Category Archives: Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism?

Israel Report Final Days: Then they came for the Jews?

Our last days in Israel have been spent in Jerusalem.

During this time our idyllic location and relaxed and extremely enjoyable socialising has been marred by the thought that soon we shall be returning to blighted Blighty.

Returning home after a vacation has its compensations: seeing family and friends and reconnecting with communal life.

This time it’s not just the awful Manchester weather that gives me a sinking feeling in my gut, but the sense that I am returning from a war zone, where I feel safe, to one where I feel threatened.

War zone? UK a war zone? What is the man talking about!

Well, I happen to be a Jewish man, and the news from the UK for Jews is ever spiralling downward from inconvenience, through trepidation, past intolerable into fear.

Exaggeration? I’m sorry, but my parents, and grandparents were witness to this in the 1930s when blackshirts strode arrogantly behind a British aristocrat, Sir Oswald Mosely.

The unthinkable is becoming reality and ‘overreaction’ is not paranoia but a deep understanding, knowledge, analysis and experience of history which, for most Jews, is engrained in their genes throughout the millenia.

So, whence comes this fear?

The reaction to Israel’s response to continuing rocket fire from Hamas in Gaza has torn the thinly-disguised veil from the face of antisemitism in the UK.

Whilst the mainstream and social media stoke anti-Israel sentiments, even among the most fair-minded British citizen, with hostile, misinformed and downright viciously biased reporting, on the streets, those already inclined to use anything Israel does in self-defence as a trigger for violent protest have been empowered to expose the real motivation behind their obsession.

Antisemitic banners and chanting go unchallenged at protests across Britain; Israel and its supporters, and all Zionists, are called and labelled ‘Nazis’.

Enter the emboldened BDS (Boycott Sanctions and Divestment) brigade, and those too cowardly, just as in the 1930s, to stand up to them.

In Manchester, for over a month, a rag-bag of ‘protestors’ have picketed the Kedem store on King Street in Manchester. The  Jewish community, and other supporters of Israel, soon established a counter-protest.  The owner of the store is Israeli. The company he owns is wholly British, provides employment for British people, pays British taxes, and all its products are completely sourced from Israel behind the ‘Green Line’.

So why picket it?  Why block a popular thoroughfare, jostle and bully anyone who is making the free choice to enter the shop?  What has this to do with Gaza? Or settlements?

This Satruday eight protestors were arrested. As far as I could see from videos of the event posted on social media, none of those arrested were of an appearance which might suggest they were Muslim. The violence and the refusal to obey the police came from Left-wing agitators for whom anything associated with Israel is anathema.

The owner of Kedem produced evidence to show that produce was not from settlements, and there was no connection to any settlement whatsoever. He presented this to the leader of the protest group, but it made no difference. The shop-owner, in his desperation to save his legitimate business, made a fundamental error: that error is the belief that ideologically inspired prejudice is subject to reason, logic or facts. History tells us otherwise.

But how soon anti-Israelism descends into its close associate anti-Zionism, which, in turn morphs into its alter ego antisemitism. Many of the counter-demonstrators have reported antisemitic abuse, antisemitic chanting, the ubiquitous Nazi analogies. The Kedem protests are merely an extension of the frequent ‘Free Gaza’ demos, and, indeed, banners and slogans at Kedem are witness to this.

Previous protests outside shops selling Israeli goods have had the pretence that they were only targetting ‘settlement’ goods. The next stage was anything Israeli.

The Tricycle theatre in Kilburn in North West London recently decided to give in to the potential threat of demonstrations outside its premises by attempting to blackmail the London Jewish Film Festival (held at the theatre for the last eight years) into traducing the State of Israel by refusing their £1400 of funding as a prerequisite for continued hosting.

After a storm of protest, and much more damagingly, a number of patrons withdrawing funding, they withdrew their ultimatum. No doubt, this will result in accusations of the power of Jewish money.

So a lose-lose situation for British Jews who, like Israel itself, are damned if they roll over and die and damned if they fight back. And if you think I just created a strawman, a casual stroll through the hashtags on Twitter will disabuse you.

So, as we descend through anti-settlement to anti-Israel, what do we see in Birmingham but a kind of retail pogrom where about 100 people – yes 100 – entered a Tesco store and proceeded to trash not only any Israeli goods they could find, but also anything their deep research and understanding of the conflict indicated was complicit in Israel baby-killing, like a stack of Coca Cola cans.

Terrorised shoppers cowered in disbelief.

Then, on Saturday, the farce of Sainsbury in Holborn, London where, purportedly, although it is far from clear, as a precaution, an employee, maybe the manager, decided to remove all kosher goods – read that again, kosher, not necessarily Israeli, not settlement but, yes, Jewish goods. The precaution was deemed necessary as a nearby ‘Gaza protest’ provoked fear that a Tesco Birmingham retail pogrom would descend upon the good shoppers of Holborn and nearby Gray’s Inn.

There is even an unsubstantiated report that the shelves were cleared by an employee who told a shopper that it was in sympathy with Gaza.

However, this defensive action, which included closing the store, has illicited a storm of protests from angry Jews who, rightly, have identified a new low in the UK where Jews are denied access to kosher produce because protestors, including a local MP, are promoting BDS.

On social media, a recorded phone conversation between Jonathan Sacerdoti, a prominent Jewish Middle East analyst and a delegate to the Board of Deputies, has gone viral.

In this phone call Sacerdoti asks the store’s representative whether, if he were to threaten halal goods, would they be removed from the shelves? The answer was not clear, but the poorly-briefed and defensive employee appears at first to say, ‘no’.

Thus we have descended all the way from protests succesfully closing shops associated with ‘settlements’ to the clearing, albeit reflexively and only briefly, of Jewish goods, per se.

What next for the UK? Targetting kosher restaurants? Kosher grocery stores?

This tweet of mine found resonance with a number of people in the last 24 hours:

‘First they came for the West Bank goods then they came for the Israeli goods then they came for the Jewish goods then they came for the Jews’

 

 

Israel Report Day 9: How the West was Lost

Sitting here in central Israel, I have been thinking that it was time to enumerate the snowballing and often hysterical, often cowardly, anti-Israel events, actions and stories that are now part of a runaway narrative of lies, misrepresentations, human rights travesties and double standards, laced with a cocktail of old-school and Islamist antisemitism.

In no particular order, as they say, these include:

The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, London has seen fit to put an ultimatum to the London Jewish Film Festival (which has used that theatre for 8 years): either refuse funding from the Israeli Embassy (£1400) or we won’t stage the festival. The theatre generously offered to ensure that the shortfall in funding would be met.

The LJFF’s reply was basically Churchillian (in the finger department).

The theatre was not the only organisation to cite the excuse that they did not want to be seen taking sides – which really means that they are cowards who fear damaging demos outside their building and/or a Muslim-Leftlist backlash. I would remind them and everyone else who put profit before principles that, in the immortal words of Basil Fawlty, ‘This is exactly how Nazi Germany started.’

In Manchester, UK, the Kedem store which is owned by an Israeli and sells Israeli produce, some of which is packaged in Judea/Samaria, has for weeks been the subject of a politically motivated picket. Initially, entrance to and exit from the shop was curtailed by an intimidating bunch of Free Gaza people. The Jewish community responded and now face off against each other regularly. The Jewish community is even providing a kiddush on shabbat to ensure that their opponents do net get a free ride even for one day.

Local police are praising the peaceful and well-mannered nature of the counter-demo.

Nevertheless, in the past, similar demos at Ahava in Covent Garden, London and Sodastream in Brighton have forced closure. In Manchester, the effect on other businesses, and Kedem itself, will mean that the shop will inevitably close.

This is intolerable. Freedom to protest is one thing, but freedom to harrass and put precious jobs on the line is redolent of 1930s Germany.

In one of my more mischievous moments I suggested that, maybe, the pro-Israel camp should shower the antis with paper rockets, a bit like the English bowmen at Agincourt against the French. These paper rockets would not carry much of a payload but the reaction of the other side to a barrage of paper would be instructive. Would they just stand there and take it. Would they have no right to defend themselves?

I can’t imagine that they would not want to retaliate ‘disproportionately’. Sadly, such an act would probably be considered incitement by the police. But I can only dream.

Meanwhile, in Belfast, where the synagogue was subject to a double stoning recently, an Asda store had its shelves cleared of Israeli produce. Surely an arrestable offence?

In that same city, the blue plaque marking the birthplace of Israeli President Chaim Herzog has had to be removed due to continuous attempts to vandalise it.

In other news, the UK government has issued a completely nonsensical policy statement to the effect that should ‘significant’ hostilities between Israel and Hamas restart, ig would not issue twelve arms export licenses. This is gesture politics writ large by business secretary Vince Cable (LibDem).

Firstly, as I and several others have pointed out on Twitter and elsewhere, this actively encourages Hamas to commence hostilities to gain a political ‘win’. Secondly, what does ‘significant’ mean in practice and who judges? Clearly, this is the result of an internal Coalition power struggle where the Lib Dem Business Secretary has legal power to make such judgements and the Conservative Prime Minister would have attempted to nix it.

Meanwhile, at the UN, yet another kangaroo court in the form of ‘Goldstone II’ is about to convene with, at its head, William Schabas.

This man has a track record of anti-Israel activity and refused to describe Hamas as a terrorist group in a recent interview where he reiterated his view that his favourite person to be tried for war crimes would not be Assad or Putin but Netanyahu. And why? Well, because of Cast Lead where he was actually the opposition leader not the Prime Minister.

When challenged on double-standards he admitted that the UN is full of them, but that should not allow us to desist from pursuing them even further with yet another show trial for Israel where the only unknown is which anti-Israel mouthpieces are going to sit in pre-judgement.

It seems that Free Gaza, pro-Pal, anti-Israel demonstrations in London and the provinces are now an almost weekly phenomenon, disrupting traffic and business and requiring expensive policing. Of particular concern is the display of lsis, Hamas and Hizbollah flags. How can any Western society allow anyone to  show support for terror groups, especially one which it is itself fighting.

In Oxford Street Isis have openly been handing out redruitment flyers enjoining British Muslims to become jihadists in Iraq and build the ‘caliphate’.

There appears to be a growing movement of terrorist chic with the black flags of ISIS flying in Tower Hamlets, for example.

Flag flying is also popular withthe Palestinian flag flying from a couple of Northern England Town Halls and Glasgow.

This avalanche of hate, antisemitism and virulent anti-Israelism, which no other minority or country has to endure, represents a watershed for Europe.

Some have called Israel the canary in the coalmine. The war on Israel and the Jews is a war on Western civilisation, culture and mores. Only the West does not realise it yet. Its blindspot, latent antsemitism along with the cult of human rights and an undue sensitivity to antithetical cultural values spell its gradual demise.

What to do?

In the UK get the Lib Dems out of government. How can any Jew who supports Israel vote for this shower.

As a lifelong Labour party supporter, I cannot see how I can continue to be so. It is also very difficult for me to vote Tory, but they are now the only option other than not to vote at all.

I suggest the following steps:

1. Make political picketing of shops and businesses illegal. Boycotts should not be imposed by active minorities.
2. Make foreign flag flying illegal except for state occasions
3. Make Isis, Hamas and Hizbollah flags illegal with stiff fines and custodial sentences
4. Crackdown on antisemitic or Islamophobic banners at demos and punish with stiff fines or custodial sentences
5. There should be better tracking of funds to terror organisations through UK banks and charities
6. Classify Isis as a terror organisation
7. Turkey should be thrown out of NATO – they are working with and for NATO’s enemies
8. Limit demos for any particular cause

If the West continues to appease and cannot see Israel as the frontline in the battle against neo-Nazi terror in the form of depraved Islamism and its apologists on the Left the results will be disastrous.

This is how the West is being lost.

Israel Report Day 8: Home Thoughts From Abroad

Today, Israel and Gaza enjoyed the first day of the new three-day truce. As the stuttering talks and posturing in Cairo continues everyone is hoping for a more long-term cessation of hostilities.

George Galloway’s (yimach sh’mo) declaring Bradford an Israeli-free zone has caught the British-Israelis attention here. A suitable response by Israelis in the UK and British Jewish supporters posting images on Facebook and Twitter of their raising the Israeli flag in central Bradford caused some pride and amusement.

The positive response to this from many Bradfordians demonstrates, perhaps, more frustration with Galloway’s track record of supporting dictators and Islamists rather than concentrating on his duties as an MP.

I have a suspicion that many of those giving thumbs up to the Israeli flag do so for Islamphobic reasons rather than philosemitic. However, the Yorkshire Post op-ed slammed Galloway and said that everyone is welcome to Bradford. Galloway is not good for tourism. Other reports say that there has been a huge demand by Israelis and Jews for Bradford Tourist Board information.

Sitting here in Israel, we definitely feel safer, less stressed and more relaxed than in the UK where we are fed a rising tide of latent antisemitism and unbelievable pro-Islamist chic masquerading as support for Gaza. Coupled with this a virulently one-sided press reporting of the Gaza conflict is making life increasingly uneasy for British Jews.

In the UK Jews can no longer feel comfortable walking around with overtly Jewish dress, walking to and from synagogue, wearing – Magen David (Star of David), expressing support for Israel.

Board of Deputies vice-President, Laura Marks, with whom I had the honour of sharing a platform at Manchester Limmud in February, is also here in Israel and in a recent article also describes how much more relaxed she feels here than in the UK, and this from someone who is peerless in her involvement in interfaith work and promoting Jewish values in the UK.

Other prominent Jews also express this sense of unease, including Jewish Chronicle editor, Stephen Pollard.

Jews in the UK and Europe have coped for decades with casual antisemitism and anti-Zionism. Although unpleasant, it rarely affects whole communities.

Unfortunately, it has to be said that the current fears come for a steep rise in an apparent tolerance of Islamist and even mainstream Muslim antisemitism, which is almost always indistinguishable from anti-Zionism.

Jews feel outnumbered. They feel accused and victimised for the policies of a foreign government in a way that Muslims rarely are and Christians never.

They feel that when the Isis, Hamas and Hizbollah flags can be flown and displayed with impunity on the streets of Britain, when ‘political’ demonstrations against Israel’s actions against Hamas in Gaza are peppered with banners comparing Israel to Nazis and overt antisemitism, when these same rallies are supported by mainstream politicians from all parties, then, maybe, their time in the UK and Europe is approaching its end.

Jews are great students of history. They need to be. Down the centuries they have been a settled minority in many civilisations, all of which have, eventually, murdered, expelled, forcibly converted, economically attacked or curtailed their human and civil rights.

We have been labouring under an illusion, it seems. That illusion is that we have been accepted, our contribution honoured, our rights guaranteed, and if we wish to support Israel, that support will not be seen as disloyalty but a natural affinity, and part of our religious and cultural identity.

For some time that identity has been attacked: all over Europe the fundamental tenets of our faith and cultural foundations such as Shechita (animal slaughter) and Brit Milah (circumcision) are subject to legal challenge; areas where we find common cause with Muslims.

But the greatest attack of all is reserved for Israel and Zionism.

It seems that the world forgets why Israel was so necessary in the first place. Antisemitism in Europe is driving thousands of Jews out of the countries of their birth to make ‘aliyah’  to Israel, the very place that is the excuse for and focus of those attacks.

It is a splendid irony that the safe haven of Europe is regarded as less safe than a country surrounded by enemies, or unstable regimes, most of whose citizens would consider Jew-murder a religious imperative.

So whilst in Israel I can enjoy an alternative perspective. I can see the UK and Europe with Israeli eyes and it is not an edifying experience.

Soon I shall be returning to the maelstrom that is Europe. There is a war there for hearts and minds and the Jews are at the epicentre as they were 80 years ago.

This is Israel

[This is the text of a speech I made yesterday at meeting of my synagogue to offer prayers for peace, and support for Israel]

Dear friends – thank you. Thank you for coming to show your support and love for the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

I shouldn’t be here tonight. I should be in Israel with my wife visiting our son who lives in Tel Aviv, and our family across Israel. But President Obama tried a little BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) of his own, and our flight was cancelled. So it is beshert that I am here to address you this evening. Im yirtzeh hashem we shall be flying out in the near future.

I want to tell what I and my wife have been doing for the last few weeks every waking moment available to us.

My wife with her phone, I with my iPad have followed every heartbreak, every attack on Israel and the Jewish people, every act of unspeakable evil and every act of unimaginable bravery.

We wept with the families of the fallen, we woke every morning wondering how many more of our beautiful young boys were gone, and how many more families would lose a son, a husband, father a brother.

We watched in awe as 30,000 people braved sirens and rockets to attend the levaya (funeral) of a lone soldier who had no family in Israel. I followed on Twitter calls for people to attend shiva houses (of mourning) of the fallen chayalim bodedim – lone soldiers. It was truly amazing to see. Many of the people I follow on Twitter in Israel actually attended these funerals.

This is Israel. This is the Israel we know and love.

And all through these long weeks we have been phoning relatives in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Netanya, Gan Yavne, Kiryat Ono to ask how they are coping. Did they have to run to a shelter? Are they OK?

You know at that this time more than 2500 rockets have been fired into Israel from Eilat in the South to Rosh Hanikrah in the North. In the last decade at least 12,000 have been fired at Israel.

For weeks, we have sat wondering to ourselves: will our son be called up as a reservist. Would he have to fight? So far, he has not baruch hashem, thank G-d. Very few of us here are completely unaffected by events in Israel; I’m sure many of you have children or grandchildren, relatives and friends in Israel.

I downloaded an app called Red Alert. Every time a rocket is fired into Israel it will sound an alarm that you can configure – you can chose whether it is a wailing siren or a woman saying ‘Tzeva adom tzeva adom’ – Red alert. This so freaked out my wife as my iPad was telling us every few minutes that a rocket was fired at somewhere in Israel that I had to change the noise to be like an email alert. Each time my wife asked – where was that one? Was it Tel Aviv? Was anyone hurt?

This is how we have lived these last few weeks – can you imagine what it is like over there? I’m sure some of you have been and can tell us your own experiences.

We have had to face the surreal knowledge that in a few days we would be entering a war zone ourselves.

As someone who for years now has been involved in hasbara and has used social media to counter lies and distortions and to get the truth about Israel out there, I have been just one of an international network of people who are active on Twitter, on blogs, Facebook and even on the Television and radio here in the UK, Israel, the United States and across the world.

So, what have I learned, then, these last few weeks. Here are some highlights and lowlights.

Well, guess what! Those who say anti-zionism is not anti-semitism have been shown to be seriously deluded. Although criticism of the policies of the Israeli government is a perfectly legitimate exercise, and one mostly performed in Israel itself, the vast majority of anti-Israel bashing is clearly antisemitic.

In France a traumatised Jewish community numbering more than 350,000 has been subjected to what can only be called pogroms. After a so-called pro-Palestinian demo in Paris, congregants in a shul – ironically called ‘de la Roquette’ – were besieged by a baying mob of stone-throwing and knife-wielding Muslims. Only the police saved them from a lynching. Nine synagogues in France have been attacked, even fire bombed. Jewish shops and businesses burned to the ground. Hundreds of French Jews have made aliyah (emigrated) to Israel, where one said he would rather sit in a bomb shelter in Tel Aviv than walk on a street in Paris wearing a kippah.

On Facebook they created a page with the photos and names of French Jews so that they can be attacked. In Paris a Jew was recognised and attacked by fifteen thugs as people looked on.

In Belfast the shul had its windows smashed – twice.

In Manchester, after the pro-Palestinian rally, a convoy of Blackburn Muslims, who had probably never spoken to a Jew in their life, terrorised Jews in Broughton Park, throwing eggs and insults and shouting ‘Heil Hitler’.  Indeed, Hitler’s popularity is at its highest for about 70 years.

On Shabbos, a member of this congregation told us how the Kedem shop in King Street has been besieged for a week, and he urged all of us to support the pro-Israel contingent against an aggressive mob of hardline left-wing activists and Muslims who had tried to block the entrance to the shop and had terrorised staff.

In London and Paris, in Berlin and in Belgium and Holland and even in Cardiff violent pro-Palestinian demonstrators held banners which compared Israel and the Jews to the Nazis, called for ‘death to the Jews’, or chanted ‘Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas’ and other unspeakable horrors, unchallenged by police, or the public. The Hamas, Hizbollah and ISIS flags were freely carried without hindrance. In Bradford and Preston the Town Halls took down the Union Flag, our national flag, and raised the Palestinian in an act of solidarity; something they failed to do for the thousands of Palestinians killed in Syria for the last three years.

In Paris, those ever ready to associate Zionism with Nazism gleefully made the antisemitic quenelle salute, a version of the Nazi salute, and called for another Holocaust – the one they all deny ever happened, of course; yet it is Israelis who are the Nazis?

A Turkish shop in Liège in Belgium bore a sign in the window saying ‘Dogs are welcome, but not Jews’.

The Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayib Erdogan said what the Israelis are doing in Gaza is 100 times worse than what the Nazis did to the Jews.

