Posts Tagged ‘Simon Wiesenthal Centre’

American Politico Calls Netanyahu Racist

April 9, 2019

According to today’s I, for 9th April 2019, the American Democrat politician, Beto O’Rourke, has called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a racist, citing CNN. The article, ‘Israeli PM racist, says top Democrat’, runs

Democratic White House hopeful Beto O’Rourke has branded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “racist” and an obstacle to peace in the Middle East. He made the remarks while discussing the US-Israel relationship and the Israeli leader’s vow to annex Jewish settlements in West Bank, said CNN (P. 2).

Now I have my doubts about how true this statement is. There have been allegations that CNN has deliberately misquoted Democrat politicos to make them look bad, and I think some of them involve supposed comments about Israel. But there should be absolutely no doubt that Benjamin Netanyahu is racist, and that the Israeli state, contra to the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism, really is a deeply racist endeavour. It defines itself as the Jewish state so that all Jews, everywhere, are citizens of Israel. This excludes Israel’s indigenous people, the Palestinians, from citizenship. Netanyahu has declared that the Palestinians are treated equally, but this equality really exists only on paper. In practice there is a system of rigid apartheid. Jews live under Israeli law, Palestinians under military law. 95 per cent of Israeli land is held by the Jewish National Fund, which will not lease it to non-Jews. There are separate roads for Jews and Arabs, some municipalities will not allow Arabs to live in their areas. Arabs have suffered their land being confiscated to build new settlements for Jewish settlers, IDF squaddies cut down their olive trees, a vital source of income, and throw pollutants in their wells and cisterns to make the water undrinkable. Palestinian homes and villages are demolished. There are economic restrictions intended to stifle Palestinian farming and business, while Jewish farms, settlers and businesses receive generous support from the state. The tourist trade too is subject to strict regulations privileging Jews. Non-Jews are legally forbidden from working as tour guides, even when they are Christians taking tourists to the country’s great Christian monuments. I assume the same situation applies to Muslims, who also wish to visit their religious sites. Netanyahu’s governing coalition now includes a viciously racist party for Jewish settlers, the remnants of the terrorist movement Kach, which demands the cleansing of all non-Jews from Israel. Naturally, not all Jews support this, and ‘racist’ is one of the kinder epithets I’ve heard applied to Netanyahu. I’ve heard one Jewish professor refer to him as ‘that bastard Netanyahu’.

The American political establishment, and especially the Republicans, firmly supports Israel. There have been a long line of senior American politicos turning up to pledge their support to Israel at AIPAC’s conventions. This year a number of Democrats, including Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, refused to go. And there is still controversy raging about the comments by Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who said that Congress had been bought by the Israelis. She was right, AIPAC and other Zionist organisations, like Ted Hagee’s Christians United For Israel, are able to purchase American support for Israel by generously funding individual politicians. Just like the various parliamentary Friends of Israel groups within the British parties obtain Israeli funding and trips to Israel from the Israeli government and Zionist donors.

And the Israel lobby also responds to its critics in America exactly the same as it does over here: it smears them as anti-Semites. So we’ve seen Trump, who’s had genuine anti-Semites from the Alt Right, like Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, in his coalition, now declare that the Dems are now the anti-Semitic party. Just as the Republicans and corporate Democrats smeared Omar as a Jew hater for her comments.

If Beto O’Rourke did make that comment about Netanyahu – and that’s a big if, as Congress has previously given the wretched bigot a massive standing ovation – then it means that the Israel lobby in America is losing its grip. People are turning away, including the Jewish community. One of the contributors to Lobster stated in an article published back in the ’90s that the Israeli delegates in Washington are not liked. Privately, many American politicians and staffers loath them. And it looks like that pent up hatred of official Israeli racism may now be coming out, as leading American politicians get sick of them and their intransigence towards the Palestinians.

The result is that as the Israelis’ grip on western politicos loosens, we can expect more accusations and smears of anti-Semitism. Ireland has already passed a law banning Israeli goods from the Occupied Territories. And according to the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Jeremy Corbyn and Jackie Walker are the #2 threat to Jews around the world(!) This is nonsense, except in the very limited sense that Corbyn and Walker are genuine supporters of the Palestinians and are serious about finding a just solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict. We’ve already seen Gabriel Pogrund, the soulless hack from the Sunset Times, launch an attack on the Labour party as a whole, as well as the Jewish Labour Movement declaring a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Corbyn. We can expect a further storm of angry, lying denunciations as the Israel lobby tries to scare politicians on both sides of the Atlantic into line.

