Category Archives: Events

STOP PRESS: FINKELSTEIN BOYCOTT DISCUSSION VENUE

 
Prof Norman Finkelstein will be in conversation with BRICUP chair Prof Jonathan Rosenhead
at 2 pm Friday November 11
in the Christopher Ingold Lecture Theatre
UCL Chemistry Building, 20 Gordon Street, London WC1 6BT
This is opposite the Bloomsbury Theatre.
To reserve your place please email  jews4big@gmail.com
 
Finkelstein and Rosenhead will discuss the 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.
 
This is in addition to Finkelstein’s lecture at 7 pm in the Logan Hall, Institute of Education for which booking is required. 
http://www.eventsbot.com/events/eb253345787
 
After lecturing to packed houses in Leeds and Manchester on Monday and Tuesday, Finkelstein’s tour continues with dates in Birmingham and Nottingham before concluding in London on Friday.
 
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Protest builds over Manchester University interference in Finkelstein tour

Manchester University is facing growing protests after caving in to Zionist pressure and forcing students organising a speaking tour by Professor Norman Finkelstein to move his planned lecture off campus.

In a letter to university Head of Governance, Martin Conway, J-BIG said it was astonished “that a respected university should collude with Zionist attempts to suppress open discussion of Prof Finkelstein’s views on campus.”

Students from Manchester Action Palestine said the university management and Union “capitulated to pressure from JSOC [Jewish Society] to limit attendees of the event to students only, depriving the public of seeing one of the world’s foremost commentators on the Israel-Palestine conflict.”

JSOC members alleged that the safety of Jewish students would be endangered if the public were allowed in, even though they had made clear their own intention to attend and hold a picket. Administrators issued an ultimatum saying that the lecture would have to be closed to non-students or be cancelled. Action Palestine was therefore obliged to find a new location in the city.

Abe Hayeem, Chair of Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine, told Conway he was “appalled to hear that Manchester University had created impossible conditions that would prevent Professor Norman Finkelstein from speaking at a meeting that was open to both students and the public.”

“Your action smacks entirely of bias, pre-emption and censorship that does not enhance the reputation of such an important University, by caving into pressure of a determined minority who wish to deny anyone presenting the realities of Israel and the situation in the Middle East,” Hayeem wrote.

Manchester Action Palestine is asking supporters to send protest letters to Conway (martin.conway@manchester.ac.uk) and to Pat Sponder (pat.sponder@manchester.ac.uk) Head of the Office of Student Support and Services.

Finkelstein’s lecture in Manchester on November 8 is one of several planned around the UK as part of a speaking tour organised by students from University College London, supported by Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods and the Palestinian Return Centre.

It will include lectures on the Israel Palestine conflict and a discussion in London on Friday November 11 with Jonathan Rosenhead, chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, which leads the campaign for academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

The Manchester lecture will now take place at the Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, M2 5NS at 6 pm on November 8.

Other tour dates:

Leeds – 7 pm Monday November 7
University of Leeds, Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre, Michael Sadler Building
Woodhouse Lane, LS2 9JT.  Arrive early or reserve your place in advance  irial@hotmail.co.uk

Nottingham – Wednesday November 9
University of Nottingham, Coates Auditorium, University Park                   Nottingham – Thursday Nov 10, 1pm-3pm open Q&A                                              Tickets for both events from Students Union box office in Portland or telephone 07411 430873

Birmingham – 5 pm Thursday November 10
University of Birmingham, Vaughan Jeffreys Lecture Theatre, Education Building                                                                                                                                                Book your ticket: http://www.guildtickets.co.uk/event/How-to-solve-the-IsraelPalestine-conflict-by-Norman-Finkelstein

 

London – 2 pm Friday November 11 – BDS discussion                                        Bloomsbury venue to be announced

London – 7 pm Friday November 11
University of London, Logan Hall, Institute of Education                                      Reserve your place at http://www.eventsbot.com/events/eb253345787

 

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

SOLIDARITY WITH THE EGYPTIAN PEOPLE

Photo Essay: Remembering Israel’s War on Gaza Vigil – 27 Dec 2010, London

video courtesy of Seymour Alexander

video courtesy of Harry Fear

Remembering Israel’s war on Gaza – Vigil 27th Dec 2010, London

Remembering Israel’s war on Gaza: END THE SIEGE ON GAZA

Vigil outside the Israeli embassy in London 27 December 2010, 1-3pm to mark the second year of the start of Operation Cast Lead. 

Between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, over 1400 Palestinians were killed by Israel in a brutal and illegal attack on the Gaza Strip, destroying lives and infrastructure. Two years on, Gaza’s infrastructure has still not been repaired due to Israel’s blockade. Families are still living in tents. UN schools are unable to rebuild as Israel blocks concrete and building supplies.

Join us, and bring family and   friends, to send a clear message –  END THE SIEGE ON GAZA! FREE PALESTINE!

Organised by: Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Stop the War Coalition, British Muslim Initiative, Friends of Al Aqsa, Palestinian Forum in Britain, Viva Palestina, Palestinian Return Centre, War on Want, Russel Tribunal on Palestine, Amos Trust, The Green Party, ICAHD UK, Friends of Lebanon, Public and Commercial Services union.

Founding Conference of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods

 

Report of Conference on Jews and Palestine

Saturday, 4 September 2010

From Tony Greensteins Blog http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2010/09/founding-conference-of-jews-4.html

It’s not often that you go to a conference and come away feeling that that was a really worthwhile and positive experience. Too many conferences are waffly and woolly and often set up to benefit primarily the speakers’ egos. Maybe it was because this was the first ever conference of its kind in Britain but I found the conference both beneficial and also moving.

As I said in my contribution from the floor, when I first became an anti-Zionist when I was all of 16, I felt as if I was the only one in the world. I found it difficult to articulate even why I found my socialist views conflicting with Zionism. Having gone to a Jewish school with a rabbi for a father I’d been brought up with the myths that the Arabs ran away in 1948 so that the Arab armies could conquer the territories. All I knew was that socialism recognised no divisions in the working class, it argued for unity across racial and religious lines. Zionism emphasised the Jewish not the universal and for me that was the starting point.

The Conference started with an excellent speakers panel consisting of the veteran co-founder of Matzpen, Professor Moshe Machover, who argued against the idea that the Palestinian conflict can be solved within the ‘box’ of Palestine. For Moshe the only solution is a Palestine or Israel or both as part of a larger socialist confederation of the Arab East.

Haim Bresheeth, a film maker and Professor at the University of East London and who was also a member of Matzpen, clashed with Moshe as to whether Matzpen, the Socialist Organisation in Israel, ever supported, even implicitly, a 2 states position. Haim also disagreed strongly with Moshe’s position, supporting a secular unitary and democratic state of Palestine.

Mike Marqusuee, a noted writer on cricket and Bob Dylan (!) as well as a much praised book on the Journey of an anti-Zionism Jew [see my review] gave an excellent overview of the situation of Jews in the movement and the wider solidarity movement, emphasising in particular the role that India plays in support of Israel, its military links with Israel and how both use ‘anti-terrorist’ rhetoric to demonise of Muslims.

Tony Lerman, ex-Director of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research, who was witch-hunted out of his job in the IJPR, an organisation he helped found, by people like Stanley Kalms, owner of Dixons, because of his refusal to spout Zionist rhetoric and give unflinching support to anything with a Zionist tag on, gave an excellent talk about the background to the European Monitoring Committee’s ‘Working Definition’ of anti-semitism, which in fact came from the American Jewish Congress. This has now been taken over by a group calling itself the Federal Rights Agency, but as was pointed out this semi-legal definition, which the British government hasn’t adopted, paves the way to the criminalisation of anti-Zionism and anti-Israeli actions. He also gave us a very useful history of the background to this ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism and how it fits in with the ‘new anti-Semitism’, although I disagree with his view that anti-Semitism in the West is on the increase.

The EUMC definition is in fact , as I pointed out from the floor, ironically anti-semitic! It holds that denial to the ‘Jewish people’ of the right to national self-determination in the Israeli state, was anti-semitic. In fact the belief in one single Jewish people, wherever they live and whatever language they speak and culture they adopt, is itself anti-semitic and the basis of the anti-Semitic world Jewish conspiracy theory. Likewise its suggestion that comparisons of Nazism and Zionism is anti-semitic is a piece of Zionist nonsense, which fits in with their idea that there are no lessons to learn from the Holocaust because it was unique in every aspect. I also made the point that the reason Zionism talks about ‘new anti-semitism’ is because it has nothing whatsoever to do with the ‘old’ anti-semitism, i.e. pogroms, attacks on Jews as Jews and other manifestations of racial hatred.

Although the Zionists think they are being clever with their new definition and the EUMC definition, which only the National Union of Students has adopted, it is in fact useless. When the Procurator Fiscal tried to adopt it in Scotland to prosecute those who had disrupted the concern of the Jerusalem Quartet, the Sheriff threw it out. No jury will convict on the basis of these weasel words because there is a world of difference between opposition to the Israeli state and hatred of Jews as Jews.

I also made it clear, in supporting Haim Bresheeth and opposing Moshe’s viewpoint, that we have to set an idea of what it is we are working towards. It is the first question that people ask – what do you want? It is not good enough to talk of a socialist federation, given that socialism has not been achieved anywhere in the world. The overthrow of Zionism (or of the Occupation) and Moshe is correct, cannot be conducted within the confines of Palestine. It is a regional struggle against the Arab dictators and the junior allies of US imperialism. But that doesn’t mean that the struggle will take a socialist form or that it will result in socialism.

It was also good to see people like Ghada Karmi at the conference, although she could only stay a short while. Sue Blackwell, with whom I led a workshop, helped prepare the food and was the ‘shabbas goy’ for the meeting! But it was also important that though this is a Jewish group, non-Jews are made to feel welcome. We organise as Jews solely because we can be more effective doing so.

This is the first such conference of anti-Zionist Jews and those involved in solidarity that I can remember in Britain. Moshe suggested that J-Big, which officially hosted the conference, should not become an anti-Zionism organisation but I’m not so sure about that. Either way a steering committee of 9 was elected.

It was gratifying to see that the conference was packed without a single spare seat. Over 50 people attended during the day and we focussed, not on Jewish identity or other forms of naval gazing, but seeing how we can, in the words of the first J-Big literature, kosher the Boycott movement. How obviously we can support each other but also how we can deflect the charge that anti-Zionism equals anti-semitism back onto the Zionists, whose movement is anti-semitic in its origins and ideology.

Below is a report which was compiled after the Conference.

Tony Greenstein

Report from Group Combating the Israel lobby and its definition of Anti-Semitism

Sue Blackwell opened this sessioin by drawing our attention to the threat inherent in the present FRA, previously EUMC definition of anti-Semitism. To aid deliberations, this group was provided with a print out of the EUMC working definition of anti-Semitism:

The preamble of this document states that its ‘purpose is to provide a guide for identifying incidents….and support.. the enforcement of legislation dealing with anti-Semitism’.
Although it is a European document, it was completed with the assistance of self confessed Israel lobby groups, both from Europe and from America, together with Kenneth Stern, an American, whose agenda was very definitely to make anti-Zionism and by implication criticism of Israel part of the anti-Semitic agenda. Alternative Jewish perspectives were not canvassed and amendments were not welcomed once the document was published. It has already been used as a definition in the All Party Parliamentary Group’s report on anti-Semitism in this country. It is now the definition used by the State department in the United States. The implication of this document is deeply troubling as it could be an intimidate and silence anti-Zionists. It is therefore imperative that we develop tools to address this issue.

Tony Greenstein explained how Zionism is supported by a motley collection of people, many of whom are not Jews; how Jews are a diverse people who cannot be characterised as one people. He argued against the conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism and outlined his view that the whole issue is one not about anti-Semitism, but about privileging Israel and silencing her critics.

He explained how Zionists from the time of Herzl to the Ben Gurion and even today express their distaste for diaspora Jews with classical anti-Semitic views, showing how much they despise diaspora Jewish cultures. Pinhas Felix Rosenbliith, who became Israel’s first Minister of
Justice, described Palestine “an institute for the fumigation of Jewish vermin.” [Classic zionism and modern anti-semitism: Parallels and influences (1883-1914 Journal of Israeli History, 4:2, September 1983). If a non-Jew had described Jews as vermin or ‘hideous creatures’ (Jacob Klatzkin) then who would deny that this was deeply anti-Semitic?

Currently far right and fascist/neo-Nazi groups in Europe, with the sole exception of Jobbik in Hungary, support Israel. The EDL, Britain’s home grown hate merchants, will mobilise together with the Israeli flag in support of Israel whenever protests against Israel’s behaviour are called.

Themes:

There was discussion about the racism inherent in the Zionist ideology; how the EUMC/FRA definition lets Zionist racism off the hook; how often extreme Zionists are among the worst anti-Semites; how in fact Zionism itself is seen by many as the other side of the anti-Semitism coin and uses anti-Semitism to advance its cause.

While Israel may try to hold all Jews responsible for its actions, it is vital not to fall into that trap and feel responsible for what a state, to which we owe no allegiance, does. It is in fact anti-Semitic to imagine that all Jews have one view.

There was discussion about the use of Nazi analogies and the consensus was that they undermine arguments.

There was a discussion too about people in the Palestine solidarity movement, who are true anti-Semites and who feel that they can use their place in the movement as cover for their obnoxious views.

Zionism is a political ideology and it is thus reasonably easy to counteract anti-Semitic views held and circulated in public fora, by solidarity activists. Jews in the solidarity movement, who have pointed out anti-Semitic material and highlighted the difference between a political ideology and racial categorising, have usually been well received.

There was discussion about relationship with mainstream Jewish community, many of whom feel an existential anxiety about obliteration, thus creating a need for a safety net, namely Israel; whether these feelings were only found among Ashkenazi Jews, or whether this is a more universal Jewish phenomenon. There were those who did not feel that counteracting extreme Jewish views was worthwhile, but others argued that there is a wide variety of views and with encouragement, people could be slowly detached from unqualified support for Israel and once having left their comfort zone, it could be possible for them to move even further along the path. However it was pointed out that since the Jewish community has become more affluent, they are less attached to unions and workers’ organisations and more attached to synagogues and faith schools, which promote a Zionist agenda. Thus it might be more difficult to reach mainstream. Many secular Jews use Zionist organisations to signal their attachment to a Jewish identity.

There was a debate around developing our own definition of anti-Semitism. While this is contentious, it may be necessary in order to challenge this EUMC/FRA definition, which, in the absence of an alternative, could become a dangerous template.

There was also a warning that the use of history to support our views on Zionism can be problematic as historical evidence is nuanced and does not usually support any one particular interpretation.

Proposals

1. Invite those who support the FRA/EUMC definition to a debate so that they can explain their position. We need to show how this position reinforces rather than challenges racism.
2. BDS is an ant-racist endeavour. One way to address the implication of this document is through BDS efforts.
3. Go on the offensive with our own Zionist narrative, showing how Zionism developed and its present function.
4. Reclaim Jewish/humanist values.
5. Demand consultation with the FRA as Jews.
6. Address anti-Semitism when it becomes part of the anti-Zionist discourse.
7. Publicise the use of hate speech by those complaining of anti-Semitism.

Addendum

This document and its implications was discussed at a JFJFP signatories meeting on 25th July, where it was identified, not as an anti-discrimination document, but as a political document and should not be mistaken for one dealing with discrimination. Jfjfp is making further enquiries with lawyers to get a legal opinion on how this FRA formulation conforms to provisions in other anti-Discrimination laws, in particular those enacted in the United Kingdom.

It may be worthwhile to consider making a joint approach to the FRA together with all the alternative Jewish groups to demand that ALL interested Jewish groups be involved in developing a new anti-discrimination framework with respect to anti-Semitism.