Ray Cook - As I See It

Israel, Zionism and the Media

Month: October 2010 (page 1 of 2)

Why I’m an ashamed Jew

Yep, you read right.

I’ve had to admit it.

I can’t live a lie any longer.

I’m deeply, deeply ashamed.

Ashamed of being Jewish?

No way. I’m very proud to be Jewish and a member of the Jewish people.

Ashamed of Israel? Wrong again. I’m proud of Israel’s achievements. I worry about its policies, sometimes; I’m concerned, sometimes, about some of its actions and those of some of its citizens, but I could say the same for Britain and I’m still proud to be British.

So why am I ashamed?

I’ll tell you.

I’m ashamed of Jews who say they are ashamed to be Jews or Jewish.

I don’t hear Palestinians coming out to  declare they are ashamed to be Palestinian and denounce suicide bombs or missiles.

I don’t hear Arabs writing they are ashamed to be Arabs because of Al Qaeda or Sudan or Yemen.

I don’t hear Muslims forming groups of shame because of what Sunni does to Shia, or 9/11, or 7/7, or Madrid, or Mumbai.

I don’t know of any Ashamed Catholic groups forming because of the paedophilia apparently rife in Catholic clergy.

In fact I know of no other group of people who so often announce their ashamedness to be who they are as Jews do.

And you know what?

It makes me ashamed.

I’m an ashamed Jew who is ashamed of ashamed Jews. If that’s a paradox, so be it. And I’m not ashamed to declare my shame.

Shame on me!

I don’t see why Arabs or Muslims or Palestinians or Brits or Americans or Chinese or anyone else should be ashamed of what they are because of the actions of a few.

If I’m ashamed to be a Jew because I don’t like what Israel does, that is a form of self-hating, it’s bigotry – by golly, its anti-Semitic.

If I hate all of a group because of the actions of some, then I am a bigot. And if I am the target of my own bigotry then I’m a pretty sick bigot.

On the Andrew Marr program this morning on BBC 1, the eponymous Scottish interviewer had the (Jewish) actress Miriam Margolyes in the studio reporting on a recent visit to Israel and the West Bank.

We see her approaching a young Palestinian woman and asking through an interpreter whether she can see where she lives. The woman, carrying a young child, takes her to a canvas tent. Miriam is shocked and says ‘no-one should have to live like this’.

I absolutely agree with her. No-one in the West Bank should be living in a tent.

So why are they?

Miriam believes it’s because of the terrible Israelis who make her an ‘ashamed Jew’. Neither she nor Marr question why this woman lives like this. No-one asks why after 62 years a young woman whose grandparents left or were driven out of what is now Israel should be a refugee and have refugee status uniquely different from all other refugee groups in history.

Neither Margolyes nor Marr wanted to mention, or even wanted to entertain, the idea that refugee camps, so-called, exist for one reason and one reason only: to deliberately perpetuate the victimhood of Palestinians and to preserve the idea, which Margolyes and other ashamed Jews have swallowed whole , that it is Israel who is responsible for these conditions.

Margolyes appears unaware that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians live comfortably on the West Bank in normal housing. She seems unaware that despite the billions of dollars poured into the Palestinian economy people are still allowed to live in tents and camps.

There is no need for it.

Pakistanis are not living in tents three generations after their forbears fled India.

There are no refugee camps in Israel for the hundreds of thousands who were forced from their homes after 1948 from Egypt and Iraq and Syria and North Africa.

Marr asks ‘Do you think being a Jew gives you a different authority, ability to talk about [the Palestinian question]?’

‘The only authority I have is as a human being’, Margolyes replies. So far, so good.

Then she says that it should not make a difference being Jewish or not Jewish to be able to comment on the situation, but then says, somewhat in contradiction, that she is ’embarrassed and ashamed’ (that word again) because ‘my “lot” is doing “it” to them’.

She then says ‘that’s why I wanted to go there, to see for myself’. Fine. But it appears she had already made up her mind that ‘her lot’ were doing ‘it’ to ‘them’.

Marr asks for her reaction, and she then puts on a faux Arab accent and says that some said ‘why do you come? You are a Jew. We hate you.’ And then in her own voice ‘And I totally understood why’.

Yet, she doesn’t understand why at all. She doesn’t understand that this hatred predates the Jewish state. She doesn’t understand the daily diet of anti-Semitism that is fed to Palestinians in schools, newspapers and on TV.

Marr then asks a question which links the Holocaust to what he clearly believes is a given Israeli/Jewish paranoia. He asks that, given Margolyes and her generation know what it’s like growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust, does she not realise that Israelis feel hemmed in and beleaguered by Iran, suicide bombs and missiles.

She admits her sympathy. She knows what anti-Semitism is. But ‘treating people the way the Israelis are treating the Palestinians is not making things better’. In other words, the blame for the situation is all on the Israeli side.

And then, lo and behold, the old ignorant trope comes out. ‘What people forget over there is that the Palestinians were not responsible for the Holocaust.’