And the United States is not immune with violent rallies against Israel across the country, even in Miami.

Meanwhile, in the UK the Liberal Democrat MP, David Ward, tweeted ‘Ich bin ein Palestinian’ and that if he were in Gaza, would he fire a rocket? yes, I probably would, he said. In other words, he would be prepared to commit a war crime by firing a rocket indiscriminately at Israeli civilians, presumably as form of ‘collective punishment’.

After a storm of protests on Twitter, in which I took part, his colleague, ex MEP Edward McMillan-Scott, stood up for Mr Ward and called the Board of Deputies (so that includes me) a ‘ frightful bag of disputatious Jews’ .

Talking of ‘frightful bags’, on BBC Newsnight that evening, Baroness Jenny Tonge thought Israelis are so despicable that she would also be prepared to commit a war crime against Israel were she to be in Gaza. This is the same woman who once said she could empathise with suicide bombers.

The media and social media talk endlessly of ‘proportionality’ without the slightest idea of the actual definition of this term in international law, in the hope that, it seems, more Israelis will be killed to satisfy their desire for some obscene arithmetic idea of ‘fair play’, as if war were a Sunday afternoon cricket match, not about justice and righteousness or self-preservation in the face of a pathological and suicidal enemy.

Without the Iron Dome, can you imagine how many more Gazans would have died, let alone Israelis. I say that because without the Iron Dome Israel would have to have acted with far, far greater force.

Yet they mock the rockets as harmless homemade fireworks – even though many are provided by Iran – in order to accuse Israel of disproportionality. Because Israel protects its citizens with this technology, they expect Israel to sit back and just allow rockets to rain down on them because, unlike any other nation, they don’t believe Israel has a right to protect itself. And these rockets can, and have killed, and wrought destruction, fear and trauma especially to young children. And, if they are so harmless, how come airlines decided it was too dangerous to land at Ben Gurion?

And yet these same pedlars of semantic mendacity are not concerned that in Syria 170,000 people have died, including thousands in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, Millions are refugees. Did you see any demos in London or Paris about that?

In Iraq, the most evil gang of criminals since the Nazis, ISIS or ISIL, or whatever acronym of evil they now use, are trying to outdo them, killing thousands, ending 1800 years of Christian life in Mosul in Iraq, spreading terror, destroying mosques and churches and precious historical artifacts, the tombs of saints and prophets. And all in the name of the same god that inspires Hamas and their criminal allies. Where are the mass demonstrations? Where are pogroms against Muslims? Where the outrage? Where are the Methodists? Where the Quakers? All we get is a shrug and a soon-forgotten op-ed in one of the dailies.

Yet, if the State of Israel dares to defend itself against a decade during which barely a day has passed without a rocket, an attempted infiltration to kidnap or murder, or a mortar attack against a school bus, the UNHRC ( a mockery of the words ‘human’ and ‘rights’ but definitely ‘united’ against one state – Israel) the UNHRC, a bunch of gangster states that would make the Mafia blush, is falling over itself to launch a war crimes investigation, whilst completely ignoring the Hamas rockets and terror. There have been 32 UNHRC resolutions, 26 of them against Israel and no more than one or even none at all for Syria, Sudan, Russia, China, Nigeria, Mexico, Sri Lanka or Iran.

Ironically, in the 2014 UN Human Development index, Israel came 19th. France was 20th. Not one of Israel’s neighbours came in the top 50, and the ‘State of Palestine’ has a higher index than most other Arab or even Muslim states. So much for genocide..

This is the world we live in.

But it is at times like this when we should take great pride in Israel which shines like a beacon of hope and goodness; yet much of the world is blind to it. Their ignorance of history, their political ideologies, their religion, yes, their prejudice and culturally acceptable thinly-disguised antisemitism, fuels hatred, violence and death, stoked by the media, politicians, and the Internet.

Israelis, and we who support them, we who have morals and scruples, we who abhor death and embrace life, are forced to witness death and destruction and human suffering visited on the people of Gaza, who are as much the victims of Hamas terror – maybe more so – as the people of Israel.

We take no joy or satisfaction in the death of a single innocent, yet they cheer and jeer the death of an Israeli soldier or a civilian, whilst their apologists toss ancient blood libels at Jews like the sweets the Palestinians hand out to their children to celebrate their cult of death.

Today the famous words of Prime Minister Golda Meir are still true: “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

They use their people as human shields, preventing them from leaving their homes when Israel warns of imminent attack, physically intimidating and beating them so that they will be killed to provide a photo-op for the gullible press, who would rather believe the representative of a terror organisation than a member of the Israeli government.

They hide weapons in schools, mosques and hospitals, they booby trap homes and fire from those same homes and from protected buildings.

But Jeremy Bowen ‘sees no evidence of human shields’.

Did you know that 5 years ago Hamas itself and other observers revealed that 160 children, who they used to build the tunnels, were killed in those tunnels? Yet it is Israel and the Jews that are the child-killers, the baby murderers.

I’m sure many of you would have seen the graphics on social media and heard the words of Bibi Netanyahu – ‘we protect our civilians with our missiles, they protect their missiles with their civilians’.

$100m at least spent on several kilometres of terror tunnels, and not a single bomb shelter in Gaza, except the ones in the basements of hospitals where their cowardly leaders hide. Did you know that Hamas have a command centre in an office next to the emergency room in Shifa hospital?

Another aspect of the anti-Israel hatred, which for so long has permeated the media, is the corruption of the language of the Holocaust and our national suffering, referring to Gaza as a ‘concentration camp’ or the ‘Warsaw ghetto’. The Arab population of both Gaza and the Territories has grown steadily, yet Israel is committing ‘genocide’ a word never used in reference to Syria or Iraq.

Even our own political leaders, even Jewish ones, have characterised Gaza in terms of the Holocaust; Gaza where life expectancy is higher than parts of Glasgow.

Meanwhile, Israel sends through its crossings hundreds of truckloads of medical equipment and aid every single week, and even the cement used to build the terror tunnels. Whilst at other crossings, hundreds of Palestinians are taken for free medical care to the Rambam hospital in Haifa or the Soroka in Beersheva – even wounded terrorists!

This is Israel.

Only Israel would build a field hospital to treat the civilians of their enemy, and only Israel would have it shelled deliberately by that same enemy, who try to prevent their own people from using it.

Only Israel would have utility workers ready to risk their lives to repair pylons and infrastructure damaged by their enemy so that the innocent could watch Hamas TV courtesy of an Israeli technician, and so that terrorists could continue to use that same power for their malign purposes. Electricity which, by the way, Israel provides for free, anyway.

This is Israel.

Dear friends, sometimes I feel that the darkness is closing in on us. We are relatively safe here in the UK, but it can change quickly. Who would have thought that the 1930’s would return in the second decade of the 21st century. My mother a’h used to tell me that she was often told to ‘Go back to Palestine’ now they are telling Israelis to ‘go back to Poland’.

Yet, this is not the 1930’s. Today we have, b’h the State of Israel and every pogrom, every UN resolution, every rocket, every attack on a Jew proves how necessary it is for us to have our own state where we can be the masters of our own destiny. By attacking Israel and calling for its destruction and the murder of every Jew, they strengthen our will and our determination to survive and prosper as a people and to be a light unto the nations.

