Monthly Archives: October 2011

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN SPEAKS IN UK ON “HOW TO SOLVE THE ISRAEL-PALESTINE CONFLICT”

Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods is supporting the Nov 7-11 tour of the UK  by Professor Norman Finkelstein whose work straddles political theory, the Israel-Palestine conflict and American policy towards the Middle East.
He has authored six acclaimed books including Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history and The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the exploitation of Jewish suffering.
Finkelstein has been at the centre of a storm of controversy about academic freedom in the United States. In 2007 an award of tenure and promotion at the university of DePaul was overturned after enormous outside pressure from the Israel lobby.
The following year he was invited to lecture at California State University, Northridge, which then, resisting a vitriolic campaign targeting the university as well as Finkelstein himself, offered him a post. This was vetoed by the CSUN president despite testimonials from eminent scholars.
Khaled Abou El Fadl, Professor of Law at UCLA wrote:
“To describe Professor Finkelstein as a towering intellectual figure—masterful, brilliant, meticulously methodical, precise, eloquent, and exceedingly gracious and polite—does not begin to describe him as a writer and lecturer. . .”
Norman Finkelstein’s tour of five UK cities November 7-11 is supported by J-BIG and the Palestinian Return Centre
DISCUSSION ON BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS
In addition to the lectures advertised on the flier, Prof Finkelstein will be in discussion with Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead, chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), at University College London at 2 pm on Friday November 11. They will consider the following proposition:
The Palestinians having being denied justice for 63 years, those who support their rights must endorse their call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), including academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
Tickets can be purchased online for the London evening event from http://www.eventsbot.com/events/eb253345787 .
See the tour page on Facebook

Red Card Israeli Apartheid campaign scores in France and Ireland

Pitch invasions by French protesters and a “Love Football, Hate Apartheid” action in Ireland last week expressed growing outrage at  UEFA’s decision to let Israel host the Under 21 football final in 2013.

Photo: Agence-France Presse

European football’s governing body has yet to reply to an appeal from Palestinian football clubs in June not to reward Israel for its persistent infringements of Palestinian rights. This is despite a deluge of protest messages to UEFA president Michel Platini and a direct challenge from prominent Europeans published in a UK national newspaper.

French protesters invaded the pitch five times when Israel’s national women’s team played at Troyes on October 26. Irish campaigners used leaflets and banners to get their message across at another women’s European Cup qualifier at Tallaght stadium on October 22.

Photo: Irish PSC

Martin O’Quigley of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign said: “Some say that sport and politics should not mix, however we say that sport and racism should never mix.”

He drew a comparison with the sporting boycott against South Africa, which was one of the most effective tools employed in ostracising that state and revealing to the world its Apartheid regime and disregard for human rights.

O’Quigley said that while Israeli teams can travel and play freely,  Israeli authorities regularly refuse visas to Palestinian female and male footballers alike.

According to Stephane Mahon, an organiser for the French campaigning group EuroPalestine, five girls and boys wearing green boycott Israel T-shirts or carrying Palestinian flags ran onto the pitch during the second half of the France-Israel match at Troyes. The last young woman suffered a cracked rib while being roughly handled by ground staff.

This is not shown on the video because the camera operator and other activists were ejected from the ground while the protest was going on.

Go to the BDS website for information on how to support the Red Card campaign.

RED CARD UEFA CAMPAIGN ENTERS NEW PHASE

The Red Card Israeli Apartheid campaign is launching a new phase of its activities aimed at persuading UEFA, football’s European governing body, not to grant Israel the privilege of hosting the Under-21 competition in 2013.
Following publication in the Guardian newspaper of the letter below, signed by several prominent Europeans, we are now working with activists across the continent to have the letter more widely published and to build pressure on the football authorities to respond to the Palestinian appeal.
So far not one word of acknowledgement has been received from UEFA for the letter they received back in June from representative Gazan sporting organisations.
Please tweet, Facebook, post and blog in order to pile the pressure on UEFA chief Michel Platini to get this decision reversed.
Israel’s stance in the community of nations
Those who lead European football must respond to an appeal from Palestinians dismayed at the prospect of Israel hosting Uefa’s under-21 tournament in 2013. A state that uses military might to hold sway over land it illegally occupies and exploits, flouts international law and ignores UN resolutions surely forfeits the right to be treated as a member of the community of nations. But western powers continue to embrace Israel as an ally.  
During the 2011 under-21 tournament in Denmark in June, 42 Gazan football clubs, backed by many sporting bodies, wrote to Uefa president Michel Platini calling on his organisation not “to reward Israel for its violent repression of Palestinian rights”.
We ask Uefa to respond positively to this plea.
Stephane Hessel diplomat
Ken Loach filmmaker 
Michael Mansfield barrister
Miriam Margolyes actor
Nurit Peled Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought joint winner 2001
John Pilger journalist and filmmaker,
Ahdaf Soueif novelist and political and cultural commentator
Jean Ziegler vice-president, advisory committee of the UN human rights council
© 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited 

Zionists lash out as boycott profile rises

September was a lively month for boycott campaigners, and also for pro-Israel propagandists up their usual tricks of trying to keep Palestine off the agenda.