Arghhh!  I’m so ashamed. What the hell has the Holocaust got to do with the situation? Is she suggesting that Israel exists because of Holocaust guilt? Is she suggesting that the Palestinians are paying for the crimes of Europeans? If so, she is ignorant of her own people’s history.

‘They were not the enemy at that time’, she says. But THEY WERE! The Mufti of Jerusalem was a friend of Hitler and organised Muslim Nazi brigades in Yugoslavia. He assured Hitler that he would solve the Jewish Question in Palestine. Hamas and the PLO are the ideological progeny of the Muslim Brotherhood and its anti-Semitic policies.

Margolyes and other ashamed Jews need to educate themselves. I am sick of being ashamed of them.

What is she saying now? Oh yes, the Israelis should understand and accept that they owe reparation to the Palestinians just like the Jews expect it from the Germans.

So she, perhaps unwittingly, makes a moral equivalence between the way Jews were treated in the Holocaust and  the way Palestinians (who have been hell-bent on another Holocaust for 100 years, and certainly 60) have been treated by the Israelis.

Who attacked Israel in 1967?

Why was the PLO formed in 1964 before there was any ‘Occupation’?

The Israelis are behaving ”so cruelly’. Yes, sometimes all those with power over others behave cruelly. Maybe she should understand why Israelis might do so to Palestinians who want to kill them, and blow up their children on buses and in their beds. Why can she only see one side to this conflict?

Even Marr has to remind her about suicide attacks and rockets. And then we get the real answer to Margolyes ashamedness. She is not a two-state solutionist. She wants  ‘those people to be back in their own villages, which is what they want.’

How ignorant is this. They just want to go back to their villages. But their villages are Haifa and Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and Eilat and Beersheva. Margolyes is clearly advocating the end of the Jewish state as a deluded one-stater who believes the Palestinians, who she admits hate the Jews, just want to go back peacefully to their homes.

How often do we see people in the media like Miriam Margolyes, Jews and non-Jews, well-meaning, decent people who just do not understand. They live in their cosy left-wing bubbles dreaming of world peace where all will be luvvies.

Sorry Miriam. You are a very nice woman and a wonderful actress, but you are a deluded Jew.

Go read some history. Go read the PLO charter and the Hamas charter. Don’t pose as a woman of peace when you clearly want a second Holocaust – because if you don’t, then you need to wake up out of your deluded lefty dreams, you and all the ashamed Jews.

Until you do so, I will continue to be an ashamed of ashamed Jews Jew.

Hisham Abu Varia – Israeli soldier

I was alerted to this YnetNews article by pro-Israel Bay Bloggers. The original article can be found here.

The soldier in question is a Muslim Arab Israeli.

What’s more, he comes from a very pro-Hizbullah, Arab town, Sakhnin. Where, evidently, Israel allows its citizens to demonstrate their support of the enemy.

Despite the obvious social repercussions of his actions, he was determined from an early age to serve his country.

Lt. Hisham abu Varia appears to understand very well that Israel is his country and he and other Arabs should strive to improve it and themselves.

“The army is the entry pass into the Israeli society,” Hisham explains. “The Arab sector thinks it’s second rate here, but to get privileges one has to give and not just receive. The state protects its citizens even if they don’t serve – my parents live off income support. You must contribute to the country you live off. What other country would have an Arab Knesset member, who is being paid by the state, promoting the interests of the Islamic movement and screwing the promotion of the sector it is supposed to represent?”

This brave young man has managed to see beyond the Arab victimhood narrative and learn for himself.

He received his  BA in Hebrew and Middle Eastern Studies. He has learned about Judaism and even lectured on it. This is some guy, no?

And to top it all he took a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau where he prayed in Arabic and ‘asked G-d to have mercy on the victims’.

I kept asking myself where was everyone? Where was the United States, the Arab countries? If the Germans had won the Arabs would have been murdered as well. I saw the photos of the victims and felt part of them. There was a Holocaust survivor with us who showed us where she was raped, where all her family had been murdered before her very eyes. She cried and we cried with her. It was a life altering visit.”

Now he is working for his Master’s in anthropology. I’m sure he’ll get it.

Surely Hisham’s story demonstrates that Arabs can integrate and become valuable members of Israeli society, taking advantage of  opportunities and becoming better educated and informed so that they can ensure fair treatment and be equipped to meet discrimination head-on.

And just as importantly, they can tell their fellow Arabs the truth about Israeli and Jewish history.

People like Hisham show us that there is yet hope for peace, reconciliation and mutual respect and recognition in Israel and a future Palestine.

*picture credit YnetNews

US troops kill 680 civilians – UN Human Rights Council not interested

The Sunday Times this week had a front page report about civilians killed at checkpoints in Iraq by Us soldiers. The statistics come from files published by the Wikileaks website.

Here are some highlights:

American troops shot  dead 681 innocent civilians at security checkpoints including 30 children.

This was the direct result of an order to shoot at any vehicle that failed to stop. This resulted in six times as many civilian casualties as ‘insurgents’ being killed. Often the Americans opened fire without warning.

