Factual errors behind the anti-Israel vote by Royal Institute of British Architects

CiF Watch recently posted about a motion passed by the Royal Institute of British Architects calling on the International Union of Architects (UIA) “to suspend the Israeli Association of United Architects’ (IAUA) membership until it acts to resist projects on illegally-occupied land and observes international law and accords”.

The decision was based partly on a presentation given to the group by an anti-Israel activist (and Guardian contributor) named Abe Hayeem.


Here is a response to some of the glaring factual errors which led to the RIBA anti-Israel vote.

1. RIBA claimed that their vote was based partly on Union of International Architects (UIA) Resolution 13 which states that Israeli projects in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) were ‘illegal’, as well as the Resolution’s claim  that “The UIA Council condemns all action contravening the fourth Geneva Convention”.  

First, the claim that “Israeli projects in the West Bank are “illegal” – despite what the UK media claims – represents a highly disputed legal contention.  Additionally, almost all Israeli settlements are in ‘Area C’ of the West Bank, and is under full Israeli military and administrative control per the Oslo II Accord (1995) – an agreement, signed by the Palestinians, which contains no prohibition against settlement construction.

Also, Israel has not contravened the Geneva Convention.  Article 49 (6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention states

“The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”.

No court of law has ever found Israel to be in breach of this Article. The Article was written after WW2, when German and Russia forcibly transferred populations. Israel has not forced anyone to move into the West Bank, nor has it displaced local populations. In fact, the Palestinian population within the territories has increased dramatically

The International court of Justice did find in 2004 that Israel was in breach of the Geneva Convention, but this was in an advisory opinion which is not legally binding.

2. Abe Hayeem’s presentation to the RIBA Council included a characterization of the Prawer Plan for resettlement of the Israeli Bedouin as “ethnic cleansing”.

However, the plan does not even remotely resemble “ethnic cleansing”. It is a plan to give the Bedouin citizens of Israel more services and to reduce the economic and social gaps between the Bedouin and the rest of Israeli society. Many Bedouin supported the Plan (which has been shelved) under which a minority, some 20,000 to 30,000 Bedouin, would have been relocated (a few kilometers from their current place of residence) to recognised Bedouin towns, in order to be connected to Israel’s utility networks and have better access to state services.  Further, most Bedouin would have their current land legalized.  The plan also stipulated that those forced to move would receive financial compensation as well as new plots of land.

3. Hayeem also told the RIBA Council the following:

“Palestinian land has become so fragmented that a viable Palestinian State has been rendered impossible. The map of Palestine, for the indigenous Palestinians, has shrunk from being 97% of the land in 1917 to 44% in 1947 to 22% in 1967.”

First, the “map” he’s referring to has been exposed as a lie.

Further, it is not true that a “viable Palestinian state has become impossible”. Under the final status negotiations, Israel accepts that some settlements will need to be evacuated in the event of a peace agreement. And Hayeem’s figures (97% to 22%) ignore the impact of the immigration of Jews to Palestine in 1917-1947 as well as the 1948 War of Independence which was started by the Arabs but in which the new State of Israel successfully defended itself. In 1917 Israel did not exist! – hence the 97% figure.

4. Hayeem’s presentation to the RIBA Council accused Israel of pursuing “apartheid policies”.

This is an egregious falsehood, as you can see by a thorough refutation of the smear published by BICOM.  (See also Jonathan Hoffman’s critique of Ben White’s book.)

Finally, it’s worth noting that in April 2000 Nelson Mandela came to London and spoke to the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He spoke of the need for Israel to leave the lands taken in 1967 but not unless there was first recognition of the Jewish State by the Arab States:

I added a second position, that Israel cannot be expected to withdraw from the Arab territories which she legitimately conquered when the Arab States wanted to whip her out of the map of the world.”

No mention of ‘apartheid’ in Israel – from a man who spent 27 years as a prisoner of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

(Editor’s Note: To assist those in the UK who oppose the boycott, please sign this petition, and consider contacting the president of the Union of International Architects (UIA), Prof. Albert Dubler, and ask that the group reject RIBA’s endorsement of a policy of racist exclusion targeting Israelis.)

uia@uia-architectes.org (UIA email)

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A tale of Guardianista Land…where everyone was equal. (But, some more equal than others)

Many years ago in Kings Place in Londinium there was a liberal left tribe called the Guardianistas. They mostly lived well-heeled in Hampstedde and had enjoyed pricely schooling and then to Oxenfforde but they followed the Labour tribe and so worthily assisted the downtrodden of the world. In fullness of time, they reasoned, the downtrodden would rise up and revolt and then everyone would be the same.

But it came to pass in the year 1989 CE that the Great Wall in Berlin came down and great changes came in Eastern Europe and Russia. The proletariat there had risen may years before but decided that all being the same was not such a great idea after all.

The Guardianistas were bereft. First Gorbachev, then Tony Blair had sold them down the river. All they wanted to do was to stand up for the human rights of the downtrodden (unless they were Israeli). They had long been sceptical that the proletariat in England would rise up. So their eyes lit upon the Palestinians. Here was an underdog that needed support from the colonial Zionists oppressing them.

