Posts Tagged ‘Bethlehem’

2001 Private Eye Article on Israeli Assassinations and Atrocities Against Palestinians, Americans, and Lebanon

July 18, 2020

Keir Starmer has shown himself determined to purge the party of any and all critics of Israel on the utterly specious grounds that they are automatically anti-Semites. They must be, despite the fact that very many of them are self-respecting Jews and equally self-respecting non-Jewish anti-racists. This is because the Israel lobby and the British establishment and media have declared that anybody who supports Jeremy Corbyn and/ or shares his conviction that Palestinians should be allowed to live in peace in their traditional homeland has to be a horrible Jew-hater and a Nazi. Even if, like Corbyn, Tony Greenstein, Marc Wadsworth, Jackie Walker, Mike, Martin Odoni and any number of others, they are determined anti-racists. So let’s remind people just what the Palestinians are facing, and why criticising Israel is entirely legitimate and is based on what the Israeli state and its armed forces do, not because they’re Jewish.

I found this ‘Letter from Israel’ in Private Eye’s edition for 30th November – 13th December 2001. This was a time when the Eye didn’t flinch at criticising Israel, even when outraged Zionists complained that it was being anti-Semitic by doing so. The Eye has said that the ‘Letter From…’ pieces are written by journalists from countries described, so that this piece, although anonymous and possibly reworked by someone else in the Eye to cover up the author’s identity, comes from an Israeli journo. And it’s a long list of Israel’s attacks, not just on the Palestinians and their leaders, but also the Americans and Lebanon. It runs

Terrorism is the topic of the year, and whatever the current focus, history shows that we in Israel have a certain historical experience.

Take the bombing of American targets. Our chaps bombed the US cultural centres in Cairo and Alexandria as early as 1954, planning to let Abdul Nasser’s new Egyptian government take the blame. Unfortunately the scam went wrong and our defence minister Pinhas Lavon had to resign, though the director-general of his ministry, Shimon Peres, managed to hang on. Today he is Ariel Sharon’s foreign minister.

Or take political assassinations. If you ever wondered why Yasser Arafat’s lieutenants are hard to understand, the answer it simple: we shot most of his organisation’s top foreign language speakers. In fact in one glorious year, 1972, our Mossad secret service managed to kill both the PLO’s political representative in Rome, Wael Zouetar, and his counterpart in Paris, Mahmoud Hamdan.

Admittedly we make the odd mistake. There was the embarrassing 1974 incident in Lilienhammer, when a Mossad hit squad shot dead Moroccan waiter Ahmed Bouchiki in front of his heavily pregnant Norwegian wife, having mistaken him for a PLO man.

Still, we maintain a sense of proportion and have never believed in simply takinig an eye for an eye. In 1982 when an assassin from the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon wounded (but not killed) our London rep, Shlomo Argov, we invaded Lebanon and more than 20,000 people there died, mostly civilians.

Then there is the bombing of local public buildings, one of our specialities. In recent months we have shelled not just West Bank police stations, but hotels, an orphanage and the Bethlehem maternity hospital. (Not that many Palestinian women reach the hospital. Our boys at the checkpoints surrounding their townships are particularly mistrustful of women claiming to be in labour and so refuse to let them through).

None of this would have happened, of course, if the Palestinians would agree to live happily while surrounded by our soldiers and settlers. But they won’t and we must protect ourselves. Not for us any lily-livered effort to apprehend the actual perpetrators. We prefer hostage taking. This is certainly what we did when some Palestinians recently shot that nice man, ex-general Rehavam Zeevi, the founder of a party whose sole platform is the expulsion of all Arabs. Such a view had resulted in his being invited into Mr Sharon’s government as a tourism minister.

Anyway, whenever that sort of thing happens we just hold the entire population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip at gunpoint and station tanks in their streets. Then we smash the place up (just look at Manger Square after we finished with it!) and kill a few dozen locals of mixed age and sex.

And, oh yes, we also use helicopter gunships to blow to smithereens any Palestinian we suspect of planning any attacks on us, though not usually the actual perpetrators. Those we expect Yasser Arafat to hand over, in exchange for the goodwill we have shown in our peace talks with him, which have been dragging on for a mere eight years. Why are those Palestinians in such a rush?

That we have spent those years building thousands of new settler homes in the West Bank is a mere accident, not a lack of sincerity. True, this may have involved confiscating Palestinian land, arresting its owners and shooting demonstrators, which slows down agreement; but it makes sense: we just like holding peace talks so much we never want them to end.

Of course, we cannot negotiate with just anyone, and so we are currently helping improve Arafat’s administration by picking off any unsuitable figures. And we don’t just mean military men: one of those killed by us was Dr. Tahbed Thabed, the director-general of the Palestinian health authority.

