered by the 1993 Oslo Accords, has served to absolve Israel from its obligations as an occupier under the 4th Geneva Convention. The gesture towards Barenboim, although empty, was pregnant with propaganda value for the Israeli state and its PA accomplices.

Barenboim’s most recent book is confusingly entitled Music Quickens Time in the US and Everything is Connected in Europe[6]. Reflecting on the fact that Hitler loved classical music, he concludes that “there is not enough thought about music, only visceral reactions almost on an animal level.” “Listening,” he tells us, “is hearing with thought.” The idea that an analytical approach to music is potentially an antidote to its instrumentalisation by fascistic forces is a radical one, but Barenboim goes a clumsy step further by repeatedly depicting musical processes as metaphors for social and political structures. Thus the failure of the Oslo process is linked to the connection between musical content and tempo: “the relationship between content and time was erroneous.” “The education of the ear” - or “auditory intelligence” - is important “for the functioning of society, and therefore also of governments.” “A nation’s constitution could be compared to a score, and the politicians its interpreters” and can be “challenged and adapted” in a democracy, “becoming a kind of collectively composed symphony.”

Unfortunately, while Barenboim professes faith in the axiom that “everything is connected”, the score written by Zionism is premised on “estrangement and alienation”, in the words of the anti-Zionist eco-socialist Joel Kovel.[7] Barenboim buys into the Zionist narrative all along the line. “The Arab population of Palestine had been unsympathetic toward Jewish immigration from the very beginning”, he tells us, as if the indigenous Jewish population hadn’t been equally suspicious of Zionist colonisation - to call it by its proper name. The totalitarian “military rule” imposed by Israel on its Palestinian minority during the early years of statehood was “abominable”, admittedly, but “necessary for its self-preservation”. The renaming of Arab streets after Israeli generals represents “at best thoughtlessness and insensitivity… and at worst an utter lack of strategy in dealing with the question of Arabs in Israel”, rather than a symbolic linchpin of Zionist conquest and dispossession.

In the midst of Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead”, the onslaught on Gaza beginning in December 2008 that led to the killing of some 1400 Palestinians, Barenboim wrote a newspaper article that, while critical of the carnage, similarly repeated a number of Zionist propaganda tropes.[8] Hamas is “a terrorist organisation”, rather than a legitimate resistance movement, and must “realise that its interests are not best served by violence”, although this offensive followed the Israeli breach of a ceasefire long maintained by Hamas. The war in Palestine is “a conflict between two peoples who are both deeply convinced of their right to live on the same very small piece of land”, not a brutal colonial assault by a powerful state on a virtually imprisoned civilian population. Of course “it is self-evident that Israel has the right to defend itself”, a truism that, except possibly for the 1973 “Yom Kippur” war, has never had any bearing on Israel’s relentlessly belligerent actions against its neighbours.

This article almost certainly played a role in causing the cancellation of Barenboim’s projected attendance at an opera performance in Ramallah in July 2009, lest it be disrupted by demonstrations. Once again Amira Hass had her finger on the pulse: “The bulk of dissent across Ramallah was not just over the performance, but over the very existence of the Barenboim-Said Foundation”.[9]

This Foundation, which provided the Children & Youth Choir and theYouth Orchestra for the opera in question, was set up by Barenboim and Said shortly before the latter’s death in 2003, when its administration passed into the capable hands of Said’s widow Mariam. Hass quotes “[a] leading activist in the Palestinian movement for a cultural boycott of Israel” (PACBI) as stating that the Foundation “does not take any position against the Israeli occupation or apartheid policies. They talk about promoting mutual understanding and coexistence through dialogue, music, etc. This is an attempt to give a normal image to a very abnormal, colonial situation.”

Already in 2004 Barenboim stated that “[a]n hour of violin lessons in Berlin is an hour where you get people interested in music. But an hour of violin lessons in Palestine is an hour away from violence and fundamentalism…”[10] This insulting formulation led the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music (ESNCM) to decline any further funding from the Foundation.

