Sounds Israeli: Tom Jones – Delilah – Tel Aviv – BDS Fail

Tom Jones shrugged off an especially anemic BDS campaign, and performed in front of a packed house at the Nokia Stadium in Tel Aviv last Saturday, fifteen years after his last show in the Jewish state.

Here’s the ‘Welsh wizard’ performing his hit, Delilah. 

Just for fun, here’s the original recording of his song in 1968:

 

Sounds Israeli: Rapper Ari Lesser speaks truth to BDS hypocrisy

The following video, which has recently gone viral, was written and produced by the Jewish reggae rapper, Ari Lesser – an artist featured previously on ‘Sounds Israeli’.

CiF Watch prompts correction to false Guardian claim about SodaStream

We sometimes notice that headlines, or strap lines, used to illustrate Israel related stories at the Guardian or ‘Comment is Free’ are not supported by the subsequent text, and often serve, intentionally or otherwise, to sensationalize or even distort news items which are already critical of the Jewish state.  

A case in point is a Sept. 29th Guardian report by , titled ‘SodaStream: the Israeli-run shop dividing Brighton‘, about a small number of Palestine Solidarity Campaign protesters outside of an environmentally friendly Ecostream refill store – a division of the Israeli company SodaStream – which opened recently in the UK.

eco

Ecostream story in Brighton

As Guardian reports on fledgling BDS efforts against Israel go, Benedictus’s article isn’t too bad. However, the strap line falsely claimed that SodaStream’s company headquarters was in “the occupied West Bank”, when in fact only one of their factories (in Mishor Adumim) is in the disputed territory.  The company’s corporate headquarters is located in Airport City, adjacent to Ben Gurion Airport and not on the “wrong side” of the green line.

After contacting Guardian editors the strap line was corrected, and the false claim about SodaStream’s company headquarters was removed. 

Additionally, whilst the Guardian report on BDS efforts did include a quote by SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum, here’s an extended response to the boycott question by Birnbaum which a colleague and I recorded when we visited the company’s offices in July and interviewed both Birnbaum and one of the Mishor Adumim plant managers. 

CiF Watch prompts correction to false BDS victory claim by Irish Times

On Aug. 7 we commented on a piece of anti-Zionist agitprop published at the Irish Times which, among other distortions, included a passage falsely suggesting that the company Veolia had, under pressure from BDS activists, divested from Jerusalem’s Light Rail system.

veolia

Here’s the passage in question:

Veolia, the French conglomerate that operates Luas in Dublin, and Alstom, came under pressure from the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign to withdraw from the Jerusalem consortium. Veolia did, but Alstom kept building 46 trams.

We demonstrated that the claim that Veolia had already withdrawn from the Jerusalem Light Rail consortium was flatly untrue. We noted that while they do eventually intend to  abandon investment in all transportation projects (including light rail projects), this is only part of a broader business strategy to focus on environmental services, energy, and water – and cited an article in the financial paper Globes detailing the company’s significant ongoing investment in the Israeli energy sector.

We contacted editors at the Irish Times seeking a correction to the false suggestion of a BDS victory, and we recently received word that the correction had been made. The article was amended on Wednesday, August 14th, and the passage now reads:

Veolia, the French conglomerate that operates Luas in Dublin, and Alstom, came under pressure from the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign to withdraw from the Jerusalem consortium. Veolia, which denies it is acting under political pressure, has yet to sell out. 

Despite this victory, the Irish Times article in question is still an atrocious example of ideologically driven activist journalism, and we intend to continue monitoring the paper and holding them accountable when they engage in similarly false or misleading allegations.

Contrary to suggestion by Indy’s Alistair Dawber, Jon Bon Jovi does NOT support BDS

A story in The Independent written by their Jerusalem correspondent Alistair Dawber on the recent cancellation of a previously scheduled performance in Israel by Eric Burdon (frontman for the rock band The Animals) due, according to his manager, to death threats Burdon was receiving from BDS activists, included this passage:

The issue of artists giving performances in Israel is controversial. In recent years, Jon Bon Jovi and the South African band Ladysmith Black Mambazo have cancelled concerts in support of the BDS – or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – movement.

So, it is true that the popular American rocker Jon Bon Jovi cancelled concerts in Israel due to BDS?

