Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem’

Israeli Headmaster Objects to Use of Holocaust to Spread Fear and Xenophobia in the Young

May 17, 2017

Yesterday Counterpunch published a piece by Jonathan Cook attacking the Israeli government’s exploitation of the Holocaust and promotional days for the police and army to spread extreme nationalism and hatred of other, gentile nations, amongst its schoolchildren.

Cook describes how a video appeared last week, showing Israeli policemen acting out the killing of a ‘terrorist’ to a group of 10 year old schoolchildren. Meanwhile, on the country’s Independence Day last month, the army was also on parade, letting children play with guns, tanks and grenades. In one West Bank settlement, the children were painted with fake blood and equipped with fake amputated limbs as part of the fun.

Cook points out that the killing of the ‘terrorist’ in the police video, as he lay wounded on the floor, mirrored the real life murder of a wounded terrorist by an Israeli soldier. He also describes the killing of another ‘terrorist’, that has been denounced by the human rights group, B’Tselem. This was a 16 year old Palestinian schoolgirl, Fatima Hjejji, who had frozen after pulling out a knife a little distance away from an Israeli checkpoint. The soldiers then gunned her down. B’Tselem concluded that the girl was no threat, and did not deserve to die.

Cook states that the goal of the public relations exercises is to create a generation of traumatised children, intensely fearful of non-Jews. And the Holocaust is a part of this process indoctrination. He writes that a visit to Auschwitz is now a rite of passage for many Israeli schoolchildren. As for Holocaust Memorial Day, he writes

Holocaust Memorial Day, marked in Israeli schools last month, largely avoids universal messages, such as that we must recognise the humanity of others and stand up for the oppressed. Instead, pupils as young as three are told the Holocaust serves as a warning to be eternally vigilant – that Israel and its strong army are the only things preventing another genocide by non-Jews.

The result of this is that Israeli young people are now more extremely nationalist and ethnically and politically intolerant than their elders.

Four-fifths of Israeli schoolchildren do not believe there is any hope of peace with the Palestinians. Half of Jewish Israeli schoolchildren believe that Palestinians should not be allowed to vote. These attitudes are shared by the Israeli Defence Minister, Avigdor Liberman, who called Palestinian members of the Knesset, or those representing the Palestinians, ‘Nazis’ and said they should be treated as such.

And Israel’s declaration that it is the homeland of Jews all over the world turns the Palestinians into resident aliens in their own country.

Cook also describes the actions of some Israeli educators to criticise and act against all this. Zeev Degani, the headmaster of one of the country’s most prestigious schools, managed to cause outrage last year when he stopped the children at his school from going on the annual trip to Auschwitz. He stated that it was ‘pathological’ and intended to generate fear and hatred in order to inculcate extreme nationalism.

Degani and a few principals with similar liberal views have also invited the group, Breaking the Silence, into their schools. This is a group of former soldiers, who describe their participation in war crimes by the country’s military.

This naturally sent Naftali Bennett, a member of the Settler’s Party and the current education minister, into a fearful bate. Bennett then barred Breaking the Silence and other dissident groups, as well as books and theatre groups that threaten stability and order by encouraging Israeli schoolchildren to see the Palestinians as people worthy of compassion and sympathy.

Cook concludes

Degani and others are losing the battle to educate for peace and reconciliation. If a society’s future lies with its children, the outlook for Israelis and Palestinians is bleak indeed.

See: http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/16/israel-tutors-children-in-fear-and-loathing/

It’s a troubling, disturbing article, as clearly the goal of the Likudniks and their allies is to spread fear and distrust of foreign countries and non-Jews. Principal Degani and Breaking the Silence are to be applauded for standing up to the government’s demands to indoctrinate schoolchildren. As for Breaking the Silence, by recounting their part in atrocities committed by the military in order to spread a greater awareness of them, they are also doing what many servicemen in other countries have done. For example, when I was doing voluntary work some years ago in a private museum in Bristol, one of the books the museum received was a memoir by a former British soldier in Palestine of a war crime in which he had participated against the indigenous Arabs as a British squaddie. This man, like many others, who have been in similar situations, felt compelled to write his account in order to correct history and shine a light on the officers, who were really responsible for these atrocities.

I mention this as some of the attempts to defend Israel and its barbarous treatment of the Palestinians seem to suggest that Israel is unfairly being held to a different standard than other nations, or victimised because it is the Jewish state. This is not so. It is being criticised because it acts like other, non-Jewish, colonialist and Fascist settler states. And those former servicemen and women, who courageously speak out against the war crimes in which they have been involved, are doing exactly the same as other service personnel in other nations around the world, whose consciences similarly demand the public recognition of the injustices to which they, and their countries, are complicit.

As for the abuse of Holocaust Memorial Day to spread both fear of gentiles and the exclusion of any universal message against the persecution of other peoples and ethnic groups, this is one of the reasons why Jackie Walker, a Jewish woman of colour and supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, was libelled as an anti-Semite in a workshop on how the day should be commemorated last year. Walker, the daughter of a Black American mother and Russian Jewish father, who met during Civil Rights demonstrations in America, had objected to the exclusive concentration on Jewish genocide, and the way other groups were being ignored. Like the 12 million or so Africans, who were ripped from their homes in Africa during the centuries of the slave trade. The slavers killed the same number of people or more that they enslaved during their raids. Anti-Slavery campaigners in the 19th century claimed that whole regions of Africa had been left ravaged and depopulated through such attacks in search of men and women to sell overseas. And Black civil rights campaigners, such as W.E.B. DuBois in the last century have described this as a ‘Holocaust’.

But asking for such other Holocausts be commemorated on Holocaust Memorial Day, at least if it is run by the group behind the event Walker attended, will get you libelled as an anti-Semite. Even if, like her, you’re Jewish, have a Jewish partner, and your child goes to a Jewish school.