In the 19 years since then, we’ve had the blockade of Gaza and now Netanyahu has declared his intention of seizing 1/3 of Palestinian land on the West Bank. But organisations like the Chief Rabbinate, Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jewish Leadership Council, the entirely wrongly named Jewish Labour Movement, whose members don’t have to be Jews or members of the Labour Party, and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, founded to bolster British support for Israel after the bombardment of Gaza, will denounce anything more than the mildest, token criticism of Israel’s actions.

The Israeli state has been engaged on a decades-long campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians, and many of its own citizens have protested against it. Israel is a country. It is not, and never have been, synonymous with the Jewish people, no matter what law Netanyahu passes to claim that it is. Criticising Israel and its leaders is not anti-Semitic, no matter how much the Board and the Chief Rabbis howl that it is.

And Starmer has no business kicking genuine anti-racists and opponents of anti-Semitism out of Labour, simply for supporting the Palestinians. And especially not when he is tolerating real, anti-Black racists and islamophobes.

‘I’ Columnist Wants MPs to Defend Palestinians After Joining Anti-Semitism Smears against Labour

November 28, 2018

The I’s Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is one of the few Fleet Street columnists, who I respect. She writes about racism, but acknowledges that it is not confined to Whites hating Blacks, but affects people of all races and colours. She’s also a genuinely moderate Muslim, fiercely critical of the bigots and preachers of hate in her religion, and condemns the White, non-Muslim politicians who pander to them in the hope of garnering votes.

Tweezer’s Denial of Asylum to Asia Bibi, Pakistani Persecuted Christian

A few weeks ago, she attacked Tweezer for refusing sanctuary to Asia Bibi, the Christian Pakistani woman acquitted of blasphemy in Pakistan. Other companies have offered to take Bibi in, but not May, who feared that it would upset this country’s Muslims. Alibhai-Brown then described the case, showing how dubious the accusation was, and the prejudice and hatred Pakistani Christians face. She also stated that the country was also unsafe for Shi’a Muslims like herself. Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, had intended it to be a secular state with separation between state and mosque. But this had swiftly been overturned, most notoriously by the military dictator General Zia ul-Haqq, who ruled the place in the 1970s. Everything she said was correct. The Beeb has also screened documentaries about the arrests of people in Pakistan for blasphemy. It’s a crime that carries the death penalty, and Bibi has spent over a decade on death row. Most of those accused, however, are Muslims, and it looks very much like the majority of accusations are false, being used as a weapon in family and clan disputes. In the case of Bibi, she was accused of blasphemy by a group of women with whom she was working. They sent her to fetch water for them to drink. She stopped to take a drink herself, so they accused her of ‘polluting’ it before going to accuse her of blasphemy. Everything about it says to me that this is all about caste. Islam in Pakistan has a caste system like India, though not as severe. Many of Pakistan’s Christians are sheikhs, one of the lowest castes, working as bonded labourers in the brick kilns. It looks like Bibi was one of these low caste workers, and the Muslims for whom she fetched the water were outraged at her taking a drink from it because they believed that the touch of a low caste person polluted it. Just like high caste Indians at one time would throw away their food if even the shadow of one of the Dalits, the Untouchables, fell on it.

There’s more to be said about the case, but Alibhai-Brown was right to attack the vicious, murderous bigotry behind the accusation and Tweezer’s own cowardice in refusing to give Bibi asylum. I’d go further, and say that while there is a danger that the preachers of hate in British Islam would try to capitalize on Bibi being given asylum, that’s no evidence for not admitting her to Britain. And it also shows Tweezer’s low view of British Islam, if she thought the intolerance of bigoted minority was worth capitulating to. Not all Muslims are fanatics and bigots by any means, but Tweezer’s refusal to take in Asia Bibi suggests that she feels that nevertheless, enough of them are. It’s a decision which would delight the Islamophobes, who believe that all Muslims are a threat to traditional British religious freedom, and that liberal governments are too afraid to confront them.

Alibhai-Brown on Israel’s Persecution of the Palestinians

In yesterday’s I for the 27th November 2018, Alibhai-Brown tackled the plight of the Palestinians and their oppression under the Israelis in an article entitled ‘The Holy Land needs some goodwill: Plight of the Palestinians should be remembered by all’, on page 15. She began the article by stating that Christmas is the time when devout Christians turn their minds to the places where Christ lived, preached and died, and that there is a massive tourist industry in the Holy Land. It is a country which contains sites sacred to all three of the Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and that for centuries the religions coexisted in peace.

This is true no longer, as Israel increases its dominance. She states that Bethlehem has been turned into an open air prison, and that last year Palestinian Muslims were denied entrance to the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam. Netanyahu’s oppression of the Palestinians is supported by Donald Trump and American Christian fanatics, whose decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem shows that Muslim Arabs mean nothing to him and his government.

