Ray Cook - As I See It

Israel, Zionism and the Media

Category: Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism? (page 1 of 6)

Britannia Redux – return to the rabbit-hole

I wrote here about waking up one day and finding that a vile anti-Zionist was leader of the Labour Party.

Since writing that blog post I am more convinced than ever that at some point during the  last few months I did, indeed, pass through a wormhole into an alternative universe.

You don’t believe me? Well, that’s because you are denizens of that universe and I am a mere interloper who has lost his way and is desperate to get Back to the Future.

Look. In my universe, the Premier League is won by Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal or Chelsea. In your universe, Leicester City, a club of no known provenance, wins the Premier League. It may be normal for you, but not for me.

In my universe it is surely beyond credible that Wales would even qualify for Euro2016 let alone win their group. In your universe they end up as semi-finalists. It’s as if the laws of nature have been torn up. I would have to qualify that incredulity by observing that England’s performances appear impervious to whatever universe they are inhabiting.

Did you know, for example, that Novak Djokovic does not lose to someone ranked 41 in the world at Wimbledon? But he does in your universe.

Although sport is of the utmost importance, replacing religion, in my universe – let’s call it U1 from now on – in your universe (U2) it appears its place is taken by politics.

I now inhabit a universe in which the UK will soon be on its way out of the EU, Michael Gove might be Prime Minister and Boris Johnson’s political career is toast.

It’s all about the Law of Unforeseen Consequences (LUC). Well, in U1, where, I presume, none of this has happened, we didn’t foresee this .

But, I am trapped in U2 (no, nothing to do with Bono) and, by the way, if anyone knows a way back – maybe Professor Hawking (you do have a Professor Hawking, don’t you?) has created in U2 a method whereby I can return to the status quo ante – please let me know.

On the theme of the LUC, you guys in U2 voted for a Conservative majority, whereas in U1 David Cameron was expecting a coalition and, for all I know, is currently in power with Nigel Farage. Therefore, he thought it a clever ploy to agree to a referendum on EU  membership in the Tory party manifesto, which in U2 is known as Brexit. This was a sop to the Eurosceptics in his party and a device to win over potential defectors to U(2)KIP.

But what happened, my (now) fellow U2ers? He went and bloody won a majority. Instead of shutting up the Brexiters and putting Boris back in his box, he ended up having to have that referendum.

And here I am, in U2, no way back (Hawking?).

OK, I guess there are some unintended positives under the LUC; for example, having lost 10% of the value of my (Self-invested) pension overnight, and then finding sterling at its lowest against the dollar since 1985, my pension has more than recovered, the FTSE is at its highest for many months and only my bank stocks are looking a poor investment. Who knows – maybe your U2 Brexit will be good for the economy after all and I won’t have to pester Professor Hawking.

However, I did warn everyone that, if Brexit became a reality, the Scots would be justified in pushing for a second Indyref, and this time they would vote to leave the Union. What I didn’t contemplate was that Brexit would give the Northern Ireland Nationalists extra grist to their aspirations to unify the island of Ireland and stay within the EU.

I am pleased to say that in U1 Europeans in the UK feel welcome here, add significantly to our national story, our culture, our natural impulse to tolerance and our instinct for hospitality. This Europeanism makes browsing the aisles of Tesco (other stores are available) like a waltz through the culinary predilections of Europe. Who has not been drawn to fare on sale in the Polish section and not marvelled at how so much can be described with so few vowels in a language that appears to have been written in a cipher or by someone throwing the contents of a Scrabble bag in the air as a method of deciding nomenclature? (Apologies to my Polish colleagues).

Back in U2 those same fine folk are now subjected to abuse from a minority who have been emboldened by their perverted reasons for voting for Brexit (instead of the majority more nobly motivated). No doubt, this will die down, but it is not only Jews and Muslims now who are feeling the discomfort of being despised by random strangers.

And then there’s the Labour party. In U2 the party has allowed itself to be infiltrated and taken over by an unsavoury group of Marxists, Trotskyists, anti-Zionists and delusional ‘progressives’.