I’ve also seen the scribbling on the net of right-wing Canadian groups connected to the Tory and Republican parties, who want to spread the same attitude over there. One such website, run by Kathy Shaidle, called ‘Five Feet of Fury’, regularly used to attack the ‘official Jews’ – the website’s term – of Canada’s main Jewish organisation, and its liberal leader, Bernie Farber. Farber and his fellows annoyed the rightists because they saw the Jewish Holocaust in universal terms, as one of the various genocides that have been perpetrated against different peoples, groups and ethnicities down the centuries. Thus, when the Janjaweed militias were enslaving and massacring the people of Darfur at the beginning of this century, Farber organised a ‘Shabbat for Darfur’. It was to be a solemn Jewish fast, to mark the solidarity of a people, who had suffered genocide, with the victims of another. And it sent Shaidle into further rage.

She and Ezra Levant, another right-wing journalist and broadcaster, also wanted there to be less concentration on White nationalists and Fascists, and more on Muslims. They argued that most non-Muslim Canadians were thoroughly decent people – which I’ve no doubt whatsoever is true – and that the Nazis in Canada had always been a tiny handful. The real threat, they said, came from militant Islam.

It’s very similar to the attitude taken by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. Unlike Shaidle and her fellows, this outfit differs in that it massively plays up and exaggerates the amount of anti-Semitism in Britain, in order to scare Jews into emigrating to Israel. But it similarly has little or nothing to say about fighting the genuine Nazi fringe, and prefers to concentrate on painting Muslims in Britain as particularly anti-Semitic.

And you can see the same attitude in the American Zionist organisations. Jacques Torczyner, the head of the American chapter of the World Zionist Organisation, said that Jews should ally with the reactionaries, as this would result in greater numbers moving to Israel. You can also see it in Netanyahu’s own response to Donald Trump’s administration. Trump’s another quasi-Fascist, who’s appointed Richard Spencer, an anti-Semite and White supremacist, to his cabinet. Last night, The Young Turks reported that Trump had also ordered the anti-terrorism department of the American security services not to investigate White nationalist and supremacist organisations. Instead, they were to concentrate on Islamic terrorism, despite the fact that White Fascists commit the greatest number of terrorist offences in America.

But Netanyahu isn’t worried, because Trump also supports Israel, and has sent a particularly hardline Zionist to Jerusalem as America’s new representative.

Right across the world, in Britain, Canada and America, Zionist organisations like the scandalously misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism are ignoring real Fascists and White supremacists, and promoting Islamophobia and a conscious retreat from a wider awareness of the persistence of genocide across societies and nations, in order foster an aggressive nationalism and exclusive sense of victimhood in Israelis and Jewish young people in order to encourage further emigration and solidarity with Israel.

And when they object, decent, anti-racist people, gentiles and Jews, who may themselves have suffered abuse and victimisation because of their ethnicity or friendship and solidarity with Jews, are smeared as anti-Semites.

Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party and the Rise of Militant Zionism in America: Part 2

May 11, 2017

Other Christian Zionist organisations include the American Christian Trust, run by Bobbi Hromas, and JerUSAlem DC, headed by Mike Evans. Hromas is the wife of a TRW executive. She has a mansion just opposite the Israeli embassey in Washington DC. This has its own soundproofed chapel open 24 hours a day, frequented by high ranking government official and other wealthy Americans. Among those who pray there were Clint Murchison and Tom Landry, the former owner and coach of the Dallas Cowboys respectively.

Evans’ organisation, like the International Christian Embassey, campaigns for the US and other countries to move their embassies to Jerusalem, thus recognising that the city is exclusively Jewish property. He stated this bluntly in a sermon at a Texas church attended by Halsell, declaring ‘It will cost you the lives of your sons and fathers if you do not recognise Jerusalem as Jewish property. God will bless those who bless Israel, and curse those who curse Israel.’ He is one of the very few Christians to have had the honour of an Orthodox rabbi laying his hands on his head to pray for him, and the only Christian minister to appear on Israeli TV, as it is illegal in Israel to try to convert people to any religion other than Judaism.

Other Christian Zionist organisations include the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel, which declared that ‘to be Christian is to be Jewish’, and that Christians’ first duty is to the land of Israel. When Israel invaded Lebanon in the 1980s it ran full page ads praising it in the Washington Post and New York Times. Among the group’s members were W.A. Criswell, Jim Bakker and Pat Robertson, and it had links to the International Christian Embassey in Jerusalem. This has an offshoot, called the National Christian Conference, which was originally formed to stop sales of AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia. There is also Christians United for American Security, TAV Evangelical Ministries, and the American Coalition for Traditional Values, headed by Tim and Beverley LaHaye. Tim LaHaye is one of the co-authors of the awful Left Behind series of Christian novels.

Jewish Support for Christian Zionism

Extreme right-wing Jewish organisations have responded to these Christian organisations by giving them their support. They were dissatisfied with the liberal Protestant Churches, who comprised the National Council of Churches, because of their support for the Palestinians. These organisations were afraid that the American public’s disapproval of Israeli expansionism and maltreatment of the Palestinians would lead to a rise in anti-Semitism. This organisations then theorised that this could be prevented if they could recruit the leaders of the organisations most likely to support anti-Semitism into their most active uncritical supporters.

Nathan Perlmutter of the ADL declared ‘We need all the friends we have to support Israel…praise the Lord and pass the ammunition’. He also said ‘Jews can live with all the domestic priorities of the Christian right on which liberal Jews differ so radically because none of these concerns is as important as Israel.’ Irving Kristol, one of the formulators of Neo-Conservativism, stated bluntly that ‘American Jews should join the ultra-right’, and concluded that they should back winners, not losers. Jacques Torczyner of the American Sector of the World Zionist Organisation also said, ‘We have, first of all, to come to the conclusion that the rightwing reactionaries are the natural allies of Zionism, not the liberals.’

Zionism and the Anti-Semitism Libels

These statements show that there is a long history of collusion between Zionists and anti-Semites to promote Jewish emigration to Israel. Not all Zionist organisations have made such alliances, but several have. Ken Livingstone referred to one instance, the Ha’avara agreement, under which the Nazis initially cooperated with the Zionists to smuggle German Jews into Israel, simply as a way of removing Jews from Germany. Livingstone was smeared as an anti-Semite for his comments, which were factually correct. This also bears out another post I put up earlier this week, about a piece, ‘Anti-Semitic Zionists’ that appeared in Counterpunch. And it also explains why the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, the Zionist advocacy group that has smeared Mike and so many others as anti-Semites, has precious little on its pages about real anti-Semitic and Nazi groups. Despite their loud noises to the contrary and shouts of anti-Semitism when it is pointed out, these organisations are quite prepared to ignore domestic anti-Semitism in Britain, the US and the rest of the world because, as Perlmutter bluntly said ‘Jews can live with all the domestic priorities of the Christian right on which liberal Jews differ so radically because none of these concerns is as important as Israel.’

