Category Archives: zionism

Legal opinion blasts holes in pro-Israel definition of antisemitism

This report by Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi first appeared on freespeechonisrael.org.uk – a major source of material of interest to followers of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods. 

The launch on Monday of Hugh Tomlinson QC’s devastating legal opinion on the so-called IHRA definition of antisemitism marks a watershed moment in resisting Israeli-backed attempts to gag pro-Palestinian advocacy.

The definition, deliberately equating criticism of Israel with hatred of Jews, was adopted in December 2016 by the UK government and has since been vigorously promoted by pro-Israel lobbyists to local authorities, universities, Labour movement organisations and other public bodies. Its rollout has coincided with an increase in bannings and restrictions imposed on pro-Palestinian activities, especially on campus.

As explained by eminent legal figures speaking at the launch, the Opinion drives a coach and horses through the definition, exposing it as:

  • badly drafted, confusing and not legally binding, i.e. public bodies are under no legal obligation to adopt or apply it
  • putting public bodies that use it at risk of “unlawfully restricting legitimate expressions of political opinion”
  • making public bodies liable to being sued if they curtail criticism of Israel that does not express hatred towards Jews.

Therefore pro-Palestinian campaigners who, for example, describe Israel as a settler-colonialist state enacting a policy of apartheid, or call for policies of boycott, divestment or sanctions against Israel, cannot properly be characterised as antisemitic.

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A useful new briefing: What antisemitism is, and what it is not

Free Speech on Israel Briefing

What antisemitism is, and what it is not

Since early in 2016, debate about rights for Palestinians has been under severe threat because criticism of Israel and of its founding ideology, Zionism, has been misrepresented as antisemitic.

Antisemitism is hatred of Jews simply because they are Jews.  It must be vigorously combatted, along with all forms of bigotry. Confusing it with opposition to the state of Israel or Zionism is to obscure the real meaning of the term antisemitism and make fighting against it more difficult.

We say that behaviour is antisemitic if:

  • it inflicts or incites violence against Jews because they are Jews
  • it expresses hatred of Jews because they are Jews
  • it stereotypes Jews on the basis of alleged negative personal characteristics such as being mean, sly and avaricious
  • it links Jews to conspiracy theories about world domination of media, financial or governmental institutions
  • it accuses all Jews of embracing a single ideology, whether communism, capitalism, Zionism or any other
  • it holds all Jews responsible for the actions of the Israeli state
  • it suggests Jews were responsible for, or fabricated, the Holocaust.

 

Zionism is the political ideology which underpins the Israeli state: it is not Judaism

A recent survey of Jewish opinion (City University/Yachad 2015) found over 40 percent of British Jews did not identify as Zionist. Zionism is not an essential part of Jewish identity. It is a political ideology which can be debated like any other. Opposing it is not antisemitic.

However in December 2016, a so-called “new definition” of antisemitism was adopted by the Conservative government. It is being widely promoted by “We Believe in Israel” and similar propagandist groups, to local government, universities and other institutions. It threatens to convert legitimate political debate into a taboo.

The document being circulated begins with an innocuous-seeming definition which contributes nothing useful to the understanding of antisemitism. It says: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

This is followed by 11 examples of behaviours that it calls antisemitic, seven of them referring not to Jews, but to the state of Israel. We examine some of them below.

A House of Commons Home Affairs Committee report in October 2016, while winning praise from pro-Israel lobbyists for promoting the definition previously adopted by a non-government body, the IHRA, nonetheless made sure to issue caveats about using these examples. The Committee stated (Defining Antisemitism, paragraph 24) that it was not antisemitic to criticise the Government of Israel, or to hold the Israeli Government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli Government’s policies or actions, “without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.”

Such reservations are absent from the version adopted by the UK government and circulated to local councils by pro-Israel propagandists early in 2017. A motion voted through by the London Assembly in February stated bluntly that the examples given were “manifestations of anti-Semitism”.

Here we discuss some of the more problematic examples.

  1. Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.

There is no clear link between the two parts of this sentence.

  • Rights attach to human beings, not states. Asserting the right to self-determination does not give any group a right to suppress others in its name. Palestinians also have rights, including the same right to self-determination and the right to protest at the injustices inflicted upon them in the name of Jewish self-determination. It is not antisemitic for them to do so, nor for anyone else to support them.
  • Jewish people exercise their right to self-determination in many different ways, in a multitude of countries, generally with little restraint. Most Jews in the world already have one homeland and don’t see the need for another. Is it antisemitic if you don’t tie Jewish self-determination to Israel? Are the over forty percent of British Jews who don’t see themselves as Zionist antisemites?
  • You don’t have to believe that those who founded Israel were inspired by racism to recognise that racism has been an indisputable outcome of its creation, given the expulsion of around 750,000 Palestinians who were not allowed to return, and much institutionalised discrimination against those who remain.
  • It’s not antisemitic to recognise that international law sees Israel as in “belligerent occupation” of all Palestinian territory occupied in 1967 including all of East Jerusalem, sees all settlements as illegal, and all Palestinians under occupation as severely discriminated against.

