The Nakba, the Naksa, and the Future of Palestine

In 1948, Zionist militias expelled over 700,000 Palestinians from their villages and towns. The event, and the ongoing destruction and occupation of Palestine are referred to as the Nakba – the catastrophe. How did the events of 1948 shape Palestine and its diaspora? And generations later, how are Palestinians fighting to return home?

On this edition, Making Contact reflects on the Nakba, the Naksa, and the future of Palestine.

The Nakba, the Naksa, and the Future of Palestine by MakingContact is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

What Happens to Suspended Labour Politicians?

The title is from a blog post on ‘Urban Dandy London,’ (below). It is a case study on the effects of the current right-wing witch hunt on people’s lives. Eight months after Labour Cllr Beinazir Lasharie fell victim to a Guido Fawkes exposé, and was suspended, there is confusion as to whether her suspension has been lifted. A few months ago, on March 23, Guido Fawkes did a follow up post: Labour Reinstates Suspended Corbynista Who Said “Jews” Behind ISIS and 9/11. That day, the Jewish Chronicle picked up the story, and Lasharie received death threats and abuse on Twitter. Successful Muslim women in politics are easy targets, after all. What the JC article reveals is that it isn’t just the notorious and vicious bigot Paul Staines who is baying for blood; Labour party’s general secretary, Iain McNicol had to field enquiries from ‘prominent Jewish Labour supporter Andrew Gilbert’ and Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) chair Jeremy Newmark. McNicol reassured them that “any suspended Labour Councillor may not represent the Labour Party as a Labour Councillor.”

It’s unlikely that Beinazir Lasharie knows the reputation of some of her Labour persecutors, but several commentators beyond the mainstream media have sought to draw attention to the role played by Jeremy Newmark in the recent media frenzy around alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party, given his reputation as a liar; this is no casual slur: it was the opinion of Judge Snelson who stated in his Judgment in the Fraser v UCU employment tribunal, 2013:

We regret to say that we have rejected as untrue the evidence of Ms Ashworth and Mr Newmark concerning the incident at the 2008 Congress…. Evidence given to us about booing, jeering and harassing of Jewish speakers at Congress debates was also false, as truthful witnesses on the Claimant’s side accepted. One painfully ill-judged example of playing to the gallery was Mr Newmark’s preposterous claim, in answer to the suggestion in cross-examination that he had attempted to push his way into the 2008 meeting, that a ‘pushy Jew’ stereotype was being applied to him. The opinions of witnesses were not, of course, our concern and in most instances they were in any event unremarkable and certainly not unreasonable. One exception was a remark of Mr Newmark in the context of the academic boycott controversy in 2007 that the union was “no longer a fit arena for free speech”, a comment which we found not only extraordinarily arrogant but also disturbing.

Is it right or proper that the Labour Party is not only appearing to appease this discredited individual, but considering tasking the Zionist movement he chairs, JLM, with training Labour politicians?

Left to right, back row, Harrison Littler, Bevan Powell, Robert Atkinson, Andrew Lomas, Robert Thompson, Mohammed Bakhtiar. Middle row, Emma Dent Coad, Monica Press, Pat Mason, Beinazir Lasharie. Front row, Pat Healy, Judith Blakeman.
KENSINGTON LABOUR GROUP, 2014. Left to right, back row, Harrison Littler, Bevan Powell, Robert Atkinson, Andrew Lomas, Robert Thompson, Mohammed Bakhtiar. Middle row, Emma Dent Coad, Monica Press, Pat Mason, Beinazir Lasharie. Front row, Pat Healy, Judith Blakeman.

What Happens to Suspended Labour Politicians?

JUNE 8, 2016

Hopefully not this…

The campaign against Jeremy Corbyn was in full swing long before a Labour MP shouted “Nazi apologist” in Ken Livingstone’s face on a day of apparently choreographed media attacks, aimed at distorting debate on Israel and undermining Corbyn. No sane person would believe that Corbyn harbours any antisemitic tendencies, so softer targets have been sought in order to defame the Labour leader by association.

One such target lives right here in Notting Hill. Councillor Beinazir Lasharie was libelled labelled an antisemite by media outlets such as The Sun.


What has happened to Councillor Lasharie raises questions about Labour’s approach.

In October 2015 the councillor was suspended by Labour and instructed not to talk to the press after The Sun newspaper ran a story that Lasharie had posted a video on Facebook which claimed that ISIS was created by Israel. The story was taken up by the right wing blogger Paul Staines, who goes by the moniker Guido Fawkes.

It was true that she had re-posted the video, but she strongly denied any antisemitic overtones. She has pointed out that her motivation was to challenge people who were making ignorant and offensive statements. The right wing media ignored any nuances and pounced.

Lasharie, known to Urban Dandy since 2011, has a fine reputation locally for community and charitable work and, as a councillor, she is popular for always making herself available for her constituents. Continue reading “What Happens to Suspended Labour Politicians?”

Rabbi Lerner at Muhammad Ali’s memorial service: “We stand in solidarity with the Islamic community around the world”

To huge applause (and reluctant clapping from Bill Clinton), Rabbi Michael Lerner told thousands of mourners gathered at Muhammad Ali’s memorial service, that “We know what is like to be demeaned and to have a few people who act against the highest visions of our tradition to then be identified as the value of the entire tradition which is why we… liberal and progressive Jews have called upon the United States to stand up to the part of the Israeli government that is oppressing Palestinians, that we as Jews recognise… that everyone is equally precious and that means Palestinians as well as all the other people on the planet.” He also condemned the mass incarceration of African Americans by “racist police and racist judges.”

Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun Magazine, chair of the interfaith and secular-humanist-welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives, and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without Walls in San Francisco and Berkeley, California. Lerner was a leader in the Free Speech Movement and was arrested as part of the “Seattle Seven” in 1970 for allegedly inciting a riot. Lerner and Muhammad Ali met as part of the anti-war movement. 

The context and challenges for the Labour party Inquiry into antisemitism and other forms of racism

Director of human rights group Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, looks through the bars of a cage outside the Houses of Parliament in London. Director of human rights group Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, looks through the bars of a cage outside the Houses of Parliament as MPs debate the government's proposed anti-terror legislation, in London, March 9, 2005. The government has offered new concessions to speed through parliament controversial new anti-terror laws that are turning into a pre-election nightmare for Prime Minister Tony Blair. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty
Then Director of human rights group Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, looks through the bars of a cage outside the Houses of Parliament as MPs debate the government’s proposed anti-terror legislation, in London, March 9, 2005. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty

On 29 April 2016, the Leader of the Labour Party appointed the former Liberty Director, Shami Chakrabarti, as Chair of an inquiry into antisemitism and other forms of racism including islamophobia, within the party. Jeremy Corbyn also appointed Professor David Feldman. Baroness Janet Royall subsequently accepted an invitation to join the inquiry panel as the other vice-chair. The deadline for submissions was 10th June, and the Inquiry will report back by the end of the month. It will:

  • Consult widely with Labour Party Members, the Jewish community and other minority representatives about a statement of principles and guidance about antisemitism and other forms of racism, including islamophobia.
  • Consult on guidance about the boundaries of acceptable behaviour and language.
  • Recommend clear and transparent compliance procedures for dealing with allegations of racism and antisemitism.
  • Look into training programmes for parliamentary candidates, MPs, councillors and others.
  • Make recommendations for changes to the code of conduct and party rules if necessary.
  • Propose other action if needed, to ensure Labour is a welcoming environment for members of all communities.

Below are just three excerpts from Tony Greenstein’s detailed submission which you can read in full here: Submission to the Chakrabarti Inquiry into Antisemitism. Suspended by the Compliance Unit on March 18, Greenstein was one of first targets of the current witch-hunt. The only reason given at the time, was that it was result of “remarks” he had made. He learnt the nature of these remarks on April 2 from two articles in the Daily Telegraph Activist who derides critics as ‘Zionist scum’ admitted to Labour in latest anti-Semitism scandal to hit Party and The TimesLabour welcomes back blogger who compares Israelis to Nazi’. Following the issue of Letters before Action, both The Times and Telegraph retracted any suggestion they had implied he was anti-Semitic. You can read a transcript of his interrogation by the Compliance Unit here.

The context in which the Chakrabarti Inquiry operates

This Inquiry does not take place in a vacuum but as a result of a concerted campaign to suggest that the Labour Party is witnessing a spontaneous upsurge in anti-Semitism.  Conveniently this began with the election of Jeremy Corbyn.  Those leading the campaign include the media – in particular the BBC, Guardian and Jewish Chronicle – the Zionist movement, Progress and what John Prescott has called the ‘bitterites’ in the Labour Party.

This Inquiry has been put under considerable pressure to conform to the received wisdom that the Labour Party is riddled with anti-Semitism.  In Another shameful episode, Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard wrote of ‘the unsuitability of the inquiry’s vice-chair, David Feldman’ because he was ‘a signatory to Independent Jewish Voices whose evidence to last year’s All Party Inquiry Into Antisemitism insouciantly dismissed almost all accepted definitions of antisemitism.’  The only member of the Inquiry not to have been criticised by the Zionist lobby and right-wing media has been Baroness Royall who has been welcomed by Joan Ryan, Chair of Labour Friends of Israel [LFI].

‘All accepted definitions of anti-Semitism’ revolve around the discredited Working Definition of Anti-Semitism of the European Union Monitoring Committee.  The Jewish Chronicle concluded that ‘it is difficult to see how Ms Chakrabarti’s inquiry is not tarnished before it has even begun.’

Joan Ryan is explicit that what she calls ‘virulently anti-israel discourse… cannot be separated from the issue of anti-semitism.’  To Ryan, ‘anti-Semitism’ is not hatred of Jews as Jews or a belief in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, rather it is opposition to Israel as an apartheid state.  Ryan is quoted as saying that: “We will judge the success of this inquiry on its willingness to make the case that while there is nothing illegitimate about criticising the actions of the Israeli government, this must not be allowed to cross the red line into denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and thus the existence of the state of Israel.” 

What Ryan is saying is that the idea that Israel should be a state of all its citizens, rather than a Jewish state representing Jews throughout the world, is anti-Semitic.  By the same logic, support for a unitary state in South Africa was an example of anti-White racism. Continue reading “The context and challenges for the Labour party Inquiry into antisemitism and other forms of racism”

Outrage that UK Labour party is in league with a foreign political party whose ethos is distinctly racist

On Tuesday, at a special constituency meeting in Hampstead and Kilburn called to discuss the party’s response to the antisemitism controversy, Jay Stoll, part of Tulip Siddiq MP’s press team and a member of the Jewish Labour Movement, argued for changes to the Labour Party Membership rules. On his website, in a post entitled ‘Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party? Stop blaming Jeremy Corbyn, say Hampstead and Kilburn members,’ Deputy Editor of Camden New Journal, Richard Osley wrote that it met strong opposition from Kilburn (Brent) branch which said there was outrage at a “lie that anti-Jewish racism is rampant in the Labour Party”, and that organisers needed to “cease victimising those who work for Justice for Palestine.”

In the end, they voted for a submission that recognised the importance of the issue as well as claims that members of the party had used the antisemitism row to attack Jeremy Corbyn. It was a clear rejection of the JLM rule change proposal that left some feeling bitter, and others relieved. One unnamed meeting attendee said that “If you ask for a full debate, as they did, you have to accept that all members from all backgrounds will have an input. The premise of the meeting could never have been: we’re going to discuss anti-Semitism but we can only vote on what the JLM’s interpretation of what’s happened.”

As we have repeatedly highlighted, the Labour Party-affiliated Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) is an affiliate of both the Israeli Labor Party, which in office has promoted the building of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territories and the World Zionist Organization, which has channelled funds to the settlements.

Untitled drawing (12)

If that doesn’t ring any alarm bells in progressive circles, then its proposal to change the Labour Party Membership rules should: it deliberately distorts the Macpherson report recommendation that a victim’s perception had to be taken into account in a case of hate crime; it was not intended to empower an alleged victim to determine when a hate crime was being committed without reference to any other criteria.

JLM – led by Jeremy Newmark – has been curiously coy about drawing attention to its affiliations during the recent antisemitism controversy, although they are proudly displayed on their website and Twitter profile. Baroness Royall, co-vice chair of the Chakrabarti inquiry, didn’t think it inappropriate to write an exclusive blog post for JLM following the publication of her recommendations further to her inquiry that found no institutional antisemitism at Oxford University Labour Club.

Below are two letters that illustrate the danger of letting the British arm of the Israeli Labor Party force through their rule change. The first was published in Camden New Journal; the Observer declined to publish the second.

Labour’s rule change proposal has several political aims

Published: 9 June, 2016

WHEN some Labour Party members complain about procedural decisions gagging debate on anti-Semitism (New Journal, June 2), the real perpetrators are playing the innocent victim.

According to a recent proposal inside the Labour Party, a rule-change would allow a “victim” to label any comment as anti-Semitic, in turn triggering disciplinary proceedings against the supposed offender. This proposal has several political aims: to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, to gag debate on Israel’s colonial-apartheid project, to weaken Jeremy Corbyn’s pro-Palestine support base and thus to continue the party’s practical support for Israel.

The rule-change comes from the so-called Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), affiliated with the Israeli Labour Party, which has supported Jewish settlements in the West Bank and military attacks on Gaza.

New Labour stalwarts (for example, the Progress faction) are supporting the JLM’s proposal, as well as its role in training Labour Party members against anti-Semitism.

Together these measures would protect Israeli racism, in the name of protecting Jews from anti-Semitism.

Unable to find much real anti-Semitism among Labour Party members, the current smear campaign fabricates it, regardless of the damage done to the party. To oppose this agenda, anti-racists should persuade labour movement organisations to adopt our model motion, available at

Free Speech on Israel

Dear Editor

It seems that some Labour MPs ( are not only dissatisfied with the witch hunt that they have unleashed in the Labour party, but are also in league with a foreign political party whose ethos is distinctly racist. The Zionist union, which is the actual name of what was once called the Israeli labour party supports the maintenance of the settlement blocs, the establishment of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital, the demilitarisation of a ‘Palestinian state’ and negotiations with friendly Arab states to establish Israel’s borders. Ultimately this is a recipe for a Bantustan without even the resources that apartheid South Africa poured into the Bantustans. And Herzog, Zionist union leader, states publicly that the party does not want to be seen as ‘Arab lovers’.

The Labour party has always prided itself on its commitment to anti-Racism and anti-Colonialism. Clearly any alignment with a party holding the credentials of the Zionist Union would be anathema to the vast majority of Labour party members. Far from being a sign of anti Semitism, refusal to drink from the poisoned chalice offered by the Zionist union is a sign that the party is remaining true to its ideals.
Diana Neslen
29 May

Gideon Levy: BDS isn’t the criminal here

Via Haaretz

Even those who don’t believe in the boycott, or think there are better ways to fight the occupation (such as?) cannot go along with this crushing move to criminalize it.

Jun. 9, 2016

The struggle against the movement to boycott Israel has sunk to a new low – criminalization. From now on it’s not just a propaganda campaign against BDS (which only made it stronger), not the usual victim-like behavior, not the colonialist fibs about the boycott’s harming Palestinian laborers. It’s not even the demonization, which includes accusing anyone who dares support the boycott of anti-Semitism, the mother of all accusations.