Shalhoub-Kavorkian and Dimbleby on Oppressed Palestine

She then goes on to quote Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kavorkian of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, on the routine brutality and second class status of the Palestinians. The prof. wrote

Violence is central to the political logic of the Israeli state and its occupation of Jerusalem. Enacted in the hundreds of daily acts of harassment perpetuated by heavily armed soldiers, police, settlers, and undercover security personnel belonging to the state of Israel, much of the violence occurs routinely and it goes largely unnoticed by the rest of the world.

Palestinians, native to and residing in Jerusalem, are categorized by Israeli law as ‘permanent residents’ or as foreign residents who hate to prove to the Ministry of Interior that their ‘centre of life’ – where they live, go to school, get medical care and pay for utilities are all taking place in Jerusalem.

She then moves on to discuss a ‘poignant’ book on Palestine, published by Jonathan Dimbleby, now the presenter of Question Time in 1980. This was when he was the maker of foreign documentaries, and the book was accompanied with photographs by Sir Donald McCullin. The book apparently shows the great diversity of Palestinian life and culture as well as moving tales of dispossession and pain. Re-reading it now, she realized how much worse their plight had become. She quotes the book as saying

The struggle is still presented in a woefully lopsided fashion: a small embattled, occasionally obstinate but usually admirable democratic state (Israel) under challenge from a despicable, occasionally pathetic, but usually brutal gang of desperadoes (the PLO).

Defending Palestine and Anti-Semitism Smears

She is very aware that simply discussing the plight of the Palestinians is met by accusations of anti-Semitism. She writes

Now the reporting of Israeli injustices brings on instant accusations of anti-Semitism.

Unfortunately, she also swallows the line that Israel was created in response to the horrors of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. It wasn’t. Jewish colonization began long before, after the Balfour Declaration during the First World War. She states that Israel exists and must exist as a safe homeland, before going to make the point that the horrors of the Nazis’ persecution don’t give Israel the right to break international laws and violate the human rights ‘of those whose land was taken to create their homeland’.

Pro-Palestinian Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

The article then goes on to discuss the book, Walking to Jerusalem, by Justin Butcher, a playwright and activist, whose launch she attended. This is the record of a pilgrimage made by hundreds of ordinary people, who went on foot to Jerusalem, funded by a small charity, the Amos Trust. The pilgrims arrived just before the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, in order to ‘change the record of a hundred years of injustice to the Palestinian people.’ She states that the marchers included Jews, which should surprise no-one, who knows how very many Jews are critical of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians and the crimes committed in their name by Netanyahu’s thugs.

She also notes that over 200 Gazans were killed by Israeli forces, some of whom were medical workers and journalists. Settlers were stealing more land and homes. Although some Israelis were also wounded and killed, and too many live in fear, this was an unequal clash.

Alibhai-Brown’s Call for the Public to Contact their MPs

She concludes the article

Maybe one thing we can all do this Christmas is to ask our MPs to be more openly critical of Israel and do what the walkers did – support peaceful Palestinian men, women and children who have for so long been denied rights, livelihoods and dignity. Sometimes goodwill is the best present.

Alibhai-Brown and the Anti-Semitism Smears against the Labour Party

It’s a good article, but marred by Alibhai-Brown’s own behaviour towards Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party. When the Israel lobby and Conservative media and Jewish establishment once again attacked Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour for not signing up to the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, Alibhai-Brown was one of the hacks denouncing the Labour party as full of anti-Semites. But this article suggests she know how false at least some of those allegations must have been. But there is no retraction. The Fleet Street Groupthink about the Labour party, and the bias of the I’s editor and proprietor apparently appear to be too strong.

She also must realise that with the Israel lobby holding power in both the Tories and the Labour party through their ‘Friends of Israel’ groups, and the Jewish Labour Movement in the Labour party, any chance of MPs stepping out of line to risk their careers defending the Palestinians is remote. Not while there’s a chance that someone at the Israeli embassy will pick up where Shai Masot left off and start deciding that they’re a person, who shouldn’t be in the next cabinet. And although the media may claim that the affair’s all over, their haste to do so shows that the conspiracy – and the accusations of anti-Semitism against people like Mike who correctly called it that – has had the desired effect. MPs aren’t going to risk being sidelined or thrown out as anti-Semites if they dare confront the lobby.