They spew hate, we generate love. They tear down, we build. They bring death and destruction, we bring life, medical breakthroughs, technology to feed the world. Israel sends water technologists to Africa, rescue and medical teams to Haiti and Japan when disasters strike. Israelis and Jews win Nobel prizes  ‘disproportionately’ to their numbers.

The lovers of death are the absolute antithesis of what we are as a people.

So my message to you tonight is this: stand firm and stand tall and proud of what we are and what we do. Support Israel. Buy Israeli goods, go to Israel for a holiday, tell your colleagues about Israeli achievements. Tell them what they don’t see on the TV or hear on the radio or read in the newspapers. Learn history. Read about Israel. Arm yourself with knowledge, and don’t believe the lies and distortions fed to you by the BBC or SKY News.  Write to the media. Write to your MP. Sign petitions. Respond to calls for action from the Board of Deputies or the Rep Council.

Let me finish with a final story from my online life.

Today, one of the biggest heroes in Israel is the Colonel of the Golani Brigade, which has taken many casualties in Gaza. He led his men from the front rather than from a luxury hotel in Qatar. He was wounded and hospitalised. He begged the doctors to allow him to go back and lead his men. He did just that with the scars still livid on his handsome face. He is a lion of Israel. His name is Ghassan Alian. He is not a Jew, but a Druze.

This is Israel.

Kol haKavod lo. May Hashem bless all the good works of his hands and those of his men and all the IDF.

Chazak ve’amatz

Am Yisrael Chai

Now that Russia has invaded Crimea …

sevastapol

Now that Russia has illegally annexed and occupied another country I fully expect to see the following:

Co-op members strongly pressing for a boycott of all goods made in the Crimea

Russian owned businesses to be picketed

Actors, filmmakers and performers to pressured into not going to Russia

Those same actors, filmmakers and performers to take out a full page advertisement in the Guardian denouncing the Russian government and expressing solidarity with the Ukraine

Performances by Russian orchestras at the Proms to be interrupted

EU to vote to label all goods made in Crimea

Russian speakers to be heckled and harassed at UK and US universities

Russian academics disinvited from speaking at UK universities and elsewhere

Russian military personnel and lawmakers involved with the annexation to be arrested on arrival in the UK

Trades Unions to vote to break ties with Russian counterparts

If these things all happen I will be less inclined to believe that similar measures carried out against Israel and Israelis are only antisemitism and not genuine political and humanitarian concerns.

Two Unions and a Tribunal: Or ‘how I had my Jewishness defined for me’

This article was first published in ‘Israel and the World’ April 2013

Two recent cases in the UK and Ireland have highlighted the obsessive anti-Zionism that has seeped into the fabric of academic discourse.

Those who obsess about Israel, characterising that state in in the most pejorative of terms, are part of a broader left wing coalition for whom Israel is the new South Africa; a country which, by shedding Apartheid without shedding blood, inconsiderately deprived the Left of something to gather in Trafalgar Square about;  the cause célèbre that makes them feel good about their Socialist credentials once again.

This troupe of Israel-obsessed, Zionist-loathing, self-righteous self-delusionists find support and common cause with the even more obsessive Muslim and Islamist ‘Greens’, thus forming what has been called ‘The Red Green Alliance’.

Even though the views of the ‘Greens’ are about as unpalatable as a side order of Brussel  sprouts, when it comes to their views on Israel, and even though their anti-Israelism and pro-Palestinianism is often, if not invariably thinly veiled anti-Semitism, the Reds are happy to embrace and find common cause with their green brothers and sisters.

Why the Left should find common cause against a pluralist, thriving, innovative democracy and side with those who support and give succour to some of the most obscene regimes in the world is a mystery for which I have little explanation.

In an article by Joshua Muravchik titled “Enough Said: The False Scholarship of Edward Said”[1] there is, perhaps, an explanation:

Said rolled American racism and European colonialism into one mélange of white oppression of darker-skinned peoples. He was not the only thinker to have forged this amalgam, but his unique further contribution was to represent “Orientals” as the epitome of the dark-skinned; Muslims as the modal Orientals; Arabs as the essential Muslims; and, finally, Palestinians as the ultimate Arabs. Abracadabra—Israel was transformed from a redemptive refuge from two thousand years of persecution to the very embodiment of white supremacy.

This is the background against which two absurdities were recently consecrated by academe.

The first case was in Ireland, a cold-bed of anti-Israel activity and sentiment, and perpetrated  by those who clearly believe that the Palestinians are the new Fenians.

The Teachers Union of Ireland agreed an academic boycott of Israel and, thus, aligned themselves with the BDS (Boycott, Sanction, Disinvestment) movement which comprises a motley assortment of groups and individuals who ‘BDS’ no other country, nor who are interested in so doing. This alliance’s rhetoric is often laced with helpful suggestions to the Israeli people to take part in negotiations with themselves (as the other party continues to absent itself) to bring about the end of their own country in order to allow yet another Islamist, anti-Semitic terror state to replace it, all in the name of Human Rights and natural justice, not to mention International Law.

When this group is challenged to explain why they have chosen Israel and not, for example, Sudan or China or Syria or North Korea or Burma as the cynosure of their moral indignation-cum-compass, they can come out with absurdities such as this, reported in the Jewish Chronicle (12 April 2013):

The academic boycott of Israel imposed by the Teachers Union of Ireland is a “backhanded compliment”, the union’s general secretary has claimed.

John MacGabhann said the TUI “expected more” of Israel than it did of other countries and felt a “sense of disappointment” in the actions of successive Israeli governments.

“To a very significant degree, our union and members expect more of the Israeli government, precisely because we would anticipate that Israeli governments would act in all instances and ways to better uphold the rights of others,” he said.

I would bring Mr MacGabhann’s attention to one of the clauses of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism’s working definition of anti-Semitism:

Applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

So, don’t take my word for it, the TUI decision is antisemitic. Apart from that, it’s downright stupid, which makes me worry about the future of Irish education if it is in the hands of those who try to find enough wriggle-room to excuse the enormity of their prejudices.

What is the corollary of expecting Israel to behave better than other countries? Why, it means the TUI expects less of other, unspecified countries. But don’t these inspirational academics, in the glory of their self-righteousness, realise that not only gives a free (moral) pass to Israel’s enemies, but it is profoundly racist. It also contradicts what, I would guess, is one of their own cherished principles; namely, international laws, norms of behaviour and the adherence to the principles of human rights  - which are not negotiable on the basis of ‘well, you know, we’re only Arabs, whadya expect?’ or ‘Come on, we are brown-skinned and clearly of inferior moral fibre, give us a break’.

If they can’t see how repugnant it is to expect more of Israel, and less of others, (and how pathetic an excuse for their own bigotry that is), then how can we possibly trust them to make a proper moral judgement on the rightness of BDS?

The second case was Jewish, Zionist Mathematics lecturer, Ronnie Fraser versus the University College Union.

Fraser accused the Union of harassment due to a number of incidents over the years where he felt that his support for Israel had led to his being bullied and victimised.

This is the same UCU which found that the Working Definition of antisemitism quoted above was not to their liking because it married Israel-bashing with antisemitsm and, although to be antisemitic is taboo even for a UCU academic, to be anti-Zionist is not. In other words, the definition got in the way of their attempts to fig-leaf their own prejudices. Here’s the bit where they felt an index finger pointing rather too close for comfort at their academic sang-froid:

Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:

Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

‘Could include’, indeed. Context is all. Yet, in a judgement for this same UCU Fraser lost the case before an employment tribunal. He not only lost it, but one of the reasons he lost it was because the judge found that Jews do not understand their own Jewishness:

“..an attachment to Israel… is not intrinsically part of Jewishness”

So what is? An attachment to money and Christian blood?

As Prof. Geoffrey Alderman wrote in the Jewish Chronicle also on the 12th April:

“..I had only to consult my daily prayer book to reassure myself on this point”

Anyone who can make that statement with a straight face is either obscenely badly-educated (maybe they attended University College?) or they are malign in the extreme. Such a judgement is so ignorant that it smacks of the antisemitic form of anti-Zionism that the case was about in the first place.

So, it seems, Jews turned up in Israel because they though mosquito-infested swamps, 40°C, noisy neighbours, pitiless soil and desert  conditions were a worthwhile colonial enterprise. As opposed to, say, the bounty of Uganda or the forests of Madagascar, both thought, at one time, to be suitable dumping-grounds for Europe’s Jews.

The problem, you see, is the whole idea of ‘Jewishness’ and how the outside world cannot, at times, and often for its own ideological convenience, come to terms with the idea that for Jews the Land of Israel is not fundamental to their religion and culture – IT IS their religion and culture. It is as indivisible for Jews as the Trinity for Catholics or the Five Pillars for Islam.

To deny that connection, to divorce Jew from Judaism and The Land, is just another line of attack on Jews and Jewishness  and which leads to assaults on shechita (ritual slaughter) and brit milah (circumcision); and all in the name of animal welfare or human rights.

I’ll finish with words of author Howard Jacobson writing in The Independent[2] about the reaction  to Cast Lead (Israel’s invasion of Gaza in 2008/9) which typifies the level and tenor of attacks on Israel, which, I will remind you, is the homeland of the Jewish people:

“…the air has been charred not with devastation but with hatred…

A discriminatory, over-and-above hatred, inexplicable in its hysteria and virulence whatever justification is adduced for it; an unreasoning, deranged and as far as I can see irreversible revulsion that is poisoning everything we are supposed to believe in here – the free exchange of opinions, the clear-headedness of thinkers and teachers, the fine tracery of social interdependence we call community relations, modernity of outlook, tolerance, truth.”

Why I’m not buying the Sunday Times This Week

Normally, by now, I am relaxing after a brisk walk to the local shops and reading my Sunday Times.

Recently, I was reading some old diaries and discovered that I was doing the Sunday Times crossword in 1969. I remember well when my association with that newspaper begun. They ran a series on the Kennedy assassination, something that has fascinated me all my life, and it began with that Sunday Times series of articles.

So for more than 40 years, on and off, I have read the Sunday Tomes. I like the News Review where, religiously, I do the crosswords, puzzles, chess problem and even try the bridge problem. It’s what Sundays are about.

Every week in the main paper there is a Gerald Scarfe cartoon. These are usually hard-hitting critiques of a political nature.

Last week, as I’m sure we all know by now, Scarfe and the Sunday Times editorial team presented us with this:Sunday Times Netanyahu cartoon larger 270113

 

So before I recall all the reaction to this cartoon, let may say that I am only now writing about it because such incidents are sometimes best contemplated once the response and counter-response has taken place because it can be very instructive where Israel and the Jews are concerned.

It took about one second for my first gut reaction. This was not a considered analysis of the politics or the fairness of the cartoon, my initial reaction was: “I think this may be anti-Semitic”. I did not say those words to myself. I felt it in my gut. All I could see was the world’s most prominent Jew with an evil expression and a sharp implement dripping blood and Palestinians dead or dying. My gut and my Jewish radar told me: “Blood Libel”.

Then this was followed by disbelief. Just a minute. This is Gerald Scarfe. He’s not anti-Semitic. The Sunday Times is not anti-Semitic. Am I reading this wrong? Am I too sensitive?

Then I read the words at the bottom. “Will cementing peace continue?”.  I didn’t understand. What was he saying? Is this the separation barrier? Is it a settlement being built? Then my gut reaction to the clear similarity with Nazi Jew-hate propaganda as seen the Der Stuermer, in 19th century Russian images and, sadly, today in the Arab and Iranian press, was reinforced by the unfairness of the cartoon. if this was the separation barrier, then it has saved thousands of lives. If it is a settlement then why show Palestinians being bricked up in it.

Then I realised that this cartoon followed on immediately from David Ward MP’s remarks equating Israel with Nazis on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day. This image, echoing the blood libel and depicting Netanyahu as a murderous demonic figure was a further kick in the gut.

An immediate farrago ensued. What I had not even considered was that last Sunday was Holocaust Memorial Day, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. This was irrelevant to me. Didn’t enter my head when I looked at this cartoon, but, I guess, it was there in the background creating a feeling of general antipathy to Israel which was spilling over into casual and unthinking anti-Semitism.

So, Rupert Murdoch weighed in with an apology. The Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council met with Martin Ivens, the acting editor of the newspaper and, before very long, an abject apology was issued.

The apology, although I am convinced was genuine, was a little ambiguous:

“I’m grateful so many community leaders could come together at such short notice. You will know that the Sunday Times abhors anti-Semitism and would never set out to cause offence to the Jewish people – or any other ethnic or religious group. That was not the intention last Sunday. Everyone knows that Gerald Scarfe is consistently brutal and bloody in his depictions, but last weekend – by his own admission – he crossed a line. The timing – on Holocaust Memorial Day – was inexcusable. The associations on this occasion were grotesque and on behalf of the paper I’d like to apologise unreservedly for the offence we clearly caused. This was a terrible mistake.”

He appears to be apologising for the timing of the cartoon. He believes this is what gave offence. This is, perhaps, even worse because it is saying: “Sorry for depicting Jews as murderous Nazis on Holocaust Memorial Day, we should have waited a week and depicted them as murderous Nazis next week”.

Of course, it is not ‘the Jews’ being depicted, but Binyamin Netanyahu. Scarfe aimed his venom at him, not Jews generally. However, when you depict a Jew using anti-Semitic imagery, then your political point has gone beyond the person and extends to a whole people.

Scarfe also apologised saying he was unaware of the date the cartoon would appear and that he was ignorant of the Blood Libel. Never heard of it, he said.

This is what I wrote to local community leaders in an email last week which I have edited here to avoid repetition:

Scarfe’s response is interesting. Although I find it hard to believe that he is unaware of the blood libel I am inclined to believe him. I’ve never seen Scarfe as an anti-Semite or even anti Israel.