The ESNCM is a department of Birzeit University with branches in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Bethlehem. Without funding from the Foundation it is forced to exist on a shoestring, yet it provides a wide range of instruction in both western classical and Arabic music for young Palestinians regardless of class, creed, or gender, while running its own ensembles and an orchestra - The Palestine Youth Orchestra - which it hopes to expand to 100 members by 2010.

In her introduction to An Orchestra Without Borders, a collection of testimonies from WEDO members, Barenboim’s assistant Elena Cheah claims that “[a]n orchestra is a microcosm of society.”[11] In terms of the Middle East, it would appear that while the ESNCM strives, with explicit political determination and an almost total lack of encouragement from the West, to be a microcosm of the whole of Palestinian society, the WEDO represents the Israeli bourgeoisie and the more privileged sectors of Arab (including Palestinian) society. Barenboim’s claim that “young musicians from the Middle East have the freedom of choice over whether or not to come to the West-Eastern Divan workshop”, as if this option were available to young musicians from Gaza or from Lebanese refugee camps, displays an almost hubristic alienation from reality.

Alas, the testimonies from Israeli WEDO members collected in the book suggest that a “utopian” emphasis on human interaction with their Arab colleagues has done little to enhance insight into the political realities surrounding them.

For Daniel Cohen, Barenboim has “the power to help Israelis understand where they are living, and to help the Arabs to accept our existence in Israel as our right…” Clearly the young violinist doesn’t see this as a somewhat lopsided combination.

Sharon Cohen describes an argument in which “The Arabs kept saying: ‘You don’t understand about the checkpoints and the humiliation,’ and the Israelis kept saying, ‘You don’t understand about being in the army.’” Similarly, oboist Meirav Kadichevski expresses her understanding of the Palestinian sense of repression by evoking her own feelings “when I was in the army - I also felt repressed.” Clearly for these former soldiers there is no incongruity in equating the oppressor’s discomfort with the horror of being at the oppressor’s mercy.

Yuval the trumpeter, whose attitudes are described as having been positively transformed by orchestra membership, opines that “Palestinians have to start feeling responsible for themselves…” instead of “always waiting for someone to recognise their pain.” A lecture from the Palestinian activist Ali Abunimah criticising the “two-state solution” provokes his sharp reaction that “…some people are saying we should make one nation, and it’s insane.”

The impression ultimately gleaned from Arabs and Israelis alike is that the real glue binding these young people together is ambition: the WEDO provides an exceptional opportunity to gain experience under Daniel Barenboim, a famous and influential conductor, and hence is a stepping-stone to professional advancement. In itself, of course, there is nothing reprehensible about this - but it is a far cry from stylising the orchestra as an exemplary space of reconciliation and understanding.

In a letter to the New York Review of Books last October the actor Vanessa Redgrave (once a stalwart advocate of Palestinian rights), the screenwriter Martin Sherman and the artist Julian Schnabel dissociated themselves from opposition to the Toronto Film Festival’s featuring of Tel Aviv in its “city to city” section. They closed their letter as follows:

“The year 2009 is the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Barenboim-Said West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. We hope that those who protest Israeli inclusion in film festivals will take note of this example of the power of art freely expressed and available to all, and reconsider their position.”[12]

This is a sad and timely demonstration of how the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra can be enlisted to demobilise meaningful solidarity with the oppressed Palestinians. While it would be crass to dismiss the WEDO as merely “a bad thing”, the reality is that it offers uncommitted Western liberals, for whom an uncompromising campaign of BDS is a step too far, a peg on which to hang their sentimental belief in an unpolitical reconciliation that costs nobody anything.

Raymond Deane is a composer and political activist


Photo Credits:

Photo 1: Daniel Barenboim talking to a member of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra during rehersals

Photo 2: Palestinians run for cover from Israeli air strikes during the Israeli assult on Gaza. (Mohamed Al-Zanon/MaanImages - Photo courtesy of Electronic Intafada).

Photo 3: Daniel Barenboim conducting the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Photos courtesy of the West-Eastern Divan website.