The Israel Lobby and the Suppression of Pro-Palestinian Reporting

As for Dimbleby and his book, I very much doubt there’s much chance of anyone at the Beeb now being so courageous in criticizing Israel. Ten years ago Peter Oborne made his documentary on the Israel lobby for Channel 4’s Despatches. This showed not just the extent of the lobby in the parliamentary parties, but also how they bullied and intimidated journalists with accusations of anti-Semitism. This included Graoniad editor Alan Rusbridger, and several very well respected Beeb journos, who dared to describe the atrocities committed by Israel and the massacres by its allies, the Lebanese Christian phalange, in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. These accusations were found by the broadcasting regulatory bodies to be without foundation. But that tactic is still being used by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the other thugs and bully-boys in the Israel lobby.

And this tactics will continue to be made, unless more people stand up to it. Corbyn and his supporters aren’t anti-Semites, but they were smeared as such simply because they defended the Palestinians. The Israelis are afraid that there just might be a foreign prime minister, who doesn’t defer to them, and won’t tolerate their persecution of the indigenous Arabs. Alibhai-Brown must surely realise this, but she joined their attacks on Corbyn and Labour anyway.

And those attacks on Corbyn and politicians like him will continue, unless journos like Alibhai-Brown practice what they preach and actively support and defend him and other Israel-critical politicos in their columns against such mendacious and false accusation of anti-Semitism.

Mohandeer on Liberal Jewish and Israeli Organisations for Palestinian Rights

October 1, 2016

I’ve had a couple of very fascinating comments to my posts attacking the anti-Semitism smears, whose latest victim is yet against Jackie Walker. One of the pieces I put up about this issue earlier today was from a commenter, NoToLikudExtremism, who argued that the problem isn’t Zionism per se, but Likud and its coalition partners in the Israeli extreme right. They pointed out that Jeremy Corbyn also believes in a two-state solution, and recommends targeting Likud and the racist right for specific attack on this issue, as this would not alienate liberal Israelis and the many Jews, who also support Israel, but not its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

Mohandeer has posted a similar comment on my piece announcing the launch of Mike’s book against the anti-Semitism smears. She writes

If you really want to know what’s going on in Israel and how decent Jews there feel about the right wing apartheid parties who promote the apartheid movement visit BT’selem or Mondoweiss and have them subscribe to them and have their publications in your daily In box “Newsfeed”. Jewishness cannot be defined by identifying with Israel only, it is a faith like any other which has it’s traditional basis in the Talmud or Torah and inherited status from ancestral tradition. Jewish Voices for Peace or JVP and J Street discuss the views of US Jews and PSC (Palestinian Solidarity Campaign also has many Jewish representatives as does Ray Hanania of the Arab Daily news (a Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem). The Jewish Forward has come under criticism sometimes but overall it is a decent read because it offers an insight into the daily struggle Jews have in deciding which side of the line they want to come down on, though with a tendancy towards identifying with Israel it is not exclusively pro Israeli at all.
This accusation some of the Zionist wing of JLM are promoting is nothing to do with being Jewish but anti Corbyn and must be recognized as being distinct from being Jewish and being political. The fact that they are using anti Semitism as a basis for their attacks is nothing to do with being Jewish and everything to do with opposition to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and his left wing leaning and those arguments they use to attack Momentum must be seen in the light of what they really are, politically motivated and demeaning Jewishness as a tool in the process. They should be ashamed, but politics is a powerful motivator.

Many of these groups are new to me. I have heard Dr Norman Finkelstein criticise J Street as not being really interested in protecting the Palestinians, but it is a liberal Jewish organisation and clearly, not everyone involved in the issue shares Dr Finkelstein’s opinion of it.

I agree absolutely with Mohandeer’s statement that these accusations against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and the Labour Left, including his supporters in Moment are politically motivated, and demean Jewish identity.

I have heard of BT’selem. They are an Israeli human rights organisation. One of their leaders recently gave an internet talk on the occupation of the Palestinian territories to a left-wing internet group concerned with the revival of British democracy. Their work in documenting and tackling human rights violations in Israel has been cited by Counterpunch, amongst doubtless other left-wing organisations.

The people in these organisations are immensely courageous, as Likud and their fellow apartheid supporters are trying to marginalise and silence these people as being self-hating, and not real Jews. That’s why I put up the piece from the Majority Report yesterday, in which Sam Seder expertly takes apart that claim by an American Conservative rabbi. A poll carried out in the 1990s in Israel found that a majority of Israelis believed that those Israelis, who supported the Palestinians, should be stripped of their civil rights. I’ve put up several pieces before commenting on the Israelis, including rabbis, who’ve protested and put their lives on the line to prevent the house demolitions in Israel. And in the first years of this century there was a ‘Tea and Cake’ demonstration, jointly held by Israelis and Palestinians, protesting against the inability of their countries’ leaders to find a just and peaceful solution to the conflict.

I am thus very happy to put up here Mohandeer’s very informative comment, and to give these organisations a little bit more publicity in their campaign for peace and justice against Netanyahu and his thugs.