Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 09, 2009
You can read about Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding here. I have no particular problem with their mission statement - at least in principle; though the fact that they appear to be either unaware of or indifferent towards Israeli Messianic Jews, and implicitly condemn Israeli counterterrorism measures without condemning (or even mentioning) Palestinian terrorism gives me little confidence that EMEU has much more than a one-sided anti-Israel agenda. Anyway, they've got an executive briefing coming up, which you can read about here. You'll note that one of the speakers is Sami Awad of Bethlehem Bible College, whose radical anti-Zionist stance you can read about here, and of course Reverend Dr Stephen Sizer PhD, whose antisemitic (there is no other word for it) output I have written about in detail here and here. (Sizer has yet to make any adequate response whatsoever.) Let's hope the other speakers are a sight better, or the chances of the Executive Briefing furthering Middle East "Understanding" are slim indeed.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Friday, August 07, 2009
Daniel has blogged approvingly about Ben White's book, Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide, here.
When I and others began to challenge Daniel about White's use of fake quotes, citation of Holocaust Denier Roger Garaudy as an authoritative source, and use of other dubious sources, Daniel pulled out of the debate.
I have twice posted the following question on this post on Blanche's blog. Twice it has been deleted. The question is as follows:
"Daniel: do you think it is acceptable for your friend Ben White to cite the Holocaust Denier Roger Garaudy as an authoritative source and to use fake quotes in his book?"
I have just posted my question for a third time. I await to see whether Blanche will answer, or will go on courageously deleting.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Stephen Sizer, took exception to the review and critiqued it here, in a post headed 'Holocaust Denial?'. For good measure, I have reproduced the whole of Sizer's critique (which includes comments from Ilan Pappe) in bold at the end of this post.
Where to begin with fisking Sizer's post? Here are a few thoughts.
1. The history
Sizer accuses Moore of denying the Palestinian Nakba. Moore doesn't: he questions whether the Palestinian refugees fled because of preplanned 'forcible expulsion'. Pappe (and Sizer) would have us believe that all of the Palestinian refugees fled because they were forcibly expelled as part of a preconceived, deliberate Zionist plan. Anyone with a fleeting knowledge of Israeli historiography will know that this is the line taken by the so-called 'New Historians', in contrast to the line taken by writers such as Ephraim Karsh or Sir Martin Gilbert, whom I will label as 'traditionalists'. Good examples of Karsh's work are available here and here. The thrust of the traditionalist line is that many if not most of the Palestinian refugees fled because they were commanded to do so by their own leaders, so that they would not get caught up in a war unleashed by the surrounding Arab states on the fledgling state of Israel. This view is supported, among other things, by Arab voices quoted in a Palestinian authority daily
and by statements such as these. Stephen Sizer and Ilan Pappe are invited to comment on how such candid statements by Arabs fit into their own thesis that the Nakba was All Israel's Fault.
2. Other views of Pappe
Let's move on to the response to Pappe by other historians. Karsh labels one of Pappe's previous books as 'disgraceful'. Yoav Gelber called him a 'charlatan'. Seth Frantzman accuses him of 'flunking history':
"As a work of scholarship, Pappé's book falls short, and it does so in a particularly damning way. He ignores context and draws far broader conclusions than evidence allows by cherry-picking some reports and ignoring other sources entirely. He does not examine Arab intentions in the five months between the U.N. endorsement of Palestinian partition and Israel's independence, nor does he consider the widespread public statements by Arab officials in Palestine and in neighboring states declaring their goal of eradicating the Jewish presence in Palestine. It is obvious why a polemicist such as Pappé would cleanse—so to speak—his narrative of any such references: To avoid doing so would strike at the core of the reality that he wishes to foist upon his readers, one which precisely inverts the historical record and turns a coordinated Arab attempt at ethnically cleansing Palestine of its Jews into a Jewish attempt at ethnically cleansing Arabs.
Pappé's writings may win plaudits among his new British peers, whose disdain for the state of Israel is legendary. But his disregard for the obligations of the historian and his indifference to academic integrity condemn his work to the realm of the polemic, not scholarship."
Perhaps most significantly, Pappe was also denounced in the strongest possible terms by Benny Morris, here, here and here: 'This truly is an appalling book. Anyone interested in the real
history of Palestine/Israel and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict
would do well to run vigorously in the opposite direction.' This is important because Morris at one time 'walked a stretch together in uneasy
companionship [with Pappe]' . In short, it seems clear that Pappe is viewed with disdain by many of his own academic peers. Can Stephen Sizer tell us why, in light of all this, he himself is so keen to defend Pappe? What does he know that these professional historians do not?
