Kamel Hawwash: Chief Rabbi owes Palestinians an apology

Kamel Hawwash is a British Palestinian academic and vice-chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, writing in a personal capacity.

Please read article in full on Electronic Intifada

Excerpt: ‘… The chief rabbi and Zionism both ask us to accept that only Jews have a right to determine where they live and never mind the impact of their demand on whoever already lives on that land.

‘In his article, Mirvis astonishingly fails to mention my people, the Palestinian people, even once. His anger with the left has unfortunately left him ignorant of our plight.

‘To the chief rabbi, we are invisible.

‘He did not once acknowledge our existence on the land, our own unshakable connection to it or that it was and still is our home – whether for those living in historic Palestine or in the diaspora.

‘We are in the diaspora because of Zionism.

‘The chief rabbi implies that we cannot disassociate Zionism from Judaism – by implication accusing all Palestinians who oppose Zionism – as indeed we do – of anti-Semitism.

‘This is why Ephraim Mirvis is wrong, with the greatest respect to him, to conflate the two – a religion and a political ideology….’

Graham Bash: Latest victim of ‘McCarthyite witchhunt’ is my own partner & anti-racist campaigner, Jackie Walker

In an exceptionally impassioned, moving piece, editor of Labour Briefing, Graham Bash describes what led to the suspension of Jackie Walker, of mixed heritage (Afro- Caribbean and Jewish), from the Labour Party. It was,

simply for telling the truth that her Jewish ancestors were involved in financing the Slave Trade, that the African holocaust was even worse than the Jewish holocaust, and that anti-Semitism is not a major problem in Corbyn’s Labour Party.

As a Jew and Labour Party member (48 years), he writes that he is ‘outraged at the way allegations of anti-Semitism have been used to silence legitimate criticism of Israel and undermine Jeremy Corbyn as my party’s leader.’

I know what anti-Semitism is. I was brought up to learn how the Jewish East End fought with the dockers against Mosley’s fascists at Cable Street. I was told at school how it was a pity that Hitler didn’t finish off the job of murdering all Jews. And very quickly I learned what it was like to be made to feel an outsider. It was hardly surprising that I started going on anti-fascist demos in my late teens and very soon afterwards joined the Labour Party, which I remain a member of to this day.

Continue reading “Graham Bash: Latest victim of ‘McCarthyite witchhunt’ is my own partner & anti-racist campaigner, Jackie Walker”

Kahn-Harris and Klug warn: antisemitism hysteria could lead to antisemitism

Tony Klug’s piece is by far the more thoughtful, altruistic contribution to the debate. Writing in the Jewish Chronicle today, Tony Klug warns that,

this whole saga might generate a resentment against Jews, producing the very opposite effect to that which newspapers like the JC claim they want to achieve – fomenting anti-Jewish feeling rather than combatting it.

It is time to calm down, end the hysteria and restore a sense of proportion.

While on Medium, Keith Kahn-Harris says he doesn’t ‘feel that the Labour Party has become “institutionally antisemitic”,’ and sets out in detail why ‘Labour’s antisemitism row is scaring’ him ‘(but, perhaps, not for the reasons you might expect)’:

Even if you think that the examples of Labour antisemitism that have been highlighted in the last few weeks are exaggerated, one-off incidents or simply not antisemitism at all, the controversy over these incidents may well lead to antisemitism.

Tony Klug appears to accept the premise that there is a problem on the left, albeit a small one – and refers to the ‘ignorant cynicism of Ken Livingstone’ –  but asserts that,

While antisemitism is monstrous – and, like all forms of racism, should be vigorously dealt with – false accusations of antisemitism are monstrous too. Not only are they damning, they diminish authentic occurrences, of which, sadly, there are still many.

and further cautions:

Some of these explanations are patently spurious, unfairly charging people genuinely committed to universal human rights with being antisemites because they grieve for the Palestinian plight. By abusing the charge of antisemitism, there is a danger that it could turn into a badge of honour.

Continue reading “Kahn-Harris and Klug warn: antisemitism hysteria could lead to antisemitism”

Deputy IDF chief: Israeli societal trends akin to pre-Holocaust Europe

The Israeli military chief has since backtracked from the 1930s Germany comparison, but below are the words that provoked such outrage in Israel:

Via Times of Israel

In a speech for Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday, IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan said that he identifies processes in Israel today that are similar to those that took place in Europe prior to the Holocaust.

In a strongly worded speech uncommon for a military commander, Golan warned against trends of growing callousness and indifference towards those outside of mainstream Israeli society. He called for a “thorough consideration” of how society treats the disadvantaged and “the other” in its midst.