June 14 2005 US troops raked a car containing 11 civilians with gunfire Seven passengers including two children were killed because, despite attempting to flag the car down, it did not stop.

Between 2004 and 2009 832 people were killed at or approaching checkpoints or convoys and 2,200 wounded.

The Sunday Times also reports on a level of torture by the current Iraqi regime, under the noses of the Coalition, which is reminiscent of the Saddam years. Many of the victims were handed over to the Iraqis by Coalition forces. For ‘Coalition’  read American.

The leaked documents describe more than 300 cases of detainees being abused by ‘coalition’ forces. The Sunday Times tells us that one detainee was forced to dig up a roadside bomb.

Two men attempting to surrender to an Apache helicopter crew were, nevertheless, shot dead.

Does the US government hold its head in shame? No! Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemns the leaks for endangering lives without, apparently, caring too much about the death of innocents or the cavalier disregard for international law including the Geneva Convention demonstrated by these documents.

The Sunday Times report continues:

In Salahuddin province in 2008 children collecting firewood were attacked by an Apache helicopter crew. They though they were planting roadside bombs. One of the children died.

I ask you, dear reader, to replace ‘coalition’ and ‘US/American’ with ‘Israeli’ and ‘Iraqi’ with Palestinian. Replace ‘Iraq’ with ‘Gaza’ or ‘the West Bank’.

Now tell me that if it were a matter of Israel and the Palestinians the world would not be in uproar, that the UN Human Rights Council would not at this very moment be putting together an Israel-bashing committee of investigation and already call these incidents ‘war crimes’, ‘crimes against humanity’. And tell me that the Islamic world and the Hamas apologists in Europe would not be comparing Israel to the Nazis.

None of the incidents involving coalition troops has had proper public investigation, so I do not judge in advance. What I say is that in a war, and especially in asymmetric wars, where the enemy can be dressed like a civilian, be a woman in a hijab or a 14 year old boy with a suicide belt, mistakes are made.

But if it were Israel making the mistakes, the result would be very different.

Where is the Islamic world’s fury about Iraqi civilians? Why do they not ask for UN enquiries? Where are the resolutions in the Security Council?  Why is the reaction to 680 innocent deaths in Iraq different to a reported similar number in Gaza?

On the israelagainstterror.blogspot website (Hat Tip Matt Pryor) their article refers to a NY Times piece which highlights a statistic about the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in conflicts of the 20th Century.

Apparently the figure is 10 civilians to every soldier/combatant.

In Gaza 2009/9 :

If one accepts the Israel Defense Forces’ statistics, then noncombatants accounted for only 39 percent of Palestinian fatalities — less than half the standard 90 percent rate noted by the ICRC. Nongovernmental organizations obviously cite a much higher civilian casualty rate. But even they put it below 90 percent.

According to B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Israeli forces killed 1,390 Palestinians in the war, including 759 noncombatants, 349 combatants, 248 Palestinian policemen, two in targeted assassinations (bizarrely, these aren’t classified as either combatants or noncombatants), and 32 whose status it couldn’t determine. The policemen are listed separately because their status is disputed: Israel says the Hamas-run police force served as an auxiliary army unit; Palestinians say the policemen were noncombatants.

Omitting the 34 whom B’Tselem didn’t classify, these figures show civilians comprising 74 percent of total fatalities if the policemen are considered noncombatants, and 56 percent if they’re considered combatants. Either way, the ratio is well below the 90 percent norm.

The most anti-Israel accounting, from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, lists 1,417 Palestinian fatalities, including 236 combatants, 926 civilians, and 255 policemen. But even these figures, if we assume the policemen were noncombatants, put civilians at only 83 percent of total deaths — less than the proportion the Red Cross deemed the norm back in 2001. Treating the policemen as combatants lowers the rate to 65 percent.

The article concludes that although the civilian casualty rate was high, and this can be partially accounted for by the very point I was making above, namely, the combatants fighting the Israelis did not wear uniform and hid amongst civilians and used the civilian infrastructure for weapons stores, shelter, firing positions and, cynically, as part of a human shield strategy, nevertheless the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths, by whoever’s statistics you choose to agree, was lower than the average in other conflicts.

In other words, the statistics give a lie to the claim of the Goldstone Report that Israel deliberately targeted civilians.

Now tell me the Israelis were more guilty than the Americans.

I suspect that the Americans and Israelis had a few bad soldiers whose actions were illegal, or even plain stupid. But I am also damn sure that both armies were fighting in the most difficult of all scenarios where telling civilian from combatant does not conform to the simplistic norms that observers sitting comfortably at home and in judgement in front of their TV or reading their newspaper would like to assume.

Mike Leigh, Israel and the boycott

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 18: Director Mike Leigh attends the 'Another Year' press conference during the 54th BFI London Film Festival at the Vue West End on October 18, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Getty Images)

I returned from Berlin this week to be confronted by the Jewish Chronicle’s front page about the Salford-born, eminent film director, Mike Leigh and his decision not to go to Israel to teach a masterclass in Jerusalem and Jenin.