Well, as Aussie Dave at the blog Israellycool reported recently, back in 2010 Bon Jovi indicated the band was going to be performing in Israel as part of their 2011 world tour, an announcement which garnered the attention of BDS activists, who had of course urged him to cancel.  Later, for reasons which were never made clear, the tentatively scheduled performance was cancelled, and the BDS crowd claimed victory.

However, Aussie Dave posted a video of Bon Jovi being interviewed on the BBC earlier this year, prior to a live performance on BBC Radio, which includes a comment that contradicts claims of the boycott proponents.  We’ve cut the longer video down to the 20 seconds relevant to the question at hand.

Listen carefully to the answer Bon Jovi gives to the BBC’s Jo Whiley:

So, unprompted, Bon Jovi clearly stated his desire to perform in the Jewish state.

What this means, other than a BDS Fail of course, is that the Indy reporter (who will soon become the paper’s foreign editor) should try fact checking instead of relying on the routinely inaccurate claims of BDS activists.  

Faithless guitarist Dave Randall: “If we got rid of Zionism people can live peacefully.”

Cross posted by London-based blogger, Richard Millett

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l to r: Ziadah, Randall, Wiles, Chairperson at SOAS.

The major obstacle to Randall’s vision is that Israelis are not going to voluntarily agree to dissolve the Jewish state. In the absence of such an agreement there would be bloodshed.

Incredibly, Randall replied that he rejected the idea that there would be war between the two sides and that he had been advised by Ronnie Kasrils that white South Africans actually felt “liberated” after apartheid ended.

Incidentally, Kasrils once claimed that “South African Jews told their children not to waste time on the blacks.”

Randall continued:

“The antagonisms are the product of Zionism. If we got rid of Zionism people can live peacefully together.”

Randall, who described himself as a “socialist”, said it was in the west’s “interests to cosy up to Israel and turn a blind eye when it breaks international law because it sees Israel as an ally near 70% of the world’s oil resources”.

Randall said Faithless joined the boycott because “to play in Israel sends the message that it is acceptable to conduct business in an apartheid state”.

Although, he said, some of the band members weren’t happy about not going to Israel to play.

However, Faithless are now defunct having been active from 1995-2013. Only in 2011 did they actually decide to join in this racist cultural boycott. Ironically, their Wikipedia profile has a photo of them performing in Haifa, Israel in 2005.

Last night Dave Randall was, instead, performing to just 30 people at a SOAS Palestine Society event sponsored by British charity War On Want. It was the book launch of Voices from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement. The so-called Palestinian “right of return”, which would lead to the destruction of the Jewish state, is the main racist plank of this Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).

Also on the panel were the book’s editor Rich Wiles and War On Want’s campaigns officer Rafeef Ziadah. In answer to my question about how many should die Wiles said he didn’t see why anyone would die but that the Palestinians “will never give up the right of return”. As for destroying the Jewish state Wiles continued:

“The idea of having a Jewish democracy is an oxymoron. It’s a case of one group of people privileging their rights over those of others.”

Meanwhile, War On Want’s Rafeef Ziadah claimed that for me to speak in terms of “Israel being destroyed” was racist discourse because it was actually the Palestinians who were suffering an “ongoing destruction”. She said that “the BDS movement will relinquish the racism of the Zionist movement”.

As an aside Ziadah told the audience that I attend all her talks to write about them. She flatters herself but seeing as she obviously reads this blog maybe she could leave a comment letting us know whether she is still a big fan of Islamic Jihad terrorist Khader Adnan who does a nice sideline in inciting Palestinians to become suicide bombers.

Wiles also said that the three main events that have attracted people to BDS in increasing numbers are:
1. Israel killing 1200 people, “mostly civilians”, in Lebanon in 2006.
2. Israel killing 1400 people, “mostly civilians”, in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.
3. Israel killing Turkish activists on the flotilla.

But he left out the main reason; those who deliberately single out the Jewish state because it’s, well, Jewish. Wiles [claimed] that “650,000 mainly innocent Iraqis had been murdered by American and UK led forces”, but calling for a boycott of the USA and UK did not pass his lips.