Useful link: The UK government’s new ‘anti-semitism’ definition conflates racism with valid criticism of Israel

 

  1. Applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • The unstated assumption in this statement is that Israel is a normal democracy, just like any other. Is it antisemitic to question this? Especially when there is extensive evidence of discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel who are notionally full and equal citizens? And of course there are around four millions Palestinians whose fate is determined by Israeli control and occupation who have no vote at all – hardly normal in a democracy.
  • In practice, Israel’s defenders complain of Israel being expected to abide by internationally accepted norms. Israel is in fact exceptionally favoured on the international scene by being granted unprecedented impunity for breaches of international law and human rights conventions without sanction. It is not antisemitic to call Israel to account for those breaches.

 

  1. Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Comparison with the Nazis can be particularly hurtful and should not be bandied about. The system of industrialised murder that Nazism instituted in its extermination camps has had few parallels elsewhere.
  • However, you cannot a priori rule out the possibility that there are valid comparisons to be made between some aspects of what happened under the Nazi regime and some events that take place in Israel (or any other country).
  • The study of history and politics requires us to make comparisons between different societies in different times. Nazi Germany has become the benchmark for a particularly horrifying form of racist totalitarianism. Sometimes people, including Jewish Israelis, appalled at Israel’s behaviour towards Palestinians, reach for the worst comparison they can muster and draw Nazi parallels. It can be hurtful and may make productive debate difficult. But it is generally not made with antisemitic intent.

 

  1. Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel

 

  • We agree that it is bigoted to hold Jews – or any ethnic or religious group – collectively responsible for anything. To identify all Jews with Israel is stereotyping, and therefore antisemitic.

 

  • But ironically, it is the Jewish establishment itself, in Britain and elsewhere, that expends huge amounts of energy claiming that Israel is central to the identity of every Jew. Its leading bodies and publications insist that Jewish communities are monolithic in their support for Israel in its wars on Gaza, for example – despite clear evidence of dissent and disagreement from many tens of thousands of Jews around the world.
  • In this situation, non-Jews can hardly be blamed for gaining the impression that Jews and Israel are indivisible. This confusion may result in unintentional antisemitic statements. Rather than attacking people misled by the rhetoric of Jewish community leaders, those organisations would do better to explain about non-Zionist Jewish traditions and make clear that not all Jews are Zionists, and not all Zionists are Jews.

Supporters of a definition of antisemitism which deliberately equates it with opposition to Zionism have already succeeded in chilling political debate, as people move to avoid what they see as a ‘difficult’ topic. Institutions that traditionally host discussions, such as universities, church halls and other public meeting places, are cancelling events because they are frightened that some transgression might take place. It is simply easier not to talk about Palestine. This situation is likely to get worse if the flawed “new definition” is not resisted.

 

For further information and analyses see www.freespeechonisrael.org.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21 November 2016

Profile image Jeremy CorbynBaseless accusations of anti-Semitism are damaging to more than the British left and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Peter Nicholls/Reuters
From Blairite to far-right, the British political elite is relishing having discovered the ultimate weapon of mass destruction to try and block the growth of a movement of the left around Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

All it needs to do is fire off round after round of unsubstantiated assertions of antisemitism, deploying circular and often contradictory arguments.

The left, so the mantra goes, has always been riddled with antisemitism. To deny this is, by definition, antisemitic.

Corbyn is in denial, according to his critics. The ardent pro-Israel advocate Howard Jacobson has accused him of belonging to the “more un-self-questioning wing of British politics.” Those words are probably more applicable to Tony Blair, the former prime minister and Corbyn’s arch enemy.

Jacobson, a novelist and academic, graciously allows in a recent opinion piece that Israel may be subjected to “fair and honest” criticism but asserts, in the face of reams of historical evidence to the contrary, that the Zionism which created and upholds the state is a “dreamy” and idealistic national liberation movement of the Jewish people that has nothing to do with conquest or colonial expansion.

The clincher is Jacobson’s assertion – denied by a considerable body of Jewish opinion – that anti-Zionism is equivalent to repudiating Israel’s right to exist and is therefore “almost invariably” antisemitic.

Case closed. There really is nothing left to say.

