CONFERENCE ON PALESTINE SOLIDARITY AND JEWISH OPPOSITION TO ZIONISM

Palestine solidarity and Jewish opposition to Zionism

On Saturday 2 March 2013, dozens of supporters and friends of J-BIG, Jews and non-Jews, gathered for a conference to explore how the universalist, humanitarian philosophy central to much Jewish thinking has been marginalised by Zionism and how that universalism leads naturally to support for the  Palestinian call for a non-violent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions, targeting Israeli institutions as long as it denies Palestinians freedom, justice and equality.

A detailed report posted immediately after the conference appears on Tony Greenstein’s blog.

Listen here to audio recordings. Film of the main contributions will be added shortly.

The first session, on Jewish values in support of Palestinian rights , began with the screening of a short film, BUNDA’IM,  introducing the last comrades of the Bund mass movement which was exterminated in Europe and ignored in Israel.

Then came a discussion led by David Rosenberg from the Editorial Committee of Jewish Socialist magazine  and Antony Lerman, author of The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist and former director of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research.

They dealt with aspects of Zionism and Bundism in pre-WWII Poland and described  how Zionist leaders have marginalised Bundism in the diaspora,  Zionist attacks on proponents of Jewish universalism and the conflation of antisemitism with opposition to Zionism.

In a panel discussion, a range of speakers tackled issues facing the BDS movement.

Sue Blackwell from the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) outlined the Zionist resort to legal challenge against the Universities and Colleges Union (since gloriously vindicated by a tribunal) for its willingness to debate BDS and refusal to apply the so-called EUMC working definition of antisemitism which seeks to outlaw criticism of Israel.

Michael Deas, coordinator in Europe for the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) was unable to attend due to illness. In his stead Ronnie Barkan, a leading member of Israeli organisations Anarchists against the Wall and Boycott from Within, discussed the centrality of BDS to the anti-racist, anti-colonialist Palestinian struggle.

Tony Greenstein, speaking for Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG), explained the rationale behind publication of the briefing document  Zionism and Antisemitism: Racist Political Twins.

John Rose, author of The Myths of Zionism, unpicked the Zionist myths used to perpetuate the idea that Israeli Jews confront eternal Arab hatred and Israel therefore has the right to “defend itself” by any means.

Hours of discussion were rounded off with an evening of entertainment compered by Deborah Fink, “The Diva with a Difference”,  and starred renowned Palestinian singer Reem Kelani with the up-and-coming musicians of the Raast collective, led by Kareem Taylor.

The conference was twinned with another event at the same venue on the following day, Sunday March 2, bringing together expert speakers on a range of subjects under the heading Reclaiming an Alternative Jewish Culture and Identity

Listen to audio recordings here.

 Ilan Pappe: Jewish Culture In A Non-ZionistOneState In Palestine.

Moshe Machover: Hebrew v. Jewish Identity

Prof. Helen Beer: Jewish Identity Without Yiddish?

Yuval Evri: 19C. Palestinian Arab Judaism

Murray Glickman: BCE Judaism

Cloe Skinner: Gender & Zionism

Sai Englert: The Bund & The 1917 Russian Revolution

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