Wiles, who said he had lived in “Palestine”, claimed that although it was now “quiet times in Palestine” there was an “ongoing Nakba” including:

1. The planned removal of 70,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel from the Negev so that a forest funded by the JNF can be built instead. Wiles said that to Israelis “the lives of trees are more important than the lives of the Palestinians”.

2. The West Bank Palestinian village of Sosia whose inhabitants were displaced so an “illegal settlement” could be built there instead.

3. Seven Palestinian villages that are waiting to be demolished so Israel can build Firing Zone 918 to practice military manoeuvres.

4. 90,000 Palestinians living in east Jerusalem who are at risk of displacement so Israel can build road links to settlements.

Wiles described all this as a “silent transfer policy which can slip under media attention unlike what the Zionists did between 1947 and 1949″.

At one stage there was a surreal discussion about the size of the anti-Iraq war march through London and the size of the crowds in Tahrir Square. Wiles said that although BDS wasn’t as big they would, instead, be more “strategic”.

Just as well because with only 30 people in the audience Wiles, Ziadah, Randall and War On Want are embarrassing themselves. And now you can understand more fully why even arch-critic of Israel Norman Finkelstein felt compelled to call the BDS lot “a cult of dishonesty” with no other desire than to destroy Israel.

A modest proposal for a new ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ campaign

A guest post by Joe Geary

There is a country in the Middle East which makes a great play of being a democracy and about espousing Western ideals regarding human rights, and is forever bragging how different this makes it to its despotic Arab neighbours. But this self-same Middle Eastern country for decades now has been occupying the lands of one of its neighbours and conducting apartheid-like discrimination against its internal minority community. Its charismatic right-wing leader has one message for its close ally the United States and for the EU, with which it seeks closer ties, but quite another for its internal allies.

Isn’t it time this so-called democracy was held to account, and was made to face up to its hypocrisy? Isn’t it time the international community as a whole, and the International Solidarity Movement in particular, launched a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Turkey?

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The crux of the argument by those engaging in BDS against Israel is that, no, they don’t single out Israel because it’s a Jewish state or because it is an ally of the West. They choose to boycott only Israel, they claim, because it’s a democracy and should therefore behave like one – and because boycott of a tyrannical regime doesn’t work, whereas boycott of a democracy can influence its citizenry to lobby for change to the offending policies.

Well, dear friends of the BDS movement, now is your chance to prove that you are not just shills for terrorists and Arab rejectionism, that you are not closet antisemites or anti-western ideologues and that you really care for oppressed peoples everywhere.

Now that the eyes of the world are focussed on Turkey, here is your chance to say no to Turkey’s occupation of Cyprus. Here is your chance to say no to Turkey’s institutional discrimination against Kurds who, unlike the Palestinians, have no autonomy, no government, no parliament, no courts, no police, no education system of their own, and whose very language is suppressed by government edict. Now is the time to send your message to Prime Minister Erdogan and his cronies that the world will no longer tolerate their brutal repression of human rights.

So, you must lobby universities to boycott all Turkish academics; even if they personally oppose Erdogan’s thuggish ways, they are still complicit. You must urge all dignitaries not to visit Ankara and all politicians not to speak to their Turkish counterparts until the country mends its ways. You must lobby to cut all cultural contacts and exchanges. You must organise marches and university demonstrations against the racist Turkish entity. Above all, each and every one of you, must refuse to consume Turkish Delight and all other products of the region, and boycott and picket vociferously the shops and candy stores that sell them, even at the risk of appearing ridiculous in the eyes of the public. The cause demands it.   

If successful your campaign would of course hurt the people of Turkey, especially the poorest, who might well lose their jobs. But that is a small price to pay for your moral stance and your sacrifice, and surely the Turkish people, even if unemployed, would take the long view and be grateful for your selfless attention. They will surely understand that you single out Turkey for BDS, for cultural isolation and economic deprivation, because you are their friends.

Sadly the last BDS you organised – against, naturally, the Israeli people – didn’t turn out so well. Indeed, the Israeli economy is thriving like no other. But you might have better luck against, sorry, with Turkey.

England crushed by Israel’s winning goal at Jerusalem’s Teddy Kollek Stadium.

Cross posted by Richard Millett

Israel Defence Forces soldiers having fun before the Israel v England game.

Israel Defence Forces soldiers having fun before the Israel v England game.

