You may have though not much has been going on in Gaza recently. That is, if you stick to the mainstream media.
When it comes to the BBC, my headline could have been ‘Clueless in Gaza’. Apologies to both John Milton and Aldous Huxley.
BBCWatch is running with a story which perfectly illustrates how propaganda against Israel works. First the lie, then the apology, or the short footnote hidden away on a page of a daily newspaper, or Goldstone saying if he knew then what he knows now, or a cartoonist saying ‘but I didn’t realise it was offensive’, or Ha’aretz issuing a ‘correction’.
The story I am referring to is about Omar Mashrawi. I’m sure you recall the heart-rending scenes as Jihad Mashrawi, a BBC employee at the time, paraded the dead body of his son Omar through Gaza City during Operation Pillar of Cloud, Israel’s operation to stop rocket fire from Gaza.
John Donnison, the BBC correspondent on the ground wrote how the boy had been killed by a shell fired by the Israelis. Despite the evidence at the scene appearing to contradict this claim, or at least causing severe doubt, nevertheless, yet another Palestinian dead baby story was attributed to the Israelis.
Three months later we find the probable truth via no less than the UN HRC as the BBCWatch article tells us, and I quote extensively because I cannot improve on it:
On March 6th 2013 the UN HRC issued an advance version of its report on the November 2012 hostilities and blogger Elder of Ziyon bothered to read the whole thing. The report states on page 14 that a UN investigation found that:
“On 14 November, a woman, her 11-month-old infant, and an 18-year-old adult in Al-Zaitoun were killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.” [emphasis added]
A footnote adds that the UN investigated the incident itself.
Omar Masharawi was the only 11 month-old infant killed on November 14th in the Zaitoun neighbourhood (although the woman killed at the same time was not in fact his mother as the UN report states, but his father’s brother’s wife; Hiba).
The BBC used the story of Omar Masharawi to advance the narrative of Israel as a ruthless killer of innocent children. It did so in unusually gory detail which etched the story in audiences’ minds, but without checking the facts, and with no regard whatsoever for its obligations to accuracy and impartiality. BBC reporters and editors – including Jon Donnison, Paul Danahar and the many others who distributed the story via Twitter – rushed to spread as far and wide as possible a story they could not validate, but which fit in with their own narrative.
It is impossible to undo the extensive damage done by the BBC with this story. No apology or correction can now erase it from the internet or from the memories of the countless people who read it or heard it. Nevertheless, the people responsible for the fact that the unverified story was allowed to run – and that it was deliberately given such exceptionally extensive coverage – must be held accountable for their failure to even try to uphold the standards to which the BBC professes to adhere.
Thus, Israel is demonised. And it is not only western journalists who do it, but Israeli ones too.
Ha’aretz published a story about how Ethiopian women entering Israel were given contraceptive injections. The point being that Israel, which insists it is not a racist, apartheid state, is trying to limit the birth rate of Africans because it is racist. Even at the time the story was rebutted by many sources.The explanation was that these were not long-lasting contraceptive jabs but reversible short-term ones and made at the request of the women for whom more conventional forms of contraception are taboo.
As a result the practice was stopped as being inappropriate.
Nevertheless, what do we find? yes, a plethora of reports telling the world how nasty those Israelis are to let black people into the country and then limit their fertility. The whole idea is nonsense anyway. If Israel were that racist, why spend so much time and effort bringing Ethiopian Jews into Israel in the first place?
And now Ha’aretz has not only given context to its story but has highlighted how its own journalism was hijacked by those with anti-Israel agendas.
But the story has taken on a life of its own internationally. The words “forced” and “coercion” are being thrown around in the international coverage. Images of Mengele-level persecution of clueless, helpless victims being marched by force from camps to clinics to receive their injections have been conjured up, as the story has travelled from the Israeli media to the national mainstream media, to international and niche publications. The headlines run from the oversimplified to deliberately twisted:
The most hostile coverage refers inaccurately to “sterilization” – conveniently ignoring the fact that Depo-Provera is a three-month birth control injection, for which women must voluntarily go to a clinic to receive the shots. It is insulting to the intelligence of Ethiopian women to believe that they did this for years at a time against their will. Certainly, if there was a nefarious plot to stop them from having babies, there would have been a more efficient way to do it.