No, from now on the boycott is a crime. It’s a crime to boycott the criminal. A crime to avoid buying goods produced on territories of crime. A crime to avoid supporting a crime factory. A crime to fight violation of international law. The powerful Jewish-Israeli lobbying is scoring more achievements. The go-ahead was given by none other than France’s Supreme Court, which ruled last year that boycotting Israel is, incredible as it may sound, a “hate crime.” Not the settlements or the executions at checkpoints, not the settlers’ violence and not the mass arrests – no, it’s the boycott against them that’s a crime. Continue reading “Gideon Levy: BDS isn’t the criminal here”

Free Speech on Israel’s Submission to the Chakrabarti Inquiry

Free Speech on Israel (FSOI) submission of 08.06.2016 
to the Labour Party’s inquiry on antisemitism, chaired by Shami Chakrabarti, as announced on Labour List.

Free Speech on Israel Submission to Chakrabarti Submission

You can also view and download the submission here.

Jewish Voice for Peace on the underlying anti-Muslim and racist message of the #StopBDS conference

The first international #StopBDS conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York on 31 May – hosted by the Israeli mission to the UN and the World Jewish Congress – was focused on how to appropriate “the language of the left” emptied of its analysis and struggles against intersectional oppression. World Union of Jewish Students Chairperson Yosef Tarshish was one of the speakers; a former president of Union of Jewish Students in the UK, he told the audience that “A lot of anti-Israel organizations have managed to infiltrate the conversation on intersectionality. We need to remind students around the world that they need to stand with us because we will stand with them when their rights are trampled.”

Naomi Dann
Naomi Dann – JVP Media Coordinator

Naomi Dann, an organizer with Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), also attended the anti-BDS conference and later spoke on the ‘Treyf Podcast‘ . She said that what really struck her was “the underlying anti-Muslim messages and really racist messages that were so inherent in the discourse of pro-Israel advocacy.”

The speakers apparently saw no contradiction between propagating Islamophobic/racist views towards Arabs, and encouraging students, in Dann’s words “to show up for your allies in other minority groups because if we want them to show up for us we have to show up for them, and that kind of framing was a sort of transactional solidarity, and very clearly not rooted in the approach that organisations like JVP and people who are involved on campus in intersectional struggles see the ways that different types of oppression are connected and have a shared interest in struggling against oppression together.” This language of intersectionality is being “used by Israel advocates but is devoid of analysis for why those things are connected.”

Dann added that there was this “bizarre sense that the speakers were trying to project that they were winning and there was power there, but it really was framed as if coming from a place of victimhood,” even though “Israel advocates have a lot of power particularly through their relationships with elected officials… they are not the underdog…. there is this sense that they’ve failed and the BDS movement is continuing to grow and bring in people who see the intersection of Palestinian rights with other struggles that they care about.”

Listen to Treyf Podcast, from 2:50:

Why the US anti-BDS order is relevant for UK advocates of BDS

New York Governor Cuomo has signed an executive order that will require state agencies to stop doing business with and divest public funds from institutions and companies associated with BDS. As several media commentators have noted, it is part of a multi-nation campaign to outlaw advocacy of boycotting Israel: the British government has already sought to legally bar certain types of boycott advocacy. Legal advisors on US anti-BDS bills have argued that BDS constitutes “discriminatory conduct.” The UK Conservative government has similarly said that “The problem with boycotts in public procurement is that they may often stray over the line from acceptable ethical procurement…to become an act of discrimination.”

It’s also worth noting that AJC (American Jewish Committee) is behind another initiative that has global reach: ‘Mayors United Against Anti-Semitism,’ which London mayor Sadiq Khan signed last month:

For BDS advocates in the UK the “McCarthyism and profound free speech threat” of the US anti-BDS executive order sets a dangerous precedent. Northwestern University Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich who has advised many US lawmakers on anti-BDS bills they are drafting, says that he distinguished between “biased speech and activity.” The new legislation “is not about the viewpoints a company holds. This is about discriminatory activity. A company can hang a banner saying ‘long live Palestine, out with Israel,’ and if it’s not actually engaging in discriminatory conduct” by boycotting Israel, then it’s fine, he said. “None of these statutes prohibit any speech by anyone,” said Kontorovich. “But when a state deems certain conduct discriminatory, even if it’s not illegal, they can say they don’t want to contract with it.” (Haaretz, Jun 06).