England’s Under-21 football team, already eliminated from the UEFA Under-21 Finals in Israel after losing their first two games, were beaten 1-0 by Israel in Jerusalem’s Teddy Kolleck stadium to be left bottom of their group having achieved no points and having scored just one goal in their three group games (and that goal was from the penalty spot).

Israel also finally went out having won one, drawn one and lost one, although it all could have been so different had they not conceded a last-minute equaliser against Norway in their first game. England left the tournament in disarray which doesn’t bode well for the future of England’s senior team.

Over 22,000 fans in Israel’s capital Jerusalem watched a first half in which both teams matched each other but with neither side being able to finish. However, Israel stepped up a gear towards the end of the game and struck the bar with a dipping shot from 30 yards out and then almost chipped the England goalkeeper who found himself stranded before Israel finally crashed the ball home with just ten minutes left to the delight of the home fans.

Here are Israel’s fans celebrating the winning goal:

More scenes from inside the stadium in Jerusalem:

Israel's goalkeeper clears the ball as Israel go on the attack.

Israel’s goalkeeper clears the ball as Israel go on the attack.

football

Yours truly with Adam Levick at half time during the game.

Wearing the scarf with pride.

Wearing the scarf with pride.

Aston Villa on your.

Aston Villa on your.

Water melon being served up at the game.

Water melon being served up at the game.

The lads.

The lads.

Supporting both sides.

Supporting both sides.

The Israeli team celebrates at the end of the game.

The Israeli team celebrates at the end of the game.

Adam Levick and Richard Millett blog the UEFA Under-21 Championship in Israel: BDS Fail Live!

Update 13: Adam: Israel wins! Game over. 

Update 12: 

Adam 9

Update 11:

Adam 8

Update 10: 

Adam 7

Update 9: Adam: Israel scores! Stadium erupts.

Adam 6

Update 8: Adam: Attendance just announced – over 22,000. 

Update 7: 

Adam 5

Update 6: Adam: Still nil-nil. Israel’s Verta  shoots just wide in 60th minute.

Update 5:

Adam 3

Update 4: Adam: the second half has begun with a near miss from Wickham.

England manager Roy Hodgson and FA Chairman David Bernstein visited Yad Vashem earlier in the day. Watch them talk about their impressions here.

FA TweetHalf time

Adam 2

Update 3: Adam: Five minutes to half time. Richard: England manager Roy Hodgson is in attendance. 

Update 2: Richard reports that England are starting to apply pressure, with Wilfred Zahar playing well. 

Adam 1Update: The match has begun and Adam and Richard report that Tom Lees – from Leeds – started for England. Lots of Israeli supporters. The score is still 0-0 at this point. 

Despite efforts by a few marginal anti-Zionist groups (and their media public relations teams) to have the games cancelled, Israel on Wednesday began hosting an extremely prestigious sports tournament – the UEFA Under-21 Championships, showcasing the rising stars of European football. Tonight, Israel – who kicked off the competition on June 5th at Netanya against the Norwegians, playing to a 2-2 draw, and lost to Italy on June 8th – will be facing England – which suffered disappointing losses to Italy and Norway – at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, at 7 pm Israeli time. 

London-based blogger Richard Millett is in Israel for the tournament, and will be joined by Adam Levick in a live blog of the game.  Additionally, Levick will be tweeting the game using the hashtag #U21EURO.

Avi M U21

Photo by Avi Mayer, Twitter

The action below will be periodically updated, with news on the most recent action placed at the top of this post – so remember to refresh your browser to get the most recent action.

 

CiF Watch prompts correction to Guardian story about (failed) BDS campaign against Israel

Yesterday, June 4, we commented on a report by Guardian football reporter Louise Taylor (‘England enter a politically loaded European Under-21 Championship‘, June 3) concerning boycott efforts targeting the 2013 European Under-21 Football Championship (UEFA U-21), hosted by Israel, from June 5th through the 18th.  

Though BDS activists have failed in their efforts – by virtue of the fact that the tournament has already begun – Taylor devoted nearly all of her story on the football championship to the efforts of anti-Israel BDS campaigners who were evidently still hoping to persuade EUFA officials to cancel the games.

However, Taylor made an error when she wrote the following:

The hurdles faced by Palestinian footballers, who have their own, Fifa-registered national side, were highlighted in November when more than 60 players from Europe’s major leagues, including Arsenal’s Abou Diaby and Newcastle’s Sylvian Marveaux, Papiss Cissé and Cheik Tioté, signed a petition demanding Uefa relocate the Under-21 tournament.

As we noted back in December, the original list of 62 included some footballers who didn’t in fact sign the petition and, as CAMERA and others reported at the time, after publicity about the ‘faux endorsers’ began generating attention the ‘official’ list shrank to 51.

Shortly after our post yesterday, we contacted Guardian editors to alert them about the error, and within the last hour we were informed that the passage has been corrected to reflect the actual number of signatories, and the following had been added:

correct

On a final note, at the time of this post Israel was tied with Norway 2-2 in the tournament’s opening match which is being held at Netanya Stadium.

football

Taleb Twatha (R) of Israel is challenged by Anders Konradssen of Norway during their UEFA European Under-21 Championship Group A match on June 5.

Guardian provides PR for failing BDS campaign against EU football championship in Israel

The 2013 European Under-21 Football Championship (UEFA U-21) - hosted by Israel from June 5th through the 18th – represents the 19th staging of the event.  National football teams from all over Europe will compete, with England, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia, the Netherlands and Norway, alongside Israel, all vying for the title of champion.

Anti-Israel boycott campaigners (branded as “Red Card Israeli Racism”) are campaigning for the tournament not to be held in Israel as part of a sporting boycott of the Jewish state. And, though their BDS efforts will certainly fail, the Guardian has begun providing these anti-Israel campaigners with the publicity they desire. 

Indeed, the latest two Guardian reports on their site’s Israel page are a letter calling on the UEF (Union of European Football) to reverse their decision to choose Israel as a venue (Uefa insensitivity to Palestinians plight’, May 27), and a story, in the sports section, reporting on the publication of the very same letter the Guardian had just published (‘Uefa accused of ignoring anti-Palestinian bias‘, David Feeny, May 28).

uefa

Here’s the text of the May 27 Guardian letter:

On Friday, delegates from European football associations gathered in a London hotel for Uefa‘s annual congress (Report, 24 May). They agreed new, strict guidelines to deal with racism, suggesting a commendable determination to combat discrimination in the sport.

We find it shocking that this same organisation shows total insensitivity to the blatant and entrenched discrimination inflicted on Palestinian sportsmen and women by Israel.

Despite direct appeals from representatives of the sport in Palestine and from anti-racist human rights campaigners across Europe, Uefa is rewarding Israel’s cruel and lawless behaviour by granting it the honour of hosting the European Under-21 finals next month.

Uefa should not allow Israel to use a prestigious football occasion to whitewash its racist denial of Palestinian rights and its illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

We urge Uefa to follow the brave example of world-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking who, on advice from Palestinian colleagues, declined to take part in an international conference in Israel. We call on Uefa, even at this late stage, to reverse the choice of Israel as a venue.

Here are the signatories to the BDS call in the Guardian. As you’ll note by reading our brief bios, the group is dominated by ‘Patrons’ from the fringe group, Palestine Solidarity Campaign:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu:  Former civil rights leader in South Africa with an apparent blind spot when it comes to Jews.  Tutu, for instance, has evoked classic antisemitic stereotypes and tropes about Jewish “arrogance”, “power” and money.

Frédéric Kanouté: A footballer who, we revealed in early December, had falsely claimed that several other footballers had called on European football’s governing body to cancel Israel’s hosting of the Under-21 Finals.

John Austin MP: Palestine Solidarity Campaign Patron and Former Labour MP for Woolwich.

Rodney Bickerstaffe: Palestine Solidarity Campaign Patron.

Bob Crow: Palestine Solidarity Campaign Patron.

Victoria Brittain: Palestine Solidarity Campaign Patron and former Guardian associate foreign editor, who once chaired an event at the pro-Hamas group, MEMO.

Jeremy Corbyn MP: Palestine Solidarity Campaign Patron and an obsessively anti-Israel campaigner who had participated in a meeting organized by the openly pro-Hamas group MEMO, and has actually opined quite explicitly in defense of both Hamas and Hezbollah.

Caryl Churchill: Palestine Solidarity Campaign Patron and author of the antisemitic play Seven Jewish Children’.

Rev Garth Hewitt: Palestine Solidarity Campaign Patron, and singer/songwriter.

Dr Ghada Karmi: Palestine Solidarity Campaign Patron, one-state promoter and ‘Comment is Free’ contributor.

Bruce Kent: Palestine Solidarity Campaign Patron.

Ken Loach: Palestine Solidarity Campaign Patron, and a film-maker who has participated in countless anti-Israel campaigns, and has even participated in the kangaroo court known as the Russell Tribunal on Palestine where he accused the Jewish state of adopting a policy of ‘racial purity’.

Michael Mansfield QC: A British lawyer and Palestine Solidarity Campaign supporter, who has endorsed the Muslim Brotherhood-led ‘Free Gaza’ campaign – and also has participated in the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.

Kika Markham: Palestine Solidarity Campaign Patron, Actor, and supporter of Viva Palestina

Luisa Morgantini: Former vice-president, European parliament. 

Prof Hilary Rose, Prof Steven Rose: Palestine Solidarity Campaign Patrons, and among the founding members of British Committee for Universities of Palestine (BRICUP). Their obsessive criticism of Jews, and of the Jewish state, inspired Anthony Julius to observe that they seem “proud to be ashamed to be Jews”. 

Alexei Sayle: Author and comedian, Palestine Solidarity Campaign Patron and Marxist.

Jenny Tonge: Most notable for her remarks that she might have been a suicide bomber had she been born a Palestinian, as well as her claim that “the pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the Western World, its financial grips [and] a certain grip on [the Labor] party”. Tonge also is infamous for calling on Israel to “investigate” the IDF in light of charges they were stealing organs in Haiti. 

Dr Antoine ZahlanPalestine Solidarity Campaign Patron and Arab academic.

Geoffrey Lee: Affiliated with the group leading efforts to boycott Israeli football, ‘Red Card Israeli Racism‘ 

Tomas Perez: According to the Guardian, he’s affiliated with the group Football Beyond Borders

John McHugo: Chair of Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine, board member of CAABU, the Council for Arab-British Understanding. He has also contributed essays for the website of the pro-Hamas group MEMO.

Roger Lloyd Pack: Actor best known for his role as ‘Trigger’ in the BBC series ‘Only Fools and Horses’

Whilst this campaign, like so many other abysmal attempts to isolate Israel by the anti-Zionist left, will certainly fail, it’s important to contextualize BDS in all of its manifestations as the political derivative of various Arab (and Soviet) led boycotts which have been used for many decades as weapons in the war against Israel.  In its modern incarnation BDS represents the main component of the “Durban strategy” – adopted by the NGO Forum of the UN’s Durban Conference (2001) – adopted by pro-Palestinian groups to completely isolate Israel by promoting economic, academic, cultural and even (as in this case) sporting boycotts of Israel.

As NGO monitor summed up the BDS movement:

  • Boycotts are the antithesis of dialogue, cooperation, and developing peaceful ties between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • Ali Abunimah, major BDS speaker and head of “Electronic Intifada,” labels Palestinian leaders who negotiate with Israel “collaborators.”
  • BDS activists promote “one-state” solutions, meaning the elimination of Israel as the historic homeland of the Jewish nation. (A political goal which is codified as antisemitic by the EU.)

Further, this particular boycott movement – targeting Israel by attempting to politicize European football – has garnered almost no traction beyond marginal figures and a few extreme anti-Israel movements.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said after Liberal Democrat MP Bob Russell asked why the government was supporting the tournament: “I do not believe that sporting fixtures should be an obstacle to political progress of any form”. Responding to the president of the Palestinian Football Association, FIFA President Platini said that UEFA did not believe in “punishing people and isolating them”.

Additionally, it is worth noting that the Israeli U21 squad comes from a range of backgrounds, and includes Jewish Israelis, Arab Israelis and foreign football players.

We’ll leave you with a video featuring two outstanding Israeli players – Captain Eyal Golasa, a Netanya native who plays for Maccabi Haifa, and Moanes Dabur, an Arab-Israeli player for Maccabi Tel Aviv – talking about the Israeli national under-21 team and showing off their skills.

Quick stats on the Guardian’s coverage of Stephen Hawking boycott story

The Guardian’s initial report that Stephen Hawking was boycotting Israel was published on May 8.

The statistics in the first row in the table below were derived by a survey of the Guardian’s Israel page between May 8 and May 16 – the date of their last Hawking related entry. The second row’s numbers were gathered by a simple word count of the text. 

numbers

The third row’s data was derived by Intel.

intel-300x280

The Guardian got it wrong: Stephen Hawking is NOT boycotting Israel (Updated)

Last night, May 8, the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood and Matthew Kelman ‘broke’ a story claiming that Stephen Hawking was joining the academic boycott of Israel, and that he was “pulling out of a conference hosted by Israeli president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem as a protest at Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.”

The report, based it seems on claims made by British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), was picked up by news sites around the world, was featured prominently on the Guardian website and was followed up with a poll asking readers if they agreed with Hawking “decision” to boycott Israel.  

Here’s how the Guardian’s Israel page looks at the time of this post:

hawking

As you can see, the original story was read by quite a few Guardian readers:

hawking

There was just one problem.

The Guardian evidently didn’t check their facts, as information has been released strongly suggesting that the world-renowned theoretical physicist and former Professor at Cambridge pulled out of the Israeli academic conference purely for health reasons.  

The Commentator reported the following:

…a Cambridge university spokesperson has confirmed to The Commentator that there was a “misunderstanding” this past weekend, and that Prof. Hawking had pulled out of the conference for medical reasons. A University spokesman said: “Professor Hawking will not be attending the conference in Israel in June for health reasons – his doctors have advised against him flying.”

Further, a spokesman for Cambridge University sent the following email to a CiF Watch reader in response to an inquiry, which is consistent with the following story in the Cambridge News:

email

The only questions which seems to remain is how long it will take for the Guardian to issue a mea culpa on their faux scoop.

Update: The Guardian’s Matthew Kalman is now claiming that the Cambridge denial is untrue, and that Hawking indeed supports the boycott.

Update II: It now appears that the original denial by Hawkings spokesperson was not accurate, and that Hawking indeed cancelled his trip as an expression of support for the boycott of Israel.   

A ‘Jew of color’ speaks out against Berkeley’s racist BDS movement

One of the more insidious elements of the BDS movement is the supremely dishonest racial narrative which suggests, in varying degrees of explicitness, that Zionism is a racist movement in which ‘white’ privileged European interlopers continue to displace indigenous Palestinians ‘of color’.  

Whilst the racial demographics of Israel alone disproves the fiction of a ‘caucasian nation’, facts clearly have never been an obstacle to those intent on demonizing the Jewish state. 

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Yemeni Jews arrive in Israel, 2009

Aryella Moreh, a Jew of color whose mother was a refugee from Iran, addresses the racial dynamic of the BDS movement (at Berkeley and elsewhere) head-on in an eloquent and inspired essay published on May 6 at the Daily Californian – the student run newspaper at UC Berkeley:

I come from a family of refugees. My mother was younger than I am now when she was forced to flee for her life from the Islamic Revolution of Iran. My mother recalls being forced to sit in the back of her classroom along with a group of young Jewish children during her school years.

When my mother went to buy groceries in the market, she was not allowed to touch the produce because she was considered a “dirty Jew.” These are only a few indicators of the systematic oppression of the Iranian Jews, some of the oldest inhabitants of Persia. At the age of 20, she was forced to abandon her life in Iran as her family was scattered across the world. My grandmother, Mamanjani, was never allowed to return home because of her active involvement in Jewish organizations. Though she had no ties to any other government, she was warned not to go home for fear of execution without trial. Despite calling Persia home for 2,500 years, in 1979, my family and many Jewish families like my own were forced to forced to flee their homes. My family’s home, business and property was confiscated. We were torn from our homes, forced to flee to whichever country would take us in.

Though these experiences define me, some students on our campus seem to think my history does not count. During the “divestment” meeting two weeks ago, Students for Justice in Palestine tweeted about those opposed to divestment: “the Zizis are literally white people crying about their privilege, lol.” Apparently, Zizi is SJP shorthand for Zionist. And later, Daily Cal Blogger Noah Kulwin discussed a clear division he seems to see between “students of color” and “Jewish students,” implying that Jewish students like me cannot be considered students of color. I am here to address ignorance about what truly defines the Jewish people. Amid claims — or rather accusations — of “privilege” or the inability of Jews to understand the plight of “colored people,” I realized many people on this campus are unaware of who the Jewish people actually are.

We encourage you to read the rest of Moreh’s passionate plea, by clicking here.

Also, you can learn more about the broader issue of Jewish refugees from Muslim and Arab lands here and here.

Univ. of California as a case study in the impotence of the Divestment ‘movement’

The following is a guest post by Jon from ‘Divest This!’

Paraphrasing from one of the greatest responses to criticism ever:

I am sitting in the smallest room of my house with the UC Berkeley Student Senate divestment resolution in front of me.  Soon, it shall be behind me.

Honestly, could anything possibly demonstrate the impotence and moral bankruptcy of the BDS “movement” better than the mayhem the boycotters have been causing up and down the West Coast over the last two months in their frantic effort to get student governments to pass divestment resolutions that – win or lose – are ignored by nearly everyone?

UC BERKLEY - Protest the veto of Israel Divestment

UC Berkley: Pro-Divestment Rally, 2010

Even the BDSers themselves have been decrying why the few votes that have gone their way are barely being noticed in the Jewish press, much less the mainstream media. 

But if they had thought about it for a moment, the response (or lack thereof) to these latest student government shenanigans (vs. the massive coverage divestments votes received when this same game played out in Berkeley in 2010) was entirely predictable.

For student government boycott and divestment votes have no political meaning whatsoever if they cannot be claimed to represent the broad opinion of the student body.  And while enough confusion surrounded where the student body stood on the Middle East conflict in 2010 to justify concerns that a “Yes” vote could be convincingly presented as representing student opinion, three years later everyone understands that these votes mean nothing of the kind. 

How do we know this?  Well even putting aside statements by school administrators condemning the votes and assuring everyone they will be completely ignored (since that just represents the views of “The Man”), every school where this subject has been fought out included heated all-night  debates between opposing sides (which alone demonstrates lack of consensus even among people passionate about the subject).

At most schools, divestment was voted down (sometimes for the third or fourth time in as many years).  But in the few cases where the boycotters managed to eke out a “Yes” vote, those decisions were immediately condemned by student leaders, editorials and letters to the editor in the student paper.  Which simply demonstrates that while some BDS groups have managed to figure out how to get their supporters elected to student government (where they could bully their colleagues during grueling all-nighters), the notion that these votes represent anything even remotely resembling student consensus is laughable.

The BDSers demonstrate their own understanding of this lack of broad support whenever they try to sneak their measures in through the back door (as they did at UC Riverside in March).  For whenever their measures are exposed to the light of day, they tend to be voted down or reversed (as they were at Riverside which threw out their earlier divestment vote a month later in open debate).

And one need only look at Berkeley’s latest “Yes” vote to see how Pyrrhic even a non-backdoor victory is for the BDSers.  For in order to get their vote passed, the local Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group had to basically throw the BDS movement under the bus, insisting that their motion had absolutely nothing to do with the international organization which calls for the very things students were being asked to vote for.  And even this peculiar vote was challenged for being taken against student government rules (which led to it being watered down still further).   Making matters stranger still is this story of a student leader’s attempt to blackmail the President of the Student Senate, offering to drop a lawsuit against him if he chose not to veto the divestment measure (as the previous Student Senate President had done in 2010).

To some of us, that last story mostly raises questions about the nature of a UC student government that seems to spend so much time suing, prosecuting and impeaching its members rather than organizing the next sock hop or condom drive.  But what is unimpeachable is that statements made by a body that behaves in such undemocratic ways is hardly in a position to cast moral aspersions on the Jewish state that anyone else needs to take seriously (given that they are neither a representation of student opinion, nor the result of just and thoughtful deliberation).

Fortunately, the BDSers themselves have taught us again and again how to best deal with student government resolutions of this type.  For year after year, in student council after student council, divestment resolutions have been voted down again and again.  And each and every one of these votes was immediately ignored by the boycotters who refused to take them as representing student opinion against their cause, or the final word on the issue.

So if Students for Justice in Palestine are allowed to embrace the notion that votes rejecting their opinions carry no weight and have no meaning, why shouldn’t the rest of us follow their lead and do the same?