Posts Tagged ‘BT’selem’

On the 120th Anniversary Performance of the Bundist Song ‘In Zaltsikn Yam’

May 10, 2022

There’s a fascinating video on YouTube of the performance by Jewish radical musicians Daniel Kahn and Psoy Korolenko of the Bundist song ‘In Zaltsikn Yam’. It was sent over the internet to the Melbourne Bund as part of the 120th anniversary celebrations of the foundation of the Bund, the mass Russian and Polish Jewish socialist party in 1897. Korolenko sings it in three languages, Yiddish, English and Russian. It’s militantly socialist and stridently attacks the rich and Zionism in no uncertain terms.

It begins with the tears of the Jews running into the sea, but the tears of the rich are clear, while those of the poor are bloody. It also sings about Jews and gentiles marching together are comrades in their shared homelands. As for Zionism, it says that the call for Jews to return to Israel is what they’ve heard from the priests. It’s just putting Jews back into another ghetto. The Zionists are concerned with the Jewish people’s fathers in their grave, but have no concerns for the present generation. But there’s a new messiah – the working man, who will transform the world.

It’s a great song which makes the Bund’s anti-Zionism very clear, preformed by too excellent musicians. It also adds further weight to the amount of historical scholarship showing that it was the secular Bund that represented the majority Jewish opinion in Poland and eastern Europe before the Second World War, and not Zionism. That said, I have issues with it that prevent me from putting the video up on this blog. I’m an Anglican Christian, but I found the rejection of the Jewish hope for the Messiah actually shocking and blasphemous. And if it shocks a gentile like me, I wonder how offensive it must be to religious Jews. I also realise that many religious Jews, even some Israelis, are critical of Israel or just disgusted at its treatment of the Palestinians. I’ve blogged before now of Haredi and other very Orthodox Jews, who believe their religious duty is remain in the countries to which Jews have been scattered, until Israel is redeemed by the Messiah. I understand from one of the Jewish anti-Zionist bloggers that one former Chief Rabbi held that view. When he was asked whether the redemption of Israel then would have the same result in the removal of the Palestinians, he replied that under the Messiah it would be done peacefully through negotiation. There are Israeli human rights groups like B’Tselem that are under attack from the right-wing Israeli establishment because they criticise their country for its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. I also remember the way Israeli nationalists attacked and vilified a group of liberal Israelis because they said the kadish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, over a dying Palestinian who’d been shot by the IDF. The song interests me as a historical artefact and as part of an alternative tradition of Jewish radicalism that still holds a place in current Jewish society.

But I don’t feel I can put it up on this blog because I genuinely don’t want to offend anyone’s religious beliefs.

My issue is with the Israel lobby and Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, and with the way Zionist groups are trying to rewrite history so that only they appear as the true champions and expression of Jewish political aspirations, and definitely not with Jews or Judaism.

If you want to see the video for yourself, it’s on the Bund Melbourne channel on YouTube, and has the Yiddish title of ‘In Zaltsikn Yam – Bund 120 Yoyvl 2017’.

Labour Witch-Hunters Put Me on the Naughty Step

April 9, 2022

I’ve been meaning to put up something about this ever since I got the wretched message from the Labour’s party’s wretched Disputes Team in the Governance and Legal Unit, but didn’t get round to doing so. As some of you may remember, I got a series of emails from the Disputes Team or whoever a little while ago telling me that I was being investigated for anti-Semitism because of a particular blog post. Naturally I argued very strongly against the accusation, and demanded to know the identity of my accusers as per natural justice in a British court of law. I was told they wouldn’t divulge that information, and Labour party investigations aren’t part of the British justice system. This is very true, as the principles of justice that are supposed to animate our legal system are completely foreign to it, as numerous people falsely accused of anti-Semitism can attest.

Several months later, on the 22nd March of this year, 2022, I got the following email from the Labour party. They decided that I had contravened the provisions on anti-Semitism and racism in the party, and that this was hampering the party’s fight against racism! But they haven’t expelled me. No, I’ve been issued with a formal warning, which will stay on my record for 18 months. Here’s the text of their message

Notice of Outcome of Investigation: Formal Warning

We are writing to inform you that the Labour Party (the Party) has concluded its investigation into the allegation that you had breached Chapter 2, Clause I.11 of the Party’s Rule Book (the Rules).

A panel of the National Executive Committee (the NEC Panel) met on 18 March 2022 and considered all of the evidence that the Party put to you and any evidence submitted by you in response.

Summary of the Findings of the NEC Panel

The NEC Panel found on the balance of probabilities, that you posted an article on your blog on 05 December 2020.

The NEC Panel concluded that your conduct was in breach of Chapter 2 Clause I.11 of the Rules. In particular, your conduct undermined the Labour Party’s ability to campaign against racism. In coming to this conclusion, the NEC Panel considered that your conduct contravened the provisions of the Code of Conduct: Antisemitism and other forms of racism.

Taking into account all relevant evidence the NEC Panel concluded that the appropriate outcome is to issue you with this Formal Warning pursuant to Chapter 2, Clause I.1.D.iii of the Rules.

The NEC Panel wishes to make clear that your conduct has fallen short of the high standards expected of Party members and to remind you of the importance of behaving consistently with the Rules and Codes of Conduct at all times.

This Formal Warning will remain on your Labour Party membership record for a period of 18 months. If you commit any further breach of the Rules during that period, an NEC Panel may take this Reminder of Conduct and the behaviour that led to it into account in dealing with that breach.

Consequently, any restrictions that the Party may have imposed on your membership rights pending the outcome of this investigation have now ended. This includes any administrative suspension of your membership that may have been in place.

Conduct Expected of Labour Party Members

The Party expects you, in common with all members, to engage in civil, measured discourse, online and offline.

It also expect members to conduct themselves in a manner that avoids any discrimination or harassment on grounds of race, religion or any other protected characteristic inside the party and in wider society and support, and not to undermine, the Labour Party’s ability to campaign against all forms of racism and prejudice.

Members of the Party agree not to engage in any conduct that is prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the Labour Party. This includes any conduct that demonstrates hostility or prejudice based on a protected characteristic; sexual harassment; bullying or intimidation; and unauthorised disclosure of confidential information.

Members must also comply with the provisions of the NEC’s Codes of Conduct, which are publicly available online here:

The Party urges you to read the NEC’s Codes of Conduct carefully and bear them in mind whenever you are involved in Labour Party activities and in discussion and debate, online and offline, about political issues and ideas.

Yours sincerely,

Disputes Team

Governance and Legal Unit

The Labour Party

c.c.

Labour South West’

I’ve been late posting anything up about this because my reaction to it is that of Catherine Tate’s schoolgirl Lauren: ‘Am I bovvered? Do I look bovvered? I ain’t bovvered’. I was expecting to be thrown out, as so many excellent people have been before me. Indeed, considering the calibre of people purged or accused of alleged anti-Semitism, like Mike, Martin Odoni, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Mark Chilson, Marc Wadsworth, Asa Winstanley, Moshe Machover and far too many others, it’s almost a badge of honour to be included with them.

None of them are or have been in any way racist or anti-Semitic. And neither was the blog post that so offended someone that they felt they just had to complain about me. The post criticised Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians. This is the state of Israel, not Jews and not Israelis either. Through reading material by Jews critical of Israel, like Tony Greenstein’s and David Rosenberg’s blogs, as well as Ilan Pappe’s 12 Myths About Israel, as well as online presentations by the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, it’s massively apparent that there are very many Jews and Israelis who despise the Israeli state’s decades long ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Arabs. The Jewish people have never been a homogenous, monolithic group. The Talmud, Judaism’s second holy book, contains the records of disputes over the Law by the sages and great rabbis of antiquity. Quite often these disputes ended with ‘and so they differed’. It’s no different today. There is a wide diversity in Jewish belief, observance and political and social attitudes, just as there is in every community. However, former president Netanyahu and the Israel lobby would like us all to believe that all Jews everywhere are citizens of Israel and passionately support it, to the extent that any criticism of the country is a terrible assault on their identity. Which isn’t necessarily the case. American Jewish young people are becoming increasingly less interested, even opposed, to Israel. One American Jewish vlogger put up a video stating that he found it ridiculous that he somehow had a right to settle in a country he’d never visited – he came from Anchorage, Alaska, while his Palestinian friend, who was born there, was forbidden to return. In fact, far from speaking for the majority of British Jews, organisations like the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Chief Rabbinate don’t speak for anyone except the United Synagogue, which is only one of a variety of Jewish denominations. But the Board and the Chief Rabbis were very vocal in the anti-Semitism smear campaign against the Labour party and specifically against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. Despite the sectarian nature of their support, they did their level best to present themselves falsely as the true voice of British Jews, speaking for the majority.

As for the specific charges against me, I was accused of anti-Semitism because I said that before the Second World War Zionism was a minority position among European Jews. It was. Pappe’s book, and Tony Greenstein’s and David Rosenberg’s blogs have made it very clear that it was, quoting chapter and verse from scholarly studies of Jewish history. The majority of European Jews wished to remain proud citizens of the countries in which they were born, with equal rights and respect as their gentile fellow countrymen. Ditto for Jewish Americans. As late as 1969 one of the Jewish Zionist magazines lamented that there was little interested in Israel among Jewish Americans.

My anonymous accusers also disliked me stating that all ideologies should be open to examination and criticism. Well, they should. There is nothing anti-Semitic in that. It’s one of the cornerstones of real political freedom. Presumably this alarmed them because it means that Zionism should also be examined and criticised. Which is true. Zionism, as I’ve also pointed out, is a political ideology. It is not synonymous with Jews or Judaism. In fact for many years it was just the opposite. The return of the Jews to Israel was first proposed by Christians wishing to hasten Christ’s return, long before Theodor Herzl and Jewish Zionism. Even now the largest Zionist group in America is Pastor Ted Hagee’s Christians United for Israel. It was also supported by real anti-Semites, like Richard Wagner and the various European Fascist parties before the Second World War as a way of removing them from their countries.

I also blotted my copybook defending awkward historical facts, which had resulted in the witch-hunters accusing other Labour party members of anti-Semitism. Ken Livingstone was smeared and then thrown out as an anti-Semite, because the Commie newt-fancier dared to state that Hitler supported Zionism. This is factually correct. It was the short-lived Ha’avara Agreement, in which the Nazis covertly supported the smuggling of Jewish Germans to Palestine. It’s in mainstream histories of Nazism and the Jews, and is mentioned on the website of the Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem. But it does not support the myth the Zionists have constructed to present themselves as devoid of any collaboration with the Nazis.

Now let’s dismantle the Labour party’s statement that, because of my blog post criticising Zionism, I am harming the party’s efforts to fight racism. The simple answer is ‘No’, to the point where recent events in the Labour party make this sound like a sick, unfunny joke. The majority of the witch-hunt’s victims have been self-respecting Jews like Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, to the point that they comprise 4/5 of those purged. From this angle, it very much looks like it’s the witch hunters who are motivated by a sectarian anti-Jewish prejudice. Because peeps like Jackie and Tony ain’t the right kind of Jews. Marc Wadsworth, another victim, is Black and has campaigned tirelessly against racism. He got Stephen Lawrence’s family to meet Nelson Mandela, and in the ’80s worked with the Board to put in place legislation against real anti-Semitic attacks by the BNP in the East End. But they accused him of anti-Semitism and so had him purged.

At the moment, the Labour party is losing many of its Black and Asian members. Some of this is undoubtedly for the same reasons the party’s losing members generally: the party no longer represents the genuinely popular polices put forward by Jeremy Corbyn, policies that inspired so many to join the party that under Corbyn’s leadership it became the largest socialist party in Europe. But there’s also been a rise in anti-Black and anti-Asian racism in the Labour party as well as islamophobia under Starmer. Black and Asian MPs and activists like Diane Abbott were bullied and racially abused. One third of Muslim members say they have encountered islamophobia. But Starmer has done absolutely nothing about this. And the reason is simple:

He doesn’t care.

Starmer describes himself as ‘100 per cent Zionist’. The people he wishes to appease is the Israel lobby, and so avoid the same charges of anti-Semitism that brought down Corbyn. He does not seem to care about racism against Blacks or Asians or hostility and prejudice against Muslims. And the party’s attitude to what it considers to be anti-Semitic is highly partisan.

Starmer has been using fake charges of anti-Semitism to purge the Labour left, and so make the Blairite grip on it permanent and unchallengeable. Blair did something similar when he was in power. He ignored the left and traditional Labour voters in favour of middle class, Thatcherite swing voters. He assumed that traditional Labour voters and supporters would continue supporting the party because they had nowhere else to go. As a result, many Labour supporters stopped voting, so that even when he won elections, the percentage of people voting Labour actually declined. Some of the party’s working class supporters may have gone over to UKIP, whose supporters were largely older working class Whites who felt left behind and ignored by the existing parties.

And today there are a number of competing parties. A poll a few months ago found that there would be massive support for a new party led by Jeremy Corbyn. A number of left-wing organisations are considering allying to form a competing party, not to mention the Trades Union and Socialist Alliance, which has been around for years. And the Green Party is also growing in popularity. At the moment it’s only just behind Labour in the number of seats it holds on Bristol city council. I’m sure it’s similar in other cities up and down the country.

Starmer’s playing a very dangerous game with his purges, because rather than people keeping on voting and joining Labour because there’s nowhere else, they may very well join or set up rival parties.

This could destroy the Labour party, but I really doubt Starmer and his allies care, just as long as they retain control of the party. And it doesn’t matter how many decent people they purge and smear as anti-Semites, Communists, Trotskyites or whatever.

Private Eye on Israeli Atrocities against the Palestinians

November 14, 2021

I’ve probably said before that I’ve got mixed feelings about Private Eye. The magazine joined the rest of the media in howling that Corbyn was an evil Commie and an anti-Semite. On the other hand, it has itself published some excellent material exposing Israel and its horrific crimes against the indigenous Arabs. I found this article extensively describing them in it’s edition for 15th – 28th June 2018. Titled ‘Israel Watch’, the article runs

On 1 June, as the Campaign Against Arms Trade revealed the UK’s rapidly increasing exports to Israel, and Buckingham Palace announced Prince William’s forthcoming trip to Jerusalem and Ramallah, Razan Najar, a 21-year-old Palestinian woman volunteering for a medical team, was shot dead by Israeli Defence Force soldiers near the Israel-Gaza border. The UK may have sold them the bullet.

As the UK government continues its amoral pursuit of post-Brexit trade with anyone who’ll have us, it is to be hoped this is not why William is pressing palms. At least ministers can pretend that they will raise human rights abuses as the other side signs the cheques.

Yet Israel does more than shoot Palestinians it claims looked iffy through a rifle sight. It removes their moral status as bearers of rights, a crucial first stage in all historical abuses of peoples. Nowhere is this more evident than in its approach in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

No-derogable means no exceptions: not in times of war; not if you’re the head of the CIA; not if you’ve been watching 24 on Fox. Signatories to the declaration agree this, and are obliged to codify it in law. On 14 December 1978, signing the Declaration for Israel, Yehudi Zvi Blum told the UN that the principles enshrined in it were given to the world by the Jewish nation 3,0000 years ago as “the equality and brotherhood of man, the intrinsic dignity and value of the human being and the ideals of social justice”. Yet Israeli law contains no specific criminalisation of torture.

Until 1999 the Israeli Security Agency, ISA, relied on a 1987 state commission which suggested that “psychological pressure” and “moderate physical pressure” were permissible “to prevent terrorism”. Their methods went far beyond any reasonable interpretation of these terms, and in 1999, Israel’s high court declared torture in interrogation illegal – except, crucially, for agents investigating “ticking bomb” cases. Such ticking is, of course, in the ear of the beholder.

The US senate’s own report on black-site torture revealed that, despite claims regarding “ticking bombs”, such torture delivered no useful intelligence. Evidence shows that while torture may persuade people to do things they don’t wan to do, they are only likely to tell you what you want to hear.

Israeli human rights groups, based on hundreds of affidavits from interrogated Palestinians, suggest that ISA uses torture in interrogation, including beatings, kicking, sleep deprivation, stress positioning, sexual abuse, painful shackling, assault with rifle butts, mock executions and threats against family members. Such treatment is described by the state as “special measures”, in tones reminiscent of “enhanced interrogation”. Not a single criminal investigation has been launched into a complaint against an ISA Interrogator.

Israel claims that UN conventions do not apply to Palestinians under occupation. It’s a steep slope, when you exclude the people of your choice from universal human rights. Prince William tread carefully, lest he slip.”

I’ll make it clear before I start that I despise and condemn terrorism by anyone. Furthermore, I don’t doubt for a single second that Israel isn’t unusual in it use of torture against terrorists and the minorities it oppresses. China and indeed the neighbouring Arab states do exactly the same. However, Israel and its supporters over here have a campaign to smear anyone revealing Israeli torture and atrocities against the Palestinians as an evil, genocidal anti-Semite. It’s been used against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, many of whom are decent, self-respecting Jewish peeps. Peeps, who have often lost loved ones to the Holocaust and suffered real anti-Semitic abuse and assault. And Starmer is continuing this campaign of vilification and purges.

The Israeli state doesn’t just use such interrogation techniques against adult. It also uses them against children. And many of the Jews that attack and criticise Israel for its human rights abuses are motivated by their reading and observance of the Torah and the Hebrew Bible, which Blum declared was behind Israel’s signing of the Declaration of the Human Rights. Other, secular Jews are motivated by the values of liberal Jewish culture in which they grew up. As for the Israeli human rights groups criticising the Israeli state, Netanyahu’s vile regime passed, or tried to pass legislation silencing groups like B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence. The last is a group of Israeli ex-servicemen and -women, who tell the stories of atrocities they have witnessed and in which they participated. There were polls a few years ago showing that the majority of Israeli respondents wanted such organisations and their members stripped of their citizenship.

This is the state that Keef Stalin supports ‘100 per cent’, and whose critics within the Labour party he is determined to silence and expel. Revolting!

Palestinian Attacks – Israel’s Retaliations Are Always Massively Disproportionate

May 12, 2021

Mike’s written an excellent piece over at Vox Political on the current escalating clashes between Palestinians and Israelis at al-Aqsa Mosque. The clashes began with protests after Friday prayers last week against the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from a district of Jerusalem in order to make way for Israeli settlers. Mike’s piece includes a tweet showing a very entitled Israeli settler who makes it clear he believes he has every right to evict a Palestinian family from their home and have it instead. The Israeli police have shot people with rubber bullets and tear gas inside the mosque. This is horrendous sacrilege. It is the Islam’s third holiest shrine, and as a holy place it should be immune from violence. The Palestinians have launched rocket attacks, which have been met with even further violence and repression by the Israelis.

In an earlier piece about these clashes, Mike challenged Israel’s zealous defenders to justify the country’s actions. They have been unable to do so, except to point to the Palestinian attacks. As Mike says, they miss the point that he doesn’t approve of those either.

But it also needs to be said that Israel’s response to Palestinian violence is never proportionate. It is always massively excessive. The Israeli historian and pro-Palestinian activist Ilan Pappe has made this point in his book, Ten Myths About Israel. He specifically talks about Operation Cast Lead, launched by the man I’ve heard one Jewish academic call ‘that bastard Netanyahu’ in response to attacks from Gaza. He also discusses other incidents when the Israelis have contrived to provoke violence from the Palestinians so that they could respond with even greater force. This is all part of the decades-long campaign to grind down and expel the Palestinians from eretz Israel.

This ethnic cleansing is opposed by many sincerely liberal Jews and Israelis. The Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem has been very active denouncing it and educating people about Israel’s oppression of the indigenous Arab population. There is also the veterans’ group, Breaking the Silence, of former servicemen speaking out about the atrocities they committed and witnessed as part of the IDF. These good people are hated by Netanyahu and his supporters. There have been rants demanding that any Israeli, who assists the Palestinians should be stripped of their vote. Ilan Pappe was forced out of his post at an Israeli university and his home because of his determination to expose what was happening.