3. Pappe's methodology
Echoing Efraim Karsh, Mike Moore referred to Pappe as a 'self-confessed post-modern relativist for whom historical research is a "backward-looking projection of political attitudes and agendas regardless of actual facts". Karsh's assessment derived, among other things, from the candid statement of Pappe in 'A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples' that
'My bias is apparent despite the desire of my peers that I stick to facts and the "truth" when reconstructing past realities. I view any such construction as vain and presumptuous. This book is written by one who admits compassion for the colonized not the colonizer; who sympathizes with the occupied not the occupiers.'
Yoav Gelber's comments are also worth re-reading, here.
In the light of such comments by both Pappe himself and by his peers, Sizer is again asked to explain his own fondness for Ilan Pappe. Whether or not Pappe refers to himself as 'post-modernist' seems irrelevant.
Mike Moore wrote:
'[Pappe] repeats an allegation of the deliberate massacre of 200 Palestinians in the village of Tantura by the Jewish Alexandroni Brigade. Pappe's story relies heavily on a discredited doctoral thesis by Teddy Katz, a graduate of Haifa University, who was found to have 'gravely and severly' falsified his evidence. Nevertheless, in the Spring 2001 issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies, Ilan Pappe defended Katz, insisting that his conclusions were correct, even if his facts were not, since historical research need not be based on facts!'
When Sizer asked Pappe for his comments, Pappe replied 'Katz’s thesis is reliable but in any case it is not the basis for the Tantura affair, which is only two pages in the book, but my own research into the archives and oral history.'
On the allegations of the Tantura massacre, Yoav Gelber is worth quoting again, at length:
"Pappe reiterates endlessly that a massacre took place in Tantura. Unfortunately, saying it does not make it so. Reiterating slogans has nothing to do with historiography or truth. I have re-read the testimonies of the three Jewish witnesses alleged by Pappe to confirm the massacre (Ambar, Vitkon
and Lishansky) only to find that despite Katz's aggressive manner of questioning them (contrary to the teachings of all Pappe and Firro's authorities on oral history) they all denied the allegation.
Pappe's version of Sheikh Nimr al-Khatib's whereabouts in 1948 is absolutely baseless except for one fact - the Sheikh was indeed a member of the National Committee of the Arabs in Haifa until the attempt on his life. Al-Khatib's presence in Haifa later than 19/2/1948 (the date of the attempt), however, is not mentioned in any document. If Pappe has such a document as he claims, let him scan it and put it on the web. Since he regards the al-Khatib story as a cornerstone of his argumentation, his nonsense illustrates the validity of the entire case.
The General Staff's document in question is now on the web (see:
http://www.ee.bgu.ac.il/~censor/katz-directory), and the readers are invited
to look in it for a "mass grave" that Pappe now declares was mentioned by
the sender. A "minor" detail indeed."
If Teddy Katz thesis is indeed reliable, then why, according to Rikki Hollander, did the University of Haifa find fabrications and distortions of quotes in Katz’s work and disqualify the thesis, removing it from the university’s bookshelves? Again, according to Hollander, why did Katz insist under oath that he had been misunderstood and that he had never believed there was a massacre? And later write the following?
'After checking and re-checking the evidence, I am now certain beyond any doubt that there is no basis at all for the allegation that after Tantura surrendered, there was any killing of residents by the Alexandroni Brigade, or any other fighting unit of the IDF. I would like to clarify that what I wrote was misunderstood, and that I did not mean to suggest that there had been a massacre in Tantura, nor do I believe that there ever was a massacre at Tantura.'
Why does Ilan Pappe, and by extension Stephen Sizer, consider Katz' thesis to be reliable?
5. The comparison with Holocaust Denial.
Sizer heads the piece 'Holocaust Denial?' and comments that 'Thankfully it is a crime in some countries to deny the Holocaust. It is a shame that it is not yet a crime to deny the Palestinian Nakba, as Moore does.' In Sizer's mind, Moore's robust critique of Pappe is equivalent to denying the Holocaust. In light of all the above, it is clear that this is at best ludicrous and at worse downright scurrilous on Sizer's part. There is no possibility whatsoever of Holocaust Denial being a legitimate position to hold. Yet there is every possibility of there being alternative explanations for the Nakba than that advanced by Pappe and Sizer. To equate the two is a particularly obscene example of immoral equivalence on Sizer's part; almost as obscene as labelling a picture of Israel's security barrier with the caption 'Arbeit macht frei.'