Mike and the others he defended from the accusations are not anti-Semites. They were decent people, who were so labelled because they dared to support the Palestinians. Those libelled as anti-Semites included profoundly anti-racist men and women, gentiles and Jews, who had frequently suffered personal attack and vilification from the real Nazis because of their Jewish heritage, or solidarity with Jews.

It is monstrously hypocritical that organisations like the Campaign against Anti-Semitism should libel them as Jew haters, when the Zionist right has shown itself more than willing to collaborate with extreme right-wing and anti-Semitic gentile organisations, in order to encourage – or scare – more Jews into leaving their historic homelands for Israel.

Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party and the Rise of Militant Zionism in America: Part 1

May 11, 2017

One of the points made by Jewish supporters of the Palestinians is that there at more Christian than Jewish Zionists in America. Indeed, Prof. Norman Finkelstein has pointed out that support for Israel amongst Jewish Americans was marginal until the late 1960s, when Conservative activists worked hard to engineer support for the country after its victories against the surrounding Arab nations. Mike made a similar point in his defence of himself and his commenter, Paul Mabbo, against the accusations of anti-Semitism flung by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. Not everyone making the accusations was necessarily Jewish.

In fact there has been an alliance between right-wing American Christian groups and militant Zionists since before the election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980s. Reagan’s election was partly due to his support from these right-wing Christian groups, brought about by the fundraisers and PR men Richard Viguerie, Terry Dolan, Howard Phillips and Ed McAteer. These men founded, led or advised a slew of conservative Christian organisations such as Conservative Caucus, Religious Roundtable, National Conservative Political Action Committee, Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, Christian Voice, Young Americans for Freedom and the Moral Majority. The term ‘Moral Majority’ was coined by either Weyrich or Phillips when McAteer arranged for them to meet Jerry Falwell. McAteer was then the head of the Christian Freedom Foundation, which was funded by money from the Pew and DeVos families, who owned Sunoco and AmWay respectively. It isn’t surprising that Betsy DeVos has now popped up as Trump’s Education Secretary, with a militant right-wing plan to privatise all American public schools into Charter Schools with an explicitly right-wing Christian curriculum. Weyrich was also a member of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, which was financed by money from the Coors and Richard Scaiffe. As well as being a member of Young Americans for Freedom, Phillips had also been a minor member of Nixon’s administration. They chose Falwell because he had helped Anita Bryant defeat the Dade County Gays Rights Bill in 1977.

Falwell was one of the most notorious of the right-wing televangelists of the 1980s. He was actually the least popular of them, became the most influential through his contacts with Ronald Reagan. He first came to public attention for his 1965 speech denouncing Martin Luther King. However, it was the series of rallies he conducted in 1976 and ’77 which brought him to the attention of the leaders of the American Christian right. In 1983 Reagan allowed Fallwell to attend National Security briefings on the possibility of nuclear war with Russia, and discussed theology and nuclear war with him in his presidential limousine. Fallwell was also active establishing links with the Israeli leadership to the point where he became the most influential gentile lobbyist for Israel and Israeli expansionism.

As part of this, Falwell began arranging tours to the Holy Land. One of these was attended by a journalist, Grace Halsell, in 1983. She noted the prominent role apocalypticism played in the tours, with many of her fellow tourists believing that Christ’s return, and the end of the world were imminent. These tours also had an explicit agenda in drumming up support for Israel. The Israeli guide referred to Palestinians as Arabs, following the official Israeli line set by Golda Meir that there were no Palestinians. He then went on to state that the ‘Arabs’ preferred to live in poverty, had repeatedly refused Israeli friendship and bluntly stated that ‘all Muslims were terrorists’. When the tour bus stopped at Nazareth, it was only to use the toilets there. Halsell suspected that they were being prevented from speaking to any Palestinians or Christians living in Israel. This is not unlikely. One of the ministers at our church said that if you go to Israel, you will be kept from meeting Palestinians, including Palestinian Christians. The tour finally met Falwell at a hotel in Jerusalem, where they were treated to a speech by the Israeli defence minister, Moshe Arens, boast about Israeli victories in the invasion of Lebanon.

Falwell was richly rewarded by the Israelis for his services to them. A forest was named after him, he was showered with free trips to the country, and was also given a private jet by the Israeli government. He became the only gentile to receive the Jabotinsky medal, named after the Zionist leader, who advocated waging a war of extermination against the Palestinians in order to set up an Israeli empire that straddled both sides of the Jordan. It was Falwell who turned Jesse Helms, another prominent Reaganite, from a militant anti-Zionist into an enthusiastic supporter of Israel.

Falwell also visited the West Bank, where he had his photo taken with a Jewish American family, who had recently immigrated there. He set up a convention in Annapolis in 1983 to organise support for the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. This was attended by James Watt and Richard Allen, two members of Reagan’s administration; Yehuda Hellman and other Jewish leaders; Viguerie, Phillips and Weyrich; and former presidential sleazebag Richard M. Nixon. Falwell also told a Texan newspaper that same year that Israel had a divine mandate, through the covenant between the Lord and the patriarch Abraham, to parts of Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Sudan, and that the whole of Lebanon, Jordan and Kuwait should also belong to Israel. This would have to be achieved through force. Falwell stated that ‘good intentions are acts of stupidity’.

Extremist American Christian groups have also given support to Jewish terrorists, such as Gush Emunim, who have attempted to blow up the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem in order to restore Solomon’s Temple, whose site they believe the mosque occupies. In 1984 18 members of the terrorist group were convicted of trying to blow up the mosque, with the covert support of the Shin Bet and other members of the Israeli army and police. The group also attacked three Palestinian mayor, wounding them.