And now apparently Boris Johnson is following the scumbag American right in wishing to pass laws to ban the Boycott, Divest and Sanction campaign as ‘anti-Semitic’. No, it’s really not. BDS does not call for the boycott of Jewish goods, nor even that of goods and businesses located in Israel. It only calls for a boycott of Israeli goods and businesses located in the Occupied Territories, on land that rightfully belongs to the Palestinians. It has the support of many self-respecting, Torah-observant and secular Jews, who are smeared and reviled by Netanyahu’s supporters as self-hating anti-Semites. And as Mike has also pointed out, Jewry and the state of Israel are certainly not synonymous, whatever laws Netanyahu passes to say so. There are ‘True Torah’, ultra-Orthodox Jews who object to the state of Israel as a blasphemy, because in their theology Israel can only be restored by divine power through the Messiah. And there are other Jews, who strongly believe that Netanyahu’s actions against the Palestinians are a form of Fascism. One Israeli chemist and philosopher coined the term ‘Judeonazism to describe it. For them, Jews should always take the side of the oppressed, never the oppressor.

I had an email from Labour & Palestine stating that a demonstration has been organised for this Saturday. The email runs:

THIS SATURDAY – March to the Israeli Embassy, 12 noon, Marble Arch
#SaveSheikhJarrah #FreePalestine


GET INVOLVED: RSVP & share the demo here – check local events here


Hello,

We are writing to urge you to join the above London demonstration and local actions this Saturday taking place under the vital slogans  #SaveSheikhJarrah #FreePalestine – as well as going yourself, please tell friends and try and get your local Labour Party and other banners along!

In order to support these protests, we have also rescheduled our workshop for our supporters only on building support for Palestine in your CLP for 6.30pm-8.00pm on Thursday May 27. This event will include a briefing on current developments in Palestine and presentation of our model/Conference motion on Palestine, which we are currently updating to include the latest developments. You can RSVP here.

I am not intending to go, but I have put news of it up in case anyone else is interested.

Israel’s actions are deplorable and Boris’ attempts to try to ban BDS is another attack on British freedom of belief.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown Condemns Israeli Invasion of Palestine After Smearing Corbyn and Labour

July 16, 2020

I used to have some respect for Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. She was one of the few people writing about racism who was even-handed, condemning Black anti-White racism along with White prejudice and violence against people of colour. I still do respect her to some extent. But that respect is rapidly dwindling thanks to her joining the witch-hunt and mass smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn, his supporters, and the Labour Party in general. As I’ve blogged about before, ad nauseam, ad infinitum, the campaign had zero to do with real anti-Jewish hatred in the Labour Party. It was simply a ruse by the Tories to smear Labour, along with other lies, such as that he was a supporter of the IRA, A Czech spy, or a Commie or Trot. None of these were true. Within the Labour Party, it was down to the Blairite faction trying desperately to cling on to power and continue to push the Dear Leader’s free market, low tax, pro-privatisation and anti-welfare agenda. Which very much included the privatisation of the NHS. This dovetailed with the Israel lobby. Blair was an ardent Zionist, and his government – I think it might have been his friend Peter Mandelson – who said that Labour under Blair had ended the ‘cowboys and Indians attitude to Israel’. Blair had received generous funding from pro-Israeli businessmen through pop promoter Lord Levy, whom he met at a gathering at the Israeli embassy. And the Israelis wanted Corbyn gone and his supporters purged because of Corbyn’s principled opposition to their decades long ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. As Tony Greenstein has tirelessly shown on his site, Israel routinely smears its critics as anti-Semites as its only defence, the facts themselves being indefensible. It says much about their smears that very many of them were directed against anti-Zionist Jews, or simply Jews that criticised the Israeli state’s treatment of the Palestinians. Under Netanyahu, even liberal Zionists like B’Tselem are dangerous subversives, who must be discredited and silenced. Corbyn and Jackie Walker, a Black Jewish activist by descent and faith, were judged joint no. 2 existential threats to Israel. And the British establishment felt threatened because Israel’s our ally and western colony in the Middle East. And so all the press and media joined in with the howls and smears. Including Alibhai-Brown.

Now Corbyn has lost the election, as they wanted, and been succeeded by Starmer. And Netanyahu has announced he is going to annex a third of the West Bank. And Alibhai-Brown condemned it yesterday in her column in the I. It was, she declared, colonialist and would just annoy the Arab and Muslim worlds. Yes, yes it would. And it does. You only have to talk to British Muslims to realize how strongly they rightly feel about the Palestinians’ maltreatment. If Corbyn had won the election – and in 2017 he came very close, considering the strength of the opposition – he may not have been able to stop Netanyahu’s invasion, but he would have made a damn good try. And that was precisely what Israel and its willing allies in the British establishment were afraid of. And they included Alibhai-Brown’s employers, the I.

It is now too late for her to condemn Israel’s planned assault on the Occupied Territories. I’m glad she’s doing so, but it is more than a little hypocritical after she joined the smears and persecution of Corbyn and the Labour Party. Israel is prepared to accept some criticism of its maltreatment, if it’s only token. Boris Johnson has issued a statement against the annexation, but, unlike those of various left-wing Labour MPs, there are no penalties attached to it. Netanyahu knows he can go right ahead and there will be no consequences. Just as the Israel lobby in this country has not demanded that the Conservatives adopt the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism, or subscribe to ten pledges against it, unlike the Labour Party.

It seems to be an illustration of the kind of tactics Noam Chomsky describes in Manufacturing Consent. Capital and the establishment hold on to power by creating the illusion of free speech and democratic debate, while making sure that there is no opportunity for real, profound change. Alibhai-Brown can condemn Israel’s attacks on the Palestinians in her page, just like Private Eye could also criticise Israel for its brutalization of the Arabs. But this freedom to criticize is strongly circumscribed. The Eye was also in lockstep with the rest of the media in smearing Corbyn, as it still is. There was the carefully crafted illusion that Israel still tolerates criticism, but this is an illusion. As soon as there’s any real chance that public opinion will turn against Israel and the Palestinians aided, that criticism is silenced. And magazines and journals like the Eye and Alibhai-Brown start smearing the real opponents of Israeli policy. Of course, it’s possible that Alibhai-Brown and the Eye thank they are genuine critics of Israel, but add the caveat that they’re ‘responsible’ critics. Just as Blair pursued ‘responsible’ – in other words, right-wing establishment – policies.

But it just shows how very limited their commitment to genuine anti-colonial politics really is.

 

Literary Authors on the Occupation of Palestine

March 31, 2020

Michael Chabon, ed., Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation (Fourth Estate 2017).

This is another book I found in the Postscript catalogue for April, 2020. It seems to be a collection of pieces by prominent western literary types dealing criticising the occupation of Palestine. The blurb for it runs

Edited in cooperation with Breaking the Silence, an NGO of former Israeli soldiers who served in the Occupied Territories, this collection of essays reflects on the human cost of 50 years of occupation, conflict and destruction in the West Bank and Gaza. The contributors include such celebrated international writers as Mario Vargas Llosa, Colm Toibin, Eimear McBride, Hari Kunzru, Dave Eggers and Rachel Kushner.

It’s usual price is £12.99, but they’re offering it at £4.99.

Michael Chabon’s the author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which seems to be a fictional version of the creation of the superhero comic by two Jewish lads in ’30s America. Which is how Superman started, and immediately became a massive success and icon of modern American popular culture. More recently, he’s the showrunner for Star Trek: Picard, the latest installment in the Star Trek franchise. This has been massively pilloried by fans because it has moved away from the Utopian optimism of Gene Roddenberry’s vision, to become dark and dystopian. It is also very heavy-handed in its treatment of contemporary politics, such as immigration, Donald Trump and Brexit. And it’s terribly written. But it seems that Chabon has done excellent work here in compiling this volume, with its contributions from some very prominent writers. Mario Vargas Llosa is a giant of South American literature, Colm Toibin is a favourite of the British and Irish literary landscape, as is Hari Kunzru, and Dave Eggers is another famous literary name.

As for Breaking the Silence, they’re one of the many Israeli groups against the country’s brutal maltreatment of the Palestinians, like the human rights organisation B’Tsalem, that Netanyahu has raged against and tried to silence. Because the extreme right-wing Israeli establishment, as it stands, really cannot tolerate criticism from Jews, even when they are Zionists and/or domestic citizens. They have to be monstrous autocrats like Netanyahu. Who I’ve heard described by one Jewish academic as ‘that bastard Netanyahu’. None of these writers are anti-Semites and the book seems to be a successor to previous volumes by historians, writers and personalities attacking the occupation of Palestine and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. One of the Jewish voices condemning the bombardment of Gaza nearly a decade ago was the respected British thesp, Miriam Margolyes. She said she spoke ‘as a proud Jew, and as an ashamed Jew’. This lost her the friendship of Maureen Lipman, who has spent the last five years ranting about how anti-Semitic the Labour party is. She began spouting this nonsense back in 2015 or thereabouts when the-then leader of the Party, Ed Miliband, who is Jewish, utter some mild criticism of Israel and dared to take a few steps away from Blairism.

Books like these are necessary, and they do seem to have an effect. The woefully misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism was set up in 2012 because the Zionist faction in Britain were worried about the bombardment of Gaza had resulted in Israel losing the support of many severely normal Brits. It’s why the organisation seems to spend its time and energy not on pursuing and attacking real anti-Semites and Fascists, but mostly left-wing critics of Israel.  It’s why the Israel lobby is trying to close down criticism of Israel worldwide through contrived definitions of anti-Semitism like that of the IHRA, which include criticism of Israel.

It’s great that books like this are still being published despite the efforts of the Israel lobby to silence their authors and the principled Israeli organisations that work with them. And it’s a disgusting scandal that, in 2020, they should still be crying out against this glaring injustice.

Israel Graffiti Demanding the Genocide of the Palestinians

September 27, 2019

A few days ago I put up a piece reporting and commenting on the attempt by right-wing Zionist thugs to shut down a book launch in Brighton. The book in question was Bad News for Labour: Antisemitism, the Party and Public Belief, by a group of respectable, mainstream academics, Greg Philo, Mike Berry, Justin Schlosberg, Antony Lerman and David Miller. Greg Philo is Professor of Communications and Social Change at the University of Glasgow, and Director of the Glasgow University Media Unit. Mike Berry is a lecturer in the Journalism School at Cardiff University. Justin Schlosberg is a media activist, researcher and lecturer in Journalism and Media at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is a former Chair of the Media Reform Coalition and Edmund J Safra Network Fellow at Harvard University. Antony Lerman is Senior Fellow at the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue in Vienna and Honorary Fellow of the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations at Southampton University. He has written on multiculturalism, racism, antisemitism, and Israel/Palestine for the Guardian, Independent, New York Times, Haaretz, Prospect, Jewish Chronicle and London Review of Books. And David Miller is Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Bristol. He is a founder director of Public Interest Investigations and a director of the Organisation for Propaganda Studies.

What sent the Israel lobby berserk was that the book critically examines, and takes apart their claims that under Jeremy Corbyn the Labour party is institutionally racist and a threat to British Jews, showing that the party has been the subject of ‘shocking misinformation spread by the press, including the supposedly impartial BBC, and the liberal Guardian.’ The launch was due to be held at the Brighton branch of Waterstones, but they pulled out and cancelled the even following threats and intimidation made against their staff. The launch was then moved to the Rialto, also in Brighton, where it opened an hour later at 8.30. One members of Waterstone’s staff was so troubled by the threats they faced that they were unable to return to work.

What is particularly disturbing, though unsurprising, is that this display of very aggressive bullying was not only supported by the usual horde of bigots and trolls online, but also the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Sussex Jewish Representatives Council.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/09/24/bullying-bigots-tried-to-stop-book-launch-when-will-they-be-arrested/

In fact, as Tony Greenstein has repeatedly described in his blogs, the pro-Israel right have used abuse, threats and intimidation to try and close down any criticism of Israel for a very long time. And 11 years ago Peter Oborne, a journalist who formerly wrote for the Torygraph, presented a documentary on the Israel lobby for Channel 4’s Despatches. The programme described how respectable journalists, such as Alan Rusbridger, the-then editor of the Groaniad, and the BBC’s foreign correspondent, Jeremy Bowen, had all faced false and malicious accusations of anti-Semitism by the Israel lobby when they correctly reported atrocities by Israeli forces during the war in Lebanon. Rusbridger stated that when he printed accounts of massacres and other human rights abuses by the Israelis or their Lebanese Christian allies, the Phalange, the head of the Board of Deputies would visit his office, complete with his pet lawyer in tow, demanding that these stories be pulled. His argument was that they would lead to anti-Semitism and attacks on British Jews.

On the 28th January 2009, that indefatiguable opponent of all forms of racism, including Anti-Semitism and Zionism, Tony Greenstein, published a piece on his blog. Tony was attacking the clause in the I.H.R.C. definition of anti-Semitism, which forbids comparing Jews to Nazis. Tony stated, as he has done many times since, that it is hypocritical, as Israeli politicians frequently call each other Nazis. He also supported his argument with photographs of Israeli graffiti which was bitterly hostile to Arabs to the point of demanding their death and extermination.

 

This is ugly, horrific stuff, and the people that scrawled these messages of hate are Nazis. There is no other way to describe them. These pictures also show why an increasing number of Jewish young people over in America no longer want to have anything to do with Israel. American Jews are banding together in groups to attack Israel and its genocidal policies towards the indigenous Palestinians. Take up of places on the heritage tours Israel runs to encourage American Jews to visit Israel and identify with it have fallen by half. American Jews tend to be politically liberal, and have traditionally been determined to enjoy the comfortable lives they have in the Land of the Free as American citizens, than move to Israel. As a result, mass support for Israel in America has shifted from Jews to right-wing evangelical Christians, like Ted Hagee’s Christians United for Israel.

In Israel there are also a number of courageous people and organisations challenging the government and its gross intolerance and inhumanity. These include the human rights organisation B’Tselem and the veterans organisation, Breaking the Silence. But Netanyahu is doing his best to silence them, and indeed anyone who photographs a human rights abuse by the country’s armed forces. And in Britain, America and Israel Jewish opponents of Israeli apartheid and genocide are particularly abused and smeared as anti-Semites. Decent men and women like Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker, Martin Odoni, Cyril Chilson and so many others. They are accused of being self-hating and ‘traitors’ – even though the I.H.R.C. definition of anti-Semitism states that it is anti-Semitic to accuse a Jew of being more loyal to a foreign country than his homeland. They receive vile threats and even assault. Tony was physically attacked by an American Jew. Jackie has been told she should be lynched, burnt and her body dumped in bin bags.

But despite the statement by the Israel lobby that comparisons with the Nazis are offensive, Israeli policy towards the Arabs not only resembles that of apartheid South Africa, but also Fascist Italy in its attempts to colonise Africa and the Nazi invasion of Poland and eastern Europe. The Nazis attempted the ethnic cleansing of a stretch of territory stretching across Poland into the Ukraine and beyond of their Slavic population in order to transform it into a German colony. Tony has also repeatedly compared Israeli ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians to the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews pre-1942, before the implementation of the ‘Final Solution’.

But these pieces of graffiti show that there is a section of Israeli society – the Fascists and Settlers supporting Netanyahu and his wretched coalition – who would like to see a real programme of organised genocide implemented similar to the Nazi death camps, but for Arabs.

And this raises a very, very disturbing question. If Netanyahu or someone worse did start organising the systematic massacre of Palestinians, would the Board of Deputies, Sussex Jewish Representatives Council and other Zionist organisations, both Jewish and non-Jewish, cover it up and silence those who did tried to report it, just as the Nazis tried to hide the horrors of Auschwitz and the rest of the Shoah?

Glen Beck and Weird Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories

March 11, 2019

Tony Greenstein has today, 11th March 2019, put up a piece on his blog about the stupid, right-wing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories surrounding the billionaire financier George Soros. Soros is the man, who caused the collapse of the Pound in Black Wednesday in the 1990s back when John Major was running the country. He’s now a hate figure of both the anti-Semitic right and Israel and its supporters because he sponsors liberal organisations and pro-democracy groups through his Open Society Foundation. Viktor Orban and his vehemently anti-Semitic and racist Fidesz party hate him with a passion because he funds generally liberal organisations in Hungary. And Netanyahu and the Israelis also despise him, because he hates Zionism. Soros is a Jewish Hungarian, and Hungarian Jews were sold out during the Second World War by Rudolf Kasztner, the leader of the Hungarian Zionist organisation. Kasztner made a deal with the Nazis to have tens of thousands of Jews sent to the death camps, in exchange for some going to Israel. Soros, as part of his commitment to democracy, also funds liberal organisations in Israel, like the Human Rights organisation B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence. The latter is a organisation of Israeli veterans, who testify to the atrocities they’ve participated in and witnessed. Both the Israelis and the American and European Far Right demonise Soros using the old, anti-Semitic trope of the Jewish capitalist puppet master. Greenstein’s article describes the links between Orban and Netanyahu’s regimes, which are united in their hatred of the financier, and how the anti-Semitic trope used against Soros has been repeated in the British right-wing press, like the Scum and the Torygraph. The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which is fanatical in its attempt to find any signs of anti-Semitism amongst Corbyn and his supporters, defends these articles, stating that they’re not anti-Semitic, they’re just poorly-worded. It’s a massive piece of hypocrisy, as they would not have extended the same grace to anyone from the Left. Of course, the difference is that the Torygraph, unlike Corbyn, doesn’t support the Palestinians.

But some of the most interesting material in the article isn’t about Soros, but about the former Fox News presenter Glenn Beck. Beck’s a small-government Conservative, whose views are so right-wing that he seemed to see any kind of collectivism or state intervention as the thin end of Nazism or Stalinism. He was also so highly emotional, that in his broadcasts he’d become increasingly hysterical, until in some of them he’d start crying because ‘they’ would be coming for him when they finally set up their Communist, anti-Christ, one-world dictatorship. Greenstein’s article is interesting as it describes how Beck was eventually sacked by Fox because he made several programmes promoting anti-Semitic conspiracies theories about George Soros and Jewish international bankers. But this didn’t stop him being given a rapturous greeting when he visited Israel, including by vehemently anti-Christian Kahanist – Israeli Fascist – politicos. Greenstein writes

The same was true of Glenn Beck a Fox News presenter. Beck devoted his entire show to a conspiracy theory about bankers, including the Rothschilds and he hosted  G. Edward Griffin, a conspiracy theorist who believes that the Protocols “accurately describes much of what is happening in our world today.”

Beck was eventually sacked from his job at Fox because of his increasingly crazy anti-Semitic conspiracy theories but not however before he had broadcast two programmes about Soros the puppet master‘.

On the June 4 Glenn Beck Program, Beck praised Elizabeth Dilling whose 1936 book, The Red Network: A “Who’s Who”and Handbook of Radicalism for Patriots, declared that ‘the problem of the large number of revolutionary Russian Jews in Germany doubtless contributed toward making Fascist Germany anti-Semitic.” Her belief that Talmudic Judaism is the progenitor of modem Communism and Marxist collectivism’is a classic Nazi theme. Dilling’s third book,The Octopus, published in 1940, emphasized the Jewish-communist conspiracy, the key component of the Nazi world outlook.

Dilling, spoke of Ike the kike and Kennedy’s New Frontier as the “Jew Frontier.” None of this prevented Beck being given the rare privilege of being invited to address Israel’s Knesset. Beck’s reception was akin to a “rock concert.” MK Michael ben-Ari, a Kahanist (who had previously torn up a copy of the New Testament) said after Beck had addressed the Knesset, “I think Glenn Beck should take my seat in the Knesset.”  Like most anti-Semites Beck combined support for Zionism and Israel with hatred of Jews. 

This is new to me, as while I was aware that Beck had some very right-wing views, I didn’t realise he had strayed into genuine anti-Semitic conspiracy theories or was promoting some of the most influential writers pushing them. This is more evidence that while the Israel lobby screams ‘anti-Semitism!’ at any liberal, who dares to criticise Israel, even if they’re actually supporters of the country, the real anti-Semites are all on the right, and particularly the Far Right.

Another fascinating piece of information in the article, which show how topsy-turvy the views of the Israel lobby are, is this little bit about how Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, came to suspect that Trump’s aide, Steve Bannon, was an anti-Semite. He complained that Kushner wasn’t tough enough in his defence of Israel.

