H/T Barry Shaw
I don’t read the Guardian. I used to when it was a decent newspaper.
when I was alerted to this letter
(no, I am not going to give them the benefit of a link even from my modest website – on principal)
I was outraged at the list of people, who claim to be artists, that are objecting to the appearance of Israeli theatre group Habima at the Globe.
The reason is that this company has performed at and co-operated with ‘halls of culture’ in Israeli ‘settlements’.
Here are these morally outraged Thespian signatories so YOU know who to boycott in the future:
David Aukin producer
Poppy Burton-Morgan artistic director, Metta Theatre
Leo Butler playwright
Niall Buggy actor
David Calder actor
Jonathan Chadwick director
Caryl Churchill playwright
Michael Darlow writer, director
John Graham Davies actor, writer
Trevor Griffiths playwright
Annie Firbank actor
Paul Freeman actor
Matyelok Gibbs actor
Tony Graham director
Janet Henfrey actor
James Ivens artistic director, Flood Theatre
Andrew Jarvis actor, director, teacher
Neville Jason actor
Ursula Jones actor
Professor Adah Kay academic, playwright
Mike Leigh film-maker, dramatist
Sonja Linden playwright, iceandfire theatre
Roger Lloyd Pack actor
Cherie Lunghi actor
Miriam Margolyes actor
Kika Markham actor
Jonathan Miller director, author and broadcaster
Frances Rifkin director
Mark Rylance actor
Alexei Sayle comedian, writer
Farhana Sheikh writer
Emma Thompson actor, screenwriter
Andy de la Tour actor, director
Harriet Walter actor
Hilary Westlake director
Richard Wilson actor, director
Susan Wooldridge actor, writer
I’m sure, like me, you have admired many of these names for years.
I would hazard a guess that very few of them know the history of the conflict and have accepted the narrative of ‘Occupation’ and ‘colonialism’.
How many of them have ever protested about anything else?
How many of them know that although settlements are illegal under certain interpretations of international law there is no ‘Occupation’ in any legal sense and there has never been any legal ruling that Israel is an occupier. And before you knee-jerk, just check. Here’s a useful link for the sceptics
Maybe American actors should be boycotted and made pariahs because of Guantanamo or Iraq?
It’s only ever Israel and the ‘Occupation’ which gets these people frothing at the mouth and hearts bleeding.
But, you see, this is the Left’s favourite cause. The Lord forfend that they should be tainted by association with Israeli actors who have committed the terrible crime of setting foot in a ‘settlement’.
“The villainy you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.”
As individuals they are entitled not to go to see Habima.
As indivduals we are entitled to never watch any film, play or documentary any of these people appear in.
Keep the list handy.
I have been given permission by a correspondent to publish this exchange of emails with Jim Bollan, the Scottish Socialist Party councillor who proposed a blanket boycott of Israeli goods in 2009.
This boycott has recently caused much debate in the Jewish pres and blogosphere.
Let’s see where your sympathies lie.
I have been asked to withhold the name of the correspondent.
Sent: Sunday, 5 June 2011, 18:46
Subject: I’m puzzled
I’m so sorry to read about your boycott against Israel. As a Scottish Israeli I find it shameful to read of book boycotts and the like form your council. As you know, Israel is the only democracy in this region and without it there would be a swathe of undemocratic countries from Africa to Asia that give women, gays and many, many others no rights at all.
Why would you not want this little country to exist, I wonder?
Please take the time to explain your point of view to me….
On 5 Jun 2011, at 20:56, Jim Bollan wrote:
Please read the information on the Council’s website to understand our actual position not what you perceive it to be. The Council’s BDS policy was unanimously agreed as a result of the murder of over 1,000 innocent Palestinians in Gaza by the IDF in 2009. No doubt you will have seen the news today that there has been another 11 extra judicial killings of Palestinians on the border with Syria. Can you point out to me where I said “I do not want this little country to exist”?
To: Jim Bollan <email@example.com>
Sent: Sunday, 5 June 2011, 19:57
Subject: Re: I’m puzzled
To answer your last point first: by promoting BDS you are clearly aligning yourselves with those who want to destroy Israel step by step. Boycotts are extreme action by people who actually want to eliminate an entity. Check this out.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifZLk6Ei9-U&feature=youtu.be
There’s nothing wrong with criticising Israel – I have plenty criticisms of my own….. but Israel pulled out of Gaza, leveled the settlements and in return received thousands of rockets on towns and cities in the South. I assure you that it was not the intention of Israel to harm innocent people, but, as happens in all wars, civilians were killed and sadly many were killed because Hamas was using civilians as human shields, placing missile launchers in school and homes. Tell me, how would you react to years of rockets fired on Dumbartonshire (sic)?
As far as events on today’s border - those who approached the border were clearly warned – in Arabic – but they chose to violate the border nevertheless. Shame on their leaders. Once again if thousands of demonstrators were trying to penetrate the Scottish border would you not expect the armed forces to react?
Can you tell me where your concern is for the 1,500 killed in Syria over the past few weeks? And what about those killed in Libya? Do you have concerns for human rights in Iran, in North Korea, China etc. etc. etc.? Do you not want to boycott these regimes or is it only Israel who warrants a boycott ? I am trying to understand your reasoning.
If you really cared and were interested in solving the conflict in this area you would applaud the present Israeli government which has voiced acceptance of a 2 state solution and you would be demanding/pushing/encouraging both sides to get to the negotiating table right away rather than denigrating Israel and hailing Hamas.
On 5 Jun 2011, at 22:08, Jim Bollan wrote:
Boycotts are non violent unlike the IDF who murdered another 11 unarmed innocent Palestinians today on the border with Syria. Surely a civilised Country that Israel considers itself to be should have arrested these unarmed demonstrators and put them in front of a Court to be tried?
To: Jim Bollan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Monday, 6 June 2011, 17:00
Subject: Re: I’m puzzled
Concerning boycotts: BDS may be non-violent, but their aim (as I’m sure you’re aware) is to delegitimize Israel and ultimately destroy it. BDS campaigners have announced that their goal is the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state, not a change of policy. Anyway, the decision of your council to boycott Israel was made two and a half years ago and so the events of yesterday are not relevant to that decision.
You are very emotive in the terms you use to describe what happened yesterday. ‘Murder’: totally wrong; ‘innocent’: totally right. Categorical; black and white; nothing in between.
Israel has the right, like every other country in the world, to defend its borders and to keep out invaders either violent or otherwise. The Syrian government set up these demonstrations beforehand – as they did with the ‘Nakba’ day demonstrations – and stirred up its people to violate the borders. This was an action encouraged by the Syrians to detract from its own atrocities of recent weeks, and that tactic certainly seems to have worked for you, Mr Bollan.
As you will no doubt have seen on the news reports, there were thousands of protestors moving towards the Israeli border in a calculated strategy to breach that border in what was clearly a hostile act. They proceeded despite numerous warnings, both verbal and by shots fired in the air. Attempts by the IDF to disperse the crowd by non-violent means did not deter them. The youths were not innocent or unarmed. They fired sling shots, threw Molotov cocktails and hurled stones. It was a calculated, coordinated action against Israel to which huge crowds of Palestinians responded. Live fire was used only as a last resort. ‘Murder’? ‘innocent and unarmed’? Don’t be so naive.
Incidentally, note the difference of approach by the Lebanese government: they declared the border area a closed military zone and….no casualties!
You didn’t answer my previous questions. I will rephrase them for you:
Why is it only Israel out of all the countries in the world that you boycott?
Why do you you not condemn Syria for killing over 1,500 of its own people over the past few weeks? Or Iran/Saudi Arabia/N. Korea/China…..and so on?
Why do you not recognise Israel’s right to defend its borders?
And lastly: do you believe the state of Israel has a right to exist? A simple yes or no, please.
On 6 Jun 2011, at 19:35, Jim Bollan wrote:
All 23 were killed on the Syrian side of the border, not one crossed the fence. They were throwing rocks and garbage over the fence. They were unarmed. In my book that is extra judicial killing, ie murder. Why don’t you approach your local Councillor/Representative and urge them to bring forward a BDS motion to your local Council to boycott Syria?
To: Jim Bollan <email@example.com>
Sent: Monday, 6 June 2011, 18:32
Subject: Re: I’m puzzled
I find bizarre that you swallow the Syrian narrative without a question. But since you give that regime such credence, here’s what Al-Thawra, Syria, reported June 6, 2011: ’Ahmad Amin, who was wounded in his attempt to break throughthe Syria-Israel border on Naksa Day yesterday, said that many of his friends had hoped to die as martyrs on the land of the Golan Heights. He promised to try again to cross the border, until all the occupied Arab lands are liberated.’ Um, peaceful protests? Just throwing garbage? I think not.