In U1 the Labour Party was a centre Left party with politicians of stature who respected the traditions of the UK Parliament and its flawed, but workable democracy. We in U1 may have disagreed with their policies and you might have voted for other parties, but at least they were, before Miliband, a credible opposition who could challenge the government and call it to account.

In U2 the Labour Party is run by a cabal with no respect for its own parliament, its own MPs or the electorate. Furthermore, it has presided over a plethora of anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic ‘incidents’ that have made the majority of Jews in this country more uneasy than at any time since 1948.

This culminated in an event beyond parody where the launch of Shami Chakrabarti’s anodyne report on anti-Semitism (and other forms of prejudice) within the Labour Party resulted in its leader using one of the comparisons of Israel excoriated by  Chakrabarti in her report and a Jewish MP being verbally harassed and ‘outed’ with a classic anti-Semitic trope.

These things just didn’t happen in U1, I can assure you. Yet, this is another example of the LUC; give the members of the Labour Party one person-one vote – just like a referendum – and you don’t achieve democracy, what you achieve is a parallel democracy to the parliamentary system that has served this country for almost 400 years. Plebiscites and referendums are dangerous tools, and democracy is so nuanced and so finely balanced in the UK that you meddle with it at your peril. These tools are usually used when the launcher is expecting to retain the status quo and is demonstrating his or her democratic credentials whilst doing whatever they can do to guide the process towards their own desired result. This was true of Indyref where the government just prevailed, but in Brexit they came a cropper.

And what of ‘austerity’, which Labour and its cohorts thought – ha, ha – that they could dispose of by borrowing and spending on public services? Silly idea in U1, but in U2 George Osborne has loosened fiscal policies, signalling an end to full Austerity, and trailed an increase in borrowing to invest in public works to stimulate the economy and avoid a recession.

So we U1ers are justified in asking why the hell he couldn’t do that when the economy was, reportedly, so strong. It seems paradoxical to an ignorant U1er, like me. It might just pull the policy rug from under the feet of the Labour Party – or Labour Parties – because another result of the LUC is the possibility of the Labour party becoming a covert, or not so covert, Trotskyite Party and the 170 MPs who voted no confidence in their leader forming a new party. Wouldn’t it be something if we had 170 by-elections as anti-Corbynistas refuse to  take the whip, resigning from the party and, perhaps, creating a realignment in British politics. Maybe that’s one for U3. Whatever happens, the Parliamentary Labour Party must find a way of reconciling the clear antagonism of the party members to elected MPs who face the threat of deselection. One thing for sure, party conferences this year should be great theatre.

In the meantime, Nicola Sturgeon might be enjoying an extended period as leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition – something else we U1ers would never have predicted.

O brave new world that has such people in’t!

PS One of the leading proponents of the multiverse is the renowned physicist Dr David Deutsch. In U1, around 1970, we were at school together. I played him at chess – and won (ahem). Little did I know that almost half a century later I’d experience the reality of his great theory first hand.

Anti-Semitism, anti-zionism and left-wing double-think

All my life, I voted Labour. My parents voted Labour. My aunts and uncles voted Labour. Voting Labour was about social justice, fighting class prejudice, equal opportunities, supporting the ‘workers’, confronting undeserved privilege, helping the weak against the strong.

In 2001, on polling day in the UK General Election, I was visiting my mother in hospital and intended to vote that evening. My car broke down in the car park and I had to wait for the AA to tow me to a petrol station. I then had 12 minutes to get to the polling booth, a distance of about 4 miles. I broke the speed limit several times, finally screeching to a halt at the school where I was to vote. As I ran in, the officials were packing up. ‘Am I too late?’, I asked. ‘You have one minute’, they replied. I put my X against the Labour candidate and presumed that I was the last person in the country to vote.

I have always insisted that we should all vote. People died so we can vote. Most people in the world do not have the right to vote in a democratic election.

