A few weeks ago my book Palestine’s Horizon: Toward a Just Peace was published by Pluto in Britain. I was in London and Scotland at the time to do a series of university talks to help launch the book. Its appearance happened to coincide with the release of a jointly authored report commissioned by the UN Social and Economic Commission of West Asia, giving my appearances a prominence they would not otherwise have had. The report concluded that
the evidence relating to Israeli practices toward the Palestinian people amounted to ‘apartheid,’ as defined in international law.
There was a strong pushback by Zionist militants threatening disruption. These threats were sufficiently intimidating to academic administrators, that my talks at the University of East London and at Middlesex University were cancelled on grounds of ‘health and security.’ Perhaps, these administrative decisions partly reflected the awareness that an earlier talk of mine at LSE had indeed been sufficiently disrupted during the discussion period that university security personnel had to remove two persons in the audience who shouted epithets, unfurled an Israeli flag, stood up and refused to sit down when politely asked by the moderator. Continue reading “Israel’s New Cultural War of Aggression”
Film maker Jon Pullman interviewed Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi and Mike Cushman to produce this video on the FSOI journey to playing a vital role in defending the space for action in support of Palestinian Rights.
Foreign Affairs Select Committee’s Inquiry into the UK’s policy towards the Middle East Peace Process
Submission from Free Speech on Israel
This evidence, prepared by Jonathan Rosenhead, was submitted to the select committee enquiry which was halted owing to the announcement of the General Election. As it is not clear when or whether the enquiry will resume in the new Parliament we are publishing our evidence now. This evidence was submitted on 30 March 2017.
Who we are
Free Speech on Israel is a Jewish-led group formed in April 2016 out of concerns that the surge in accusations of antisemitism in British public life, and especially within the Labour Party, in no way reflects the reality that we live in. This concern now extends both to the unbalanced media coverage of this issue, and to the Government’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s definition of antisemitism, which we find to be deeply flawed. See in particular the recently released legal Opinion on this subject.
Our submission to your Inquiry focusses entirely on point 7: how UK policy is influenced by other states and interested parties. In particular we will address the extent to which the state of Israel has been exerting undue influence on the UK’s policy in respect of that country’s violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people. We start from the evidence revealed in the Al-Jazeera series of investigative reports The Lobby, transmitted in January 2017.
Background to our concern
Recent events have demonstrated that some national governments have an appetite to intervene in the political processes of other countries. The ability to do so will depend on the resources they can muster – such as electronic capabilities, finances devoted to that purpose, and well-disposed individuals in the target country.
We further take the view that the formation of foreign policy in the UK (as in other countries) is not conducted only within political parties but involves a wider swathe of think tanks, academic researchers, businesses with spanning interests, influential organisations and individuals, media commentators and so on. Our comments will address that broader matrix.
As Jewish and non-Jewish members and supporters of the Labour Party, we reject the call from supporters of Zionism and the Labour Right for the expulsion of Ken Livingstone. [Jewish Labour members say Livingstone must go, April 6th]
Those who call for a new disciplinary hearing simply because they didn’t like the conclusions of the previous one, demonstrate their contempt for democracy and due process.
A year ago Livingstone, responding to a question from Vanessa Feltz on BBC Radio London, said: ‘Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism.’
There is nothing whatsoever anti-Semitic about this. Francis Nicosia, the Raul Hilberg Professor of Holocaust Studies at Vermont University wrote in his book Zionism and Anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany (p. 79) that:
‘Throughout the 1930s, as part of the regime’s determination to force Jews to leave Germany, there was almost unanimous support in German government and Nazi party circles for promoting Zionism among German Jews’ Is telling the truth also anti-Semitic?
Support for Zionism can go hand in hand with anti-Semitism. What the campaign against Livingstone is really about is his long-standing support for the Palestinians and his opposition to Zionism and the policies of the Israeli state.
Those who help to throw Livingstone overboard today are preparing the way for Jeremy Corbyn’s removal tomorrow.
