Can Israel be compared to Nazi Germany? – A view from an Israeli who has witnessed both

We are told repeatedly that making any comparison between Israel’s actions and those of the Nazis is a form of antisemitism.

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Uri Avnery (Source uriavnery.com)

Reading the latest from Uri Avnery, a 92-year old Israeli writer and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement, it seems that both he and the deputy Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army must bear this badge of shame. Today, in a piece entitled I Was There, Avnery enters the storm of controversy surrounding comments made on Holocaust Memorial Day by General Ya’ir Golan.

Wearing his uniform, Golan recalled “the awful processes which happened in Europe in general, and in Germany in particular, 70, 80, 90 years ago,” and confessed his fear at “finding traces of them here in our midst, today, in 2016.”

Avnery carefully examines what Golan said and to what extent they are true. “He compared developments in Israel to the events that led to the disintegration of the Weimar Republic. And that is a valid comparison,” writes the veteran peace campaigner who witnessed Hitler’s rise to power in person. “Things happening in Israel, especially since the last election, bear a frightening similarity to those events.”

Avnery’s article deserves to be read in full and can be found on the Gush Shalom websiteHere is one excerpt:

The discrimination against the Palestinians in practically all spheres of life can be compared to the treatment of the Jews in the first phase of Nazi Germany. (The oppression of the Palestinians in the occupied territories resembles more the treatment of the Czechs in the “protectorate” after the Munich betrayal.)

The rain of racist bills in the Knesset, those already adopted and those in the works, strongly resembles the laws adopted by the Reichstag in the early days of the Nazi regime. Some rabbis call for a boycott of Arab shops. Like then. The call “Death to the Arabs” (“Judah verrecke”?) is regularly heard at soccer matches. A member of parliament has called for the separation between Jewish and Arab newborns in hospital. A Chief Rabbi has declared that Goyim (non-Jews) were created by God to serve the Jews. Our Ministers of Education and Culture are busy subduing the schools, theater and arts to the extreme rightist line, something known in German as Gleichschaltung. The Supreme Court, the pride of Israel, is being relentlessly attacked by the Minister of Justice. The Gaza Strip is a huge ghetto. 

Continue reading “Can Israel be compared to Nazi Germany? – A view from an Israeli who has witnessed both”

A love-in with a mythical Israel

Mike Cushman

On Thursday I attended a strange event: a debate on antisemitism and anti-Zionism between Alliance for Workers Liberty, a sub-Trotskyist splinter group, and Progress, the Labour Party Blair legacy group.

AWLBut it wasn’t a debate it was a love-in between two factions you would be surprised to find in the same room without blood and severed limbs on the floors and walls when they departed.

What was their common object of affection? Why Israel, of course, but not the Israel we see every day abusing Palestinians and harassing dissident anti-Zionists. It was an Israel of their imagination moving gracefully to a two-state solution, abandoning settlements and occupation on the way.

They were joined in their embrace by representatives of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) and reciprocated their affection by continually praising the JLM as the true and only representatives of Jews in the Labour Party.

Everyone, including the JLM speakers condemned the occupation but never mentioned the Nakba. They appear to believe the occupation is an accidental aberration and not implicit in the Zionist programme from the start. Not only was the Nakba absent from their discourse so, largely, were the Palestinians even those living in 48 Israel: they were an unspoken context; only Jewish Israelis, and diaspora Jews, were objects of their concern.

In order to advance their argument they relied heavily upon a construct of ‘left antisemitism’ conceived as a visceral irrational hatred of Israel and variously described as a legacy of Stalinism and a core belief of the ultra-Trotskyist Workers Revolutionary Party. Obviously, like the Jew of antisemitic myth, left antisemitism is everywhere and capable of infinite disguise and malice. We were continually informed that left antisemitism was not racism but political opposition to Israel. If indeed it is a political stance one is entitled to oppose it so why is it, then, a marker for proscription and expulsion? Left antisemitism of course was not born in Stalinist Russia, they had enough old fashioned antisemitism there, they didn’t need a new variety: it was born in Israel. It was created to put a derogatory and delegitimising label on growing worldwide opposition to Israel’s crimes among progressive movements.

None of this is to deny that some people the left can be antisemitic, regrettably some fall short of the higher standards we expect of those on the left than those on the right; anyone who does fall short must be confronted, challenged and if necessary disciplined. This does not produce a political category of ‘left antisemites’ or a justification for witch hunting.