“Open season on minorities”

Where does this leave the UK as a proudly democratic society that values freedom of speech? We value it so highly that just last month, the Independent Press Standards Organisation – the media regulator established by UK newspapers – ruled that Kelvin MacKenzie, a former editor of The Sun, was free to denounce Channel 4 for letting a headscarf-wearing Muslim woman, Fatima Manji, report on the Nice terror attacks.

Manji said this meant that it was now “open season on minorities and Muslims, in particular.”

It leaves us in an unpleasant place, following the vote to exit the European Union, where upsetting Muslims and other non-whites is fine. Upsetting friends of Israel is not allowed, however – especially, but not exclusively, if they are Jewish.

It’s also fine to upset Jews like me who are not Zionists. Wes Streeting, a member of parliament (not a Jew), called me a “massive racist” in a tweet about an interview I did with the radio station LBC during October.

But then I’m a pro-Palestinian activist who supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement. Streeting evidently believes I can be discounted as a self-hating Jew.

Just to be clear, I have no time for conspiracy theorists who see Israel as the root of all evil. I do not tolerate anti-Jewish racism, whether or not it is coupled with claims of supporting justice for Palestine, as it sometimes is.

Nor do my fellow campaigners in Free Speech on Israel. We demand justice and security for both Palestinians and Israelis, Arabs and Jews, and we agree with the Arab-Jewish Forum’s Tony Klug who wrote in The Jewish Chronicle earlier this year: “While antisemitism is monstrous – and, like all forms of racism, should be vigorously dealt with – false accusations of antisemitism are monstrous too.”

Disturbingly, the recent report on antisemitism in the UK from the Home Affairs Committee in the House of Commons gives a free pass to those making false accusations.

Released on 16 October, the report performs a service by highlighting the role of social media – in particular Twitter – in facilitating deplorable abuse and threats to individuals. It also makes the important point, ignored by most media, that the far right is behind 75 percent of all politically motivated antisemitic incidents.

Its main thrust, however, is that antisemitism is rampant and tolerated in the Labour Party, the National Union of Students and elsewhere on the left and that a “new definition” of antisemitism is required so that we can halt this alleged scourge. It is a gift to the pro-Israel, anti-Corbyn brigade who welcomed it ecstatically.

Moral panic

The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), an intensely Zionist group, tweeted, “We could not have written this report better ourselves.”

caa-tweet-screen-grab

Until the current wave of moral panic, people generally knew what bigotry was and what was specific about the anti-Jewish bigotry usually called antisemitism.

As the Free Speech On Israel website says, language or behavior is anti-Semitic if it expresses hatred of Jews, or inflicts or incites violence against them, because they are Jews; if it stereotypes Jews on the basis of alleged negative personal characteristics such as being mean, sly and avaricious; if it links Jews to conspiracy theories about world domination of media, financial or governmental institutions; if it suggests Jews were responsible for, or fabricated, the Holocaust.

Most people would also agree that it is antisemitic to implicate all Jews in the actions of the Israeli state or to accuse all Jews of embracing a single ideology – Zionism, for example.

Yet no one is more determined to suggest that all Jews owe loyalty to the State of Israel, and that Zionism is part and parcel of being Jewish, than Zionists like Jacobson and the CAA. It isn’t so long ago that Ephraim Mirvis, Britain’s chief rabbi, declared that Zionism was a “noble and integral part of Judaism.”

A long list of Jews including well-known figures such as the filmmaker Mike Leigh, actor Miriam Margolyes and writer Michael Rosen put their names to a letter repudiating the chief rabbi’s version of their identity. Gideon Falter, the CAA’s chair, dismissed them as “a fringe assortment of British Jews” who had committed an “anti-Semitic slur” against his group.

Is it any wonder that some people outraged by Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians may take the chief rabbi at his word and hold all Jews responsible for what is done in their name?

If only the report from the Home Affairs Committee had tackled this contradiction and affirmed that there are different forms of Jewish identity, different traditions to which Jews adhere, including radical traditions that have no connection with Zionism.

Instead the committee promotes a “new definition” of antisemitism that does everything Falter, Streeting and company desire. If imposed on all areas of public life, as the committee proposes, opposition to their partisan approach is at risk of being criminalized.

To start with, the committee exalts its definition of antisemitism as being “based broadly on the working definition of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC).” That falsely gives the impression that the definition favored has already been approved by the European Union.

The so-called working definition appeared on the EUMC website as a discussion document that was found wanting and dropped. It was originally drafted more than a decade ago by Zionist lobby groups, which have pushed it relentlessly since then.

The home affairs committee report lists some of the obvious characteristics of antisemitism but muddies the waters by introducing Israel into the equation.

We already have extensive evidence of how this will be used to censor debate – an academic conference canceled, a theater director pilloried, school children denied involvement in a literary festival.