Israel Philharmonic conductor Zubin Mehta (Picture: JC)

Our campaign against the BBC’s decision to invite the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to perform a Promenade concert at the Royal Albert Hall continues to make waves.

The protest by 30 campaigners inside the hall during the concert provoked far too much much media interest to itemise in detail here.  Classical Music magazine gave us fair coverage, and having taken part in the protest, J-BIG secretary Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi was given a generous chunk of airtime on Radio 4’s Any Answersprogramme on Sept 10.

The suspension of four musicians from the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) for putting their names to a letter objecting in advance to the IPO Prom has raised a perfect storm of outrage, taking the issue to a far wider audience than usual.

None of the four players, two of whom are Jewish, played any role in the concert disruption.

Facebook users can now show their support for the LPO4 and it’s not too late to write to the orchestra’s CEO Tim Walker, c.c. chairman Martin Hohmann, at tim.walker@lpo.org.uk.

Guardian music commentators Tom Service and Charlotte Higgins ridiculed the LPO’s assertion that “music and politics don’t mix”.

A letter to the Daily Telegraph was signed by 117 prominent cultural figures appalled at the LPO action. “Why should it be so dangerous for artists to speak out on the issue of Israel/Palestine?” they asked.

The Telegraph’s own story about the matter hinted at the answer, quoting LPO chief executive Tim Walker: “This all became an issue when we started to receive emails and letters from supporters, a lot of whom are Jewish and felt that the players were taking an anti-Jewish position. Some said they weren’t going to come to the concerts or give us any money.”

Interestingly this paragraph, which appears in the Telegraph online, was omitted from the printed edition.

Mysterious things also happened when Ben White, a writer specialising in Israel-Palestine, wrote about the LPO4 in his New Statesman blog (see also the previous post here). The Jewish Chronicle suggested all sorts of sinister shenanigans when it noticed that a line had disappeared from White’s piece querying the reasons behind the LPO’s disciplinary action.

This raises some serious and sensitive questions. How do we, as anti-racists campaigning against Zionism and its apartheid-style treatment of Palestinians, deal with the fact that many Jews put loyalty to Israel above principles such as human rights and freedom of speech? To pretend that this is not the case risks playing into the hands of those who see Jewish conspiracies at work everywhere – the flipside of the coin from those who see antisemitic conspiracies everywhere.

The best policy must be to come clean – Jews who have bought into the Zionist ideology can be guilty of some shameful behaviour. But they are not alone in that.

Michael Gove (front) with Lord Janner of the United Jewish Israel Appeal (Picture: JC)

Pro-Israel censorship reared its head in a different setting when the proud-to-be-Zionist (but Christian) Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove (above), acting at the behest of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, forced schools in the north London boroughs of Islington and Haringey to pull out of a children’s writing competition because the organisers included members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn and former children’s laureate Michael Rosen, who was to have judged the children’s competition, are both protesting about Gove’s intervention and the local authority’s connivance.

Jewish News published their take on the story while the Jewish Chronicle was actively involved in spreading allegations of Holocaust denial and antisemitism.

See below for a statement from HARINGEY JUSTICE FOR PALESTINIANS who organised the Tottenham Palestinian Literary Festival and will be campaigning to call to account Gove and the others responsible for wrecking the festival schools programme.

22nd September, 2011
HUMAN RIGHTS TOO MUCH FOR SOME
Two weeks ago the first ever Tottenham Palestine Literature Festival could boast a superb line up of acclaimed writers, poets and performers, set to run writing workshops schools in Islington and Haringey and encourage students to enter a writing competition about human rights for children. The competition was to be judged by ex-children’s laureate Michael Rosen and Anna Perera, author of ‘Guantano Boy’. All the celebrated authors, poets, story tellers and actors were happy to waive their fees.
Thanks to a malicious campaign of slurs and intimidation from the Jewish Chronicle, some of the workshops had to be cancelled; the writing competition has been wrecked; and children have been denied the chance to write their stories.  Rather than learning about human rights, developing empathy and reflection they got a lesson in censorship and the power of intimidation.
A journalist from the Jewish Chronicle attacked the festival as anti-semitic and sought to intimidate the schools involved through the Departments of Children and Families in both Haringey and Islington. There was no serious attempt by Education leaders to contact the organisers and find out more about the aims and content of workshops. Weeks of careful preparation and discussion with the schools were ignored. The paper raised  ‘serious concerns’ about some of the participants in the festival, many of whom are of Jewish origin, but what these concerns actually are has still not been specified. Instead, Heads and Chairs of Governors were put under intense pressure to cancel workshops, with Islington even threatening one school with legal action.
Several schools courageously resisted this bullying and were richly rewarded. One teacher contacted this week said, ‘The children  were hugely stimulated by Anna Parera’s workshop and have not stopped talking about it ever since – and it’s over a week ago.’
One of the festival organisers continued,
‘ This has been a gross attack on education in both Haringey and Islington by a powerful lobby.  It makes us wonder not only what exactly is the Jewish Chronicle so afraid of, but also why institutions committed to children’s education in a democratic society  fail to show courage to tackle difficult issues and stand up to them, instead of falling back on lazy censorship.’
Reem Kilani  a leading  Middle Eastern and internationally recognised singer  is seeking an apology, Michael Rosen will be making a statement shortly and we have had many messages of support.