I was somewhat disappointed that Leigh felt he had to make this decision. I don’t see Leigh as one of the self-haters or ‘as-a-Jews’ as they are sometimes termed. Here is a man who grew up in a very Jewish part of Manchester, was a member of Habonim and a Zionist. His mother spent her final days at the same Jewish care home as my own mother. He has always been regarded with pride by the Jewish community in Manchester and Salford.

So it is instructive to see how yet another prominent Jew has fallen out of love with Israel and has decided to publicly make a series of remarks which are gratuitous, hurtful and which completely misrepresent Israel, and characterise it in what is now a fashionable way for many in the media and arts who see the Middle East conflict, not for what it is, an existential struggle, but through the prism of their own political dogma.

I’ll take a while to dissect Leigh’s thought processes so we can better understand his decision.

The full article by Stephen Applebaum and Simon Rocker can be seen here.

Leigh calls Israel’s policies suicidal. In other words, he believes that the current government is taking Israel down a path towards some sort of disaster, even annihilation, perhaps. The recent loyalty oath law was, for him, ‘the last straw’.

So, it is the right-wing nature of the Netanyahu coalition and its policies which have led him to decide to become part of the boycott. He was already ‘uncomfortable’ about going, but this oath law really swayed it for him. Really? Not exactly the Nuremburg Laws is it.

We can see he was wrestling with his one-time Zionist credentials and his conscience about appearing to condone policies of a government at the opposite end of the political spectrum to his own views.

Now, I’m a bit of an old lefty myself, believe it or not, and during the 1980’s I decided I would not go to Israel because I disagreed with the settlement policy on the ‘West Bank’. I, of course, was, and remain a nonentity. My ‘boycott’ was personal. So I sort of understand where he is coming from as a public figure and a man of conscience.  If it is ‘your people’ that you violently disagree with, then you feel a moral obligation to make a stand which you wouldn’t make for a country that you don’t identify with.

My ‘boycott’, however, showed that at some level I did still identify with Israel, and that I cared enough to make my little stand.

Things changed for me when I studied the history of the conflict and the Jewish people. I was finally radicalised by the discovery that, Israel, an imperfect country, was not in a struggle for land and borders, but was being demonised and delegitimised in an attempt to utterly destroy it. I also saw that this was part of a globalised and sanctioned neo-anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism. I saw that, as a Jew (yes, that phrase again) I was a target and a proposed victim of this insanity.

I saw that little or no space had been left for measured criticism of Israel. I saw that Israel had become the Jew amongst world states. And I saw that the cheer-leaders for this demonisation were mainly Islamic states with appalling human rights records, no democracy, no press freedom or free speech, religious intolerance, misogyny, often barbaric laws, homophobia and anti-Semitism.

At the same time I saw an imperfect Israel where there is democracy, a free press, freedom of religion, a robust and independent judiciary and free speech. I saw a country which despite its history and its imperfections has some of the finest universities in the world, is a leader in technology, medicine, environmentalism.

There are many things to dislike about some aspects of Israeli society, there are many societal problems, there is discrimination, poverty, crime, zealotry. In other words, Israel is like many other western democracies.

I saw an Israel prepared to make concessions and sacrifices for peace.

My personal boycott of Israel ended. Mike Leigh’s is just beginning, but is he motivated as I was 30 years ago?

Let’s continue with Leigh’s interview and statements he made.

As a member of the Jewish youth movement, Habonim, he believes he was ‘duped by Israeli propaganda’. Strange this. He was in Habo’ more than 50 years ago when there was no ‘occupation’ and no Palestinian cause. So what was he being duped about?

It appears that these feelings are related to ‘religion’. He calls organised religion ‘bull****’

So now we have a self-confessed liberal left atheist. Fine. Nothing wrong with that, although he needn’t be quite so disrespectful of 2000 years of Jewish scholarship, learning and community, let alone his own ancestors. After all, were it not for this ‘bull****’ he would not be here at all enjoying his nice life as a successful film director.

Presumably it’s not just Judaism he would describe in these terms.

Then we cut to the chase in this interview:

While cultural talks went on “in the nice cinematheques of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, it is hell on earth in Gaza and I wouldn’t want to be there basically”.

Ah! Now we really see where he is coming from. He has bought into the ‘liberal left’ Gaza myth. The myth that Gaza is hell, and it’s hell because of the Israelis.

Mr Leigh, who insisted that all his work was “unquestionably Jewish”, was dismissive about rocket attacks on Israel. “I don’t want to know about rockets,” he said. “What I am concerned with is humanity, is life being lived properly. And you cannot deal with this issue from an Israeli perspective and not from a Palestinian or a Gaza perspective. You simply can’t. And if you do it’s totally unacceptable. And that’s the bottom line.”