[1] Edward W. Said: Musical Elaborations (Columbia University Press, NY, 1991); Reflections on Exile (London, Granta Books, 2001); Music at the Limits (Columbia University Press, NY, 2007).

[2] Edward W. Said: Culture and Imperialism (Chatto & Windus Ltd, 1993; Vintage, 1994).

[3] Rachel Beckles Willson: Whose Utopia? (Music and Politics, Volume III, Number 2., accessed 7/12/09)

[4] Edward W. Said: Humanism and Democratic Criticism (PALGRAVE MACMILLAN, Hampshire and NY, 2004).

[5] Amira Hass: Honorary Citizenship of the Moon (Ha’aretz, 26th January 2009)

[6] Daniel Barenboim: Music Quickens Time (Verso, London/NY 2008); Everything is Connected (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London 2008).

[7] Joel Kovel: Overcoming Zionism (London, Pluto Press, 2007).

[8] Daniel Barenboim: The Illusion of Victory (The Guardian, 1st January 2009).

[9] Amira Hass: Palestinian anger with Barenboim forces him to cancel Ramallah visit (Ha’aretz, 17th July, 2009).

[10] Luke Harding: Conductor brings harmony to Arabs [sic] (The Guardian, 30th November, 2004).

[11] Elena Cheah: An Orchestra without Borders (Verson, London/NY, 2009).

[12] Redgrave, Schnabel, Sherman: Let Israeli Films be Shown (New York Review of Books, Volume 56, Number 16, 22nd October, 2009).

Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace to Livni: Cooperate with any international investigation against you

A Dec. 16 press release from the Israeli group Coalition of Women for Peace:

Coalition of Women for Peace to Tzipi Livni:

"Cooperate with any international investigation against you"

This morning (Wed. 16/12/09), the Women's Coalition for Peace sent a translation of the Goldstone Report to Knesset Member Tzipi Livni (head of the opposition and Foreign Minister during the "Cast Lead" offensive), who received notice of a warrant for her arrest in Britain this week. In a letter attached to the report, Coalition members wrote: "we are convinced that if you refer to the report you will understand why British citizens and organizations have turned to the courts with a request to issue a warrant for your arrest."

The report directly refers to remarks by senior political figures in Israel which encouraged indiscriminate attacks on civilians, in contradiction of international law. It is in this context that MK Tzipi Livni is quoted as saying, on 13 January 2009, that "we have proven to Hamas that the equation has been altered. Israel is a state that, when its citizens are shot at, will respond insanely. And that's a good thing."

Furthermore, runs the letter, "the Goldstone Report details a long list of indiscriminate attacks against civilian populations […] In addition, the report surveys the extent of the damage to industrial infrastructure, food production, water facilities, sewage infrastructure and residential buildings; the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields and the targeting of medical staff. The testimony of Israeli soldiers corroborates the allegations made in the Report that during Cast Lead heinous war crimes were committed.

"The attention of the Goldstone Commission was drawn to the way the military operations affected women particularly adversely. The responsibility of women towards their homes and children forced them to deal for a period of weeks with extraordinary difficulties caused by impossible conditions which denied them of the means of sustenance – including access to food, water, heating supplies and protection against the rain, shelter, intentional attacks on civilians, destruction of infrastructure and denial of medical attention. Women suffered most of all from the attack which you helped lead, and for which you served as the international spokesperson.

"As a feminist organization active in Israel, we consider that only a process of legal investigation and prosecution of war criminals by the international community has the power to bring a measure of justice to the women and men of Gaza. In our opinion the correct reaction on your part to the Goldstone Report would be a coming to terms with the wholesale murder with which you collaborated freely as a senior minister in the Israeli government as part of an election campaign. We call on you to cooperate with any international investigation that may be opened against you and to counsel your colleagues in the government and military to do the same.

Also be sure to have a look at this Dec. 16 comment piece in the Independent by Sir Geoffrey Bindman, "Livni has no right to claim immunity from prosecution." Bindman represented Amnesty International & others in the case against the ex-Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet was arrested while visiting the UK for human rights abuses committed during his rule, and lost his court challenge to prevent his extradition to Spain.

