On March 19 the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) became the first UK professional association to take action against Israel for its breaches of international law.
On March 19 the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) became the first UK professional association to take action against Israel for its breaches of international law.
Today’s MORNING STAR (“The People’s Daily”) carried this feature about the foundation and work of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods.
DEBORAH FINK and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi are co-founders of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-Big), a group which has scored major successes as progressive Jewish people respond to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
The pair met through Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP), founded in February 2002 in response to the second intifada.
Fink joined in July that year. Coming from a conservative, pro-Israel background, she found it reassuring to meet fellow Jews who were against Israel’s policy in Palestine.
She sees JfJfP as an important organisation.
“It shows the world that Israel does not represent all Jews, that it cannot count on all Jews for support,” she says.
“And to a certain extent it protects non-Jewish critics of Israeli policy from bogus charges of anti-semitism.”
Anti-semitism is often the accusation thrown at Israel’s critics, with the aim of intimidating them into silence.
Fink felt there needed to be a specifically Jewish voice supporting the campaign to boycott Israeli goods, so with Wimborne-Idrissi she founded J-Big in 2006.
They chose the tongue-in-cheek slogan “it’s kosher to boycott Israeli goods,” highlighting the fact that many Jews are involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, so it’s “kosher” to take part.
Wimborne-Idrissi comes from a left-wing Jewish household. Her father used to sell the Morning Star’s predecessor the Daily Worker, so solidarity with oppressed peoples is something she grew up with.
She discovered JfJfP in the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003.
A speaker at a Stop the War demo was speaking, as a Jew, for Palestinian rights. Wimborne-Idrissi signed up there and then.
She felt that JfJfP, while doing great work in the Jewish community, did not go as far as she and others wanted in the boycott campaign. A further step was needed.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign had set up a Boycott Israeli Goods campaign and was showing an interest in getting a specifically Jewish voice involved.
Wimborne-Idrissi and Fink pulled together some like-minded people and set up J-Big. A founding statement was published, a banner sporting the “kosher” slogan produced and J-Big set about mobilising support.
Wimborne-Idrissi says it wasn’t long before the expected deluge of venomous accusations flooded in.
They were denounced as “self-hating Jews” and “traitors to the Jewish state of Israel.”
“We had no illusions that the campaign would bring the Israeli economy crashing down,” she says.
“Boycotting avocados and peppers grown on illegally occupied Palestinian land and then sold as Israeli would not bring the country’s economy to its knees, but the immorality of how and where these goods are produced is an important message to get across.”
J-Big became more interested in boycotting Israel at an institutional level — by, for example, boycotting cultural events such as when Israeli musicians come to Britain under the Israeli flag to perform here while Palestinian artists are suffering under the occupation.
Here Fink’s musical training — she’s a bachelor of music and a trained soprano — came to the fore.
Working with others in the BDS movement Fink debuted by interrupting the Jerusalem Quartet at the Wigmore Hall in 2010, singing a parody of Jerusalem, Holy City.
J-Big was involved when the campaign tackled a more high-profile target, encouraging as many as possible to join in the protests when the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra played the Royal Albert Hall in 2011.
There were many disruptions to the orchestra’s performance, the first of which involved 13 activists in a choir led by Fink.
Sue Blackwell, a prominent member of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine who had written the words to the Wigmore parody, wrote a new version of Ode to Joy as Ode to Boycott, including the words “Israel end your occupation, Palestine must now be free, ethnic cleansing and apartheid should belong to history.”
Protesters, who came from as far afield as Edinburgh and Brighton, were strategically seated around the auditorium and their interventions carefully timed.
During a quiet musical passage protesters in vacant choral seats stood up with cloth banners which together spelled Free Palestine.
The protesters were eventually escorted out of the hall, but the protest made global news.
Fink explains the controversial action by pointing to the way the orchestra operated as a cultural ambassador, making Israel appear civilised.
“As a musician I find it hard to disrupt beautiful music,” she says. “But basic human rights are more important.
“It’s not just about influencing the audience at a prom, but about influencing world opinion. You can’t do that by handing out a few leaflets.”
Wimborne-Idrissi adds that the protests were planned to disrupt the beauty of the music as little as possible.
The Bruch violin concerto was part of the programme, for instance. So “free Palestine!” would be shouted when the conductor was raising his baton at the start of a piece, but not once the violin had started playing.
The disruptions were done to be in keeping with the performance, turning it into a weapon for the Palestinians.
The concert was not aborted. It was the BBC that cut the broadcast — which had never happened before in the history of the proms.
It was an even more successful protest than the previous action at Wigmore Hall.
I suggested that what this party of 30 or more people had done that night at the Albert Hall was not so much to disrupt Beethoven, who featured, but to be true to his spirit.
Fink and Wimborne-Idrissi agree: “Beethoven was a revolutionary.”
Wimborne-Idrissi stresses that the global boycott movement, started by the Palestinians themselves, does not target individual Israelis — and certainly not Jews as Jews.
It targets institutions and aims for equality for Palestinians living in Israel, freedom for Palestinians living in the occupied territories and justice for Palestinian refugees, including the right of return for all those forced to flee their homes since the Nakba (“catastrophe”) of 1948.
Together, these movements hope to win justice for Palestinians — something the UN has signally failed to achieve.
When the UK’s Methodist Council endorsed BDS, it met Zionist condemnation and threats regarding interfaith relations. This response led the Council to initiate a public consultation on the issues. On4 November J-BIG submitted the statement below.
What Methodist relations with the Jewish community?
Submission from Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG)
Les Levidow and Diana Neslen
There is some concern within the Methodist community that support for BDS will harm community relations and dialogue-based initiatives with the leadership of organised Jewry. At first glance these threats do not seem to be idle. Past decisions by the Methodist conference have induced a flurry of activity by the Board of Deputies of British Jews. The Board hascondemned these actions and threatened a breakdown of relationships with the Methodist Church. Speaking for ‘the Jewish community’, in 2010 the Board expressed their ‘hurt and anger’ at the Methodist Church adopting the Justice for Palestine and Israel report.
The Board stated that the decision ‘shattered the good relations’ between the Jewish Community and the Methodist Church. This strong statement seemed to presage a divorce between the two organised communities, but this was not to be. A communal Seder seemed to repair rifts .Soon after this the Board of Deputies was engaging in dialogue with the Inter-faith group on issues of concern to the Jewish community and the Methodists, like challenging anti Semitism. Clearly it was one thing to engage in bluster, but another to make divorce a reality.
The same behaviour is manifest with respect to the Coop, which took the decision to boycott agricultural products from occupied Palestinian territory. Since Israeli agricultural companies source agricultural products from the occupied territories, this means that all Israeli agricultural companies are subject toboycott. The reaction from the organised Jewish community was immediate and highly critical. Efforts were made to overturn the Coop’s action. Many Israel supporters joined the Cooperative movement for the express purpose of overturning the decision, but they had no arguments worthy of considerationin open debateand were unable to achieve their objectives. Consequently the Leeds Lobby Network, an organisation that gives unqualified support to Israeli policies, is now telling the Jewish Telegraphthat it is engaging in a dialogue with the Cooperative movement. So the Board’s earlier threats were not fulfilled.
What kind of dialogue is sought by the Board? As the mouthpiece for Israel, it is committed to ‘an unwavering relationship with the state of Israel’,so the parameters of dialogue are very limited.
Discussion of this issue is all the more urgent in the light of recent developments following the statement by Jonathan Arkush of the Board of Deputies. In October the Jewish Chronicle reported that after talks with the Board of Deputies, the Methodists are considering abandoning the boycott. According to the report both sides ‘agreed to explore approaches, distinct from the BDS [boycott, divestment, sanctions] consultation on which the Methodist Church is presently engaged, including investing in peace, dialogue and reconciliation projects’.
At first sight this would seem to preclude the outcome of the consultation exercise. Therefore the Methodist Church should consider carefully the character of the dialogue on offer. Those who give unqualified support to Israel’s policies find that they cannot defend them to those who believe in universal human rights. Rather than acknowledge Israel’s transgressions, the Board resorts to subterfuge and propose something else like ‘dialogue, peace and reconciliation projects’.