6. Sizer's alternative
As an alternative to Mike Moore's review, Sizer instead suggests Stephen Lendman's 'much more balanced review' at Global Research here. I'll leave it to others to decide whether or not the review is balanced, but one wonders why Sizer is directing people to a website which speculates on whether 9/11 was an inside job. One also wonders why he considers Stephen Lendman to be a reliable source of information: Stephen Lendman is a regular contributor to Ziopedia.org, a website which aims to 'to demask and expose Zionist crimes and Jewish supremacism as our contribution to the fight against the "Jew World Order".' Has Stephen Sizer not learnt his lesson about encouraging others to read material written by antisemites?
7. Pappe & the neo-Nazi newspaper
Mike Moore wrote, 'Pappe's anti-Israel bias is so extreme that he recently gave an in-depth interview to the German anti-Semitic neo-Nazi paper National Zeitung, in which he repeated his charges against Israel.'
When asked about this by Sizer, Pappe responded:
'The interview in Germany. I gave a press conference that was published also in that newspaper. On the day the interview appeared there I published a special note to all the German press that I deplore and rebuke the positions of this newspaper and have nothing in common with its agenda and views.'
I'll leave it to others whether this (translation into English available here) is an 'in-depth interview' given to a specific newspaper or a general press conference given to many journalists which somehow ended up in the National Zeitung. The question in any case remains: why would a neo-Nazi newspaper be interested in Pappe's work in any event? What is Pappe doing to make his work useless to antisemites? The same questions can, of course, be asked of Stephen Sizer, a man who gave an interview to American racist Mark Dankof (apparently arranged by his publisher) and whose own work is so admired by a variety of antisemitic and white supremacist sites. (Interestingly, both Sizer and Lendman are feted by the Revisionist Clarion.)
The last time I wrote an in-depth critique of Sizer, he responded by insisting that he shares Jewish concerns about the rise of antisemitism and that he is working to defeat it. Is he working to defeat antisemitism by linking to Stephen Lendman, by comparing a critique of a revisionist historian with Holocaust Denial and by defending a man who is admired by a German neo-Nazi newspaper? Methinks Rev Sizer needs to work a little harder yet.
Sizer's post is reproduced in full below. All hyperlinks are in Sizer's original.
I was saddened but not surprised to read Mike Moore cynical ‘review’ of Professor Ilan Pappe’s “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” in last month’s Evangelicals Now.
Don't get me wrong. EN is a fine newspaper. I subscribe, as does our church. I read it avidly. I even contribute occasionally when asked. I just find it a little strange to read such a one sided and wholly negative 'review' of a book by a Jewish author about the Palestinian Nakba reviewed by a pro-Zionist Christian in an evangelical paper. Was the review commissioned or more likely sent unsolicited and used to fill a gap? I'll give EN the benefit of the doubt.
Thankfully it is a crime in some countries to deny the Holocaust. It is a shame that it is not yet a crime to deny the Palestinian Nakba, as Moore does.
The simple fact is that one in four refugees in the world today, according to the United Nations, is a Palestinian. Where did they come from? Over 500 towns and villages erased from the map of Palestine in 1948-1949.
Far from “leaving no trace” as Moore suggests, there are over 5 million Palestinian refugees registered with the UN today who still have the keys and title deeds to their homes in what is now Israel. (see here and here for more information)
I took the liberty of asking Professor Pappe to respond to the specific criticisms which Moore makes. He replied:
1. The interview in Germany. I gave a press conference that was published also in that newspaper. On the day the interview appeared there I published a special note to all the German press that I deplore and rebuke the positions of this newspaper and have nothing in common with its agenda and views.
2. I did not say that I am using oral histories instead of military archives, half of the book is based on the latter!, I am using them in conjunction. I do have my doubts on the reports of the IDF, as one would and should have about them today.
3. The basis for the allegation of expulsion in the first five chapters of the book are based on the Israeli military archives not on a post modernist notions. I never declared myself to be a post modernist and I am not a post modernist scholar.
4. Katz’s thesis is reliable but in any case it is not the basis for the Tantura affair, which is only two pages in the book, but my own research into the archives and oral history.
5. Finally, none of the professional Israeli historians refute that the half of Palestine’s population was expelled, they do not share the shame that I feel about it.
Evangelicals Now is highly regarded for its factual reporting and balanced book reviews. Mike Moore’s review was neither.
You can read the review and decide for yourself here
Stephen Lendman has written a much more balanced review for Global Research here
Watch Ilan Pappe on the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine here
Ilan Pappe's website
And here is one of the best sites for maps showing the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
For Part II, see here
Part III: why is Dick Lucas, respected evangelical leader, going to speak at Stephen Sizer's church? When will senior evangelical leaders start taking Sizer to task for all these things?
Is the problem that British evangelicals don't know, or that they don't think antisemitism matters?