I had also long held the view that whatever your views on Israel and how those views are shared or not shared by a particular political party, you should vote for what is best for the country, for the UK. Your support of Israel should not influence how you want THIS country to be run. This was always my view. I took the position that I have a duty to my fellow citizens to vote for a party that would would benefit most people and I should not subordinate this solemn duty to my own parochial affiliations,

Then Ed Miliband happened.

Miliband began making statements about Israel and Gaza which would sit well coming from the mouths of Israel’s enemies; virulent and shrill anti-Zionists. Yet Ed declared he WAS a Zionist. So, why was he couching discussion of the Gaza conflict in such terms? I came to the conclusion that he was disingenuous. He was playing to both the far Left in his party and the Muslim community, which he assumed likes to hear politicians condemning Israel. In other words, he was a left wing Labour politician first and a Jew and a Zionist somewhat low-down in his list of cultural identification. The virulence of his language simply said ‘Yes, I’m a Jew, but don’t let that put you off voting for me because I can condemn Israel like a good’un’.

At the last election, despite knowing my Jewish Labour MP is a Zionist, I decided that voting for him would mean that I wanted a Labour MP and another seat in the Commons which might bring Miliband to power. My view was that the UK would become a darker place for Jews if that happened. I’m sure my parents and ancestors would have understood why I stopped supporting the Labour party. Turkeys shouldn’t vote for Christmas, as the saying goes.

And it would be darker because anti-Zionism is very easily converted to anti-Semitism. You don’t believe me? Well, does your church, mosque, C of E school or your Muslim school require three metre high fencing and security guards? My Jewish school does. My synagogue does. And the reason is not because there are a lot of anti-Semites in the UK, it’s because there are a lot of anti-Zionists – and they don’t pay too much attention to the distinction.

If you don’t think anti-Zionism is all too often anti-Semitism then explain to me why any conflict between Israel and the Palestinians makes me less safe, but when Islamists kill UK citizens across the globe the Muslim community in the UK, quite rightly, garners sympathy and reassurance that these events have nothing to do with them.

So when Ed lost the election I was relieved. And, despite Cameron also using emotive language on Gaza and the conflict in general, he is very strong on fighting anti-Semitism (its why there is a security guard outside my synagogue) and he is generally supportive of Israel whilst being, when so moved, a critical friend. That’s fine. Israel is not immune from criticism.

Then Corbyn happened.

This was pretty much the nightmare scenario that no-one believed could happen. But happen it did. The Trots had arrived. And I wrote about it here.

I predicted that this election of a long-standing Israel hater would embolden every anti-Zionist  in the party and outside. Since his election as leader it has been clear that anti-Israelism is firmly centre stage as never before for the the far Left. Anti-Semitism was fashionable and unashamed at last, albeit, frequently fig-leafing itself as anti-Zionism.

A string of anti-Semitic statements from  Labour Party members in recent weeks and days culminated in one the Four Horsemen of whom I wrote, Ken Livingstone, making the most egregious and incomprehensible statements about Jews and Nazis that has ever been heard from a politician in this country,

I don’t want to rehearse the details of this furore or Ken Livingstone’s historical illiteracy, as you can find many more able commentators views strewn across the media (Niall Ferguson in the Sunday Times, for example), but I do want to try, as others, to make the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. I also want to understand how politicians from a progressive party actually inflame the problem which they vehemently oppose.

Anti-Semitism is hatred of Jews simply because they are Jews. That is the dictionary definition and anyone who claims he can’t be anti-Semitic because Arabs are Semites is clearly anti-Semitic.

Anti-Zionism is more complex. To understand anti-Zionism you have to understand Zionism. Zionism was and remains a political movement that sought to establish a national home for Jews in their ancestral land. How that was to be achieved and its affect on other groups living in that ancestral home are not part of the definition, although they are part of the history of Zionism.

Zionism achieved its goal in 1948. The State of Israel is as legitimate an entity as the United States. Whether you like it or not. Being anti-Zionist means you do not believe that a national home for Jews in Palestine should have been created.