The Holocaust, he said, must bring Israelis to “a deep reflection” of the character of man but of their character as well. “It should bring us to deeply consider the responsibility of leadership, and the quality of a society.

“If there is something that frightens me in the memory of the Holocaust, it is identifying horrifying processes that occurred in Europe…70, 80 and 90 years ago and finding evidence of their existence here in our midst, today, in 2016,” Golan said. Continue reading “Deputy IDF chief: Israeli societal trends akin to pre-Holocaust Europe”

Jewish Labour Movement’s perverse election strategy

On 27 April, the ostensibly progressive Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) issued a statement worthy of a cult decree. Responding to what they deemed to be Naz Shah’s ‘repugnant’ remarks, and following her public humiliation in parliament, they faux-magnanimously accepted her apology, and declared that Shah is now on a ‘journey’ that consists ominously of ‘a programme of education’ (see ‘Preposterous liar’ Jeremy Newmark re-educates Naz Shah):

Her contrition expressed over the past day seems to be genuine and sincere. This is part of that journey. We are optimistic that she will now take steps to deepen her understanding of Jewish identity. We do not ask or expect her to mute her criticism of the actions and policies of the Israeli government. We do ask and expect her to build upon her apology and contrition with a programme of education and action that includes standing up to anti-Semitism on the left and within the Palestine Solidarity Movement.

Shah must now be their eyes and ears within the Palestine solidarity movement. The task falls to Shah, it being understood that JLM plays no role in fighting for Palestinian human rights.

Having thereby attributed to Shah’s harmless historic comments a sinister import, and in doing so contributed to the media hysteria over antisemitism lurking in every dark corner of the Labour party, JLM Vice-Chair Sarah Sackman today asks the public to vote for Labour. Anyway. ‘We must stay and fight inside.’ Assuming that ‘inside’ is a McCarthyite zone.

Writing in the Jewish Chronicle, Sackman refers gravely to Labour’s ‘devastating horror show’ that has ‘been brewing’. Says that ‘Jews have been forced into an agonising corner,’ and briefly alluding to ‘tikkun olam’, proceeds to offer the cure to this terrible disease: JLM will facilitate a purge of the party:

We will scrutinise the inquiries into antisemitism and ensure they do not paper over the problem. We will argue for a programme of education for party officers and members and support our allies in the Party to re-shape it.

This political strategy is perverse in the extreme. Much has been written about the attempt by the centre-left to destabilise the Corbyn leadership – to effect a sort of coup. But surely Jewish Labour Movement can recognise that the public now feels repulsed: either by what they perceive to be a party full of anti-Semites, or by the increasingly transparent and cynical campaign to smear it.

Elly Fryksos

LRC: Lift the suspension of Jackie Walker for alleged antisemitism

Via Labour Briefing

The Labour Representation Committee wholeheartedly and unreservedly condemns all forms of racism. We further wholeheartedly and unreservedly condemn the suspension by the Labour Party of Jackie Walker – Vice Chair of the National Steering Committee of Momentum, a leading activist in Thanet Momentum, and an Executive Committee member of the LRC – for alleged anti-Semitism.

The Party suspended Ms Walker after the Jewish Chronicle brought to the attention of Party officials comments made by her in Facebook posts earlier this year.

In her comments, Ms Walker, a black activist of Jewish heritage, said that ‘millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues today on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews.’

‘Many Jews (my ancestors too) were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade which is of course why there were so many early synagogues in the Caribbean. So who are victims and what does it mean? We are victims and perpetrators to some extent through choice,’ she said.

ChpclhOWwAEoGd0The Jewish Chronicle itself revealed that ‘her comments were uncovered by the Israel Advocacy Movement, which works to counter hostility to Israel in Britain.’

A picture emerges of a leading pro-Israeli government organization trawling through the social media posts of Labour Party activists to brand ideas anti-Semitic when they are clearly not. The targeting of Ms Walker for remarks that have no connection to anti-Semitism suggests that senior labour movement figures, such as Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey, were right when they argued that largely baseless allegations of anti-Semitism are being used by opponents to undermine and destabilize Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

The LRC welcomes Jeremy Corbyn’s initiative to hold a full enquiry into anti-Semitism in the Party. Any member who actually has made anti-Semitic comments must face immediate suspension pending an investigation. But there must be an immediate end to the suspension of members on a spurious basis, into which category Jackie Walker’s suspension clearly falls.

Jackie Walker is a long-standing anti-racism campaigner who helped organize the defeat of UKIP leader Nigel Farage in Thanet at the 2015 election. Her suspension must be lifted immediately. We call on all labour movement activists to contact Labour Party Head Office to demand this.

*  *  *  *  *

‘I am writing to you in protest against the outrageous suspension of Jackie Walker from the Labour Party on spurious grounds of anti-Semitism. I call on you to reconsider this action and lift the suspension immediately’.

Please e-mail your protest today to the General Secretary, Iain McNicol
and copy to Ann Black annblack50@btinternet.com (Chair of NEC Disputes Panel) and Jim Kennedy Jim.Kennedy@unitetheunion.org (Chair of NEC Organisation

Finkelstein: Cameron feels no shame at his friend Israel’s serial atrocities

Please see full post on Jamie Stern-Weiner’s website

J S-W: In today’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Cameron savaged Corbyn for having referred to Hamas and Hezbollah as his ‘friends’, and repeatedly demanded that Corbyn withdraw the remark. Norman Finkelstein—leading authority on the Israel-Palestine conflict—what are your thoughts on Cameron’s demands? 

Finkelstein: Does Cameron keep better company than Corbyn? Let’s look at the record. In 2006, armed hostilities broke out between Israel and Lebanon. In the course of those hostilities, Israel killed 1,200 Lebanese, of whom 1,000 (80 percent) were civilians. Hezbollah killed 160 Israelis, of whom 40 (25 percent) were civilians. If you look at the numbers, whether absolutely or relatively, who, prima facie, was the bigger war criminal? In the final 72 hours of the conflict, when the war was effectively over as the Security Council had already passed a ceasefire resolution, Israel dropped as many as four million cluster sub-munitions on South Lebanon. It was the densest use of cluster sub-munitions in the history of warfare. Entire civilian villages were saturated. It was a war crime on a mind-boggling scale.

If Corbyn shouldn’t have referred to Hezbollah as his ‘friend’; and if one attaches equal value to each human life; and if war crimes are war crimes regardless of the address from which they originate—in other words, if facts rather than demagoguery serve as the basis of one’s moral calculus, wasn’t the Tory embrace of Israel incalculably worse?

Consider now Gaza. Parts of Gaza are among the most densely populated areas on the planet. 80 percent of Gaza’s population consists of refugees and descendants of refugees, while more than half the population consists of children under the age of 18. Gaza has been under military occupation for a full half-century, and it’s suffocated under an illegal and immoral blockade for the past decade. Even David Cameron has described Gaza as a ‘prison’. In the past 12 years, Israel has launched not less than eight murderous operations against the overwhelmingly refugee and mostly child population herded in this prison. In 2008, after it broke a ceasefire that Hamas was ‘careful to maintain’ (Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center), Israel launched Operation Cast Lead or, what Amnesty International called, ‘22 days of death and destruction’. In the course of this assault, Israel dropped white phosphorous, a substance that reaches 800 degrees Celsius, on a humanitarian warehouse, a school and two hospitals (al-Quds hospital and al-Wafa hospital). It destroyed 6,000 homes, and it left 1,400 Gazans dead.  Up to 1,200 of these were civilians, 350 of them children. After the attack, Israeli soldiers described what happened as akin to ‘a child playing around with a magnifying glass, burning up ants’, and a ‘PlayStation [computer] game’. One of the principal architects of this massacre was then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni. The day after Cast Lead was over, Livni boasted on Israeli television, ‘Israel demonstrated real hooliganism during the course of the recent operation, which I demanded’. Later, she declared that she was ‘proud’ of her decisions during the invasion, and would ‘repeat’ every one of them. Continue reading “Finkelstein: Cameron feels no shame at his friend Israel’s serial atrocities”

Robert Cohen: Chief Rabbi has made up a theology at odds with history & Jewish tradition

Responding to Rabbi Mirvis’s opinion piece in yesterday’s edition of the Telegraph, Robert Cohen has written on his Facebook page that it’s a shame there is no process to impeach a Chief Rabbi, ‘because this one deserves it.’

Read the post in full here.

Excerpt: Here’s what he said this morning about Zionism (a political movement that began in Europe in the 19th century) and Judaism:

“…one of the axioms of Jewish belief.”

“a noble and integral part of Judaism.”

“One can no more separate it from Judaism than separate the City of London from Great Britain.”

Is it just me or has the Chief Rabbi just reinvented Judaism and muddled/mangled classical Jewish teaching about ‘the Land’ and its relationship to the Jewish people with a modern (originally highly secular) nationalist project which most Jews (and certainly most Rabbis) rejected for decades as thoroughly unJewish? As I said this morning, Mirvis takes no account of the complexity that 2,000 years of Jewish dispersal brings to our story.