Back in Gaza, if you recall, our blessed Prime Minister, David Cameron, once characterised Gaza as a prison camp whilst he was endearing himself to Turkish Islamist leader Recep Erdogan.
William Hague, our Foreign Secretary called on Israel to end the blockade.
So, no doubt they will both be much affected by the following facts:
COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories) regularly reports on the number of truckloads of goods entering Gaza which continued even under rocket fire. http://www.cogat.idf.il/894-en/Matpash.aspx?Sad Our noble leaders will see that the Gaza prison camp received 400 truckloads of goods and 170 tons of gas this Thursday alone.
On Tuesday 144,310 flowers were exported from Gaza through Israel.
The people of Gaza should be reaping the reward of the quiet which has descended since their government stopped bombarding Israel. Yet, Messrs Hague and Cameron should also note the following:
On the 4th March the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, a major route for goods, was closed, not by Israel but by Hamas. http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/HumanitarianAid/Palestinians/Hamas_closes_Kerem_Shalom_crossing_4-Mar-2013.htm
Over 70 trucks laden with food and other goods are currently waiting on the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom crossing for their Palestinian counterparts.
The crossing is currently not operating, as the Palestinian contractor responsible for the Palestinian side decided not to open the crossing today.
His decision stems from attempts by Hamas to replace the current contractor with one of their choosing. Hamas has been actively trying to push the Palestinian Authority out and take charge of the management of Kerem Shalom so that they may collect revenue from goods that enter Gaza.
These actions by Hamas endanger the current security arrangements and threaten the operability of the crossing.
If Gaza were so desperate for goods, why would Hamas close one of its lifelines in attempt to take control of the crossing replacing the Palestinian Authority contractor? Answer? it wants a kick-back for Hamas by operating it.
And there’s more bad news for those who find Israel solely responsible for the welfare of Palestinians whose government is determined to destroy the country that is most responsible for sustaining it. Egypt is destroying smuggling tunnels.
Yes, Islamist, revolutionary, Hamas-loving, Jew-hating Egypt is destroying the tunnels used for years by Gazans to smuggle everything from couscous to Mercedes and missiles.
The smuggling tunnels linking the Gaza Strip to Egypt are a security threat and must be destroyed, a Cairo court ruled on Tuesday, responding to a petition brought by a group of lawyers and activists in the wake of a cross-border attack that killed 16 Egyptian border guards in August.
The Egyptians even flooded the tunnels recently.
So Messrs Cameron and Hague, where are your complaints to the Egyptians and to Hamas about the way they are turning Gaza into a prison camp, cutting off its routes for import and export?
No, we must only hear about what measures Israel takes to feed and sustain its enemies. All countries do that, don’t they? Supply their sworn enemies with food and power? Assad does it in Syria, yes? What? He doesn’t? Oh. So other countries across the world sustain the non-combatant populations of enemy countries and entities like the Sri Lankans looked after the Tamils in areas controlled by the Tigers?
Oh, I see, only Israelis have to be so generous or else it is a war crime and collective punishment. I understand.
I understand completely.
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.
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 have just finished reading Julian Barnes ‘The History of the World in 10½ Chapters‘.
I am currently doing my thing of finding an author I like and then gorging myself on the complete oeuvre.
The book is amusing and thought-provoking and, ultimately, eschatological.
And the end of the ½ chapter, which is titled ‘Parenthesis’, I was struck by a tidbit, a wee morsel of prose which struck a chord about the two parallel narratives with regard to Israel and the Palestinians which I’ll come to shortly.
This dual narrative is familiar to those involved in hasbara and defending Israel and I came face to face with the ‘other side’ on Twitter recently. A guy called Zbigniew was rather annoyed that I was tweeting the good news of the failure of the BDS brigade to stop the performance of Habima, the Israeli national theatre, at the Globe theatre in London where they performed The Merchant of Venice on two consecutive nights.
I have written previously about the shameful attempt by a group of luvvies who should know better to have Habima banned and the disgusting singling out of Israel just because Habima has played in settlements in Judea and Samaria/West Bank. It is, therefore seen as somehow complicit in the counter-narrative of colonialism, land-stealing and general oppression.
Zbigniew told me that Israel was to be ‘loathed’ and when challenged about which other contries he loathed he placed Israel in a group with Syria, Libya and Zimbabwe.
What I will, for the sake of shorthand, call the pro-Pal narrative always sees the conflict as one of good (Pals) against evil (Israel, or more precisely – Jews). Any wrongdoing by an Israeli or group of Israelis confirms them in their demonisation and hatred of Israel.
This is how Z tweeted:
“I think every right minded person should be concerned about Israel and what is happening…”
“does the expulsion and mistreatment of Palestinians not concern you? chants of Death to arabs?”
“Attacks on Arabs by (illegal) settlers, racism towards the african communities? Israel should be loathed!”
Of course, if you want to cherry-pick specific incidents, ignore history, and even fail to ask yourself questions like “why did these (mainly Muslim) Africans come to Israel in the first place rather than Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt etc.” then you will continue to see Israel and the conflict in this myopic and polarised way.
Such views never consider the actions of the other protagonists because you have already decided their cause is just and so whatever Israel does, even the patently good things, always have a malign intent or are dismissed as propaganda or irrelevant, or impossible without US dollars.
So here is the quote from Barnes which I believe so succinctly tells us about why hasbara is not working; historical truth is going the same way as moral relativism:
We all know that objective truth is not attainable, that when some event occurs we shall have a multiplicity of subjective truths which we assess and then fabulate into history, into some God-eyed version of what really happened. This God-eyed version is a fake – a charming, impossible fake… But while we know this, we must still believe that objective truth is obtainable; or we must believe that it is 99 per cent obtainable; or if we can’t believe this we must believe that 43 per cent objective truth is better than 41 per cent. We must do so, because if we don’t we’re lost, we fall into beguiling relativity, we value one liar’s version as much as another liar’s, we throw up our hands at the puzzle of it all, we admit that the victor has the right not just to the spoils but also to the truth.
Too many people – luvvies in the UK, Israelis in Israel, left-wingers and the whole motley crew of dillusionals – are throwing up their hands and then prostrating themselves before the god of fashionable and deluded ‘truth’ that tells them it’s all Israel’s fault and if Israel changed its policies all would be right with the world.
Yet all they do is to give succour to the loathers and haters who have their single cyclopean historical eye put out but then claim, nevertheless, that they can see more clearly.
H/T Elder of Ziyon
Hey, guess what, the Israeli army contains proud Israelis who are Muslim.
Who would have thought it.
That Apartheid system must be really bad for Muslim Bedouin to join up and be proud to serve.
I made a mistake in confusing Arab with Bedouin. As has been pointed out to me there are very few Arab Muslims in the IDF and those in this video are Bedouin.
Apparently, many Arabs want to serve but their leadeship prevents them.
Watching the news coming out of Syria daily, the reports off 5000 dead troops firing on unarmed protestors, cities being shelled, the wounded dragged from hospitals, I couldn’t help notice how little outrage has been evident within the very righteous anti-Zionist community.
Whenever Israel is in conflict with Hamas, defending its citizens from rocket attack or intercepting ships which seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza strip, we can expect marches, demonstrations, statements of solidarity with the Palestinians, Hamas and Hizbullah, headline news articles, debates in Parliament, public meetings, a Twitter deluge of anti-Zionist hatred, outrage in The Guardian and the full panoply of anti-Israel hatred orchestrated against it.
Yet, what do we see? Despite condemnation in Parliament and daily news reports with horrendous images of the dead and abused, including women and children, there have been no demonstrations in London or any siege of the Syrian embassy.
Does it not strike you as a little odd that so many people are motivated by outrage to take to the streets to take sides in a conflict in the Middle-East when Israel is involved, but when a tyrannical regime is suppressing democracy by declaring war on its own civilians, the same people who are so self-righteously opposed to anything Israel does are mute.
Where is the Syrian Solidarity Campaign? Where is the Free Syria Movement?
Could it be perhaps that when Israelis and, therefore, Jews are killing Muslims as part of an on-going existential conflict, this is not acceptable to the sensibilities of those take the side of Muslims in that conflict, for the declared reason that it is all about justice and historical wrongs? But when Muslim is killing Muslim (and – would it be too mischievous to suggest – when Muslim is killing Christian) this is of less importance for multitudes of the self-righteous, anti-israel activists.
Perish the thought. Yes, perish the thought that it is the Jewish element of the conflict rather than the righteousness of the cause that is at the heart of all that breast-beating and outraged indignation.
After all, if it were all about saving the innocent, then the pro-Pal/anti-Israel brigade would be out on the streets with the same anger and violence of expression calling for the destruction of the Syrian dictatorship and the implementation of a democratic government.
But they don’t, do they?
You’ll forgive me for flying the flag for The Big Tent For Israel but as I am involved you may want to see the latest Press Release below:
Manchester’s Big Tent for Israel event, due to take place on Sunday November 27th, has received a real boost with the news that Israel’s new Ambassador, Daniel Taub, will be the main keynote speaker. “This is a real coup for us” said the event’s initiator, Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag, “and we are confident his presence will attract many new participants”. Since taking up his post in September, Ambassador Taub has made a massive impact wherever he has been and his participation in the conference is destined to be no exception.
The Big Tent is now really taking off, with registrations growing daily, and an impressive list of confirmed speakers including Eran Shayshon of the Reut Institute, Itamar Marcus of Palestine Media Watch, Yakov Triptou, Histadrut Chairman – Chief of Staff, Lorna Fitzsimons, CEO of BICOM, Simon Plosker of Honest reporting, Adam Levick of CIF Watch, Andrew White of Beyond Images and Shimon Cohen, The PR Office.
Also confirmed is Marcus Sheff of the Israel Project, top advocacy trainers, a strong representation of Christian supporters of Israel including well known activist Dr Denis MacEoin, MPs, trade unionists, academics, student leaders and media personalities.
“Our aim is to make the Big Tent a massive springboard to mobilise many more grass roots activists who are willing to take on the challenge of reversing the trend of deligitimisation of Israel and to ensure Israel’s image is honestly and positively projected to the many people who have been exposed to anti Israel propaganda and media bias” said Rabbi Guttentag.
The event has the backing of many major community organisations including the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Zionist Federation, Manchester Zionist Central Council, Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region, UJIA, StandWithUs UK and the political Friends of Israel Groups, as well as many Christian groups who so loyally stand up for Israel
Urging people to sign up and support the conference, Joy Wolfe, chairman of StandWithUs UK and Life president of Manchester Zionist Central Council and co president of the Zionist Federation said, “An amazing group of presenters has been lined up and the Big Tent is now on track to be one of the most outstanding Zionist events Manchester has ever staged. We are honoured that the Israel Ambassador has agreed to deliver the keynote address and that so many top personalities have signalled their intent to be a part of this exciting conference. In my view, it has all the ingredients to turn out to be an ‘I was there’ experience, definitely an event not to be missed”
Online registration is open on the event website www.thebigtentforisrael.org, reserve your place today. Free attendance at the conference for ages 11+, 6th formers and Students.
I understand Douglas Murray will also be speaking.
This is a follow-up to Scott Piro’s guest post on ‘Pink-washing’ which he was kind enough to allow me to publish.
I wanted to add my two cents.
It should be beyond belief that anyone in the LGBT community should stand with groups who are inimical to that community. For these people their hatred of Israel blinds them to prejudices that can be literally deadly.
It is the same blindness that leads Jews to make alliances with those who would destroy them.
Surely the LGBT community can be critical of some aspects of Israel’s policies whilst applauding and supporting a liberal society that allows freedom of sexual orientation without fear.
In both cases their ideological antipathy to Israel trumps the absurd paradox of their position.
I would parody Monty Python’s Life of Brian when addressing those in the LGBT community who are cheerleading for Palestinian rights whilst ignoring a clear and present danger to their own well-being and their Palestinian counterparts’:
“So, apart from the freedom of religion, freedom of sexual orientation, freedom of political views, freedom of the press, access to world class health care, access to world class academic institutions, a vibrant democracy, the right to protest and several Nobel prize winners, what has Israel ever done to persuade us that we should not seek its destruction?”
This is a superb guest post by Scott Piro (@ScottPiro) which exposes the utter hypocrisy of the ’pink-washing’ slur on Israel. (RC)
In 2007, the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs initiated a nation-branding campaign informally known as ‘Beyond the Conflict.’ The goal was to change people’s perception of Israel from a war zone populated by the ultra-religious into a more normal place – rich with culture, dominated by high-tech and scientific achievement and grounded in identifiable, Western values.
American nonprofit organizations joined the effort by making sure non-conflict stories saw the light of day – everything from Israeli companies being listed on the NASDAQ and Israeli-made computer chips powering everyday products, to stories about Tel Aviv’s nightlife and Israeli model Bar Rafaeli gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue.
Nation-branding is practiced by many states, from established democracies like the U.S., Canada, France, Japan, South Korea, South Africa and New Zealand to developing countries like Tanzania, Colombia and Guatemala. It’s not unique to Israel.
In addition to the cultural and technology stories, the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs sought ways to emphasize Israeli values. Israel’s record on LGBT rights was smartly identified as a way to highlight its societal tolerance and diversity, and draw contrast with more repressive regimes in the region and around the world. In reality, Israel is the only Middle Eastern country where people are not persecuted because of their sexual or gender identity. Here are the facts for LGBTs in Israel:
- Anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBTs
- Recognition of same-sex marriages performed abroad
- Legalized LGBT adoption rights
- LGBT soldiers serve openly in all military branches, including special units; discrimination is prohibited
- Same-sex couples have the same inheritance rights as heterosexual, married couples
LGBTs enjoy these rights nowhere else in the Middle East. In fact, every other Middle Eastern country makes homosexuality a crime punishable by death (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen) or jail time (Gaza, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Morocco, Algeria), or LGBTs face risks of violence, torture and “honor killings” by militias or their own families (the West Bank, Iraq, Turkey) or harassment and crackdowns from the government and non-state actors (Bahrain, Jordan). In fact, when compared to states outside the region – including most Western democracies – Israel has one of the strongest records for LGBT rights in the world.
Israel’s enemies recognized how favorable this record was for Israel, and that it threatened their efforts to demonize the Jewish state. So they shrewdly maneuvered to use it against her, and link promotion of Israel’s LGBT record to the conflict in the West Bank and Gaza – even though there is none. The idea that the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ campaign is part of a diabolical scheme to cover up abuses of ‘the occupation’ is completely anti-Israel queer activists’ invention; it is their great lie.
Beginning in Toronto in 2008, and later in San Francisco and New York, LGBT anti-Israel groups formed and sought to make being anti-Israel a queer value. Some of these activists are anti-Semitic – whether or not they admit it, even to themselves. The frustrating thing is that many more of them work to brand Israel an ‘apartheid state’ for all the right reasons. They are being manipulated by the combination of deceptive Palestinian leadership, biased Western media and anti-Semites into believing a counterfeit narrative where Israelis are the aggressors and Palestinians are her ultimate victims. It exploits LGBTs’ natural empathy for the oppressed.
Activists who claim to not hate Israel and say they support her right to exist, yet still accuse her of brutal oppression and apartheid, are complicit in preventing a peace deal, propagating terror, and endangering Jews and the State of Israel.
The sad reality is that LGBT anti-Israel groups are throwing our queer Palestinian brothers and sisters under the bus. LGBT persecution in the disputed territories is horrendous – it comes from Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, militias and even the victims’ own families. In the academic report “Nowhere to Run: Gay Palestinian Asylum Seekers in Israel,” there is testimony from Palestinian LGBTs who escaped to Israel to seek asylum status. The torture they received in the West Bank is shocking (pages 13-17). For example, one man recounts a horror story of being dragged from his home by PA officers because he was gay, then submerged in sewage water up to his neck for five hours at a time, every day for three weeks (pg. 15). The report comes from Tel Aviv University’s Public Interest Law Program, but it shouldn’t be dismissed for that reason; it’s critical of Israel for not accepting more LGBT Palestinian refugees.
Once peace comes and the IDF pulls out of the West Bank, Palestinian queers will be much worse off. Palestinian LGBT testimony confirms this is what happened when the PA took over Gaza in 2005 (pg. 10). Eighty-two percent of Palestinians support making homosexuality illegal. Many more queers will die in Palestine once a state is achieved. I am not advocating for the status quo, but I do believe energy from queer anti-Israel activists would be better spent educating straight Palestinians not to kill their LGBT brothers and sisters once Israelis leave, instead of vilifying Israel.
Elsewhere in the region, Iran executed three men in September, 2011 for being gay (and two in 2005). The Assad regime in Syria has now murdered over 3,000 of its own people. And Palestinians in Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian and Jordanian refugee camps face conditions much more akin to apartheid than anything experienced within Israel (where they are citizens with the same rights as Jewish Israelis) or the disputed territories (where they are governed by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas). Yet where are the Queers Against Iranian Persecution, Queers Against Syrian Torture and Queers Against Lebanese Apartheid groups?
“Palestine is a queer issue,” Israel’s LGBT critics insist. But Iranian torture and execution of LGBTs is not a queer issue? Syrian brutality against its own people is not a queer issue? Lebanese apartheid against Palestinians is not also a queer issue? Why not?
The fact that no LGBT groups protest any of these human rights abuses, but we see a proliferation of queer groups against Israel, meets one of the key criteria in Alan Dershowitz’s list of “factors that tend to indicate anti-Semitism“: “Singling out only Israel for sanctions for policies that are widespread among other nations, or demanding that Jews be better or more moral than others because of their history as victims.” The rest of Dershowitz’s list is worth reading, and he contrasts it to “factors that tend to indicate legitimate criticism of Israel.”
Also worth reading is this letter from Senior Editor of Middle East Quarterly, former professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Edinburgh University and non-Jew Dr. Denis MacEoin: “It seems bizarre to me that LGBT groups call for a boycott of Israel and say nothing about countries like Iran, where gay men are hanged or stoned to death…Thinking it’s better to be silent about regimes that kill gay people, but good to condemn the only country in the Middle East that rescues and protects gay people. Is that supposed to be a sick joke?”
Ironically, some of Israel’s loudest queer critics are Palestinian LGBT organizations. How can this be true, given the documented atrocities LGBTs face from their own government and families inside the Palestinian territories? Perhaps they are looking to gain respect from homophobic, straight Palestinian organizations by bashing Israel, so that conditions for LGBTs inside the future Palestinian state will not meet the worst case scenario. How’s this for hypocrisy – do you know where the Palestinian queer group alQaws for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society held their “Palestinian Queer Party” on October 21, 2011? At a Tel Aviv club! Was the reason because it’s not safe for LGBTs to congregate inside a public place in the West Bank at a pre-announced time and place?
Israel’s queer enemies can hurl ‘Pinkwashing!’ claims at her all they want. I, for one, celebrate the fact that the Israel’s government is proud enough of its LGBT rights record to use it for nation-branding. What would happen if the governments of Libya, Iran, Palestine and Syria bragged about their LGBT rights records, too? It would mean more LGBTs around the world would be protected and safe.
Israel’s queer foes are the real pinkwashers, because they conveniently ignore the horrors committed against LGBTs throughout the Middle East in order to focus only on the Jewish state. If the term “pinkwashing” is about covering up facts to push one’s agenda, then anti-Israel queer activists are choking on their own hypocrisy and self-righteousness.
On Sunday a mosque in the Bedouin village of Tuba Zangharia was attacked by unknown, but presumably Jewish assailants.
The Mosque was severely damaged. It appears highly likely that this attack was another in a series of attacks cynically labelled ‘Price Tag’ by Jewish Right Wing extremists.
Their avowed motivation is to make the Israeli government ‘pay’ for any actions this self-appointed group deems to be against the interests of settlers in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) or which this groups believes to be even the hint of a settlement freeze or preparation for eventual withdrawal.
Mainly religiously motivated, this group believes that Judea-Samaria is a God-given land which the Jewish people are not just entitled to settle but are duty-bound to do so.
The village of Tuba Zangharia is in Israel. An attack on any religious place of worship by Jews is extremely rare in Israel itself.
The Bedouin have a long tradition of support for the State of Israel, serving in the IDF. There is no logical reason, let alone justification for this attack.
Let me make this quite clear. This attack and all the others, wherever they may be, are shameful. I have written before about ‘ashamed Jews’ whose distorted view of Israel leads them to supports its enemies. I am a proud Jew and proud of Israel.
But I am ashamed of this action and those that have gone before.
Immediately that the attack became known the Israeli government and a consensus of MK’s across the political and religious spectrum condemned it utterly.
President Peres went with both of Israel’s Chief Rabbis and leaders of the Muslim and Christian faiths to the village.
This is what he said:
At the start of my remarks I wanted to express my profound shock from the horrible attack on the Mosque in Tuba Zangria which took place today.