And….. why are you so reticent in answering my questions?
PS The emails between us have been interesting. It’s obviously we’re not going to agree but I have one piece of advice for you: don’t believe anything the Israelis say, if you so choose, but do yourself and your constituents a favour and at least question the narrative you’re being fed from the Arab side.
On 6 Jun 2011, at 20:37, Jim Bollan wrote:
I do, on a regular basis. I make my own mind up on what is right and wrong, after analysis based on my beliefs and principles.
To: Jim Bollan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Monday, 6 June 2011, 18:44
Subject: Re: I’m puzzled
I know politicians have the gift of evasion but I’ll try once more: can you please answer the questions I asked you?
Jim Bollan wrote:
You may not always like the answers you get to questions but I think that is more to do with the answers you receive…are not to your liking.
Now, is it just me, or do you think that the councillor did not satisfactorily provide answers to the questions?
Maybe this little delicacy posted by CifWatch might throw some light on Mr Bollan and his politics:
Amjad Awad, one of the two suspects from the West Bank village of Awarta who acknowledged breaking into the Fogel family residence in Itamar, back in March, and stabbing to death the parents, Udi and Ruth, and three of their children (4-year-old Elad, 11-year-old Yoav and three-month-old baby Hadas) said the following to reporters in court, recently, per The Jerusalem Post:
“I don’t regret what I did, and would do it again,” Amjad Awad told reporters in court. “I’m proud of what I did and I’ll accept any punishment I get, even death, because I did it all for Palestine,”
Chilling doesn’t begin to describe the hate which would allow someone to lack even the most elementary sense of remorse for murdering children while they sleep.
Yet, there will always be extreme Israel haters who manage to contextualize such crimes and, if not outright justifying them, find a way to ask, as Ben White did about the rise of anti-Semitism, if such homicidal Jew hatred could at least be “understandable”.
Here’s the response by Jim Bollan, West Dunbartonshire Council member and fierce proponent of his council’s boycott of all Israeli goods, to an anti-boycott activist who forwarded him the Jerusalem Post story cited above:
Jim Bollan is truly the quintessential Israel hater – never able to summon genuine and unqualified moral outrage at the death of innocent Jewish civilians (even infants) without asserting a moral equivalence, and suggesting that there must be a good reason why such terrorists committed the horrific crimes they did.
The Hamas-loving Bollan is simply a poster child for the mendacity of the BDS movement.
There is actually zero evidence that any Syrians (there is no evidence they were Palestinains) were killed by the IDF.
If Cllr Bollan has any evidence of Palestinian children being slaughtered by the IDF as a deliberate act of murder, then I’d like to see it.
More importantly, if someone is justified to murder a Jewish family because of the actions of its army, then surely he would understand the 7/7 attacks, the 9/11 atrocities and also would understand, as someone commented on the CifWatch article, if Jews all over Europe murdered innocent German and Polish and Russian and Lithuanian babies in their beds because of the actions of those countries’ armed forces in the 1940′s
Of course, no such actions ever happened nor would they. No one goes around Ireland murdering innocent Catholic babies because the IRA bombs blew up innocent Protestant children.
Cllr Bollan demonstrates his complete moral destitution and a chilling ideology which resonates well with those dark forces, especially in the Middle East and especially amongst Israel’s neighbours, who would destroy that country and kill all Jews. I don’t suspect this is what Cllr Bollan supports, but it’s what the forces he appears to be sympathising with are bent on achieving.
Maybe the good people of West Dunbartonshire will think carefully about who they elect next time.
This week the story was news again and has unleashed a Twitter tirade, emails and phone calls as well as blog articles and now online newspaper articles.
We now discover that the person who tabled the motion is Cllr James Bollan, a member of the Scottish Socialist Party and a former member of the Communist Party.
ynetnews.com has published some interesting tidbits about the Councillors response to anti-boycott activist Stephen Franklin:
following the uproar over the Scottish decision, Bollan had this to say about the Palestinian terror group: “Hamas was elected and are freedom fighters alongside the Palestinians fighting an illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel.”
There seems to something strange at play here when the first assertion which Bollan makes to back up the legitimacy of an organisation, which is classified as terrorist in Europe and the USA, is that they were democratically elected.
Whilst I would have grave concerns about the legitimacy of that election, I wonder whether Mr Bollan has information with regard the date of the next election in the Gaza Strip. Any offers? Thought not.
We all know that some of the worst dictators in the world, all of whom are probably admired by Cllr Bollan, were democratically elected: Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran and Robert Mugable on Zimbabwe.
Presumably Cllr Bollan would fully support these countries in their various forms of ‘democracy’ which include, inter alia, the oppression of women and their human rights, killing gays, starving their own people, and rigging elections.
I would put it to the Councillor that an election does not afford the elected the right to fire rockets, thousands of them, into a neighbouring country, abduct that country’s citizens, send in human bombs, target school buses and demand the death of all Israelis and Jews everywhere.
I would also point out that the ‘Occupation’ that Councillor Bollan and his friends in Hamas refer to is not what you think it means. They believe that Israel is occupied Palestine and they will never desist from attacking Israel even if it where to withdraw from Judea/Samaria/West Bank.
Next statement from Bollan was this:
Scots believe in equality and justice…words unknown to Zionists
This is rather typical of the brainwashed parallel universe such people live in.
Whereas I have no doubt most Scots believe in these worthy principles, coming from the mouth of someone who casts Islamofascist antisemites as ‘freedom fighters’ who do not believe women have the same rights as men. whose idea of justice is to throw their opponents off tall buildings and hide behind their citizens and ambulances, in mosques and schools whilst firing rockets, grenades and guns at Israeli soldiers, this is a bit rich, to say the least.
Israel is the only country in the Middle East to have a judiciary that is not controlled by the government, a free press, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom to crticise the government.
Perhaps Councillor Bollan would like to point me in the direction of another country in the region which provides its citizen with these basic human rights?
And even if he doesn’t believe it, does that then justify supporting an organisation, a government in his terms, which denies all these things to its citizens.
Responding to a Ynetnews inquiry, Bollan confirmed that the statements attributed to him were accurate, and added the following: “One important point I made that strangely was not published along with my comments on the enclosed blog was that Hamas was elected with a bigger majority than the Israeli government.
He’s having a laugh isn’t he? It’s not that difficult to get a good majority by intimidating the other side and actually killing them, as happened to Fatah supporters who ran in the only direction they knew would be safe; no, not Egypt, Israel. They fled from Hamas to save their lives and even had to let those unjust, murderous, inequal Israelis save them.
Maybe the Councillor, despite his election to the august body known as West Dunbartonshire Council (and one would hope that the Councillor did not copy the tactics of his heroes, Hamas, by tipping some Scot Nats off the top of Dumbarton Rock to muster his votes) still has no idea that absolute majorities are often difficult to come by in truly democratic parliaments, such as the Knesset, which operates a proportional representation system.
Following earlier reports of the West Dunbartonshire boycott, and the uproar over the decision to ban Israeli books as well, regional council Spokesman Malcolm Bennie said: “The municipality will not boycott Israeli books printed in Britain, only books that were printed in Israel.”
Oh, it’s that specific is it? These guys are such humanitarians.
At the time, Bennie admitted that Israel is the only country being boycotted by the council, adding that the municipality had no intention of issuing a ban on products originating from Iran, Syria or Libya.
And before you say that WDC don’t buy anything from these countries, let me remind you that Cllr McColl said in his video on his blog site this week that the boycott was symbolic.
Indeed, what a load of symbolics.
The WDC is so principled when it comes to standing up for the oppressed people of the world that its myopic vision can only see Palestinians being attacked by Israelis.
It doesn’t see the slaughter in Syria or Libya; it doesn’t see the starving millions in Darfur or or Zimbabwe; it doesn’t notice ethnic cleansing in Tibet; it didn’t utter a word about Burma and the house arrest for several years of Ang Sun Suu Kyi.
No, it only object to Israel defending itself.
Why is this.
Do you have a couple of hours? No? OK, I’ll summarise.
The (Far) Left supports Palestinians because it sees them as the victims of colonialism, oppression and confiscation. The Left needs a new victim to raise the Red Flag over, and if it can’t be red, then green will do because these people are colour blind and ideologically lobotomised.
George Galloway, a good example; he abhors and attacks anyone who dare question the Holocaust but he runs into the arms of Holocaust deniers like Hamas or Nasrallah – where’s the logic?
Although I doubt they will miss those lovely new potatoes from Tesco, let’s hope that enough pressure can be brought to symbolically overturn this decision.
The Council of Europe’s European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2009 that boycotts were illegal. Specifically of Israeli goods. So I believe that WDC are acting illegally and any other council in the UK or Europe that is so minded are also breaking the law.