 

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Jackie Walker on the Abuse of Anti-Semitism to Silence Israel’s Critics

March 25, 2019

This is the second video put up on YouTube in March 2017 by Brighton and Hove Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement. In this first, Tony Greenstein, the veteran Jewish anti-racism and anti-Zionism activist, spoke about how false accusations of anti-Semitism were used by the Israel lobby to defend the indefensible – Israel’s brutal maltreatment of the Palestinians. In this video another great anti-racism activist, Jackie Walker, continues the theme.

Targeting Walker and Jeremy Corbyn

She begins by introducing herself as a life-long anti-racist activist, teacher, trainer and writer, and that as a young woman she was involved with SWAPO, the anti-apartheid movement in Namibia, and went on from that as a natural progression to supporting the Palestinians and criticism of Israel. She states that it is very clear from watching documentaries like the al-Jazeera film, the Lobby, that the reason her posts were so delved into and organisations like the Jewish Chronicle and the Jewish Labour Movement had such an attraction for her is because they target anyone, who is any way prominent (as a critic of Israel). She states that she’s only a minor figure, as Tony Greenstein keeps reminding her, but he’s right. And this shows the level of paranoia and resources that is going into the campaign against activists like her.

She says it’s no coincidence that they had no problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour Party until Jeremy Corbyn, one of the best-known anti-racists on the left, became leader of the Party. Can you imagine what happened in Tel Aviv, she asks the audience. She states that she will get into trouble for saying it, so she’ll say it again: accusations of anti-Semitism have become weaponised. It’s a weapon that doesn’t just affect individuals like her, but affects communities, families, Labour parties, and people who support the struggle to have better human rights. She states that she doesn’t have a problem with those on the Right and Zionists. They’re just doing their jobs. They’re our enemies. Her problem is with people, who are supposedly on the Left, who are actually undermining the campaign for justice in Palestine all the time.

The Alt-Right and Zionism

The reason Israel has put millions of pounds into undermining the BDS is not for no reason. It is a recognition of the fact that what’s happening in Gaza is being steadily raised. And as it is, we see this strange thing happening with international leaders who seem to be getting closer and closer to Israel. We see it in particular in America. And most people find that link between the Alt Right and support for Zionism very strange. But as an anti-racism campaigner, it makes total sense to her. All nationalist ideologies have more in common than things that separate them. Trump can speak a language that the Chair of the Board of Deputies of British Jews can understand, particularly when he supports Jewish settlements, or even now beginning to lay the groundwork for suggesting that the two-state solution is dead. And this plain-speaking at last may be a good thing. She thinks that for most of them this might clear the ground, as the establishment of Jewish settlements has shown that the two-state solution is unworkable. She says that as someone, who has relatives living in the settlements in Israel. ‘And let me tell you’, she states, ‘there’s no way those people are leaving’.

BDS a ‘Strategic Threat’ to Jews

Netanyahu has branded the BDS movement and people like them ‘a strategic threat’. They’re up there with Iran’s nuclear weapons, Hamas and no doubt a few other enemies of Israel. She finds it extraordinary that she, at the age of 63 and a grandmother of three, is up there with Hamas. It’s even more crazy in that the Wiesenthal Centre, who compile a list of the top ten threats to Jews in the world included Jeremy Corbyn and her at No. 2.  Yes, she’s the No. 2 threat to Jews, not Hamas. This is why the campaign against them is led by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and why they’re really gearing up on it. She makes it clear that it is not easy thing for her to resist what’s happening to her. She’s making light of it, but it’s destroyed her life, because she’s become that crazy woman who won’t be silent about the injustice she sees, or be bullied by them. She won’t allow people, who tell her that they want to see her put in a plastic bin and burnt, or put in a concentration camp, or call her any of the names they want to, silence her. And one of the reasons is that she has had racial abuse as a Black person for 63 years, and she’s got to that point you do when you get older when you can’t be a***ed any more. But she no longer has a job or young children to look after. She’s told her adult children to come off twitter so they don’t see what’s being said about their mother. She then tells the story about how she shared a platform in Norwich with a young teacher, who had the temerity to read out a poem that his children had written about children in Palestine. This man almost lost his job due to the wave of criticism that was sent to his headmaster. Every single time she goes to a meeting there are attempts to shut it down. This is even to the point that they had a security officer come into the middle of the room, as someone had said that there was a rabid racist speaking and it was going to cause trouble. This was one of the nicer techniques they use, along with the new definition of anti-Semitism, which makes it more difficult for people to speak out. This is what is happening to free speech.