However, Donna Lieberman, executive director of the state Civil Liberties Union, has said in a statement “The state cannot penalize individuals or entities on the basis of their free expression, and political boycotts are a form of free expression… Creating a government blacklist that imposes state sanctions based on political beliefs raises First Amendment concerns, and this is no exception.”

While the Dutch and Irish governments have publicly stated that calls for a boycott of Israel are legitimate and “protected by the freedom of expression,” UK Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove only a few months ago denounced the campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as follows:

But worse than that – worse than libelling the state of Israel – the BDS campaign, by calling for the deliberate boycott of goods manufactured by Jewish people, by calling for the shunning of the Jewish state, and the rejection of Jewish commerce and Jewish thought, actually commits a crime worse than apartheid (quoted in Middle East Monitor, 04.04.2016).

He told the Anti-Semitism Conference in Berlin, on 15 March, that the Conservative government has ‘made clear that local authorities and public bodies cannot adopt BDS policies aimed at Israel’. He was alluding to a public procurement note that – in a highly unusual departure from parliamentary protocol – was announced at a press conference with the Prime Minister of Israel on 17 February by Minister for the Cabinet Matthew Hancock, disregarding due democratic process. Ben White has explained, however that ‘the lack of an actual ‘ban’ on boycotts, as widely and incorrectly reported, is more damning; the government has not changed the law, but sought to intimidate local authorities into thinking that they have.’ Continue reading “Why the US anti-BDS order is relevant for UK advocates of BDS”

UK-Palestine Mental Health Network submission to Labour Party Inquiry on antisemitism 


This submission has been written by Labour Party members associated with the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network. It has been endorsed by eighty mental health professionals.

1. Why the UKPMHN is making this submission to the Inquiry

The UK-Palestine Mental Health Network is a loose association of mental health workers concerned with the realities of life in Israel/Palestine.  We come from a position informed by universalist values, supporting human rights, social justice and anti-racism. The Occupation has profound consequences for the psychological well-being of the Palestinians (those living in Gaza, the West Bank, and the Palestinian citizens of Israel), but also, in our view, for Jewish Israelis as well. On one side we see the impact of state terror, bombardments, night raids, house demolitions, the incarceration of children, a shoot-to-kill policy, the protection by the IDF of violent gangs of settlers, the humiliations and frustrations that follow from the checkpoints and the de-development of the Palestinian economy, the increasing number of discriminatory laws, the siege of Gaza… On the other, we see an increasingly militarised society, a deepening and more openly accepted popular racism and its open incitement by government officials, the brutalisation of the young as conscripts in the IDF, acceptance of mob rule and routine violence against civilians, intolerance of dissent, as well as the more frequently acknowledged sense of insecurity to which the ongoing struggle gives rise.

This Inquiry is a particular concern for us: anything which impedes our ability to describe what is happening, or to analyse and speculate on the nature of the situation in Israel/Palestine, serves to further hide the truth and inhibit debate – in a world in which the Israeli narrative already has an overbearing influence over political discourse. Our work, and that of many other organisations firmly committed to anti-racist principles, will be hampered if the attempted extension of the public’s understanding of anti-Semitism to include non- and anti-Zionist perspectives is given credence by the Labour Party. The losers will be a people whose lands have already been plundered, their rights traduced, who are living in conditions of intolerable insecurity: the kind of people who, in another world, would be of particular concern to the Labour Party. Continue reading “UK-Palestine Mental Health Network submission to Labour Party Inquiry on antisemitism “

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