See: http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2019/03/george-soros-spider-at-centre-of-world.html

For Netanyahu, the Likudniks and the other viciously racist parties in his coalition, you’re only racist if you don’t support Israel. And they appeal so much to genuine anti-Semites, that members of the Israel lobby in America – Kushner has extensive business interests in the Occupied Territories – that they secretly believe that Israel’s most passionate defenders have to be anti-Semites.

And this is the skewed mindset of the people vilifying genuine anti-racists like Jeremy Corbyn, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Mike, Martin Odoni, Tony Greenstein and others as anti-Semites!

Review: Joe Sacco’s ‘Palestine’

May 12, 2018

(London: Jonathan Cape 2001)

This is one of the classics of the graphic novel. Joe Sacco is an American journalist. He spent two months with the Palestinians in late 1991 and early 1992 in Gaza and the West Bank during the time of the first Intifada. He wrote and drew Palestine after his return to the US, basing it on his notes, publishing it as a nine-part comic strip. These were later collected into a single volume to form the graphic novel. The book also has a kind of introduction, ‘Homage to Joe Sacco’, from Edward Said, the author of Orientalism, critic of western imperialism and attitudes to the Arabs, and himself a Palestinian.

This is precisely the type of book the Israel lobby does not want people to read. Not BICOM, not the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which was set up because Gideon Falter, its founder, was worried about British attitudes becoming more hostile to Israel after the blockade of Gaza, not the Jewish Labour Movement, formerly Paole Zion and the companion party to the Israeli Labor Party, not the various ‘Friends of Israel’ societies in the political parties, Tories and Labour, nor the Jewish Leadership Council and definitely not the Board of Deputies of British Jews. All of them shout ‘anti-Semitism’ at anyone who dares to publish anything critical of Israel, or show the barbarity with which it treats the Palestinians.

The book shows Sacco’s experiences as he goes around Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, talking to both Palestinians and Israelis, meeting them, entering their homes, and listening to their stories. He starts the book in Cairo, the beginning of his journey to Israel, and to which he returns at his departure. During his time there, he visits the Vale of Kidron, the Arab quarter of Old Jerusalem, Hebron, Ramallah, Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza strip, as it then was, Balata, another refugee camp on the West Bank, Nablus, the town of Gaza itself, and finally Tel Aviv.

It’s not an easy read. This is an occupied country during deep unrest, and the threat of violence and arbitrary arrest and detention without trial is every where. There are patrols of soldiers, demonstrations, explosions and stone throwing. And he shows, with quotes, the contemptuous, lofty and hostile attitude the early Zionists and Lord Balfour had for the indigenous population. He quotes Balfour as saying

‘Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desire and prejudices of 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit this ancient land. We do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the inhabitants’.

Ben Gurion thought it would be simple to expel the Palestinians, because he felt they had no real attachment to their homeland. He wrote that the Palestinian ‘is equally at ease whether in Jordan, Lebanon or a variety of other places’. With the approach of war, he made it clear their expulsion was going to be through military force: ‘In each attack a decisive blow should be struck, resulting in the destruction of homes and the expulsion of the population.’ When that was done, ‘Palestinian Arabs have only one role – to flee’. He also quotes Golda Meir, who stated that a Palestinian people, defining itself as a Palestinian people, did not exist, and ‘we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They do not exist’. 400 Palestinian villages were razed in the war marking the birth of Israel. Meir’s lie – that the Palestinians don’t exist as a people – is still repeated by Republican and pro-Israel bloggers. Golda Meir was also concerned about the Palestinian population outstripping that of the Israelis, another issue that is still very alive today.

His hosts are polite, welcoming him into their homes, and plying him with tea. But occasionally there is an outburst from one of them, when he’s asked what the point of him being there, of them talking to him, is. Because other journalists have been there too, and they’ve talked to them, and nothing has happened, nothing has changed. They also talk to him about the other factions, and of the peace process. In a separate text at the beginning of the book, he states that, while the peace process set up the Palestinian authority and gave them a government, it changed nothing for ordinary Palestinians, and the occupation and theft of land by the Israelis still goes on.

He also reveals that the Israelis appropriate 2/3 of the land in the West Bank for their own us, which includes the establishment of Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law. And the governments gives Israelis plenty of incentives to move to them. They’re given a government grant if they do, lower interest rates on loan, the housing itself is cheaper than in Israel, and an income tax rate of 7 per cent. The settlers themselves can be extremely aggressive. Sacco’s hosts tell them about incidents where settlers have come into Palestinian villages, smashing windows and demanding that the owners come out. Of people shot by them, and the trivial sentences given to the settlers guilty of this. They’re given jail sentences of a few months. If they’re convicted in the first place. Palestinians who shoot and kill Israelis are jailed for years. Some lavish homes do exist in Palestine, occupied by Arabs, but most live in very bare houses, often with leaking roofs, which are vulnerable to storms.

His cartoons show what his Palestinian hosts tell him it’s like in prison camps like Ansar III, with crowds of prisoners crammed into small, bare rooms with no heat and poor ventilation. There are also few eating utensils, to the various political factions in the camp – Fateh, Hamas, Popular Front, organise meal times so that everyone gets a turn with the cup and plate to eat and drink. Several of the people he talks to were arrested simply on suspicion. Israeli law allowed them to be held without charge while evidence was compiled, with his captors returning to court over and over again to request a few more days more, until the judge finally listens to their lawyer, has the procedure stopped and the prisoner released. He also shows how the prisoners were tortured through beatings, being forced to stand for hours with bags over their heads, a process permitted under Israel law. A judge ruled that torture could not be used, but what methods were to replace them were kept secret. So many Palestinians have been incarcerated, that a green identity card showing a man has been in jail is a matter of pride. And not to have been to prison correspondingly is a mark of shame.

He talks about how the Israelis have a deliberate policy of not allowing the Palestinians to industrialise, so that they compete with the Israel. The State has also put obstacles in place to prevent Palestinian farmers competing with Israelis. They also deliberately uproot the olive trees many Palestinians grow to support themselves. The Israelis also appropriate most of the water, and dig deeper wells, so that the Palestinians have a much poorer water supply and their own wells are becoming increasingly saline. As a result, unemployment in Gaza was at 40 per cent. And Sacco himself was approached several times by Palestinians, hoping he could do something so that they could leave and go abroad to study or find work.

He describes a school, without electricity, as well as a school for the deaf, which is supported through volunteers and whose staff complain of their lack of training for dealing with people with disabilities. He also hears and illustrates the story of one Palestinian woman, whose son was shot by Israeli soldiers, but was prevented from taking him directly to hospital. Instead she was ordered to go hither and thither, where she was told a helicopter was waiting to take her and the boy. When she gets there, there is no helicopter. She eventually takes him to the hospital herself in a car, by which time it’s too late and the lad dies.