The terrorists were received as popular heroes in Israel, including by the judge who sentenced them. There were pleas for mercy from Yitzhak Shamir, and American right-wing Christians and Jews began sending money to finance their defence. Wealth American Jews also fund Gush Emunim and Meir Kahane’s extreme right-wing Kach party. Gush Emunim is also funded by Marcus Katz, a Mexican arms salesman, who made immense profits from selling guns and other armaments to Iran and various South American countries. Ruben Mattus, the head of the ice cream firm Haagen-Dazs, is one of the major backers of Kahane’s Kach party in Israel and his Jewish Defence League in the US.

The foremost Christian supporter of Israeli terrorism, at least in the 1980s, was the Jerusalem Temple Foundation, headed by the self-declared new Nehemiah, Terry Reisenhoover. Reisenhoover’s an Oklahoma speculator in oil and land, and styles himself after the Biblical Nehemiah, who was the first governor of Jerusalem after the return of the Jewish exiles from Babylon. The land Reisenhoover has speculated on, along with his Israeli partner, Shony Braun, includes land taken from Palestinians on the West Bank. Reisenhoover appointed as secretary Stanley Goldfoot, once implicated in the Stern gang’s 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Temple Foundation aimed to raise $100 million annually to rebuild the Temple and establish a yeshiva to teach the future priests the correct way to sacrifice animals there. They also supplied funds to Gush Emunim’s defence lawyers after the 1983 attack.

Another right-wing Christian group funding Israeli terrorism is the International Christian Embassy, who lobbied their governments to move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This group were also financed by South Africa.

Uri Avnery on Trump and Israel’s Anti-Semitic Zionists

May 9, 2017

The accusation that Ken Livingstone is a anti-Semite is partly based on his historically accurate statement that there was initially an agreement between the Zionists, or at least, some of them, and the Nazi party, to take Jews out of Nazi Germany and smuggle them into Palestine, then under the British Mandate. This was when sections of the Nazis didn’t care where Jews went, so long as they weren’t in Germany. It’s the Haavara agreement, and is recorded fact. There is an entry for it on the website of the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Israel. The agreement didn’t last very long. Nevertheless, it existed. And at the end of last year, Uri Avnery, an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom, wrote a piece in Counterpunch describing other collaborations between Zionists and anti-Semites.

His article was a response to Netanyahu’s reaction to a UN motion condemning Israel for its expansionism and maltreatment of the Palestinians. The UN had attempted to have similar motions passed many times before, but had been blocked by the US, using its veto. This time Barack Obama had not blocked it, and the motion had passed.

Netanyahu was furious. He withdrew Israeli ambassadors from Senegal and New Zealand, nations that have always been friend to Israel, called in foreign ambassadors to upbraid them, and generally ranted and raved.

Avnery states that while it was monumentally stupid on a diplomatic level, it was a very astute move domestically. It allowed Netanyahu to present himself as the virtuous defender of his nation, another David pitted against the Goliath of the UN. He makes the point that Jews and Israelis have taken a perverse satisfaction from the rest of the world’s opposition to them. In his view

For some reason, Jews derive satisfaction from a world-wide condemnation. It affirms what we have known all the time: that all the nations of the world hate us. It shows how special and superior we are. It has nothing to do with our own behavior, God forbid. It is just pure anti-Semitism.

As an example of this bizarre mentality, back in the days of Golda Meir one of the Israeli army’s dance band used to play a tune with the lyrics ‘The whole world is against us/ But we don’t give a damn…’

He goes on to say that the establishment of the state of Israel was supposed to put an end to this, by making Israel a normal country. But it hasn’t. He goes on to observe how Donald Trump has sent a rabidly right-wing Jewish American to Israel as his representative, a man so right-wing he makes Netanyahu seem liberal, while also appointing as one of his closest aides an anti-Semitic White racist. He states that Trump can support both anti-Semites and Zionists simultaneously as both have the same goal of taking Jews out of their historic homelands and relocating them in Israel.

He states that Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, tried the same tactic with the anti-Semites of Tsarist Russia. Herzl offered to persuade the Jews to emigrate, if the Russians helped them. This was during the horrific pogroms of the late 19th century. it didn’t quite work as Herzl wanted, as the Jewish emigrants largely went to America, not Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire.

He also gives as an example of such anti-Semitic Zionism the British and American evangelicals, who preached that the Jews should return to Israel. This was before the foundation of the Zionist movement proper, though he suggests it may have served as one of the inspirations for it. These evangelicals did so in the belief that the return of the Jews to their ancestral homeland would result in the Second Coming of Christ. This would be followed by the conversion of a minority of Jews to Christianity. Those, who did not convert, would be destroyed.

Later other members of the Zionist movement cooperated with anti-Semites in Poland and Nazi-occupied Europe. 1939 the extreme Zionist leader, Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky approached the anti-Semitic commanders of the Polish army with a similar deal to the Haavara Agreement. If they took on and trained Jews, the Zionists would send them to Palestine to liberate the country from the British, and the Jews would then leave Poland to emigrate there. This plan collapsed after the Nazi invasion.

During the War, but before the Holocaust, Abraham Stern, the founder of the Irgun, approached Adolf Hitler through an intermediary in neutral Turkey, offering to aid the Nazis against the British. Hitler didn’t reply.

Adolf Eichmann, the SS officer in charge of the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz also attempted to make a number of deals with the Zionists. Eichmann approached Israel Kastner and his group in Budapest. If the allies gave the Nazis a thousand trucks, he would halt the deportations. As a good will gesture, he allowed a few hundred Jews to escape to Switzerland. Kastner sent Yoel Brand as his messenger to the Zionist leadership in Jerusalem. However, he caught by the British and so the deportation and extermination of Hungarian Jews continued.

Netanyahu’s right-wing minister of defence, Avigdor Lieberman, also went berserk at the French plan to convene a meeting to secure a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians in Paris. Avnery notes that the French plan was almost identical with one he and his friend published in 1957. Lieberman, however, went off ranting that it was the notorious Dreyfus Affair all over again, referring to the case in which a Jewish officer in the French army was court-martialed and sent to Devil’s Island on trumped up charges motivated by his accuser’s anti-Semitism.

Despite the French offer of a peaceful settlement, the Israelis still want Trump, with the Zionists and anti-Semites in his administration, to support them.