It is not only Jewish Zionists who are guilty of this kind of censorship. In the three cases mentioned, non-Jewish Conservative cabinet ministers were actively involved.

The Home Affairs Committee’s “new definition” offers myriad opportunities for conflating criticism of Israel with antisemitism. As I write, Israel’s CAA friends are filing a complaint against the School of Oriental and African Studies in London for allowing writer Tom Suarez to lecture about the violent origins of the Israeli state.

These are some of the more problematic examples given in the “new definition”:

Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

If this is antisemitic, then Jewish organizations that uphold loyalty to Israel – as most do – will be immune from criticism for doing so. Dissenting Jews, or anyone else who wonders aloud why the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which claims to represent all Jews in the country, persists in supporting Israel right or wrong, will be silenced.

Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

This clause is particularly pernicious. Rights attach to human beings, not states. Asserting the right to self-determination does not give any group a right to suppress others in its name. Palestinians also have rights, including the right to protest at the injustices inflicted upon them in the name of Jewish self-determination. It is not antisemitic for them to do so, nor for anyone else to support them.

Nor is it antisemitic to identify the racism present in the origins of the Israeli state. Jacobson may call its creation an act of “dreamy” idealism – but it was almost by definition a racist endeavor since the intention was to conquer and occupy the maximum amount of land while ensuring that the fewest possible non-Jewish inhabitants remained on it.

Modern Israel offers multiple examples of racism, some of it extreme.

Applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

In practice, what Israel’s defenders complain of is Israel being expected to abide by internationally accepted norms while other states behave as badly or worse. Israel’s critics point out that Israel is exceptionally favored on the international scene by being allowed to get away with breaches of international law and human rights conventions without facing any sanction. It is not antisemitic to call Israel to account for those breaches.

Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g. claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

The blood libel is a horrifying medieval superstition that led to the slaughter of innocent Jews accused of using the blood of Christian children in religious rites. Today’s pro-Israel censors frequently allege “blood libel” when anyone comments on the shedding of Palestinian blood.

Veteran cartoonist Gerald Scarfe found himself in the center of a diplomatic storm when he dared to portray Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, cementing bleeding bodies between the slabs of a wall. To call this a blood libel distorts Jewish history and, as one Israeli commentator argued at the time, is “not antisemitic by any standard.”

It is certainly antisemitic to allege, as used to happen to my mother when she was a young girl, that Jews bear the guilt of Christ’s death, or to suggest that Jews have a propensity to slaughter children. But it is not antisemitic to hold the State of Israel or its leaders responsible for the real deaths of real children caused by their forces.

Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

The study of history and politics requires us to make comparisons between different societies in different times. Nazi Germany has become the benchmark for a particularly horrifying form of racist totalitarianism. Sometimes people appalled at Israel’s behavior towards Palestinians, including Jewish Israelis, reach for the worst comparison they can muster and draw Nazi parallels.

It can be hurtful and may make productive debate difficult. But it is not antisemitic.

Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel.

It is indeed bigoted to hold Jews – or any ethnic or religious group – collectively responsible for anything. But people can hardly be blamed for believing that Jews and Israel are indivisible when most mainstream Jewish organizations are solidly aligned with Israel and Zionism.

It would be far more beneficial for people who are confused about this to learn about non-Zionist Jewish traditions than to drum them out of the Labour Party for crossing a line laid down by pro-Israel partisans.

The Home Affairs Committee report calls for its seriously flawed pseudo-definition to be “formally adopted by the UK government, law enforcement agencies and all political parties, to assist them in determining whether or not an incident or discourse can be regarded as antisemitic.”

There is considerable danger in this.

Not only is the committee’s definition a threat to the possibility of holding intelligent, informed discussion about one of the great moral and political issues of our time, it is also a potential spur to anti-Jewish sentiment because it gives the impression that debate is to be censored at the behest of a Jewish collective acting on behalf of the State of Israel.

Unquestioning media bear much of the blame for obscuring the fact that many Jews are not Zionists and a great many Zionists are not Jews.

While many of us Jewish dissenters have been at the forefront of defending Jeremy Corbyn in his attempts to build a grassroots socialist movement, his enemies have united to undermine him, regardless of their faith backgrounds.

It is not too late to avert the threat to freedom of speech posed by the cynical political games afoot. We should start by rejecting the Home Affairs Committee’s phony definition of antisemitism.