But after a few years some of the Palestinians sat down with the Zionists and tried to make peace with them. This was too much for the Guardianistas. How could they maintain face in saying that the settlements were illegal when it seemed that the Palestinians wanted many of them to stay?

Far better (thought the Guardianistas) for the Palestinians to reject all negotiations and continue the Jihad. Otherwise what would Seamus Milne do all day and how could George Galloway remain sincere and honest when calling Israel ‘a colonial state’? And how would the Guardianista tribe stay together without Israel to hate? Israel was the weapon of mass distraction, after all. Baiting Berlusconi wasn’t half as much fun as winding up the Jewish tribe.

“The Palestinians are exploiting us” shouted Alan Rustybridge, head of the Guardianista tribe. “I call on the UN Human Rights Council to set up a Commission of Inquiry, chaired by Richard Goldstone.”

The UN Human Rights Council – hearing that Mossad had managed to plant agents as Palestinian negotiators – saw a chance to blame Israel and so voted unanimously to set up a Commission of Inquiry. The three Commissioners were to be Desmond Tutu, Richard Goldstone and Alexei Sayle.

Michael Moore was given the film rights.

The UK’s Disproportionate Response

CIF’s Israel attack dogs went wild when British Foreign Minister David Miliband announced on Tuesday that he had expelled an Israel diplomat in retaliation for Mossad’s alleged cloning of British passports. Former Ambassador to Libya Oliver Miles – who is on record as believing that Jewish historians have no place on the UK Iraq War Enquiry – sanctimoniously welcomed the expulsion as ‘action, not words’ suited to a country that “continues to flout international law and ignore any UN condemnatory resolution that does not suit it.”

But look what happened in an arguably precisely analogous case in Israel, to one of the Guardian’s favourite sons, Alastair Crooke.

Crooke used to work for MI6, the UK equivalent of Mossad. Now he is the Beirut-based Director of Conflicts Forum and as someone who showed disregard for the opposition demonstrations in Iran after the elections, is even too extreme for Mark Perry (who started last week’s malicious misrepresentations of what General David Petraeus really said about Israel). Perry quit as a Director of  Conflicts Forum – started by Crooke – in protest.

Crooke was was sent to Israel, as part of the British consular delegation in Jerusalem, ostensibly to oversee Israeli Palestinian relations on behalf of the UK Government.

Sheila Raviv – an Israeli freelance journalist – says that Crooke had relationships with some highly questionable people in and around Jerusalem, people who were not connected to his diplomatic work. She relayed these concerns to the then British Ambassador (2001-3) Sherrard Cowper-Coles.

The Ambassador was apparently very sympathetic to her information and asked her to prepare a full report. But within ten minutes of sending it by email, Raviv received a frighteningly threatening email warning her off – the Ambassador’s personal computer had been hacked! Concerned for her own safety, Raviv reported her concerns to the Shin Bet.

Crooke was investigated and within a short time was packing his bags. But there was no public announcement of an expulsion. The Israeli government had the prerogative of a formal public expulsion, of course – as all governments have for the diplomatic corps whom they host. But it seems that Israel chose to magnanimously offer the UK the chance of a ‘gentleman’s agreement’  that Crooke could go quietly and below the radar, so as not to embarrass an ally.

It was later revealed that Crooke was a member of MI6 and the astonishing breadth of his terrorist contacts became known. An Italian magazine, Il Riformista, commented as follows (July 2005):

This activity over the past year finished by provoking a growing resentment among Israeli authorities, who a couple of times went so far as to issue “warnings” to Crooke and to present confidential protests about him to the British embassy in Tel Aviv. Further, on 19 May, the deputy chief of information at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Gideon Meir, referring to the secret British meetings, saw fit to say that “any contact with Hamas on the part of representatives of foreign governments is considered by the Israeli government as encouragement for striking us with terrorist acts.”

Yet despite this flagrant breach of trust, Israel – unlike Miliband on Tuesday – did not seek to turn a diplomatic spat into a PR opportunity.  Crooke’s departure took place quietly and discretely, out of respect to an ally.

Why did Miliband not show the same respect and magnanimity towards Israel as Israel showed to the UK in the Crooke case? And of course as an Arabist and a former Middle East Ambassador, Miles must know all about the Crooke case. Not mentioning it must have been an oversight, of course.

Ah, but there is an election within six weeks in the UK and Miliband knows that Israel-bashing plays well with Labour’s core vote. And Miles just happens to be deputy chairman of the Libyan British Business Council.

The moral of this story: As far as this Foreign Minister and the FCO’s camel corps are concerned, when votes and money are at stake, “respect for allies” can go hang, especially when that ally is Israel and the UK Jewish community just lies back and thinks of England.

As Oliver Worth says:

British Jewry, in its muted action, has goaded the willingness of the British government to stab Israel in the back. We are undoubtedly in a situation where the British government has no fear of provoking the pro-Israel and Jewish population into meaningful action, rendering Israel by far the easiest target when finding a scapegoat to cover up domestic misgivings. This must be the wake-up call.

He might have added that Israeli citizens do not blow up UK ones.

(UPDATE: The Spectator has published an apology on its site which reads as follows:

A blog by Melanie Phillips posted on 28 January 2011 reported an allegation that Alastair Crooke, director of Conflicts Forum, had been expelled from Israel and dismissed for misconduct from Government service or the EU after threatening a journalist whose email he had unlawfully intercepted. We accept that this allegation is completely false and we apologise to Mr Crooke.

The ‘allegation’ referred to in this apology refers to the post above from which Melanie Phillips quoted. As can be seen, however, this post made no such allegation. Insofar as an inference could be drawn to that effect, we would like to make it clear that no such implication was intended and no such inference should be drawn. However, neither CiF Watch nor Sheila Raviv made any such allegation, and consequently the Spectator’s statement is inaccurate.)

Der farshtinkener Tony Lerman ….

I’ll say one thing for the Guardian’s favourite anti-Zionist Theobald Jew. He never misses a chance to vilify Israel, safe in the knowledge that by doing so, he will open the spigot of hatred in the thread beneath.

A Yiddish poet dies and his obituary in The Guardian is penned by Lawrence Joffe, a member of the UK offshoot of Meretz (the far Left Party in Israel which failed miserably in the 2009 elections, winning only three seats despite merging with The New Movement). Joffe wrote “Official Zionism .. dismissed Yiddish as a defeatist diaspora argot.” The truth is that Eliezer Ben Yehuda had revived Hebrew and at the time of the founding of the Jewish State, there was naturally a keenness for everyone to learn Hebrew. It is the language more than anything else which has bound the otherwise amazingly disparate Israeli population together. And of course the Sefardi Jews who came to Israel from places like Iraq spoke Arabic, not Yiddish. But the notion that “official Zionism dismissed Yiddish as a defeatist diaspora argot” is fiction – fiction for all except Lerman, that is.

Lerman – who possibly for the first time admits “I no longer regard myself as a Zionist” – jumps on that half-lie by Joffe and embellishes it and dresses it up so that it becomes a lethal weapon of deceit in the hands of a twisted, bitter man.

the Zionist drive to stigmatise Yiddish has collapsed and the revival has spread to Israel. ……. It proves that Zionism failed to consign other forms of Jewish life to oblivion. It challenges hegemonic and defensive Jewish leadership.

One, there is no “Zionist drive to stigmatise Yiddish”. As SantaMoniker says in the thread, “Just walk around Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, and you will hear the orthodox speaking Yiddish, and even their Hebrew is often with the old Ashkenazi pronunciation rather than the modern Hebrew. There was a Yiddish theater for years in Tel Aviv.” And he also points out that the demise of Yiddish had a lot more to do with the murder by the Nazis of the millions of people who spoke mainly Yiddish in Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, etc. than Zionism ever did.

Two, the notion that Zionism ever tried to “consign other forms of Jewish life to oblivion” is absolute defamatory rubbish which amply demonstrates Lerman’s malevolence against Israel. The practice of Judaism in Israel is no different from that anywhere else in the world, with the minor difference that some Festivals have an extra day in the diaspora. Why would it be otherwise? And ‘Zionism’ is not some kind of esoteric alternative to diaspora Jewish life. It is simply about the existence of Israel as a Jewish State where any Jew can live.

Three, Jewish leadership is not by definition ‘hegemonic and defensive’ and even if it were it is utterly ridiculous to say that Yiddish “challenges it”. There are very few Jews for whom Yiddish is a first language, maybe a million or so Charedim – so how can Yiddish challenge anything?

But the Guardian’s antisemitic attack dogs are only too pleased to feed off the bone Lerman throws them. Here’s RaymondDelauney: “It’s such a shame that the conceit of modern Hebrew championed by Israel – puts at risk the whole European diaspora identity and history of Jews.”

I’ll leave the last word to Lipschitz: “Speak for yourself Anthony Lerman. Personally, I’m only bitter when faced with an article that masquearades as a homage to Yiddish, when its real purpose is to have a dig at Zionism for the amusement of CiF readers. Why not tell us about the role of Israeli institutes in teaching Yiddish? Why not tell us about all of the Yiddish speakers who would have survived the Holocaust if Zionism had achieved its goals by 1939??”


“If you are not with us, you are against us!”

Our country is led by people who were trained as spies, secret agents. Their view is if you are not with us you are against us” – Oleg Vinogradov (Russian Opposition MP) – July 2006

The Guardian prides itself on taking antisemitism seriously. Part of the effort to eradicate antisemitism should surely be to move towards balance in the commissioned articles. You would think that the editors would bend over backwards to commission articles about Israel that are balanced, given the chronic lack of these on CIF. Israel-bashing above the line simply encourages the haters below.

So the threat to outlaw Professor Geoffrey Alderman for continuing to write for CifWatch was a massive ‘own goal’ for CiF. As Alderman relates, shortly after penning this he received an email from the Commissars threatening to cast him to the wind:

If I dared to continue writing for CiF Watch, I would no longer be able to contribute to CiF. It was, I was summarily warned, “an either/or choice”.

How childish – but how typical. Remember when they denied Robin Shepherd the right to correct a complete misrepresentation of his book by Tony Lerman?

Such spiteful, nasty behaviour is typical of the unreconstructed left which is in the ascendancy in the UK at present.

It is a sign of the Guardian’s lack of confidence in their editorial stance – of weakness, not strength. It means that all our other guest posters are also persona non grata with the Guardian. We hope they will stay with us.

It is of course part of the creeping delegitimisation of Israel and all those who are not prepared to join the haters or stay silent. It is the same mentality as those who gagged Benny Morris in Cambridge this week, as those who want visiting Israelis arrested and as Stephen Sizer’s clumsy attempts to silence Seismic Shock, using the police. It is anti-democratic and censorious.

Who better than Professor Alderman to have the last word:

As for C P Scott; he must surely be turning in his grave.

We would be fascinated to know what Professor Alderman’s colleague at the JC, Jonathan Freedland – a Guardian columnist – thinks of his Editorial colleagues’ treatment of Alderman.

Mr Freedland, if you would like to put your thoughts in writing we would be pleased to publish them.


The third piece on CIF in two weeks appeared today about the film Defamation – they sure are milking it for all it’s worth (which isn’t much at all…..)

This time it’s the film maker Yoav Shamir responding to David Hirsh’s critique (maybe he will also respond to theopen letter’ on CiFWatch – if he is reading this we promise to publish what he writes). He starts off by completely misunderstanding (maybe deliberately) Hirsh’s point that he ‘chooses mainly easy targets’.  Shamir responds that “all the subjects are people who willingly chose to participate” but that’s not the point at all. Hirsh means that instead of focusing on any number of vicious antisemitic incidents (the murder of the Holtzbergs in Mumbai, or of Ilan Halimi, or of Daniel Pearl, or the Aftonbladet libel) Shamir shines his forensic light on his 94-year old grandmother, the ADL (despite its goodwill in giving him free rein of the organisation and allowing him to accompany them on international missions) and a group of Israeli High School children visiting Auschwitz.

Next we get our old CIF pal, ‘argument by assertion’. Shamir assures us that supporters of Nordau and Herzl, the early 19th century Zionists, ‘represented less than 3% of the entire Jewish population at the time’. Er …. how on earth does he know a figure?

Remember, this is a man who admitted in the film that he has never experienced antisemitism: “Being an Israeli Jew I have never experienced antisemitism myself”. He shows how little he knows by asserting that Israel “was supposed to be a cure for what antisemitism started”. Of course it wasn’t – how can the creation of a state ‘cure’ racism? By the same argument his assertion that Israel has “ended up generating antisemitism” is just stupid – and a non sequitur over what has gone before. On the one hand, he recognises that antisemitism predates Israel; on the other he blames Israel for causing antisemitism.

Having been given the run of ADL, now Shamir says he “totally disagrees with it”. So it took all that time as an intern to decide that? And he had an open mind before? Pull the other one, Yoav!

Then he describes a game the ADL members play, when they have to identify non-Jewish friends who would hide them if it proved necessary. We get the inevitable sneer: “I am happy to say that, at least in my Tel Aviv social circle, this is not  a very popular game.” Well so what? What does that prove, apart from the fact that few Israelis – like Shamir – have experienced antisemitism.

Now comes the disingenousness: “I am a filmmaker who simply gave them the floor”. Pull the other one! So he had nothing to do with selecting Finkelstein, Walt, Mearsheimer and Avneri?

And more sneering: “Abe Foxman stated that antisemitism was the worst since the second world war, just as he had said last year and just as he will probably say next year, too”.

Well we have news for him: In Europe (and possibly globally also) it IS the worst since the second world war.

Guardian theatre critic lauds ‘Seven Jewish Children’ as pick of ’09

So what play does Lyn Gardner, The Guardian’s theatre critic, include among her ‘things to celebrate’ in 2009?

Seven Jewish Children of course!

Remember Michael Billington’s comment about that obscenity? How can we forget? I nominate it as “Crassest Comment of 2009 from a Guardian Journalist”.

But Churchill also shows us how Jewish children are bred to believe in the “otherness” of Palestinians …

What are your nominations for “Crassest Comment of 2009 from a Guardian Journalist?”


Inside Britain’s Irish Lobby

Good evening. My name’s Peter O’Boring of Channel 4. I’m in this bar in Queens, New York to investigate a little known but very rich and powerful lobby group: the Irish Lobby. In every city in the world there is an Irish bar, often called O’Flanagan’s. A Channel 4 production company, Hardcore Productions, has sent incognito cameramen into these bars in New York, Chicago and other US cities with cameras in their skirts and they have photographic evidence that Americans of Irish extraction meet in these bars to drink Guinness – sometimes to excess. We stress that we have no evidence that any kind of IRA conspiracy to blow up parts of London and murder thousands of innocent civilians mercilessly in cold blood takes place in these bars (but since when did we let a small thing like lack of evidence get in the way). Ireland is a wonderful and extraordinary country with a rich and flourishing democratic history. It has a profound right to exist. But this moral legitimacy does not mean that the foreign and internal policies of Ireland should be exempt from the same kind of probing criticism that any independent state must expect. Nor does it mean that the rights of Ulstermen to their own state in Northern Ireland can be ignored. Nor does it mean that critics of Ireland should be branded haters of Catholics.

David Cameron has never commented on IRA atrocities. It is impossible to imagine any British political leader showing such equanimity and tolerance if British troops had committed even a fraction of the human rights abuses and war crimes of which the IRA has been accused.

The fact that Michael O’Leary, the owner of Ryanair, lives in a house called Gigginstown House which is worth £3 million only heightens suspicions.

Our researchers have established that the American-Irish and their businesses have donated more than £10m to Irish clubs and lobby groups in the UK over the past eight years – that’s more than to any other lobby. It is surely a matter of profound concern that UK foreign policy may be being influenced by a group which opposes British policy in Northern Ireland.

The pro-Ireland lobby, in common with other lobbies, has every right to operate in the UK. But it needs to be far more open about how it is funded and what it does. This is partly because the present obscurity surrounding the funding arrangements and activities of organisations such as O’Flanagans Bar, Cricklewood Broadway, the London Irish Centre and the Conservative Friends of Ireland paradoxically give rise to conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact. But it is mainly because politics in a democracy should never take place behind closed doors. It should be out in the open and there for all to see.

‘Dispatches’ journalists ramp up their stitchup

In today’s CIF, Peter Oborne and James Jones ramp up their UK Channel 4 documentary to be shown tonight, “Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby

As Robin Shepherd points out, the fact that Oborne and James say “It is important to say what we did not find – there is no conspiracy, and nothing resembling a conspiracy” indicates beyond question that a conspiracy theory is precisely what they ARE peddling. Here is an excerpt from Robin’s article, please go to his blog to read the rest and to comment.

You know the old line about the racist who prefaces a torrent of racially charged abuse with the words: “I’m not a racist, but…”? Something similar about conspiracy theories could be said about the makers of a landmark documentary due to be aired this evening on Britain’s Channel 4 Television alleging that a secretive group of Zionists (just “Zionists”, not Jews you understand) has got hold of Britain’s main political parties and is manipulating them to spew pro-Israeli propaganda.

Writing about their documentary in the Guardian (where else?), Peter Oborne, a columnist for the Daily Mail, and television journalist James Jones are, of course, anxious that they should not actually be labelled as conspiracy theorists and seek to pre-empt such charges thus: “It is important to say what we did not find,” they tell us nervously. “There is no conspiracy, and nothing resembling a conspiracy.”

Except that their entire piece makes it quite clear that a conspiracy is precisely what is being alleged.

It is asserted, for example, that Conservative Party leader David Cameron this year gave a keynote address at the Conservative Friends of Israel’s annual dinner in the wake of the Gaza operation. The authors say:

The dominant event of the previous 12 months had been the Israeli invasion of Gaza. We were shocked Cameron made no reference in his speech to the massive destruction it caused, or the 1,370 deaths that resulted, or for that matter the invasion itself. Indeed, our likely future prime minister went out of his way to praise Israel because it “strives to protect innocent life”. This remark was not intended satirically.

Since it is obvious that no sane and rational person could possibly praise Israel in such terms, the authors conclude that darker forces must be at work.

“…what are the rules of British political behaviour that cause the Tory leader, his mass of MPs and parliamentary candidates to flock to the Friends of Israel lunch in the year of the Gaza invasion?” they ask incredulously. What could it be?

“During an investigation lasting several months,” they tell us, “we have been able to reach several important conclusions. We maintain there is indeed a pro-Israel lobby in Britain. It is extremely well-connected and well-funded, and works through all the main political parties.”

We later learn that “those in many sensitive foreign affairs, defence and intelligence posts in the Commons are often Labour or Conservative Friends of Israel.”

But there’s more.…..

Read the rest on Robin’s blog ….

Pond-dwellers can’t take the moral high ground

Time to catch up with Seth Freedman’s piece about Rowan Laxton, the UK senior Foreign Office official who unleashed a torrent of antisemitic abuse in a health club during Cast Lead and who was prosecuted for it last week – and found guilty.

At times like this Freedman oozes oleaginous sanctimony. It’s as if he is saying “Look at me, I am condemning antisemitism so how can you possibly call me antisemitic?”. Well – we do. This is the man who spoke of the “cancer of Israeli settlements”. The man who wrote:

“but surely if there was no zionism, there’d be no objection to letting the palestinians be part of the future state, and hence they’d not be “the same battered Palestinian population on its doorstep”. once you remove zionism from the equation, the rest of the racist policies currently in place ought to collapse like a house of cards, and the country becomes a democratic state for all its citizens.”

And Freedman has made a number of Nazi analogies, as AKUS documented here on CiFWatch.

Sure enough Freedman slips into this unctuous homily about the Laxton case the Livingstone Formulation (the antisemitic accusation that Jews use the charge of antisemitism as a means of stifling criticism of Israel (‘antisemitic’ because it denies the right of one – and only one – minority to protest about racism)) :

There are those, myself included, who refuse to ascribe to the theory that all anti-Israel sentiment is rooted in antisemitism: to take such a view, as many do, is both disingenuous and dishonest, and is more often than not employed as a means of stifling any honest criticism of Israeli government actions.

And next we get a “dog whistle” word (a device which is Freedman’s speciality):

The fear and paranoia that engulfs much of the Jewish community in England is only fed by actions such as Laxton’s [emphasis added]

The sentence is anyway nonsensical. “Fear” suggests that Freedman recognises a genuine emotion; “Paranoia” suggest that he thinks the fear is unfounded or exaggerated. It can’t be both. “Paranoia?” Antisemitic incidents as measured by the CST were higher in the first six months of 2009 than in any full year since records began in 1984.

What then gives Freedman the right to suggest that fears of Jews in the UK are unfounded or exaggerated? What unbridled arrogance! A statement you will never hear from Seth Freedman (or any Guardian author for that matter): “The fear and paranoia that engulfs much of the Muslim community in England is only fed by actions such as those of the English Defence League”.

Where is Freedman’s  recognition of the appalling fact that in a western democracy where individual safety should be guaranteed by the rule of law, British Jews should be forced to take on the duty of the state and spend millions of their hard earned cash to protect schools, synagogues and communal buildings from the threat posed by the unholy Jihadi/SWP alliance?

And why is it that the Guardian’s stable of one trick ‘as-a-jew’ ponies – Freedman, Lerman and Klug - think they are the bees’ knees when it comes to telling the world about antisemitism?


Freedman has a new piece on CIF about Yom Kippur. Should he wish to use CiF Watch to apologise to all those he has offended over the past year, we would be delighted to accommodate him.

Lerman in la-la land

There’s none so fervent as the proselyte. Antony Lerman has turned full circle and is now a fervent and embittered enemy of Israel and mainstream Judaism who says that there are some Jews who welcome antisemitism. On Tuesday his CiF article discussed the recent criticism of the NGO ‘Human Rights Watch’. But instead of offering an analysis of the criticism, Lerman simply used it as a hook for despicable, libellous and completely unsubstantiated allegations about Jews. Let’s call a spade a spade – when viewed against the backdrop of his recent writings, that’s antisemitic and he is a nasty antisemite.

Look at some of the allegations in the article, none of which Lerman substantiates:

  • that those who “outed” Marc Garlasco of Human Rights Watch said he is an antisemite;
  • that those who speak out against antisemitism (such as we who started CiF Watch) hold “the international human rights movement” responsible for it;
  • that Israel is the “neighbourhood bully”;
  • that Richard Goldstone – the legal academic who has led the UN Inquiry into the events in January in Gaza –  has been labelled a ‘traitorous Jew’ by some Jews.

And Lerman has the brazen audacity to rope in René Cassin – a Jew who was one of the prime drafters of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights – in support of these libellous smears.

So bad is the article that the Guardian was forced to correct two factual errors in it (see the italicised text at the bottom of the article). NGO Monitor posted as follows and forced a retraction:

15 Sep 09, 1:53pm
Antony, please note that our organization is called NGO Monitor, not NGO Watch.
As for your allegations that Prof Steinberg is an advisor to the Lieberman led Israel Foreign Ministry this is simply not the case. Several years ago, Prof Steinberg was consulted by the ministry on matters totally unconnected to NGOs. This has no relevance to NGO Monitors role as a research organization. We demand an immediate correction of both these points.

Amusingly, one of the anti-Israel posters observed that Lerman was in fact “conflating [NGO Monitor] with the equally risible CIFWatch”!  Whether that’s the case or not is neither here nor there but its simply astounding that both Lerman and the Guardian editors made such a blunder and that the Guardian published such mendacious statements about NGO Monitor and the estimable Professor Steinberg. But then again this is the Guardian and we know that the commissioning editor, Brian Whitaker, will not stand for a bad word about Human Rights Watch and has a track record of getting things wrong.

In any case, it goes without saying that Lerman completely ignores the very real concerns about the impartiality of some NGOs when it comes to Israel, as related by NGO Monitor about Garlasco

Most disturbingly, Garlasco’s screen moniker is Flak88. The number 88 is a code for “Heil Hitler” and is used by neo-Nazis to identify themselves.  The same screen name, Flak 88, was adopted by a poster at the white power website, stormfront.org.  An expert in Nazism such as Garlasco would surely have been fully aware of this symbolism when he chose this name. He even uses it on his licence plate (a practice which is banned in Germany) and as a screen name on websites unrelated to his Nazi collection.

Not only does Garlasco collect Nazi memorabilia, he also claims to love to wear Nazi leather jackets, wore a shirt with the Iron Cross (nearly 5 million Iron Cross medals were awarded by the Nazis in World War Two and the symbol was so tainted that postwar Germany shunned it until 2007), wrote a 430-page book about Nazi symbols and regularly attends conventions and on line blogs with other “enthusiasts” on the same subject.

(Note that contrary to Lerman’s allegation, NGO Monitor does not call Garlasco an antisemite!)

And turning to the UN enquiry into Gaza, although Judge Goldstone’s (the Chair of the enquiry) probity is unquestioned, there is undeniable evidence that Professor Christine Chinkin, a member of the enquiry, had made up her mind that Israel was in the wrong well before she accepted the post. Lerman criticises Israel for not co-operating with the enquiry. Would he stand trial before a blatantly based jury then? Quite apart from the Chinkin issue, the reasons why Israel did not cooperate with the enquiry are spelled out in the Israel UN Ambassador’s letter near the end of the 575 page UN Report.

The legal basis of the mission is HRC Resolution 5-9/1. This resolution, beyond its inflammatory and prejudicial language, clearly provides that the mandate of the Mission is limited to investigating ”violations” by “the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian People.”

Goldstone did extend the mandate of the enquiry to include Hamas’ violations of human rights. But all the history of the UN Human Rights Committee (remember Ahmadinejad’s tirade in Geneva at Durban 2) and its membership suggests that Israel was right not to cooperate – there was no hope of a fair hearing or assessment.

But Lerman doesn’t go into any of this. All he wants is a stick with which to beat mainstream Jews. No wonder he cannot find anyone – apart from the Comment is Free editors, who adore antisemitic Jews in the way that Victorian sideshow owners adored freaks or Henry VIII adored bears – to publish his bile.

And the sideshow doesn’t end there.

Two comments by Petra Marquart-Bigman were deleted from the thread by the CiF Moderators. One is reproduced below. Does anyone have the vaguest idea why it should have been deleted – apart of course from the fact that it rips Lerman to shreds?

Censored comment (reproduced in full)


15 Sep 09, 11:26am


You couldnt make it up: Antony Lerman decries the ‘pollution of public discourse, but from the very start, he describes any criticism against HRW and similar organizations as “despicable attacks” that are not more than “lies”, and then he proceeds to denounce anyone who dares to argue that the reports of human rights agencies are biased against Israel as attack dogs.
Well done, Mr. Lerman.

Too much here to object to – which, I guess, makes me an “attack dog”, right, Mr. Lerman? – but anyway, Ill have to live with this, so here are just a few points:

You refer to René Cassin, one of the prime drafters of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and you make the important point:

Cassin was deeply influenced by the Holocaust, and the universal declaration was drawn up in direct response to it.

So how would you explain then that according to recent news reports, UNRWA is adamant that Gaza schools need to teach human rights, but that UNRWA thought they first should politely ask if perhaps the Holocaust should also be taught — and that this was met with a furious response from Gaza’s rulers and educators? And many of these educators are likely to be the product of an UNRWA education… You see, that’s where the whole bias and double standards already begin.

And, apropos double standards: aside from Garlasco’s creepy hobby – which must have taken up quite a bit of his time, since he published a 400plus page book on Nazi awards (just on Nazi awards, nothing about American awards there, btw…), and left altogether more than 8000 messages on Internet forums where like-minded collectors engage in sometimes rather dodgy exchanges – anyway, aside from all this, it’s rather interesting to check out an interview Garlasco gave not so long ago to CBS:

At the Pentagon, Garlasco was chief of high value targeting at the start of the Iraq war. He told 60 Minutes how many civilians he was allowed to kill around each high-value target — targets like Saddam Hussein and his leadership. ‘Our number was 30. So, for example, Saddam Hussein. If youre gonna kill up to 29 people in a strike against Saddam Hussein, thats not a problem, Garlasco explains. ‘But once you hit that number 30, we actually had to go to either President Bush, or Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. Garlasco says, before the invasion of Iraq, he recommended 50 air strikes aimed at high-value targets — Iraqi officials.

But he says none of the targets on the list were actually killed. Instead, he says, ‘a couple of hundred civilians at least were killed.

That’s interesting because in his pronouncements about Israel, Garlasco seems to think that civilian casualties are always an indication that war crimes have been committed. And there’s more in the interview that highlights the fact that HRW staff has a rather nuanced view when it comes to the conduct of armies other than the IDF – here’s Garlasco again:

‘I dont think people really appreciate the gymnastics that the U.S. military goes through in order to make sure that theyre not killing civilians, Garlasco points out. ‘If so much care is being taken why are so many civilians getting killed? Pelley asks. ‘Because the Taliban are violating international law, says Garlasco, ‘and because the U.S. just doesnt have enough troops on the ground. You have the Taliban shielding in peoples homes. And you have this small number of troops on the ground. And sometimes the only thing they can do is drop bombs.

I think that if this kind of attitude was reflected in the reports on Israel by HRW and similar groups, then we would have a much less “polluted” debate…

Lerman: No Jews, no big deal

Antony Lerman has an article on CiF criticising the use of the phrase ”the silent Holocaust” to describe assimilation of Jews.

The first point to make (a point which would be instantly deleted on CiF) is the utter hypocrisy of Lerman’s criticism of the use of Nazi analogies:

But if we pause to think of the suffering of a dying Jewish child in the ghetto and a dying Palestinian child in Gaza, who would dare to suggest that their suffering is any different.

Second, if Jews took Lerman’s advice to stop worrying about antisemitism then there could well be a lot fewer of them:

I sense that so much of the Jewish world is more comfortable with an identifiable enemy that hates us than with a multicultural society that welcomes Jews on equal terms.

Third, nearly half of American Jews are marrying non-Jews. When a Jewish man marries a non-Jewish woman, the children are not Jewish according to Jewish law which is matrilineal.

If Lerman could be bothered to do the maths (does he know Excel?), he would see that with half of Jewish men marrying out and assuming 2 children per couple, within ten generations the Jewish population falls by 94%.

Of course he has no suggestion as to how this self-imposed near-extinction can be avoided.

But then all his recent work suggests that he considers it no big deal  …….

Not All Comment is Free (but we knew that)

The estimable Andre Oboler has a new article on Harry’s Place, about Holocaust Denial on Facebook.

Oboler’s piece was turned down by CiF because “I think it’s really going over the same ground as your last piece”.  The last piece is here.

Even if it were true, this rejection demonstrates how sloped the Guardian’s playing-field is between articles which are pro-Israel or attack antisemitism and articles which do the opposite. Just go through Antony Lerman’s articles on CIF, for example. Count the number of articles where he (implicitly or explicitly) attacks the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism for including some aspects of discourse about Israel. Here are just three examples:   24 July and 4 May and 2 April.

It isn’t even true that Oboler’s new piece covers the same ground as his last piece. There is important new material there – such as spelling out why Holocaust Denial is wrong.

What do you think?

This is not the only case in recent months where CiF has rejected a perfectly good article on Israel or antisemitism (maybe you know of the cases we have in mind).

It’s not as if there is a glut of such articles on CiF…

Crocodile Tears for Gilad

On 28 August it was the 23rd birthday of Gilad Shalit,  the young Israeli soldier who was captured from inside Israel on 25 June 2006 and has since been held captive by Hamas without any of the rights normally accorded to prisoners of war.

Seth Freedman wrote about Gilad on CIF yesterday. The line he took is entirely predictable: Israel had it coming:

Whether or not efforts are successful to bring Shalit home alive and well, future kidnappings will only be prevented once and for all when Palestinian militants are denied the fuel for their fundamentalist fires. If Israel’s behaviour is whiter than white, it will be far harder for Palestinian radicals to justify their own illegal acts of war; until then, there will be more Gilad Shalits snatched ….

Here at CifWatch we had to hold our noses when we read Seth Freedman’s article. For you don’t have to look very hard to see that he does nothing to oppose the kind of people (here we call them terrorists, unlike CIF and the BBC where they are ‘militants’) who captured Shalit. In fact he opens the door to terrorism. Only a few days ago he whitewashed Fatah. And he regularly advocates the end of the Jewish State1how many Israelis (Jews and non-Jews alike) would have to die in the Armageddon that would be needed to achieve that?


1 Eg here is what he wrote on 26 June 2008: “but surely if there was no zionism, there’d be no objection to letting the palestinians be part of the future state, and hence they’d not be “the same battered Palestinian population on its doorstep”. once you remove zionism from the equation, the rest of the racist policies currently in place ought to collapse like a house of cards, and the country becomes a democratic state for all its citizens.”

Fluffy Fatah

Not content with advocating ‘One State’, yesterday Seth Freedman gave us ‘Fluffy Fatah’. The medium was Uri Davis, the (born Jewish) longtime anti-Zionist who has converted to Islam, married a Palestinian, lives in Ramallah and was recently elected to the Fatah Council.

So we get Davis’ ‘Chanumas’ version  of the Israel he wants: Israel “basically should be a binational state with some Jewish decorations: the Sabbath on the seventh day, road signs [in Hebrew], that kind of thing”, with the Arab state alongside it sporting a “mirror constitution”. Bit like Christmas with a kosher turkey, then. But not Pesach, at least not the Pesach most Jews know: “All of the Hagada story is ugly, ethnocentric, and celebrates collective punishment.”

Freedman tells us that Davis is “adamant that more Jews should join Fatah” (But we thought Davis was Muslim?) “in the same way that whites joined the ANC during the darkest days of apartheid; to him, ideas of religious loyalty should come a distant second to pursuing justice and equality…. it is clear that he at least is living out his vision of breaking down ethnic divisions and working towards a future of coexistence and tolerance between the two sides.”

Sounds so fluffy and interfaith, doesn’t it? Fatah as an encounter group, a dialogue group, an interfaith movement with coffee and biscuits ? Let’s all hold hands and sing ‘kumbaya’ – well, why not?

Well, let’s look at the recent Sixth Fatah General Congress, the first such Congress in twenty years. The only clear message was that, as with Hamas, elimination of Jewish sovereignty in the region remains its ultimate objective. In the elections, at number one with two-thirds of the vote was Abd al-Mahir Ghuneim. According to Barry Rubin (GLORIA Center, Herzliya) he is increasingly being spoken of as Abbas’s successor. Ghuneim is an unrepentant hardliner, an open opponent of the Oslo agreement. “If he becomes the leader of Fatah–and hence of the PA and PLO–you can forget about peace. Violent conflict becomes far more likely. Watch this man: he is the future of the Palestinian movement.”

Better buy some more whitewash, Seth …….