When is a war crime not a war crime?

When the war criminal is Israeli of course. At least that seems to be the position here in the UK. Here's Scottish Palestine Solidarity on the case:
Miliband moves to protect Israeli politicians from UK laws

Israel demands changes in UK law to protect war criminals
Miliband yet again promises action to remove universal jurisdiction

Israeli ex-Minister Livni called off her planned visit to London after a Westminster magistrate issued an warrant for her arrest for her involvement in the planning of war crimes in Gaza. Like the verdicts of British juries that the Israeli Army murdered Tom Hurndall and journalist James Miller, previous arrest warrants for war crimes against Doron Almog, and the hurried exit of other Israeli generals, the latest UK magistrate's decision to issue an arrest warrant for an Israeli Government official on war crimes charges adds to the long-term build up of pressure for the British Government to break with its support for Israel.

For the moment, however, UK Foreign Minister David Miliband chose to "act with expediency to change the insufferable situation" where war criminals can be charged with war crimes. Livni had been due to address a London conference of the racist Jewish National Fund, whose sponsors include Gordon Brown and David Cameron, and Lib Dem Leader Nic Clegg.

Now there's a thing I didn't know. I knew that Brown and Cameron were corrupt enough to be patrons of the racist Jewish National Fund but I didn't know that Nic Clegg was. So now the PM and two wannabe PMs are all patrons (or "sponsors" as SPSC says) of an organisation largely responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. And these are the people who will decide whether or not the UK should pursue war criminals.

Israeli Academics are up in arms...literally!!!

The AIC published a report on the deep ties between Israel's universities and the security forces, as well as other aspects of the involvement of academics and academic institutions in sustaining the occupation. As the AIC explains
This report aims to empower the debate on an academic boycott by giving information not on Israeli violence and violations of international law and human rights, but on the part played in the Israeli occupation by academic institutions.
So empower yourself! Read the report.

Did you know that scientists at the Technion developed a remote control D-9, the IDF's preferred tool for razing homes and neighborhoods? Or that you can "write a thesis" at an Israeli university guided by an executive at a weapons manufacturing firm? But why not let the groom present himself?
Technion President Yitzhak Apeloighe said: “This new program that we are launching and the yearly donation that Elbit Systems is going to give [...] are an example of the opulent cooperation between the Technion and the [arms] industry.”
Elbit is the company boycotted by the Norwegian Finance Ministry.

But do not think that this is a mere matter of lucre. Israeli universities are smitten with soldiers. The pain of having to spend a few years beating, harassing and killing Palestinians is perhaps somewhat dulled by a nice scholarship:

Israeli law itself stipulates that universities give special treatment to reservist students28 and none of the universities themselves have ever expressed even symbolic opposition to this political interference in the academic sphere; on the contrary, almost all of them have come up with their own original ways of supporting soldiers and the Israeli war-like agenda (way beyond what they are required to by law). The most common method for this is the granting of scholarships and academic benefits based, sometimes solely, on past, present or future military service.

If the thought of the coming anniversary for last year's slaughter of Gaza's Palestinians fills you with apprehension, you would appreciate knowing that those of the perpetrators who were registered students at Ben Gurion's University at the time got paid a special grant of about $50 for a day. The Peres Academic Center (whatever that is), offered special scholarships of over $3000 each to veterans of the slaughter. (There's more, a lot more, so read the report already!)

As the report notes, apart from the utter indecency of these backslap for barbarity programs, special assistance to soldiers constitute discrimination against those who do not serve in the army, and especially against Palestinians.

Some people have started to notice that Israel's allegedly liberal Supreme Court, despite the meagerness of its actual defense of Palestinian rights, is increasingly simply ignored by the army and the government. The Wall in Bil'in is an example. The Supreme Court ordered the path changed. So it did! But Haifa University is no better, also technically in contempt of court for discrimination against Palestinian students. The Hebrew University goes one better, requiring people who visit the campus while not being Jewish to present a police issued "character reference."