Labour Jews tell Chakrabarti antisemitism inquiry: supporting Palestine is not anti-Jewish

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

www.freespeechonisrael.org.uk

Labour Jews tell Chakrabarti antisemitism inquiry: supporting Palestine is not anti-Jewish

  • Free speech is at risk from the charge that opposition to Zionism is antisemitic
  • Pro-Israel Jewish organisations do not represent all Jews
  • Antisemitism must be confronted alongside Islamophobia and other forms of racism
  • False allegations are being used as a weapon against Corbyn supporters

June 24 – Jewish Labour Party members and supporters have hit back against pro-Israel lobbyists alleging antisemitism in the party, telling an inquiry established by party leader Jeremy Corbyn that free speech is under threat from attempts to make criticism of Israel a “thought crime”.

Free Speech on Israel (FSOI), a Jewish-led network of labour, green and trade union activists, was set up in April to counter attempts by pro-Israel right wingers to brand the campaign for justice for Palestinians as anti-Jewish. 

“It is imperative that criticism of Israel and indeed the Zionist project do not become thought crimes,” said Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, lead author of the FSOI submission to the inquiry, which is due to report at the end of June.

He said the inquiry, headed by former Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, “is an opportunity to put to rest the moral panic that has been whipped up by some opponents of Corbyn’s Labour Party and to ensure that freedom of speech on an important and contentious issue is not undermined.”

The FSOI submission states that pro-Israel bodies such as the Board of Deputies (BoD) of British Jews, Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) do not represent the entire Jewish community as they claim.

The network disputes those organisations’ assertion that Zionism – the political ideology underpinning the Israeli state – is intrinsic to Judaism and Jewish identity.

Other Jewish organisations making similar arguments in submissions to the inquiry include Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP), Jewish Socialists Group (JSG) and the International  Jewish Antizionist Network (IJAN), as well as an ad hoc group of 97 Jewish members of the Labour party who have proposed creation of a new, inclusive Jewish Labour organization.

 

For more information contact:

info@freespeechonisrael.org.uk

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

Here are the main points made by Free Speech on Israel in its submission to the Chakrabarti inquiry. We also draw on a submission proposing formation of a new inclusive Jewish Labour organization, as well as submissions from the Jewish Socialist Group, Independent Jewish Voices, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, the International Jewish AntiZionist Network-UK, and many individuals. All can be viewed here.

 

  1. Antisemitism is Hostility towards Jews as Jews, in which they are perceived as something other than what they are,” according to a widely accepted definition from Dr Brian Klug, an authority on the subject. Refs: FSOI submission5 Defining antisemitism; JfJfP submission p.11 Defining Antisemitism

 

  1. Robust criticism of the Israeli state and its founding ideology, even if expressed in ways upsetting to some Zionists, does not amount to antisemitism. Alleging that it does threatens free speech on the Israel-Palestine question. Refs: FSOI submission1 Free Speech; IJV submission p.1-3 Executive Summary

 

  1. Suggesting that all Jews share one ideology – Zionism – and are uniformly loyal to the State of Israel is itself antisemitic. Not all Jews are Zionists, many Zionists are not Jews, pro-Israel organisations do not represent all Jews. Refs: FSOI submission3 Jews in Britain, p.5 Antisemitism and AntiZionism; JSG submission p2 Zionism –contested political ideology, not a religious imperative; p.4 Antisemitism and Antizionism; p.6 Voices and representation within Britain’s Jewish community

 

 

  1. Virtually all of the complaints directed at the Labour Party are about attitudes to Israel, not about Jews. We are seeing a purge of pro-Palestine activists who are supporters of democratically elected leader Jeremy Corbyn. Refs: FSOI submission4 The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party; IJAN-UK submission p.1; JSG submission p.8/9 Evaluating charges of antisemitism; JfJfP submission p.4 Allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party

 

  1. Antisemitism is one among many forms of prejudice that must be fought. It is less virulent today than the Islamophobia and hatred of migrants and Roma people promoted by the Far Right and made respectable by some mainstream politicians. Refs: JSG Submission4 Antisemitism in Britain; IJAN-UK submission p.2

 

  1. The so-called EUMC (European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia) definition of antisemitism, promoted by the BoD, JLM, Zionist Federation, Campaign against Antisemitism and other pro-Israel lobbyists, has never been adopted by any official EU body. Refs: FSOI submission6 Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism; JfJfP submission p.6/7 Related ‘framing’ issues
  2. Zionism is responsible for Palestinian dispossession over several generations. Almost every Palestinian is anti-Zionist for entirely understandable reasons. There is nothing antisemitic about this. Refs: FSOI submission2 Context; JSG submission p.5; IJV submission p.8 The New Antisemitism

 

  1. If expressions of support for Palestine unintentionally stray into antisemitic territory, the answer is education, not expulsion. Refs: JSG submission5 & p.8 Evaluating charges of antisemitism; JfJfP submission p.15/16 Judaism and Zionism; JfJfP submission p.14 Providing Guidelines

 

 

  1. The Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) – an openly Zionist organization – is not a fit body to educate others on antisemitism. Its proposed changes to party rules make false charges of antisemitism more likely, disregard victims of real antisemitism, and spread fear of being accused of antisemitism, stifling debate about Israel-Palestine. Refs: FSOI submission10 False allegations of antisemitism; Proposal for a new, inclusive Jewish Labour organisation; JSG submission p.8.