Why? Precisely because nothing changes as a result.While people talk to each other, Israel grabs more territorywithout any penalty, as it is doing through the current ‘peace process’. Dialogue is used to impose Israel’s distorted perspectives, rather than consider opposing viewpoints and change behaviour accordingly. The Council of Christians and Jews illustrates how an organisation promotes Israel as a victim while paying lip service to Palestinian rights.
Dialogue may be worthwhile if there is any chance that it will be used to encourage insight and change, towards respecting Palestinian rights. Instead it is used to bully others into acquiescence with the powerful – the Board’s main aim for dialogue. At this stage, the Israelis seek to reconcile their self-portrayal as the victim with the reality that they are oppressors. Meanwhile the Palestinians need liberation rather than ‘reconciliation’. A free people can enter into dialogue and indeed reconciliation, but the first objective must be freedom and equality. Anything less undermines the possibility of an equitable dialogue.
Israel is still the powerful player pulling the strings. Let us be quite frank: Israel wants more territory and in that quest is happy enough to allow her army to maintain ‘peace’ and to contract out the policing of Palestinians to the Palestinian Authority. Israel lives under a peace that works for her. Treated as lesser beings, the Palestinians live under oppression and dispossession, the very opposite of peace.
BDS is a non-violent means of trying to bring about change for Palestinian rights. It raises awareness, engages the activists and slowly and inexorably changes the nature of the conversation from one of dominion to one of rights. In fact the World Council of Churches supported BDS with respect to apartheid South Africa. The same must be true for the issue of Palestine. Weneed to enhance the voice of those under the yoke of occupation.
The question then arises as to whether a BDS stance is the best available option. The issue is whether Israel has any incentive to change its behaviour. Unfortunately the evidence shows that without sanctions Israel continues to take advantage of its dominant position. It is the reaction of Israel and its supporters to BDS that tells us how profoundly this affects them. Two members of the Israeli embassy in London are employed to challenge BDS. This is how seriously the state takes this matter. There are no members of the embassy employed to advance ‘peace, dialogue and reconciliation’.
There are those who say, not necessarily with tongue in cheek, that the time has come for dialogue, but not between organised British Jewry and those who support BDS. Instead the time is ripe for dialogue between organised British Jewry and their contacts in the Israeli political establishment. The purpose of this dialogue should be to advise Israel that the country need to change course before it is too late. It is time for the organised Jewish community to rescue Jewish values from the militaristic, nationalist ideology undermining them. This viewpoint is being increasingly expressed by many Jews – not represented by the Board of Deputies.
In sum: The Zionist establishment (claiming to represent ‘the Jewish community’) seeks types of interfaith dialogue which reinforce Israel’s occupation of Palestine and lead other faiths to collude. If such dialogue is jeopardized by Methodists’ support for BDS, then this result would be no loss for the Methodist community. To support Palestinian rights, the Methodist Church should support BDS and seek forms of dialogue which challenges the Occupation.
Saturday September 28 marked a national day of action to highlight the scandal of high street stores marketing Sodastream – fizzy drink-making products for the home produced by an Israeli company operating out of an illegal settlement on Palestinian land. There were protests in many cities around the UK.
J-BIG made a point of supporting the campaigners in Brighton and Hove who have steadfastedly maintained weekly protests since the Ecostream store opened just over a year ago. They have faced vicious attacks from Zionists, supported by the Brighton Argus newspaper in attacking them as anti-semites. One of those they have vilified is Jewish PSC member Terry Yason who addressed the protest on Saturday to put the record straight.
Here’s what he said.
Over 2000 years ago Hillel, the most famous of all Jewish Rabbis, said when asked What is Judaism? – “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary.”
Since Hillel Jews have consistently supported the underdog – at The Battle of Cable Street against the Fascists in Brick Lane, London in 1936 , in the International Brigades in Spain fighting Franco for the democratically elected Republican Government, in the Civil Rights Movement riding and dying with the Freedom Riders in Mississippi in the 60s and fighting in the ANC against Apartheid South Africa. We have an honourable history.