Agreed! And what is that Gaza perspective? Gaza which Israel evacuated completely several years ago and which was then used as a base to attack Israel. He doesn’t want to know about rockets. What the hell does he think caused the Gaza ‘misery’ in the first place. Does he want to put his fingers in his ears and jump up and down whilst Israelis have to run to bunkers like his parents in the blitz, and for much longer?

Does Leigh not realise that what is motivating Hamas and Hizbollah, even Fatah and certainly Ahmadinejad is religion, which he sees as ‘bull****’? Is there no contradiction there? Or is only Judaism faecal?

It’s not as if the eminent film director has put together a cogent argument to boycott Israel.

Like so many well-meaning people of conscience with left-wing political views, Mike Leigh remains ignorant of facts and perhaps a tad intimidated by his fellow luvvies on the Left.

Along with Cameron and Miliband and Clegg and so many others, he sees the Palestinians as victims and the Israelis as aggressors when the truth is, and always has been, largely the opposite.

Leigh has been in a struggle all his life, it seems, a struggle between his Jewish identity and his liberal left political views. Over time, as he has become more and more detached from his roots, he has increasingly moved towards the camp of those other Jews who even more stridently confess their hatred of Israel and their compassion for its enemies.

When it comes to ‘bull****’ Mike Leigh should take a long hard look at the propaganda, not of Israel, but of those who are determined to destroy Israel and the Jewish people.

Maybe when Gaza really is a prison camp, but one for the remnant of Israeli Jews, he will realise that the ‘bull***’ was actually on the other side and he is buried in it.

Queen’s University Belfast and the gagging of Professor Alderman

This is part of the Queen’s University, Belfast’s Mission Statement:

The University promotes the widest possible access to [a] portfolio of excellence in an environment of equality, tolerance and mutual respect..

Yet the University has failed in its Mission as the Professor Alderman reports in the Jewish Chronicle:

The annual Belfast Festival is the child of Queen’s University, one of the UK’s leading “research intensive” seats of learning. The festival grew out of an enterprising undergraduate initiative in the deeply troubled 1970s; it was – as its website rightly proclaims – “a cultural oasis in a landscape dominated by political upheaval.”

It has – as its website also rightly proclaims – played a pivotal role in the cultural renaissance of the city and has attracted celebrities and intellectuals from around the world.

But today this reputation for inclusiveness lies in tatters. There is now, about the Belfast Festival, a bad odour and a decidedly nasty taste.

Earlier this year, the Festival organisers decided that as part of the 2010 programme they would arrange
a discussion on “Conflict in the Middle East.”

The blame for this lies squarely with Queen’s University, Belfast

Whether this was an entirely appropriate event for what is billed as “a two week long arts extravaganza” is open to question. What is not open to question is that the planned format of this discussion was fundamentally flawed. Two and only two speakers were programmed for the event. One, professor Beverley Milton-Edwards, teaches at Queen’s, has written extensively on the Middle East, and is on record as having defended Hamas as an organisation simply intent on bringing order – of an admittedly Islamic variety – to the chaos of Gaza.

The other was professor Avi Shlaim, doyen of the so-called “New Historians” of Zionism, who teaches at Oxford. Professor Shlaim can justly claim to be a founding father of
the historical school that argues (with, it’s true, varying degrees of intensity) that Israel was founded in ‘original sin’ (namely the alleged wholesale expulsion of Arabs), that there was no coordinated Arab plan to destroy the Jewish state at that time, and that the roots of the present tensions in the region are to be found in Israeli intransigence rather than in Arab obduracy.

Now a discussion of “Conflict in the Middle East” in which the only presenters were professors Shlaim and Milton-Edwards was bound to be a shade one-sided.

Late in the day the organisers of the Belfast Festival evidently came round to this view.

And so it was that on 20 September, I received an invitation to join the panel discussion.

Let’s be absolutely clear on this point. “I would be delighted,” Festival director Graeme Farrow wrote, “if you would join our panel.”

So I cleared my diary and prepared to journey to Belfast, there (so I had thought) to present, in an atmosphere of civilised, scholarly discussion, a viewpoint radically different from that of either of my two fellow panellists.

As everyone now knows, this was not to be. Issued on 20 September, the invitation was peremptorily withdrawn on 15 October. And it was withdrawn (let’s be absolutely clear on this point too) after objections from Oxford professor Shlaim and Belfast professor Milton-Edwards.

I know this because Mr Farrow told me so, in the presence of Mr Steven Jaffe (co-chair of the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel) in the lounge of the Europa Hotel, Belfast, on the afternoon of Monday 18 October, and because Professor Shlaim also told me so at a meeting he and I had at the same hotel later that afternoon.

I told Professor Shlaim what I told Mr Farrow and what I am now telling you: that I had come to Belfast to be a member of the panel that evening, and that I found the alternative Mr Farrow had offered – of a reserved seat in the audience and the privilege of asking the first question – to be an unmitigated insult.

Either I would attend as per the
invitation – to be on the panel – or
I would not attend at all.

In the event I did not attend at all.

The blame for this, and for the consequent deluge of negative publicity that has fallen upon the Belfast Festival, lies squarely with Queen’s University.

