Tony Greenstein has written an excellent post on his blog demolishing the fictions that Len Duvall repeated in his response to FSOI’s letter to the Assembly Labour Group about the GLA’s adoption of the IHRA (mis)definition of antisemitism. We reprint the key part of the post below.
We have posted our rebuttal of Duvall’s assertions about the nature of the IHRA definition; Tony destroys the fictions he wrote about the situation in Palestine/Israel. One of Israel’s major exports is Hasbara: the Hebrew word for what we call propaganda. It appears that Duvall is a loyal customer of the Hasbara store and retails Israeli, what we will politely call, fictions with a straight face. He may assume that people with less knowledge of the dire situations of Palestinian people in ’48 Israel, in the occupied territories and in the diaspora might be taken in by these fabrications: an increasingly dubious assumption. It is an insult to our intelligence that he expects FSOI activists and our friends to be so easily misled.
Tony Greenstein’s demolition of Duvall’s fictions
Dear Mr Duvall,
I read with interest your response to Mike Cushman of Free Speech on Israel. Mike wrote to you concerning the Labour group’s support for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.
This definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ was drawn up by 31 governments including the far-Right anti-Semitic governments of Poland and Hungary, amongst others. The Hungarian government under Victor Orban, which is viciously hostile to refugees, combines anti-Semitism and Zionism. It is consciously rewriting history to portray Admiral Horthy, who presided over a puppet Nazi government in 1944, which deported nearly ½ million Jews to Auschwitz, as a nationalist hero. [Rewriting the history of the Hungarian Holocaust]
You say that the definition is ‘a fair representation of how Israel can be criticised when necessary in a reasonable way’. What has a definition of anti-Semitism got to do with Israel? Are you suggesting that British Jews bear a responsibility for Israel’s actions? If not, why conflate the two?
You quote the definition as saying that ‘criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic’. The whole point about criticism of Israel is that it is not like other states. It is the world’s only Apartheid state.
You also say that criticism of Israel should not be ‘referring back to the Holocaust’. Perhaps you would tell that to Israel’s supporters who routinely justify Israel’s actions on the basis of the Holocaust. For example Abba Eban, Israel’s former Foreign Minister described the Green Line between Israel and the West Bank as an ‘Auschwitz border’.
I realise that your knowledge of Israel is probably gleaned from the briefings and expenses paid trips that you have received from the Israeli Embassy, however your muddled defence of Zionist racism is worthy of the Booker prize for fiction.
You put forward the view that ‘Anti -Semitism is fuelled by far right and far left views’. I understand our ignorance but anti-Semitism has always been fought by the Left and supported by the Right. Zionism has always been unique as a Jewish political movement in that it accepted the idea that Jews didn’t belong in the countries. Like the anti-Semites they believed Jews should live in their ‘own’ state. That was why the only Jewish member of Lloyd George’s War Cabinet, Sir Edwin Montagu, opposed the Balfour Declaration. Historically Zionism was seen as a form of Jewish anti-Semitism.
You refer to the alt-Right and Donald Trump’s Strategic Advisor Steve Bannon who talks of “cosmopolitan elites in the media”… He means Jews.’ Yes you are right. Perhaps you would care to explain then why the Zionist Organisation of America welcomed Bannon to its annual gala dinner in November? It was a demonstration organised by the anti-Zionist Jewish Voices for Peace and If Not Now that persuaded Bannon to stay away. [see Ha’aretz’s ‘Zionist Organization of America Flooded With ‘Dozens of Calls’ Amid Backlash Over Bannon Support’. Ha’aretz’s subtitle was ‘We did not survive the Holocaust, we did not found the State of Israel, just so that less than two generations later we could cozy up to neo-Nazis.’ According to your views above, Ha’aretz must also be anti-Semitic.
Netanyahu is fulsome in his support, not only for Donald Trump but Steve Bannon. [Why Netanyahu doesn’t worry about Steve Bannon] Isn’t it strange that the Jewish Prime Minister of a Jewish state welcomes anti-Semites in the Trump administration. And not only Netanyahu but Israeli Labour’s Isaac Herzog. [Herzog to Trump: Your win shows elites are thing of past] You see without anti-Semitism there is no Zionism.
Your suggestion that the Left calls Israel a ‘Nazi state’ or compares Israelis to SS murderers is simply untrue and I challenge you to back up your lies. There are though many comparisons which can be made between Israel and Nazi Germany, especially in the period before 1941. The Palestinians are treated as an untermenschen. When Israeli mobs march to the beat of ‘Death to the Arabs’ – maavet la’aravim] it does bear a similarity to the chant of ‘Death to the Jews’ that was commonplace in fascist Europe during the 1930’s. Don’t you agree?
However the full measure of your racism, because turning a blind eye to racism makes you equally guilty as those who practice it, is in your assertion that ‘it is wrong to call Israel an ‘apartheid’ state.’ Apparently it shows ‘real disrespect and diminishes the sacrifices made by the majority population in South Africa’.
This is hypocritical cant. It is South Africans above all who make the comparison between Apartheid in South Africa and Apartheid in Israel. The Jerusalem Post reported Archbishop Desmond Tutu thus:
“I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.”
Nor is Desmond Tutu alone. Ronnie Kassrills, the ANC’s Jewish Police Minister noted, at South Africa’s Israel Apartheid Week that it was the architect of apartheid, Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd who stated that Israel was an Apartheid State. That was why Israel was South Africa’s best friend. Desmond Tutu: Israel guilty of apartheid in treatment of Palestinians
You are simply wrong when you state that Israel doesn’t enforce pass laws. In fact its system of check points, databases and ID cards in the West Bank is far worse than South Africa’s pass laws.
You say that in Israel incitement to racism is a criminal offence. Not true. Jews are never penalised for incitement to racism because their anti-racist laws exclude discrimination on the grounds of religion. Only Arabs are ever prosecuted. To this day the fascist Lehava organisation, whose leader Benzi Gopstein called for the burning down of mosques and churches remains free. Indeed the Israeli state funds Lehava’s ‘charitable’ wing, Hemla, which campaigns against sexual relations between Arabs and Jews. When Nuremberg Came to Israel
“Only Democracy in the Middle East”
Apparently ‘Every person in Israel has full equal rights; 1.6 million Arab Israelis have the same rights as the 6.8 million Jewish Israelis’. Yes Israel’s Arab population has the vote, but it is meaningless. In nearly 70 years, no Arab party has ever been part of Israel’s government. Only last week the Knesset passed a Bill which will prevent parties that don’t accept that Israel is a Jewish state rather than a state of all its citizens standing. Expanding Political Persecution With an Amendment
You also said that ‘Every person in Israel has full equal rights; 1.6 million Arab Israelis have the same rights as the 6.8 million Jewish Israelis…Israel is a fully functioning and vibrant participatory democracy.’ It is difficult to know where to begin when confronted with such nonsense. Perhaps the best place is the Pew Research Centre Report Israel’s Religiously Divided Society.
In this Report some 64% of Arabs said Israel could not be both a Jewish and a democratic state (27% disagreed). 79% of Israeli Arabs say there is a lot of discrimination as opposed to 74% of Jewish Israelis who disagree. No doubt you believe the racists! A plurality of Israeli Jews (48%) support the physical expulsion or transfer of Arabs from Israel. 79% of Israeli Jews believe that Jews should be given preferential treatment in comparison with Arabs. Perhaps you would care to explain how this is compatible with a free and equal society?
To give but one example of the equality you talk about, in Israel, despite a 10 fold population increase Israel’s Arabs are confined to the same area of land (about 2%) that they occupied in 1948. There have been no new Arab towns. Planning applications are routinely rejected resulting in thousands of house demolitions. Half of the Arab villages are ‘unrecognised’ which means that basic facilities – running water, electricity, sewerage is not supplied. This would be unheard of for Israeli Jews.
Just four weeks ago the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran was demolished and one villager murdered by the Police in order to make way for a Jewish town, Hiran, in its place. This is the real meaning of a Jewish state. Israel’s Inhumane and Stupid Bedouin Policy
You compare Israel as a ‘Jewish’ state to Islamic states. There is one difference. In Israel to be Jewish means to be privileged, like being White in South Africa. In Iran, Saudi Arabia etc. Islam is used as a means of justifying the oppression of Muslims.
The Labour Party has a long history of supporting colonialism, including in South Africa. It is no surprise that you should continue this inglorious tradition with your racist apologia for Israeli Apartheid. What is surprising is that the Black Assembly members should go along with what you wrote. I can only assume that the perks and salary go some way to alleviating their consciences.