Category Archives: Antony Lerman

The Hypocrisy of Jeremy Corbyn’s Accusers, by Tony Greenstein

Stephen Pollard Jewish Chronicle Editor & Apologist for Europe’s anti-Semitic politicians

We are re-posting here Tony Greenstein’s comprehensive expose of the hypocrisy of those who accuse Jeremy Corbyn of antisemitism while themselves befriending far-right extremists who support Israel and Zionism.

To see Tony’s post in full, with all his illustrations, click here.

The Hypocrisy of Jeremy Corbyn’s Accusers

 Corbyn in Cambridge
‘What have they left to throw?’

On 7th August the Daily Mail branded Jeremy Corbyn as someone who was happy to associate with holocaust deniers and one Paul Eisen in particular.  Jeremy was alleged to have given money to Deir Yassin Remembered, a pro-Palestinian organisation that morphed under Eisen into an organisation of holocaust deniers, loony tunes and flat earthists.

On 12th August the Jewish Chronicle picked up on the theme asking Corbyn seven loaded questions as to his relationship with Eisen and various alleged anti-Semites.  The list of anti-Semites included not only the Eisen, but Carlos Latuff a Palestinian cartoonist, whose cartoons often employ a Nazi metaphor.  The Jewish Chronicle’s list also included the leader of Israel’s Northern Islamic movement, Raed Salah.

The Case of Raed Salah

In June 2011 Raed Salah was banned from entering Britain but as no one was notified he entered the country for a speaking tour before being arrested.  The information supplied to Home Secretary Theresa May by the Community Security Trust [CST] , who sought to deport him, on the grounds that he had allegedly made a series of antisemitic statements in sermons and a poem, and that his presence in Britain was not conducive to the public good, was ‘very weak’ according to Justice Ockleton, the Vice-President of the Upper Immigration Tribunal.  Theresa May was ‘misled’ as to a poem by Salah and the misleading was perpetrated by the CST, which is notorious for physically attacking left-wing and anti-Zionist Jews at Jewish meetings.  It combines two roles – defending Jewish premises from attack and attacking Jewish opponents of Zionism.
As Robert Lambert, a retired head of the Metropolitan police’s Muslim Contact Unit, and David Miller noted, the CST:  “failed to distinguish between antisemitism and criticism of the actions of the Israeli state and therefore gives an unbalanced perspective.”  [Palestinian activist wins appeal against deportationDavid Hearst [Theresa May’s haste to ban Raed Salah will be repented at leisurequotes David Miller, a sociology professor from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, who submitted his report on the CST as part of the evidence. It gives a short history of the CST and its “controversial monitoring of pro-Palestinian activists,” summarising that it has a “tendency to treat denunciation of Israel or Zionism as evidence of anti-Semitism.”

Justice Ockelton said on 8 February that the original text of a poem by Salah was “completely different” from how it appeared in a government order banning him from UK territory. The original banning order had accused Salah of anti-Semitism, citing an altered version of the poem. Raed Salah deportation case disintegrates in UK court, but verdict still to follow

According to Ockelton, the decision by Theresa May to ban Salah had been based not on the original text, but a “Jerusalem Post inaccurate summary” of the poem,  entitled Civil Liberties. In a June 2009 editorial, the Post had added the words “you Jews” to the poem, making it appear anti-Semitic. The original Arabic version was printed in a 2002 edition of an Islamic Movement publication.

A UK Border Agency document of 21 June 2011 admitted that the agency had not been able to find the original text “despite extensive research.”  See Court victory for Raed Salah deals blow to UK “anti-terror” policy  Despite this May went ahead with her decision to ban Salah on 23 June. The original text of the poem later emerged, as revealed by The Electronic Intifada in October.

The Post article was cited by people like Henry Jackson Society Research Director, Michael Weiss, (“PSC comes to Parliament …,” The Telegraph politics blog, 29 June 2011) to misleadingly portray Salah as an anti-Semite.  Such is the quality of Henry Jackson Society researchers.  Rosenorn-Lanng, a caseworker, had earlier admitted that the UK Border Agency had not sought the original text of the poem, relying instead on Internet sources.

Aside from the distorted poem, the other main citation of the government was a speech Salah gave in Jerusalem in 2007, in which he had talked about Israeli soldiers shedding the blood of Palestinians. The citation had reportedly included the line: “Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the holy bread.”But Salah was clear that the poem was addressed to all perpetrators of injustice, regardless of religion, race or group. He pointed out that his poem also addressed Arab oppressors with certain references to the Quran, and also addresses Pharaoh as an oppressor. Salah had said that Pharaoh was an Arab. And that he had oppressed the followers of Moses and that “God is not a racist,

Hostile press coverage in Israel inserted the word “Jewish” in square brackets before the words “holy bread” (“Islamic Movement head charged with incitement to racism, violence,” Haaretz, 29 January 2008).

