Tag Archives: zionism

CHARLIE HEBDO AFTERMATH MUST NOT STIFLE RIGHT TO PURSUE BDS

The murders of journalists at Charlie Hebdo magazine, and of shoppers at a kosher supermarket in Paris, by three young French jihadis who were themselves shot dead by French police, have generated thousands of column inches and endless hours of air time full of confused and confusing rhetoric about the killings and the reaction to them.

The dominant narrative has been one of self-congratulation on the part of the predominantly Christian West. Rallying in thousands, claiming freedom of expression as the marker of democracy and civilisation, “we” cast anyone who dares take offence when targeted with racist lampoonery as  irredeemably at odds with “our values”.

“They” represent  the barbarian intolerance of the Islamic world and this entitles “us” to take a good principle and pervert it, self-righteously insisting on a spurious right to insult millions of powerless people.

We, made fearful of seemingly irrational terror in our midst, will accept growing limitations on our freedoms in the name of security.

Never mind the countries our war-mongering governments have devastated, the dictators we have foisted upon them, the penury and hopelessness imposed upon migrants who try to make better lives for themselves in France, the Netherlands or the UK.

And, it goes without saying, never mind our governments’ support for Israel in its endless persecution of the Palestinians.

Step forward Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu, beaming at the front of the crowd in the huge Paris “Je Suis Charlie” march, determined to milk the criminal killing of four Jews as a political opportunity. His cynicism in exploiting those tragic deaths to call on French Jews to flee to alleged safety in Israel, alongside his attempt to present his racist, far-right government as a defender of free speech, is jaw-droppingly obscene.

Equally abhorent is the ongoing campaign by a group in the UK calling itself the Campaign Against Antisemitism and claiming support from all the country’s leading Jewish community organisations. Set up  last summer to counter rising criticism of Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza, its first triumphant success was bullying the Tricycle theatre into withdrawing its objection to Israeli Embassy funding of the UK Jewish Film Festival.

Now this outfit is peddling a scare-mongering report based on its own highly dubious poll, claiming that 77 percent of British Jews “have witnessed antisemitism disguised as a political comment about Israel”, that 82 percent believe antisemitism is fuelled by biased coverage of Israel and 84 percent “find boycotts of Israeli businesses intimidatory.”

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research has questioned the poll’s methodology, but the CAA is urging supporters to use its “statistics” when contacting the press or  local police about planned boycott protests. They are working with the UK government to implement “zero tolerance law enforcement” on what they consider to be hate speech or antisemitic actions. They allege that protesters against Israeli slaughter in Gaza or groups organising supermarket boycotts “regurgitate ancient antisemitic prejudice”.

In other words, anyone wanting to speak or protest on behalf of Palestine will have to defend their right to freedom of expression against coordinated legal and political attacks from Israel’s apologists.

There is a bitter irony here. The pro-Israeli lobby attempts to take up a position within the narrative of countering terror and defending freedom of speech, while claiming an exceptional right for Jews to limit the freedom of others to protest at the violent actions of the state it supports. Claiming the right for Jews to censor what others say about Israel is hardly the way to combat antisemitism.

On the contrary, the lesson we should draw from France is that Jews need to be part of a united struggle against all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Jewish racism when it rears its head.

As Tony Greenstein says on his blog:

“There will always be a few people who are taken in by the proclamation of Jewish communal bodies, such as the British Board of Deputies of Jews, that British Jews stand with Israel in its attacks on Palestinians.  Such people are, wittingly or otherwise, fostering anti-Semitism.  Our  job is to break the connection.”

Advertisements

THE DEATH OF LIBERAL ZIONISM – IN THE NEW YORK TIMES!

This post has been available online for a while but it’s so good it’s worth giving another airing.

Antony Lerman

Antony Lerman

Blogger Philip Weiss introduces an important New York Times op-ed by Antony Lerman thus:

A hugely important piece in the New York Times this weekend is all over my inbox this morning. As it should be. It’s datelined London, not New York: and writer Antony Lerman declares “The End of Liberal Zionism : Israel’s Move to the Right Challenges Diaspora Jews.” (Yes we rang that knell here a few weeks back.)

Antony Lerman says that liberal Zionists are now a figleaf for rightwing Jewish supremacy in Israel and a dam on open discussion of equal rights in the United States. He celebrates the non- and anti-Zionist left– in the NYT:

Today, neither the destruction wreaked in Gaza nor the disgraceful antics of the anti-democratic forces that are setting Israel’s political agenda have produced a decisive shift in Jewish Diaspora opinion. Beleaguered liberal Zionists still struggle to reconcile their liberalism with their Zionism, but they are increasingly under pressure from Jewish dissenters on the left, like Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Independent Jewish Voices.

Along with many experts, most dissenting groups have long thought that the two-state solution was dead. The collapse of the peace talks being brokered by the American secretary of state, John Kerry, came as no surprise. Then, on July 11, Mr. Netanyahu definitively rejected any possibility of establishing an independent Palestinian state. The Gaza conflict meant, he said, that “there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan” (meaning the West Bank).