If there are any Scottish advocates out there who want to take this up pro bono, I’ll be pleased to hear from you.
The Scottish councillor at the centre of the furore caused by recent reports that, as part of its Israel boycott, it was banning books by Israeli authors, has issued an unprecedented video on his website, refuting these claims.
Cllr McColl also described personal abuse that he had received by phone and email and on Twitter.
He also described as ridiculous a blog which may have been mine, and certainly contained the information which I posted on Sunday.
As a reminder, here is the notice that WDC put out on their website in response to the attention they were receiving from those opposed to their policy.
West Dunbartonshire Council utterly refutes recent media claims that it has ‘launched a boycott on Israeli books’.
The Council’s boycott does not in any way seek to censor or silence authors and commentators from Israel.
The Council’s boycott only relates to goods ‘made or grown’ in Israel. The vast majority of mainstream books by Israeli authors are published in the UK and are therefore not affected by this boycott. Only books that were printed in Israel and transported to the UK for distribution would be potentially boycotted.
In the two and a half years the boycott has been in place there has never been a case when the library service has been unable to purchase a book it wished to as a result of this boycott.
Contrary also to some media reports the boycott is not retrospective and absolutely no books have been or will be removed from our library shelves as a consequence of the motion.
West Dunbartonshire Councillors voted to introduce the boycott in 2009.
The full motion is:
‘This Council deplores the loss of life in Palestine which now numbers well over 1,000. This Council also recognises the disproportionate force used by the IDF in Palestine and agrees to boycott all Israeli goods as a consequence. Officers should immediately cease the purchase of any goods we currently source, which were made or grown in Israel. Officers should also ensure we procure no new goods or produce from Israel until this boycott is formally lifted by WDC.’
So the book thing seems to be a red herring.
It all boils down to the decision taken two and half years ago during Operation Cast Lead (the Israeli offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip in 2008-9) that Israel used disproportionate force and killed 1000 people. As a result of this, they decided unanimously at a council meeting to ban the purchase by the council of all products from Israel.
There is a special page on the councillor’s website here: http://www.cllrjmccoll.info/israel.html with the video embedded at the top.
It is also found on YouTube and I’ll embed the two videos below.
There is also a statement by Cllr McColl on his web page, which I’ll also reproduce, as it includes more detail on the council’s motivations at the time which are, apparently, still in place two years after the event. Note that this is a ‘Personal Statement’ by the councillor with my annotations interpolated.
The following is intended to answer a number of questions that have been asked and assertions made in emails etc…
This boycott was not made at the request, suggestion or upon reading a pamphlet from any Anti-Israeli or Pro-Palestinian group.
This boycott was in response to and in support of international media coverage two years ago by the BBC, AP, CNN, SKY, REUTERS which showed Israeli forced murdering innocent women and children and firing rockets at civilian targets.
To say that Israelis were murdering innocent women and children is a blood-libel against the IDF which is without foundation. Although it can be argued that there were incidents where innocents died due to mistakes by the IDF, to use the word ‘murder’ is unconscionable and unfounded.
The charge of deliberately firing rockets at civilian targets was made by the Goldstone Report and refuted by an IDF report.
The councillors reliance on reports from the BBC, AP and Reuters et alia is touching; but these organisations were seriously biased in their reporting at the time and swallowed Hamas’ narrative and propaganda.
The Goldstone Report has now been seriously compromised by its author’s somewhat equivocal quasi-retraction.
Far from being ‘murderers’ which is the Hamas/Far Left accusation, Col Richard Kemp told the UN that no other army in history had done more to protect civilians.
Why did WDC rush to judgement in 2009 and why have they not re-evaluated this motion in light of new evidence?
It is enlightening to note that the original motion was tabled by Cllr Jim Bollan of the Scottish Socialist Party and his blog sports a Red Flag and an image of Lenin. He is a former member of the Scottish Communist Party. So we know where he is coming from.
Yet the entire council was minded, as one, to declare the boycott in 2009.
I have never seen, read or heard any material from Pro-Palestinian or Anti-Israeli groups and I would put little stock in either. I get my information from reputable, recognised sources.
Yet he was prepared to vote for for Cllr Bollan’s motion who is a signatory of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s appeal for funding of its BDS campaign (http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3631:scottish-psc-financial-appeal&catid=257&Itemid=200079)
Hamas’ use of hospitals and other civilian buildings (and indeed civilians themselves) as human shields is utterly despicable, but that does not give the Israeli Government the right to kill those unfortunate enough to be used by this terrorist organisation.
So according to Cllr McColl it is Israel who is responsible for the deaths of human shields and not Hamas; Israel cannot defend itself, therefore, and must acquiesce to the tactics of real murderers, namely Hamas.
This is also to ignore the extraordinary lengths that the IDF went to to minimise casualties.
We have recently seen dozens of human shield civilians killed by Nato bombs in Afghanistan. Civilians have been killed by Nato in Libya. Is the Cllr suggesting that Israel’s actions were more reprehensible than Nato’s or were they both operating against an immoral and ruthless enemy that cared less for its own citizens than Israel and Nato?
West Dunbartonshire Council remains committed to our boycott of Israeli goods and our resolve has only been strengthened by the torrent of vile abuse threats of violence against our families that has come from people who claim to be peace loving people.
So the main reason for continuing the boycott against an entire country is anger at threats made by that country’s misguided supporters.
There is a certain air of malice in this paragraph. It is Cllr McColl and his colleagues who are now the victims and they are well and truly p***d off.
Whilst I utterly deplore personal threats, especially to children, and name-calling, maybe this brief unseemly episode will give the councillor and his colleagues some idea of what it is like to have your children threatened daily by Kassam rockets rather than words, and what it’s like for Israelis to be accused of being Nazis constantly by Palestinians, their supporters and the Left wing politicians who are responsible for the sort of boycott they are supporting.
This is not an anti-Semitic act.
I don’t care whether you are Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Agnostic or any other such label you might want to give someone. We are all members of the human race and we should all stand together in asking the Israeli Government to think again about their methods.
How noble. What we should all be standing together doing is condemning Hamas’ rockets and their charter which seeks the destruction of the State of Israel and all Jews – that’s anti-Semitism, councillor.
And where are your noble moral principles when it comes to motions against Libya, Syria, Iran, Zimbabwe, Sudan, China; I could go on.
If you have moral principles, why are they so uniquely selective against one state.
Even if I were to concede all the accusations against Israel were true, that would still not justify your singling out of one country.
You say it’s a symbolic act. No-one believes, of course, that Israel cares about the purchasing habits of one Scottish council, but by joining the BDS movement on the Palestinian side, this takes your act beyond symbolism and into the camp of the demonisers and delegitimisers.
Thus, WDC stands shoulder to shoulder with Hamas, the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and every other Israel hater and boycotter in Scotland and beyond. Nice one councillor.
I agree that the Israel Government has the right and responsibility to defend their people, but I do not agree that this should come at such a high cost. They need to think again.
The definition of ‘proportionality’ as a casualty numbers game is absurd.WDC need a lesson in international law and the laws of armed conflict. These laws do not describe warfare as a zero sum game or a boxing match.
In fact, the proportion of combatant to non-combatant deaths in Operation Cast Lead was far lower than any other conflict in recent times; and that includes Bosnia, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Afghanistan. Considering the conditions, and the blatant disregard for life by Hamas, the ratio is extraordinary. Extraordinarily low, that is.
I’m sure the Israeli government (which is not the one which initiated Cast Lead, by the way) would love to hear from Councillor McColl and his colleagues some ideas about how they can stop a murderous, Islamofascist enemy from firing thousands of rockets at Israeli towns and civilians (a war crime), firing RPG’s at school buses and kidnapping soldiers.
And how they can do this without killing civilians.
And whilst they are giving the Israeli government the benefit of their great experience in warfare and the laws of proportionality, maybe they can let them know what would be proportional; how many deaths would have been ‘proportional’ then? Or would 1000 Israelis have had to die for WDC to deny the motion before the council in 2009?
That assumption on your part says more about you than it does about me. To quote a Jewish woman from Glasgow who telephoned me on this issue,
“We are brought up in a culture of ‘poor wee us’, automatically thinking that the world is against us and perhaps we should take stock of that before we draw conclusions about other people’s motivations.”
Ah, playing the sympathtic Jew card now. We are all paranoid that the world is against us. This distorts our moral compass. This is why the Israelis/Jews feel justified in massacring innocents. Yada, yada.
No, we are not paranoid, we see the torrent of delegitimisation and demonisation against the State of Israel that WDC are now taking part in.
Such suggestions are inherently anti-Semitic even if unconsciously.