Anti-Zionism, in these terms, is a perfectly legitimate position to hold. I could say that I don’t believe Kurdistan should become an independent state (I actually do believe it should, by the way). That would not mean I am anti-Kurd, it might mean that I don’t believe  the national aspirations of the Kurds should allow chunks of Turkey, Iraq and Syria to be taken as that homeland.

68 years after the establishment of the State of Israel, millions of people, mainly Muslim, but also their Marxist and progressive friends in Europe and across the world, want to see the Jewish state destroyed. Either they want the Jews to ‘go back home’ or they are deluded to believe that if there were one state for Jews and Palestinians it would be a democratic country where everyone would get on swimmingly with each other and no-one would kill anyone any longer.

That is anti-Zionism. It is either blatant anti-Semitism or it is the denial of Jewish nationalist aspirations. Anti-Zionism can be different to anti-Semitism, but it almost always is, at its core, anti-Semitism because it denies Jewish identity, history and rights whilst championing those who are openly and proudly anti-Semitic.

Time and again we hear the defence that critics of Israeli policies are smeared with accusations of being anti-Semitic to close down the debate on Israel’s ‘crimes’. That would be true if these ‘criticisms’ were made in the same way as criticism of other countries. Yet, when Israel attacks Gaza the streets of countries across the world are thronged with demos of very angry people who want Israel destroyed, Jews exterminated, and in support of Hamas or Hezbollah or both.  Can you name any other country which creates such outrage and hatred? No Israel supporter I know, no Jewish or Zionist institution I know regards criticism of Israeli government policies illegitimate or anti-Semitic. Contemplating the destruction of Israel because you don’t like it is, surely, anti-Semitic. If not, tell me another country you wish destroyed.

‘Criticism’ of Israel can be found in the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement which seeks to stop all trade and cultural contact with Israel to force it to change its policies and whose members often reveal that their real goal is to destroy Israel by kicking out 6 million Jews, or at least visiting on those Jews the consequences of becoming part of a Palestinian state. I’m sure they would all call themselves anti-Zionists even those that would need to have the concept explained to them. But never anti-Semitic.

I cannot help come to the conclusion that the Palestinians have become the poster-boys of Left Wing anti-Zionism because Israel is a Jewish state. Otherwise, how can a ‘progressive’  become an apologist for, and find common cause with, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, anti-Democratic, homophobic Islamists in the form of Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority. By all means criticise settlements, prejudice, even the tactics of war, but don’t then ally yourself with anti-Semites. Does that not make YOU an anti-Semite, even if you did sleep with a couple of Jewish girls (Livingstone).

Some Labour politicians (and those from other parties most notably Greens and Lib Dems, SNP and also some in the Conservative Party) ideologically support those that demonise the Jewish state and wish for its destruction whilst at the same time being completely against anti-Semitism. Once such person is Diane Abbott MP.

Her constituents include many Ultra Orthodox Jews. She has worked vigorously to protect them from attack in their schools and synagogues. But this same MP who appears at pro-Palestinian rallies, as a dutiful progressive has to do, cannot see that one of the reasons her Jewish constituents need her protection is because the uber-rhetoric of anti-Zionism which demonises, delegitimises and seeks to destroy Israel, which she cannot fail to see at these same rallies, is responsible for the hate directed at her Jews. It is the same equation we have seen in Belgium and France. The only difference is that the outcome of murderous Jew-hatred has not yet been visited on London or Manchester.

This is the double-think of the progressive Left. It divides the brain so that they can be class warriors fighting all forms of prejudice but at the same time supporting the most bigoted people on the planet. The progressive Left, therefore, in the UK or Europe, is guilty of outrageous hypocrisy and must share at least some part of the blame for the toxic anti-Semitism that is invading Europe. It is responsible because it is often the midwife of ‘anti-Zionism’.

This is why the leader of the Labour Party has asked for an investigation into anti-Semitism AND “other forms of racism’ in the Labour Party.
He simply cannot bring himself to admit that anti-Semitism has a unique place in his party. He is unlikely to find very much, if anything, about these ‘other forms’, so why include them when the recent row was about anti-Semitism only. But, perhaps, he might ask Shami Chakrabati to investigate anti-Zionism in his party – and how it victimises Jews in their national homeland. He might ask Shami to investigate individual party members’ support for pernicious Islamists and anti-Semites. Now that would be a worthwhile enquiry.

Sadly, Shami is likely to turn over a few small stones lurking in dark, dank places in the party and find, lo and behold, someone is anti-Semitic. Hooray,  the party faithful will say, that’s sorted that problem out, now let’s move on to that rally where we can all be Hamas.

Down the Rabbit Hole and Through the Looking-Glass …

Aliceroom3… and, it seems, through a wormhole.

Tomorrow I will wake up in a Britain with the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn.

What happened?

Did I accidentally take the wrong turn at La-La Land?

Have I somehow, like the dreamer in Piers Plowman , slombred in a slepyng and woken up in an alternative universe in a wildernesse, wist I never where.

What’s wrong with people!?

I wouldn’t mind that Corbyn has become leader of the Labour Party were it not that this means the Israel haters and the ‘anti-Zionists’ now have a delusional Marxist as their cheerleader.

After all, is it not good to ‘widen the debate’? Well it’s so wide now that we all risk falling into its great maw and being swallowed by pro-Pals., Trotskyites and Islamists.

Exaggeration? Come and sit where I sit, stand where I stand, walk where I walk, pray where I pray.

Corbyn is the apotheosis of Israel hate which morphs seamlessly with Jew hate. I do not accuse him of the latter, but he and his ilk seem to have a blind spot when it comes to the realities of of what ‘Free Palestine’ means for Jews and Judaism.

Now we shall see the Four Horsemen of the Socialist Apocalypse – Corbyn, Livingstone, Galloway and Abbot – reborn, nay, resurrected as part of an inverted, nightmare universe where Good is Evil and Evil is tolerated as long it hates Israel.

‘We are all one’ he says. ‘If only’, I say.

This is the delusion of the Left; to see the world not as it is but how you want it to be. And then, think up some stupid policies you hope will make it that way.

No, we are not ‘one’ and that is the whole point. It is this delusional belief in ‘oneness’ that threatens us all because you may believe it all you wish, but there are billions, yes billions, of people out there whose view of ‘oneness’ is not the same as your view of ‘oneness’. You, Mr Corbyn, want us to be one world where everyone is equal: men, women, gays, disabled; where everyone gets a living wage; where everyone can live according to his needs. Very noble. Yet, there is another form of ‘oneness’ which you are flirting with, in fact you are flirting to the extent that you will have to marry, and it will be a shotgun wedding, or a Kalashnikov one, and your offspring will be chaos, misery, war, famine and destruction. Then you’ll tell us ‘that wasn’t meant to happen. Peace brothers and sisters – all we want is universal peace and the end to war’.

And this other ‘oneness’ is the same ‘oneness’ that jack-booted its way across Europe in the 30s and its the same ‘oneness’ that sent millions to the Gulags and its the same ‘oneness’ that killed millions in the Cultural Revolution.

It’s not your cosy comradeship of the Left sort of oneness, it’s the oneness which says to hell with your democracies and your liberties and your human rights and your inclusiveness; to hell with 500 years of building European civilisation. You do what we do, believe what we believe or else.

This is the danger of Corbyn. Not that he wants to nationalise or re-nationalise everything that moves, not that he wants green policies but wants to re-open coalmines (WTF?) . The danger is that he will embolden the intolerant and bolster the haters.

And the danger is that Jews in this country will feel the rack of intolerance stepped up several notches. And where will we run to? Israel. The very place he doesn’t want us to go to or believe we have any right to. And if he tells you he is a two-stater it’s bollocks (sorry but sometimes the Anglo-Saxon is necessary) because those he associates with want one state and no Jews and he knows it. He thinks you can talk to Hamas and Hizbollah and you can talk to the IRA and you can talk to any two-bit terrorist and persuade him that what is needed is Socialism and ‘oneness’ and all will be OK.

But, clearly, I’ll wake up in the morning and David Miliband will be leader of the Labour Party, and Jeremy will still be a an under-achieving Trot who does good work in his constituency but will never be a front line politician because he doesn’t really believe in the institutions he is part of.

Tell me it is so – someone? Please?

The Holocaust must never be consigned to history

Today was Holocaust Memorial Day.

Today was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

I have been extremely gratified by the BBC’s coverage of the day’s events which has been sensitive and sincere. Today’s memorial service in Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, attended by the Prime Minister, leading politicians, the Chief Rabbi, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, broadcast on BBC2, was also a profoundly moving occasion.

Yet this same BBC, on Sunday, put out a programme, The Big Questions, with the question ‘Is the time coming to lay the Holocaust to rest?’

What does this even mean? ‘Lay to rest’? Is the memory of the greatest crime in human history to be buried?

Yet, it is the implication behind this question that is disturbing. It is suggesting we have to move on, move on from something. But what is that ‘something’ that is to be, by its laying to rest, somehow reduced, diminished, waved away from our collective memory. Yeah, it happened, awful, wasn’t it. Let’s tuck it away so we don’t have to be embarrassed any longer by the stench that worries our collective guilt.

But let me take this a little further. Does the question mean, perhaps, that it is we, the Jews, that really need to GIVE it a rest; is it that we should be done whingeing and making everyone feel guilty.

And let me take it yet a little further still: does it mean the above AND quit your whining because look at what you are doing now in Palestine! Have I inferred too much?

As noted by BBC watch:

No less contentious than the wording of that tweet was the fact that the programme’s subject matter was allowed to be exploited for opportunistic promotion of political propaganda by Nira Yuval-Davis of the University of East London.

In a programme with two huge elephants in the room, namely Israel and widespread and endemic Islamic antisemitism and Holocaust denial, both were assiduously avoided until Yuval-Davis was given a platform to accuse Israel of exploiting the Holocaust to cover its crimes, and attacked Bibi Netanyahu for taking all visiting dignitaries to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial Museum in Jerusalem. But, as BBC Watch points out, surely the BBC researchers would be well aware of the views of Yuval-Davis. Maybe, they would argue, her views represent the minority ‘yes’ vote for the programme’s motion.

It was, therefore, also good to hear from the (apparently) only Muslim (or maybe ex-Muslim) in the audience speak and denounce Jew-hatred and Holocaust denial in the Muslim community.

It is ironic that a programme can ask its provocative question with the clear evidence that a second Holocaust is the devout wish of so many in Europe and beyond; a time when Jews are leaving France in droves, where we have a Europe in which Jews feel increasingly threatened, where they are physically attacked and even killed.

An historian on the front row tried to make the point that too much is made of the Jewish Shoah, and that it is too prominent when there have been so many other holocausts and genocides.

I reject this suggestion which was mentioned or hinted at so frequently in the programme. No-one was brave enough to say that the Shoah is THE worst genocide, or that other events are NOT equal in human evil. David Cameron was not so coy today at the memorial service I mentioned earlier.

It is not about suffering or numbers killed, it is about the impact on the entire world, the depths of depravity, the centuries of persecution which preceded it. It is so fashionable to be PC and to find equivalence everywhere. Sorry – I just don’t buy it.

Killing people is one thing – but that was not the only objective of the Nazi genocide. It was an attempt to eradicate a civilisation, a culture. It was an attempt to eradicate memory itself. The camps were not called vernichtungslagen for nothing. It was about erasure and oblivion.

It was also about what Daniel Goldhagen called ‘Hitler’s willing executioners’ because they were by no means all German. The Nazi empire unleashed centuries of suppressed enmity in almost every country in Europe.

Most importantly, the defeat of the Nazis did not destroy antisemitism; it was merely ground into the mud of post-war Europe from which it germinated again fed by Islamic judeophobia and anti-Zionism. The holocaust denial trope of much of the Islamic world, which is a mental holocaust, provides its believers with a fig-leaf for the delusion that their hatred is somehow justified.

Someone posted this on Facebook:

fb

As someone pointed out, he clearly learned nothing. This speaks so eloquently of the cognitive dissonance associated with Jew-hatred and the reasons why any genocide can happen.

Finally, Auschwitz is not the Holocaust and the Holocaust is not Auschwitz. If we just concentrate on one death camp, however terrible, it risks missing the rest of the story, and it is that story which tells us why the Nazi genocide of the Jews (and others, yes, but mostly Jews) is, and will remain, the greatest crime ever committed, and those responsible for the BBC’s efforts in this programme to dumb it down into some politically-correct moral equivalence must never succeed.

An Open Letter to Councillor Andrew Burns, Leader of Edinburgh Council

I have sent this letter to Councillor Burns and every member of his council. The contents of his motion can be found at the end of this post.

Dear Councillor Burns

I am writing to you with reference to your recent Motion 9 to Council of the 21st August 2014.

Whereas anyone with the slightest spark of humanity cannot but feel enormous empathy for the innocent people of Gaza in the current conflict, and whereas it is a natural reaction for anyone so moved to want to help, i am absolutely appalled at the way the motion was framed in a way to politicise the plight of Gazans without regard to the origins of this conflict and with a totally one-sided account of recent events.

I wish to bring a number of points to your attention.

You quote the number of innocent civilians killed as being more than 1900. In fact, the number is now over 2000. However, you are parroting the lies of Hamas, who are the ultimate source of these figures. Even the BBC has recently advised caution on the casualties. Where are the combatants in these figures? In fact, analysis by several sources have revealed that there is a disproportionate number of men of fighting age in the demographic of these casualties. These analyses reveal that at least 45% of casualties were actually combatants.

To glibly represent those killed as all being innocents completely airbrushes the very people who were and continue to be responsible for this tragedy, namely Hamas.

I was astounded that your motion not only ignores the proscribed terrorist group which has spent more than a decade firing 20,000 rockets at Israel, but ignores the rockets themselves and the devastating affect that constant and sustained rocket fire has had on the people and the children of southern Israel.

Your motion implies that the devastation in Gaza has no causal origin except the malice of Israel.

You say you support a ceasefire. Hear, hear. But I have lost count- I think it’s now 12 – of the number of ceasefires agreed by Israel and broken by Hamas.

You have determined to send a letter to the President of the ‘State of Palestine’, which does not now, nor has ever existed. Have the good people of Edinburgh the power to recognise a state that the United Nations does not? It is very revealing of your prejudices that you have no intention of sending a similar letter to the President of the State of Israel, sympathising with decades of terror visited on his people or empathising with more than a million people who have only a matter of seconds to find a bomb shelter.

And on that point, the number of innocents killed in Gaza would have been reduced if, instead of building miles of terror-tunnels, Hamas had built shelters for their civilians. They would have been further reduced if Hamas had not used mosques, schools, hospitals and kindergartens to fire from or forced their population to be human shields or occupy buildings that they knew were about to be bombed.

The truth is that not a single person would have been killed if Hamas was not a genocidal terrorist organisation dedicated to Israel’s destruction. Your motion strongly implies that the people of Gaza are the victims of Israeli aggression rather than Hamas’s murderous intent to terrorise Israelis by kidnap, suicide-bombing and rocketing.

Instead you are sending a letter to the Israeli consulate condemning his country for defending itself. I wonder, but not for very long, how the people of Edinburgh would react if Glaswegians were firing rockets from civilian infrastructure, tunnelling into Waverley or popping up in St Giles to murder your constituents.

You mention Ban Ki-Moon’s outrage at the targetting of an UNWRA school when it has since been shown that the incident took place outside the school. In any case, did you not hear how Hamas uses schools to store weapons? Acts condemned by Ban and UNWRA. Where is your outrage at that?

I have no problem with your humanitarian sympathies for Gaza, but tell me, councillor, with thousands of Yezidis being massacred, uprooted, sold into slavery, forcibly converted by IS in Iraq, how many motions in council have there been for them? And how many appeals for the thousands of Palestinians fleeing slaughter in Syria?

Your council’s singling out of Gaza as your cause du jour would be more credible if far more attention, rather than none at all, had been given to far worse humanitarian disasters across the world. Why is it always Gaza? And if your council has a particular affinity with that cause, why do you use it to make outrageous attacks on Israel without the slightest mention of Hamas or its rockets.

I find it beyond reason that so many on the Left are so ready to malign and demonise the only country in the region which upholds so many of the values that you are supposed to hold dear: freedom of worship, freedom of the press, democracy, human rights, gay rights, women’s rights, the right to form unions, the right to strike. Yet your sympathies are with Palestine, where none of these rights exist at all or to anything like the extent they do in Israel.

So fly your flag in solidarity with a political entity and putative state that hangs gay people, declares that no Jew will ever live in it, spews antisemitic propaganda in schools and television, denies women equal rights and seeks the total destruction of its neighbour, and the murder of every Jew. Don’t bother flying the Ukrainian flag, or the ‘We are N’ symbol in support of Iraqi Christians, or the Tibetan flag or any flag other than the Palestinian. Well done with your selective empathy.

Enjoy that special solidarity, councillor Burns. Maybe you’ll fly the ISIS flag next month; it pretty much amounts to the same thing. Hamas and ISIS and, yes, Fatah, are branches of the same Islamist tree.

Shame on you and Edinburgh Council. The people of your great city deserve better.

Ray Cook

Here is the text of Motion 9

By Councillor Burns – Gaza – Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Appeal
“The City of Edinburgh Council:
1) has been deeply appalled and distressed to witness the recent loss of life in Gaza;
2) stands in solidarity with the innocent civilians of Gaza, who have lost more than 1,900 people, many of whom have been women and children;
3) supports an immediate ceasefire, as called for by the United Nations.
Council thus agrees:
4) to send a letter from the Council Leader, to the President of the State of Palestine, offering the City’s condolences for the deaths they have suffered;

The City of Edinburgh Council – 21 August 2014 Page 3 of 6

5) to send a letter from the Council Leader, to the Israeli Consulate in London, condemning in the strongest possible terms, the killing of hundreds of innocent civilian men, women and children.
Council also agrees:
6) to fly a ‘Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Appeal’ flag, at the City Chambers entrance on the High Street, which will prominently feature the DEC Gaza Appeal telephone donation line: 0370 60 60 900; and
7) to promote the DEC Gaza Appeal via its own external, and internal, websites.”

9.2 By Councillor Booth – Flying the Palestinian Flag from the City Chambers
“Council:
1) Notes the continued conflict in Gaza, which has lead to the deaths of 67 Israelis and more than 1800 Palestinians, including many innocent civilians, and which has included attacks on UN schools which have been labelled a moral outrage and a criminal act by Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations;
2) Notes the appeal recently launched by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), comprising 13 UK charities, to help the people of Gaza, including the estimated 65,000 people who have seen their homes severely damaged or destroyed and the estimated tens of thousands who urgently need food, water and medical care;
3) Believes the ongoing conflict is unacceptable, condemns any ongoing violence and calls on all sides to work for peace and a stable two-state solution in Palestine;
4) Agrees to fly the Palestinian flag from the City Chambers in a gesture of solidarity with the people of Gaza wherever this does not clash with the pre-existing flag flying programme;
5) Agrees to ask the Council Leader to contact the Disasters Emergency Committee to explore any further measures the Council can take to support the people of Gaza and support the DEC appeal.”

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.

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