Oh, and in relation to this post of Rev Sizer's, Stephen Sizer might consider why neo-Nazis took to Ilan Pappe so much, as David Hirsh quite properly asked here. Of course, Rev Sizer could also ask why neo-Nazis like his own output so much, but on past form he is more likely to refuse to engage with the majority of the points I make, and threaten me with police action.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
- the boycott motion was passed in defiance of democratic norms, here and here
- the boycott motion was passed despite clear legal advice that it would be illegal, indeed the Socialist Worker Party-led National Executive decided to suppress the legal advice, here
- Proponents of the boycott motion included Tom hickey, who has in the past spoken in front of a reading list featuring the work of Holocaust Denier Roger Garaudy; the Holocaust falsifier Haim Bresheeth; Mike Cushman, who circulates antisemitc emails; and Sean Wallis, who also appears to embrace antisemitic conspiracy theories.
- A proposed amendment to investigate antisemitism-related resignations from the union was voted down.
- And, of course, the party driving the boycott motion is the Socialist Workers' Party, a group whose explanation of the Holocaust omits any reference to Jews and which has in the past promoted the openly antisemitic Gilad Atzmon.
A motion which is aimed at helping the Palestinians, which expresses 'legitimate criticism' of the policies of the Israeli government and which is in no way antisemitic? Don't believe a word of it.
FOOTNOTE: it would be lovely if the church was different from the world in this respect. But, since the Anglican boycott drive is spearheaded by a man who, for all his pretty words, police threats and protestations to the contrary, has yet to provide any decent response whatsoever to the well-documented charges against him - sadly this is very much not the case.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Stephen Sizer commends the Pope for repudiating antisemitism, here. But when will evangelicals take Stephen Sizer to task for apparently circulating antisemitic emails, accusing those who are concerned about antisemitism of acting in bad faith, slipping into antisemitic rhetoric about 'the lobby', citing or cooperating with Holocaust deniers, turning a blind eye to Israeli pain and citing various other dubious sources, the interview he gave to American racist Mark Dankof (apparantly arranged by IVP USA!), using openly antisemitic language in a national newspaper, insulting the memory of those who died in the Holocaust, subtly insinuating Israeli complicity in 9/11, rewriting history and misrepresenting those he disagrees with? (Not to mention threatening those who dare to criticise him with police action, whilst himself manifestly failing to engage with most of the points put to him.) No time soon, it would seem, since Sizer was recently asked to speak at the London School of Theology. Whatever evangelicals may think of Sizer's theology and politics, the fact that they continue to give him a platform tells me that evangelicals either aren't aware of these aspects of Sizer's writings, or think that they just don't matter. For shame.
Friday, May 01, 2009
David T on the fight against anti-Semitism, here: "There are some who are prominent within anti-Zionism who are also opponents of anti-semitism. Andy Newman, and even George Galloway, have been fierce in their condemnation of anti-Jewish racism. Yet, when it comes to the crunch, they’re enthusiastic “neverthelessers”. You can’t cheer on Hamas - hand money over to Hamas, even - but either ignore or attempt to explain away their genocidal antisemitism, and still claim to be an anti-racist."
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Firstly, I could try to deny its factual accuracy. I could say that I categorically deny any position that threatens Israeli sovereignty. That might be tricky, though, because when I was in Iran not so long ago, I reportedly said this:
"Asked to comment on the United Nations requirement to repatriate the Palestinian refugees to their homeland, he said that repatriation of Palestinians to their own territory will be effective in retaking their own country, because, when the Palestinian refugees come to their home, they will form majority of the population and would form a multi-ethnic state including Jews, Muslims and Christians."
[UPDATE: Stephen Sizer says this report misquotes what he said.]
I could also insist that I "have never knowingly, to use her words, ‘given interviews to, endorsed or forwarded material from American white supremacists and Holocaust deniers’." That would leave someone needing to explain the existence of various emails apparently sent out by me, including:
- this one which contains commentary by Holocaust Denier Michael Hoffmann II
- this one containing an article by conspiracy theorist Michael Collins Piper
- not forgetting this one containing an article by one Ted Pike ("an outspoken critic of ADL's evil Jewish leadership") taken from the website of conspiracy theorist Jeff Rense
- Oh - and not forgetting this one either, seemingly sent out by me to the Holocaust Denier Israel Shamir, on first name terms, asking him to cooperate with me.
- Oh - and also this email which seems to have come from me and which ended up in the inbox and on the blog of former National Front leader Martin Webster. (Of course, I can't control who signs up for my mailings or where they end up... but why is Martin Webster so keen on what I have sent?)
Next, I could slip into one of my old favourites, "the Livingstone Formulation". Not for the first nor even for the second time, I could suggest that someone is raising the spectre of antisemitism in an dishonest effort to stifle legitimate criticism of Israeli policies - specifically, I could write this -
"Is [Melanie Phillips' piece aiming] to deflect attention from Israel’s recent wanton killing spree in Gaza? Or was it written out of frustration at the decision of the Church of England Synod to divest its shares in Caterpillar? Or just part of the wider Zionist lobby targetting Barak Obama’s new Administration? Or is it perhaps a precursor to an imminent pre-emptive attack against Iran? Lets hope not otherwise it won’t be the libel or calumny we are debating but whether her friends who seem anxious for Armageddon are right after all."
It would seemingly not concern me that repeatedly accusing Jewish people of raising the spectre of antisemitism as a dishonest ploy to stifle criticism of Israel's policies might in itself be an antisemitic claim (because it implies that the [usually] Jewish people who do it are dishonest), nor that they might be doing so because, in light of those emails which seem to have left my outbox (not to mention my subtle insinuation of Israeli complicity in 9/11 or my repeated use of dubious sources), they might in fact have good reasons for doubting my philosemitic credentials.
Thirdly, I could lapse into conspiracy theory, suggesting [as above] that Melanie Phillips' piece is part of the wider plans of the wicked Zionist lobby working on both sides of the Atlantic to target Obama's administration, to instigate a pre-emptive attack against Iran, and to discredit Chas Freeman (and me). Again, it would seemingly not overly concern me that the myth of an all-powerful Zionist lobby controlling American policy is just that - a myth. And, like the Independent, I might find it difficult to convince people that I really do emphasize the difference between the "Zionist lobby" and the older antisemitic trope of a "Jewish lobby", because in the past I have specifically written that Dole & Clinton were cowed by the "Jewish Lobby". It would of course help me to gush over the work of Mearsheimer and Walt (which I refer to as "dynamite"), even though numerous commentators have challenged its claims, notably Alan Dershowitz who pinpoints numerous factual errors and who summarises it as "the newest - and oldest - Jewish conspiracy". Too bad that Dennis MacShane, someone who knows a bit more about government than me and whose work I have promoted on my own blog, demolishes the work of Mearsheimer and Walt, summarising it as "smears against Jews", concluding with the telling comment that "Jews, Israel and the fabled 'lobby' did not exist in any papers I saw or discussions I had as a government minister." (MacShane, Globalising Hatred - The New Antisemitism, pp. 137 & 138)
Fourthly, I could encourage my hearers to combat racism: I could urge them to "Support the United Nations Durban Review Conference to be held in Geneva in April. The Durban Review Conference, to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, 20-24 April 2009, will evaluate progress towards the goals set by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. The Review Conference will serve as a catalyst to fulfilling the promises of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action agreed at the 2001 World Conference through reinvigorated actions, initiatives and practical solutions, illuminating the way toward equality for every individual and group in all regions and countries of the world." It would seemingly not occur to me, and certainly not to my hearers, that the Durban 2001 conference turned into a cesspit of antisemitism (sorry! - "legitimate criticism of the policies of the Israeli government"), nor that numerous observers, including veteran anti-apartheid campaigner Benjamin Pogrund, consider that the 2009 conference will be little better, nor of course that one of the goals set in 2001 (point 65 of the Durban and Declaration and Programme of Action) was this: "We recognize the right of refugees to return voluntarily to their homes and properties in dignity and safety, and urge all States to facilitate such return". Would that be a call for the Palestinian right of return, long recognised as a euphemism for Israel's destruction? Whoops!
Finally, I could turn to the Bible. In critiquing statements allegedly made by Israeli military rabbis [which, if accurately reported, this blogger would also condemn], I could ask this question:
"One has to ask which rabbinate? Perhaps the one the Apostle John refers to in the Book of Revelation 2:9-10, 3:9?"
This would be ironic, seeing as I devote a lot of my time to criticising those who see the Bible as predicting events in the modern-day Middle East. It would also be a bit silly, seeing as the people referred to in those passages were based in first-century Smyrna and Philadelphia respectively. It would also be tricky exegetically, since both groups apparently "claim[ed] they were Jews but [were] not" - suggesting they may in fact have been Gentiles claiming to be Jews (something which has parallels in later history) - but who ever heard of a non-Jewish Israeli rabbi? It could also be a PR disaster for me, because a simple Google search shows how that phrase in Revelation has been and still is misused by antisemites today, whilst one of the leading works on left-wing anti-Semitism shows how the trope of Satanic or Satan-worshipping Jews has a long and inglorious history. And I wouldn't want anybody to accuse me of being antisemitic, would I?
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Friday, March 06, 2009
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Howard Jacobson on contemporary antisemitism here - it is devastatingly brilliant.
As is Norm Geras' piece on accusations of war crimes made against Israel, here
Friday, February 06, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
From the Jewish Chronicle
Anglo-Jewry is in the middle of the worst outbreak of antisemitism in Britain since the Community Security Trust started keeping records a quarter of a century ago.
Since the start of the Israeli offensive into Gaza on December 27, more than 150 incidents across the country have been recorded.
CST director of communications Mark Gardner said: “Antisemites are using an overseas conflict as an excuse for their racism, and this should be clearly condemned by all sectors of society. In particular, we are seeing the inevitable antisemitic impact of many years of anti-Israel hysteria, in addition to an enraged response to TV and newspaper images of this conflict.”
There have been assaults on individuals, an arson attack on a synagogue, dozens of incidents involving hate mail, emails and threatening and abusive telephone calls and many daubings and graffiti.
Communal leaders have been involved in a flurry of political activities this week, meeting Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Monday and Communities and Local Government secretary Hazel Blears on Tuesday.
Jeremy Newmark of the Jewish Leadership Council and Jon Benjamin of the Board of Deputies, said: “The community should feel reassured that their concerns are being clearly and regularly articulated at the heart of government during these difficult times.”
One aim of the meetings was to persuade the government to speak out about the startling rise in antisemitism. The only mention by a minister had been a letter from Mr Miliband to Board of Deputies president Henry Grunwald last Friday, in which he said: “I am alarmed at the attempts of extremist voices in the UK to use the conflict to legitimise antisemitic sentiments. I remain concerned by reports of this rhetoric manifesting itself in violent acts and threats against UK synagogues and the Jewish community.”
On Tuesday, the CST, in a deputation with the Board and the Jewish Leadership Council, presented Ms Blears and junior minister Sadiq Khan with a dossier of the incidents. They outlined their concerns about security, particularly near schools and campuses.
After the meeting, Ms Blears said: “The government strongly condemns the increase in antisemitic incidents and understands the fears and concerns of the Jewish community in Britain. British Jews, like all communities, must be able to live their lives free from fear of verbal or physical attack.”
On Wednesday, Ms Blears sent a letter to all synagogues in Britain saying that the government would not “tolerate racists and trouble-makers disrupting our local communities” and that “international events, however distressing, provide no justification for violence”. She said it was “important to recognise, and to build on, the excellent interfaith work and dialogue that both the Muslim and Jewish communities have developed in recent years”.
A young Orthodox man was viciously beaten after last Wednesday’s pro-Israel rally in what is perhaps the most serious incident.
Daniel Lowe, from Hendon, a bearded Orthodox Jew who wears a kippah, was a founding member of MuJewz, the Muslim-Jewish dialogue group at Oxford University. He had attended last Wednesday night’s pro-Israel rally in Kensington and was on his way to visit friends nearby afterwards when he was attacked.
He said: “As I was about to knock on their door, someone behind me said hello.” He turned to find two men of Asian appearance, one wearing a Palestinian flag on his jacket, the other wearing a keffiyeh. “They asked me where I had been. When I told them it was none of their business, they punched me in the head, pushed me to the ground and kicked me.”
Mr Lowe said the attack made him even more determined to attend Sunday’s Trafalgar Square event: “Jews shouldn’t be attacked for expressing their views in public.”
On Tuesday, a gang of Palestinian supporters forced their way into the offices in central London of the Israel lobbying organisation Bicom after a man called saying he was delivering a parcel.
Eight men and women — one armed with a loudhailer — shouted at and intimidated staff, ripped out computer cables, cut telephone lines and threw leaflets out of the windows.
One staff member said: “They were very aggressive, and asked whether we were Jewish and why we were supporting Israel. It was very frightening.”
It is understood that detectives at Westminster are investigating the criminal damage and viewing CCTV footage of the incident.
Bicom chief executive Lorna Fitzsimons said: “The vandalism and thuggery at our offices and against my staff this morning was utterly reprehensible. Bicom is a pro-peace organisation that promotes understanding and dialogue, often promoting moderate Palestinian voices for the sake of a speedy and peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Middle East.”
Both Marks & Spencer and John Lewis contacted suppliers this week to ask whether goods they stocked originated from Israel.
But both companies insisted that they were regular routine calls and that the timing was coincidental.
On Saturday, three protestors were arrested after occupying an Israeli-owned cosmetics store in central London.
The protestors chained themselves to the door of the Ahava store in Covent Garden, forcing it to close for around five hours. They also hung a banner in the window accusing the company of “funding Israeli war crimes in Gaza”.
A protest in Belfast on Saturday by pro-Palestinian campaigners against a stall selling Israeli products is being investigated by police as a racially motivated incident. Video footage posted on the internet showed the Sea Spa stall, which sells Dead Sea cosmetics, being deluged with leaflets from a balcony above as demonstrators shouted “Boycott Israeli goods”.
In Bristol, one man was arrested after about 30 pro-Palestinian protestors entered a city centre branch of Marks & Spencer, filled their trollies with Israeli produce and then refused to pay.
Birmingham City Council failed to agree a statement on the Middle East crisis after a debate on Tuesday. Both the ruling Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition and the Labour opposition had released statements before the meeting supporting an immediate ceasefire, but could not resolve their differences. A discussion document supporting sanctions against Israel had been presented by four out of the 120 city councillors, from the Labour, Lib Dem, Conservative and Respect parties. But it was not tabled as a resolution, nor was any vote taken.
A speech by Muslim academic Azam Tamimi, who spoke at last Saturday’s anti-Israel rally, shouting: “We’re all Hamas now,” has been reported to the police.
A CST spokesman said it had taken “numerous enquiries” about whether the speech breached anti-terrorism legislation.
“The CST will do its utmost to ensure that the police are made aware of our community’s concerns. We have been asked about a speech at last Saturday’s anti-Israel rally that may breach glorification of terrorism legislation. This will be passed to police for their consideration and possible investigation.”
Israeli sources confirmed this week that a planned flying visit by Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu to London had been postponed after Downing Street failed to give him the opportunity of a meeting with Gordon Brown.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
It is no great surprise that Stephen Sizer's blog, in recent days, has featured a series of posts stridently critical of Israel's campaign in Gaza. Nor is it any great surprise that there is little comparative criticism of Hamas, nor any great expression of compassion for the 1,000,000 Israelis now within range of Hamas rockets (not even the 2,000 Israeli Messianic Jews now within range). I have in the past blogged on Sizer's apparent blindness to Palestinian terrorism and to Israeli pain, and little on his blog persuades me to change this assessment.
I have also blogged and written in the past about Sizer's use of dubious sources and loose language. Sizer claims to take these criticisms on board, which makes this post of his surprising. I have reproduced Sizer's post in full, in bold, at the end.
Not only is Sizer relying on reports of a conversation which he himself admits is disputed, but notice how he introduces the post. "For all the speculation about the power of the Israel Lobby, the conversation between George W. Bush and Ehud Olmert is a candid insight into perceptions of power, if not their reality also." Not only is Sizer casual about introducing the classic antisemitic myth of "Jewish power" into the debate, but he is also linking to a highly dubious source, the article in the London Review of Books by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt on the alleged power of "The Israel Lobby". For those who are unfamiliar with this article, it was an edited version of a "Working Paper" which later became a full-length book. A collection of rebuttals can be accessed here. Particularly devastating is ALan Dershowitz's response, here.
Here is a key extract (emphasis added) from Dershowitz's well-referenced piece:
"This particular lobby – which the authors [like Sizer] ominously capitalize and reference with the definite article ("the Lobby") – uses the undue influence of Jews in America to get the United States to do the "fighting, dying … and paying" for wars that are not in its own interest, causing American soldiers to die for Israeli interests. It was "the Lobby" that, according to Walt and Mearsheimer, drove the United States into the war against Iraq, and threatens to drive us into a war against Iran. In other words, real Americans are being killed because other Americans, whose primary loyalty is to the Jewish nation, are manipulating America’s political, media, academic and cultural leaders, as well as ordinary American citizens. American Jews who support Israel – even in a critical way – are thus being disloyal to the United States by placing the interests of a foreign state above the interests of their own country.
If these charges sound familiar, it is because, as I will show, they can be found on the websites of extremists of the hard right, like David Duke, and the hard left, like Alexander Cockburn. They appear daily in the Arab and Muslim press. They are contemporary variations on old themes such as those promulgated in the notorious czarist forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, in the Nazi and America First literature of the 1930s and early ’40s, and in the propaganda pamphlets of the Soviet Union.
In essence, the working paper is little more than a compilation of old, false, and authoritatively discredited charges dressed up in academic garb. The only thing new about it is the imprimatur these recycled assertions have now been given by the prominence of its authors and their institutional affiliations. As David Duke observed: "The Harvard report contains little new information. I and a few other American commentators have for years been making the same assertions as this new paper." It "validates every major point I [Duke] have been making." It should have been easily predictable – especially to "realists" – that their "Harvard report" would be featured, as it has been, on neo-Nazi and extremist websites, and even by terrorist organizations, and that it would be used by overt anti-Semites to "validate" their paranoid claims of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy."
I would encourage LBF readers to read the whole of Dershowitz' piece to see how he substantiates this damning indictment of Mearsheimer and Walt.
This of course leads to the question of why Sizer is linking to M & W, without the slightest critical comment. Isn't Sizer supposed to be repudiating antisemitism? Most readers of his blog will be unfamiliar with the rebuttals of M & W and may not recognise the antisemitic undertones to their piece. But Sizer is regarded as a leading scholar on Christian Zionism, and insists that he "repudiates anti-Semitism". If he repudiates anti-Semitism, it follows that he recognises antisemitism and knows what it sounds like: he cannot play the naive innocent. So again, why the irresponsible language about the "power" of the "Israel Lobby"? Why the irresponsible link to Mearsheimer and Walt? Isn't Sizer supposed to be repudiating antisemitism?
The stakes are high. Anyone with half a brain can see that a strident anti-Zionism is increadingly fuelling antisemitic violence and incitement: see here, here and here for a few recent examples. It is also fuelling anti-Christian violence. It follows that Israel's critics need to be scrupulously careful about the language they use and the sources they cite. It seems to me that Sizer, once again, is not being careful enough. For shame.
(The text of Sizer's post follows.)
For all the speculation about the power of the Israel Lobby, the conversation between George W. Bush and Ehud Olmert is a candid insight into perceptions of power, if not their reality also.
The Independent Newspaper carried the story of Olmert's conversation with Bush on page 20 of their early edition today but then edited it out of the later edition.
Here is the version of the disputed conversation taken from today's Guardian
"Israel and US offer differing reports on UN resolution abstention
Israeli PM Ehud Olmert claimed he had called George Bush to override US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.
by Ewen MacAskill in Washington guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 13 January 2009
The US and Israel offered conflicting accounts today over alleged Israeli intervention to prevent the US voting for a United Nations ceasefire resolution last week, a move that apparently left the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, humiliated.
The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, speaking at a meeting in Ashkelon in southern Israel last night, claimed that he had been forced to call George Bush, the US president, to override Rice. According to Olmert, Rice had been planning to vote with the other members of the security council for the resolution. But the resolution was passed with 14 votes for, and one abstention. Olmert, in a speech in Hebrew, is reported to have said:
"When we saw that the secretary of state, for reasons we did not really understand, wanted to vote in favour of the UN resolution ... I looked for President Bush and they told me he was in Philadelphia making a speech. "I said, 'I don't care. I have to talk to him now'. They got him off the podium, brought him to another room and I spoke to him. I told him, 'You can't vote in favour of this resolution.' He said, 'Listen, I don't know about it, I didn't see it, I'm not familiar with the phrasing.'"
Olmert said: "He gave an order to the secretary of state and she did not vote in favour of it - a resolution she cooked up, phrased, organised and manoeuvred for. She was left pretty shamed and abstained on a resolution she arranged."
Gordon Johndroe, a White House spokesman, said today: "I've seen these press reports. They are inaccurate." Olmert's version coincides with the one offered up by other members of the security council the day after the vote. It is also known that Rice had been planning a press conference before the vote but abruptly cancelled it to take a call from Bush."
Reuter's version of the conversation speaks of Olmert, "Pouring on political bravado in a speech late Monday..." Their article concludes: "Olmert, under police investigation over alleged corruption, resigned as prime minister in September but is serving in a caretaker capacity until a new government is formed after Israel's February 10 parliamentary election."
Monday, January 05, 2009
Saturday, January 03, 2009
The IDF ground offensive into Gaza is more reminiscent of Jenin than Grozny.
If Israel wanted to do a Grozny (the city that was essentially leveled and turned into a ghost town by Russian bombing and artillery fire in the war against the Chechens), it could manage this fairly easily. After all, Gaza is a relatively small, compact, sealed-off strip of land. Of course this would be accomplished at the cost of tens of thousands of Palestinian civilian casualties, but it would likely put an end to the rocket attacks on southern Israel. However for the vast majority of Israelis this is morally unacceptable.
By contrast in 2002, as part of its operation against Palestinian fighters in the West Bank, Israel did not launch a massive and indiscriminate air assault. Instead it sent troops into Jenin. The result was between 50 and 60 Palestinian deaths, almost all of them fighters (not the massacre of 500 originally reported and eagerly believed by so many). But the Jenin operation also cost the lives of 23 Israeli soldiers.
That is to say, Israel sacrificed the lives of its own sons to avoid massive casualties among Palestinian non-combatants.
That’s the aim of the ground assault: to destroy and secure Hamas positions that could not be struck from the air without a high risk of civilian casualties, even if it endangers the lives and safety of Israeli soldiers.