It is unconscionable that a Jew would harm something that is holy to another religion. This act is not-Jewish, illegal, immoral, and brings upon us heavy shame. I strongly condemn this horrible act in every language. This is not only a difficult day for the residents of Tuba Zangria, it is a difficult day for all Israeli society. As the President of Israel, during these days of introspection between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I call upon all to denounce these terrible acts. These acts, destroy relations between us and our neighbors, and between the various religions in Israel.
We will not allow extremists and criminals to undercut the need to live together equally in equality and mutual respect. Arabs and Jews as one. I am sure that the Israeli police and security forces will apprehend these criminals and bring them to justice.
We must all stand behind them in an effort to preserve human dignity and respect for the law.
Both Chief Rabbis stressed that such actions are in direct violation of Jewish Law let alone human decency. It is actually one of the worst offences a Jew can commit. To damage a holy site of any faith is an offence against God.
Sephardi Chief Rabbi Amar said, “The perpetrators have wounded the heart of us all.”
This is what Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said:
I came here to express my revulsion at this wretched act of burning a place holy to the Muslim people…
Seventy years ago the Holocaust, the biggest tragedy in our history, began with the torching of synagogues during Kristallnacht.
We are still living this trauma. And in the state of Israel, we will not allow a Jew to do something like this to Muslims.
And this is where I have an issue with comparisons to Nazis.
There is a superficial connection to Kristallnacht when thousands of synagogues and Jewish businesses were burned.
But on that night in 1938 hundreds of brownshirts as an instrument of government policy caused, death and destruction, nationwide, on a huge scale on a host of trumped up charges against the entire Jewish community. Kristallnacht was the prelude to the Shoah and the one event that led to thousands attempting to flee and sending their children on kindertransports.
The series of events in Israel aimes almost exclusively at mosques is not government sanctioned policy and has been condemned in the strongest terms.
For any Israeli, let alone a Chief Rabbi, to compare these acts to Nazi crimes is very dangerous. Firstly it is not true. It is not true because however reprehensible this is, it does not compare in scale or intent to Nazism. Those responsible are a small minority. Germans in 1938 were not ashamed of Kristallnacht; they thought the Jews had it coming.
The denizens of Rosh Pina came out on a solidarity march to protest the arson attack. There was no equivalent to Rosh Pina in Nazi Germany.
Rabbi Metzger certainly did not intend to be helpful to antisemites, anti-Zionists and the extreme Left in Israel by using language they would approve of and use themselves.
What Rabbi Metzger did was to find the most extreme way to express how he felt about such an enormity, and so he drew from the Jewish experience to relate that feeling of empathy.
I believe he was wrong to use Kristallnacht. We have seen enough debasement of language by Jew-haters: apartheid, Nazi, genocide, holocaust, massacre, racism. All these terms are debased when the people who use them are often the chief practitioners and most egregious criminals such as Ahmadinejad, Hamas and Hizbullah. Their hyperbole debases these words and renders them useless. Just as Durban I, II and III debases the concept of Human Rights.
And the way the language is debased is to use the most extreme terms for each and every act which, mainly Israel, carries out to protect itself from the aggression of these same language-debasers.
I understand what Rabbi Metzger tried to convey but I believe he was wrong.
The government, police and army are determined to bring the perpetrators to justice. It is vital they do so and give them exemplary sentences. If they are let off lightly, as has previously happened, this will be morally obnoxious and damage Israel’s democracy.
In the JPost article cites below “Analysis: Jewish terrorism gaining steam’ Yaakov Katz, despite an idiomatically infelicitous headline, expresses his fear that the Far Right is gaining ground and their target is not always mosques but also olive trees and even on Left Wing activists.
The Israeli government and its people must act swiftly.
Yet again, I cannot agree with Katz’s use of ‘terrorism’. These people are politically motivated vicious vandals. They are not terrorists. When synagogues in the UK are smashed and daubed, this is called an anti-Semitic attack; it is not terrorism.
No-one has died and no-one has been directly attacked. This is about property. It’s an attempt to foment inter-communal violence. It is not terrorism. At least not yet. To call it such debases real terrorism and hands the usual suspects an open goal in which to justify their demonisation of all Israeli Jews.
It is sad, but predictable, that some members of the Bedouin village saw fit to degrade themselves to the level of the mosque attackers by torching public buildings in their own town. They fell into the trap laid by the arsonists.
In their natural eagerness to express their moral indignation, politicians, clerics and journalists must avoid confirming and validating the animus of those already minded to hate Israel and Jews.