January 30, 2014

#ScarJo to Oxfam: Drop dead. Norway to Leviev: Drop dead - again

A big day for BDS: Scarlett Johansson has chosen Sodastream over Oxfam. Oxfam comes out looking very unprincipled, having issued waffling statements and endured media scrutiny of why a human rights organization was dithering over what should have been a no-brainer decision. EI reported disarray within the org. Reuters reported on Palestinian worker complaints of racism at Sodastream's West Bank plant, illegally located in the industrial zone of the Israeli megasettlement, Ma'ale Adumim, and a Palestinian worker told the Electronic Intifada last May the company "treats us like slaves." See also this report on worker treatment at Sodastream's plant by the Israeli NGO Who Profits. The media storm around ScarJo gave wide exposure to BDS; entertainment magazines are covering it. Here is a still from inside a New York taxi an activist took today:
The ScarJo imbroglio may look unrelated to another BDS decision today; the Norwegian Government pension fund divested for a second time from the settlement mogul Lev Leviev's Africa-Israel company. (Leviev had his own embarrassing encounter with Oxfam, over a donation he claimed he gave them, a fact they expeditiously denied) The first time round was part of a wide campaign that probably helped push Leviev to stop construction in the Palestinian village of Bi'lin. This led the Norwegian fund to conclude the company had a clean bill of health - or maybe they did not pay much attention at all - until activists spotted signs for Danya Cebus, Africa-Israel's construction arm, building new units in Gilo settlement in occupied East Jerusalem. Activists pressured the Norwegian gov't to re-divest from Africa-Israel.  This divestment decision received coverage in Ha'aretz, the Wall Street Journal, & JPost.

So how are these related? Well as this graphic from the Institute for Middle East Undertanding (IMEU) shows, there used to be seven Palestinian villages where Israel has built Ma'ale Adumim. The industrial zone attached to it antiseptically keeps Palestinian workers out of the settlement & away from its Jewish colonists. Scarjo and her supporters argued Sodastream was doing Palestinians a favor by employing them in their factory on land that used to be theirs. In 2004, World War 4 Report wrote about a similar sinister scheme that was being cooked up for the Palestinian farmers who live in villages separated from their farmlands by Israel's security wall & touted by current Kerry aide & Israel lobby vet David Makokvsky. One of these villages, Jayyous, has the Jewish settlement of Zufim built by another of Leviev's companies, Leader Management and Development, built on its lands, and is currently expanding behind the wall. Jayyous is in the same district with the walled-in Palestinian city Qalqilya:.
The Industrial Agenda
What Israel and Makovsky have in mind for the people of Qalqilya district first became clear during a November 2003 visit to Washington by Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. On Nov. 14, the Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonot ran an article titled "Mofaz's Initiative: Jobs for Palestinians," reporting that Mofaz presented the US government with an "initiative to build industrial parks that will create jobs for 120 thousand Palestinians." Yediot's Washington correspondent, Orly Azulai, noted that Secretary of State Colin Powell had asked Mofaz to "minimize the suffering caused on Palestinians as a result of the construction of the Separation Fence."

"To implement the initiative, of course, there is a need for an end for terrorism and financial resources," Mofaz said after a meeting with Dick Cheney and Condolezza Rice. "As part of the plan, industrial parks will be built in the Palestinian side and on the seam line. The Palestinians will be able to go to these places without going through IDF checkpoints; private security companies will monitor these passages." 
Possibly this will be the fate of Jayyous. The independent farmers of Jayyous who have tilled the land for at least nine generations will be a dependent Israeli-controlled industrial workforce on what used to be their land, without even entering Israel. This is already happening to the south of Jayyous, where residents of Arab Ramadin, who lived off of sheep herding, have been enclosed inside the fence with the illegal Jewish settlement of Alfe Menashe, and, thus cut off from their grazing lands, have been compelled to abandon their traditional way of life and take jobs in the settlement's industrial zone. In a Dec. 18, 2003 press release, the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign of the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network (PENGON) concluded: "The completion of the Wall and its ghettoization of Arab Ramadin are turning a community of shepherds into exploited workers for Israeli settlement industrial zones, as they are unable to sustain their lives."

January 29, 2014

Guardian asks should @Oxfam say #NoScarJo?

This is good of the Guardian to pitch in with the campaign to get Oxfam to ditch one of Israel's ambassadors for the occupation, Scarlett Johansson.

Here's the headline:

#NoScarJo: should Oxfam sever ties with Scarlett Johansson?

The article raises many issues around this case and credits our comrades at the Electronic Intifada for coming up with most of the analysis and info.

But it also raises a serious general point about running with people who might raise money and awareness of a cause but, well there's a but:

While there is no doubt that celebrity endorsement yields financial dividends for NGOs and can raise the profile of a cause, it can also infuriate staff and create tensions with communities in which the organisation works. So what should Oxfam do? Take our poll and tell us your experiences or thoughts on celebrities and NGOs in the comment threads below.

So check out the poll which still has 6 days to run and check out the comments too.  The zionists are having a bit of a field day in the comments but the poll so far is that 87% say #NoScarJo! 

January 27, 2014

Uppity Rodent Part II

AnonymousBeing sympathetic to Flying Rodent on Ben Gidley's Bob from Brockley blog I attempted a comment not that long ago.  I signed it off with my usual Levi9909 but as far as the tech goes it was anonymous.  Well it got deleted within minutes of appearing.  I'm just posting it here so I can draw this Flying Rodent's attention to it on Twitter:

Anonymous said...
Flying Rodent - I think you may have been a bit too specific about the spelling of "as a Jew". Norm railed against these types all the time as do a whole ragbag of racists around here, HP and Engage, but Norm only employed the "zz" spelling and the "pet" prefix once. Sadly Bob here too likes to be precise, especially when it helps him duck and dodge his way around a critical comment about his condemnation of Israel's opponents. When he relaxes the precision he can "verbal up" like the old bill on the case of an Irishman/woman back in the day but you were precise so he repaid in kind.

You also missed Bob's presumptiousness about the lack of Jewishness of Israel's Jewish detractors. Apparently Israel's Jewish supporters do (or have) a lot more Jewish stuff than Israel's Jewish detractors. And what stuff might that be? Well you'll just have to ask Bob if you can stand the inevitable twists and turns. I think he means that supporting Israel is more Jewish than opposing Israel but it would be uncharacteristically honest for Bob to admit he meant that.

And don't miss either Bob's assertion that ""AsaJews"...claim their position is *the* authentically Jewish one." The definite article is vital here. These people are usurpers. They are not saying that they are as Jewish as the next Jew. No, they are saying they are more Jewish than Hirsh, Geras, Garrard, and Uncle Bob Brockley and all. Except of course, they aren't and Bob has already claimed that mantle for his brand of authenticity. They are actually a mixed bag altogether. You were right that some, not all, use their Jewish identity to bat away the bogus allegation of anti-Jewish racism. Some want to reclaim the Jewish identity from racist war criminals and their supporters. Some want to show solidarity with non-Jews falsely accused of racism for supporting the Palestinian cause and some want Palestinians to see Jews through a lens other than the barrel of a supremacist's gun. And there are still others, too numerous and varied to categorise. But for Bob, there is only one and it's a bad one.

Anyway, you've already been subjected to the old one two. One being the false allegation of antisemitism, two being the accusation of trolling. But then there's three and four, three being Bob's pretence at accuracy and four you being banned for one and two unless you stay away for a while which I think you might do without being told.

Actually the fact that the comment has now been deleted suggests that my points three and four, indeed, one, two, three and four were all quite accurate.

UPDATE: He's now reinstated my comment and replied to a tweet I sent but what a dodgy character.
But to be honest I'd rather get a reply from Ben Gidley about his alter-ego's plan to write about "the long-harassment of one Ronnie Fraser in UCU, a trade union." The "trade union" is actually his own trade union, you know, the one that some of his comrades left and at least one joined simply to attack it.

January 26, 2014

Uppity Rodent?

I've just revisited the blog of "racism expert" Ben Gidley, aka Bob from Brockley where Flying Rodent is on cracking form exposing and denouncing the racism implicit and certainly the bullying inherent in such terminology as "as-a-Jew" etc.

The Rodent copies and pastes the bits he is commenting on so he reads BfB so you don't have to:
flyingrodent said...
...there is the way that the Western anti-Israel left, both its "as a Jew" strain and its gentile majority...

I've tried and failed to see any difference between this whole "As a Jew" thing and either "Uncle Tom" or "House Negro".

All seem to imply shameful subservience at best, and certainly some kind of fucked-up ethnoreligious treason. The entire "As a Jew" idea appears to dictate precisely what Jewish people should and shouldn't think or behave, implying that people who think otherwise to you are somehow traitorous or otherwise disgusting. The historical echoes here are crystal clear.

Quite why this usage has caught on uncritically among certain foreign policy enthusiasts is mystifying to me, since it appears to be a rehabilitation of a particularly nasty ethnic slur that had thankfully fallen from common usage.

(By the way, I've seen this defended by folk saying things like "Oh, but these awful fucking AsaJews actually exist and blah blah blah", apparently in the belief that this renders the insult harmless fun. I'll anticipate this by pointing out that it doesn't).
Again you don't need to see the whole of Gidley's response though I should point out it's actually more slippery than Flying Rodent seems to notice:

flyingrodent said...
First, I am not 100% sure that the terms "Uncle Tom" and "House Negro" are necessarily racist

Neither am I, but it should be entirely obvious that they're fucking horrible slurs to be chucking at people, for reasons that are surely too obvious to require demonstration.

The terms "self-hating Jew" and the appalling "kapo" carry something of the same meaning as those terms, and I guess I find them very offensive but not necessarily racist.

These terms all mean the same thing, and it's not a coincidence that the people most fond of using them tend also to be horrendous human beings who have exceptionally nasty opinions on all manner of issues.

Rather, the term is used of those who make a big deal of their Jewishness in prefacing their anti-Zionism.

This isn't right. It seems to me that some Jewish people who think the Israelis generally look like a bunch of hard-right belligerent mentalists determined to thwart a Palestinian state at all costs believe that, if they preface their acknowledgement of this obvious and undeniable reality by noting their shared religious background, they might immunise themselves against utterly fraudulent accusations of racism.

As demonstrated here however, they're wrong about that, because of some bizarre coalescing consensus among gung-ho bombs-away Israel fans that Jews generally should all be Decent war enthusiasts like you are, and that those who disagree are basically immoral.

I suggest that this newfound habit of labelling these people as Uncle Toms for disagreeing with your Likud Are Boiling-With-Hate Mental But Hey-Ho, Shit Kind Of Happens And That mentality is unjust, unfair and suspiciously convenient.

There's also an issue of positioning themselves as the Good Jews, the Exceptional Jews, as Arendt put it

I'm surprised you raise Arendt in this context. She had some very, very harsh words for the Commie Israel enthusiasts of the fifties and sixties, so God knows what she'd make of the extreme rightists that run the place these days.

I half-share those issues with "certain foreign policy enthusiasts" (nice euphemism).

There's no need for the "nice euphemism". I'm all over the internet under this name basically telling everyone how much I dislike your* politics, which I constantly describe as hopelessly insane sectarian horseshit mingled with wowserist magical thinking, allied with a very alarming form of extreme militarism and wearing a very unconvincing cloak of humanitarianism.

This has squarely nothing to do with anyone's ethnoreligious background and everything to do with the fact that I think you're a bunch of lunatics who push highly toxic politics in the service of an extremely belligerent ideology that has had significant and hideous real-world effects.

None of which is nice to say to strangers, but you know, I didn't call you fascist apologists for psychotic violence or any of the terms that you tend to dole out to your political enemies, even though most of your political enemies are entirely imaginary and your own attitude to creative violence is significantly more enthusiastic than mine.

*You collectively as bullshitting war-fans, not you individually.
 Now Rodent deserves some bonus points for the Hannah Arendt stuff.  Gidley is very fond of describing her as one of his intellectual heroes and I never know why.  Certainly she has been accused of intellectual dishonesty and pretentiousness which certainly gives her Venn diagram an overlap with Bob's but she has also exposed zionist collaboration with the nazis and been accused of self-hatred for her trouble.  But she did self-describe as a zionist though I'm not sure she ever defined it and she did hold that it was only right and proper to try Eichmann in Jerusalem in spite of his crimes being against humanity not just Jews and certainly not just zionists with whom he collaborated.

But I digress.

At this point Sarah Annes Brown of Harry's Place pops up with a largely irrelevant comment. Is Tom Hickey Jewish?  But the Rodent addresses the first part of her comment all the same:
flyingrodent said...
You refer to people who think "the Israelis generally look like a bunch of hard-right belligerent mentalists determined to thwart a Palestinian state at all costs" as though this was a reasonable summary of the situation.

Not only is this "a reasonable summary of the situation", it is the situation. Many will say "Well, it's more complicated than that" but at the brass tacks of practicality, taking all of the partisan blah out of it, it is not more complicated than that.

this seems to me the mirror image of those who assert that the Palestinians are all antisemitic brutes who ought to go and live in Jordan.

And how many divisions have they? None, is the answer - twats of that type have nothing but internet waffle backing them up, numerous as they are.

For real, the current situation is that the Israelis are going to intentionally steal as much shit as they can in a deliberate policy of fucking over the Palestinians with the quiet yet total support of the world's only superpower, and folk who don't like it are going to make some sad faces and whinge, but nothing more.

This is the whole issue in a nutshell, and all the woe-is-us nonsense that fills the web to bursting point is just that - woe-is-us nonsense, existing for no other purpose than to muddy a perfectly straightforward and easily-comprehensible scenario.

Given that's my opinion on the matter, you can imagine why I'm not keen on slurs like the one we're discussing here. People should be able to describe bald facts without having to fend off insults that wouldn't look out of place in a Tarantino movie about slaves.

(Although if I'm being honest, I actually think this one is tame by comparison with Professor Norm's old habit of referring to "Pet Azzajews", which he used to chuck at Jewish people who addressed simple undeniable facts of this type. The fact that nobody smelt a rat there tells me that a lot of people who make a very big noise about rat-smelling wouldn't smell a rat if a rat was sitting on thier upper lip slapping on rat-scented aftershave).
Actually when I started this, that last comment wasn't there and I'm not sure I agree with or follow all of it but that Blackadderesque last bit was worth a copy.

Anyway, Flying Rodent tweets here and blogs here.

UPDATE (14:55) : The thread continues with a false allegation of antisemitism against Flying Rodent by one nutty Contentious Centrist who claims the rat allusion is a metaphor for Jew.  And now FR has responded by calling her (for it is she) a conman not woman.  Now let's look forward to accusations of sexism instead of the usual antisemitism....

January 13, 2014

In honour of Sharon - My Way - time to face the final version

My Way has had several versions performed.  Of course it was sung by its author, Paul AnkaFrank Sinatra made it famous.  Elvis gave it a whirl at Vegas.  And I remember Sid Vicious getting a hat tip from the New Musical Express for treating the song with the contempt it deserved for being such self-indulgent tosh.  The homophobia of that last example seemed to slip below the NME's radar back then.

Anyway, years ago, back in the day when Ariel Sharon slipped into a coma and the end seemed near, Deborah Maccoby, of Jews for Justice for Palestinians notoriety, wrote this version of My Way:


And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain
My friend, I'll say it clear, I'll state my case, of which I'm certain
I wrecked the hope for peace - I did it all in such a sly way,
And more, much more than this, I did it my way.

Regrets -  I wish I'd killed old Arafat back in the '80s;
I wish that Israel filled right from the Nile to the Euphrates -
But I built settlements and an apartheid settler highway,
And more, much more than this, I did it my way.

Yes the were times, I'm sure you knew,
When I bit off more than I could chew.
And yet, from Gaza, I'd no doubt
That I would get the settlers out!
I built a Wall- and best of all, I did it my way!

I knew I would go far in my career as a mass killer.
I started with Qibya, went on to Sabra and Shatila.
But I've made them believe I'm in the middle of the highway!
Likud I left for good - I did it my way!

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has not
To dare to murder and to lie
And not to care how many die;
The record stands, I took their lands
And did it my way!
 Hmm, I wonder if the cantor might sing it at the funeral.

Whatever happens, those of us who expected a whitewash got precisely what we expected and Deborah's lyric should be a corrective to that which is why it was appropriate for some bright spark to splice her lyric to a cartoon by Latuff showing the trail of blood in the wake of Sharon's every move being cleansed by the whitewash of the mainstream media.  See earlier post.

January 12, 2014

Caption Competition

See if you can put a face to this hostage to fortune of a caption:

“Removing privilege is not the same as discrimination.”
To which should have been added, retaining privilege is the same as discrimination.

If you know who said it you'll know why they didn't add the bit I added but give it a go.  Or even give it a google.

Sharon before and after the Whitewash

January 03, 2014

Gaza "disengagement": Sharon's punishment for the Palestinians

Back when Israel was first deciding to remove its daily presence from the ground in Gaza, whilst controlling everything else, I had an article published in Ireland's Sunday Business Post about the cruel charade.  I posted it here too.

Coincidentally, at the time, Yasser Arafat was dying, possibly poisoned on orders, presumably, from Ariel Sharon.

Anyway, here's the piece again:
Sharon’s punishment for the Palestinians
As obituaries are being written for the ailing Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, what kind of Palestine does Ariel Sharon promise to the Palestinians?

The Gaza Strip comprises 360 square kilometres of land with a population of about 1.4 million Palestinians and 7,500 Jewish settlers. It is mostly desert and much of the arable land is reserved, at present, for Jewish use only. 75% of its Arab population live below the poverty line and 13% suffer from malnutrition. It has no natural freshwater resources and no control over its telecommunications. It was occupied, together with the West Bank, by Israel during the six days war of June 1967 and has been occupied ever since. It is no stranger to Palestinian resistance or Israeli war crimes. During the ethnic cleansing campaign (1947-1949) that brought Israel into existence with its Jewish majority, Gaza [with an influx of Palestinian refugees] became the most densely populated place on earth; a distinction it still holds. Israel emerged from that war controlling 78% of what was Palestine.

Gaza and Ariel Sharon have been well acquainted since the 1950s when Ariel Sharon led "reprisal" raids against Palestinian villages that brought shame even to Israeli leaders. Foreign Minister Moshe Sharrett referred to one of Sharon’s atrocities as a "stain [that] would stick to us and not be washed away for many years". Clearly he underestimated the strength of Zionist propaganda in the mass media.

During one of Ariel Sharon’s visits to the White House, President George W. Bush described him as a "man of peace". Leaving aside the fact that Bush often can’t tell one world leader from another, it is possible that he was responding to Ariel Sharon’s stated willingness to make "painful concessions" on the "roadmap" to peace with the Palestinians. To those familiar with Sharon’s history, the description "man of peace" wasn’t one that sprang to mind. Apart from the bloody and disproportionate "reprisals" mentioned above, he was the architect of the Lebanon war that began in 1982 with the slaughter of perhaps 20,000 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians in a matter of weeks. The Israeli Supreme Court declared Sharon "unfit for office" because of his culpability in some particularly gruesome atrocities by Israel’s Lebanese allies in the refugee camps of Shatila and Sabra. Whenever there have been peaceful overtures by Arab states or the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Sharon’s response has always been, at best, dismissive and usually downright hostile. He has had more Palestinians killed, for example, since the PLO accepted Israel’s right to exist on 78% of Palestine than when their demand was for a "democratic secular state" or the "destruction of Israel" as the Zionists prefer to call it. In 1981, the Rabat plan, whereby the Arab states agreed to normalise relations with Israel in return for Israel withdrawing to its pre-1967 boundaries, was described by Sharon as "a declaration of war". And the recent Saudi peace plan, much the same as Rabat, is now gathering dust.

In addition to the war crimes Sharon has always had a reputation for being dishonest with his political masters. His first patron, David Ben Gurion, recorded in his diary (29/1/1960) that "if he could wean himself from the habit of lying he could be an exemplary military leader." Later, in 1982 he lied to Menachem Begin about his aims in the Lebanon war. He lied to the Kahane Commission (Supreme Court), he lost a libel action against the Israeli liberal daily Ha’aretz and now he tells of painful concessions for peace.