Liberal Zionists must now face the reality that the dissenters have recognized for years: A de facto single state already exists; in it, rights for Jews are guaranteed while rights for Palestinians are curtailed. Since liberal Zionists can’t countenance anything but two states, this situation leaves them high and dry.

Read the rest here. 

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN, CRITIC OF ISRAEL AND BDS, SPEAKS IN LONDON

nwi chairing norman finkelstein nov2011 credit brian robinson

Norman Finkelstein debates BDS at SOAS, November 2011

Norman Finkelstein, both celebrated and reviled for his brilliant demolitions of Zionist propaganda, will be launching his latest book in London on May 31 at an event hosted by Jews for Justice for Palestinians.  Full details below.

Finkelstein’s views on the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign have made him a controversial figure in the BDS movement. In November 2011 he debated with Jonathan Rosenhead, chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, on a J-BIG platform at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

The event, pictured above, exposed disagreements between Finkelstein and BDS activists who he accused of building a “sect”.  As the JfJfP notice below says, his May 31 book launch could prove “a bumpy ride”!

LONDON BOOK LAUNCH

Old Wine, Broken Bottle:
Ari Shavit’s Promised Land

Saturday 31 May 2014 *  6.30 for 7pm start
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

Norman Finkelstein is a strong speaker celebrated for his brilliant demolitions of Zionist propaganda and full-tilt attacks on the American Israel Lobby.

His new book is a take-down of Ari Shavit’s “My Promised Land”, which he finds is an attempt to repackage Zionist propaganda and win back Diaspora Jews. “Old Wine, Broken Bottle” is a devastating and very entertaining critique that concludes that Shavit will not succeed, and that a broad-based mass movement is now growing that can pressure the Israeli government to withdraw to the 1967 borders.

But Finkelstein is nothing if not controversial: having defied the Zionist establishment, he now stands apart from the mainstream of Palestine solidarity by denouncing the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement as a marginal “cult”. His vehement insistence on the Two State Solution has also been widely challenged.

Professor Finkelstein will open with a conversation with JfJfP signatory Stephen Marks.
Then fans and critics alike can put their own questions to him. All are welcome.

Expect a bumpy ride!

Free event, but please help towards costs: £3 donation suggested
Apologies for Saturday timing; this was the only slot available”Old Wine, Broken Bottle” reviewed by a member of the JfJfP Exec http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/1939293464/ref=sr_cr_hist_5?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addFiveStar&showViewpoints=0

 

 

ISRAEL RESTS ON ZIONIST BRUTALITY, OPPOSING BDS IS FUTILE

Thanks are due to writer and BDS advocate Mike Marqusee  for a powerful response to the critics of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and to Ami Asher from the Israeli organisation Zochrot for exposing the “filthy work” of ethnic cleansing on which the State of Israel rests.

Follow the links to read these valuable pieces in full.

Marqusee publishes an edited version of a letter he sent to a relative in the US who’s been trying to figure out the BDS issue in the wake of the recent onslaught against the American Studies Association’s decision to support the academic boycott.

It’s important to remember that what BDS calls for is basically the withdrawal of the current support given to Israel by our governments and institutions. If you invest money in a company that is profiting from the settlement programme in the West Bank, you are investing in ethnic cleansing – and the first thing you should do when you learn that is simply to stop doing it. All the rest is special pleading.

Asher responds to Israeli journalist Ari Shavit who has written about the expulsion and massacre of Palestinians in Lydda, 1948 in the New Yorker, asserting that even ‘the critics of later years enjoyed the fruits of their deed.’ 

Shavit struggles to make sense of the “black box of Zionism,” as he calls Lydda. He starts by describing the neighboring Jewish youth village of Ben Shemen and also ends there, with a commanding view of the town. A Palmach militia fighter recently interviewed as part of Zochrot’s oral history project had a similar point of view to offer. Look at the town as you drive past it on your way back to Tel Aviv, he said, and imagine it bustling with a million Palestinians – then you will thank me.

Shavit is just as candid. He too feels enormous gratitude for the perpetrators of the Lydda massacre for doing the “filthy work” because even “the critics of later years,” who I can only assume include the likes of me, “enjoyed the fruits of their deed.” This zero-sum hypothesis – us or them – is the very essence of Zionism.

CONFERENCE ON PALESTINE SOLIDARITY AND JEWISH OPPOSITION TO ZIONISM

Palestine solidarity and Jewish opposition to Zionism

On Saturday 2 March 2013, dozens of supporters and friends of J-BIG, Jews and non-Jews, gathered for a conference to explore how the universalist, humanitarian philosophy central to much Jewish thinking has been marginalised by Zionism and how that universalism leads naturally to support for the  Palestinian call for a non-violent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions, targeting Israeli institutions as long as it denies Palestinians freedom, justice and equality.

