Tag Archives: Israel

Brit band alt-J spurns Palestinian boycott, lifts spirits of Israel’s apartheid soldiers

(Re-posted from Artists for Palestine UK)

This piece by Times of Israel founding editor David Horowitz perfectly demonstrates Israel’s desperate need for cultural nourishment from abroad to sustain its armed dominance over the Palestinian people.

The Indie band alt-J, from Leeds in northeast England, ignored weeks of appeals from pro-Palestinian campaigners and broke the boycott  to  play two nights in Rishon Lezion just south of Tel Aviv on August 23 and 24.

Horowitz’s purple prose exalts the audience who had flocked to the concert as “young Israel — army kids and post-army kids and tomorrow’s army kids”.

Alt-J were providing much-needed R&R for the soldiers who had decimated Gaza a year earlier and will do so again if called upon. It would be hard to find a clearer justification for the Palestinian cultural boycott campaign urged upon those who wish to see an end to Israeli apartheid.

(For a more prosaic write-up, see this piece in the Jerusalem Post .)

The-alt-J-crowd-August-23-JHTimes-of-Israel-staff-e1440450027460-635x357

 

 

 

 

Picture: Times of Israel staff

ISRAEL’S BEAUTIFUL YOUTH LIFTED BY THE GOSPEL OF ALT-J

An English band’s soaring harmonies strike a chord with the soldiers of a year ago and tomorrow

I don’t know how many people congregated in Rishon Lezion’s Live Park Sunday night to dance to the ethereal harmonies, jagged rhythms and curious pronunciations of hard-to-categorize English band alt-J . Upwards of 10,000, I’d guess. But as far as we could see — not so far admittedly, these days — my beloved and I were the oldest members of the audience.

This was a night out with young Israel — army kids and post-army kids and tomorrow’s army kids. Barely dressed in loose, wispy tops (girls) and army unit T-shirts (boys). Widely and wildly tattooed. The boys almost all bearded or unshaven; the girls all flowing hair straight out of Woodstock. Arriving in twos, and threes and fours, but then coalescing into larger groups of friends and acquaintances and brothers-in-arms, hugging and hand-slapping and standing shoulder-to-shoulder.

Drinking substantial but not horrifying quantities of beer.

Smoking enough dope for the clouds on a windless, humid evening to mildly impact even those who abstained.

And, when the music started, dancing with an almost desperate passion. Arms waving skyward, heavenward. Everybody, but everybody, dancing.

It’s interesting that alt-J , a very particular, quirky taste, is such a hit in Israel. This band produces meandering music of gentle, fragile beauty and obscure, frequently impenetrable lyrics. (One of its most beautiful tunes, “The Gospel of John Hurt,” is inspired by the 1979 sci-fi/horror classic “Alien.”)

But it filled the park on Sunday, and it’ll fill it again on Monday night.

This time last year, 50 days of fighting against Hamas was finally drawing to a close. Many of those who sang the words along with these very polite English musical innovators on Sunday night were fighting in Gaza a year ago. Many others, one deeply fears, will be somewhere similar in the not-too-distant future.

How stark the contrast between grit and bloodshed and loss, and the pure, soaring harmonies of this music. How impossible this region into which we have raised our young loved ones. How precious and welcome their opportunities to sing and dance and Tessellate their beautiful hearts out.

 

 

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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.

Zionism battles BDS, branding it the new Ahmedinajad

The past fortnight has seen proliferating opportunities to champion Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Just a few examples:

A Palestinian move to expel Israel from FIFA mesmerised global sports media until attention shifted to mind-boggling corruption allegations against FIFA bosses. In the corporate world, the AGM of security giant G4S was almost entirely dominated by calls for the company to stop profiting from contracts with the Israeli security apparatus. On stages in theatres up and down the UK, triumphant performances by the Jenin Freedom Theatre were followed by lively discussions in which cultural boycott always came to the fore.

Against this background, liberal Zionist Peter Beinart continued – in the words of leading Palestinian BDS activist Omar Barghouti, “his ongoing, futile attempts to circle the square by claiming that Zionism … can be reconciled with liberal values”

Barghouti commends Beinart’s latest piece in Ha’aretz for its unusually accurate portrayal of what BDS is and why it is growing so fast. It suggests that Zionists, deprived of a convenient bogeyman since the departure of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iranian president, are now casting BDS in the vacant role.

We reproduce the full text of Beinart’s piece below.

 

 

The era of Iran is over; the age of BDS begins

How the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is changing organized American Jewish life.