But today the Government of the “Jewish State” of Israel defy Hillel in their inhumane treatment of the Palestinians. For the first time in Jewish history, to their shame, they have created their own Underdog.
SodaStream, the parent of the Brighton shop Eco Stream, manufacture their products in a factory situated in the illegal settlement of MISHOR ADUMIN. In the Sodastream corporate video their CEO… claims they are one big happy family. Here is what one Palestinian worker says about working for Sodastream.
“I feel humiliated and I am also disgraced as a Palestinian, as the claims in the corporate video are all lies. We Palestinian workers in this factory always feel like we are enslaved . . . “
Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign is a universal movement, made up of ordinary people of all colours, religions , politics, nationalities and back grounds. Together we oppose the savage treatment meted out to the Palestinians by the Israeli government.
As a cornerstone of their propaganda , the Israeli Government continually label those who oppose her as anti Semitic.
Today I am here as a Jew, with my Jewish and non Jewish comrades, to destroy once and for all that insidious claim , and to proclaim that Anti Zionism is a call not for the destruction of the State of Israel but for its emancipation . When we opposed Apartheid in South Africa the result was the Rainbow Nation.
Like South Africa, Israel can become the democracy it so mistakenly calls itself, if it also abandons Apartheid.
To make even more of a nonsense of their lies; today we are joined by members of the two national Jewish organisations, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods .
We also have support from two Jewish artists who have sent these emails.
From actress Miriam Margolyes:
‘ A great wrong is being done in Israel & decent Palestinian people are having their lives destroyed. Brighton should emphatically NOT patronise the ECO shop. It is a fraud & a disgrace. ‘
From comedian and author Alexei Sayle:
‘I wish all the best to the demonstrators, Sodastream drinks taste like creosote anyway and the fact that they’re produced in an illegal settlement makes them doubly repulsive’
Israel was created in my name, exclusively for Jews by Jews, and as a Jew I feel a special responsibility to protest at the racist actions of the Israeli government towards the Palestinians – their colonial land grab , the relentless building of settlements on Palestinian land, their diversion of priceless water to the settlements, the constant confiscation of Palestinian land , the thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails and to the shooting by the IDF of Palestinian children. In their their relentless and murderous pursuit of a land devoid of Palestinians they destroy the dream of Hillel.
Today I ask the Jews of the Diaspora to remember your history in supporting the underdog, and support us in withdrawing your support for Israeli Government policies towards the Palestinians.
To all the people of Brighton and Hove I ask you to boycott the EcoStream shop , refuse to buy SodaStream products and send them packing out of our beautiful city .
See also Tony Greenstein’s blog for a detailed report and more pictures.
J-BIG is supporting the call from Brighton & Hove PSC to mark a year of protests to expose the Israeli-owned Ecostream shop. It poses as an eco-friendly enterprise but markets Sodastream products manufactured in Male Adumim. This is one among many illegal settlements which pollute Palestinian land and deprive Palestinians of access to water. See full details of the nationwide Day of Action on Saturday here.
We will be taking the J-BIG banner to Brighton for a special demonstration starting at The Clocktower on Saturday at 12 noon. Please join us if you can.
The regular demonstrations have become quite dramatic at times because of particularly nasty Zionist counter-protests. Our Jewish friend Terry Yason, who will be reading out messages of support on the 28th, has been forced to take legal action against a Christian Zionist who attacked him, calling him a Kapo and a fake Jew! The Brighton Argus newspaper has been backing a Zionist campaign to brand the pro-Palestinian activists as antisemites.
We are particularly grateful to Miriam Margolyes and Alexei Sayle for providing the following statements of support.
‘A great wrong is being done in Israel & decent Palestinian people are having their lives destroyed. Brighton should emphatically NOT patronise the ECO shop. It is a fraud & a disgrace.‘ — Miriam Margolyes
“I wish all the best to the demonstrators. Sodastream drinks taste like creosote anyway and the fact that they’re produced in an illegal settlement makes them doubly repulsive.” - Alexei Sayle
The following statement has been issued on behalf of violin maestro Nigel Kennedy in response to the BBC’s decision to censor a remark he made during a Prom concert with young Palestinian musicians on August 8 (see previous post for details).
Will the BBC now have the courage to restore Kennedy’s comment to its rightful place in the TV broadcast of the concert on August 23? Will they continue with his scheduled appearance as one of the stars in the gala Last Night of the Proms on September 7?
As Kennedy says, the BBC may have done us a favour by inadvertently generating “discussion of the miserable apartheid forced on the Palestinian people by the Israeli government supported by so many governments from the outside world.”
A spokesperson for Nigel Kennedy said:
“Nigel Kennedy finds it incredible and quite frightening that in the 21st century it is still such an insurmountable problem to call things the way they are. He thinks that once we can all face issues for what they really are we can finally have a chance of finding solutions to problems such as human rights, equal rights and even, perhaps, free speech. His first reaction to the BBC’s censorship & imperial lack of impartiality was to refuse to play for an employer who is influenced by such dubious outside forces.
Mr Kennedy has, however, reminded himself that his main purpose is to provide the audience with the best music he can deliver. To withdraw his services would be akin to a taxi driver refusing to drive their customer due to their political incorrectness. He, therefore, is not withdrawing his services that he owes to his audience, but is half expecting to be replaced by someone deemed more suitable than him due to their surplus of opportunism and career aspirations.
Mr Kennedy is glad, however, that by censoring him the BBC has created such a huge platform for the discussion of its own impartiality, its respect (or lack of it) for free speech and for the discussion of the miserable apartheid forced on the Palestinian people by the Israeli government supported by so many governments from the outside world.
Mr Kennedy believes his very small statement during his concert was purely descriptive and not political whatsoever.”
An extensive list of 153 signatories from 24 different countries (below and at http://www.bdsmovement.net/2013/150-orgs-stand-french-repression-11117) have signed a solidarity message in support of French activists on trial for their BDS campaigning work.
Updates about the trial and demonstrations outside are being posted on twitter hashtag #solidariteprocesbds and on the BDSmovement.net website.
Here is the message as circulated by the Palestinian BDS National Committee.
International solidarity with French BDS activists facing repression
June 26 2013 – As more than 150 Palestine solidarity and social justice organizations from across the world, we stand in solidarity with all of the French campaigners for Palestinian rights facing legal action and repression for participating in demonstrations calling for a boycott of Israel.
French campaigners have faced criminal charges for their solidarity activity since 2009. Despite a previous ruling that advocating boycott is not illegal and should be permitted as part of the right to freedom of speech, three activists were brought to trial earlier this month in Perpignan, seven more will attend court on June 27 in Alencon and further trials will take place later this year.
In all of these cases, campaigners have been charged with “incitement, provocation to discrimination, hatred or violence against a person or group of persons, due to their ethnicity, race, religion or nation” following their participation in actions at supermarkets calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.
This misuse of anti-discrimination law is part of a wider attack on solidarity with the Palestinian people. French pro-Israel organizations are plaintiffs in many of the cases against boycott activists and have successfully pressured the French government to support repression of solidarity activity. In 2010, then justice minister Michèle Alliot Marie ordered prosecutors to press charges against boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists. Police regularly demand the names and addresses of those present at protests calling for a boycott of Israel and Israeli intelligence agency Mossad was deployed to stop protests at a basketball match involving an Israeli team that took place in France.
Alarmed by the growth of solidarity with the Palestinian people and the BDS movement in particular, Israel and leading Israeli think tanks have made clear their desire to sabotage and disrupt solidarity activism. Senior Israeli foreign ministry official Amir Sagie recently admitted that the Israeli government has been “investing heavily” in legal warfare against BDS in France and other European countries.
To Bernard, Jeanne, Yamina, Alain, Chantal, Christine Francis, Jo, Nicole and Pierre, to all those facing criminal charges and the whole of the French movement: we stand with you.
While we cannot be with you as you demonstrate outside the court at the start of the next trial on June 27, we express our full support for your efforts to build solidarity with the Palestinian people in the face of state repression. We cannot allow Israel to export its attacks on basic freedoms to Europe or anywhere else.