 

  1. It is not sufficient for someone Jewish to say they are offended by a statement for it to be judged antisemitic. This is a distortion of guidance from the Macpherson inquiry into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence. A victim’s perception must be taken into account when investigating an alleged hate crime, but it cannot determine in advance, without reference to objective criteria, that a hate crime was committed. Refs: FSOI submission12 The Macpherson Report; JfJfP submission p.12 The Macpherson Principle

 

  1. Allegations of antisemitism cannot be used to ban certain political arguments about the nature or origins of the state of Israel, or the tactics – such as boycott – that Palestinians choose to campaign for an end to the injustices committed against them. Refs: FSOI submission9 Boycott and ‘singling out’ as hate speech; JfJfP submission p.14 Providing Guidelines

 

 

 

 

Antisemitism – The weapon of choice in the war on Labour’s Left

The last few months have seen the British establishment waging an hysterical witch hunt against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership and the pro-Palestinian movement. Their weapon of choice has been the charge that antisemitism – and support for terrorism – are rife on the Left, that Labour “has a problem with Jews,” that Jewish LP members are  frequently subjected to racist abuse and that the new Labour leadership has allowed intolerant Jew-haters to flood into the party.

The response from Corbyn’s team has been defensive and apologetic. They rightly assert their own anti-racist credentials, insist that antisemitism is a vile prejudice that is not permitted in the Labour Party and pledge to expel anyone found guilty of it. So far so good. But they have not hit back at the pro-Zionist lobby – Jewish and non-Jewish – which deliberately and maliciously seeks to associate Jew-hatred with criticism of Israel in the public mind. This feeble approach has to change.

Tony G

 J-BIG stalwart Tony Greenstein, Brighton-based socialist, anti-racist and anti-Zionist, has won an apology (they call it a “clarification”) from the Daily Telegraph for “implying” that he was an antisemite. Labour’s Compliance Unit has suspended him from membership without giving any reason, but apparently shared the information with the Telegraph. Tony explores the charges against him on his blog.

 

Jewish pro-Palestinian groups in London are currently working on a strategy to help stem the tide. Both at grass roots level and within the Labour hierarchy, there is a huge need for political education to communicate the following key points.

Genuine antisemitism exists and must be condemned, as we would any form of racism.

Zionists have worked so hard to damn any criticism of Israel as antisemitic, it’s tempting to reject such charges out of hand. But amidst the crazed pillorying of Corbyn’s team in the Mail Online, for example, there are some instances of actual expressions of racism against Jews by Labour supporters. These must be tackled with as much vigour as hatred of Blacks, migrants or Muslims – so comprehensively ignored by the pro-Israel lobby.

When the complainant is committed Zionist Louise Ellman MP, one can sympathise with Piers Corbyn (brother of Jeremy) who reportedly tweeted: “#Zionists cant cope with any-one supporting rights for #Palestine.” Never a truer word! But it gave ammunition for the Evening Standard to use in publicising charges from Labour’s conflicted candidate for Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. From a Muslim family, with a record of supporting causes such as the campaign to release Shaker Amer from detention in Guantanamo, and having been supported by Corbyn and leftwing former Mayor Ken Livingstone in his campaign for the candidacy, Khan now says he wears “a badge of shame” about antisemitism in the party and the leadership needs to be “trained on what antisemitism is.”

cityam.com sadiq khan

Credit: cityam.com

Sadiq Khan, Labour’s candidate in next month’s vote for Mayor of London, has publicly taken the side of pro-Israel Tories in alleging antisemitism in Corbyn’s Labour Party.

 

 

 

The Palestine solidarity movement has learned to its cost that it must be vigilant against antisemitism among its members. In a recent story in Haaretz about a defender of Holocaust deniers who has been  rejected by her local Labour Party, the paper referred to her as “the former secretary of the Camden branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.” Haaretz neglected to say that the person in question was dismissed from that position precisely because her views were incompatible with PSC’s anti-racist ethos.

Charges of antisemitism are very often designed to protect Israel from criticism, harm legitimate campaigns for Palestinian rights, especially Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), and undermine Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party under his leadership

Jonathan Arkush of the Board of Deputies (BoD) of British Jews has been vocal in accusing Corbyn of tolerating antisemitism, referring to “a stream of clear cut cases of antisemitism in the Labour party, which can’t just be fobbed off as differences over Israel.”