The College of Management has a program in "Security Studies." Apartheid 101? Since it is a graduate program, more appropriate would be 'Apartheid 501 '. Bar Ilan University takes care of the grunts, with a special, fast track B.A. for the personnel of the Shabak and similar agencies. Don't count on this book being assigned in any of their courses, nor this one.

Then there is the actual participation of universities in land theft and settlement construction. There are the cases of Arnon Sofer, a professor of Applied Racism, or as they call it in Israel, "demographics," and there is Pnina Sharvit Baruch, who teaches the Law of the Jungle at Tel Aviv school of Law. Both enjoy the warm embrace of their institutions, unlike say, a nebech like Neve Gordon, or the film instructor at Sapir college, Nizar Hassan, who dared ask a student not to come to class in uniform.

The report end with a discussion of arguments for and against boycotts, making a distinction between "ideological" boycotts, that target agents for specific actions, and "tactical" boycotts, that target the group that can exercise pressure on the agents. The report defends both types within the context of the history of BDS, but comes down for a nuanced preference for the "ideological" variant. Very useful.

December 15, 2009

Livni did the right thing - shock!

N-no! Don't go. I mean she was right to suspect herself of being a war criminal. See this Guardian report from Ian Black:
A British court issued an arrest warrant for Israel's former foreign minister over war crimes allegedly committed in Gaza this year – only to withdraw it when it was discovered that she was not in the UK, it emerged today.

Tzipi Livni, a member of the war cabinet during Operation Cast Lead, had been due to address a meeting in London on Sunday but cancelled her attendance in advance. The Guardian has established that Westminster magistrates' court issued the warrant at the request of lawyers acting for some of the Palestinian victims of the fighting but it was later dropped.

The warrant marks the first time an Israeli minister or former minister has faced arrest in the UK and is evidence of a growing effort to pursue war crimes allegations under "universal jurisidiction". Israel rejects these efforts as politically motivated, saying it acted in self-defence against Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza.

Livni, head of the opposition Kadima party, played a key role in decisions made before and during the three-week offensive. Palestinians claim 1,400 were killed, mostly civilians; Israel counted 1,166 dead, the majority of them combatants.

That last bit's curious. Israel's weapons tended to be indiscriminate so how did they count the dead? And what does Israel call a combatant given that it sees pregnant women as a demographic threat?

UPDATE: our comment software is being updated & we're still trying to figure out how the new system works. Thanks for your patience. -Nedster

December 14, 2009

Livni avoids UK because she suspects she is a war criminal

Tzipi Livni has cancelled a planned visit to the UK because she fears she would be arrested as a war criminal if she came here. Here's the Jewish Chronicle:

Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni cancelled a visit to Britain this weekend over fears pro-Palestinian lawyers would seek to have her arrested.

Ms Livni had been due to speak at Sunday’s JNF Vision 2010 conference in Hendon, north-west London. She had also been expected to meet Prime Minister Gordon Brown for private talks.

But she pulled out of the trip for fear of lawyers obtaining an arrest warrant.

She is the latest senior Israeli politician to avoid Britain. In October, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon was advised by a special inter-departmental team working with ministers to pull out of a JNF dinner in London.

Experts on international law from the foreign and justice ministries, and the IDF Attorney-General’s department, have advised cabinet ministers with a security background and senior IDF officers not to visit Britain, Spain, Belgium or Norway, while lawyers in these countries are seeking to arrest Israelis on charges of alleged war crimes through “universal jurisdiction” laws.

Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor, speaking at the JNF conference, said Israel was fighting the laws “tooth and nail” and would “not be shut down”.

A group of around 100 anti-Israel protestors demonstrated outside the Hendon Hall Hotel venue as delegates arrived.

Israel is fighting against laws against war crimes in preference to stopping its war crimes. Typical!

Anyway here's a picture of the woman herself:

So if you see her at Heathrow or Gatwick or Fishguard or Holyhead call the police and they'll tip her off and she'll scarper but we can still enjoy her (and Israel's) discomfiture.