Inspired by the steadfastness of the Palestinian struggle and the resolve of the French BDS movement, we pledge to continue to work with the BDS movement in France to support their efforts to resist oppression and to continue to build the international movement for a boycott of Israel.
Australians for Palestine, Australia
Association Belgo-Palestinienne, Belgium
Palestina Solidariteit, Belgium
Palestina Solidariteit vzw, Belgium
Vrede vzw, Belgium
Anel – Assembleia Nacional dos Estudantes – Livre!, Brazil
Ciranda Internacional de Comunicação Compartilhada, Brazil
CSP-Conlutas – Central Sindical e Popular, Brazil
CUT – Central Única dos Trabalhadores, Brazil
Frente em Defesa do Povo Palestino-SP, Brazil
Front of solidarity with the Palestinian people – Sao Paulo, Brazil
MML – Movimento Mulheres em Luta, Brazil
PSTU – Partido Socialista dos Trabalhadores Unificado, Brazil
Sindicato dos Metalúrgicos de São José dos Campos, Brazil
Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign – Vancouver, Canada
Canada Palestine Association, Canada
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Canada
Seriously Free Speech Committee – Vancouver, Canada
ICAHD Finland, Finland
BDS Berlin, Germany
InCACBI (Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel), India
Palestine Solidarity Committee in India, India
Irish Friends of Palestine, Derry, Ireland
Derry Stop the Wall Coalition, Ireland
Derry to Gaza, Ireland
Gaza Action Ireland, Ireland
Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Ireland
Peace & Neutrality Alliance, Ireland
Trade Union Friends of Palestine (ICTU), Ireland
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within, Israel
100 idee per la pace, Siena, Italy
BDS Italia, Italy
BDS Milano, Italy
BDS Milano, Italy
BDS Trieste, Trieste, Italy
Castelli per la Palestina, Rocca Priora, Italy
Comitato BDS Campania, Napoli, Italia
Coordinamento Campagna BDS Bologna, Italy
Forum Palestina, Italy
Gruppo BDS Roma, Italy
ISM, – Milano, Italy
Parallelo Palestina, Italy
Rete di Solidarietà con la Palestina – Milano, Italy
Rete Romana di Solidarietà al Popolo Palestinese, Italy
U.S. Citizens for Peace & Justice – Rome, Italy
Un Ponte per, Italy
Artists Against Occupation, Japan
Palestine Forum Japan, Japan
Comité pour une Paix Juste au Proche-Orient, Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Netherlands Palestine Committee (NPK), Netherlands
Service and Research Centre for Palestine (docP), Netherlands
The Association of Norwegian NGOs for Palestine, Norway
Alternative Information Center (AIC), Palestine
Lajee Center, Aida Refugee Camp, Palestine
Polish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Poland
Edinburgh Students For Justice in Palestine, Scotland
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Scotland
We are all Hana Shalabi, Scotland
Students for Palestinian Rights – Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, Scotland
BDS South Africa, South Africa
Palestine Peace & Solidarity in South Korea, South Korea
Al-Quds Málaga, Málaga, Spain
Asociacion Al Quds, Spain
Asociación de Amistad Palestina-Granada Turab, Spain
Comité de Solidaridad con la Causa Árabe, Spain
Junts Associació Catalana de Jueus i Palestins,, Spain
La Comuna Presxs del franquismo/ Fed.Castilla y Leon, Burgos, España
Plataforma solidaria con Palestina en Valladolid, Spain
Red Solidaria contra la ocupación de Palestina (RESCOP), Spain
Taula per Palestina, Palma, Spain
BDS Schweiz, Switzerland
BDS Zürich Switzerland, Switzerland
Gerechtigkeit und Frieden in Palästina Bern, Switzerland
BDS Thailand, Thailand
All African Women’s Group, London, UK
Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP), UK
Global Women’s Strike, London, UK
ICAHD UK, UK
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network UK, UK
Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, UK
Legal Action for Women, London, UK
Liverpool Friends of Palestine, UK
Palestine Solidarity Campaign, UK
Payday Men’s Network, UK
Portsmouth & South Downs Palestine Solidarity Campaign, UK
Queer Strike, UK
War on Want, UK
Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike, UK
14 Friends of Palestine, Marin, US
Al-Awda NY, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, US
Al-Nakba Awareness Project, Oregon, US
American Iranian Friendship Comte (AIFC), New York, US
Bay Area Women in Black, US