The interesting bit is that he is a well-educated man in his 70’s and he has never seen anything about the blood libel or understands Jewish sensitivity to blood (his apology was for the timing not content. Perhaps prompted by Ivens).

Yet his image so closely recalls and even references images from the 30’s and 40’s that he must, somehow, have subliminally stored away these images and inadvertently reproduced their tone right down to the demonic look and the dripping sharp instrument.

There must have been studies of how the Jew in European culture plugs in to folk memory. Many German cartoons were folklorish in nature. The Jew as a character from Grimm’s fairytales. This is how, I believe, someone like Scarfe can blithely reproduce anti-Semitic imagery whilst remaining, apparently, un-anti-Semitic.

….

I think we were right to object and the apology, although missing the point a little, is well-received. I shall be buying the ST again, but maybe not this weekend – maybe I’ll check the Scarfe cartoon first.

I should also note that there was much debate in the Jewish community in the UK and in Israel, Ha’aretz reporter Anshel Pfeffer denied it was anti-Semitic.

The reaction from Israel haters and an assembly of pro-Palestinian groups was also instructive. They generally missed the point accusing the Jewish Lobby of playing the anti-Semitism card to close down debate. They supported Scarfe and David Ward saying they were brave or righteous to point out Israel’s ethnic cleansing, genocide etc.

Others could not see the relation to Nazi imagery. Usually these people were not Jewish and did not have Jewish sensitivities. They not only could not experience my gut feeling – and I trust my gut when it comes to anti-Semitism – but they also missed the important point that not one member of the Jewish community said the cartoon should not be published or that criticism of Israel or its politicians in political cartoons was inadmissible.

It’s not the first time Israel supporters have cried ‘anti-Semitic’. Steve Bell of the Guardian also came in for heavy criticism.

Yes, cartoonists have the right to offend. Often that offence is deliberate and aimed at politicians at home and abroad. Judging the fairness of the image depends on your politics. It also depends on your experience. If you inhabit my world where Israel is being vilified disproportionately, where Israel is subject to obsessive UN criticism, where Jews and Judaism are under attack daily across Europe, then your skin’s thickness is subject to a thinning process to the point where if you prick us, we certainly do bleed.

The best thing I can say about this cartoon was the reaction of the Jewish community. It was in part over the top hysterical, as is often the case with certain elements of the community who will jump in and on anything vaguely anti-Semitic that moves. The leadership, though, did the right thing; they expressed dismay whilst expressing the right to publish and to free speech.

No-one died as a result of this cartoon. There were no demos across London or the world calling for Scarfe to be killed. No-one burned down the Sunday Times offices. Scarfe can sleep safe in his bed at night. He does not have to skulk from safe house to safe house with a police armed guard. No embassies were attacked or diplomats killed.

Cartoonists and journalists should be aware of  the sensitivities of all communities. This does not change their right to say and depict as they wish within the law.

I’ll be buying the Sunday Times next week. This week, I’ll register my own personal protest and deprive them of my £2.50.

Why David Ward’s remarks about Israel and the Holocaust are mainstream

David Ward MP is in a spot of bother with the Liberal Democrats.

On the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK he chose to make the following slanderous comparison between Israeli Jews and Nazi Germany:

” [he was] “saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza”.

Even to rebut this piece of trash is like trying to respond to a ‘when did you stop beating your wife’ question, but here goes.

There are about a hundred things wrong with this statement so let’s dissect it.

Firstly he makes the telling conflation of Jews and Israelis. Is he really saying that, given his statement that ‘atrocities’ are and have been visited upon Palestinians that the Jews are responsible wherever they are in the world? Israel may be the nation state of the Jews but not all Jews live there or even identify with it.

Second:  he uses that trick which others have used before; to be ever so sorry about the Holocaust and to tell us how awfully the Jews were treated and then go on to accuse them of ‘not learning the lesson’ of the Holocaust as if it’s the victims who have a lesson to learn and not the perpetrators. it also conveniently avoids the fact that it is Israel’s and the Jews’ enemies who daily proclaim their wish to annihilate Israel and the Jewish people: Hamas, Hizbollah and the Iranian regime.

Third: He says ‘within a few years’ of the lesson that the world taught the Jews, they were themselves perpetrating atrocities. Oh, really. In the 19 years between the declaration of the State of Israel when it was attacked by armies of the Arab League intending to finish Hitler’s work, until 1967 when the same Arab League lost a war in 6 days and had to concede territory after attacking Israel once again, all the ‘atrocities’ were against the Jews.

Fourth: He says that these atrocities were perpetrated IN the new State of Israel. Is he referring to the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who fled or were forced out as a result of the attack on Israel by the Arab League? Did atrocities occur? Of course they did; war always produces atrocities whether it be in Afghanistan, World War II or Vietnam. Israeli atrocities as regrettable as they were were certainly no greater than those of their enemies and, in my view, considerably less. However, an atrocity is an atrocity. But is Mr Ward, therefore, holding Israeli Jews to a higher standard than the rest of the world? If so, than this is actually a marker for anti-Semitism – not that I would accuser Mr Ward of that, that would be too simple. it’s far deeper than a irrational hatred, it’s a pathology.

Fifth: ‘continue to do so on a daily basis’. So Mr Ward is saying that Jews (presumably those in Israel) are daily committing atrocities. Like what? No doubt there is much Israel can be criticised for. No doubt that innocents die. But there is a context for this, whether you agree with Israel being in the West Bank, for example, or not what atrocities are here? Maybe he means settlers allegedly taking Palestinian land? Or, maybe some settlers have shot and even killed Palestinians. Is he referring to the awful ‘Price Tag’ actions which target Mosques and farmers’ crops. These may all be crimes, but are they atrocities like the Nazis committed atrocities? Do they deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence? If so, half the countries of the world should have learned these lessons – why pick on Israel, of all countries, or rather ‘Jews’ as examples of atrocity perpetrators when he could have mentioned: Cambodia, Rwanda, Tibet, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Algeria, Mali, Nigeria, Congo. This is not an exhaustive list. Every one of those conflicts exhibit truly awful atrocities on a large scale of both genocide, and ethnic-cleansing as well as internecine and tribal warfare.

Even the USA and the UK have not been atrocity free in recent years. And this is to say nothing of Islamist atrocities, including those against Israel, which have been a part of everyday life for over a decade.

He also mentioned Gaza which was ethnically cleansed of Jews by the, er, Israelis eight years ago, since which time its inhabitants have set a course of suicide bombings and rocket fire against Israel. Its government, Hamas, has a charter which clearly sets out its mission to destroy Israel and the Jews. Nice. Clearly THEY didn’t learn the lesson of the Holocaust; or maybe they did, and the lesson was that if you threaten to wipe out the Jews no-one will believe you.  Meanwhile Israel continues to provide them with water, electricity, hundreds of truckloads of goods daily and treats thousands of Gazans every year for free in Israeli hospitals.

So  Mr Ward, the British provided the Germans with all that was necessary to sustain life whilst the Luftwaffe blitzed England, is that right, Mr Ward?

Yet it is Israel who has to learn the lesson of its own intended destruction.