It does not lie with professors Shlaim and Milton-Edwards. We can berate them (as I am sadly inclined to do) for their small-mindedness, for their lack of collegiality, even for their arrogance. But the fact that they were permitted to veto my participation in the panel was due entirely to the university administration.

The mission statement of Queen’s University celebrates its promotion of “an environment of equality, tolerance and mutual respect.” I was shown none of these courtesies. But – believe me – I do not weep for myself. I weep, instead, for the university and those who work and study within it.

So we now live in a country where not just Israeli academics are being subjected regularly to calls for boycotts but those who wish to debate the conflict and who have a pro-Israel view are ‘disinvited’ so that only the anti-Zionist narrative is given any weight and a revered academic is asked to sit in the audience and maybe have the chance to ask a question.

As Ami Isseroff states:

You heard about the evil Zionist Lobby that doesn’t give anyone else a chance to talk? Richard Landes details several instances in which pro-Israel  opinion has been stifled, evidently by a sinister international Palestinian lobby.

What’s happening to our great academic tradition when debate is stifled and panels are gerrymandered?

See also: CIFWatch. the Belfast Telegraph, Harry’s PlaceYaacov Lozowick’s RuminationsMelanie Phillips, Daphne Anson and Daled Amos (h/t Israel News)

Howard Jacobson – unashamed Jew

I just love this short but exquisite disarticulation of the ‘intellectual’ boycott against Israel and all things BDS.

It’s funny, it’s devastatingly brilliant and it’s true. And it was recorded in July 2007. It appears that the inspiration of one of the core themes of Jacobson’s Booker Prize winning ‘The Finkler Question’, the BDS movement and Jewish self-hate, was a long time in gestation.

The book’s self-haters form a group of ‘Ashamed Jews’ which is a poke at many leading ‘as-a-Jews’ in British society today who use their self-proclaimed but usually disaffiliated Jewishness to attack Israel and, by extension, themselves.

What lessons we should all learn from the Chilean miners

As the world watched in awe and wonder as each miner rose to the surface to be greeted by family, friends and politicians, every man experienced a second birth, a second beginning to life.

Who could not shed a tear as wife hugged father, father embraced son, son greeted mother for the first time in 69 days.

But what does it teach us about human nature? Yes, the will to live and the joy at witnessing the survival of complete strangers thousands of miles way tells us about our common humanity. But it also teaches us that each of the 33 men has a story, a life, a past and a future. Each man is a unique and indispensable human being.

Tomorrow 33 men could be killed by a car bomb or a suicide bomb in Kabul and no-one outside their family and friends will know their names or care. This is because we don’t know their story, we don’t see them as priceless individuals but as statistics.

So when we look to the Middle East conflict, let us be inspired to recognise that every life is special and every death of an innocent is a tragedy. Let us not dehumanise the ‘other’ so we no longer care about his or her story, past and future, hopes and aspirations.

The Chilean miners have taught us a valuable lesson about how precious life is.
We must all learn from their example to value life. This is why death cults are so evil because they negate what is human; that common spark which makes us shed a tear of joy when a stranger in a hard hat emerges from a capsule and kisses his young son.

Embrace life, not death.

Why the divided loyalty question is so much bunkum

Jews who have a strong attachment to another country, Israel, and who indulge in advocacy of that country are often accused of having dual or divided loyalty, as if this were some thought crime that only Jews are guilty of.

I have often asked myself this hypothetical question: if Israel were in a conflict with the UK, who would I support?

I then came up with a very Jewish answer: it depends.

Yes, it depends because I will not give any country my unquestioning support. It depends who I believe to be right. Let’s hope this unlikely scenario never occurs. If I no longer felt that the UK were my home because the government or the people made me feel like a stranger in my own country, then I would seriously consider transferring my loyalties and my residence elsewhere – but it would have to be because of threat or because I lost my love of my country.

If Israel were to become the country that many now paint it as being, I would have difficulty continuing to support it.

One reason for losing my loyalty would be because of unbearable hostility to Jews or an actual unjustified attack on Israel.

Loyalty should not be absolute, neither should it be undivided. If it is both, then that bespeaks Nazi Germany or Communist North Korea, for example.

So you think you don’t have divided loyalties? Sport is usually a good indicator of your multiple affiliations, even if you don’t realise it, you DO have divided or multiple loyalties.

Do you remember the recent cricket Test series England v Pakistan? Do you recall the crowds of Pakistan supporters waving the Pakistani flag? Did you know that many of these supporters are actually English?

In the Commonwealth Games the brother of Amir Khan, a great northern boxer, wasn’t selected for England, so he decided to box for Pakistan.

At the recent Ryder Cup, people who would usually be in the pub telling their mates how Britain is not part of Europe, were busy cheering Spaniards and Swedes and Italians; Scots who would rather anyone but England won at soccer were roaring for Englishman, Ian Poulter.

A few years ago the Israel basketball team played England. Many Jews who had never seen the inside of a basketball stadium turned up to cheer for Israel. But when Manchester United play an Israeli team, the dyed-in-the-wool Jewish Red Devil fans cannot bring themselves to support Maccabi Haifa or Hapoel Tel Aviv.

When England played Israel in a friendly a couple of years ago I really did not know who I wanted to win – that is, until England scored, then I knew that I wanted England to win.

Sport may seem to be a trivial way to work out our loyalties, but it really isn’t. At that moment when England scored, I knew I really was a loyal Englishmen and a Brit. But if I had wanted Israel to win, would that have meant I am not a loyal subject of Her Majesty?

In an increasingly globalised, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic world, it is not surprising that we should have many loyalties. I can’t blame Pakistani English for having a strong attachment and love for Pakistan and its cricket team. Do they have divided loyalties or multiple loyalties?

What does loyalty really mean, anyway?

Maybe it just means you are not treasonous. Do you really have to love the country you live in?

Loyalty means that I abide by the law of the land and do not try to overturn democracy; that I accept the will of the majority and that, when called upon, defend my country. If I feel I cannot do any of these things with a clear conscience, it’s time to leave.

Stop Press:

On This Week last night Labour leadership candidate Diane Abbott admitted that when it comes to cricket she supports the West Indies! So we could have had a Prime Minister who supports a cricket team other than England! Off with her head!

The forgotten facts about Israel’s ‘occupation’

An interesting article by Professor Louis René Beres, Professor of Political Science at Purdue, on the Right Side News website gives a very dispassionate account of the facts behind the so-called ‘Occupation’, a word and a concept now so ingrained in the public discourse that the truth about the origins of the conflict are air-brushed from the collective consciousness.

Myths and Facts

In urgent matters of national survival and geopolitics, words matter. The still generally unchallenged language referring provocatively to an Israeli “Occupation” always overlooks the pertinent and incontestable history of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza.

Perhaps the most evident omission concerns the unwitting manner in which these “Territories” fell into Israel’s hands in the first place. It is simply and widely disregarded that “occupation” followed the multi-state Arab aggression of 1967 – one never disguised by Egypt, Syria or Jordan. A sovereign state of “Palestine” did not exist before 1967 or 1948. Nor was a state of “Palestine” ever promised by UN Security Council Resolution 242. Contrary to popular understanding, a state of “Palestine” has never existed. Never. Even as a non-state legal entity, “Palestine” ceased to exist in 1948, when Great Britain relinquished its League of Nations mandate. During the 1948-49 Israeli War of Independence (a war of survival fought because the entire Arab world had rejected the authoritative United Nations recommendation to create a Jewish state), the West Bank and Gaza came under the illegal control of Jordan and Egypt respectively. These Arab conquests did not put an end to an already-existing state or to an ongoing trust territory. What these aggressions did accomplish was the effective prevention, sui generis, of a state of”Palestine.”

The original hopes for Palestine were dashed, therefore, not by the new Jewish state or by its supporters, but by the Arab states, especially Jordan and Egypt. Let us return to an earlier time in history. From the Biblical Period ( 1350 BCE to 586 BCE) to the British Mandate (1922 – 1948), the land named by the Romans after the ancient Philistines was controlled only by non-Palestinian elements. Significantly, however, a continuous chain of Jewish possession of the land was legally recognized after World War I, at the San Remo Peace Conference of April 1920. There, a binding treaty was signed in which Great Britain was given mandatory authority over ‘Palestine’ (the area had been ruled by the Ottoman Turks for 400 years since 1516) to prepare it to become the “national home for the Jewish People.” Palestine, according to the Treaty, comprised territories encompassing what are now the states of Jordan and Israel, including the West Bank and Gaza. Present-day Israel comprises only 23 percent of Palestine as defined and ratified at the San Remo Peace Conference. In 1922, Great Britain with questionable authority split off 77 percent of the lands originally promised to the Jewish people – all of Palestine east of the Jordan River – and gave it to Abdullah, the non-Palestinian Arab son of the Sharif of Mecca. Eastern Palestine now t ook the name Trans-Jordan, which it retained until April 1949, when it was renamed as Jordan.

From the moment of its creation, Trans-Jordan was closed to all Jewish migration and settlement, a clear betrayal of the British promise in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and a patent contravention of its Mandatory obligations under international law. On July 20, 1951, a Palestinian Arab assassinated King Abdullah for the latter’s hostility to Palestinian Arabs aspirations and concerns. Regarding these aspirations, Jordan’s “moderate” King Hussein – 19 years later, during September 1970 – brutally murdered thousands of defenseless Palestinian Arabs under “his protection.”

In 1947, several years prior to Abdullah’s killing, the newly-formed United Nations, rather than designate the entire land west of the Jordan River as the long-promised Jewish national homeland, enacted a second partition. Curiously, considering that this second fission again gave complete advantage to Arab interests, Jewish leaders accepted the painful recommendation. The Arab states did not. On May 15, 1948, exactly 24 hours after the State of Israel came into existence, Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League, declared to a tiny new country founded upon the ashes of the Holocaust: “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre.” This unambiguous declaration has been at the very heart of all subsequent Arab orientations toward Israel, including those of “moderate” Fatah.

Even by the strict legal standards of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Arab actions and attitudes toward the microscopic Jewish state in their midst has remained patently genocidal. For some reason, this persistence has repeatedly been made to appear benign.

In 1967, almost 20 years after Israel’s entry into the community of nations, the Jewish state, as a result of its unexpected military victory over Arab aggressor states, gained unintended control over the West Bank and Gaza. Although the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war is codified in the UN, there existed no authoritative sovereign to whom the Territories could be “returned.” Israel could hardly have been expected to transfer them back to Jordan and Egypt, which had exercised unauthorized and terribly cruel control since the Arab-initiated war of “extermination” in 1948-49.

Moreover, the idea of Palestinian Arabs “self-determination” had only just begun to emerge after the Six Day War, and – significantly – had not even been included in UN Security Council Resolution 242, which was adopted on November 22, 1967. For their part, the Arab states convened a summit in Khartoum in August 1967, concluding: “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it …” The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed three years earlier, in 1964, before there were any “Israeli Occupied Territories.” Exactly what was it, therefore, that the PLO sought to “liberate” between 1964 and 1967?

This question should now be raised in connection with the US-sponsored “Road Map to peace in the Middle East,” a twisted cartography leading to Palestine.

This has been a very brief account of essential historic reasons why the so-called “Palestinian Territories” are not occupied by Israel. Several other equally valid reasons stem from Israel’s inherent legal right to security and self-defense. International law is not a suicide pact. Because a Palestinian Arab state would severely threaten the very existence of Israel – a fact that remains altogether unhidden in Arab media and governments – the Jewish State is under no binding obligation to end a falsely alleged “Occupation.” No state can ever be required to accept complicity in its own dismemberment and annihilation. Neither Jerusalem nor Washington should be deceived by the so-called “Road Map to peace in the Middle East,” a distorted bit of highway that makes entirely inaccurate claims about “Palestinian Territories” and “Israeli Occupation.”

For substantially documented reasons of history and national security, it is imperative that a twenty-second Arab state never be carved out of the still-living body of Israel. If anyone should still have doubts about Palestinian Arabs’ intentions, they need look only to former Prime Minister Sharon’s “disengagement” from Gaza, an area that is now used by Hamas to stage rocket attacks upon Israeli noncombatants, and by al-Qaeda to mount future terrorist operations against American cities.

Although I do not agree with the author’s final analysis which denies the Palestinians a state and, therefore, would perpetuate the conflict and ultimately endanger Israel physically and morally, the historical analysis is astute.

Whatever the legal rights Israel has to be in Judea and Samaria, the time is long gone where an annexation would find approval anywhere except in the the discourses of the decidedly Right,

A flame still burns

The ‘ner tamid’, the eternal flame which burns in every synagogue signifying the eternal presence of G-d and, therefore, the eternal and abiding spirit of the Jewish people could have no more apt representative than Fiamma Nirenstein.

‘Fiamma’ means ‘flame’ in Italian and tomorrow, in Rome, she will head a demonstration entitled ‘For the Truth, for Israel’.

We don’t see many pro-Israel rallies in Europe these days. Nirenstein, a member of the Italian parliament,  is an outspoken supporter of Israel and one of a growing number of European politicians who feel it is high time to stand up for Israel and against the worldwide onslaught to delegitimise and demonise it.

In an article on her website she sets out the basis for the demonstration as follows:


Thursday, October 7 at 18:00 at the Temple of Hadrian (Tempio di Adriano), Piazza di Pietra, Rome


Because it is necessary to put an end to the barrage of lies that are thrown on
Israel every day;

Because Israel is the only country that is being attacked for whatever it does:
whether its athletes are participating in a tournament,
whether its films competing in an international film festival,
or whether it is defending its people from missile and terrorist attacks;

Because at this event, politicians, intellectuals, and young people who want the
truth about Israel will participate from all over Europe.



Why doesn’t the UN care when Iran hangs homosexuals and stones women,
in Darfur a massacre is takes place in silence,
and in China justice is to be shot in the head?

Its scientific, cultural, social, economic, and sport achievements are constantly boycotted, even with violence. The double standard is the normal standard applied to Israel: the UN, dedicating to it 80% of its resolutions, condemn Israel at every step, while countries that systematically violate human rights and commit massacres, are never punished.

But a large part of the public opinion is tired of this lie: the de-legitimization of Israel undermines democracy, corrupts international institutions that should protect peace and fight against terrorism. It legitimates oppressive and violent cultures against women, homosexuals and freedom of thought. In fact, it justifies anti-democratic cultures. For this reason we want to say “enough” to all the lies about Israel and to claim that Europe loves Israel and wants it living in peace.

Well said, Fiamma. Keep the Flame of Truth burning lest we all be consumed by the flames of hell.

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