When the Home Office’s Neil Sheldon QC accused Salah of invoking the blood libel, Salah responded that: “this interpretation is out of bounds, and has no origin in fact.” He then went into some detail, saying that his purpose had been to liken the Israeli occupation forces to the inquisitions in Europe that used to shed the blood of children, and which used religion to perpetuate injustice.  UK government conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism in Salah trialContrary to the assertions of the British press, Raed Salah was not convicted of making blood libel allegations against Jews.  He was convicted of racist incitement.  That might sound like a semantic difference, but note that according to the Jerusalem Post, ‘The conviction was a reversal of an acquittal on those charges by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court in 2013 when that court convicted him of incitement to violence, but acquitted him of racist incitement.’  In other words the evidence before what is a colonial court for Israeli Arabs was not strong enough to convict him of the charge of racism before the lower court.  It was a political decision by the higher Jerusalem District Court that found him guilty.  Clearly the evidence was not unambiguous.  Islamic Movement leader Salah convicted of racist incitement on appeal

Sheldon admitted that the government had relied on a “misquotation” of Salah’s poem in The Jerusalem Post. Salah’s lawyer Raza Husain argued the misquotation could only have been a “malign” attempt to defame the character of his client, not an innocent misunderstanding. Ockelton questioned the value of May’s decision to ban since it was based on incorrect information.

In the Appeal hearing Dr. Stefan Sperl, an expert in Arabic poetry from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, gave an analysis of the original text of a poem by Salah called “A Message to the Oppressors” saying it was addressed to all “perpetrators of injustice,” whether Jews or not. He said a Jerusalem Post article characterizing it as anti-Semitic was deliberately misleading. A version with the words “you Jews” inserted into the poem seems to have been used in the UKBA document.

So the allegation, by Cathy Newman of Channel 4 and others, that Jeremy Corbyn had associated with someone convicted of holocaust denial is patently false.

[much of the research quoted above was done by Asa Winstanley, a correspondent for the Electronic Intifada]

The Invention of anti-Semitism – The Lies of Stephen Pollard

Pollard is an Israel firster.  A dedicated Zionist who has turned the Jewish Chronicle from a newspaper with strong Zionist allegiances into a Zionist propaganda rag which brooks no opposition.  It has completely cut out of its pages not only anti-Zionists but non-Zionist dissidents like Tony Lerman and Dr Brian Klug and indeed anyone who doesn’t toe the Israel right or wrong line.The key protagonist in the allegations of anti-Semitism and associating with holocaust deniers is however Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle and member of the cold war Henry Jackson society.  Pollard is ex-editor of the Daily Express, owned by Britain’s largest porn merchant Richmond Desmond.

Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard

Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard

Ex-Editor of Sunday Express – owned by Britain’s largest porn merchant Richard Desmond – He’s turned the Jewish Chronicle into Political Porn

Pollard has taken to heart the traditional Zionist line that anti-Semitism is not a Zionist concern unless it concerns anti-Zionists such as Jeremy Corbyn.  But mindful of the libel laws and knowing his own case is reliant on guilt-by-association, as befits a McCarthyist, Pollard denies that he is accusing Corbyn of anti-Semitism.

To understand the controversy at the time one has to understand the background.  Kaminski was an MP for an area of Poland including a village Jedwabne.  On July 10, 1941, more than 300 Jews were burnt alive in a barn by their Polish neighbours, in a Polish village Jedwabne under the watchful eye of the SS and Order Police.  Although over 60% of Jedwabne’s pre-war population was Jewish, today there are no Jews left of what was a 300 year old community. [“Burning Alive” by Andrzej Kaczynski, published May 5, 2000 in the Polish newspaper “Rzeczpospolita”,  Introduction by Morlan Ty Rogers, June 27, 2000]Pollard hasn’t always been so keen to call out an anti-Semite, especially when the anti-Semite is a far-right politician who is also a Zionist.  One such was Michal Kaminski MEP of the Polish Law & Justice Party and Chairman of the European Conservatives and Reform Group.  Another such is Robert Zile of the Latvian Fatherland and Freedom Party [LNNK], who were both guests at the Conservative Party Conference in 2009 and of the Conservative Friends of Israel.

The campaign against an apology had ‘strongly anti-Semitic overtones,’ according to Dr Rafal Pankowski, author of The Populist Radical Right in Poland. The Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich said: “Mr Kaminski was a member of NOP, a group that is openly far-right and neo-Nazi. Anyone who would want to align himself with the Committee to Defend the Good Name of Jedwabne… needs to understand with what and by whom he is being represented.Yet again, Tories fawn overthe far right, By Alex Hern, October 6, 2011 The massacre in Jedwabne was the subject of a book by Polish-Jewish historian Jan Tomasz Gross.[Neighbours: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland, May 2000]  It caused a far-reaching public debate that split public opinion. [The Legacy of Jedwabne]   Most of the population of Jedwabne opposed President Aleksander Kwasniewski’s belief that a national apology should be made, in Jedwabne itself, to mark the massacre’s sixtieth anniversary (10 July 2001).  Michal Kaminski, was instrumental in urging Jedwabne residents to oppose the President’s apology and boycott the ceremonial event in 2001.

‘If you are asking the Polish nation to apologise for the crime made in Jedwabne, you would require from the whole Jewish nation to apologise for what some Jewish Communists did in Eastern Poland.’In an interview with Martin Bright of the Jewish Chronicle [EXCLUSIVE Michal Kaminski: ‘I’m no antisemite‘] 9.10.09. Kaminski stated that

It was, of course, a false comparison.  Poland, where anti-Semitism had been endemic among the middle class, sections of the peasantry and the military/aristocracy, had not been an easy place to live for Jews before the war.  The welcome given by many Jews to the Soviet invasion was therefore understandable.  But the fact that some Jews collaborated with the Soviet invaders in 1939 doesn’t mean that all Jews or the ‘Jewish nation’ should be held collectively guilty.  The mass murder of the Jews of Jedwabne, which was carried out by only a minority of Poles in the village, is something that the Polish state should apologise for in its own terms.  Yet Pollard was quite happy with this explanation.

In his interview with Bright, Kaminski claimed that he did not remember giving an interview to the ‘ultra-nationalist’ Nacza Polska, when he is alleged to have said he would only apologise for Jedwabne when “someone from the Jewish side will apologise for what the Jews did during the Soviet occupation between 1939 and 1941, for the mass collaboration of the Jewish people with the Soviet occupier.”

He also denied wearing the Chrobry sword, the symbol of the National Radical Camp Falanga, a Catholic fascist group formed in 1935. He issues a categorical denial: “No, I never wear it. I don’t even know which symbol you are referring to. In a later statement to the Jewish Chronicle he admited that he did wear the sword but that it was ‘After 1989 it was used as one of the symbols of the Christian National Union and many Conservative politicians would wear it, including politicians now in the Civic Platform. In recent years it has been taken as a symbol by the Far Right.’  

Analysis: Kaminski is our friend – this is a smear campaign

According to Pollard ‘The real story behind the accusations against Michal Kaminski has nothing to with antisemitism.’ Rather ‘It is, rather, a grubby story about the EU and base politics.’  As for joining the NOP, well Kaminski was only 15 and and anyway ‘when he joined the NOP in 1987 when it was still an underground movement.’

Indeed the Jews had no better friend than Kaminski.  In Poland’s Kaminski is not an antisemite: he’s a friend to Jews  Pollard argued that Kaminski’s concern was merely that a national apology for Jedwabne would let the actual killers ‘off the hook’. It had nothing to do with Poles against Jews, ‘but was a vile crime committed by specific individuals.’  It is  true that not all Poles are guilty.  The Polish working-class had an honourable record of fighting fascism and anti-Semitism, though Pollard as a Zionist is the last person to make such an argument, but as a national minority Poland’s Jews suffered hideous anti-Semitism and an apology on behalf of the whole Polish nation would be at least a token act of amends.  But Pollard argued, since President Kwasniewski ‘was a former communist’ what was required was an apology for the ‘antisemitic campaign of 1968’.  Pollard’s anti-communism trumps his alleged concern for anti-Semitism.  I’m not aware that in the 1968 ‘anti-Zionist’ campaign 300 Jews were burnt alive.

Replying to an article by the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland, Pollard also dismisses the fact that Roberts Zile’s Latvian party, the LNNK “have played a leading part in the annual parade honouring veterans of the Latvian Legion of the Waffen-SS“. Pollard says ‘I know the facts about Kaminski, but I can think of no source for evidence against Zile other than those who so disgracefully besmirch Kaminski.’  The information was, of course, widely known and on March 8 2012 Emma Stock wrote, in the Jewish Chronicle, an article Calls to ban Baltic neo-Nazi marches in which she referred to the fact that ‘Disturbingly, the Riga march is supported by Latvian officials and MEPs such as Robert Zile, who sits alongside UK MEPS in the new European Conservatives and Reformists party in the European Parliament.’  Or Pollard can consult ‘The little European problem that the Conservatives would prefer to forget’ by his Political Correspondent, Martin Bright on October 11 2012: ‘Still more troubling for the Jewish community is the hard-right Latvian MEP Robert Zile, whose also sits in alliance with the Tories in Europe. Mr Zile is a long-time supporter of the Latvian “Legionnaires Day” rally which each March celebrates the Waffen SS.’ For some strange reason, Pollard hasn’t seen to update his apologia for Zile and the LNNK.  He must be too busy dealing with his Corbyn problem!

But when Kaminski was contacted he denied all. “I never tried to stop the commemoration, that is not true,” he said. He had always been in favour, he insisted. But when asked if he had, as the local MP, attended the event in Jedwabne, he couldn’t remember! Toby Helm argues  that “As a local MP, Kaminski played a key role in the campaign questioning the Polish responsibility for the Jedwabne massacre. The campaign had strongly antisemitic overtones,” quoting Dr Rafal Pankowski, a member of the Never Again Association and author of The Populist Radical Right in Poland.  Is Michal Kaminski fit to lead the Tories in Europe?

Kaminski also denied having conducted the interview with Nasza Polska or telling the paper – which is known for carrying far-right material – that the Poles should not apologise until the Jews apologised to them. “I never said it. It is absolutely not true,”

However the Observer contacted the editor-in-chief Piotr Jakucki, who confirmed that the interview had been conducted with Kaminski by the paper’s Kaja Bogomilska and that the article had been published on 20 March 2001. He also sent a hard copy.

When the row over Kaminski and Zile first blew up, the Conservatives achieved what they ‘believed to be a decisive counter-strike’.  They obtained the support of Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, who leaped to Kaminski’s defence, saying there was nothing to suggest the Polish MEP was an anti-Semite.  Pollard claimed there was not “a shred of evidence” that Kaminski had demanded a Jewish apology for crimes against Poles as a condition for Polish contrition.

As Denis MacShane wrote in ‘The curious case of Michal Kaminski’  Kaminski made a Polish apology condition on ‘someone from the Jewish side’ apologising ‘for what the Jews did during the Soviet occupation between 1939 and 1941. As if Jews were not also Polish.  It seems that the visit to Yad Vashem had had no effect too on his consciousness (and maybe, being a propaganda showpiece it didn’t).  However half the Jews, 3 million, who died in the holocaust were Polish.

And further evidence of Kaminski’s anti-Semitism is provided by Craig Murray, who became the British Ambassador in Uzbekistan and who was then First Secretary at the British Embassy in Poland.

When Alexander Kasniewski defeated Lech Walesa to become President of Poland in 1995, Kaminski was involved in lobbying the media to publish stories stating that Kwasniewski’s grandmother was Jewish. That accusation became the focal point of the entire election campaign. ‘Michal Kaminski, The Tories and Polish Anti-Semitism 

Antony Lerman observed that Kaminski’s Law & Justice party, was hardly a home for anti-racists.  Citing the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Racism and Antisemitism, it contained radical nationalists and former members of antisemitic organisations and maintained a strategic alliance with Radio Maryja, “the mass-audience nationalist Catholic radio station and a key force on the far right”, which gives airtime to antisemitic demagogues.  None of this stopped Kaminski speaking to to the Global Counter-Terrorism Conference in Herzliya, Israel in September 2009.  ‘But is Kaminski good for the Jews?

In ‘Kaminski apologists play with fire’ Peter Beaumont notes how the defenders of Kaminski so easily resorted to anti-Semitism.  David Miliband, when he criticised the Tories for their alliance with the Kaminski and Zile, (opportunistically no doubt) the comments of Tory supporters either defended members of Zile’s party who marched with the Latvian SS, because they fought the Bolsheviks, or ‘more scandalously, suggested that Miliband had no “right to comment on Nazism”, as he was a Jew with “Bolshevik grandparents”.

However, to be fair to Pollard, he wasn’t alone in having a problem with criticism of the Tories far right and neo-Nazi allies in the European Parliament. [Leaders split over David Cameron’s Euro allies]

When Vivien Wineman of the Board of Deputies wrote to David Cameron concerning the Tories’ allies in the European Parliament it caused a rift with the Jewish Leadership Council [read big Zionist capitalists]  One JLC member described colleagues as “livid” at the timing of the letter. Another said he was “incandescent”.

A senior Jewish Conservative said: “The Board… has been manipulated by left-wing interests into a completely inappropriate position. The irony is that the new Tory European group will be the most pro-Israel lobby group.”  And this is true, anti-Semites are often the Zionist best friend.  A point made by Pollard in his original defence of Kaminski ‘David Miliband’s insult to Michal Kaminski is contemptible’  ‘Far from being an antisemite, Mr Kaminski is about as pro-Israel an MEP as exists.’

Dean Godson, of the Policy Exchange think tank, accused Wineman and others who had criticised the Tories’ links with Robert Zile of Latvia’s Fatherland and Freedom party [LNNK], of “a certain form of left McCarthyism’.

It would seem that those who are so keen to examine the finest details of those Jeremy Corbyn has encountered over the years  are nonetheless happy to give a carte blanche to bona fide 24 carat anti-Semites.  Hypocrisy doesn’t somehow seem a strong enough word to describe the behaviour of the Stephen Pollard’s of this word. Perhaps given the credentials of his friend and ex-employer Desmond, we can call it Political Pornography.

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TIME FOR ARTISTS TO DEFY PRO-ISRAEL CENSORSHIP

Novellist Kamila Shamsie (left) chaired a panel discussion with Tanika Gupta, Antony Lerman, Ofer Neiman and April De Angelis

Novellist Kamila Shamsie (left) chaired a panel discussion with Tanika Gupta, Antony Lerman, Ofer Neiman and April De Angelis

A groundbreaking panel discussion at Amnesty International on October 7 proved to be a most heartening display of determination from many artists, especially theatre people, not to allow Palestine to become a no-go area as a result of threats and libellous attacks from Zionists. The whole discussion can be seen and heard  here:

– The UK’s Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport boasts of collusion with a foreign ambassador to interfere in the governance of an independent arts institution.
– A small community theatre is pilloried as antisemitic in the national media for querying Israeli embassy funding.
– Behind-the-scenes threats bully a leading London theatre into censoring its own website.
– Sponsors of a Palestinian film festival are individually targeted with demands they withdraw support.

These were some of the instances of limits on artistic freedom exposed during a public discussion at Amnesty International’s Human Rights Action Centre on Tuesday October 7, chaired by novelist Kamila Shamsie, a former trustee of Free Word and English PEN.
With two playwrights on the panel and an audience populated by actors, writers and other artists, evidence of false charges of antisemitism being used to threaten artists and arts organisations generated anger and a determination to fight back.

“When we defend people against charges of antisemitism we should be angrier at the libellous accusations and keep the main focus where it belongs – on Israel’s racism and illegal actions,” said playwright Caryl Churchill, who was in the audience.

Kamila and Tanika After Tric

At the start of the meeting Shamsie read out a letter from the Department of Culture Media and Sport to a member of the public, about Culture Secretary Sajid Javid’s stance when the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn came under sustained attack over the summer.  The theatre had asked that, while Israeli forces were pounding Gaza and killing Palestinians in large numbers, the annual UK Jewish Film Festival it was due to host for the eighth time should not take funds from the Israeli Embassy. The Tricycle was subjected to pickets alleging discrimination against British Jews. Javid – a member of Conservative Friends of Israel – publicly rebuked the theatre. Artistic Director Indhu Rubasingham faced racist abuse and calls for her dismissal, even after the Tricycle board had backed down and said it would accept Israeli embassy funding in future.

The Department letter showed that far from defending the theatre’s right to choose its funding sources, Javid actively participated in harassing it – seemingly at the behest of the Israeli government.

“The Department has kept closely in touch with the Israeli Ambassador during this unfortunate chain of events,” wrote Arts and Broadcasting policy officer Dempster Marples. He said Javid would be attending the gala opening of the festival in its alternative venue “in order to demonstrate his support.”

The letter concluded, without any evident sense of irony: “The Department shall continue to challenge anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice, and to champion freedom of cultural expression at every opportunity.”

Panellist Antony Lerman, a former Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research and a founding member of the Jewish Forum for Justice and Human Rights, condemned the DCMS letter for condoning false antisemitism accusations against the Tricycle Theatre.
Lerman told the meeting it was perfectly legitimate for an arts institution to choose to decline funding.
“The Tricycle’s actions showed no signs of antisemitism of any kind, nor did they represent any form of attack on freedom of expression,” he said. “And yet the official pro-Israel organisations said the Tricycle had banned a Jewish film festival. They fell back on their default position, alleging boycott and equating it with antisemitism.”

Another speaker, playwright Tanika Gupta, said she had been one of hundreds of theatrical colleagues who had rallied to support the Tricycle’s Rubasingham.

Their letter, published in the Guardian on August 15, said: ‘Punishing a small theatre for standing up for its principles is a big step backwards for anyone concerned with challenging prejudice or promoting freedom of speech. Anyone who truly wants to stand against antisemitism needs to stand with the Tricycle theatre and challenge those who are accusing it in a disproportionate, unjust and ill-informed way.’
“Antisemitism, Islamaphobia and other forms of race prejudice are on the rise,” said Gupta. “Labelling the Tricycle antisemitic bleeds significance from the term.”
This position was well-understood by many leading theatrical figures who expressed their support for the Tricycle behind the scenes. “In future they need to act faster and in public,” said Gupta. “We need to get organised!”

The meeting also heard from writer Rachel Holmes, former head of literature at the South Bank. In a message read out by Shamsie, Holmes explained her disappointment at the decision of the Donmar Warehouse to censor a podcast of an event she programmed concerning Britain and the Middle East at the Donmar in March and April of this year.

To accompany Peter Gill’s production of his play Versailles, the Donmar presented a series of events with leading political and cultural commentators exploring the legacy of World War I.

Podcasts were to be available on the Warehouse website. However there is no podcast corresponding to the last of the five, Mr Balfour’s Letter to Lord Rothschild: How the Great War Remapped the World.

“On 1st April,” said Holmes, “24 hours prior to the discussion taking place, the Donmar Warehouse received its first complaint from a funder claiming that the event was an attack on the state of Israel, an ‘anti-Israel rally’ and antisemitic.”

This was accompanied by threats to withdraw funds and to raise grievances with public funders, including publically funded cultural institutions in which Holmes works and/or sits on the boards. The intimidation worked. Donmar did not post the offending podcast.

Another example was described by audience member Bill McAllister, former Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts. He said that during his tenure (1977–1990), the ICA was directly threatened with blacklisting by the Board of Deputies of British Jews for hosting the first UK Palestinian Film Festival. The BoD attempted to implement its threat by writing to every sponsor demanding that they should pull out. Attempts at face-to-face discussion collapsed with the BoD spokesman “flying into a rage,” McAlister said. In this instance the ICA stood firm. But the audience at the panel discussion was left wondering how many more cases of successful bullying and intimidation there have been over the years.

Judith Knight of ArtsAdmin said that institutions should develop clear ethical funding policies and make them public. “Yes, it may mean that we have to cope with less money, but we are less likely to be caught out if we make decisions that enrage powerful interests.”

Equity activist Doug Holton said the question of Zionist interference in the arts must not be “a no-go area” within democratic structures such as unions and guilds representing cultural professionals.

“We need to be ready to confront Zionist racists calling us racists,” Holton said. “Without politics art is mere entertainment. We must defend the arts against political manipulation.”

Les Levidow, of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, supported calls for artists to organise against Zionist bullying.
“Throw back the accusation of anti-Semitism as the racist stereotype it is. Do not buy into the lie that all Jews are bound to the State of Israel,” he said.

Jonathan Rosenhead, chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine was encouraged by the way theatres came together in defence of the Tricycle theatre. “Soon people will have to explain why they are NOT boycotting,” said Rosenhead.

Poet Seni Seneviratne argued passionately for artists to try to make a difference in a situation of injustice. “I will take a moral decision on any invitation from an oppressive regime, and in the case of Palestine I’m supporting a boycott call from within, from Palestinians themselves,” she said. “Not to boycott would be crossing a picket line and I am not a scab!”

Dramatist April De Angelis, another member of the panel, pointed out that there were several current and historical instances of boycotts challenging dubious sponsorship of the arts – a process she called “culture-washing”.

She pointed to the stand taken by the Writers Guild of the UK and Actors’ Equity in supporting the boycott campaign targeting Apartheid South Africa in the 1970s and beyond, and noted that today, the Art not Oil coalition “campaigns against sponsorship by criminally negligent corporations.”
Having worked with young Palestinians in play-writing workshops De Angelis had decided to reject Israeli “culture-washing” and join the cultural boycott. “Those kids would not have had access to my work if performed in Israel,” she told the meeting.
The final member of the panel, Ofer Neiman, an active member of the Israeli group Boycott from Within, explained culture-washing in more detail.

He quoted a special department in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs describing its own responsibilities as “attaining prominence and high exposure abroad for Israel’s cultural and scientific activity, as an important tool for the promotion of its political interests.”

The term Hasbara (“explaining” in Hebrew) is frequently used to describe the way presenting positive messages about Israel serves to “drown out the growing criticism of its appalling human rights violations,” said Neiman.

He cited Nissim Ben-Shitrit, former deputy director general at the foreign affairs ministry: “We regard culture as a hasbara tool of the highest order, and I do not differentiate between hasbara and culture”.

Efforts to bring about change in the actions of the Israeli government need to be based on the understanding that culture cannot be separated from politics.

Neiman said Israeli dissidents were too few to bring about change by themselves, from within.

“Artists, in the UK and elsewhere, can play an important role in the collective effort to stop the Israeli regime’s crimes, simply by saying no to the use of culture for Israeli state propaganda. Those who do so may face smearing and bullying, but they will find supporters all over the world, including Israeli citizens who will stand with them.”

  • The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), which first drew the Tricycle Theatre’s attention to the Israeli Embassy funding of the UK Jewish Film Festival in 2013, has set up an initiative under the rubric No Israeli Funding for the Arts. It is calling on all of the venues hosting the film festival following its rift with the Tricycle theatre to pull out of the screenings because of the Embassy link.
  • Full details follow.
NO ISRAELI FUNDING OF THE ARTS

IJAN is centrally involved in the No Israeli Funding of the Arts initiative – we want everyone we are in touch with to know that the Israeli-funded UKJFF (UK Jewish Film Festival) is taking place this year (6-23 November) in cinemas in Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester and Nottingham.

We have written to all the cinemas – see our letter below – and we are asking that you contact your local (or even a distant) cinema by phone, email, website, leaflet or street protest, and let them know what you think of them hosting an Israeli-funded event. (All cinema contact details are at end of this email.) Call or write to the local press or call-in radio to tell them what you think of their not caring for the Jewish films, only for the Israeli rebranding (see below).

Check the UKJFF calendar to find when each cinema is hosting UKJFF films. The opening gala night is at the London BFI on 6 November – we are planning to protest their collaboration with the slaughterers of the Gazan people.

Note: IJAN workshop, From Gaza to Ferguson @ Anarchist Bookfair, 18 Oct, 3-4pm

NO ISRAELI FUNDING OF THE ARTS

LETTER TO CINEMAS HOSTING THE UK JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL

We are writing to you as one of the cinemas hosting the UK Jewish Film Festival (UKJFF) 6-23 November, 2014, to ask that you reconsider.

 

Who we are
We are a diverse group, including Israeli and other Jewish people, most of us local to, and often in the audience of, the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, northwest London. In 2012 local residents leafleted the cinema to oppose its hosting of the Israeli-sponsored UKJFF; in 2013 we protested outside the Tricycle when it again hosted the UKJFF. (The protests were called by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.)

 

Tricycle / UKJFF
This year, many including ourselves, welcomed the Tricycle’s stand against the festival’s funding by the Israeli Embassy during Israel’s 50-day slaughter on Gaza.

The Tricycle had offered the organisers of the UKJFF replacement funding so that the film festival could go ahead at the Tricycle.  But the UKJFF refused their offer and to dissociate itself from the Israeli government – the priority was Israeli sponsorship, rather than the film festival.  Is the UKJFF merely a means to a political end, to give Israel a humanist image?

 

Who attacked the Tricycle
The Government’s Chief Whip, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and the Israeli Ambassador, each publicly attacked the Tricycle for having refused Israeli sponsorship.  They slandered the Tricycle by accusing it of antisemitism; as did donors and local councillors who threatened to withdraw funds and involve the Charity Commission.

 

Who defended the Tricycle
Support came from National Theatre director, Nicholas Hytner, acclaimed director Lenny Abrahamson; over 500 artists, including prominent theatre directors and playwrights, some of whom affirmed “We artists have a right to boycott” (letter to the Stage); and note the artists’ solidarity page: “The Tricycle Theatre is Not Anti-Semitic.

 

In July, Scottish artists, including National Poet Liz Lochhead, signed an open letter in The Herald protesting an Israeli-funded theatre company at the Edinburgh Fringe. After vociferous public protest, the show closed after one performance.

 

Following the Tricycle’s refusal of Israeli funding, the Encounters Film Festival in Bristol and artists from the 31st Sao Paulo Art Biennial in Brazil also refused Israeli funding.

 

What Israel’s apologists did
While crying antisemitism, Israel’s apologists used their attack on the Tricycle to try to distract the public from Gaza: from seeing Israeli politicians, religious authorities, journalists and the public, calling for mass rape, mass murder, even genocide of Palestinians; from the bloodied tanks, F16s, drones, bunker busters, sea-to-land missiles, remote-controlled machine guns, that blasted schools, hospitals, mosques, blocks of flats, children playing football; and from the 2,200 Gazans killed — over 500 children, and half a million displaced.

 

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine found evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of murder, extermination and persecution and also incitement to genocide.

 

What happened to the Tricycle
Even while Gaza was being destroyed, the Tricycle was forced to retreat.  But actress Maureen Lipman, advocating for the UKJFF admitted that they knew the depth of the community’s support for the theatre’s stand, announcing that the festival was unlikely to go back to the Tricycle any time soon.

 

That stand reaffirmed that the arts are social and political.  It was welcomed by anti-racists everywhere. And please note: both the local council and the Arts Council ruled out loss of funding.

 

What we want you to do
The assistant manager of the Everyman cinema insisted that “refusing to host any arts festival on political grounds will cause more harm than good.” (Email, 10 September 2014.) The Everyman’s is not a principled position – it is complicity and appeasement.  It is the argument of those who refused to boycott South African apartheid.

 

Who knows better than Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a proponent of cultural boycott, who said, “We in South Africa know about oppression and occupation and know about the power of BDS” (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions)?

 

We ask that you take direction from the anti-racist, non-violent, Palestinian-led BDS movement.

 

We ask that you refuse to host the UKJFF – not because it is Jewish, of course, but because it is funded by the Israeli Embassy.  The embassy’s job, especially in London (the boycott “hub”) is to promote what it calls Brand Israel – state-sponsored propaganda, designed to camouflage Israeli brutality within a smokescreen of culture, including film festivals.

 

We ask that you side with the victims and survivors of the assault on Gaza – not be part of the cover-up of war crimes being committed against them.

NoIsraeliFundingOfTheArts@gmail.com

 

CINEMAS HOSTING THE UKJFF

Glasgow

Venue              CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts)

Address           350 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow G2 3JD

Email               gen@cca-glasgow.com

Telephone       0141 352 4900

 

Venue              Glasgow Film Theatre

Address           12 Rose St, Glasgow, Lanarkshire G3 6RB

Email               jaki.mcdougall@glasgowfilm.org (Chief Executive)

Telephone       0141 332 6535

Leeds

Venue              MAZCC

Address           311 Stonegate Road, Leeds LS17 6AZ

Email:              enquiries@ljwb.co.uk

Telephone       0113 268 4211

 

Venue              Seven Arts Centre

Address           31(a) Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, LS7 3PD

Email               info@sevenleeds.co.uk

Telephone       0113 26 26 777

 

London

Venue              Arthouse Crouch End

Address:          159A Tottenham Lane, N8 9BT

Email               info@arthousecrouchend.co.uk

Contact form   http://www.arthousecrouchend.co.uk/contact/

Telephone       020 8245 3099

 

Venue              BAFTA British Academy of Film and Television Arts

Address           195 Piccadilly, W1J 9LN

Email               info@bafta.org

Contact form   http://www.bafta.org/contact-us.html

Telephone       020 7734 0022

 

Venue              Barbican

Address           Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS

Email               film@barbican.org.uk

Feedback        https://www.barbican.org.uk/general/online-feedback-form.asp

Telephone       020 7638 4141

 

Venue              BFI Southbank

Address           Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XT

Email               director@bfi.org.uk

Contact form   http://www.bfi.org.uk/form/contact-bfi-southbank

Telephone       020 7255 1444

 

Venue              Ciné Lumière

Address           17 Queensberry Place, SW7 2DT

Email               box.office@institutfrancais.org.uk

Telephone       020 7871 3515

 

Venue              Curzon Mayfair

Address           38 Curzon Street, W1J 7TY

Email               manager.mayfair@curzon.com

Contact form   http://www.curzoncinemas.com/contact_us/

 

Venue              Odeon Muswell Hill

Address           Fortis Green Road, N10 3HP

Contact form   http://www.odeon.co.uk/contactus/

Telephone       0207 321 6237 (conferencing & events)

 

Venue              Everyman Maida Vale

Address           215 Sutherland Avenue, W9 1RU

Email               maidavale.manager@everymancinema.com

Contact form   http://www.everymancinema.com/contact-us/

Telephone       0871 906 9060

 

Venue              Everyman Hampstead

Address           5 Holly Bush Vale, NW3 6TX

Email               hampstead.manager@everymancinema.com

Contact form   http://www.everymancinema.com/contact-us/

Telephone       0871 906 9060

 

Venue              JW3

Address           341-351 Finchley Road, London NW3 6ET

Email               info@jw3.org.uk

Telephone       020 7433 8988

 

Venue              LJCC (London Jewish Cultural Centre)

Address           Ivy House, 94-96 North End Road, NW11 7SX

Email               admin@ljcc.org.uk

Contact form   http://www.ljcc.org.uk/contact/

Telephone       020 8457 5000

 

Venue              Odeon South Woodford

Address           60/64 High Road, South Woodford, E18 2QL

Contact form   http://www.odeon.co.uk/contactus/

Telephone       0207 321 6237 (conferencing & events)

 

Venue              Odeon Swiss Cottage

Address           96 Finchley Rd, NW3 5EL

Contact form   http://www.odeon.co.uk/contactus/

Telephone       0207 321 6237 (conferencing & events)

 

Venue              Phoenix Cinema

Address           52 High Road, East Finchley, N2 9PJ

Email               management@phoenixcinema.co.uk

Telephone       020 8444 6789

 

Manchester

Venue              Cornerhouse

Address           70 Oxford St, Manchester M1 5NH

Email               info@cornerhouse.org

Telephone       0161 228 7621

 

Venue              Cineworld Didsbury

Address           Parrs Wood Entertainment Centre, Wilmslow Rd, Manchester M20 5PG

Contact form   https://www.cineworld.co.uk/contact  (250 words max.)

Telephone       0208 742 4010

 

Venue              Menorah

Address           198 Altrincham Rd, Wythenshawe, Manchester M22 4RZ

Email               filmclub@menorah.org.uk

Contact form   https://menorah.org.uk/contact-us/

Telephone       0161 428 7746

 

Nottingham

Venue              Broadway Cinema

Address           14–18 Broad St, Nottingham NG1 3AL

Email               info@broadway.org.uk

Contact form   http://www.broadway.org.uk/contact/steve (Chief Executive)

Telephone       0115 9526 611

 

THE DEATH OF LIBERAL ZIONISM – IN THE NEW YORK TIMES!

This post has been available online for a while but it’s so good it’s worth giving another airing.

Antony Lerman

Antony Lerman

Blogger Philip Weiss introduces an important New York Times op-ed by Antony Lerman thus:

A hugely important piece in the New York Times this weekend is all over my inbox this morning. As it should be. It’s datelined London, not New York: and writer Antony Lerman declares “The End of Liberal Zionism : Israel’s Move to the Right Challenges Diaspora Jews.” (Yes we rang that knell here a few weeks back.)

Antony Lerman says that liberal Zionists are now a figleaf for rightwing Jewish supremacy in Israel and a dam on open discussion of equal rights in the United States. He celebrates the non- and anti-Zionist left– in the NYT:

Today, neither the destruction wreaked in Gaza nor the disgraceful antics of the anti-democratic forces that are setting Israel’s political agenda have produced a decisive shift in Jewish Diaspora opinion. Beleaguered liberal Zionists still struggle to reconcile their liberalism with their Zionism, but they are increasingly under pressure from Jewish dissenters on the left, like Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Independent Jewish Voices.

Along with many experts, most dissenting groups have long thought that the two-state solution was dead. The collapse of the peace talks being brokered by the American secretary of state, John Kerry, came as no surprise. Then, on July 11, Mr. Netanyahu definitively rejected any possibility of establishing an independent Palestinian state. The Gaza conflict meant, he said, that “there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan” (meaning the West Bank).

Liberal Zionists must now face the reality that the dissenters have recognized for years: A de facto single state already exists; in it, rights for Jews are guaranteed while rights for Palestinians are curtailed. Since liberal Zionists can’t countenance anything but two states, this situation leaves them high and dry.

Read the rest here.