Sixth: Mr Ward’s words imply strongly, and please read them very carefully, that Israel’s actions are, somehow, comparable to the actions of the Nazis. This is in itself actually an anti-Semitic marker, but let’s again exonerate Mr Ward from that accusation; I’m sure many of his constituents in Bradford would never countenance, let alone elect anyone with such views.

So let’s look at what characterised the Nazi’s atrocities against Jews (and here I also have to mention Roma, Gays and the mentally ill etc. who, it is presumed, have indeed learned the lessons of their experiences in the Holocaust and would never commit a single atrocity against anyone, ever again, as a result, their all being very special super-human people who inherited the no-atrocity gene from their forbears, whereas the benighted Jews did not).

Please, Mr Ward, show me the death camps, the labour camps; show me the ghettos (and, no, Gaza is not a ghetto, it’s a political entity which happens to be an outclave of the Palestinian Authority thanks to Egypt cutting it loose some time ago). Show me the starving millions; the cattle trucks; the gas chambers; the denial of paid work; the laws. Show me the death pits, the disease, the torture, the summary executions of innocents – show me the genocide, Mr Ward.

So, Mr Ward has knee-jerked his anti-Semitic trope, inspired as he was by Holocaust Remembrance Day which sticks in the throat of certain people on the Left in British political classes, because their favourite victims, the Palestinians, engineers of their own fate, and themselves as anti-Semitic as they come, don’t figure in this national breast-beating for the wrongs done to the Jews and others. They cannot abide that the Jews should garner a single drop of sympathy or that maybe some people might just begin to figure out why the Jews need their own country and justify defending it against those who are themselves inspired not by Holocaust Remembrance Day but by the perpetrators of the Shoah, the Nazis, to whom Mr Ward so egregiously compares the Jews.

Some have said that Mr Ward is playing to his Muslim constituents gallery. If this were true it would be a calumnious attitude towards them in that it implies that Muslims in his constituency would be more likely to vote for him because he accuses Jews of behaving like Nazis. After all, Mr Ward is not George Galloway.

All this goes to show that, in the UK today, you can get away with (give or take a reprimand) slandering Israel – even on the eve of a day intended to remind us what such attitudes can lead to.  Such views are now mainstream because the public has bought into the anti-Israel narrative to such a degree that they will even believe that Israelis behave like Nazis thus demonstrating not only ignorance of Nazis but also Israelis.

 

 

Is the synod EAPPI with this?

In response to the recent vote in the General Synod of the Church of England to support closer ties with EAPPI (Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel),  I was involved in writing this response on behalf of the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region which was subsequently sent to Christian magazines as an open letter:

The Jewish Representative Council  of Greater Manchester and Region  expresses  its great disappointment  at the result of  the vote in the General Synod to support EAPPI (the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel).

Whereas it is perfectly legitimate for any Church or religious body to question or criticise the actions of the UK government or any foreign  government for that matter, as a question of conscience, it is alarming in the extreme to see the established Church of England support an organisation which itself associates with individuals and organisations whose motivation is not that of human rights or religious conscience, but of demonization and deligitimisation of the State of Israel.

This  was reflected in the tone and content of some of  the speeches made at the Synod. The debate at Synod  was littered with references to ‘powerful lobbies’, the money expended by the Jewish community, ‘Jewish sounding names’ and the actions of the community ‘bringing shame on the memory of victims of the Holocaust’.

This is deeply offensive and raises serious questions about the motivation of those behind the motion.

The content of the EAPPI website  itself is rife with uncontextualised allegations, witness and declaration whilst giving but lip service to balance, historical perspectives and disputed legalities.

The Church of England would do well, if not better, to concentrate its efforts, and lead on the parlous situation of Christian communities in the Palestinian Arab Territories and throughout the Middle East where they are subject to attack, abuse, dispossession, forced conversions, expulsion and murder not at the hands of Jews but of Muslims.

It should be noted that Israel is the only country in the Middle East whose Christian community is growing.

Our Council  which only last week joined in the celebrations connected with  the establishment  of the Council of Christians and Jews 70 years ago  will continue its interfaith work with the Church of England in Manchester with whom it has strong and highly valued ties; but this relationship has been severely damaged by this vote.

We especially thank the Bishop of Manchester Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch for his opposition to the motion and  for his deep understanding of the real issues.

I have emphasised the area under discussion but I believe this topic merits more than one blog post.

I read today in YnetNews

The Orthodox Christian Church in the Gaza Strip is claiming that a group of armed Islamists kidnapped five Christian Palestinians, a young man and a mother and her three daughters, to force them to convert to Islam.

In a statement, the church said that “the dangerous Islamist movement is trying to convince Christian men and women to convert to Islam, destroying Christian families and the Christian presence in the Gaza Strip.”

The church refused to divulge the name of the Islamist group it accused of these attempts.

The head of the Gaza church claimed that one of the Christians was abducted on Saturday after he had been heavily pressured to convert to Islam and had been prevented from seeing his family. According to the leader, the young man’s parents filed a police complaint, but the police did nothing after learning that the person behind the alleged kidnappers was a senior cleric identified with Hamas.

This reinforces my emphasised text above written before this story. All over the Arab world and within the Palestinian Authority Christians are under attack. In Bethlehem they are leaving or being forced out not by Israelis but by Muslims who intimidate them and appropriate property; in Egypt the Copts have been under attack. In Syria; in Iraq the Christian population is all but gone after centuries. Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post reviewed the situation last year.

So where is the EAPPI equivalent in these countries? Where are the Synod resolutions? What is the Church doing about it? Which governments are they protesting to? Which NGO’s have they set up to investigate?

As usual, it’s only Israel and the Jews who are subject to a level of scrutiny Israel alone in the Middle East would tolerate.

Meanwhile the in Israel the Christian community is the only one in the Middle East that is growing and the only one that feels safe and whose religious rights and practices are protected not just by law but in fact.

I make a point about Jewish refugees from Arab lands

For months now a particular pro-Palestinian website has directly linked to an image on my website.

The image was of a UK and an Israeli flag and used to illustrate an article, on this other website, about the decision of the UK government to tighten up the universal jurisdiction rules which were being abused to issue arrests for Israeli lawmakers and military visiting the UK.

I just deleted the image so that a blank space would replace the flag image.

Then, after so many months, still linking to my site, I decided to strike a blow for the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab lands who were expelled over a decade for no other reason than they were Jews in a spiteful ‘revenge’  for the creation of the State of Israel.

Of course, where would these refugees go? Many to Israel. Thus the Arab countries were hoist by their own petard, as it were and now it was my time to do a little hoisting of my own.

So I recreated the image I had deleted but this time it carried a message: “Between 1947 and 1958 900,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries because they were Jews”; beneath is the Israeli flag.

So far, it’s still there.

I wonder how long it will remain.

I guess you might call it self-hacking on their part.

But then, those uprooted Palestinians are the only refugees in history whose numbers have increased over time and who are granted that status in perpetuity and uniquely.

Meanwhile the 900,000 Jews have settled and got on with their lives building a future for their families having left behind their property, memories and dead relatives who lived in their former host countries for centuries.

Nothing speaks more eloquently of the need for a Jewish homeland than those who would deprive us of one.