The stream is actually more of a trickle of cases, many referring to events in the distant past and many being far from clear cut. Most cases have attitudes to Israel and Zionism at their heart.

The Mail Online piece mixes some apparently nasty instances of genuine antisemitism with the staging in York of Caryl Churchill’s play Seven Jewish Children (“horrifically anti-Israel” according to the BoD), a Facebook post complaining that ‘leading Zionists’ were trying to take over a student Union and links with the website of Friends of Al-Aqsa – a respected part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

 

The increasingly high-profile, non-violent BDS campaign is a major priority for antisemitic branding by those determined to defend Israel. Jonathan Neumann of the so-called Jewish Human Rights Watch, writing in the Daily Telegraph in February, alleged that BDS is just a precursor to ISIS-style beheadings: “The anti-Semitic campaign to shun Israeli goods embodies the radicalism that threatens everyone .”

Then there is the oft-quoted example of the Oxford University Labour Club where co-chairman Alex Chalmers, who is not Jewish, resigned in February claiming that a ‘large proportion’ of the party’s undergraduate members have ‘some kind of problem with Jews’.

The most comprehensive statement of the club’s “problem with Jews” appeared after Chalmers resignation on the Twitter feed of the Oxford Jewish Society (JSoc).

Oxford JSoc antisemitism

If the statement is true, it does indicate there may have been some questionable behaviour and some ham-fisted attempts by pro-Palestine supporters to explain what they thought was, or was not, antisemitic. But the JSoc clearly doesn’t know what antisemitism is either, claiming that the word ‘Zio’ – frequently tossed around between Jewish anti-Zionist activists – belongs on neo-nazi websites and that Jenny Tonge – kicked off the Liberal Democrat front bench for expressing understanding for Palestinian militants – was expelled for antisemitism. This is a circular argument in which people conflating antisemitism with anti-Zionism denounce supporters of Palestine for having been previously denounced for antisemitism! It all goes back to Arkush’s “differences over Israel”.

There is substantial opposition among Jews to this cynical campaign. 

Jews are not an undifferentiated mass of pro-Israel supporters, nor have they ever been. Today they are certainly not united behind the witch-hunt again the pro-Palestinian Labour Left and the BDS movement.

Clear evidence for this appeared on the Guardian letters page after  Jonathan Freedland published a long piece retelling the story of a British Left riddled with anti-Jewish racism.

Leading Jewish pro-Palestine campaigners queued up to refute his allegations.

As one said: “…it is a betrayal of every Jew in history who fought for human rights and against oppression, and every Jew ever persecuted for being a Jew, to sling allegations of antisemitism every time anyone tries to stand up for Palestinian rights.”

Zionist beliefs are not the preserve of Jews alone.

There is a whole other story to tell about the origins of the Jewish Zionist movement in the second half of the 19th century, the attachment of many leading Christian intellectuals and politicians to the idea of Zionism and the relationship of both to antisemitism.

Today’s most vocal British Zionists include Justice Secretary Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles and Business Secretary Sajid Javid. Not a Jew among them.

In the USA the most ardent supporters of Israel are to be found not among the Democrat-voting Jews of the East Coast but among the millions of evangelical Christians in the South who believe all Jews must gather in Zion to usher in the Second Coming of Christ.

See elsewhere on this website for a briefing about Zionism and Antisemitism.

There is treasure trove of valuable background information on the website of Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

 

 

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.

Exposed – Israel lobby’s threat to artistic and academic freedom

Letters in today’s Guardian (April 6) highlight the growing threat to artistic and academic freedom by pro-Israel lobbyists seeking to criminalise criticism of the Zionist state.

Playwright Caryl Churchill, a leading signatory of the UK Artists’ Pledge for Palestine, noted the alarming conjunction of a threat to funding of arts institutions that decline Israeli state links and cancellation of an academic conference planned for April 17-19 at the University of Southampton after Zionist pressure.

The organisers have launched a legal challenge to the decision to cancel. See lower down this post for a message from Southampton Students for Palestine explaining the campaign to raise funds to support the challenge.

“All Charlie Hebdo?” wrote Churchill, alluding to the collective outpouring of official outrage at the murder of cartoonists in France in January. “Except when freedom of expression means freedom to criticise Israel.”

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid’s comments on Israeli sponsorship ‘breached the principle of an arms-length relationship between the government and the arts’, writes playwright Caryl Churchill. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Another letter, from Professors Hilary and Steven Rose, prominent proponents of the academic boycott, said the university had “shamefully capitulated to pressure from the pro-Israel lobby”, as evidenced by the statement issued by the university authorities.

