ZIONISTS ON BACK FOOT OVER ISRAELI STATE FUNDING FOR FILM FESTIVAL

Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard

Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard

Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Simon Johnson

Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Simon Johnson

Two leading Zionist apologists had the thankless task on Wednesday of defending Israeli embassy funding for a film festival left homeless after the intended venue objected to links with the genocidal state.

After news broke of the decision by the Tricycle Theatre in northwest London to ask the UK Jewish Film Festival to sever its financial links with Israel because of its latest bloody assault on Gaza, Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard and Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, tied themselves in knots in two separate radio discussions with supporters of the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel.

On Radio 4’s World at One, Laurie Penny, contributing editor to the New Statesman, slated Pollard for trying to equate a polite request to accept an alternative to Israeli state funding with rampant anti-Semitism.

The theatre had, after all, offered to replace the Embassy’s contribution with its own resources so that the festival could go ahead. It was the film festival organisers who had insisted on retaining their Israeli state link.

Pennie, herself of partial Jewish extraction, had written in the NS on July 23: “It is not anti-Semitic to suggest that Israel doesn’t get a free pass to kill whoever it likes in order to feel “safe”. It is not anti-Semitic to point out that if what Israel needs to feel “safe” is to pen the Palestinian people in an open prison under military occupation, the state’s definition of safety might warrant some unpacking. And it is not anti-Semitic to say that this so-called war is one in which only one side actually has an army.”

Radio 5 Live on Wednesday evening gave the Zionist camp another opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot, putting the JLC’s Johnson up against J-BIG’s Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi. Listen from 02.39.30 to hear the discussion.

Johnson, claiming to represent the entire Jewish community in the UK, accused the Tricycle theatre of “opportunistically” picking on a Jewish event and undermining the “indelible link” between Jews in the diaspora and the state of Israel. He also insisted that cultural boycotts had never brought anyone closer to the peace and justice.

“Tell that to the people of South Africa,” said Wimborne-Idrissi, alluding to the long-running campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions, including cultural boycott, that eventually brought South African apartheid to its knees. She challenged Johnson’s shackling of Jewish identity with Zionism as both historically wrong and currently dangerous, promoting the very antisemitism he unjustifiably alleges.

She made clear that there was nothing opportunistic about the Tricycle, where management had been in dialogue with the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network about Israeli embassy funding since last year’s Jewish Film Festival. It was simply a case of people learning the truth about Israel’s cynical exploitation of cultural platforms to veil the state’s crimes against the Palestinian people and gaining the confidence to support the Palestinian call for cultural boycott.

It is telling that Stephen Margolis, chairman of the UK Jewish Film Festival, quoted in the Daily Telegraph accusing the Tricycle Theatre of politicising the affair, is trounced in the same report by no less a figure than National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner.

Giving  unreserved support to Tricycle director Indhu Rubasingham and the theatre’s board, Hytner said: “It is entirely understandable that they felt obliged to insist that no government agency should sponsor the festival.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PALESTINIAN ARTISTS URGE – SUPPORT CULTURAL BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL

A call has gone out from the representatives of the Palestinian cultural community to  fellow artists worldwide to support the cultural and academic boycott of Israel.

Freedom theatre logo Freedom Theatre logo

statement published on the website of The Freedom Theatre in Jenin says:

“We, cultural workers representing the majority of Palestinian performing art organizations, condemn the current Israeli attack and aggression on Gaza, and the indiscriminate killing and maiming of mainly civilians, among them many children and women.”

It calls upon “fellow artists and cultural organisations” to campaign against the Israeli assault through petitions, protests and statements.

It concludes:

“Further to that, we urge you to act by supporting the Palestinian cultural and academic boycott of Israel (PACBI), thereby refusing to be complicit in the ongoing occupation and apartheid.

Together, we can turn hopelessness into determination and the forces of division into unity. It is within our power.”

Read the full statement below and at

http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/news/36377/

We, cultural workers representing the majority of Palestinian performing art organizations, condemn the current Israeli attack and aggression on Gaza, and the indiscriminate killing and maiming of mainly civilians, among them many children and women.

As artists, the most powerful weapon we have is our ability to play, dream and imagine. The oppressive forces fear this weapon because as long as we are able to imagine another kind of reality, we have the power to pursue it – a free and just Palestine.

Israel is portraying the ongoing massacre in Gaza as a war between them and Hamas, as part of an obnoxious media campaign of turning the oppressed into the villains. This latest Israeli attack against Gaza is a crime that must be understood within the context of Israeli occupation and apartheid. For over six decades Palestinians have been systematically bereaved of their lands, their water and their freedom of movement. Settlements continue to be built, a wall is erected on occupied lands and Gaza has been under a suffocating blockade for over six years. These crimes must be condemned and acted upon immediately.

Among our companions are institutions that despite all the hardships continue to work in Gaza, using music, theatre and drama to comprehend, process, educate and mobilize. We stand with them and we ask you to do the same.

While governments are once again turning their backs, people around the world are raising their voices; taking to the streets and refusing to let the people of Gaza suffer in silence. We urge our colleagues, friends and partners not to stay silent and join us in our protest.

We call upon the world to put pressure on Israel to stop the blockade of Gaza.

We particularly call upon our fellow artists and cultural organizations to condemn the current aggressions against Gaza and the occupation of Palestine through petitions, protests and statements. Further to that, we urge you to act by supporting the Palestinian cultural and academic boycott of Israel (PACBI), thereby refusing to be complicit in the ongoing occupation and apartheid.

Together, we can turn hopelessness into determination and the forces of division into unity. It is within our power.
..

The undersigned, as founding members of the Palestinian Performing Art Programme (PPAN)

Al-Harah Theatre: http://www.alharah.org

The Magnificat Association: http://www.magnificat.custodia.org

The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music: http://ncm.birzeit.edu/en

Al Kamandjati Association: http://www.alkamandjati.com

Theatre Day Productions: http://www.theatreday.org

Yes Theatre: http://www.yestheatre.org

The Palestine Circus School: http://www.palcircus.ps

The Freedom Theatre: http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org

Popular Art Center: http://www.popularartcentre.org/

El Funoun Dance Troupe: http://www.el-funoun.org

Ashtar Theatre: http://www.ashtar-theatre.org

Why our boycott campaign against Israel makes sense

 

During London protests against Israel's renewed attacks on Gaza, anti-Zioniost rabbis stand on top of a double decker bus in Kensington High Street. Photos from Twitter/@EAli1 and @ImaniAmrani

During London protests against Israel’s renewed attacks on Gaza, an anti-Zionist rabbi stands on top of a double decker bus in Kensington High Street. Photos from Twitter/@EAli1 and @ImaniAmrani

The latest evidence of Israeli criminality has added urgency to the BDS campaign. Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods initiated a letter published in the Guardian on Saturday July 12, alongside another pressing the case for BDS, under the headline Why our boycott campaign against Israel makes sense.

The J-BIG letter, signed by Jewish figures including actor Miriam Margolyes and  writer and comedian Alexei Sayle, was also supported by author Ahdaf Soueif.

It said Israel was marking the 10th anniversary of the international court of justice  ruling that Israel’s apartheid wall is illegal and must be removed, by renewing its attacks on Gaza, again punishing the Palestinians for resisting the illegal occupation of their land.

Protests have been widespread and growing. See Jews for Justice for Palestinians’ (JfJfP) website for a useful compendium of reports and comment.

 

FULL TEXT OF PRO-BDS LETTERS IN THE GUARDIAN

It is now 10 years since the international court of justice  ruled that the wall built by Israel in the occupied West Bank contravenes international law and must be removed.

Israel is marking this anniversary with renewed attacks on Gaza which continue to punish the Palestinians for resisting the illegal occupation of their land (Israel turns screw on Hamas as 300 targets are hit in a single night, 11 July).

The apartheid wall is still there, making any kind of normal life for Palestinians an impossibility, as well as stealing their land. It is 47 years since Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, thus extending the process (begun in 1948) of ethnically cleansing the indigenous population and then installing settlers.

All this is illegal under international law, which has been flouted by Israel, aided by the complicity of western governments. The media too, especially the BBC, must bear some responsibility with its grotesquely biased reporting which, as Owen Jones notes (9 July), portrays Israel as an innocent victim, exempt from any norms of behaviour.

Our government will not hold Israel accountable, so we have a responsibility to do so, especially through the civil society campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions  (BDS).

Miriam Margolyes, Mike Marqusee, Alexei Sayle, Ahdaf Soueif, Prof Haim Bresheeth, Prof Jonathan Rosenhead, Prof Moshe Machover, Prof Nira Yuval-Davies, Seymour Alexander, Rica Bird, Elizabeth Carola, Mike Cushman, Judit Druks, Nancy Elan, Mark Elf, Deborah Fink, Sylvia Finzi, Kenneth Fryde, Claire Glasman, Tony Greenstein, Abe Hayeem, Rosamine Hayeem, Selma James, Riva Joffe, Michael Kalmanovitz, Adah Kay, Leah Levane, Les Levidow, Mica Nava, Diane Neslen, Susan Pashkoff, Roland Rance, Leon Rosselson, Maureen Rothstein, Michael Sackin, Ian Saville, Miriam Scharf, Sam Weinstein, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Devra Wiseman, Ben Young
Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG)

 

• Debate about strategy is vital for good politics. We welcome Noam Chomsky‘s admonitions as a stimulus to the debate and education which the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement has enabled globally. Aside from the errors of fact in Chomsky’s Nation article reported on by Ian Black (Israeli sanctions campaign: Chomsky’s boycott warning, 2 July), the timing of his intervention is unfortunate since the BDS movement has now reached even American campuses, occasioned Israeli cabinet deliberations as to how to counter it, and caused reputational damage to corporations working with Israeli firms in occupied Palestine.

Chomsky also ignores that BDS is fully backed by Palestinian civil society and a growing number of Israelis. In this difficult period for progressive politics and international solidarity, the BDS movement builds across the globe. In its stead Chomsky proposes nothing.
Hilary Rose Professor emeritus of social policy, BradfordMartha Mundy Professor emeritus in anthropology, LSESteven Rose Professor emeritus of neuroscience, Open University, Sami Ramadani London Metropolitan University

Jerusalem BDS activist in face-to-face talk with star of NBC’s ‘DIG’

A Palestinian activist has challenged US TV network NBC over a show being set largely in Jerusalem, in a face-to-face conversation with the leading actor, Jason Isaacs.

Jason Isaacs on DIG set

Isaacs posted this image of himself on set on his own Instagram account

Dig, to be shown on NBCUniversal’s cable network USA in the autumn, has generated strong protests from Palestinians who see it is as part of Israel’s effort to consolidate its control and advance the Judaization of the militarily occupied city.

Harry Potter star Isaacs spoke last week to a Jerusalem resident, known to readers of The Electronic Intifada as “Zalameh”, who visited the set.

According to Zalameh, Isaacs “was very receptive to talk to me and he had an immediate smile.” Isaacs said he had read all of the letters about the issue very carefully and intended to issue a reply.

He also told Zalameh that he had been approached by Miriam Margolyes, the British actor who is a strong supporter of BDS.

But Isaacs also said, according to Zalameh, “I don’t support BDS” – an indication that the actor is nonetheless fully aware of the movement.

Read Electronic Intifada’s full report about the encounter here.

Palestinians protest in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, where Palestinian houses are threatened to be demolished by the city's municipality. (Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinians protest in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, where Palestinian houses are threatened to be demolished by the city’s municipality. (Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

Find out more about the boycott campaign to expose NBC’s collaboration with Israeli authorities responsible for demolishing Palestinian homes

US activists present petition to NBC

US activists present petition to NBC

 

 

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WHOEVER THE BRUSSELS MUSEUM KILLER WAS, ISRAEL CAN’T BLAME FRIENDS OF PALESTINE

The fatal attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels on May 24 has given rise to speculation about the identity of two of the dead as well as of the possible perpetrator, most recently identified as a French citizen who had fought with Islamic militants in Syria. Was it a random attack by an anti-semite targeting a Jewish institution? A carefully planned retaliation by an expert hitman against former Mossad agents? Or something else altogether?

Theories abound, some of them entwining the Belgian incident with the rise of the Right in the recent Europe-wide elections and the Papal visit to Israel and Palestine.

One thing is clear: Binyamin Netanyahu’s attempt to blame criticism of Israel for the Brussels deaths was a despicably cynical move that demanded a response.  Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods combined forces with the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network to put out a statement dissociating us from Netanyahu’s assertion that the fate of every Jew is shackled to that of the Israeli state.

Perhaps we should welcome the fact that most media outlets seem to have ignored the Israeli PM’s rant. However, it is regrettable that both of the two national daily papers which published it – the Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times – turned down the opportunity to give their readers access to an alternative Jewish perspective.

For the record, we publish the letter here.

An outrage against humanity, not Israel

We deplore the murder of visitors to the Jewish Museum in Brussels and feel the grief of their families and friends.

We find it shocking that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has rushed to exploit the killings in order to demonise Israel’s critics.

By blaming what he calls “Slander and lies against the State of Israel” for an assault on a Jewish institution in Belgium, he asserts that Israel represents all Jews and acts on their behalf. We reject this absolutely. Israel’s racist crimes against the Palestinian people provide ample grounds for criticising it without recourse to “slander and lies”.

With hate speech and discrimination on the rise, in Europe and elsewhere, our priority must be to combat the virus of racism regardless of whether its victims are Jews, Muslims, Romanians, Sudanese or indeed anyone.

When atrocities occur, it is our humanity that is outraged, not our national, ethnic or religious identity.

Signed

Jews for Boycotting Israeli Good
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

George Abendstern

Seymour Alexander

Craig Berman

Rica Bird

Haim Bresheeth

Elizabeth Carola

Linda Clair

Mark Elf

Thomas Eisner

Deborah Fink

Jan Hardy

Abe Hayeem

Rosamine Hayeem

Selma James

Riva Joffe

Michael Kalmanowitz

Leah Levane

Les Levidow

Rosalind Levy

Moshe Machover

Helen Marks

Simon Natas

Diana Neslen

Susan Pashkoff

Roland Rance

Valerie Remy

Frances Rifkin

Leon Rosselson

Amanda Sebestyen

Glyn Secker

Leni Solinger

Glyn Secker

Stanley Walinets

Sam Weinstein

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi

 

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN, CRITIC OF ISRAEL AND BDS, SPEAKS IN LONDON

nwi chairing norman finkelstein nov2011 credit brian robinson

Norman Finkelstein debates BDS at SOAS, November 2011

Norman Finkelstein, both celebrated and reviled for his brilliant demolitions of Zionist propaganda, will be launching his latest book in London on May 31 at an event hosted by Jews for Justice for Palestinians.  Full details below.

Finkelstein’s views on the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign have made him a controversial figure in the BDS movement. In November 2011 he debated with Jonathan Rosenhead, chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, on a J-BIG platform at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

The event, pictured above, exposed disagreements between Finkelstein and BDS activists who he accused of building a “sect”.  As the JfJfP notice below says, his May 31 book launch could prove “a bumpy ride”!

LONDON BOOK LAUNCH

Old Wine, Broken Bottle:
Ari Shavit’s Promised Land

Saturday 31 May 2014 *  6.30 for 7pm start
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

Norman Finkelstein is a strong speaker celebrated for his brilliant demolitions of Zionist propaganda and full-tilt attacks on the American Israel Lobby.

His new book is a take-down of Ari Shavit’s “My Promised Land”, which he finds is an attempt to repackage Zionist propaganda and win back Diaspora Jews. “Old Wine, Broken Bottle” is a devastating and very entertaining critique that concludes that Shavit will not succeed, and that a broad-based mass movement is now growing that can pressure the Israeli government to withdraw to the 1967 borders.

But Finkelstein is nothing if not controversial: having defied the Zionist establishment, he now stands apart from the mainstream of Palestine solidarity by denouncing the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement as a marginal “cult”. His vehement insistence on the Two State Solution has also been widely challenged.

Professor Finkelstein will open with a conversation with JfJfP signatory Stephen Marks.
Then fans and critics alike can put their own questions to him. All are welcome.

Expect a bumpy ride!

Free event, but please help towards costs: £3 donation suggested
Apologies for Saturday timing; this was the only slot available”Old Wine, Broken Bottle” reviewed by a member of the JfJfP Exec http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/1939293464/ref=sr_cr_hist_5?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addFiveStar&showViewpoints=0

 

 

US ACADEMICS REPLY TO ANTI-BOYCOTT CRITICS

In this piece published recently in the Los Angeles Review of Books, three distinguished academics take apart a comprehensive attack on BDS from one of their colleagues.  It is long but well worth reading. Apologies for the delay in posting it here.

AMONG THE FOUR ESSAYS recently published in the Los Angeles Review of Books opposing the academic boycott of Israel (“Academic Activism, Israelis, Palestinians, and the Ethics of Boycott”), one stands out for both its length and its comprehensiveness: Russell Berman’s “The Goal of the Boycott.” Berman’s essay aspires to explain the “real” goals of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and the “real” motives of those who support it while providing a history lesson. We argue that “The Goal of the Boycott” is based on bad history, bad conceptualization, and bad argumentation.

The three of us — Joel Beinin, a historian of the modern Middle East and former elected president of the Middle East Studies Association; Hilton Obenzinger, a longstanding Jewish critic of Israeli policies, author, academic, and member of the American Studies Association; and David Palumbo-Liu, literary and cultural critic, a member of the American Studies Association and the Association for Asian American Studies, the academic organization that first endorsed the academic boycott of Israel — are Berman’s colleagues at Stanford. This makes the task of rebutting his claims at once more difficult and more necessary. We feel it especially necessary to respond precisely because of the stature Berman enjoys (and in most respects, deserves) at Stanford and in the American academy, and because the views he puts forward will likely appear highly attractive and worth repeating exactly because they seem so comprehensive and thorough. Yet careful scrutiny reveals a dismaying level of misstatement, historical inaccuracy, wild hypothesizing, and overblown rhetoric — not the best example of argumentative writing for our students.

We critique Berman’s faulty historical narrative, his imprecise and inflammatory terminology, and his false contextualization of BDS, especially the academic boycott — presenting first Berman’s key statements and then our response. Unsupported by the historical record, much of the critical and conceptual argument of Berman’s essay falls apart. Moreover, he reveals a disappointing ignorance of the entire scholarly field of settler colonial studies, indeed of the meaning of the term. Finally Berman mischaracterizes BDS — what it is, what it calls for, and how an academic boycott works.

THE ARGUMENT CONTINUES HERE.