Category Archives: Media

J-BIG joins wave of support for Jenny Tonge, champion of Palestinian rights

Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods can confirm what so many others have been saying since Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg forced Jenny Tonge to resign from the party:  She is a consistent friend of Palestinian human rights, always willing to work with campaigners trying to bring an end to Israel’s unrelenting denial of justice to the Palestinian people.

“My experience of working with Jenny is of a warm, kind and genuine person, always supportive on a personal level and an enthusiastic participant in J-BIG events,” said Deborah Fink, a founding member of the  group. “Suggestions that she is an extremist who dislikes Jews are absurd.”

The report below, from Friends of Al-Aqsa, explains the circumstances surrounding Baroness Tonge’s departure from the Lib Dems and includes a call to act in her defence.

Guardian columnist Michael White says that her remarks about Israel were not as outrageous as Clegg made out.

Picture: Friends of Al-Aqsa

Baroness Jenny Tonge was given an ultimatum by Lib Dem Party leader Nick Clegg when she made a fair and accurate statement about the state of Israel – ‘retract the statement or leave the party’

Baroness Tonge, a long time champion of the Palestinian struggle for freedom chose to leave the party rather than be forced to toe the party line where Israel is concerned.

The exact statement she made at Middlesex University last week was:

“Israel is not going to be there forever in its present form. One day, the United States of America will get sick of giving £70bn a year to Israel to support what I call America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East – that is Israel. One day, the American people are going to say to the Israel lobby in the USA: enough is enough. Israel will lose support and then they will reap what they have sown.”

Ismail Patel, Chair of Friends of Al-Aqsa stated: “There was nothing in her statement which was unfair or inappropriate. The fact is that Israel in its present form is a racist state which has been occupying Palestinian land for over 44 years. This cannot and will not last forever. Millions of people around the world who form the ‘Free Palestine’ solidarity movement will work hard to ensure that Israel ends its occupation and that Arab Israeli’s are given equal rights within Israel. These aims merely represent international legal standards.”

Party leader Nick Clegg’s ultimatum was unnecessary and reflects the unacceptable sway the pro-Israel lobby appears to have on the party’s policies towards Israel.

ACTION ALERT

1. Write to Nick Clegg condemning his ultimatum to Jenny Tonge.

Email: leader@libdems.org.uk

2. Write to Baroness Jenny Tonge expressing support for her brave stand and continued solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Email: tongej@parliament.uk

Read FOA’s letter expressing our disappointment to Nick Clegg and our letter of support to Jenny Tonge.

Friends of Al-Aqsa

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Video of Ahava Demo – 22 January 2011

Despite the Palestine Solidarity Campaign AGM being held, as well as other events going on today, over thirty human-rights demonstrators (plus a few new faces), campaigned, chanted, leafleted and spoke to local residents, shoppers and visitors informing them regarding Ahava’s corporate complicity in violations of international law over the sale of natural resources that are pillaged from illegally occupied territory. More than a few customers decided to impose their own boycott of Ahava after hearing about the human rights abuses committed by the Israeli Government against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

An observation in a previous post entitled The Return of Roberta Moore – that the Zionist Federation-organised counter-demonstration is ‘melting away’ – seems to be coming true. During the first half of today’s picket, no Zionist turned up which demonstrators, the police and even the Israeli security guard employed by Ahava welcomed. Protestors spread out unchallenged in front of the shop and started to leaflet from outside both pens.

Last month, Ahava shop manager Rita made it clear that she considered the Zionists’ presence unwelcome and their behaviour detrimental to Ahava’s trade.  So perhaps Zionist Federation Co Vice-Chair Jonathan Hoffman spent his Saturday in the pub, called it quits and admitted that his Ahava cause is a lost one.

In a new low, only TWO embarrassed-looking Zionist Federation counter-demonstrators eventually turned up which made their cause look even worse (if that’s possible) when compared to the over thirty human-rights demonstrators present who were campaigning for altruism, equality, compassion and freedom, as well as the closure of the illegal settlement company Ahava.

BBC: Gaza crisis shows fault lines among UK Jews

By John McManus BBC News

3 June 2010

“They’ve been brainwashed…with Israeli propaganda”

Deborah Fink of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods. 

Up to 500 demonstrators from Britain’s Jewish community have held a rally outside the Israeli Embassy in London, to offer support to the country following the death of nine activists on a ship bound for Gaza.

They say that Israel is being unfairly demonised.

They were opposed by a smaller counter demonstration of pro-Palestinian activists.

Police say one man was arrested for possessing an offensive weapon.

Britain’s Zionist Federation organised the protest at short notice, using Facebook and e-mails to urge people to come to the embassy in west London.

Protestors from both sides were herded into pens on Kensington High Street, while the gates leading to the private road on which the embassy is situated remained closed and guarded by several police officers.

“We want people to know that people aren’t starving in Gaza” The chairman of the Zionist Federation, Andrew Balcombe, told the crowd that Israel had enforced the blockade to protect itself.

He said that Hamas were terrorists, and had fired thousands of rockets into Israel. He said that – by comparison – Israel’s actions on the high seas were perfectly legal.

“Israel and Egypt both blockade Gaza, it’s not just Israel, it’s Egypt as well and more people and goods go in through Israel than anywhere else”.

Mr Balcombe also said that the situation in Gaza was not at crisis point.

Unfair demonisation?

“We want people to know that people aren’t starving in Gaza. You go and have a look at the adverts for the clubs in Gaza, they’re doing very very well thank you very much.

“There’s lots of food. Israel takes in a day into Gaza, more than those ships brought”.

Many of the people supporting Israel were teenagers, and several of them expressed their frustration at what they saw as unfair demonisation.

Both sides say they will continue to voice their opinions loudly
Douglas Stewart, 17, said that the media have used the situation in Gaza to target Israel.

“We’re not here to support all of Israel’s action – every state has its weaknesses – but we’re here to support the image of Israel as a haven for the Jewish people, as a haven for any community.

“It’s the most democratic state in the Middle East. There are so many good aspects about it”.

He denied a charge made by some Palestinian supporters, that he and other young British Jews had been misled by their elders.

“There’s some Jews over there [at the opposing demonstration]. I think they’re indoctrinating the nation. They are a small minority of people.

‘Brainwashed’ by propaganda?

Mr Stewart also said he thought that British Jews who supported Israel were also more likely to back the British state than Palestinian supporters.

“The vast majority of Jews support Israel, and support Britain. We’re very patriotic”.

Further down the road at the opposing demonstration, Deborah Fink from the organisation Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG), said it was “disgusting” that so many children were present to support the Israeli state.

“There will never be peace while there is an occupation of Gaza” said Deborah Fink of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods. “They’ve been brainwashed. We wouldn’t bring loads of children out to things like this. They go to schools where they’re brainwashed with Israeli propaganda”.

Ms Fink is one of many British Jews who campaign for an end to the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

“There will never be peace while there is an occupation of Gaza”.

Ms Fink also said that she believed that some supporters of the English Defence League were also at the protest.

Organisers of the pro-Israel protest said they had made it clear that the EDL, who have been accused of Islamophobia, were not welcome but that a separate space had been reserved for them.

Both sides say they will continue to voice their opinions loudly, and more demonstrations by pro-Palestinian groups are expected in London this weekend.