Bard Students for Justice in the Middle East, Annandale-on-Hudson, US
BDS Los Angeles, US
Boulder Palestine Film Festival, US
Boulder WILPF, US
Chicago Faith Coalition for Middle East Policy, US
Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy, US
Chico Palestine Action Group, US
CODEPINK Women for Peace, US
Colorado BDS Campaign, Colorado, US
Cornell SJP, US
Corvallis-Albany Friends of Middle East Peace, Corvallis, Oregan, US
CU-Divest!, Colorado, US
Culture and Conflict Forum, US
Free Palestine Movement, California, US
Friends of Palestine Wisconsin, US
Friends of Sabeel-North America, US
Guilford College Students for Justice in Palestine, US
Interdenominational Advocates for Peace, US
Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights, Texas, US
International Solidarity Movement – Northern California, US
Israel Palestine Task Force CA/NV Conference United Methodist Church, US
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, US
Justice for Palestinians, California, US
Labor for Palestine, US
Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land, Oredan, US
National Lawyers Guild – Free Palestine Subcommittee, US
National Lawyers Guild – International Committee, US
NorCal Friends of Sabeel, US
North Coast Coalition for Palestine, US
North Texas BDS, US
Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Wisconsin, US
Minnesota Coalition for Palestinian Rights, Minneapolis, US
Middle East Peace Now, Minneapolis, US
Minnesota Anti-War Cpmmittee, Minneapolis, US
Palestine Israel Action Group (PIAG), US
Palestine Solidarity Group – Chicago, US
Palestine Study Group Peace and Social Justice Center, US
Palestine-Israel Working Group of Nevada County, US
Payday Men’s Network US, US
Peace and Social Justice Center of South Central Kansas, US
Peace Panel Project, US
Salaam Shalom, North Carolina, US
St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, US
Students for Justice in Palestine at Brooklyn College, US
Students for Justice in Palestine at Hunter College, US
Students for Justice in Palestine at John Jay College, US
Tiffin Area Pax Christi, US
Tucson Women In Black, US
Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility United Church of Christ, Tennessee, USA
University of Denver Students for Justice in Palestine, US
US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, US
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, US
Vancouver for Peace, US
Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel, Vermont, US
WESPAC Foundation, New York, US
WI Middle East Lobby Group, US
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
SATURDAY MARCH 2
1 – 7 PM
VENUE - 24 Greencoat Place, London SW1P 1RD (Near Victoria station)
This is a half-day conference offering everyone working for Palestinian rights a chance to reinforce their knowledge of Zionism, its rejection of Jewish radical traditions, its conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel and its attempts to undermine Palestinian solidarity work – in particular the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).
Proceedings will start with BUNDA’IM, a short film introducing the last comrades of the Bund mass movement. Exterminated in Europe and ignored in Israel, its ideas live on.
Discussions will be lead by speakers including:
Sue Blackwell – British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP)
Michael Deas – Palestinian BDS National Committee coordinator in Europe
Antony Lerman – author of The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist
John Rose – author of The Myths of Zionism
David Rosenberg – Editorial Committee, Jewish Socialist magazine
Followed by entertainment from Deborah Fink (“The Diva with a Difference”), Leon Rosselson and others.
Book your place by email to email@example.com
£10 waged, £5 unwaged/concessions (includes refreshments)
The J-BIG conference is part of “A Weekend of Two Conferences” – events put together by two separate organisations which have cooperated due to a clash of dates and venue. You can book both days for £25/concessions £20 via either email address.
Sunday 3rd March 10.00am – 6.30pm
AN ALTERNATIVE JEWISH CULTURE & IDENTITY
Ilan Pappe: Jewish Culture in a non-Zionist One State 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
Leon Rosselson, Ivor Dembina
£20/concessions £15. Lunch & refreshments included.