The Left Particularly Under Attack

She goes on to address those of the audience, who are in the Labour Party, mentioning that she’s on her second suspension, and who think this is just a fringe problem. She asks them to think about, because it is people on the Left, who are being picked off, attacked and gagged. She is sure that had she gone quietly, they’d leave her alone. But she won’t go quietly, and there are things that are going to happen which people should look out for. Addressing the audience again, she says that those of them, who saw the film the Lobby will have seen the involvement of the Jewish Labour Movement. The Jewish Labour Movement have an affiliation with the Labour party for historical reasons, and are actively lobbying for all the changes that will come in at Conference this year. This will mean that any kind of criticism of Israel will become such a hot potato that it will become very hard to discuss it in the Constituency Labour Parties.

The Jewish Chronicle and the Other Papers

She goes on to make the point that her second suspension wasn’t for anti-Semitism, although she knows that the papers said it was. They lie. They lie in a very interesting way. She doesn’t think it’s a conspiracy, but what happens is that the Jewish Chronicle  gets a story, runs it, and the other newspapers then run the same story. But they don’t come back to you to question it. They run exactly the same story. She also says, in reply to those, who’ve asked her why she hasn’t sued them, it’s because she’s not a millionaire. According to her lawyers it would cost half a million pounds to run something because of the type of case it would be, so if people would give her the money, she would be quite happy to run a case of defamation both against the Jewish Chronicle and the Board of Deputies. 

The JLM and the Labour Party

JLM are very much building up their position within the Labour party. She points out that you don’t actually have to be Jewish to be a member, and may be what needs to happen is that ‘you lot’, meaning the audience, should all join the JLM. And so there’s a question about the validity about the JLM being the voice of Jews. But what the JLM is, is a very effective voice of the Right. As such they now have a position on the NEC, and a position on the Equalities Subcommittee. That means that when people like herself and Greenstein are being suspended for being racist – because that’s all anti-Semitism is, there’s nothing special about anti-Semitism, it’s just racism, and every racism has its particularity – they’ll come up with their own ideas about what anti-Semitism is. She states that she would like to ask the Labour party, and has asked the Labour party about it, and it would be interesting to see their answer, that she was suspended the second time for comments she made at a training session. She asks the labour party if they have investigated who leaked that to the press, because it was during the Labour party conference and you couldn’t get in unless you were a party member. She has suggested that the person who brought the Labour party into disrepute was the person, who leaked that tape. There are also people, who think they know what that person was. But she hasn’t had a reply on that at all.

She concludes by telling her audience to keep their ears out, it’s an ongoing situation, they’re here in a struggle, they’re up against extraordinary forces, and she promises that, as insignificant as she is, so long as she can keep annoying them, she will keep buzzing.

Walker and Greenstein’s experience of being vilified, smeared and abused as anti-Semites is typical of those of the many other decent members of the Labour party, who’ve also been libeled as anti-Semites. And they’re also stymied in their campaigns to clear their name because of the huge expenses of the British judicial system. Jenny Randles, a UFO investigator, who was smeared with a different accusation connected with the world of UFOs, declared that the British legal system considers you guilty until declared rich, which aptly describes the situation. Mike and Tony Greenstein, however, have been helped by being able to start a crowdfunding appeal on the internet. But even so, considerable obstacles have been placed in their way of ever obtaining justice.

Walker’s revelation that, according to the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, she and Corbyn are the number two threat to Jews around the world just shows how skewed and perverted the Zionist worldview is. That they consider two anti-racist older people, one of whom is a Jewish granny, a major threat to Jews above Hamas and many other explicitly anti-Semitic groups, is a twisted obscenity. I can remember the various documentaries celebrating Simon Wiesenthal when I was growing up. He was a Nazi hunter, and rightly admired and celebrated for bring people, who had perpetrated the most horrific crimes against humanity to justice. For the Wiesenthal Centre to mix entirely decent people like Walker and Corbyn in with real Nazis devalues Wiesenthal’s work, and should discredit the Centre itself.