See http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/30/trump-and-israels-anti-semitic-zionists/

Video of Mass Meeting of Orthodox Jews against Israel in New York 2013

October 9, 2016

I’ve also mentioned several times in my blog posts about Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and the anti-Semitism smears, that some Orthodox Jews strongly reject Zionism and the state of Israel from religious reasons. As Sam Seder explained in a clip from the Majority Report I put up about a week ago, and a young Jewish woman, who was brutalised for heckling Binyamin Netanyahu when he addressed Congress, traditional Jewish theology considers it a sin to try to establish a Jewish state in Palestine before the coming of the Messiah.

I found this clip on YouTube of a mass meeting of 10,000 plus Orthodox Jews in New York in 2013 to condemn the state of Israel, and in particular a law by the Knesset that would force Yeshiva students – that it is, students at the Jewish religious schools and seminaries – to join the army. The speakers not only make it plain that they see the state of Israel as a blasphemy, they also bitterly resent what they see as the Israeli military’s attempt to make their young men complicit in the military’s crimes. One speaker denounces the Israel government for trying to turn Jews, a traditionally peaceful people, into a militaristic and aggressive nation – ‘the hands of Esau’.

The clip is also interesting as they quote a former Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Sonnenfeld, who refused Zionist aid for his people during a terrible famine in the 1920s. Despite the fact that his people were dying of starvation, Rabbi Sonnenfeld refused the money, as he felt it was an attempt by the Zionists to buy influence in his community. As pious, Orthodox Jews, they also pray for God to return to His people quickly, and come to dwell with them in the Holy City of Zion, as prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Old Testament.

The speeches are in Yiddish, but there is a English voiceover and subtitles.

Vox Political: Letter from Jewish Members and Supporters of Momentum Attacking Smears against Jackie Walker

October 5, 2016

Yesterday I put up a piece commenting on a post from Mike over at Vox Political, which reported that Greater Manchester Black and Minority Ethnic Caucus had released a statement supporting Jackie Walker and condemning her dismissal by the steering committee from the post of Vice-Chair of Momentum. I am pleased to say that Mike has put up another piece today, reporting that another group of Mrs Walker’s supporters have also publicly shown their backing for her. A group of Jewish supporters and members of Momentum have had a letter published in the Groaniad, refuting the latest allegations of anti-Semitism against her.

This makes it clear that they believe Mrs Walker was right to reject the definition of anti-Semitism used by the organisers of the Holocaust Memorial Day training event. Despite their assertion that this is the standard definition of anti-Semitism, it is no such thing, as it was scrapped by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency because it also considered criticism of Israel to be anti-Semitic.

The letter also queries why her own question why the genocides of other peoples can’t also be included in Holocaust Memorial Day is also anti-Semitic. They state that it has always been a principle of the Zionists that the Holocaust was unique to the Jews, and quote the professor of Holocaust Studies at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Yehuda Bauer, that the Nazis intended to exterminate only the Jews.

The letter concludes

Jackie’s arguments were made in good faith. They may be right or they may be wrong. What they are not is antisemitic. The decision of Momentum’s steering committee and its chair Jon Lansman to remove Jackie Walker as vice-chair is a betrayal of the trust of thousands of Momentum members. Momentum’s grassroots members overwhelmingly support Jackie.

The letter is signed by a mixture of academics and ordinary people. They include two professors and several doctors. Looking down the names I recognised some as people, who have commented on Mike’s blog giving him their support after he attacked the anti-Semitism smears aimed at Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters.

Mike notes in his comments on the letter that David Schneider, whose definition of anti-Semitism he used to dismiss the accusation against Mrs Walker, has stated that individually her statement aren’t anti-Semitic. However, he feels they are taken collectively. Mike remarks that while Mr Schneider deserves credit for his hilariously funny Twitter account, he is only one voice and there are many others, who disagree. Like the signatories of this letter.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/10/05/jackie-walker-ruling-betrays-momentum-members-letters-the-guardian/

Proper Discussion of Jews and the Slave Trade Not Anti-Semitic

Mike’s right. Both the signatories of the letter, and Jackie Walker herself, have an excellent knowledge of the Holocaust and Jewish history, including their participation in the slave trade as one of the European slaving empires’ many junior partners. She has been accused of taking her remarks on Jewish responsibility for the slave trade from Louis Farrakhan, who has been justly attacked for anti-Semitism. Mike has commented that he’s seen no proof she has, and frankly, neither have I. Yesterday Mike put up a piece about Mrs Walker’s own defence and explanation of her remarks on Jewish participation in the slave trade. Mrs Walker cited both respected sources on the slave trade and the history of imperialism. She also made it plain that she when she talked about the participation of some Jews in the slave trade, she was speaking herself as a Jew. This is very far from the attitude of the genuine anti-Semites, Louis Farrakhan and White Nazis, who make Jews solely responsible for the slave trade.

Hugh Thomas also mentions two Jewish slavers in his classic The Slave Trade, which examines the transatlantic slave trade from its origins in the late 15th century to its end in the late 19th. He also notes, contra the genuine anti-Semites, that they were the only two in Anglophone North America. My point here is that Mrs Walker has not said anything that other historians of the slave trade have not also said, as is evident from her own statement. And they, like her, are also not afraid of discussing the subject, because the real historical fact is that while some Jews participated in the slave trade, they were not the only or even the main participants. Thus, the genuine historians aren’t afraid to discuss the role some Jews played in the slave trade, as history itself shows the falsity of the claims made by the anti-Semites.

Slave Trade Increasingly Acknowledged in Official History of Other Communities

Over the past couple of decades, there has been a movement to make those peoples and communities that were involved in the slave trade be more open about their involvement, commemorate its victims, and memorialise it as part of their official, public history. Liverpool has a gallery on the slave trade in its Museum. So too has Bristol in the M Shed museum on the city’s harbourside. And back in the 1990s the City Museum and Art Gallery hosted an exhibition, A Respectable Trade, which narrated the history of the City’s involvement in the slave trade. This was staged at the same time as a TV drama of the same and on the same subject, adapted from a book by Philippa Gregory, was also being screened on the Beeb on Sunday evenings. Bristol and Liverpool were two of the three major cities that profited from the trade, the third being London. I’ve also spoken to artists researching the slave trade, who told me that they were also given generous assistance by the museums of many of the smaller towns, which were only in the trade for a few years or so before being forced out by the major profiteers.

And it isn’t only in Britain that towns involved in the trade are confronting their past. Nantes in France was also a major centre of the French slave trade. This town has also put on its own exhibition on its part in the history of the trade, called L’Annees du Memoir. This is a clever pun. If I understand properly, l’annee can means ‘year’, and also ‘link’, referring to those of the chains which bound the slaves. It seems to me that that if Jackie Walker, as a Jew, is discussing the role of her people in the slave trade, then she is being no more biased or hostile against her people, than other people are communities are in confronting, debating and memorialising their involvement in this horrific trade.

The Holocaust and Similar Genocides

As for Yehuda Bauer’s statement that the Jews were the only people Hitler intended to exterminate, this isn’t quite the case. The Nazis also targeted the Gypsies as well, and historians have also shown that before Hitler began the genocide of the Jews, he tried out the technology on the disabled during the infamous Aktion T4 ‘euthanasia’ campaign. There is also a link to previous 20th century genocides. Hitler was persuaded that he could murder the Jews with impunity because of the failure of the Allies to react to defend the Armenians when they were slaughtered by the Ottoman Turks. Furthermore, in 1905 the German Empire had attempted to exterminate an African people, the Herero, when they rose up against German imperial authority in Africa. I’ve read that the German imperial authorities attempted to justify their genocide of this people with the social Darwinism later used to justify the Holocaust and the enforced sterilisation of the disabled. I’ve also seen it claimed that some of the personnel involved were also the same. I can’t comment on whether these claims are right or wrong, as I don’t know much about the genocide. This undoubtedly did happen, but I’ve only ever seen claims about a direct connection to the Holocaust made by the right. It might be true, or it might be rubbish, like the claim by one Conservative that the First World War was also caused by the Germans holding social Darwinism as an official policy, which is rubbish.

And I was taught at school that as well as six million Jews, about five and a half million other people, of various nationalities and political and religious beliefs perished in the concentration camps. These included prisoners from the Slavonic peoples of eastern Europe, who were worked to death as slave labourers. They may not have been targeted for absolute extermination, like the Jews and Gypsies, but they were seen, like those two peoples, as untermenschen, ‘subhumans’, who lives were less than ‘aryans’. You can come across some truly horrific accounts of Nazi massacres of gentile Poles during the occupation of Poland, for example. One BBC programme on this described how a Nazi thug tore a baby from its mother’s arms and, after trying to beat the little mite to death, finally shot it. Whole Polish towns were torn down and their inhabitants forced out in order to prepare that part of Poland for German colonisation, and the Nazis also massacred an entire village, Lidice, in Czechoslovakia. The Holocaust was part of a general programme of mass murder across occupied Europe. This does not detract from the horrific nature of the Holocaust, as they were specifically targeted for extermination in a way that many others weren’t. But that does not mean that the Jews were the only victims. Indeed, it’s in Hitler’s Table Talk where the Fuhrer makes a point about Nazi policy being to stop the Slavs from breeding too much by saying that they should send them contraceptives.

Jackie Walker and Others Smeared as Anti-Semites by Israel Lobby

I’ve stated before that Jackie Walker and the others, who’ve been smeared as anti-Semites, are no such thing. Walker’s only crime, in the eyes of the organisers, was to be a critic of Israel. As were so many of the others. She has been accused through the cynical misrepresentation of an discussion she was having about a complex topic on Facebook with people, who knew exactly what she was talking about, and the context in which they were made. This is the Israel lobby trying to stifle entirely reasonable debate about the nature of genocide and the uniqueness of the Holocaust, to further their own imperialism and persecution of the Palestinians. Free speech, honest debate, and a genuinely open questioning of the past is too precious to allow these bullies to win. I look forward hopefully to seeing more messages of support for Jackie Walker and the other victims of these disgraceful slurs in the future. I hope that Momentum’s steering committee will reconsider their decision, and reinstate her as vice-chair.

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.

Sam Seder Takes Apart Conservative Rabbi Who Confuses Zionism with Judaism

September 30, 2016

Yesterday I published a long piece commenting on a post by Mike attacking the latest anti-Semitism smear against the vice-chair of Momentum, Jackie Walker. Mrs Walker was accused of being anti-Semitic again because she asked the organisers of a Holocaust Memorial training day why the commemoration of this most terrible crime couldn’t also include others, who have similarly suffered persecution and genocide. She also complained that the organisers did not give her a definition of anti-Semitism she could work with. Mike pointed out that we were not told what prompted her to make those comments, or what the definition of anti-Semitism to which she objected, was. Mike has now put up a post reporting the objections several other people, who attended the event, have to the allegations. These women and men, like Mrs Walker herself, are Jewish. They strongly object to this latest attack on Mrs Walker’s character by pointing out that the definition of anti-Semitism the event’s organisers used explicitly links anti-Semitism to anti-Zionism. This is a highly politicised definition of anti-Semitism, and is extremely controversial, not least because of Israel’s decade’s old policy of ethnically cleansing the indigenous Palestinians.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/09/30/anti-semitism-accusation-against-momentum-vice-chair-was-outrage-say-witnesses/

I’ll blog more about this latest post from Mike, and the issues it raises and refutes later. I am delighted that Mrs Walker, who is the daughter of a Black civil rights activist and a Russian Jew, and who has dedicated her life to attacking racism and anti-Semitism, has been given the support she deserves.

Unfortunately, the Jewish Labour Group, who organised the event, aren’t the only people, who confuse Judaism with Zionism. I pointed out in my piece that there are right-wing individuals and groups, who insist on an exclusively Jewish emphasis on the memorialisation of the Holocaust, and bitterly resent those Jews, who universalise their suffering into a commemoration of all, who have suffered genocide. In fairness, the Holocaust Memorial Day also does. However, what Mrs Walker objected to was that it did not commemorate the victims of ethnic cleansing and genocide that occurred before 1945. I also discussed in my piece the way Netanyahu a few weeks ago grotesquely invoked the Holocaust to justify his government’s refusal to end the occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank. Mike also in his article noted that point of David Schneider’s definition of anti-Semitism, which states that Jews should not be automatically confused with the state of Israel and its crimes, would make many Zionists anti-Semites. This is also true. Netanyahu made a speech equating the Jewish people with the state of Israel, in order to render criticism of the state of Israel unacceptable as a form of anti-Semitism.

A few weeks ago, an American Conservative rabbi, Rabbi Jon Hausman, also declared that Judaism was identical to the state of Israel. He went further, and stated bluntly that those Jews, who did not share his views on the issue, were self-hating. They had not been brought up properly in the teachings of their faith, and so had replaced it with the op-ed pages of the New York Times.

Rabbi Hausman was speaking at an ACT for America event. ACT for America is an organisation dedicated to combating radical Islam, although in practice this seems to be just Islam. The Southern Poverty Law Centre has identified it in turn as a hate group. In this video below, Sam Seder, the presenter of the left-wing news show, the Minority Report, takes apart Rabbi Hausman’s views. He makes the point that Conservatives like Hausman, who have tried to impose their narrow definition of Judaism, have lost the debate for thousands of years. Judaism does not have a central religious official, like the Pope, who defines the faith. He goes further, and says that if you study the Jewish texts, you find that it is actually a sin to establish a state of Israel before the coming of the Messiah. That’s why, if you go to Jerusalem, you find graffiti scrawled on walls, which declare, ‘Zionism and Judaism are diametrically opposed’.

Mr Seder is also unimpressed with the rabbi’s attitude towards parenting. R. Hausman sneered at the members of his own family, and those of other Jews, who don’t make the equation of Judaism and Zionism. But he states that his daughter doesn’t make this theological mistake, but he told her that if she did, he wouldn’t pay for her college education. Mr Seder scathingly remarks about that attitude not being in the Torah.

Here’s the video. I should warn you, there is at one point an anti-Semitic slur, when one of the crew off-camera starts to parody the rabbi and those like him. Mr Seder himself laughs at the impression. I don’t condone the use of such derogatory terms. I think the reason it’s use is permissible on that part of the Majority Report is because Mr Seder and some of his production crew may be Jewish. They thus have ownership of the term, in the same way that Blacks can use the ‘N’ word, while others cannot.

From what I gather from my own, very limited reading and from talking to friends of mine, who have a background in helping to teach Religious Studies at college level, Sam Seder is entirely accurate. There is no single figure in Judaism, who has the power to make binding definitions of the faith. Individual rabbis have written responsa, which summarise the tenets of Judaism in their opinion. These may be respected, according to the status of the rabbi, but they are not authoritative statements like the Christian creeds.

I also understand that he is entirely correct about the traditional Jewish that the state of Israel could and should only be founded with the arrival of the Messiah. Many traditional Jews were shocked and horrified at the foundation of Israel, which they regarded as a secular blasphemy. For 20 or 30 years afterwards the establishment of the state Israel, its existence was the subject of fierce controversy within parts of the Jewish community. Even today, there are some Jews, who still find it unacceptable on religious grounds.

He is also right about the graffiti in Jerusalem. I’ve never been to the Holy Land, but I did read an article in the Observer way back in 1984/5, which had a story about the current situation in Israel as it was then. This had several photos, one of which showed that message scrawled on a wall, exactly as Mr Seder describes.

As for Sam Seder’s comments about the Torah not endorsing R. Hausman’s method of teaching his daughter, what he considers to be the correct attitude to Jewish doctrine and the state of Israel, while there are passages in the Bible, which do teach a very strict attitude towards bringing up children, several of the great rabbis I believe also had an appreciation of children’s need for play. There is a story that one of the rabbis bought pots, for his children to smash, so they could amuse themselves while he taught them the Law.

Judaism and Zionism are not automatically the same, and people are not anti-Semites, nor Jews self-hating, if they reject Zionism or criticise the ethnic policies of the Israeli government. This, however, is Mrs Walker’s real crime in the eyes of her accusers. As Mike and I have both written, I think they owe us an explanation and to be taken to task for their views, not Jackie Walker and the other decent men and women they’ve slandered.

Palestinian Leader Haidar Abdul Shafi on his People’s Plight

August 9, 2016

I found this speech by Haidar Abdul Shafi in the Penguin Book of Twentieth Century Protest, edited by Brian MacArthur (London: Penguin 1998). Mr Shafi was the leader of the Palestinian delegation to the 1991 peace conference in Madrid. Although it’s a quarter of a century old, it’s still very relevant as the Israeli state, under Netanyahu, is still going ahead with its decades-long policy of oppression, deportation and the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians. This is despite the protests and campaigns by human rights activists across the world, including many Jews, including Israelis. I’m putting it up here, as this is the real reason behind the allegations of anti-Semitism directed against members of the Labour party, and the continuing libel that Labour has a problem with Jew hatred. The people libelled as anti-Semites aren’t. They even include Jews and people, with a long history of anti-Fascist, anti-racist campaigning and activism. They are being denounced as anti-Semites as a shameful attempt to discredit them and so rule criticism of Israel off-limits.

Here’s the speech.

We, the people of Palestine, stand before you in the fullness of our pain, our pride, and our anticipation, for we long harboured a yearning for peace and a dream of justice and freedom. For too long, the Palestinian people have gone unheeded, silenced and denied. Our identity negated by political expediency; our right for struggle against injustice maligned; and our present existence subdued by the past tragedy of another people. For the greater part of this century we have been victimised by the myth of a land without a people and described with impunity as the invisible Palestinians. Before such wilful blindness, we refused to disappear or to accept a distorted identity. Our intifada is a testimony to our perseverance and resilience waged in a just struggle to regain our rights. It is time for us to narrate our own story, to stand witness as advocates of truth which has long lain buried in the consciousness and conscience of the world. We do not stand before you as supplicants, but rather as the torch-bearers who know that, in our world of today, ignorance can never be an excuse. We seek neither an admission of guilt after the fact, nor vengeance for past inequities, but rather an act of will that would make a just peace a reality.

We speak out, ladies and gentlemen, from the full conviction of the rightness of our cause, the verity of our history, and the depth of our commitment. Therein lies the strength of the Palestinian people today, for we have scaled walls of fear and reticence, and we wish to speak out with the courage and integrity that our narrative and history deserve. But even in the invitation to this peace conference, our narrative was distorted and our truth only partially acknowledged.