The reason the Council discussed this matter was because it was raised by an individual Councillor as a private member’s motion.
You’d have to ask Cllr Jim Bollan what his personal motivations were for bringing this forward, but I do not believe him to be racist. I have never found him to talk down or discriminate against anyone.
Now just passing the buck. Didn’t Cllr McColl vote for this? What does Cllr Bollan’s motivation matter. What were Cllr McColl’s motivations? Herd mentality?
It is not normal for issues of International significance to be brought before Council my individual members. Our main function is to govern our small local area and provide Education and Social Care services as well at things like refuse collection and recycling.
Main function’? Sole function, surely. Would Cllr McColl expect Eshkol Regional Council in Israel to pass a motion banning Scottish goods if it were outraged by the actions of the Black Watch in Iraq? They would tell them to mind their own business.
We do on occasions hear motions from members of this type, although never before a boycott. For example, the Council has condemned the actions of China, Burmha [sic] and various other places and has twice since 2007 been successful in aiding Amnesty Internation [sic] to free political prisoners from such countries.
Yet more nobility. But how pathetic. Why not boycott China for its civil rights abuses, jailing dissidents, executing thousands, destroying Tibetan culture. Similarly Burma. And if you are going to say that WDC do not buy from Burma, well, how about another symbolic gesture?
Singling out Israel is immoral.
All I ask is that when you read this and other responses you might get from our Councillors, that you look at this issue objectively and try to see this from our point of view.
Er, yes – you feel that it is your duty to boycott one country and not the dozens of others whose actions are much worse and don’t have a neighbour lobbing missiles at them on a daily basis.
My Great Grandfather fought in WWII and was awarded the highest decoration an enlisted man can get in the British Army for his bravery on the battlefield in the fight against Hitler’s Nazis and being compared to such evil people is not only extremely hurtful, but the first time I read one of these emails, I was physically sick.
If you are one of the many many people who have been sending vile emails, please…I urge you to take a step back and consider your position from our point of view.
Well, I’ve covered this. Maybe Cllr McColl’s great grandfather fought in WWII and I honour and respect his memory and all those who fought against Nazism. The Councillor may recall that many Israelis’ grandparents and great grandparents and other relatives were murdered by the Nazis. The Councillor’s disgust does not excuse his support of a motion to boycott just one country above all others. Maybe his illustrious forbear would have had his own views on his great grandson’s judgement in this matter.
Any further threatening email received will be forwarded to the police.
So, in summary this whole matter is sheer hypocrisy. Only Israel is subjected to this default role as murderous aggressor despite the truth being the very opposite.
Oh yes, innocents died and mistakes were made. Tell me one army that doesn’t do so, especially given the circumstances.
It is the sheer arrogance and self-righteous indignation of this council which really stands out.
An indignation it accords to no other country in the same degree.
And WDC actually encourages the spread of its anti-Israel stance based on the reports of credulous journalists and the propaganda of terrorists.
It makes ME physically sick.
This is a cross-post by Michael Ordman of Good News From Israel and shows the hypocrisy and ignorance of those who would, in their blindness and ideological zeal, boycott divest and sanction Israel. Note that this is not simply boycotting goods manufactured in the ‘occupied territories’ but ALL goods.
Following the decision of the West Dunbartonshire Council to boycott all goods produced in Israel, council workers now need to perform the following actions:-
1. Computers & Technology
- Remove all Intel Pentium and Celeron computer processor chips from council personal computers (desktops, laptops and notebooks) as these were either developed or manufactured in Israel. Note that the revolutionary new Ivy Bridge processor will be manufactured in Israel.
- Any computers that still work need to have their anti-virus software and personal firewalls removed as this technology originated in Israel. Any computers running the Windows XT operating system must be turned off immediately as this was developed in Israel. All current Microsoft operating systems are not to be used as Microsoft is heavily reliant on its Israel R&D centre.
- The departmental firewall will also need to be switched off. Employees should no longer open external emails as most of these will be infected with viruses
- No outgoing emails can be sent. The algorithm (code) that’s used today for sending e-mails, was made by an Israeli who worked at the Ben-Gurion University in Be’er-Sheva in 1980
- Before accepting any printed material, check that the supplier has not used the Israeli device that might have saved up to 50% of the ink used.
- At home, do not use Facebook as many in-built and add-on applications are Israeli-developed.
- Do not watch videos on the Internet as the platform used to upload them may be from AOL and hence from an Israeli company.
- Do not use Video On Demand (VOD) to watch movies as you may inadvertently see an advert displayed using Israeli software
- Do not purchase any games devices as these are likely to use Israeli technology.
- Do not read books using an e-book as this may contain Israeli technology.
- Do not use data storage as it may have been developed at Israel’s storage technology R&D centre
- Do not buy an electric car as it is likely to be powered with an Israeli battery or use Israeli developed charging mats
2. Phones & Voicemail
- Discard all mobile phones, as this technology was developed in Israel, where the first mobile phones were manufactured. Mobile chip technology from a single Israeli company has now been installed in over 100 million devices.
- Only department heads may retain mobile phones for emergency situations. However the use of SMS (Texting) is expressly forbidden as this facility was developed in Israel.
- No 4G devices can be used as the chipset is Israeli.
- Turn off your voice-mail service and delete any recorded messages. Israeli companies invented the voice-mail system.
- If your call is not answered by someone you know, hang up. Israeli call-centres and call-centre technology is in widespread operation in the UK.
- Do not use the Internet to search for answers to your questions as this may involve use of an Israeli-developed search engine. Better to remain unenlightened.
3. Food and Drink
- Council restaurants and canteens must dispose of cherry tomatoes, which were developed in Israel. Employees must ensure that no cherry tomatoes are included in sandwiches brought into office premises.
- The ban also applies to honey and any products derived from honey. Israel has developed solutions to the world-wide problem of bee-colony collapse, so that any products derived from bees might only be available now due to an Israeli invention.
- Avoid drinking any of the world-recognised award-winning Israeli wines
- No delicious home-made drinks from Israeli-manufactured household drinks machines
- Avoid any fruit from South Africa or Peru as produce from these countries is being marketed with Israeli brand names
- No agricultural products from the following areas must be consumed as they use water irrigation and agricultural technology provided directly from Israel.
- Most of Africa
- Indonesia (a Muslim country)
- Many others – please check.
Much fruit and vegetables (including organic) imported into the UK has been enhanced using Israeli technology. This saves millions of people from starving around the world but is not a good reason for you to eat it. For safety, only eat fruit and vegetables that you have grown yourself using seeds that have been in your family for generations.
4. Dealing With People
When interviewing prospective employees or holding meetings with members of the public or other organisations you must check that they have no association with the following countries and areas that have accepted aid from Israel. The council must avoid acknowledging Israel’s contribution to world relief. Also, any associated products from these areas may also have been contaminated by Israeli technology. These locations include:
- The Congo (oil tanker fire disaster July 2010)
- Angola (mines cleared by Israeli technology – July 2010)
- Mississippi (bioremediation technique used to clean up after oil spills developed in Israel)
- China (a major purchaser of Israeli technology, and recipient of medical aid and training)
- South Africa (Israelis trained their doctors to perform circumcisions to prevent the spread of AIDS – July 2010)
- Cameroon (opthalmologists from Haifa restored vision to patients and trained local medical teams in these procedures – Aug 2010)
- Haiti (Israel set-up the largest field hospital to treat victims of the earthquake and hurricane and provided vital assistance for over a year)
- Romania (Israeli doctors treated babies following fire at a neonatal unit – Sep 2010)
- Ghana (receiving technological aid from Israel since 2006; Israel is now providing neonatal units to save many of the 4,800 babies that die each year)
- Philippines (signed major trade agreement with Israel in Nov 2010)
- The Maldives (although non-Islamic worship is banned here, Israeli eye-doctors performed free operations for citizens in Dec 2010)
- Kenya (Israel’s Agency for International Development built a state-of-the-art Emergency Room in a hospital serving 6 million Kenyans in Jan 2011)
- Uganda (Israeli solar-powered refrigerators were provided to store vaccines used to eliminate an outbreak of Polio from the country in Jan 2011)
- Vietnam, whose milk industry is being totally transformed using high-yield Israeli cows (Feb 2011)
- Chile, whose rescued miners were treated to a tour of Israel as part of their “Pilgrimage of Thanks” (Feb 2011)
- New Zealand (Israel sent several rescue teams, temporary shelters and water purification systems following the Christchurch earthquake in Feb 2011)
- Japan (As well as rescue teams, Israel supplied geiger counters and Israeli thermal imaging cameras are monitoring the reactor cores – Mar 2011)
- Sri Lanka (Israel conducted a massive airlift with food, 50 medical staff and rescue teams only 48 hours after the Tsunami in Dec 2004)
- India (Israel sent an fully-equipped field hospital following Gujarat earthquake in Feb 2001)
- El Salvador (Israel relief aid following earthquake in 2001)
- Georgia (Israel contributed food and seeds for farmers following severe drought in 2001)
- Turkey (Israel relief aid following earthquake in 2000)
- Mozambique ((Israel relief aid following floods in 2000)
- Colombia (Israel sent medical aid and food following earthquake in 1999)
- Venezuela (President Chavez has forgotten Israel’s aid following floods of 1999)
- Central America (Israel sent emergency medical aid teams and equipment to help victims of Hurricane Mitch in 1998)
- Pakistan (2005) and Peru (2007) both accepted aid from Israeli NGOs following earthquake disasters.
- Peru’s hydo-electric power plants are also being built and run by an Israeli company.
- Rawanda, Mexico, Chad, Sudan (Darfur) and Malawi all have received medical assistance from Israel’s NGO IsraAID.
- Destroy all personal medication. Many medicines will have been manufactured by Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals, the largest generic drugs company in the world.
- AIDS and HIV suffers note that AZT and Hypericin-based drugs have all have been developed or improved following research at Israel’s Weizmann Institute or Hebrew University; also a treatment that destroy HIV-infected cells without damaging healthy ones
- Diabeties sufferers – Israeli scientists have developed new devices for measuring and injecting Insulin
- Multiple Sclerosis -Copaxone - one of the most efficient medicines and the only non interferon agent, was developed by Teva
- Myeloma – the drug Velcade was developed over a period of 30 years by scientists at Haifa
- Emphasema – avoid the Israeli protein replacement therapy
- Check all vaccines as many of these have been developed in Israel.
- Ensure that all X-rays do carry a radiation risk, as the only radiation-free system is Israeli
- Do not use Epilady (or epilator) – this hair removal device was invented by two Israelis
- Ensure any colonoscopy or gastro investigation does not use internal Israeli cameras such as the Pillcam.
- Do not protect babies and infants from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome with the Babysense system from Israel.
- Do not undergo surgery to install an artificial heart, as the first artificial heart transplant took place in Israel.
- Sufferers of Parkinsons must avoid the brain pacemaker – pioneered in Israel to stop tremors. Also Levodopa to reduce motor disturbances. Or magnetic cortex stimulation
- Do not take any form of medication to combat cancer. Israeli scientists have been developing treatments in this area for decades. Full list available on request.
- Kidney transplants must only use kidneys from donors of the same blood group. Israel’s revolutionary new methods allow donors from other blood groups.
- Treatments derived from Stem Cell research must be avoided as most of this is Israeli-developed
- If you or your family are struck with a bacteria infection, do not take alternatives to older, ineffective bacteria-resistant antibiotics as an Israeli discovery will have been responsible for the modern, effective drugs.
- Epileptics must avoid any treatment that may have benefited from the Israeli discovery of the underlying mutant gene.
- Employees of Arab origin must not make use of the only database for matching potential Arab donors of bone-marrow – in Israel.
- Check that any pain relief medication is not based on soya as an Israeli doctor discovered the beneficial effect of the soya bean.
- Before any surgery or medical tests, check that hospital catheters have not been protected from infection using the new plastic from Israel that disables micro-organisms
- Sufferers of sleep apnea must avoid tests using the breakthrough Israeli device for diagnosis.
- Employees with a family history of heart disease and arteriosclerosis must not use the Israeli device for early detection of these.
- Sufferers or relatives of sufferers of the eye disease Age-related Macular Degeneration must not use Israeli implants to arrest the disease.
- Avoid throat surgery as this may utilise Israeli surgical lasers.
- In the event of a spinal injury or disease, do not accept spinal implants – likely to be an Israeli product or development.
- Heart rhythm problems must not be solved with the Israeli-developed heart pulse generator.
- Any incident of stroke or head trauma or onset of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS, epilepsy, glaucoma or brain tumour must avoid using any of the Weizmann Institute’s patented methods of treatment.
- Do not use the revolutionary new Israeli bandage that saved Arizona senator Gabriella Giffords after she was shot in the head.
- Do not allow dyslexics to benefit from the Israeli Internet-based reading system.
- Sufferers from liver disease must avoid using the Israeli-developed antibody immunotherapy treatment.
- All heart stents are off-limits as most of these originate from Israeli medical companies
- If you break a bone badly, reject any treatment that involves introducing collagen, as this may have been manufactured from Israeli plants.
- Reject all dental treatment as your teeth may need to be scanned with an Israeli-developed dental scanner
- Treat skin allergies only with steroid creams as the new safer non-steroid alternative is Israeli
6. Other impacts of the boycott:
- Reject all products from the USA. Analysis conducted in a typical US state shows that Israeli innovations were responsible for $2.4 billion in direct revenue to its economy in 2009 and generated nearly 6,000 jobs.
- Do not tutor your children in advanced Mathematics techniques which may have originated in Israel. Also, if these techniques are used in your children’s schools, withdraw your children immediately.
- Keen ornithologists should consider giving up their hobby as many rare species stop off or reside in Israel during their twice-yearly migration.
- Avoid going to any football matches featuring teams with Israeli players.
- Destroy all your recordings of Madonna, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Deep Purple, Bon Jovie, Justin Bieber, George Benson, Moby and many, many more artists who have ridiculed the stupid and illogical boycott and have proudly performed (or will shortly perform) concerts in Israel.
- Destroy any recordings of U2, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, Beck, Rihanna Coldplay and any artist whose music has been recorded using the sound technology of the Grammy Award winning Israeli company Wave Audio. You also must get rid of any personal copies of Shrek, American Beauty and Star Wars. Do not trust anything recorded by Sony, JVC, Toshiba or Dell.
- Don’t go to see “The Black Swan” with Natalie Portman, or watch any old films with Elizabeth Taylor – both lovers of the Jewish State.
- Do not stay in hotels or visit shopping centres owned by Israeli companies (sorry, you will need to check which ones yourself).
- Do not have anything to do with the banks who are using Israeli software to prevent fraud.
- Do not use any Credit or Debit card as the Security monitoring system used by the Credit companies is likely to be Israeli.
- Do not buy an engagement ring containing a diamond as it is possible that this may have been cut in Israel.
- Do not travel by air as your plane might be towed by the Israeli-built “Taxibot”.
- Do not use public transport inside Amsterdam, Moscow or Northern China in case you benefit from Israeli transportation devices.
- If you suffer a power or network failure, be grateful that at least you haven’t installed the Israeli system that prevents power outages.
Finally, you need to leave all your taps running when you leave home and must never flush your toilet, because Israel provides water-saving technology to over half of the planet. It also is providing sewage treatment technology across the world, including to the UK.
Seriously, let’s hope that the idiotic decision by West Dumbartonshire Council to boycott of Israeli products is flushed down the toilet of history.
I covered his Gaza experiences, but his West Bank one is equally as enlightening.
Hitchens begins describing Arab hospitality but soon we find:
once again I saw the outline of a society, slowly forming amid the wreckage, in which a decent person might live, work, raise children and attempt to live a good life. But I also saw and heard distressing things
‘Wreckage’? Not sure what he means here. The last war here was 37 years ago. Many Arab towns in the West Bank look like anywhere else in the Middle East. Presumably this is a psychological wreckage in terms of almost 40 years of direct conflict with Israel.
At least we see civil society beginning to form, and about time too.
Hitchens is quick to see the plight of Christians under Palestinian Authority rule:
I feel all of us should be aware of … the plight of Christian Arabs under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. More than once I heard them say: ‘Life was better for us under Israeli rule.’
One young man, lamenting the refusal of the Muslim-dominated courts to help him in a property dispute with squatters, burst out: ‘We are so alone! All of us Christians feel so lonely in this country.’ Substitute ‘lonely’ with ‘hounded’ and persecuted’.
It appears it isn’t just Jews some Muslims are uncomfortable with. Whilst denying any Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, they now want to end 2,000 years of continuous Christian presence in the West Bank it appears. Will it be that a future Palestine is not just judenrein but christenrein as well.
This conversation took place about a mile from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where tourists are given the impression that the Christian religion is respected. Not really.
I was told, in whispers, of the unprintable desecration of this shrine by Palestinian gunmen when they seized the church in 2002 – ‘world opinion’ was exclusively directed against Israel. I will not name the people who told me these things.I have also decided not to name another leading Christian Arab who told me of how his efforts to maintain Christian culture in the West Bank had met with official thuggery and intimidation.