Tony Greenstein Brighton Kemptown CLP
Jackie Walker South Thanet CLP
Miriam Margolyes OBE Lambeth & Vauxhall CLP
Professor Richard Seaford Exeter CLP
Professor (emeritus) Moshé Machover Hampstead & Kilburn CLP
Professor Bill Bowring School of Law Birkbeck College
Professor (Emeritus) Jonathan Rosenhead Hackney South and Shoreditch CLP
Professor Haim Bresheeth School of Oriental and African Studies
Dr Tanzil Chowdhury School of Law University of Manchester
(Emeritus Professor) Wade Mansell Thanet North CLP
The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) is an intensely Zionist group created at the height of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in the summer of 2014, with the specific goal of demonising Israel’s critics. It poses as a charity protecting Jews against rampant antisemitism. In fact it concentrates on belligerently attacking supporters of justice for Palestine who draw attention to Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.
This is why Free Speech on Israel supports the petition challenging the CAA’s charitable status launched by activist Tony Greenstein. The CAA’s characteristic response has been to make a failed bid to force the online petition site change.org to take down Greenstein’s petition.
Is it possible to be anti-Semitic and pro-Israel at the same time? Your answer depends on how you define the terms. As Toni Morrison wrote, “definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.” If you define anti-Semitism solely as criticism of Israel, the answer is dangerously simple. It establishes a logic that can excuse the racism of a white nationalist and encourage him to quote Theodore Herzl. The controversial appointment of Stephen K. Bannon as Donald Trump’s chief strategist shows how difficult it is to disentangle definitions of anti-Semitism from attitudes toward Israel and makes it all the more urgent to do so
Only one major Jewish organization, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), has condemned the appointment of a man who “presided over the premier website of the ‘alt-right’ — a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists.” Along with smaller liberal Jewish groups, the ADL defines anti-Semitism as a form of prejudice, hatred and exclusion that intersects with other kinds of racism and bigotry.
In contrast, Bannon’s defenders maintain an exclusive definition of anti-Semitism. The Zionist Organization of America lauds Bannon as “the opposite of an anti-Semite.” “Every article [on Breitbart News, the website Bannon ran] about Israel and the Palestinian Arabs he has published are all supportive of Israel.” These included “fighting anti-Semitic rallies at CUNY,” “courageously… reporting that the Palestinian authority defames Israel”; “bravely” publicizing “Iran’s violations of the Iran deal–which pose an existential threat to Israel”; and “sympathetically” reporting on the “scourge of anti-Semitic anti-Israel boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS)”. The evidence that Breitbart News is not anti-Semitic, is simply that it hurls that label at those who oppose the Israeli occupation and support Palestinian rights.
In light of the revelations made by the Al Jazeera investigative documentary The Lobby, Palestinian students in the UK have published a letter calling for an apology and the resignation of the National Union of Students VP Richard Brooks. In the footage Brooks implicates himself in helping to organise a group that is trying to oust Malia Bouattia for her strong stance on Palestine. The attacks being levelled against Bouattia are based on her politics and principled opposition to Israel’s regime of apartheid and settler colonialism. As an elected official of the NUS, Brooks is betraying the trust placed in him by students and has demonstrated seriously misplaced and misguided priorities, which lead him to collude with the Israeli Embassy.
Following the revelations made as part of the first episode of the Al Jazeera documentary, The Lobby, we as Palestinian students, many of whom are members of the student movement in the UK, are issuing this statement to express solidarity with NUS President Malia Bouattia and to demand an apology from NUS Vice President (Union Development) Richard Brooks, as well as his resignation. These revelations contain evidence that Brooks has been implicated in soliciting help from the Israeli Embassy to bring down the NUS President and to destabilise the Union as a whole. In a climate where student activists, NUS, and the NUS President in particular, have been undermined, attacked, and harassed for their pro-Palestine politics, such activities and communications are outrageous, must be condemned outright, and cannot go without severe consequences.