The book also shows the mass of roadblocks and the permit system which Palestinians have to go through to go to Israel. At the same time, Israelis are simply allowed to whiz through in their separate lanes.

Sacco also doesn’t shy away from showing the negative side of Palestine – the anti-Semitism, and particularly infamous murders, like the killing of Klinghoffer aboard the Achille Lauro, and the massacre of the Israeli Olympic team by the terrorist group Black September. This can turn into support for the murder of Israeli civilians. There’s also a chapter on the plight of Palestinian women, This is a society where women are still very much treated as inferiors and subordinates, where honour killings are carried out as the punishment for female adultery. It is also a society where collaborators are murdered, and those, who belong to the wrong faction may also be shot and killed.

The book was written 27 years ago, but nothing really seems to have changed since then. The illegal settlements are still there and expanding. Settlers are still seizing Palestinian homes and property, the apartheid separating Israelis from Palestinians is still in place, unemployment is still high, and Palestinians are still being treated as foreigners, refugees and second-class citizens on their own land.

However, some attitudes are changing. The Israeli liberals Sacco talks to only support the Palestinians up to a point. When pressed, some of them will say that Israel should keep the Occupied Territories, because they seized them in war. Or that they need to keep them for security reasons. But an increasing number of young Jews in America and elsewhere are appalled at the continuing maltreatment of the Palestinians and are becoming increasingly critical and hostile to Israel because of this. And there have also grown up major opposition groups like the human rights organisation B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence in Israel.

The Israeli state and its lobby and supporters in this country and others are increasingly scared. It’s why they’re trying to pass laws to criminalise the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in America, and to outlaw criticism of Israel in this country through tortuous definitions of anti-Semitism that are stretched to include it. It’s why they’re smearing, with the connivance of the right-wing media, the Blairites in the Labour party, and the Conservatives, decent people, who have fought racism and anti-Semitism, as anti-Semites.

Very long, detailed books have been written about Israel’s brutal treatment, dispossession and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Sacco’s Palestine presenting this as graphic novel, is an example of how comics can also be serious literature, tackling a difficult subject with both narrative and artistic skill and style. I’ve mentioned on this blog before the alternative comics that were also published from the ’60s to the 1980s/1990s on political topics, including the Israeli maltreatment of Palestinians in Pat Mills’ Crisis. Palestine is very much in that tradition, and in 1996 won the American Book Award.

Netanyahu Rejects Liberal American Jews for Christian Zionists

December 8, 2017

Yesterday, 7th December 2017, Jonathan Cook published a very revealing piece about Netanyahu’s attitude to towards liberal American Jews in Counterpunch. The Israeli butcher is basically turning his back on them. Cook begins his piece by noting that most American Jews are politically liberal domestically. But they support Israel, and have been prepared to overlook or support the atrocities it has committed as they believed they had the right to a strong state themselves following the Holocaust. But he goes on to argue that Netanyahu’s increasing intolerance towards liberal Judaism makes this position increasingly difficult, and that they will have to confront their hypocrisy.

Much of this centres around the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, the remains of Solomon’s Temple. At the moment it’s controlled by Orthodox rabbis, who do not want Reform Jews and women praying there. There was an attempt to set up a special space for them, but the Orthodox was resolutely against it and Netanyahu caved in. As a result there has been outrage amongst Jewish Americans. Avraham Infield, a liaison to the American Jewish community, told Haaretz that many Jewish Americans now believe that Israel doesn’t give a dam’ about them.

Matters have been made worse by Tzipi Hotovely, the deputy foreign minister. She criticised American Jews for not fighting in either the US or Israeli militaries. They were leading ‘convenient lives’. Cook notes that this echoes the views of Orthodox rabbis, who argue that Reform Jews aren’t real Jews, and may even be enemies of Judaism.

This has been accompanied by an increased intolerance of Israeli critics of the regime. Netanyahu’s government has for a long time denounced the Palestinian human rights group B’Tsalem and the veterans’ organisation Breaking the Silence as traitors. But now they have targeted the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which is the Israeli equivalent of the American Civil Liberties Union. According to Netanyahu, the group supports ‘terrorists’. Recent decisions by the government allow pupils to give racist answers in exams, and expand gender segregation at the universities. The government is also trying criminalise boycotting the Israeli state. There are two bills to make advocating this illegal, punishable with seven years in jail or $150,000 fine. The Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, wants stronger power to clamp down on protesters and critics, including the ability to detain without charge.

And Cook notes that for the first time, Jews are being asked at their airports what their political views are.

He also cites an article in the far-right Israeli newspaper, Makor Rishon, owned by the American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. This apparently gave Netanyahu’s reasons for turning his back on liberal American Jews. Netanyahu is convinced that the low birth rate and high rate of intermarriage amongst American Reform Jews mean that they will die out within a couple of generations. So he’s abandoned them in favour of cultivating closer ties to Orthodox Jews and Christian evangelicals.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/07/netanyahu-ditches-us-jews-for-alliance-with-christian-evangelicals-and-the-alt-right/

I am not surprised at Netanyahu’s attitude towards Reform Jews. Orthodox Judaism very much is the religion of the Israeli state. And the pronouncements of leading Jews in this country have shown their intolerance towards Reform Jews. A few years ago, the Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, caused outrage when he declared that Reform Jews were ‘enemies of the faith’. There is indeed a very high rate of intermarriage amongst male secular and Reform Jews in the Diaspora. I think it’s about 80 per cent, though against that the rate of intermarriage for women is much lower. As a result, many Jews are worried that they’re people are disappearing. As for Christian Zionists, as Richard Coughlan pointed out in his video on this issue, they’re the largest Zionist group in America.

It is thus all too credible that Netanyahu is turning his back liberal, American Jews.

I don’t know whether it will force them to reconsider their support for Israel. It may well do so, as an increasing number of young Jewish Americans are coming to despise the country and the way it treats the Palestinians, even when they have been on the heritage tours organised by the Israeli authorities. This includes Jews, who have been victims of anti-Semitism. Other critics of Israel, like Norman Finkelstein, have pointed out that Israel was traditionally very peripheral to mainstream Judaism, and that by far the majority of American Jews wanted to live as equal citizens in America. They definitely did not want to go to Israel, and did not see Israel as having any potential to revive interest in their religion or community.

This all changed in the late 1960s, when Israel defeated the Arabs in the Six Day War. The American Right also seized on these victories as psychological compensation for American defeats in Vietnam. And the Neocon movement was launched by American Jewish Zionists as part of a campaign to drum up support for Israel. American support for Israel is therefore a relatively recent phenomenon.

Whatever happens, I think we can expect more screaming and shouts of anti-Semitism at Israel’s critics, including Jews, as Netanyahu’s government becomes increasingly intolerant. And this may, in turn, cause more people to turn away from supporting Israel, as they find themselves tarred as anti-Semites and supporters of terrorism simply for not being quite so enthusiastic in their support as Netanyahu demands.