Millett: Accused of racism at Amnesty’s London HQ after ‘admitting’ to being Jewish.


Cross posted by our friend Richard Millett

Itay Epshtain (ICAHD), Kristyan Benedict (Amnesty) at Amnesty’s London HQ last night.

When you go to an anti-Israel event chances are you’re not more than a few feet from an anti-Semite.

Last night after yet another anti-Israel event at Amnesty’s Human Rights Action Centre had finished I was immediately confronted by audience member Chris who politely asked if I was Jewish. I answered yes, obviously, but found that Chris wasn’t very happy with me .

I then switched on my recorder and this is how the conversation continued:

Chris: Jewish people feel connected by race or religion. Your support and the support of a lot of people in the Jewish community stems from that connection.
Me: What connection?
Chris: The one I just described about ethnicity and religion. That connection is the basis of the support that seems to come from the Jewish community, people like yourself.
Me: We also support a Palestinian state as well.
Chris: I think to people who are independent, which I am, I’m not Israeli, I’m not Palestinian, I’m not Jewish, to an independent observer it is so patent the immorality of what Israel is doing. And it is so patent that it is painful that Jewish people support this immorality on the basis of race and I think it is a kind of racism.

You can listen in to the full conversation by clicking on this link:

Chris on Jews at Amnesty’s London HQ.

Chris had just been at the talk by Itay Epshtain, co-director of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. Epshtain had given the usual anti-Israel talk, which included statistics about house demolitions, pictures of demolished houses and those maps of Israel and the West Bank.

Epshtain, who lives in Tel Aviv and who previously worked for Amnesty in Israel, wasn’t sure whether a one or two-state solution might be the best way forward and wanted all Jews and Palestinians to decide, but affirmed that boycott, divestment and sanctions was one “tool” to be used by “civil society” to put pressure on Israel.

Epshtain added that Israel might have committed both war crimes and crimes against humanity due to alleged breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

He then suggested that we, as in the audience, were paying for the “displacement and demolition” caused by Israel. We have to pay for the subsequent rehousing through our UK taxes and also via the EU (see clip at end).

Shame Epshtain didn’t tell the audience that we were also paying his salary and for his extravagant trips to London via ICAHD’s EU funding.

Epshtain described how Israel had “Judaised” the Galilee, which wasn’t supposed to be part of Israel under UN Res. 181, after 1948 and then used that as a template for “Judaising” the West Bank. And he claimed Palestinians get 20-30 litres of water per day compared to the WHO recommended amount of 100 per day while Israeli settlers, apparently, get 400 per day.

As for the illegality of the settlements Epshtain cited the totally irrelevant “advisory opinion” of the International Court of Justice as the main authoritative decision.

Surprise, Surprise Epshtain didn’t mention UN Security Council Resolution 242 and the British Mandate for Palestine which, arguably, allow the settlements to be there. He didn’t mention Hamas, Gaza or the Hamas Charter, which calls for the murder of Jews. Security for Israelis doesn’t seem a major issue for ICAHD.

During the Q&A I asked why, if things were so bad in the West Bank, Palestinian life expectancy there was higher than in most countries in the world according to the CIA World Factbook. Epshtain just muttered that he didn’t know whether the CIA World Factbook was correct.

If you’d like to meet Epshtain and, probably, Chris you can attend ICAHD’s AGM on 23rd March 2013. Can you guess where it’s taking place?

Correct. Amnesty’s Human Rights Action Centre.

Here is Jonathan Hoffman’s account:

http://www.thejc.com/blogs/jonathan-hoffman/amnesty-hosts-yet-another-anti-israel-headbanger

Clip of Epshtain from last night:

25 comments on “Millett: Accused of racism at Amnesty’s London HQ after ‘admitting’ to being Jewish.

  1. A good question to ask people like “Chris” who cloak their obvious antiSemitism behind “concern for immorality”, etc., is to ask them simply how many times they’ve raised concerns about the REAL human rights abuses, e.g. the murder of thousands in Syria.
    Hint: They never are interested–which is an easy way to point out the typi cal glaring dishonest hypocrisy.
    If you feel like really putting bigots like this on the spot, you can then take the next step and ask them WHY they never express concern over the murderous actions of Islamic theocracies in the Mideast and instead focus on some imaginary “mistreatment” of Palestinians which in any case
    couldn’t approach what we KNOW is going on elsewhere in the region?

    • How do you know that Chris doesn’t spend plenty of his time campaigning about human rights violations in Syria? Really, how do you know that?!

      • Someone who campaigns for human rights violations in Israel is unlikely to be campaigning against human rights violations anywhere else unless it is to mask another agenda.

        • Now I’m really lost – what evidence is there that he campaigns *for* human rights violations in Israel? These arguments are built entirely on biased conjecture, as far as I can see.

  2. Richard – please bring me up to speed here. What precisely is de facto “anti-Israel” about highlighting the fact that Israel demolishes Palestinian homes in the West Bank, and the effect that this has on Palestinian families and communities? Only, you casually throw the term “anti-Israel” into your fleeting, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it analysis of the evening’s content, but don’t bother to explain how you arrive at such a serious conclusion.

    Yes, there are anti-Semites out there. Lots of them. And there are people who want to see Israel wiped off the map. No question. But to reflexively brush aside any discussion of the effect that Israel’s occupation has on Palestinians as “anti-Israel” is lazy and childish.

    • For clarity, a good example of an actual anti-Semite could be someone who still claims there is an “occupation” nearly twenty years after Israel completely withdrew from Area A, or who condemns only the Jewish state for evicting people from illegally built homes on someone else’s land or on state land.

    • Chris is with eappi. He is about as bad as it gets. He is a ‘humanitarian’. He means ‘well’, and knows that most Israelis are for the OSS .
      Another dude who has a plan.

  3. Richard, if this Chris fella weren’t so patently stupid, I’d remind him that the founding father of A.I. was the well-known British lawyer, Peter Benenson whose mother, Russian-born Flora Solomon was a well-known Zionist with good socialist principles who helped to improve working conditions at M & S.

  4. Richard, once again I marvel at you.

    Usually it is for your courage at entering the lion’s den. This time, it is having the patience to debate with ‘Chris’, a man so stupid it beggars belief that he has reached adulthood..

    Kol hakavod pal – you are an inspiration.

  5. “Jewish people feel connected by race or religion. Your support and the support of a lot of people in the Jewish community stems from that connection.”
    A lot of people feel connected by race and religion.

    “I think to people who are independent, which I am, I’m not Israeli, I’m not Palestinian, I’m not Jewish, to an independent observer”

    What is he again? “an independent observer?” No, he’s an Englishman.

    • It doesn’t sound as if Chris is an independent observer. He sounds like a dedicated antisemite. Somebody who is concerned about Jews identifying with Judaism and other Jews after centuries of their being targeted for their religion shows antipathy.

  6. Chris, Epshtain claims that since 1967 Israel has demolished 27,000 Palestinian structures, a third of those being family homes. As i understand it Israeli structures are also demolished. However, like you I don’t know the exact figures. As i recall Epshtain gave no source for his statistics. But, you are right and i will try to contact him to ask for his sources and if there is a way of getting back to you i will. But i would submit that the speech was anti-Israel with its suggestion of a one state solution, his support for BDS and his allegation of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity against Israel while invoking the ICJ’s advisory opinion as his only main evidence.

    • Thanks for the response, Richard. To come back on a few points:

      – I wasn’t at the talk, but I’d imagine Epshtain was quoting ICAHD’s figures. (Home demolitions are their primary focus, after all, and it was ICAHD talk.) Those figures are readily available on their website: http://www.icahd.org/the-facts – ICAHD estimate that some 27,000 Palestinian structures have been demolished in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967. They base these estimates on “information collected from the Israeli Ministry of Interior, the Jerusalem Municipality, the Civil Administration, UN bodies and agencies, Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights groups, our field monitoring, and other sources.” So no need to get back to me on the facts, though I’d be interested in your opinion on them…

      – I still don’t buy that Epshtain or ICAHD are anti-Israel. You still don’t explain what you mean by that, while at the same time inferring that you have a monopoly on what it means to be “pro-” or “anti-” Israel. (Surely you would concede that there are multiple possibilities for being “pro-Israel” – just as there are for being “pro-Scottish”, “pro-Syrian”, “pro-American”, etc – including being opposed to its policies in the West Bank?) If nothing else, the clue is in the name: it’s the Israeli Committee Against HOUSE DEMOLITIONS, not the Israeli Committee Against ISRAEL. Are you arguing that one cannot be anti-house demolitions, and more broadly anti-occupation, without also being anti-Israel? That being pro-Israel means you also have to be pro-occupation, pro-house demolitions?

      – I also don’t buy the idea that calling for a one-state solution is anti-Israel. No one I’ve heard calling for a one-state solution expected to be in a position where they were doing so. Almost everyone I’ve heard making that call – Palestinian or Israeli – has arrived at that perspective because they have had to accept, with a heavy heart, that the two-state solution no longer exists. And it no longer exists because there are now 500,000 Israelis living over the Green Line. The territorial integrity of the West Bank has been carved up by Israeli-Jewish towns and cities. The West Bank makes no more sense as a Palestinian state than Israel would make sense as a Jewish state if there were Palestinian cities between Tel Aviv and Haifa, and between West Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. These are the facts on the ground, put there by successive Israeli governments over decades, regardless of what stage the peace negotiations were at, and even – indeed, especially – during the Oslo years.

      So my question to you, if you really think that calling for a one-state solution is anti-Israel, is this: would it be any less anti-Israel to call for the removal of 500,000 Israelis now living across the Green Line, nestled intimately, inseparably among Palestinian towns and cities? You’re talking about people, many of whom have been born in Ma’ale Adumim and Ariel and Efrata: would uprooting the majority of them – the only way to make a Palestinian state in the West Bank viable, and put an end to calls for a one-state solution (unless, of course, those Israelis took Palestinian passports instead, which let’s face it is unlikely) – would uprooting them be any less anti-Israel? I don’t think it would. Tearing 500,000 people from their homes and communities doesn’t seem just to me. So what ICAHD and others are saying when they talk about a one-state solution is not that they want put an end to Israel in its current form – but simply, and this is the tragic part, that Israel has done that ITSELF by stretching itself across areas that have an Arab-Muslim majority, and are home to an entirely different national identity, namely, Palestinian. No one’s saying it’s ideal. No one’s saying it’s actually not pretty tragic. But it’s a pragmatic acknowledgement of how intractably interwoven the two peoples between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean have become. There is no longer a way to separate them: therefore, one state with equal rights for everyone is the only realistic answer.

      – And finally, I interviewed ICAHD’s director, Jeff Halper, in Jerusalem this summer. The guy is not anti-Israel. He’s Israel!! We sat outside a cafe on Hillel Street and drank coffee. He took a call from his (Israeli) daughter midway through our conversation to get an update on this new (Israeli) granddaughter. He broke into a big smile. He’s a proud (Israeli) grandfather. So without labouring this point too much, are you suggesting that this man is anti-his-own-granddaughter? I’ll leave you to ponder that one.

      • I also don’t buy the idea that calling for a one-state solution is anti-Israel.

        Laughable, simply laughable.

      • Halper fully supports BDS against Israel. Are you suggesting this man isn’t anti-Israel? What other countries is Halper boycotting? I’ll leave you to ponder that one.

      • Chris,
        The 2 state solution is not dead.
        Simply get the PA to accept that all Israelis living on PA land will have a PA passport.

        Most will come back to Israel quickly.

  7. I asked Chris what he was doing for Syria etc and he just accused me of the usual ploy of changing the subject by saying there are worst things going on elsewhere.

  8. I haven’t listened to the recording yet, but these words struck me:

    And he claimed Palestinians get 20-30 litres of water per day compared to the WHO recommended amount of 100 per day while Israeli settlers, apparently, get 400 per day.

    This is demonstrably false and patently untrue. According to the report on water consumption in Israel, produced by Cohav, here are details for 2010:

    “Fresh Water availability 2010

    a) Israel has 1170 Million cubes (MCM) of fresh water available for 7.8 million residents. This is equivalent to 150 cubic metres per capita
    b) The Palestinians in Judea and Samaria have 200 MCM plus an additional 52 MCM supplied by Israel under the 1995 agreement although that agreement specified only 23.6 MCM. This is equivalent to 125 cubic metres per capita”

    Read the whole report for a true picture of the water situation in Israel – as opposed to the lies and slander broadcast by the likes of Amnesty International.

  9. Racism?

    Are Irish Americans who invest in businesses in Belfast being racist? How about African Americans who support projects in Ghana?
    It is only natural for people to feel a certain affinity to the country their forefathers came from.

    Is that racism? Bollocks is it.

    • Well said.
      we all came from somewhere and have a feeling towards that place, may it be a country, a district or a village.

  10. Obviously the same accusation could be made about Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims or any other group. Double standards like this are simply Jew hatred.

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