There is no unsubstantial Christian presence in Bethlehem, as you might imagine. Hitchens tells us that it’s about 30,000 in the area but between 2001 and 2004 2,000 emigrated and if we assume that this migration will continue there may be no Christians at all in 10 to 15 years.
Arabs can oppress each other, without any help from outside. Because the Palestinian cause is a favourite among Western Leftists, they prefer not to notice that it is largely an aggressive Islamic cause.
Spot on, my man. This guy isn’t afraid to tell the truth.
Let’s digress here and look at the evidence for Christian persecution over many years. Let’s start with the Methodists current policy of a boycott of Israeli goods manufactured in the West Bank and their reason for it.
On their Conference website the most salient point for me is this:
The decision is a response to a call from a group of Palestinian Christians, a growing number of Jewish organisations, both inside Israel and worldwide, and the World Council of Churches. A majority of governments recognise the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories as illegitimate under international law.
I’m not going to get into the argument that the settlements are or are not illegal, what strikes me is ‘a call from a group of Palestinian Christians’. The fact that there are Israeli groups which favour boycotts is none of the Methodists’ business, but the Christians are.
Yet the Methodists are fixated on what Jews are purported to be doing to Christians but make no equivalent criticism or boycott of many egregious Muslim activities where Christians are being murdered or expelled or persecuted.
The atrocity at Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad in which 52 Christians were murdered has set off a flurry of articles about Christians under threat of extinction in the Middle East. Al-Qaeda has declared Arab Christians a legitimate target. Even Robert Fisk of The Independent is sounding the alarm about a flight of Christians of Biblical proportions – and that was before the massacre.
First the Saturday people – now the Sunday people. Jews have been virtually wiped out in Muslim lands. Now it’s the turn of the ancient Christian communities. Forty percent of the Assyrian Christian population of Iraq has fled since the fall of Saddam.
And much of this under the noses of the American coalition forces, presumably.
Also, in Syria:
since the late 1960s private Christian schools have been suppressed, …. the Armenian Christians of Syria are leaving at a particularly high rate: the government has banned their associations, publications, the teaching of their language and their political party.
Hmm. Seems like the Christian Arabs of the West Bank are not alone.
What about Jordan:
the monarch [sic] sees itself as the protector of the six percent of Jordan’s population who are Christians; they are given limited political rights. However, there is plenty of evidence that displaced Iraqi refugees view Jordan as a way-station to a third country of asylum – namely,the US. The refugees – and by no means all are Christian – complain bitterly that as non-residents they are not permitted to work or are paid exploitative wages. Only those with $100,000 to spare can obtain Jordanian residency rights.
Hmm. Seems the Christians in Jordan are worse off than those in the West Bank too.
Surely in Egypt, I want some good news:
It was the ‘secular’ regime under Gamal Abdul Nasser which did most to marginalise the Copts, now barely 10 percent of Egypt’s population. They are not allowed to repair their churches without government permission, let alone build new ones. Ever since the 1950s, the Copts have been persecuted, murdered, their women kidnapped and forcibly converted. Copts have been leaving Egypt for decades.
Decades? Centuries, isn’t it?
New York, NY, November 16, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today denounced the torching of at least 10 houses belonging to Coptic Christians in southern Egypt and called on Egyptian government officials to vigorously prosecute the perpetrators and increase protection for Copts. (http://www.adl.org/PresRele/IslME_62/5909_62.htm)
Hmm. So Egypt is also bad. So that’s Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Lebanon, then, with its institutionalised power sharing between Muslim and Christian can be the only haven for Christians in the Middle East? Surely?
I found an excellent website: Christian Persecution Info. The Methodists should have a read:
Lebanese security forces prepared to crackdown on Islamic insurgents Friday, June 25, after threatening leaflets were found calling on Christians to leave a key port city, and a bomb blast that killed at least one person in a predominantly Christian town.
Officials said they already detained this week two suspects accused of distributing the threatening publications in the southern port city of Sidon. Those arrested where [sic] not immediately identified.
The leaflets included Islamic slogans and warned Christians in the area to “spare their lives by evacuating the area within one week” or “bear the consequences,” Lebanese media reported.
Underscoring the seriousness of the threats was a bomb blast last weekend that ripped through a car parts shop in eastern Lebanon, killing one person and injuring two others, an official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The explosion reportedly occurred shortly before midnight Saturday, June 19, in an industrial neighborhood of the predominantly Christian town of Zahle.
Now correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it the current Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who is accused of wanting to drive out Arabs? Yet Israel seems to be the ONLY place in the area where Christians are free to worship without hindrance, are free from persecution.
You could accuse me of selective bias. OK, find me some negative stories about Christians being persecuted by the state in Israel.
I found a nice Italian site in English with the endearing headline ‘In Israel, Christians are Sprouting’. Conjures up an interesting picture, but we know what they mean.
Many of the members of indigenous communities, heirs of the ancient forms of Christianity that flourished there before the arrival of Islam, are fleeing.
The ones who remain live here and there in terror, for example in northern Iraq, in Mosul and the surrounding area, where in order to defend themselves they tend to make ghettos in the plain of Nineveh.
Ah, Iraq again.
The number of Christians within the borders of Israel has not been falling, but in absolute terms it has risen year after year: from 34,000 in 1949 to 150,000 in 2008, the last official figure.
One can speak only of a slight reduction in percentage terms – from 3 to 2 percent – because in the same span of time the number of Jewish citizens has grown from one million to 5.5 million, thanks to immigration from abroad, and the number of Muslims from 111,000 to 1.2 million.
Most of the Christians in Israel live in Galilee, while there are 15,000 of them in Jerusalem.
The exodus of Christians that has set off alarms therefore does not regard Israel, but rather the Holy Land, a geographically flexible term that extends to the Palestinian Territories and parts of the neighboring Arab countries, all the way to Turkey and Cyprus.
And for balance:
… there are the Palestinian Catholics who have been in Israel since its foundation, with the status of citizenship but in socially disadvantaged conditions.
Yes, maybe the Methodists would be better directing their efforts to helping the Arabs just like Jewish organisations:
LONDON – A new Jewish community initiative to promote understanding and equality for Israel’s Arab citizens is up and running with the announcement last week of its first coordinator.
The United Kingdom Task Force on Arab Citizens of Israel was set up last year by a broad coalition of Jewish organizations, to deepen UK Jewish engagement and understanding of issues facing Israeli Arabs and to leverage communal resources to provide effective solutions for furthering their rights.
Founding members of the initiative are the Board of Deputies of British Jews, United Jewish Israel Appeal, the Pears Foundation, the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, the New Israel Fund and UK Friends of the Abraham Fund. The task force’s executive committee is made up of the chairmen or chief executives of those organizations.
Task force members have highlighted the obligation set out in Jewish tradition and Israel’s Declaration of Independence to social and political equality for all the country’s inhabitants – Jews and Arabs alike.
Until a few years ago, there were just a few hundred Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel. But they are growing steadily, and today number at least seven communities: in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Be’er Sheva, Haifa, Tiberias, Latrun, and Nazareth.
But let’s move back to Peter Hitchens territory and look again at the plight of Christian Arabs in the Palestinian Authority controlled Bethlehem and see what Daniel Pipes was reporting in 2007:
… a campaign of persecution against the Christians of the West Bank and Gaza has succeeded. “Even as the Christian population of Israel grows, that of the Palestinian Authority shrinks precipitously. Bethlehem and Nazareth, historic Christian towns for nearly two millennia, are now primarily Muslim.…Khaled Abu Toameh of the Jerusalem Post reports from Bethlehem, increased attacks by Muslims on Christian-owned property in recent months means thatsome Christians are no longer afraid to talk about the ultra-sensitive issue. And they are talking openly about leaving the city. … According to the families, many Christians have long been afraid to complain in public about the campaign of “intimidation” for fear of retaliation by their Muslim neighbors and being branded “collaborators” with Israel. …
And in Hudson New York in May 2009, Khaled Abu Toameh again reported:
Christian families have long been complaining of intimidation and land theft by Muslims, especially those working for the Palestinian Authority.
Many Christians in Bethlehem and the nearby [Christian] towns of Bet Sahour and Bet Jalla have repeatedly complained that Muslims have been seizing their lands either by force or through forged documents.
In recent years, not only has the number of Christians continued to dwindle, but Bethlehem and its surroundings also became hotbeds for Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters and members.
Moreover, several Christian women living in these areas have complained about verbal and sexual assaults by Muslim men.
Over the past few years, a number of Christian businessmen told me that they were forced to shut down their businesses because they could no longer afford to pay “protection” money to local Muslim gangs….
On the eve of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the Holy Land, a Christian merchant told me jokingly: “The next time a pope comes to visit the Holy Land, he will have to bring his own priest with him pray in a church because most Christians would have left by then.”
Indeed, the number of Christians leaving Bethlehem and other towns and cities appears to be on the rise, according to representatives of the Christian community in Jerusalem.
Today, Christians in Bethlehem constitute less than 15% of the population. Five or six decades ago, the Christians living in the birthplace of Jesus made up more than 70% of the population.
Now there IS a cause for the Methodists who probably just care about this bit:
True, Israel’s security measures in the West Bank have made living conditions more difficult for all Palestinians, Christians and Muslims alike. But to say that these measures are the main and sole reason for the Christian exodus from the Holy Land is misleading.
If the security fence and the occupation were the main reason, the Palestinian territories should by have been empty of both Muslims and Christians. These measures, after all, do not distinguish between Christians and Muslims.
In fact, Christians began leaving the Holy Land long before Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967. But the number of those moving to the US and Canada has sharply increased ever since the Palestinian Authority took control over Bethlehem and other Palestinian villages and cities. When the second intifada erupted in September 2000, Christian leaders said they were “terrified” by the large number of Christians who were leaving the country.
Ironically, leaders of the Palestinian Christians are also to blame for the ongoing plight of their people because they refuse to see the reality as it is. And the reality is that many Christians feel insecure and intimidated because of what we Muslims are doing to them and not only because of the bad economy.
When they go on the record, these leaders always insist that Israel and the occupation are the only reason behind the plight of their constituents. They stubbornly refuse to admit that many Christians are being targeted by Muslims. By not talking openly about the problem, the Christian leaders are encouraging the perpetrators to continue their harassment and assaults against Christian families.
Gotcha! Gotcha, Methodists. You believe what you want to believe and blame the Jews, the Christ-killers and ignore the real persecution. For shame!
Let’s get back, once more, to Hitchens odd Odyssey across the West Bank where, Alice-like, he encounters some strange truths.
Hitch and the Wall (barrier, actually, for most of its length)
Think about this wall. I acknowledge that it is hateful and oppressive – dividing men from their land, and (in one case) cutting across the playground of a high school. But I have concluded that it is a civilised response to the suicide bombing that led to its being built.
Encountering Muslim anti-Semitism:
My host, a thoughtful family man who has spent years in Israeli prisons but is now sick of war, has been talking politics and history. His wife, though present, remains unseen.
Suddenly he begins to speak about the Jews. He utters thoughts that would not have been out of place in Hitler’s Germany. This is what he has been brought up to believe and what his children’s schools will pass on to them.
The heart sinks at this evidence of individual sense mixed up with evil and stupidity. It makes talk of a ‘New Middle East’ seem like twaddle. So, are we to despair? I am not so sure.
This is the demonisation that few neutrals and no anti-Zionists speak of, and if they do, they’ll tell you it is ‘understandable’.
Here Peter scrabbles to find a suitable end to his article, telling us about improving conditions, shops serving Arabs and Israelis and hoping the whole thing won’t end in a nuclear Holocaust.
Well done, Hitch. Not a perfect 10, but you made me think there is hope yet for the British Press.
Update: I noticed that Prof. Barry Rubin has written on this subject here.
I returned from Berlin this week to be confronted by the Jewish Chronicle’s front page about the Salford-born, eminent film director, Mike Leigh and his decision not to go to Israel to teach a masterclass in Jerusalem and Jenin.
I was somewhat disappointed that Leigh felt he had to make this decision. I don’t see Leigh as one of the self-haters or ‘as-a-Jews’ as they are sometimes termed. Here is a man who grew up in a very Jewish part of Manchester, was a member of Habonim and a Zionist. His mother spent her final days at the same Jewish care home as my own mother. He has always been regarded with pride by the Jewish community in Manchester and Salford.
So it is instructive to see how yet another prominent Jew has fallen out of love with Israel and has decided to publicly make a series of remarks which are gratuitous, hurtful and which completely misrepresent Israel, and characterise it in what is now a fashionable way for many in the media and arts who see the Middle East conflict, not for what it is, an existential struggle, but through the prism of their own political dogma.
I’ll take a while to dissect Leigh’s thought processes so we can better understand his decision.
The full article by Stephen Applebaum and Simon Rocker can be seen here.
Leigh calls Israel’s policies suicidal. In other words, he believes that the current government is taking Israel down a path towards some sort of disaster, even annihilation, perhaps. The recent loyalty oath law was, for him, ‘the last straw’.
So, it is the right-wing nature of the Netanyahu coalition and its policies which have led him to decide to become part of the boycott. He was already ‘uncomfortable’ about going, but this oath law really swayed it for him. Really? Not exactly the Nuremburg Laws is it.
We can see he was wrestling with his one-time Zionist credentials and his conscience about appearing to condone policies of a government at the opposite end of the political spectrum to his own views.
Now, I’m a bit of an old lefty myself, believe it or not, and during the 1980′s I decided I would not go to Israel because I disagreed with the settlement policy on the ‘West Bank’. I, of course, was, and remain a nonentity. My ‘boycott’ was personal. So I sort of understand where he is coming from as a public figure and a man of conscience. If it is ‘your people’ that you violently disagree with, then you feel a moral obligation to make a stand which you wouldn’t make for a country that you don’t identify with.
My ‘boycott’, however, showed that at some level I did still identify with Israel, and that I cared enough to make my little stand.
Things changed for me when I studied the history of the conflict and the Jewish people. I was finally radicalised by the discovery that, Israel, an imperfect country, was not in a struggle for land and borders, but was being demonised and delegitimised in an attempt to utterly destroy it. I also saw that this was part of a globalised and sanctioned neo-anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism. I saw that, as a Jew (yes, that phrase again) I was a target and a proposed victim of this insanity.
I saw that little or no space had been left for measured criticism of Israel. I saw that Israel had become the Jew amongst world states. And I saw that the cheer-leaders for this demonisation were mainly Islamic states with appalling human rights records, no democracy, no press freedom or free speech, religious intolerance, misogyny, often barbaric laws, homophobia and anti-Semitism.
At the same time I saw an imperfect Israel where there is democracy, a free press, freedom of religion, a robust and independent judiciary and free speech. I saw a country which despite its history and its imperfections has some of the finest universities in the world, is a leader in technology, medicine, environmentalism.
There are many things to dislike about some aspects of Israeli society, there are many societal problems, there is discrimination, poverty, crime, zealotry. In other words, Israel is like many other western democracies.
I saw an Israel prepared to make concessions and sacrifices for peace.
My personal boycott of Israel ended. Mike Leigh’s is just beginning, but is he motivated as I was 30 years ago?
Let’s continue with Leigh’s interview and statements he made.
As a member of the Jewish youth movement, Habonim, he believes he was ‘duped by Israeli propaganda’. Strange this. He was in Habo’ more than 50 years ago when there was no ‘occupation’ and no Palestinian cause. So what was he being duped about?
It appears that these feelings are related to ‘religion’. He calls organised religion ‘bull****’
So now we have a self-confessed liberal left atheist. Fine. Nothing wrong with that, although he needn’t be quite so disrespectful of 2000 years of Jewish scholarship, learning and community, let alone his own ancestors. After all, were it not for this ‘bull****’ he would not be here at all enjoying his nice life as a successful film director.
Presumably it’s not just Judaism he would describe in these terms.
Then we cut to the chase in this interview:
While cultural talks went on “in the nice cinematheques of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, it is hell on earth in Gaza and I wouldn’t want to be there basically”.
Ah! Now we really see where he is coming from. He has bought into the ‘liberal left’ Gaza myth. The myth that Gaza is hell, and it’s hell because of the Israelis.
Mr Leigh, who insisted that all his work was “unquestionably Jewish”, was dismissive about rocket attacks on Israel. “I don’t want to know about rockets,” he said. “What I am concerned with is humanity, is life being lived properly. And you cannot deal with this issue from an Israeli perspective and not from a Palestinian or a Gaza perspective. You simply can’t. And if you do it’s totally unacceptable. And that’s the bottom line.”
Agreed! And what is that Gaza perspective? Gaza which Israel evacuated completely several years ago and which was then used as a base to attack Israel. He doesn’t want to know about rockets. What the hell does he think caused the Gaza ‘misery’ in the first place. Does he want to put his fingers in his ears and jump up and down whilst Israelis have to run to bunkers like his parents in the blitz, and for much longer?
Does Leigh not realise that what is motivating Hamas and Hizbollah, even Fatah and certainly Ahmadinejad is religion, which he sees as ‘bull****’? Is there no contradiction there? Or is only Judaism faecal?
It’s not as if the eminent film director has put together a cogent argument to boycott Israel.
Like so many well-meaning people of conscience with left-wing political views, Mike Leigh remains ignorant of facts and perhaps a tad intimidated by his fellow luvvies on the Left.