So what does the proposed Gaza withdrawal consist of? We have seen what Gaza itself consists of. It has almost nothing and what it does have has been commandeered by illegal colonial settlers or is provided by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The settlers will, if the plan goes ahead, be withdrawn. Settlers have been known to kill civilians so this could bring some comfort to the Gazan population. However, if the withdrawal goes ahead, might Israel press for UNRWA to be withdrawn? UNRWA provides housing, healthcare, education, but above all, jobs. This isn’t mere speculation. Some weeks ago, Sharon accused an UNRWA ambulance team of loading a Qassam (home made) missile on to an ambulance. He was too hasty in his accusation. Israeli intelligence didn’t have time to doctor their photographic "evidence" and the accusation was exposed as another lie when the "missile" turned out to be a stretcher. But looking at American websites and other media, many commentators have happily run with the Qassam story. This does not simply expose Palestinian ambulances to Israeli attacks. Israel has attacked medical facilities without "pretext" before. It is to undermine the authority and credibility of the Agency in order to hinder all of its work. Taken with the mass campaign of political assassinations, Sharon is creating a Gaza with no viable economy or polity.

Sharon has said that his withdrawal plan is a part of Bush’s much vaunted "road map" to peace and Palestinian statehood. This is curious since his most trusted adviser, Dov Weisglass, is on record as saying that "the significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process, and when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda". So the idea of following the road map is yet another lie by Sharon, though Weisglass has since been forced to withdraw his prepared statement.

But how painful is this particular concession? In a way, it represents a step back by Sharon. True, the Jewish population of Gaza is hardly a significant factor as a proportion of Israel’s population as a whole and Sharon has always said that "Zionism is not about what Israel can do for Jews but what Jews can do for Israel." But his party, the Likud, still sings the anthem Shtei Gadot with its expansionist lyric "one side of the Jordan is ours and so is the other". So relinquishing land, any land, is always painful. The outcry from the far-right isn’t just choreography, though that is part of it. But the Israel-free Gaza will be so enfeebled and dependent many Palestinians will have to leave as they have done for decades now. The ethnic cleansing that Israel has failed to fully achieve by war, they have tried to make up for by economic stealth and this will surely continue in an "independent" Gaza. If large sections of the population leave, it is likely that only the most militant would remain. If this happens it wouldn’t take much for Sharon or a successor to manufacture a pretext for reoccupation.

Some commentators are perplexed over the support that Sharon is now garnering from the Zionist "left" for his plan. This is because they fail to see that Zionism doesn’t really have a left. Traditionally, the Likud wanted Jewish rule over Palestine and the Palestinians if needs be. Ethnic cleansing was never an essential part of their policy. They were happy to go the "way of (apartheid) South Africa". This never suited the left. The call for "transfer" (the expulsion of all of the Arabs from all of Palestine) was always a Labourite demand. The strict segregation engendered by the barrier is also a Labourite idea. The fact is that Sharon has a Labour Zionist background and he has made no significant departures from that throughout his career.

So with massive military strength, a reduction in Palestinian attacks, a Palestinian leadership either dead or brought to its knees, the uncritical support of an American President (and Congress and Presidential hopeful) and no viable alternative government of Israel, why is Sharon withdrawing from Gaza? When the disengagement plan was first discussed, Sharon’s extreme right critics argued that he was rewarding the Palestinians. His words in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth (Israel’s most popular daily newspaper) are informative. Of unilateral disengagement from Gaza he said that "this should be seen as a punishment and not a reward for the Palestinians".

For once, he might just be telling the truth.
Just see how many in the mainstream media mention that when Sharon finally dies.

January 02, 2014

Picture This! Hi Viz Wall at St James's Church Piccadilly

I tweeted this tweet yesterday night, well about 6 hours ago:

I'm pleased with the picture which I took from Swallow Street, just across Piccadilly from St James's Church.  The point is the visibility of the thing.  Everyone who walks along Piccadilly towards Piccadilly Circus sees it and everyone I saw passing, stopped to take a closer look and that was when the place was closed.

I reckon more people have seen that wall in London that have seen the real thing on TV in the whole of the UK.

If you want an even closer look than I got then consider what are left of the events lined up by the Bethlehem Unwrapped partnership.  Apparently zionists have been picketing and leafleting at each event but they are summoning the faithful for a particularly menacing presence on 4th Jan.  It wouldn't surprise me if the Israeli embassy's decision to pull out of the panel discussion might be linked to their sheer embarrassment at the antics to be expected of the zionists.  On the other hand it could just be that there simply is no case for The State of Israel.  Yeah, that's probably it.