The university had initially listened to the hundreds of academics who rallied in support of the conference despite a barrage of attacks from a roll-call of Tories and Israel lobbyists, among them Communities Minister Eric Pickles, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Zionist Federation.  Pickles & Co alleged that the conference was a one-sided antisemitic rant against Israel’s “right to exist” and threatened demonstrations and disruption if it went ahead. This seems to have been what forced vice-chancellor Prof Don Nutbeam to announce the cancellation on unconvincing “health and safety” grounds.

A letter the Guardian declined to publish,  submitted by Tony Greenstein on behalf of J-BIG (full text at the bottom of this post) contrasted this cowardice with the fate of Danish film director, Finn Noergaard, killed at a cafe in Copenhagen in February while defending the right to debate freedom of speech.

The organisers of the three-day Southampton conference, titled International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism, had assembled an array of expert participants from around Europe, North America and the Middle East, including many Jews.   If the conference programme lacked representation from Israel’s friends, it is because invitations issued by the organisers to defenders of Zionism were rejected by the recipients.

As explained by Prof Haim Bresheeth on the website of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP),  Israel and its apologists are resorting to all possible means to prevent the issues addressed by the conference being aired.

One of the conference organisers,  engineering professor Suleiman Sharkh, a Palestinian from Gaza, explained its importance.

“International law was responsible for our misery. It was used to legalize the theft of our homes and it continues to be used to legalize the ongoing oppression of my people by the State of Israel. The questions asked by the conference are therefore questions that I have been asking all my life. They are important questions that need to be answered.”

 

Information from Southampton Students for Palestine.
Subject: Conference donations: update & important information
Q1: What is the final university decision in relation to the conference? 
The university’s initial decision to withdraw its consent was appealed by the organisers but the internal appeal was rejected by the Vice Chancellor and the withdrawal of consent was confirmed. University’s public statement: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/news/statements.page#.VRxbTkFmtTw.twitter
Q2: Are you collecting donations now or shall we wait further notice?
Donations are being collected now. Please see information on donations below.
Q3: Does this mean that you are proceeding with legal action?
Yes. Legal action has been initiated today. Please see official organisers’ statement attached hereby. Also see: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/17842-academics-pursue-judicial-review-over-cancelled-israel-conference
Q4: Why are we making donations to Student Palestine Solidarity/Students for Palestine? 
You are not making donations to these organisations. They are only carriers of the funds to help facilitate payment since we are not using any personal accounts to collect donations.
* Information on donations*
Many thanks to those who have already sent their donations and sent me a confirmation email in that regard, I can confirm that they have been received.
If you are yet to donate, please find bank/paypal details below. Kindly consider a bank transfer as a first option (if possible) since paypal are deducting a fee on each incoming transaction. If a bank transfer is not possible then please feel free to make your donation via paypal. 
UK bank transfer:
Account name: Students for Palestine Southampton
Account number: 26617360
Sort Code: 30-90-34
 
International bank transfer:
Bank: LLoyds Bank
IBAN (for International Transfers Only): GB84 LOYD 3090 3426 6173 60
BIC (for International Transfers Only): LOYDGB21148
Paypal: 

J-BIG LETTER SUBMITTED TO THE GUARDIAN

The decision of Southampton University to cancel a Conference on Israel and the State of Israel [University event questioning Israel’s right to exist is cancelled, Guardian 31st March] is a disgraceful surrender to powerful bullies.  Zionist groups have a long track record of trying to ban anything they disagree with, given their inability to defend the indefensible.  The normal response is to stand up to them.

It was less than three months ago that four million people and world leaders marched in France in support of freedom of speech, in the wake of the murder of the journalists of Charlie Hebdo.  Amongst them was David Cameron.  If Cameron was sincere he would sack Eric Pickles MP from his government for having lent his support to the call to ban an academic conference.

The use of health and safety as the pretext to cancel the conference is absurd and illogical.  Is it really being suggested that Southampton University was incapable of protecting those attending the conference?  The Police were quite confident they could deal with any threats.

Southampton’s charter includes a commitment to secure academic freedom. With this decision it has been shown to be worthless.

It was barely a month ago that Danish film director, Finn Noergaard, was killed [while defending the right to] debate [on] freedom of speech.  The actions of Southampton University’s Vice Chancellor Don Nutbeam and the university administration in failing to uphold the basic norms of a democratic society are an act of abject cowardice.  If they have any integrity left they should collectively resign.

Yours faithfully

Professor Haim Bresheeth

Mike Cushman

Deborah Fink

Tony Greenstein

Professor (Emeritus) Moshe Machover

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi

(Dr) Les Levidow

Roland Rance