Along with Cameron and Miliband and Clegg and so many others, he sees the Palestinians as victims and the Israelis as aggressors when the truth is, and always has been, largely the opposite.
Leigh has been in a struggle all his life, it seems, a struggle between his Jewish identity and his liberal left political views. Over time, as he has become more and more detached from his roots, he has increasingly moved towards the camp of those other Jews who even more stridently confess their hatred of Israel and their compassion for its enemies.
When it comes to ‘bull****’ Mike Leigh should take a long hard look at the propaganda, not of Israel, but of those who are determined to destroy Israel and the Jewish people.
Maybe when Gaza really is a prison camp, but one for the remnant of Israeli Jews, he will realise that the ‘bull***’ was actually on the other side and he is buried in it.
Following my previous post, I’d urge readers to look at the TUFI web site and read about how Israeli and Palestinian Trades Union co-operate and contribute enormously to improving conditions in the Palestinian Authority amd creating a paradigm for future co-operation and mutual respect.
Please take time, especially, to read about what TUFI says about boycotts.
Meanwhile ASLEF (train drivers’ union) supports the Left Wing Hands Off Venezuela Campaign and Hugo Chavez, friend of Iran, Libya and other nasty dictatorships. This is the base from which boycott calls against Israel arise; not from the realities but from pure ideological prejudice. This leads to obscenities such as British Trades Unions supporting obnoxious regimes directly or indirectly.
Yeah, kinda goes against your preconceptions and prejudices, doesn’t it.
Recently, TUFI ([British]Trade Union Friends of Israel) went on their own fact-finding mission to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority West Bank to meet Israeli and Palestinian Trades Unionists.
Each day one of their number wrote a short blog article about their experiences.
You can find their blog here.
Here are some of the interesting and revealing things they had to say. Yes, I know they are ‘Friends of Israel’ but the TUFI mission statement states:
TUFI was established to promote Israeli-Palestinian trade union co-operation and strengthen the links between the Israeli, Palestinian and British trade union movements.
On the every first day, Terry McCorran, clearly on a first visit to Israel says at the beginning of his blog entry:
The first thing to say is that Israel was not what I expected, at all….. I was expecting a large Israeli military presence – like there used to be in my home town of Belfast – but throughout the day we only saw a handful of soldiers walking around Jerusalem.
It is often the case that those who only know a place by media reporting and British media reporting at that, form preconceptions that are not matched on the ground. In a recent BBC programme about the Frankincense which tracked the ancient trade route from Yemen to Gaza, when report Kate Humble arrived at the Jordanian-Israeli border to enter Israel she was expecting a different reception. She told us that the Israeli Army has reputation for being formidable and she was clearly apprehensive. She was then amazed that the only person at the border post was a diminutive female border guard and instead of being delayed an interrogated by those nasty Israeli soldiers, she and her camera team entered Israel in a matter of minutes. Humble, like McCorran have be conditioned to think of Israel in the way it is represented by the media and anti-Israel propaganda.
It is hard to describe how intertwined the significant religious sites are in the Old City – Churches, Mosques and Synagogues next to each other, overlapping and sometimes even on top of one another. The proximity is astounding.
I expected to see friction and stand-offs, but people were just getting on with their lives with complete religious tolerance and freedom.
Well, yes, again, life is always different from propaganda. McCorran, no doubt, had seen and read about the problems on the Temple Mount because Muslim clerics and the Palestinian leadership have been trying to manufacture stories about Jewish plans to both undermine the Al Aqsa mosque and to storm the Temple Mount and claim it for Judaism. As a result there were tensions and incidents but it seems Israeli Arabs and Palestinians didn’t buy in to their own propaganda and despite ongoing attempts to stir things up, so far, the Third Intifada has not happened. As McCorran witnessed first-hand, people just go about their daily lives.
The thing that struck me the most was the mix of people in the different quarters – Arabs, Israelis, Jews, Muslims, Christians and secular people all walking and working freely side by side. Our Jewish guide seemed to be friends with every Palestinian in the Arab quarter and everyone was working together.
But aren’t Jews and Muslims supposed to hate each other?! This is the same Jerusalem from which every Jew was expelled by the Jordanians in 1948 and every synagogue destroyed. Those Israeli Jews are amazing: they actually allow their non-Jewish citizens to work and practice their religion in freedom and respect – like any other decent, enlightened, democratic nation.
I got the impression that if left to their own devises – if the extremists on both sides backed off – the people of Jerusalem, Israel and Palestine would have peace.
Amen to that, brother.
And so to the Knesset:
It just so happened that when we walked in an Arab Member of the Knesset was making a speech against some of the government’s policies in the West Bank.
What! Freedom of Speech! Freedom to criticise the government! Freedom to vote and organise politically! I can hardly contain myself. But Israel is worse than Iran, isn’t it? Ok, some Arab MK’s have been making very anti-Israel statements and, yes, the reaction of some Israeli MK’s (heard of Avigdor Lieberman, for example?) have been pretty extreme and, yes, Israeli Arabs do face some discrimination, but there are a whole raft of NGO’s, political groups, individuals and also the Supreme Court who are working in the interest of Arabs within Israel and the Territories. At least mechanisms exist in Israel to stand up for minorities and to try to right wrongs. Name me one Arab country where the same could be said. Go on. Still thinking are you? You’ll be thinking a very long time.
Later in the day we had a very positive meeting with a representative working for Tony Blair at the UN Quartet office in Jerusalem.
He said that although there were still many problems for people in the West Bank, there had been significant achievements in the last twelve months. He said that for the first time the Palestinian Authority was performing on the security side, which in turn has lead to improvements with security and access.
He emphasised that there was no comparison to how it was just two years ago, with checkpoints being opened up and dismantled and the economy growing dramatically in the West Bank.
Again this was another positive that has not been reported by the media. And this is my concluding point – the main eye opener of the day for me is that there seems to be little or no resemblance between what I have seen today and how Israel is sometimes portrayed in the media back home.
I don’t think any comment is necessary, just read that last sentence again.
And so it goes on. Day Two, Gerry Maloney:
One of the most surprising things about Israel is the lack of ill-well and bad sentiment between Jewish Israelis and the Israeli-Arabs.
We have visited both Jewish orthodox areas and Arab areas and found both communities mixing freely.
Each community seemed to be perfectly at ease with the other. This was the exact opposite of what I expected to see – it was certainly the opposite of what the media in the United Kingdom report….
… The media propagate Israel as being a “military state” but the reality is that there has been no military presence in evidence at all.
Now here’s the rub:
Listening to people from both communities on the subject of the proposed international trade union boycott, it is evident that all parties oppose this action. In a meeting with the Jerusalem Municipality workers, one view from the Palestinian contingent was that a boycott would be more detrimental to the Arab workforce than any other.
The reason for this was that in the event of economic sanctions, it would cause a detrimental impact on the employment levels of their community.
Are you listening Israel boycotters everywhere? THE PALESTINIANS DO NOT WANT YOU TO BOYCOTT ISRAELI GOODS. The Palestinians that really count, that is, not their leaders or the fanatics among them but every day decent Palestinians trying to earn a living. The boycotters would harm the very people they are supposed to be trying to support. But they don’t really care about that because the boycott is not about Palestinians and their rights, it is about demonizing and delegitimizing Israel. Boycotters hate Israel so much they are willing to make the Palestinians pay for it.
Finally, having spent a few days in Israel, I certainly intend to return for a holiday. …. the climate is a warm and inviting as any Mediterranean resort and, most importantly, completely safe.
Completely safe!! Yes, you heard and read right. Completely safe!!! I can vouch for the fact that in Israel you feel much safer walking at night than you do in London or Manchester. I am not saying Israel is crime-free, on the contrary there is a growing problem with crime. But attacks against the person are far less frequent than in Europe. Let’s hope it stays that way. Oh, you may scoff and ask how safe it is for a Palestinian who lives near an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. How about one who lives in Gaza City under a fundamentalist Islamic regime> I know where I’d rather be.
As the delegation moved to Nablus, Mike Dixon reported on the positives but also found negativity with a Trade Unionist referring to Israel as her enemy. But even here in the heart of Palestine the boycott was not wanted. They were more concerned with the traditional trade union concerns of pay and conditions.
You can be cynical and say TUFI were pre-disposed to finding the positives in Israel and that may well be true, but they report what they saw and they spoke to both sides.
Boycotts are cynical, political, anti-Israel mechanisms which harm Palestinians and ignore the facts. Let’s hope that that lesson is learned around the world and here in the UK. Somehow, I doubt it. TUFI is a minority in the Trades Union movement and boycotts or attempts to boycott will continue to be used against one country – Israel.