Finally, in making no distinction whatsoever between Judaism and Zionism, will all Jews in Britain be viewed as legitimate targets by anyone with a violent grudge against Israel? Why not? According to Mirvis support for Israel is part of the Jewish DNA.

On all these fronts Mirvis has done neither himself nor British Jews any favours at all. In fact he may just have made things a whole lot worse. Continue reading “Robert Cohen: Chief Rabbi has made up a theology at odds with history & Jewish tradition”

The Jewish Labour Movement – British Branch of the Racist Israeli Labor party

By Tony Greenstein

Read full article here.

Excerpt: The Jewish Labour movement, led by serial liar Jeremy Newmark, is the British branch of the Israeli Labour Party (ILP). The ILP has a racist track record second to none. They were the government of Israel for the first 30 years. In that time Israel’s Palestinian population spent the first 18 years under military rule. All the institutions of apartheid, such as Jewish National Fund, were integrated into Israeli society as para state organisations in that period.

The Nakba, the expulsion of ¾ million Arabs in 1947/8, the massacre of thousands and the confiscation of most Arab land was carried out by Labour terror militias primarily – Hagannah and Palmach (shock troops) in particular.

The left Zionist  Mapam (now Meretz) party was no better. The infamous massacre at Dawayima was carried out by these ‘Marxist’ Zionists: “Their socialism did not extend to their non-Jewish fellow men.” Wrote David Hirst in his book ‘The Gun and the Olive Branch’ (p.25)

There is nothing that Likud has done that Labour didn’t do before them, nor have they changed. Israeli Labour’s election campaigns have focussed on scaring Jewish voters that Netanyahu’s policies, of not allowing even the tiniest little Palestinian Bantustan will result in Israel becoming an Arab state (god forbid).

Last week Isaac Herzog, Labour’s leader said that the ILP mustn’t be identified as an ‘Arab lovers’ party. The term ‘Arab lover’ is a racist taunt flung by the Right. Herzog is saying that he doesn’t want the ILP to be considered in such terms. In Britain during the fight against fascist from the National Front and British National Party we were accused of being ‘nigger lovers’ and a previous generation were ‘Jew lovers’.

The irony today is that the racists of the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel are driving the witch hunt of Black and Asian members of the Party in particular. Anyone who stands out against Zionism and Israeli Apartheid is liable for the chop. See ‘Preposterous liar’ Jeremy Newmark re-educates Naz Shah MP
Continue reading “The Jewish Labour Movement – British Branch of the Racist Israeli Labor party”

‘Preposterous liar’ Jeremy Newmark re-educates Naz Shah MP

Jeremy Newmark is chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, that officially supports the pro-apartheid Israeli Labour party. Following the suspension of Naz Shah MP for alleged anti-Semitism, it appears he is undertaking her re-education: a ‘process’ that will doubtless end in her henceforth avoiding all strong criticism of Israel: In the words of Norman Finkelstein:

They’re making her pass through these rituals of public self-degradation, as she is forced to apologise once, twice, three times over for a tongue-in-cheek cartoon reposted from my website. And it’s not yet over! Because now they say she’s on a ‘journey’. Of course, what they mean is, ‘she’s on a journey of self-revelation, and epiphany, to understanding the inner antisemite at the core of her being’.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 21.13.27

In the judgment in Fraser v. UCU, following a three-week employment tribunal in 2013, the judge Anthony Snelson said Mr Newmark’s evidence had been “false, preposterous, extraordinarily arrogant and disturbing”.

Look at where those words appeared in the judgment and what they related to:

False: already mentioned above. This was Newmark’s claim that there had been “booing, jeering and harassing of Jewish speakers”.
Preposterous: This was Newmark’s claim that he was being stereotyped as a “pushy Jew” over his attempt to push his way into a union meeting.
Extraordinarily arrogant and disturbing:  Again, mentioned above.  This was Newmark’s description of the UCU as “no longer a fit space for free speech”.

Mr Newmark said the tribunal’s finding that there could be no link between Jewish identity and support of Israel “cannot be left to stand”.
“That is a shocking and ignorant statement to make. It is something that will have to be followed up,” he said.

If a Jew is bullied or harassed in the work place or his trade union, and part of that bullying or harassment contains anti-Israel slogans, material or activity, then to take that forward to the judicial system is considered by this panel in their ruling as an attempt to usurp the British judicial process for political means – that’s something that is very, very wrong.

Jews Sans Frontieres observed at the time:

‘Did you see what happened there? He’s been called preposterous, and a disturbingly arrogant liar and he hasn’t hit back against any of that. He’s simply changed the subject whilst showing he has lost none of his propensity for untruth.’

What can such a person teach a principled MP like Naz Shah?

Elly Fryksos