And the various nationalisms certainly do have more in common with each other than differences. It’s why Alt Right figures like Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, Milo Yiannopolis and the islamophobe Tommy Robinson have been welcomed in Israel. In fact the founder of the Alt Right has declared himself to be a ‘White Zionist’, and wants to create a White ethnostate in America the same as Israel is an ethnostate for Jews. Zionism is simply another form of racial nationalism, and so their enemies aren’t those on the extreme Right so much as the real anti-racists, and opponents of anti-Semitism, like Greenstein, Walker, Martin Odoni, Mike, Ken Livingstone and so many others. The Right has a near monopoly of the press, and even left-wing newspapers like the Guardian and the Mirror repeat the anti-Semitism lies and smears.

But the truth is coming out through the internet, and the more the establishment lies, the more people are increasingly seeing through them. And I hope this process goes on, until the press and the Israel lobby is completely discredited, and the reputations of those they have smeared vindicated and restored. 

 

 

Human Rights Lawyer Maria LaHood on Israel’s Suppression of Criticism in the US

September 25, 2018

This is another video from the conference ‘Israel’s Influence: Good or Bad for America?’, organized by the American Educational Trust, which publishes the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs; and Middle Eastern Policy, Inc. The speaker in this piece is Maria LaHood, a deputy legal director at the Centre for Constitutional Rights, who works to defend the constitutional rights of Palestinian civil rights activists in the US. In this clip she describes some of the cases she’s worked on defending Palestinian and pro-Palestinian activists from legal attack by the Israel lobby. These includes the case of the Olympia Co-op, Professor Stephen Salaita, and filing Freedom of Information Act Requests to obtain government documents about Israel’s attack on the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza. The speaker also says she works on the Right to Heal Initiative, helping Iraqi civil society and veterans seeking accountability for the damage to Iraqis’ health from the last war. She’s also challenged the American government over the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki and Caterpillar over its sale of the bulldozer used to kill Rachel Corey to Israel. Before joining the Centre, she also worked campaigning for affordable housing in the Bay area of San Francisco.

She begins by talking about attempts to harass, prosecute and suppress pro-Palestinian students and professors at US universities.

The first case she talks about is Professor Stephen Salaita, an esteemed Palestinian-American lecturer, who had a tenured position at Virginia Tech University. He was offered a position at the University of Illinois, Urban Champagne on its Native American Studies programme, which he accepted. He was due to begin his new job at the University of Illinois in the summer of 2014. During that summer he watched, horrified, Israel’s devastation of Gaza and tweeted about it. Two weeks before he was due to take up his post, he received an email from the Chancellor telling him not to bother because he would not be accepted by the Board of Trustees. The professor and his family were thus left without jobs, an income, health insurance and a home.

Salaita lost his job due to a self-declared Zionist, who’d been following his tweets. These were published on the right-wing blog, Legal Insurrection. Professor Salaita was also targeted by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, the Jewish Federation and the Anti-Defamation League. Also, wealthy donors to the uni threatened to withdraw their money. The Chancellor and the Board later stated that they withdrew his job offer based on those tweets, which they considered uncivil, and anti-Semitic. LaHood states that accusations of anti-Semitism is commonly used to silence criticism of Israel. Christopher Kennedy, who led the Board’s rejection of Salaita, was later given an award by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

CCR sued the university, the trustees and top administrators. The court found in his favour, and the Chancellor resigned a few hours later the next day, and the Provost resigned a few weeks later. LaHood states that last autumn (2015) Salaita became the Edward Said Chair at the American University of Beirut, and settled his case for $875,000 against the university. LaHood paid tribute to the immense grassroots support for Salaita, with thousands signing petitions, five thousand professors boycotted the university, and 16 U of I departments voted ‘no confidence’ in the administration. The American Association of Professors also censured the university. Salaita went on to talk about his experience to more than 50 unis, and his works on Israel and settler colonialism are more popular than ever.

The Olympia Food Co-op is a local food co-op in Olympia, Washington; a non-profit organization, it has been very involved in social work and political self-determination. It has adopted a number of boycotts, and in 2010 the board voted by consensus to boycott Israeli goods. Five of the co-op’s 22,000 members voted to prosecute the 16 board members, who’d passed the vote, over a year later. Six months before the lawsuit was filed, the Israeli consul general to the Pacific northwest, based in San Francisco, travelled to Olympia to meet the co-chairs of Stand With Us Northwest, the lawyer representing those suing, and some Olympia activists. Stand With Us is a non-profit organization supporting Israel around the world. It is one of the groups trying to suppress free speech on Israel in the US. It maintains dossiers on Palestinian rights activists. The five issued a letter to the board members telling them to rescind the boycott or else they would be sued and held personally accountable. They were accused of violating the co-op’s governing principles, and the board asked their accusers how they had done this, and invited them to put their proposal to a membership vote, according to the co-op’s bye-laws. The accusers refused to do so, and went ahead and filed the suit. After they did so, Stand With Us put it out on their website that they had brought the suit in partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spearheaded by the Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Alon. Alon admitted that the Israelis were behind the lawsuit, and using it to amplify their power.

CCR then sued, using an anti-SLAPP motion. SLAPP stands for ‘Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. Half the states in America have legislation to deter the abuse of laws to chill free speech. The trial court dismissed the case as a SLAPP, held the Board had the authority to initiate the boycott, and awarded them each $10,000. The accusers launched an appeal, this was turned down, and they then appealed to the Supreme Court. The Washington Supreme Court turned down the anti-SLAPP motion, and referred the case back to the trial court. The CCR’s motion to dismiss the case again was denied. The case goes on, and the board members, most of whom are no longer in their post, have been subject to discovery and intimidation. The boycott of Israeli foods continues, however.

LaHood states that these are not isolated incidents, but only two of numerous cases where those, who speak out on Palestine are attacked. In September 2015 the CCR and their partner, Palestine Legal, issued a report, The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in US, documenting the increasing attempts in the US to silence and punish advocacy in favour of Palestine and speech on Israel, including BDS. The report details to the tactics and many cases studies, and is available on both of the organisations’ websites. In 2015 Palestine legal dealt with 240 cases of suppression, including false accusations of terrorism and anti-Semitism. 80% of those incidents were against students and professors at 75 campuses, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. She talks about some of these tactics and cases, such as that of the Irvine 11, who were criminally prosecuted for walking out of a speech by the-then Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren. Several schools have been given complaints by the Zionist Organisation of America, claiming that advocacy on campus for Palestinian rights creates a pro-anti-Semitism atmosphere on campus. Even though these complaints are unconstitutional, universities respond by investigating those accused and cracking down on speech.

These complaints are not only brought by the Z of A, but also the Brandeis Centre, the Ampline Centre, Sheriat Hedin, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, the Anti-Defamation League amongst others. Netanyahu has launched a full attack on BDS, which Israel has declared to be the biggest threat it faces. Movements to divest from Israel across America have been accused of being anti-Semitic. The American Studies Association was received death threats when they voted to endorse the call to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Sheriat Hedin, the Israeli law centre, threatened to sue them if they didn’t end the boycott. Sheriat Hedin admits that it takes advice on which cases to pursue from Mossad and Israel’s National Security Council. Also in response to the ASA’s decision, legislatures around the country voted on bills to withhold state funding from colleges that used any state aid to fund academic organisations advocating a boycott of Israel. Mobilisation of public opinion prevented these bills from being passed, but now 15 states have introduced anti-boycott legislation. Some states have also passed non-binding resolutions against the BDS, but those have no legal effect. Last year (2015) Illinois passed a law demanding a black list of foreign companies that boycott Israel and compelled the state pension fund to divest from those companies. Florida passed a similar bill in 2016, which also outlaws state contracts with such companies for amounts over a million dollars. New York has even worse legislation pending.

The US Congress has introduced legislation to protect these state laws from federal pre-emption challenges, but these cannot prevent challenges under the First Amendment. Anti-Boycott provisions were introduced into the Federal Trade Promotions Authority Law, making it a priority to discourage BDS from Israel and the Occupied Territories. More information can be found about anti-BDS legislation at righttoboycott.org. Anti-BDS isn’t confined to the US. Israel has anti-boycott damages legislation and France has criminalized BDS. And people have been arrested for wearing BDS T-shirts.

She states that these laws are an extension of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. They have no defence, so they attempt to stop the debate. Free speech and free inquiry is essential to the functioning of democracy, especially at universities, and open debate helps shape public attitudes. Campus opposition helped turn the tide against the Vietnam War, Apartheid in South Africa and will eventually do the same against Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. The mounting opposition to people working against the occupation and other violations of international law shows how strong the pro-Palestinian movement is, and how it will eventually win.