By Peter Beinart

The news that Sheldon Adelson will this weekend host a secret conference for Jewish groups aimed at countering the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is yet more evidence that “pro-Israel” activism in the United States is entering a new phase. The Iran era is ending. We are entering the age of BDS.

The Iran era started in the mid-1990s. During the cold war, American Jewish groups had defended Israel primarily against Arab regimes and the PLO. The most famous episode in AIPAC’s history had been its 1981 struggle against the Reagan administration’s bid to sell AWACS surveillance planes to Saudi Arabia.

But in 1993, the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist and began negotiating with it as part of the Oslo peace process. The following year, Jordan made peace too. With most Arab regimes at least tacitly supporting Oslo, Yitzhak Rabin argued that Iran—which supported rejectionist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad—constituted the new threat. In 1994, according to Argentine prosecutors, Iran and Hezbollah blew up a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, thus further linking the Islamic Republic to anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish terrorism. The prospect of Tehran developing a nuclear weapon made it all the more sinister.

American Jewish groups, suddenly deprived of their traditional Arab and PLO enemies, gladly followed Rabin’s suggestion that they focus on Iran instead. In his indispensable book about Iranian-Israeli relations, “Treacherous Alliance,” Trita Parsi quotes Shai Feldman, an Israeli foreign policy expert now at Brandeis University, as explaining that “AIPAC made Iran a major issue since they didn’t have any other issue to champion. The U.S. was in favor of the peace process, so what would they push for?”

The Iran era reached its apex during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose Holocaust denial and rhetorical aggression helped American Jewish groups portray Iran as a regime plotting genocide against Israel. But since 2013, Ahmadinejad’s successor, Hassan Rohani, has made Iran appear less menacing. And in Barack Obama, he has found a partner eager to end the long-standing U.S.-Iranian cold war. That effort could still fail.

But given the two leaders’ determination, it is more likely that they will strike a deal, which Benjamin Netanyahu and the Republican Congress will prove unable to torpedo. Already, Israeli security experts are talking about using Israel’s acquiescence to a nuclear agreement to win new military guarantees from the United States. And if Israel does eventually acquiesce, even tacitly and sullenly, the two-decade era in which Iran dominated “pro-Israel” activism in the United States will end.

Enter BDS. If American Jewish groups began focusing on the Iranian threat once the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was born, BDS is growing in large measure because the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has died. For six years, Netanyahu has publicly rejected the idea of a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines, with land swaps. Most Palestinians have lost any faith that negotiations with Israel can bring them a state anytime soon. And Mahmoud Abbas’ failure to end the occupation, or stand for election, has wrecked his legitimacy among Palestinian activists.

The BDS movement has entered this breach. It offers Palestinian activists a way to bypass their divided, corrupt, ineffectual politicians by taking the struggle against Israel into their own hands. Its three planks — an end to Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel and the return of Palestinian refugees—offers something for each of the three main Palestinian populations (those in the occupied territories, those inside Israel proper and refugees) and thus unites a divided people. As a nonviolent movement that speaks in the language of human rights and international law rather than Islamic theology, the movement also attracts progressive allies who would never join a movement defined by suicide bombings and the Hamas charter.

Already, BDS is changing the landscape of organized American Jewish life. First, it is making Washington less important, which may make AIPAC less important. AIPAC’s power rests on the relations between its members and members of Congress. But the BDS movement bypasses Congress in favor of universities, liberal Christian groups and trade unions, where it can gain a more sympathetic ear. The response has been a gold rush among American Jewish groups seeking to lead the anti-BDS charge. In 2010, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council on Public Affairs created the Israel Action Network to combat Israel’s “delegitimization.” As the Forward notes, AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee have all recently “set up operations geared at students” largely to do the same thing. In Washington, AIPAC still dominates. But in these new arenas where the BDS struggle will be fought, AIPAC is just one Jewish group among many.

The second consequence of the rise of BDS will be to increase the prominence of Jewish Voices for Peace. Right now, many establishment-minded American Jews don’t know what JVP is. In their mind, J Street still represents American Jewry’s left flank. But as the only significant American Jewish group to support BDS, Jewish Voices for Peace will grow in prominence as the movement itself does. Already, non-Jewish BDS activists cite JVP as evidence that American Jews do not monolithically oppose their cause. The more that mainstream American Jews hear this, the more enraged at JVP they will become. How exactly that rage will express itself, I don’t know. But as JVP grows, its battles with the American Jewish establishment will make those of J Street look tame.

Finally, BDS will spark a growing debate among American Jews about Zionism itself. American Jews are used to thinking of Palestinians as residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (By using the phrase “Arab Israelis,” American Jews even delude themselves that the Arabs living inside the 1967 lines are not really Palestinian.) But many of the Palestinians active in BDS live in the West or hail from Israel proper or both. That means that for them personally, the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel and the rights of Palestinian refugees are at least as important as the rights of Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Ending Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza doesn’t threaten its character as a Jewish state. To the contrary, it may help preserve it, which is why many centrist American Jews support the two-state solution. But as the BDS movement grows more prominent, it will spark more debate about Palestinian citizens and Palestinians refugees, both subjects that expose the tension between Israel’s democratic character and its policies — in immigration and public life — that privilege Jews.

Inside the American Jewish establishment, the first response to the BDS movement’s challenge to Zionism has been to cry anti-Semitism. But that response conceals a dirty little secret: that many “pro-Israel” activists haven’t thought much about the tension between Jewish statehood and liberal democracy, and thus don’t really know how to justify Zionism to an audience of skeptical, progressive non-Jews.

Justifying Zionism to liberals is not an impossible task. But neither is it intellectually or morally simple. And it will require establishment-minded American Jews to defend principles they have long taken for granted. Of all the BDS movement’s consequences for American Jews, that may prove the most significant of all.

 

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

 

Palestinian Football Association demands FIFA suspend Israel FA

 THE PALESTINIAN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION (PFA) FORMALLY SUBMITS A RESOLUTION TO FIFA DEMANDING THE SUSPENSION OF THE ISRAEL FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION (IFA) . 

Press Release by the Red Card Israeli Racism campaign.

On 20 March 2015 the PFA submitted its resolution to be considered at the 28-29 May FIFA Annual Congress in Zurich.  The full text has not yet been published, but it calls for the suspension of the IFA from FIFA until certain conditions are satisfied, including:

 

  • Players, staff and officials can move freely into, out of and within Palestine; football equipment can be imported without hindrance.
  • Football facilities can be developed in Palestine without hindrance.
  • Football clubs established in the illegal settlements in the West Bank are banned from playing in IFA competitions.
  • The IFA takes firm action to eliminate racist and apartheid practices from its own leagues.

 

These conditions address long-standing grievances.  The PFA has supported initiatives by FIFA over the last almost two years to address them.  Regrettably, the PFA’s attempts to work with the FIFA Task Force have been undermined by Israel and have come to naught.   As a result, strong pressure in the form of suspension of the IFA is needed to help bring about the necessary change.

A PFA report on signing the resolution is, in Arabic: http://www.pfa.ps/index.php/news/et7ad-news/1789-2015-03-20-18-38-46.html.

UEFA taking sides against the PFA?

A recent web report quotes UEFA’s Platini as advising the IFA to enlist diplomatic channels to thwart the PFA motion at the FIFA Congress.  Such actions would contravene FIFA’s Statutes on the independence of national football associations from the influence of third parties.  Surely Platini cannot recommend undermining one of football’s basic principles?

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4641433,00.html

Israeli repression.

Israel continues to perpetrate its devastating military occupation of Palestinian territories, to flout international law, disregard UN resolutions, kill and maim innocent civilians and imprison Palestinians without charge.  Full details on the impact on sports and football in particular are given in the PFA blog:Israeli Occupation Transgressions against Palestinian Sports.

The IFA to all extents and purposes is a State institution – it reports to the State Comptroller and is financed in part by the State.   A 2009 declaration in the Knesset clarifies that the PFA is an “organ of the State”.  Therefore it is complicit in the actions of the Israeli civil and military authorities and so breaches FIFA’s Statute 3, which prohibits racist actions punishable by suspension or expulsion.   However, regardless of such technicalities, FIFA has the moral duty to take a stand against Israeli repression.

South African precedent.

From 1964 to 1992 South African Football Association was excluded from FIFA membership.  Several prominent South African  leaders who experienced apartheid in South African including Archbishop Tutu state that Israeli apartheid is far worse than South African apartheid ever was and that Israel is guilty of far more serious crimes against humanity.

Leaders’ concerns.

The President of the Asian Football Confederation, Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, recently declared his commitment to tackling the “illegal Israeli practices” hindering Palestinian soccer.   Frederic Kanoute and about 50 other prominent footballers had earlier expressed their concern over Israel’s hosting of the 2013 UEFA under 21 finals tournament, and he was joined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Ken Loach and other leading humanitarians.   There were similar objections to Israel’s 2014 proposal for Jerusalem to be a host city for the 2020 Euro competition, which was rejected by the UEFA administration, partly due to our campaign’s intervention.

Red Card Israeli Racism campaign

For four years we have campaigned for the rights of Palestinian football.  We fully endorse the PFA’s proposal to suspend the IFA until certain important conditions have  been satisfied.  For further information see our website: Red Card Israeli Racism

Red Card Israeli Racism campaign

27 March 2015

HUNDREDS OF UK ARTISTS PLEDGE: ‘We won’t work with Israeli institutions’

Print  

700 UK artist announced on Friday (Feb 13) their pledge not to accept professional invitations to Israel as long as the state continues to deny basic Palestinian rights.

 

Among those who have signed the Artists’ Pledge for Palestine, from diverse artistic and cultural backgrounds including many Jews, are:

 

– Writers Tariq Ali, William Dalrymple, Aminatta Forna, Bonnie Greer, Mark Haddon, Hari Kunzru, Liz Lochhead, Jimmy McGovern, China Mieville, Andrew O’Hagan, Laurie Penny, Michael Rosen, Gillian Slovo, Ahdaf Soueif, Marina Warner, Benjamin Zephaniah

– Film directors Mike Hodges, Asif Kapadia, Peter Kosminsky, Mike Leigh, Phyllida Lloyd, Ken Loach, Roger Michell, Michael Radford, Julien Temple

– Comedians Jeremy Hardy, Alexei Sayle, Mark Thomas

– Musicians Richard Ashcroft, Jarvis Cocker, Brian Eno, Kate Tempest, Roger Waters, Robert Wyatt

– Actors Rizwan Ahmed, Anna Carteret, David Calder, Simon McBurney, Miriam Margolyes

– Theatre writers/directors Caryl Churchill, David Edgar, Dominic Cooke CBE, Sir Jonathan Miller, Mark Ravenhill

– Visual Arts Phyllida Barlow, John Berger, Jeremy Deller, Mona Hatoum

– Architects Peter Ahrends, Will Alsop.

 

The full text of the pledge reads:

 

We support the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality. In response to the call from Palestinian artists and cultural workers for a cultural boycott of Israel, we pledge to accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.

 

Former English PEN president, writer Gillian Slovo, said in a statement on the Artists for Palestine UK website, ‘As a South African I witnessed the way the cultural boycott of South Africa helped apply pressure on the apartheid government and its supporters. This Artists’ Pledge for Palestine has drawn lessons from that boycott to produce an even more nuanced, non-violent way for us to call for change and for justice for all.’

 

More than one hundred of the pledge signers gave their reasons for signing in an open letter to British artists published in the Guardian. It said Palestinians remained under relentless attack since the war on Gaza last summer. The letter continued:

 

‘Israel’s wars are fought on the cultural front too. Its army targets Palestinian cultural institutions for attack, and prevents the free movement of cultural workers. Its own theatre companies perform to settler audiences on the West Bank – and those same companies tour the globe as cultural diplomats, in support of “Brand Israel”.’

 

It recalled that musicians opposing apartheid in South Africa pledged not to ‘play Sun City’ – Johannesburg’s playground for the rich. In that tradition, today’s pledge signers are undertaking not to collaborate with Israeli state-funded institutions to ‘play music, accept awards, attend exhibitions, festivals or conferences, run master-classes or workshops,’ until Israel ends its apartheid policies towards the Palestinians.

 

The letter invited all those working in the arts in Britain to add their names to the pledge. There is a sign-up form  here.

 

Artists for Palestine UK (APUK), which organised the pledge, said artists were incensed that speaking out for Palestine regularly attracted smear campaigns by pro-Israel lobbyists.

Theatre director Hilary Westlake, a member of the organising collective, said APUK’s message to British artists is: ‘You are not alone. Together we can defend our right to decide whose patronage we accept, despite groundless accusations of antisemitism and threats of financial and reputational ruin.’

 

http://artistsforpalestine.org.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ArtistsforPalestineUK

Twitter: @Art4PalestineUK

Dozens of signatories have written statements which can be found here). Here is a small selection.

 

  • Nobody questions [Israel’s] right to exist, but, sadly, to support Israel’s cultural institutions now is to support hypocrisy, film director Mike Leigh (honoured with a BAFTA Fellowship award last week).

 

  • I have signed up for a cultural boycott of Israel … Signing in support of the Israeli Cultural Boycott is more of a signing of support for Palestinian Artists … a positive rather than a negative.Phyllida Barlow, visual artist

 

  • I signed because I am a human being. All forms of art change people by opening their eyes to humanity in all its suffering and its beauty. I feel it is incumbent on Israel to treat Palestine and its people justly before it can seek to be a patron of the arts overseas. Hanan Al-Shaykh, writer

 

  • As an artist I wish to pursue a moral journey through life and the right and wrongs here are very clear to me. A suffering group has asked for my support; it cannot be withheld. Miriam Margolyes, actor

 

  • So what does it achieve? It sends a message: ‘We will not perform in Israel since we believe that by performing there we will be endorsing the status quo. We don’t support it and we won’t be part of it.’ Brian Eno, composer

Artists for Palestine UK (APUK) exposes Israel’s use of culture as a smokescreen for its violence against Palestinians and its simultaneous attempts to shut down criticism with accusations of antisemitism.

 

 

‘Support for the Pledge grew in response to a smear campaign mobilised by supporters of Israel against the Tricycle theatre in northwest London during Israel’s assault on Gaza last summer’ said theatre director Hilary Westlake, a member of the APUK organising collective.

Tricycle had been vilified as ‘antisemitic’ for asking the UK Jewish Film Festival it has hosted for eight consecutive years to forego Israeli embassy funding.

‘For every one of us who has made a stand for justice by signing the pledge, there are many more musicians, actors, writers, directors, visual artists, architects who are fearful of the slander, bullying and threats they may face if they follow suit,’ Westlake said.

‘APUK’s message is: you are not alone. Together we can defend our right to decide whose patronage we accept, even against groundless accusations of antisemitism and threats of financial and reputational ruin.’

A full list of Pledge signatories, alphabetically and by art form, is available here.

 

BDS PROTESTERS VINDICATED AS ELBIT DRONE MAKERS’ CASE COLLAPSES

The prosecution of 9 activists who occupied a UK Elbit factory that makes drone engines has collapsed after Elbit refused to give evidence about the legality of its activities in court.
elbit protest
The story about the collapse of the case from the UK’s Independent newspaper is below and the group’s press release is here: http://londonpalestineaction.tumblr.com/post/109598110614/israeli-arms-company-and-uk-government-running.
Michael Deas, representing the Palestinian BDS National Commmittee  in the UK, said massive support for the protesters had demonstrated how much energy there is for campaigning around Elbit and the demand for a military embargo on Israel.
Outcry as prosecution service drops trial of anti-drone protesters at last minute
 
The prosecution of arms-trade protesters who occupied a British drone engines manufacturer has been dropped at the last minute, after the company refused to hand over evidence about its exports of weaponry to Israel, The Independent can reveal.
The nine demonstrators had been due to go on trial next month for aggravated trespass after they halted production during a sit-in at the Staffordshire factory of UAV Engines Ltd, a subsidiary of the Israeli defence giant Elbit Systems – one of the largest manufacturer of military drones.
The activists were arrested after they targeted the company at the height of last summer’s assault by Israel on Gaza, to highlight claims that British-made weaponry was being used by Israeli forces.
But charges against them were dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service last week, just hours before a deadline expired to provide the defendants with details of arms export licences granted to UEL to send its hi-tech engines to Israel for use in the Hermes 450 – a drone widely deployed by the Israeli military. Although the drone was used in the Gaza campaign, UEL has insisted the version used by Israel’s armed forces is not powered by its engines.
The CPS told The Independent it had been forced to discontinue the case after it was informed that two witnesses from the company were no longer prepared to give evidence, and that documentation – understood to be the arms export data – would not be forthcoming.
“We deemed that there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction,” the CPS said.
Lawyers for the protesters criticised the failure to obtain the export data, saying the information would have cast crucial light on whether weaponry produced in the UK was deployed by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in Operation Protective Edge – the assault on Gaza which cost more than 2,000 Palestinian and 73 Israeli lives.
The protesters from London Palestine Action had been granted permission by a district judge to obtain disclosure from the CPS of “any and all” material held by public bodies, including the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), about export licences granted to UEL and Elbit Systems since 2003. It is understood that the CPS itself made no effort to obtain the data from the Whitehall department.
Mike Schwarz, a partner with law firm Bindmans, said: “The information would have shed light on the links between UK arms companies and Israel’s assault on Gaza. With no court date, there’s no public scrutiny. Indeed, that seems to be what the affected business desperately wants and the Government is more than content to let happen.”
Britain’s lucrative defence trade with Israel has proved controversial for the Coalition. The refusal of the Government to suspend 12 export licences last summer led to the resignation of the Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi.
UEL did not respond to requests to comment. BIS said none of the export licences granted to UEL were for use in Israeli military drones but it confirmed that licences had been granted to an unnamed supplier for engines used in IDF drones as recently as 2010.