The Palestinian people are one, fused by centuries of history in Palestine, bound together by a collective memory of shared sorrows and joys, and sharing a unity of purpose and vision. Our songs and ballads, full of tales and children’s stories, the dialect of our jokes, the image of our poems, that hint of the melancholy which colours even our happiest moments, are as important to us as the blood ties which link our families and clans. Yet, an invitation to discuss peace, the peace we all desire and need, comes to only a portion of our people. It ignores our national, historical and organic unity. We come here wrenched from our sisters and brothers in exile to stand before you as the Palestinian under occupation, although we maintain that each of us represents the rights and interest of the whole.

We have been denied the right to publicly acknowledge our loyalty to our leadership and system of government. But allegiance and loyalty cannot be censored or severed. Our acknowledged leadership is more than [the] justly democratically chosen leadership of all the Palestinian people. it is the symbol of our national unity and identity, the guardian of our past, the protector of our present, and the hope of our future. Our people have chosen to entrust it with their history and the preservation of our precious legacy. This leadership has been clearly and unequivocally recognised by the community of nations, with only a few exceptions who had chosen for so many years shadow over substance. Regardless of the nature and conditions of our oppression, whether the disposition and dispersion of exile or the brutality and repression of the occupation, the Palestinian people cannot be torn asunder. They remain united – a nation wherever they are, or are forced to be.

And Jerusalem, ladies and gentlemen, that city which is not only the soul of Palestine, but the cradle of three world religions, is tangible even in its claimed absence from our midst at this stage. It is apparent, through artificial exclusion from this conference, that this is a denial of its right to seek peace and redemption. For it, too, has suffered from war and occupation. Jerusalem, the city of peace, has been barred from a peace conference and deprived of its calling. Palestinian Jerusalem, the capital of our homeland and future state, defines Palestinian existence, past, present and future, but itself has ben denied a voice and an identity. Jerusalem defies exclusive possessiveness or bondage. Israel’s annexation of Arab Jerusalem remains both clearly illegal in the eyes of the world community, and an affront to the peace that this city deserves.

We come to you from a tortured land and a proud, though captive people, having been asked to negotiate with our occupiers, but leaving behind the children of the Intifada, and a people under occupation and under curfew who enjoined us not to surrender or forget. As we speak, thousands of our brothers and sisters are languishing in Israeli prisons and detention camps, most detained without evidence, charge or trial, many cruelly mistreated and tortured in interrogation, guilty only of seeking freedom or daring to defy the occupation. We speak in their name and we say: Set them free. As we speak, the tens of thousands who have been wounded or permanently disabled are in pain. Let peace heal their wounds. As we speak, the eyes of thousands of Palestinian refugees, deportees and displaced persons since 1967 are haunting us, for exile is a cruel fate. Bring them home. They have the right to return. As we speak, the silence of the demolished homes echoes through the halls and in our minds. We must rebuild our homes in our free state. (pp. 427-9).

Secular Talk: Arab Village Bulldozed by Israelis, Illegal Settlers Given Tax Breaks

August 9, 2016

Earlier today I posted up a piece about an article Michelle had sent me a link to an article by Tony Greenstein. Mr Greenstein’s another Jewish member of the Labour party, who had been suspended as an anti-Semite because he had criticised Israel. As have so many others. And Mr Greenstein, like so many of them, was most certainly not. He was a member of the Jewish Socialist group in the Labour party, and like the others has fought against racism and Fascism. The root of these allegations is the desire of the Israel lobby in Britain, the US and elsewhere, to demonise any criticism of Israel and its 70 year old policy of ethnically cleansing the indigenous Palestinians.

This piece from Secular Talk shows what Mr Greenstein and his fellow critics are protesting against. It was posted up on the 6th August 2016, and is about the Israelis bulldozing an illegal Bedouin village. This resulted in a confrontation, in which three cops and a civilian were injured. However, the Israeli state’s own double standards are shown by the fact that at the same time they were razing this village, they were giving tax breaks to illegal Israeli settlers in the occupied territories of the West Bank.

Secular Talk’s host, Kyle Kulinski, is not an outright opponent of Israel, who wants to see the state erased. He states he is talking as a friend, and that Israeli has a right to exist as it has done since 1945. But he warns that there is no way that treating the Arabs like this will not cause more violence. He describes how the Palestinians approached the Israelis through Jordan in the UN, and said that they would recognise Israel if the pre 1967 borders were adopted. Both Israel and Palestine would share Jerusalem. Israel flatly turned the proposed peace deal down. The Palestinians then respond with violence. The Israelis meet this by saying that they won’t deal with terrorists. But when the Palestinians approach them peacefully and try to negotiate a deal that will give them their own state, Netanyahu flatly refuses. And so the cycle of violence begins again. Kulinski states that there is are alternatives to violence, such as the BDS movement – Boycott, Divest and Sanction, which campaigns to boycott all Israeli products and firms in the occupied territories. He’s not totally in favour of everything BDS does, because he says they’re against the existence of the Israeli state. But they’re an alternative to the violence that will erupt if Israel carries on treating the Palestinians as it does.

This is the reality of life for the Palestinians in their own land under Israeli occupation. And the people who are campaigning against this are not anti-Semites, but include many Jews. There are rabbis in Israel, who have laid down in front of the bulldozers coming to raze Palestinian homes. There are Jewish organisations in America against the Israeli persecution of the Palestinians. The ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians has been documented by the Jewish historians Norman Finkelstein and Ilan Pappe. The latter is an Israeli, who has been forced out of his homeland because of his forthright condemnation of this. The BDS campaign includes many Jews, and one of its vocal supporters was a young American Jewish woman, who debated the issue with Norman Finkelstein in a video I posted up a few weeks ago here. One of the critics of Israeli maltreatment of the Palestinians is our very own Miriam Margolies, who condemned the Israeli bombardment of Gaza ‘as a proud Jew, and an ashamed Jew’.

This is what the people making these spurious accusations are afraid of: not that the critics of Israel are anti-Semites, but the fact that in so very many cases they are the exact opposite. They are severely normal people, including Jews, who campaign against all forms of racism and Fascism, and who have dared to object to Israeli racism as part of their campaigning.