A detailed report posted immediately after the conference appears on Tony Greenstein’s blog.

Listen here to audio recordings. Film of the main contributions will be added shortly.

The first session, on Jewish values in support of Palestinian rights , began with the screening of a short film, BUNDA’IM,  introducing the last comrades of the Bund mass movement which was exterminated in Europe and ignored in Israel.

Then came a discussion led by David Rosenberg from the Editorial Committee of Jewish Socialist magazine  and Antony Lerman, author of The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist and former director of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research.

They dealt with aspects of Zionism and Bundism in pre-WWII Poland and described  how Zionist leaders have marginalised Bundism in the diaspora,  Zionist attacks on proponents of Jewish universalism and the conflation of antisemitism with opposition to Zionism.

In a panel discussion, a range of speakers tackled issues facing the BDS movement.

Sue Blackwell from the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) outlined the Zionist resort to legal challenge against the Universities and Colleges Union (since gloriously vindicated by a tribunal) for its willingness to debate BDS and refusal to apply the so-called EUMC working definition of antisemitism which seeks to outlaw criticism of Israel.

Michael Deas, coordinator in Europe for the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) was unable to attend due to illness. In his stead Ronnie Barkan, a leading member of Israeli organisations Anarchists against the Wall and Boycott from Within, discussed the centrality of BDS to the anti-racist, anti-colonialist Palestinian struggle.

Tony Greenstein, speaking for Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG), explained the rationale behind publication of the briefing document  Zionism and Antisemitism: Racist Political Twins.

John Rose, author of The Myths of Zionism, unpicked the Zionist myths used to perpetuate the idea that Israeli Jews confront eternal Arab hatred and Israel therefore has the right to “defend itself” by any means.

Hours of discussion were rounded off with an evening of entertainment compered by Deborah Fink, “The Diva with a Difference”,  and starred renowned Palestinian singer Reem Kelani with the up-and-coming musicians of the Raast collective, led by Kareem Taylor.

The conference was twinned with another event at the same venue on the following day, Sunday March 2, bringing together expert speakers on a range of subjects under the heading Reclaiming an Alternative Jewish Culture and Identity

Listen to audio recordings here.

 Ilan Pappe: Jewish Culture In A Non-ZionistOneState In Palestine.

Moshe Machover: Hebrew v. Jewish Identity

Prof. Helen Beer: Jewish Identity Without Yiddish?

Yuval Evri: 19C. Palestinian Arab Judaism

Murray Glickman: BCE Judaism

Cloe Skinner: Gender & Zionism

Sai Englert: The Bund & The 1917 Russian Revolution

J-BIG CONFERENCE MARCH 2 – PALESTINE SOLIDARITY AND JEWISH OPPOSITION TO ZIONISM

SATURDAY MARCH 2

1 – 7 PM

VENUE –     24 Greencoat Place,     London SW1P 1RD  (Near Victoria station)

This is a half-day conference offering  everyone working for Palestinian rights a chance to reinforce their knowledge of Zionism, its rejection of Jewish radical traditions, its conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel and its attempts to undermine Palestinian solidarity work – in particular the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).  

Proceedings will start with BUNDA’IM, a short film introducing the last comrades of the Bund mass movement. Exterminated in Europe and ignored in Israel, its ideas live on.

Discussions will be lead by speakers including:

Sue Blackwell – British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP)

Michael Deas – Palestinian BDS National Committee coordinator in Europe

Antony Lerman – author of The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist

John Rose – author of The Myths of Zionism

David Rosenberg – Editorial Committee, Jewish Socialist magazine

Followed by entertainment from Deborah Fink (“The Diva with a Difference”), Leon Rosselson and others.

Book your place by email to jews4big@gmail.com

£10 waged, £5 unwaged/concessions (includes refreshments)

The J-BIG conference is part of “A Weekend of Two Conferences” – events put together by two separate organisations which have cooperated due to a clash of dates and venue. You can book both days for £25/concessions £20 via either email address.

Sunday 3rd March 10.00am – 6.30pm

AN ALTERNATIVE JEWISH CULTURE & IDENTITY

Ilan Pappe:  Jewish Culture in a non-Zionist One State in Palestine

Moshe Machover: Hebrew v. Jewish Identity;

Prof. Helen Beer: Jewish Identity Without Yiddish?

Yuval Evri: 19C.Palestinian Arab Judaism;

Murray Glickman: BCE Judaism

Cloe Skinner: Gender & Zionism:

Sai Englert: The Bund & The 1917 Russian Revolution

Leon Rosselson, Ivor Dembina

Email:  J.Reclaimed@gmail.com

£20/concessions £15. Lunch & refreshments included.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Picture: Friends of Al-Aqsa

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

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

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

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

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

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

ACTION ALERT

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

Email: leader@libdems.org.uk

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

Email: tongej@parliament.uk

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

Friends of Al-Aqsa