Both the speakers applauded the JLM and endorsed their claim to be the only authentic voice of Jews in the Labour Party and accordingly to be the only people who could, not educate, but train the Party on antisemitism. The JLM speaker informed us that the JLM was, in fact, highly critical of actually existing Israel and its current right-wing leadership and it was our fault for not knowing that. I have accordingly checked their website where there is no trace such demurral. What can be found is a proud statement that “We support Havoda (The Labor Party) in Israel.” The same Labor Party that, led by Ben-Gurion, orchestrated the Nakba. The party historically that has been the party of the Israel Defence (sic) Force and its assaults on Palestinians. The Party that, in its current guise of the Zionist Union, is angling to join the same right-wing coalition that the JLM claimed to abhor. No distance from Apartheid apparent there. Continue reading “A love-in with a mythical Israel”

Rod Liddle and the Campaign Against Antisemitism

This week, Rod Liddle was suspended from the Labour party, allegedly for Islamophobia. When he shared his thoughts with the Sun’s Harry Cole on why he had been suspended following his post on the Spectator Coffee House blog, 3 May, he coyly said that, ‘Perhaps it is my suggestion that many Muslims are not favourably inclined towards Jews that provoked my suspension from the party.’

As Zelo Street pointed out, both Liddle and Cole, as well as the Spectator editor Fraser Nelson, knew there was more; this is what Liddle wrote

Re the anti-Semitism. There are a number of broad points to make. First, it is absolutely endemic within two sections of the Labour Party – the perpetually adolescent white middle-class lefties, and the Muslims – the latter of which now comprise a significant proportion of Labour activists and voters in parts of London and the dilapidated former mill-towns of West Yorkshire and East Lancashire. And Luton. And parts of the midlands.

For many Muslims the anti-Semitism is visceral, an ingrained part of their unpleasant ideology. For the idiotic white lefties it is an adjunct to their self-loathing and hatred of firstly Britain and second the West. In both cases it is predicated as much upon envy – at Jewish success, worldwide and in Israel – as anything else. If you handed over Israel to the Palestinians they would turn it into Somalia before you could say Yom Kippur.

Liddle’s words are uncannily like those of a member of the House of Lords, Baroness Deech. Writing in Haaretz on 4 May, Deech blamed British politicians for ‘appeasing their Muslim voters,’ specifically upbraiding Corbyn for not acknowledging that anti-Semitism is ‘special’ and has ‘roots in the religion and culture of Islam.’ Deech then implied that our government is putting at risk the lives of British Jews by allowing Muslims to make their home here. Like Liddle, she views English towns with large Muslim populations as hotbeds of antisemitism, and has been keeping a wary eye on the census:

The U.K. census of 2011 revealed that Bradford’s population was 24.7% Muslim, and no doubt it’s higher by now. There are wards of Bradford, Blackburn and Burnley (the suspended councilors’ constituencies) where British Muslims reach 70% of the local population.

Even the Independent published an article by the Jewish Chronicle‘s new columnist Ben Judah that implied Bradford is a no-go area for Jews. Liddle has a well-deserved reputation as a foul-mouthed bigot whose opinions are commonplace in the right-wing media. But, as evidenced, you don’t have to look hard to see these views reflected in the liberal press, by Zionists. Pro-Israel groups with charity status are no less impolitic.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) was formed during the attack by Israel on the Palestinians in Gaza in 2014, during which over 2,200 Palestinians were killed, including 551 children. It was born from a desire not to combat anti-Semitism, but to support Israel right or wrong, and to portray anti-Zionism as anti-Semitic.

In April, within 48 hours of the publication of the flawed Channel 4/ICM survey of Muslim attitudes in Britain, CAA had produced a ‘report’ British Muslims and Antisemitism, which included this racist infographic: Caa Continue reading “Rod Liddle and the Campaign Against Antisemitism”

Why it’s time for young Zionists to stop being offended by solidarity with Palestinians

In her exclusive blog post for the pro-Israel Jewish Labour Movement, Baroness Royall remarked that, although she found no evidence of institutional antisemitism,

There is too often a culture of intolerance where Jews are concerned and there are clear incidents of antisemitism. […] I am clear that in the OULC there is a cultural problem which means that Jewish students do not always feel welcome. And we have to take action to change this situation. Many students reported that should a Jewish student preface a remark “as a Jew …” they are likely to face ridicule and behaviour that would not be acceptable for someone saying “as a woman …” or “as an Afro-Caribbean”.  This should not be tolerated.

The Chakrabarti inquiry vice-chair concluded,

We should not rest until we can be confident that Jews once more feel comfortable in all parts of our Party and Movement.

No details of these ‘clear incidents of antisemitism’ have been released. However, the example Royall uses to prove OULC is an unwelcome place for Jewish students is particularly interesting in light of the recent labelling of anti-Zionist Jews as ‘Asajews,’ by Israel supporters who want to reserve the right to this preface for Zionists.

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Stephen Pollard is editor of the Jewish Chronicle.

It is worth investigating what statement follows this preface, however: is it an apology for Israel, or a criticism of Israel? Jews are entitled to invoke their Jewishness to strengthen their political point, but if they do so in an attempt to legitimise settler-colonialism and racial segregation, is it any wonder they are greeted with exasperation and even derision by human rights defenders, including other Jews?

Royall’s recommendation has been taken on board by the supine Oxford University Labour Club:OULCRoyall
The issue of a ‘cultural’ problem and the discomfort of young pro-Israel Jews has been brilliantly analysed by Robert Cohen in his article in March, ‘Young liberal Zionists, if you’re serious about peace, let go and move on‘.

Cohen’s piece is worth reading in full; here is a long excerpt:

‘Fear, intimidation, distress and discomfort. That’s the lexicon of life for young liberal Zionists in Britain today. The pro-peace, anti-occupation, two-state supporting Jews are certainly having a rough time of it.

‘So why aren’t I more sympathetic? After all, doesn’t the fact that moderate well-meaning Jewish supporters of Israel are under attack, point to what really lies behind all of this hostility? Old fashioned, straight forward, anti-Semitism. And isn’t it the political left that’s stoking all the trouble this time around?

‘While I’ve no doubt that anti-Semitism exists in the Labour Party (and across the political spectrum for that matter) there’s a whole lot more to it than that. Something else is at play here. What we’re witnessing is an uncomfortable reckoning for young diaspora Jews who are unable to see or accept what has happened to Jews, Judaism and Jewish identity over the last 100 years.

‘[…] On the 15 February Alex Chalmers, the Jewish Co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club, announced his resignation on Facebook after his fellow Labour Club members voted to support the forthcoming Israeli Apartheid Week activities on campus.

“…a large proportion of both Oxford University Labour Club and the student left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews.”

‘He went on:

“Despite its avowed commitment to liberation, the attitude of certain members of the club towards certain disadvantaged groups was becoming poisonous.”

[…] ‘I know why it hurts

‘So a lot of unhappy and uncomfortable young Jews who think of themselves as progressive activists for Middle East peace. I can understand their pain. I too was stuck in the mindset of Liberal Zionism for far too long. Continue reading “Why it’s time for young Zionists to stop being offended by solidarity with Palestinians”

Why are Labour members expressing ‘solidarity’ with an anti-human rights organisation?

Writing of the antisemitism controversy in the Jewish Chronicle on 5 May, Tony Klug warned that,

this whole saga might generate a resentment against Jews…. It is time to calm down, end the hysteria and restore a sense of proportion…. While antisemitism is monstrous – and, like all forms of racism, should be vigorously dealt with – false accusations of antisemitism are monstrous too.

The groups orchestrating the controversy, in our universities and the Labour Party, including the Union of Jewish Students and the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), are unaffected by this reasoning. Indeed, in the case of JLM, the controversy has become an effective recruiting tool.

The saga – and accompanying hysteria – has seen people committed to universal human rights being charged with being antisemites, and suspended from the Labour party. It has also seen Labour members who consider themselves anti-racists joining the Jewish Labour Movement out of a mistaken wish to show ‘solidarity with Jewish people.’ A move that centre-left think tank, Progress has encouraged. JLM considers itself to represent the interests of ‘Jewish people,’ and has characterised non-Zionist Jews as imposters and ‘contrary’ for perversely disagreeing with what is expected or desired of them: loyalty to Israel.

JLM derives its legitimacy from being a formal affiliate of the Labour Party. But it also organises within the pro-settlement World Zionist Organisation, and alongside its sister party in Israel, Havodah – the pro-apartheid and anti-Arab Israeli Labor Party.

JLM is committed to undermining the Palestinian civil society, human rights movement that seeks an end to Israel’s serial violations of international laws, through the non-violent tactic of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). Continue reading “Why are Labour members expressing ‘solidarity’ with an anti-human rights organisation?”

Walthamstow Labour Party fundraiser suspended – who had it in for David Watson?

EXCLUSIVE:

David Watson, Labour Party fundraising coordinator for the Walthamstow constituency in northeast London, was suspended last week for unspecified “breaches of party rules.” The Jewish Chronicle – a Zionist weekly newspaper which has been a main cheerleader for the campaign branding Labour a hotbed of Jew-hatred – gave an “Exclusive” tag to its May 6 report alleging that Watson had been suspended because of antisemitic Facebook posts.

Both the JC and the local Waltham Forest Guardian newspaper quoted Labour MP Stella Creasy saying that “bigotry” is inconsistent with membership of “a party campaigning for social justice,” implying that this was relevant to Watson’s case.

Word in local Labour circles says it was the MP’s father Philip Creasy, Constituency Party secretary, who notified Watson of his suspension on May 9, three days after he was asked about it by a journalist from the Jewish Chronicle. How did they know?

Who has an interest in pillorying a secondary school teacher of modern languages with a long history of working with Greenpeace and the Campaign Against Arms Trade? David Watson is a man who prides himself on combating antisemitism among kids he teaches, getting them involved in projects run by organisations such as the Anne Frank Trust and Amnesty International. Might his friendship with Jewish anti-Zionists have played a role? Or his past visits to Israel and Palestine and association with Israeli and Palestinian anti-Occupation activists? Or was it merely the fact that when he was elected Walthamstow party fundraiser, he replaced Stella Creasy’s mother in the role? Witnesses present at the relevant Annual General Meeting say that the honourable member made no attempt to hide her displeasure at Watson’s election. Continue reading “Walthamstow Labour Party fundraiser suspended – who had it in for David Watson?”

Press Release: Reaction of Jewish led group to Baroness Royall Report recommendations

ROYALL REPORT REACTION:  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jewish-led group asks – Where are the safe spaces for supporters of Palestine?

  • Royall condones thought crime as a Labour Party disciplinary offence
  • Report recommends partisan Zionist group should re-educate student Labour Clubs
  • “Safe spaces” will exclude supporters of Palestine.

May 18 – Baroness Royall’s inquiry into allegations of antisemitism against Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) has found no institutional antisemitism and “at least one case of serious false allegations of antisemitism which was reported to the police”.

And yet it prescribes training for officers of all Labour Clubs by one of the Zionist organisations responsible for the false allegations – the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) – which has been orchestrating a campaign to brand Labour Party members and institutions as antisemitic. The JLM are campaigning to introduce thought crime into the Labour Party rules by explicitly making unexpressed opinions a disciplinary offence. The OULC has announced that it will affiliate to the JLM in the mistaken belief that it represents “the Jewish people.”

“Her reports recommend that Labour Clubs provide ‘a safe space in order to discuss and debate without discrimination,’ but this will only apply to supporters of Israel,” said Richard Kuper, a founder member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians. “Supporters of campaigns for justice for Palestine will be open to constant challenge and effectively, censorship.”

Baroness Royall does not pretend to be impartial in this matter. Immediately after release of her executive summary she wrote a fulsome defence of the JLM’s partisan position on its own website.

Her report summary – which holds back the factual information behind its main conclusions – recommends that the Labour Party should consider adopting a distorted version of a principle set out in the Macpherson Report so that, in line with JLM thinking that any “incident perceived as antisemitic by the victim or any other person” could lead to the suspension of the alleged perpetrator.

Since the JLM insists that antisemitic behaviour includes expressing hostility to Zionism, which they define controversially as the “basic expression of the national identity of the Jewish people”, no one criticising the ideological basis of the Israeli state will be safe from disciplinary action.

“The Royall report compounds a disturbing pattern that places antisemitism in the context of attitudes to Israel – not where it belongs in the context of racism and in particular fails to see antisemitism as linked to the far greater current danger of Islamophobia,” said Free Speech on Israel spokesman Mike Cushman. “It is shameful that the Oxford University Labour Club has been bullied into an alliance with the JLM, a highly partisan organisation, which is working to undermine freedom of political thought in the Labour Party.” Continue reading “Press Release: Reaction of Jewish led group to Baroness Royall Report recommendations”

Israel action against Breaking the Silence will have chilling effect on free speech

Breaking the Silence is an Israeli human rights organisation for combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada. It publishes the anonymous testimonies of soldiers in the occupied Palestinian territories. On Sunday, a court case against it will be heard. Breaking the Silence staff and its legal team say the legal moves not only pose a threat to the group but also threaten to ‘chill’ both free speech and human rights activism in Israel.

Magistrate’s Court Judge Eliana Danieli is to hear a petition by the state attorney that will use testimony or raw materials as evidence. The Guardian reports that it is ‘demanding that Breaking the Silence identify anonymous serving military personnel who have given it testimony relating to alleged crimes in the 2014 Gaza war.’ Writing in Haaretz, Amos Harel and Gili Cohen conclude that ‘such revelation will severely deter other soldiers from providing anonymous testimony. It is hard to escape the impression that this is precisely the state prosecutor’s long-term goal.’

The human right organisation has long been subject to attempts to silence them, including by the fascist movement Im Tirtzu and Israeli right-wing Ad Kan group. The latter is partially funded by the Samaria Settlers’ Committee, an extremist group that released a video portraying Breaking the Silence funders, NIF and other progressive organizations as a ‘hook-nosed Jew betraying Israel in exchange for European money.’ It also armed its members with hidden cameras in order to smear high-profile leftists, producing a report that was aired on Israeli Channel 2 in March, that Ad Kan said ‘revealed how Breaking the Silence, which claims to be a “human rights organization,” tried to gather classified intelligence about sensitive IDF operations along the Gaza border with Hamas.’

Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan of Jewish Home called the organization ‘a fifth column.’ While Israeli Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein of right-wing Likud warned in March that:

It’s time to say ‘enough’ to Breaking the Silence. As Speaker of the Knesset, I believe that the law enforcement authorities must investigate the matter and determine what sensitive information is in their hands and if, God forbid, they are making inappropriate use of it.

Not to be outdone, Israeli MK Eitan Cabel of the centre-left Zionist Union – which includes the Israeli Labour Party – said that:

the activities of Breaking the Silence, as revealed tonight, crossed a red line that should not be crossed. These are very serious findings which point to the systematic gathering of evidence against the army, against the state, against us. There is no choice but a police investigation.

Continue reading “Israel action against Breaking the Silence will have chilling effect on free speech”

Why is vice-chair of Chakrabarti inquiry blogging on pro-Israel JLM’s website?

JLMblog2Baroness Royall, who this week joined the Chakrabarti Inquiry as co-vice chair with Professor Feldman, and today released an executive summary and recommendations of her report into antisemitism at OULC, has taken the extraordinary step of writing a lengthy and exclusive post on the Jewish Labour Movement’s website. JLM is affiliated to the World Zionist Organization, and has proposed a rule change to the Labour Party Membership rules that could see anti-Zionists suspended for using ‘Zionist’ as a pejorative.

Chair of Jewish Labour Movement, Jeremy Newmark – whose evidence of ‘institutional antisemitism’ at UCU was found in 2013 by an employment tribunal judge to be “false, preposterous, disturbing and arrogant” – has proudly announced on Twitter this potentially partisan move on behalf of Royall.

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Read Baroness Royall’s blog post here

OULC says it will affiliate to Jewish Labour Movement as gesture of solidarity ‘with Jewish people’

Our response to OULC’s statement: The Jewish Labour Movement is a highly partisan, avidly pro-Zionist organisation and not representative of all Jews in the Labour Party.

Oxford University Labour Club Statement Regarding Baroness Royall Anti-Semitism Report
17 May, 2016, OULC

We welcome the Baroness Royall report into the Oxford University Labour Club that has found that the Club is not institutionally anti-semitic. As the new Co-Chairs of the Oxford University Labour Club we have been committed to tackling the allegations recently put before OULC. The Oxford University Labour Club condemns any prejudice, intolerance and discrimination of any form and we take these allegations with the utmost seriousness. Anti-Semitism is abhorrent, repugnant and contrary to the values we as a Club hold dear. We fully accept all the recommendations from Baroness Royall’s report and look forward to collaborating with her and the national Labour Party in moving forward from these events.

Since taking office, we have already welcomed John Mann MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Anti-Semitism, to offer us recommendations and a fuller understanding of anti-Semitism. We hope to continue working with John and his team, and they have informed us that they intend to do so.

Furthermore we have taken additional steps this term to prevent any possible form of discrimination in OULC arising. These have both been supported by the University of Oxford administrators and Baroness Royall. These measures include: Continue reading “OULC says it will affiliate to Jewish Labour Movement as gesture of solidarity ‘with Jewish people’”