We believe that Brooks’ activities constitute a flagrant violation of the guidelines of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaign (BDS), which was endorsed and adopted by the NUS in 2014 as part of a democratic and transparent process amid widespread concern over the deteriorating situation in Palestine after Israel’s devastating attacks on Gaza that summer. The BDS Campaign calls for freedom, justice, and equality for Palestinians and the provision of their full human rights. Palestinian students in the UK are an important part of the national student movement, and it is due to this that both the Palestinian students and the wider student movement feel disturbed at what has been shown to transpire between Brooks and the Israeli Embassy.
As an elected full time official within the National Union of Students, Richard Brooks bears a great deal of responsibility towards the student movement, as well as to the Palestinian students who come under attack by public figures on an increasingly regular basis due to our nationality. It is unacceptable for a somebody in Brooks’ position to conspire with a foreign government to undermine and damage one of the largest democratic institutions in the country, which represents over 7 million students. This constitutes a massive betrayal of the trust placed within Richard Brooks by the students who elected him, in addition to demonstrating his misplaced and misguided priorities, none of which should include colluding with the Israeli Embassy, as is evidently the case. Furthermore, it is important to affirm that the attacks levelled at Bouattia since her electoral victory were based on her politics and principled opposition to Israel’s regime of apartheid and settler colonialism. As Palestinian students, we see these attacks as part of a broader attempt to dehumanise Palestinians and silence our narratives.
In light of these appalling and outrageous revelations, we the undersigned Palestinian students in the UK and supporters of the Palestinian cause feel that the position of NUS Vice President Richard Brooks has become untenable and unworkable. In light of this, we demand the following:
– An unequivocal public apology for the actions taken by Richard Brooks.
– Richard Brooks’ resignation from his position as Vice President (Union Development) of the National Union of Students with immediate effect.
Malaka Mohammed, University of Exeter
Samar Ahmed, Kings College London
Yara Hawari, University of Exeter
Toqa Zait, Leeds University
Kareem Bseiso, SOAS, University of London
Yahya Abu Seido, University College London
Ayat Hamdan, University of Exeter
Shahd Abusalama, SOAS, University of London
Laura Al-Tahrawy, Lincoln University
Afnan Jabr Alqadri, St. Mary University
Sahar S, Kings College London
Omar Jouda, Oxford Brookes University
Abdulla Saad, SOAS, University of London
Eyad Hamid, SOAS, University of London
Motaz Ayyad, Imperial College
Razan Masri, SOAS, University of London
Gabriel Polly, University of Exeter
Rawand Safi, University College London
Razan Shamallakh, Kings College London
Yousef Anis, University College London
Hani Awwad, Oxford University
Beth Jamal, Cambridge University
Layla D., University of Nottingham
Emily M., Surrey University
Dana El Ghadban, University of Leeds
Mahmoud Zwahre, Coventry University
Miriam Abu Samra, Oxford University
Doa Althalathini, Plymouth University
Rama Sahtout, University of Exeter
Mostafa Afana, Belfast University
Haya Natsheh, London School of Economics
Ashraf Hamad, University of Leeds
Rama Sabanekh, SOAS, University of London
Basel Sourani, SOAS, University of London
Layla Al-Khatib, University College London
Hussam Al-Kurd, London School of Economics
Ramsey El-Dabbagh, University College London
Ala Sawalha, SOAS, University of London
Marwan Hanbali, Cardiff University
Jamal Abdulfattah, Exeter University
Mjriam Abu Samra, University of Oxford
Rawan Yaghi, Oxford University
Ibtehal H., Kings College London
Sari Sati, University of Kent
Abdulrahman Arasoghli, University of Manchester
Saba I., Kings College London
Syeda Tahmina Khatun, Brunel University London
Dena Qaddumi, Palestinian PhD student, University of Cambridge
Khalil al-Wazir at the University of East Anglia
Haya Naji, Southampton University
Dina Tahboub, University of Cambridge
Abdelrahman Murad, University of the Arts London
Alessia Cancemi, Goldsmiths University of London
Tamer EL-Nakhal , Medicine, Cambridge University Hospital
Hamss Hassan Dawood, University College London
Salim Habash, Loughborough University
Huda Ammori, University of Manchester
Laila al-Khatib, University College London
Samir al-Khatib, University College London
Zeena Jojo, London School of Economics
Ahmed A., University of Leeds
Haneen Shubib, University of Leeds
Hana Elias, University of Exeter
If you wish to add your name, please email Malaka933@gmail.com
Al-Jazeera has done what all the US spy agencies have so far failed to do: produced conclusive proof of a foreign state trying to undermine the democratic processes of another country.
The Americans have responded to suggestions that the Russians tried to say the presidential elections in favour of Donald Trump by expelling 35 diplomats and complaining long and hard. What has the UK Government done when Shai Masot was found with his hand far down in the cookie jar? Very, very little except say, ‘Move along, move along. Not much to see here’. It’s not as though it was only Israel’s attempts to destabilise the Labour Party that have been brought to light, which you cannot expect a Conservative government to lose much sleep over. The Israelis were targeting senior Tories and it seems the Tories do not even want to look after their own.
Mark Regev only had to say, ‘Nothing to do with me, guv’ and the Foreign Office rushed to applaud his prompt action in doing nothing. This is the same Mark Regev who, before he was accredited to the Court of St James’s, toured the British media lying on behalf of Benjamin Netanyahu as his personal spokesman. His reception, even by some usually credulous journalists, was one of disbelief and fascination that anyone could be so brazen.
In the 17th Century Sir Henry Wotton famously said, an ambassador was “an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country” little has changed in 400 years except that in the case of Regev we seem to have a dishonest man sent to do the job.. Regev would have to have been singularly incompetent not to have known what Masot was doing and, whatever his other faults, Regev is not incompetent.
Are we expected to believe that when Regev sat beside Shai Masot and Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, Jeremy Newmark, at the Labour Party Conference he did not know what was going on?
A former Conservative minister has told the Daily Mail:
“British foreign policy is in hock to Israeli influence at the heart of our politics, and those in authority have ignored what is going on.
“For years the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) and Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) have worked with – even for – the Israeli embassy to promote Israeli policy and thwart UK government policy and the actions of ministers who try to defend Palestinian rights.
“Lots of countries try to force their views on others, but what is scandalous in the UK is that instead of resisting it, successive governments have submitted to it, take donors’ money, and allowed Israeli influence-peddling to shape policy and even determine the fate of ministers.”
The eruption of allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party has long been suspected of having been orchestrated from Tel Aviv. The extensive trawling of historic twitter and Facebook accounts required the resources of state actors – it was far beyond the ability of amateurs. We now have the proof that Israel’s London embassy was actively engaged in discrediting, on the basis of flimsy or totally false evidence, anyone who questioned their right to occupy Palestinian land and oppress the Palestinian people.
The Jewish Labour Movement has been vigorously stirring the pot and pressing the Labour Party to take ever more extreme action against those they disagree with. They must be forced to disclose details of all their links with the Israeli Embassy and publish all the briefings and information they have received. It is well known they act as agents of their affiliates, the Israel Labor Party, inside the British Labour Party. Now it is apparent they are also agents of the Israeli state.
What the Israelis have been doing is far worse than anything the Russians and Trump have been accused of. The Russians worked on their own account and fed information to a compliant media. Their hacks were not conducted with the active assistance of the Trump team. In the UK the Israelis had the active connivance of British politicians, it was a joint effort and the subversion was deeper and longer.
The British spend billions on the security services. Were they asleep on the job, did they not notice this avalanche of subversion? Or were they co-operating with their friends in Mossad with whom they have close working relationships in setting up this treachery?
There are many questions to be answered and Emily Thornberry and Alex Salmond are to be congratulated in speedily calling for a full investigation. But more is needed.
Labour and Conservative Friends of Israel groups have been active agents in this underhand programme and must be disowned by their parent parties.
The Jewish Labour Movement has been acting in the interests of the right-wing Israeli Government, not in the interests of the Labour Party and must be disaffiliated. A new independent organisation must be set up to represent the interests of all Jewish members of the Party.
Mark Regev must be sent back to Tel Aviv immediately and the activities of his replacement carefully monitored to ensure no repetition
Al Jazeera Investigative Unit’s series “The Lobby” can be viewed on Al Jazeera at the following times: