Help fund challenge to IPSO over refusal to condemn false accusations of antisemitism

Jonathan Coulter's judicial review application
Jonathan Coulter’s judicial review application

The ‘Independent’ Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has refused to hold The Times and Sunday Times) to account. Both grossly misreported a public meeting to launch the Balfour Apology Campaign. They misrepresented the event as a sort of antisemitic ‘hate-fest’; this set the tone for other media reports. Thirty attendees complained to IPSO but IPSO failed to investigate properly.

Jonathan Coulter is seeking Judicial Review on three grounds:

  • the misreporting of the conduct of Baroness Tonge
  • IPSO made Insufficient inquiry
  • IPSO’s decision making was irrational

The Hacked Off campaign is supporting this challenge.

Judicial review is expensive

Support Jonathan’s crowdsourcing appeal

Continue reading “Help fund challenge to IPSO over refusal to condemn false accusations of antisemitism”

Ken Loach on Palestine: “don’t be distracted, just tell the truth”

Film maker Frank Barat interviews Ken Loach about recent allegations in The Guardian and New York Times which claim he gave “spurious legitimacy” to Holocaust denial and the refusal of these same newspapers to give him any opportunity to provide an adequate response

First published in Roar and reproduced by permission of the author

Continue reading “Ken Loach on Palestine: “don’t be distracted, just tell the truth””

Labour Conference or Nuremberg Rally? Assessing the evidence

Jamie Stern-Weiner

This article was first published on Jamie Stern-Weiner’s blog and is reprinted by permission of the author

It was difficult to ascertain on the basis of media reports whether Brighton played host this month to a Labour Party conference or a Nuremberg rally. This article investigates claims of antisemitism at the Labour conference and finds them to be without factual basis.

Labour v Nuremberg. Spot the difference: is it really so difficult?

The 2017 Labour Party conference was a success for supporters of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination.

Party leader Jeremy Corbyn snubbed a reception held by Labour Friends of Israel, a group which lobbies for close UK-Israel relations, and put enjoyably little effort into his excuse. According to the Telegraph, this ‘was the first time in over two decades that a Labour leader has not attended the annual event’.[1]

Delegates cheered as Corbyn’s keynote speech pledged ‘real support to end the oppression of the Palestinian people, the 50-year occupation and illegal settlement expansion and move to a genuine two-state solution of the Israel-Palestine conflict’.

Most significantly, the leader’s office defeated a back-door attempt to neuter the party’s support for Palestinian rights: Continue reading “Labour Conference or Nuremberg Rally? Assessing the evidence”

FSOI Labour Conference Fringe Meeting

FSOI have just issued the this statement in response to the spate of attacks on us following our successful meeting in Brighton. It is a tribute to our growing effectiveness that so much abuse is being hurled at us.

Free Speech on Israel rebuts claims of Holocaust Denial

• Miko Peled did not endorse Holocaust Denial
• Entrapment and character assassination tarnish political life

Allegations that have been made that Free Speech on Israel, a Jewish-led organisation, is complicit in holocaust denial are a signal episode in the manufacture of fake news.

They are distortions based on highly selective quotations, ripped out of context, from a strong and principled speech by celebrated Israeli Army veteran and author Miko Peled at our fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton. These allegations, too readily re-broadcast by an insufficiently critical press, misrepresent the meaning and intention of his talk. His words, read in the flow of his speech, offer no support at all to holocaust denial. These tactics of attempted entrapment and character assassination tarnish the integrity of political life in Britain.

Free Speech on Israel always challenges Holocaust denial whenever it rears its head, just as we are resolute in our opposition to antisemitism. Like Miko we are equally determined to fight false accusations of antisemitism and their use to silence criticism of Israeli crimes or to suppress support for Palestinian rights.


If you are in Brighton for the Labour Conference please don’t miss our fringe meeting

How Israel Silences Its Critics: Why We Oppose the Witch Hunt

Monday 25 September                       12.30 pm
Friends Meeting House, Ship St Brighton BN1 1AF     

Miko Peled – The Israeli General’s SonMiko Peled The General's Son

Continue reading “FSOI Labour Conference Fringe Meeting”

I’m a British Jew, and I Don’t Fear a Corbyn Victory I’d Welcome It

Ha’aretz published two articles that totally misrepresented Jeremy Corbyn as an enemy of Jews and a poor choice for Prime Minister. Jonathan Rosenhead, vice-chair of FSOI responds.

This article originally appeared in Ha’aretz and is reprinted by permission of the author

The caricature of Jeremy Corbyn as a tool of Trotskyites, a lover of dictators and a shill of anti-Semites is unhinged and wrong

There is indeed a Jewish angle to Thursday’s UK general election. Come to that, there is a Jewish angle to most things of interest. But it is far from the most interesting feature of the election campaign. In their accounts of the election Colin Shindler (Can British Jews Still Vote Labour?) and Anshel Pfeffer (British Jewish Voters’ Choice: Anti-Semitism Today, or Tomorrow) manage both to mislead and confuse, and also to miss the big picture almost entirely.

Their portrayals are consistent – a caricature of the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as a lover of dictators, leading a team of ex-communists and fellow travellers, at the head of a party engulfed by hard-left entryists

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn

and infiltrators. His followers have an anti-Semitic reflex, which Corbyn doesn’t ‘get’ as an issue.

All of which raises a big mystery – how is it that the more the British public gets to see Jeremy Corbyn relatively unmediated by the media and its commentators, the more they seem to like him? Continue reading “I’m a British Jew, and I Don’t Fear a Corbyn Victory I’d Welcome It”

Three “Wise” Monkeys Throttle Palestinian Hunger Strikers off the Airways

Glyn Secker

There has been an unprecedented blackout by the British broadcast media on the Palestinian Hunger Strikers and their protest against detention without trial, rigged courts, their illegal deportation to prisons in Israel, the denial of family visits and food parcels.

On 17 April 2017 the Palestinian leader Mawan Barghouti, from his prison cell, issued the following statement to the NY Times:

The eldest of my four children in now a man of 31. Yet here I am, pursuing this struggle for freedom alongside with thousands of prisoners, millions of Palestinians and the support of so many around the world.

 

Even the Apartheid Wall says Free Marwan Barghouti
Even the Apartheid Wall says Free Marwan Barghouti

Continue reading “Three “Wise” Monkeys Throttle Palestinian Hunger Strikers off the Airways”

The Orwellian defenestration of David Ward

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi

The Orwellian defenestration of David Ward

It was inevitable that antisemitism smears would be deployed against supporters of Palestine at some point during #GE17. Even so it was a surprise to hear Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat party leader, cornered by pro-Israel lobbyist Eric Pickles in the House of Commons on Wednesday, appeasing the witch hunters by declaring that one of his own parliamentary candidates would be banned from standing.

The language used to denounce David Ward, former Lib Dem MP for Bradford East, as in so many of the cases we have seen in the Labour Party, the National Union of Students and elsewhere, takes us deep into Orwellian territory.

David Ward
David Ward

While Ward could probably sue the Jewish News for calling him “the Israel-hating, Jew-baiting former MP David Ward”, other media have been less hysterical but equally dishonest. Continue reading “The Orwellian defenestration of David Ward”

What Canadians really think about Israel/Palestine

— and what major media won’t tell you

Michael Lesher
Reprinted from Times of Israel by permission of the author
As a citizen of a democracy, wouldn’t you want to know if the policy of your government ran directly contrary to the will of its electorate?

As a news reader, wouldn’t you prefer accurate information from your newspapers and TV news broadcasts about one of the prominent issues of the day?

As a law-abiding person, wouldn’t you want your government to allow its citizens to pursue peaceful means to promote worldwide adherence to the basic norms of international law?

If you’ve answered “yes” to these questions – and you’re Canadian – get ready to be angry. Because you’ve been had.

Three times over.
Continue reading “What Canadians really think about Israel/Palestine”

Tell New Statesman: Don’t censor Palestinian voices

The campaign by FSOI and others has been successful and PSC released the following statement:

As most of you will be aware,  two weeks ago the New Statesman removed an article by Salah Arjama from its website. PSC had commissioned the article from Salah, the co-founder and Director of the Lajee Cultural Centre in Aida Refugee camp to be hosted on the New Statesman website. The New Statesman published the piece as part of a two year partnership between the PSC and the New Statesman.

The removal of the article followed two pro-Israel websites attacking the article which raised concerns about the New Statesman having responded to this lobby pressure.  PSC sought a clear explanation from the New Statesman as to the reason for the removal of the article but did not receive it. As the issue was in the public domain, we were left with no option but to publicly petition the New Statesman. Thanks to your response, the New Statesman was inundated with 25,000 emails. Several notable figures, including lawyers, politicians, trade unions and artists, also committed to signing an open letter. After the very large number of complaints the New Statesman received, and after we informed them of the forthcoming open letter, they requested to meet with the PSC.

We are pleased to announce that after discussions we have received an explanation from the New Statesman who have framed the removal in a wider context of reviewing all their commercial partnerships from a wider editorial perspective. We are pleased that the New Statesman have acknowledged the discourtesy done by not providing an explanation when requested.

The New Statesman have reassured us that the article was not removed because of lobby pressure, acknowledged that they had no issue with the contents of the article and have now most importantly provided a link to the article on their website, ensuring that readers can still access Salah’s words and perspective. We feel this outcome gives a clear message that any pressure to remove Palestinian voices from the media will be resisted. They have also given a commitment to ensuring that their coverage of Palestine will continue to include a range of perspectives.

The issues raised in Salah’s article which can be read here are of crucial importance. PSC believes it is essential that the voices of Palestinians facing injustice and the denial of their rights are heard in wider media coverage. Although we will have no continuing commercial partnership, we look forward to continuing our wider relationship with the New Statesman to ensure that Palestinian voices and perspectives from all sections of society are heard.

We could not have done this without you, and is fantastic news for all that are concerned with the representation of Palestinian experiences in the press.

Shame of the New Statesman

Statement from Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Dear friend,

Palestinian voices are being censored and silenced. We cannot let this happen.
Earlier this month PSC commissioned an article from Salah Ajarma, the co-founder and Director of the Lajee Cultural Centre in Aida Refugee camp. The New Statesman published the piece as part of a two year partnership between the PSC and the New Statesman. Two pro-Israel blogs attacked the New Statesman for publishing the piece, shortly afterwards, the New Statesman deleted it without speaking to Salah or to PSC. They have since refused to offer any explanation or justification for the removal of the article.

This is a disgraceful attack on freedom of expression, a clear case of censorship, and a deliberate attempt to silence Palestinian voices. By doing this, the New Statesman have politically censored a human rights campaigner, who is living under very harsh conditions of military occupation in a refugee camp. We cannot stand by and let this happen. We cannot be silenced.

Entrance to Aida refugee camp
A giant key (said to be the world’s largest) sits atop the entrance to the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, reminding residents to insist on their “right of return.”

It would appear the New Statesman have caved into political pressure to remove the article, and do not believe they owe Salah or PSC the courtesy even of a conversation: the editorial team won’t even take our phone calls. In an email to the PSC, the New Statesman stated that the article had been removed as a result of ‘reader complaints’, refusing any further elaboration and any editorial contact.

Salah’s article describes the experiences of young Palestinian refugees in Aida camp and talks about how settlements impact his life and the lives of people in his community. New Statesman editors approved and published the article.

The New Statesman’s actions are political censorship of a Palestinian human rights campaigner. We cannot stand by and let this happen.

This action does not align with the stated goals of the New Statesman to “hold our leaders to account and tell the stories that the world needs to hear”. What is happening in Palestine is a story that the world needs to hear, and the account of a Palestinian should not be censored. The lack of explanation and refusal to speak to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign or Salah goes against all good journalistic standards and common courtesy

We did not want to make this public, we attempted to resolve the problem directly with the New Statesman, giving them the benefit of the doubt and attempting to speak to editors countless times.

However, we have now been told that the editors will not speak to us and that the decision to remove the article would not be explained or reversed.

We have a duty to stand up for justice, honesty, and integrity and so we must raise our voices about this.

Tell the New Statesman to:

  • Republish the article
  • Offer an apology to Salah Ajarma for removing it without good cause
  • Make a clear public statement as to your commitment to upholding the principle of freedom of expression

Please write to the editors of the New Statesman now – and show them that we will not be silenced and will not allow Palestinians to be censored.

In solidarity,
The team at PSC

Read Salah’s article

The Guardian and Howard Jacobson’s blindness to racism

The Guardian has commissioned an article, Let’s be clear – antisemitism is a hate apart, from Howard Jacobson. In his attempt to show that anti-Zionism is really a modern form of an ancient plaint, anti-Semitism, Jacobson’s literary talents seem to desert him. His arguments are wooden and stilted as his hackneyed phrases betray a poverty of imagination. 

How can one write about Israel without once mentioning the Palestinians? Israel is a state that receives the largest amount of aid of any country, despite its small population, from the United States. It is a state armed to the teeth, with nuclear weaponry, whose military has ruled over 4.5 million people for 50 years. Palestinians live in the same territory as 600,000 settlers, yet unlike them they are subject to a different legal system of Military Law. By any definition this is Apartheid. At the hundreds of checkpoints that cover the West Bank there are separate entrances for Jewish settlers and Palestinians, yet Jacobson has convinced himself that our reasons for opposing Israeli Apartheid is because of anti-Semitism!

Jacobson may be a distinguished novelist but there is nothing original in what he writes about anti-Semitism and Zionism. Jacobson offers us no special insights that cannot be gained from Israeli hasbara (propaganda). For Jacobson, criticism of the Israeli state can be explained by the fact that ‘in the matter of the existence of the State of Israel… all the ancient superstitions about Jews find a point of confluence. Apparently criticism of Israel and Zionism has nothing to do with land discrimination and theft, the underfunding of the Arab education sector, the Judaisation of areas of Israel where there are not enough Jews, extra-judicial executions, torture of children or house demolitions. It’s all because we are anti-Semitic!

Jacobson though is but the latest Guardian sock puppet. In the past year it has run a series of articles about ‘anti-Semitism’ with the aim of portraying Labour under Jeremy Corbyn as a party in the grip of a tsunami of anti-Semitism. Articles it has printed include The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and AntiSemitism and Why I’m becoming a Jew and why you should, too which is a rewrite of an earlier article in the Jewish Chronicle Hatred is turning me into a Jew by Nick Cohen; Why Jews in Labour place little trust in Jeremy Corbyn by Joshua Simons; Labour and the left have an antisemitism problem; and My plea to the left: treat Jews the same way you’d treat any other minority by Jonathan Freedland; Antisemitism is a poison – the left must take leadership against it by Owen Jones, which he rewrites annually. The Guardian has refused to print articles rejecting the idea in the above articles that anti-Zionism is a modern form of anti-Semitism.

Howard Jacobson made his name as a comic novelist. It is a genre that he should have stuck to because there is little that is amusing or revealing in his discursions into anti-Semitism. Jacobson pronounces that the Chakrabarti Report into racism and anti-Semitism in the Labour Party was ‘a soft inquiry’ and ‘was stillborn’. Instead of explaining what it is he disagreed with in the Report he insinuates that the elevation of Shami Chakrabarti to the House of Lords was the payment of a bribe. The Chakrabarti Report was a serious attempt to investigate the spurious anti-Semitism allegations of the Labour Right, the Tory press, and the Zionist movement. Chakrabarti found that the Labour Party was not overrun by anti-Semitism. 

Indeed it is one of the curious aspects of the anti-Semitism allegations that no hard evidence has ever been produced. The one serious attempt to investigate these allegations by Asa Winstanley How Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisis showed that the evidence for the allegations was spurious, fabricated and in the specific case of Oxford University Labour Club, set in motion by a former intern, Alex Chalmers, for BICOM, Britain’s main Israeli propaganda organisation.

Howard Jacobson’s theme is anything but novel. It is that anti-Semitism is ‘unlike other racisms’. It ‘exists outside time and place and doesn’t even require the presence of Jews.’ In response to the Russian pogroms of 1881, Leo Pinsker, the founder of the Lovers of Zion, likewise wrote that ‘Judaephobia is then a mental disease, and as a mental disease it is hereditary, and having been inherited for 2,000 years, it is incurable. [Pinsker, Autoemancipation, Berlin 1882 p.5.]

The logical conclusion is that if anti-Semitism cannot be explained then it cannot be fought. It doesn’t even require Jews. It exists in the realm of the metaphysical like all those other racial myths. After all ‘when Marlowe and Shakespeare responded to an appetite for anti-Jewish feeling in Elizabethan England, there had been no Jews in the country for 300 years.’ Jacobson is wrong, there were Jews in England but the memory of the Jews and the roles they performed in society had not disappeared. It is all too easy to characterise Marlowe and Shakespeare’s productions as anti-Semitic when they simply reflected not only popular perceptions but the actual role that Jews played in medieval society.

As Abram Leon, the Trotskyist leader who died in Auschwitz observed:

‘Zionism transposes modern anti-Semitism to all of history and saves itself the trouble of studying the various forms of anti-Semitism and their evolution.’.. [Abram Leon, The Jewish Question – A Marxist Interpretation, p. 245. Pathfinder, New York, 1970]

Anti-Semitism was seen by Zionism as a permanent feature of Jewish relations with non-Jews, an immutable fact beyond history and time itself. In June 1895, barely six months after the framing of the French Jewish Captain Alfred Dreyfuss for treason, Theodor Herzl, the founder of Political Zionism wrote that ‘In Paris …I achieved a freer attitude towards anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all I recognise the emptiness and futility of trying to ‘combat’ anti-Semitism. Since anti-Semitism was a natural phenomenon, it could not be fought. You might as well fight the tides.

Jacobson’s claim that anti-Semitism is a unique form of racism is a truism. All forms of racism have unique characteristics but anti-Semitism is not a unique form of racism. There has always been racism against groups who were seen as better off and prosperous, be it the Huguenots, the Biafrans, the East African Asians or Koreans in the United States. The Chinese of South-East Asia were known as the ‘Jews of the East’. Racism against the Roma is just as persistent and deadly as anti-Semitism if not more so.  Continue reading “The Guardian and Howard Jacobson’s blindness to racism”

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons