An appeal to Owen Jones: don’t associate with anti-Semites

This is cross posted from the blog of The CST, and was originally titled ‘Opposing antisemitism: an appeal to put words into action’.

owen jones

Owen Jones

The past two months have seen the number of antisemitic incidents in Britain approach record levels Much of this has been due to extreme reactions to the conflict between Israel and Gaza that reached its latest ceasefire yesterday. This problem, and its link to extreme manifestations of anti-Israel sentiment, has been covered extensively in the British media.

Some pro-Palestinian activists have recognised this problem and spoken out against it. 

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has said that antisemitism has no place in its activities, and Owen Jones wrote a column for the Guardian in which he warned of the need to take antisemitism seriously. In particular, he wrote:

Antisemitic themes are depressingly constant: of Jews being aliens, lacking loyalty to their countries, acting as parasites, wielding disproportionate influence. Sometimes this hatred is overt, other times more subtle and pernicious.

We welcome these statements from supporters of the Palestinian cause, just as we previously welcomed PSC’s rejection of the equation of Israel with Nazi Germany. And because we consider these statements to be important and necessary, we hope and expect that the people who made them will live up to their words and the sentiments behind them.

It is for this reason that we appeal to PSC and to Owen Jones to reconsider the inclusion of Tim Llewellyn as a speaker at a PSC meeting tomorrow evening, 28th August, on “Gaza: let down by the BBC and mainstream media?” We appeal to PSC as the organiser of the meeting and to Jones as one of the other speakers.

Our objection is not to the meeting itself. We do not oppose your right to hold public meetings in support of the Palestinians, or to criticise Israel, or to critique media coverage of the conflict between the two.

Our objection is specifically to the inclusion of Llewellyn as a guest speaker on this topic because he has a record of statements that illustrate exactly what Jones warns against: themes “of Jews being aliens, lacking loyalty to their countries, acting as parasites, wielding disproportionate influence.”

For example, last year at a meeting in London that was also about media coverage of Israel, Llewellyn claimed that the BBC is intimidated by the “Jewish lobby”. When he was challenged on this by the chair of the meeting, he resisted criticism of his choice of phrase. The full exchange ran as follows and can be viewed here on the CST Blog:

Llewellyn: “Is it because… I can see it in the BBC. They’re frighten’, these people are quite aggressive, right. The Jewish Lobby is not much fun. They come at you from every direction.”

Off camera, another speaker says “no”, then, “its the pro-Israel lobby”. It is not exactly clear who says what after this, but it includes the chair Mark McDonald talking over Llewellyn, stating:

“I mean that’s a very important thing to say, that it’s not a Jewish lobby. Can I interrupt a second. It’s not a Jewish lobby. It might be a Zionist lobby. It may be a pro-Israel lobby.”

Llewellyn replies: “Yes, but they use Jewish connections to get you.”

This statement by Llewellyn was not a one-off. It fitted a long record of statements and writings that mix “Jewish” with “Zionist” while alleging that both hold undue and nefarious influence in British public life. For example, in 2006, Llewellyn wrote the following in the Foreword to a new edition of Publish It Not: The Middle East Cover-Up by Michael Adams and Christopher Mayhew:

No alien polity has so successfully penetrated the British government and British institutions during the past ninety years as the Zionist movement and its manifestation as the state of Israel…the Zionists have manipulated British systems as expertly as maestros, here a massive major chord, there a minor refrain, the audience, for the most part, spellbound.

…this cuckoo in the nest of British politics…

… Israel had worked its spells well, with a lot of help from its friends: these lined the benches of parliament, wrote the news stories and editorials, framed the way we saw and heard almost everything about the Middle East on TV, radio and in the press. History, the Bible, Nazi Germany’s slaughter of the Jews, Russian pogroms, the Jewish narrative relayed and parlayed through a thousand books, films, TV plays and series, radio programmes, the skills of Jewish writers, diarists, memoirists, artists and musicians, people like us and among us, all had played their part.

…the fervent Zionist Labour MPs, some of them little better than bully-boys, Richard Crossman (not a Jew), Ian Mikardo, Maurice Edelman, Emmanuel “Manny” Shinwell, Sidney Silverman, Konni Zilliacus et al, are, mercifully, not only no longer with us but have not been replaced, not in such virulent form.

… the Union of Jewish Students, which elbows and induces Zionistically inclined undergraduates towards influential positions in British public life, especially the media, the banking sector and information technology.

Llewellyn mixes “Zionist” with “Jewish”, describing both as “alien” to Britain; and alleges undue and negative influence and manipulation of the media, politics and “the banking sector”. These allegations all have clear antecedents in antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Another example: in 2004, Llewellyn was quoted in the Jewish Chronicle as describing former US ambassador Dennis Ross in these terms:

He also denounced broadcasters who invited the “insidious” former US ambassador to the Middle East Denis Ross, without fully identifying him.

Mr Llewellyn said: “What a lovely Anglo-Saxon name! But Denis Ross is not just a Jew, he is a Zionist, a long-time Zionist… and now directs an Israeli-funded think tank in Washington. He is a Zionist propagandist.”

The suggestion that broadcasters should identify an interviewee as “a Jew”, lest their viewers be fooled by an “Anglo-Saxon name”, is scurrilous and prejudiced.

In 2012, Llewellyn wrote of

massive media distortion, and … Zionist penetration and manipulation of our institutions – the media, universities, local education, political parties…

He went on to describe as Britain’s

real enemies… the ambitious and greedy British politicians and insidious political influence, in this case spawned by an alien state and strengthened by its friends in our midst, people who put Israel’s interests above that of their own nation.

(From The Battle for Public Opinion in Europe: Changing Perceptions of the Palestine-Israel Conflict, eds. Daud Abdullah & Ibrahim Hewitt, not online). Again, this echoes the classical antisemitic allegation of ‘dual loyalty’, whereby British Jews are accused of lacking loyalty to the country of their birth.

If the important and welcome statements by PSC, Owen Jones and others about their opposition to antisemitism and determination to exclude it from pro-Palestinian activism have real meaning, then there should be no place for Tim Llewellyn at a PSC meeting. This is not an abstract argument: the sharp increase in antisemitism in Britain in recent weeks demonstrates that fact. Words lead to actions, good and bad. We now invite PSC and Owen Jones to put their valuable and worthy statements and principles into practice. A discussion of media coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict must not give room to those who believe that there is a Zionist conspiracy to control, manipulate or influence the British media, politics, banking and education, as Tim Llewellyn has suggested. Nor should pro-Palestinian activism be a home for those who believe that Jews are an alien presence, disloyal to Britain, who change their names to disguise their true loyalties.

Put your words into action, and remove Tim Llewellyn from your platform.

Hate emerges from beneath the surface: Antisemitism in the UK (July 2014)

Cross posted from The CST

July 2014 now joins January 2009 as a month when war between Israel and Hamas caused antisemitism to spew forth across Britain. If this latest round of Middle East violence has now ended, then we may expect the antisemitism to gradually diminish: but this hatred has again been revealed, even if most of the time it lies beneath the surface. Are British Jews (and those elsewhere) to be forever held hostage to a seemingly intractable conflict in which totalitarian Jihadists are sworn to destroy Israel at whatever cost?

Members of the public expressing fears and concerns to CST have referenced this in different ways. One said she felt “stuck in a swamp“. Another said that the hatred had come from “ordinary people, not what or who we expect it from…its the underlying antisemitism, and now that they’ve put it out there, how are we supposed to put it back?“. It may sound trite to speak of Jews defriending others on Facebook, but anecdotally, this seems to be happening again and again, with Jews deeply upset by what this conflict has revealed about those whom they believed to be their friends (in all meanings of the word).

Bare statistics do not, cannot, explain the emotion that many people are feeling right now: but they are stark. CST has now recorded over 200 antisemitic incidents for July 2014, making it very clearly the second worst month we have seen since our records began in 1984. (The worst was Jan’ 2009, when 288 incidents were recorded. The second worst was Feb’ 2009, with 114 incidents.) The July 2014 total is not yet finalised, because it takes time to properly analyse and categorise all of the reports reaching us from throughout Britain right now, so the figure of 200 is an absolute minimum.

Of course, antisemitic incidents occur every day, week and month of the year. CST recorded 304 between January and June 2014 (a rise of 36% from 2013). We now have over 200 in one month, so the maths are clear. Not every July incident relates to the Israel-Hamas conflict, but the majority do. Without listing every one of them, it is almost impossible to convey the scale and the impact of the invective, but each and every incident involves at least one victim and at least one perpetrator. They come randomly at Jews and Jewish locations throughout the country. Many of them appear to be perpetrated by Muslim youth and adults, but by no means all. That this racism is perpetrated in the name of human rights (for Palestinians) is bizarre, but nothing new: although it does help explain the deafening silence from the self-titled anti-racism movement. (Hope not Hate does not fit this category and is a strong exception.)

The hatred is showing clear trends. Shouting “Free Gaza” on a pro-Palestinian demonstration is not antisemitic: but obviously is when yelled at a random Jew in the street, or when daubed on a synagogue wall.  The same goes for screams of “child murderer”, shouted at Jews or pinned on a synagogue. Then, there is the ever present antisemitic fixation with Nazism. This comes two ways, Jews being told that they are the new Nazis, or Jews being told that “Hitler was right” (a phrase that trended on Twitter).

Child murderer has a long history in antisemitism, almost 2,000 years longer than Nazism does. The accusation of Jews having killed Jesus, the embodiment of innocence, moved into medieval blood libels. Some Jews perceive sections of the UK media as having focussed to such an extent upon Gazan child victims in this latest conflict that it somehow indicates that these blood libels still lurk somewhere deep. Others would counter that this kind of ‘unconscious antisemitism’ argument is ridiculous and that the media could not focus upon dead and injured children if they did not actually exist, nor in such numbers. The fact remains: British Jews are being called child-murderers.

The Nazi slanders and threats are not in mainstream media, but the question ‘why didn’t Jews / Israel learn the lessons of the Holocaust?’ has been. This is surely repellent to the overwhelming majority of Jews. It comes posed as a question, but really it is a demand. Whatever its motivation, it smells of Jew-Israel-Nazi equivalence and ‘we are holier than thou’.

The super-heated arguments of how the media covers Israel are not strictly CST’s business; and neither are boycotts of Israel. Nevertheless, it is impossible to discuss how Jews feel right now without noting how both things impact upon antisemitism, upon how Jews are perceived and how Jews themselves feel.

One need not be a dyed in the wool defender of Israel, nor even a Zionist, to suspect that no other country on earth appears to evoke such passion and hatred. We need not cite Syria right now, nor Sri Lanka in 2009, because Britain itself has killed civilians in the Middle East in recent years, children included. Yet it is only one section of British society that is called “child-murderers”, or “Nazis”, or is told that Hitler should have wiped them all out.

Less rhetorically, we must note that antisemitic incidents will subside along with the images on people’s television screens, but the long term damage to Jews of anti-Israel boycotts will persist. Dry statistics help us to measure the raw impact of this. If someone engages in “criticism of Israel” then 6% of British Jews consider that person “definitely antisemitic” and 27% answer “probably antisemitic”. If that person supports a boycott of Israel, then 34% of British Jews consider them “definitely antisemitic” and 33% “probably antisemitic”. So, boycott of Israel is a tipping point for most Jews in regarding criticism as being antisemitic or not. One consequence of this latest Israel-Hamas war will be a lot more boycotts, either through choice (such as trade unions and cultural venues) or through intimidation (such as commercial outlets). Just as Israel is being singled out for scrutiny and boycott, so many Jews are going to feel the same way.

When the Jewish Film Festival is given a ‘ditch your Israeli Embassy link’ ultimatum by the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, it betrays how British Jews’ connections to Israel are the measure by which others judge them. The same applies to the National Union of Students decision to boycott Israel, which promises no end of trouble and intimidation for Jewish students. Then, there are the mass intimidations of supermarkets that dare to sell Israeli goods, some of which have actually been forced to briefly stop trading as a result. (As cheerfully relayed here by a Labour MP.)

Finally, two antisemitic incidents out of over two hundred, giving the merest hint of recent events. The first speaks volumes of how Jews risk being expected to behave: and the reactions they risk upon refusal.

1. Street in Bradford, evening of 26th July. A Jewish man and his wife were driving when they became caught in slow moving traffic due to an accident up the road. Every car in the queue was being stopped by a group of apparently Muslim men and women, carrying buckets and asking for money for Gaza. The Jewish man politely declined to donate, whereupon “you f**king Jewish bastard!” was shouted at him. Then, another man used a loudhailer to also shout “you f**king Jewish bastard!” at him. Next, “Jewish bastard coming down the road!” was shouted down the street to alert each of the other collectors.

2. Synagogue in Hove, 2nd August (photo by F.Sharpe)

Hove shul

 

Protesting Palestine, targeting Jews

Cross posted from The CST

CST wrote last week about the danger of anti-Israel protests in the UK involving or encouraging antisemitism, either by targeting British Jews or by featuring antisemitic language and imagery.

Since then, several more examples of antisemitic incidents and other activity in relation to anti-Israel protests have been reported to CST:

  • Demonstrators on a march through central London assaulted and verbally abused a Jewish woman who expressed her support for Israel as they walked past. Marchers surrounded her, called her a “Jew Zionist” and stole her phone. Later the same afternoon, demonstrators from the same march verbally abused another Jewish woman who was with her two young children, telling them to “Burn in hell.”
  • A pro-Israel demonstrator at a rally in central London was knocked unconscious by a group of assailants who were part of a counter-protest. While it is not believed that anything antisemitic was said, this level of violence from pro-Palestinian protestors is a worrying development.
  • A Rabbi walking in north London was verbally abused by a group of youths who shouted “Free Palestine”, “F*** the Zionists”, “F*** the Jews” and “Allah Akhbar.”
  • A brick was thrown at the window of a synagogue in Belfast.
  • “Baby murderers” was shouted at a synagogue in Liverpool.
  • A pro-Israel organisation in London received a telephoned bomb threat.
  • A visibly Jewish boy was cycling in north London when a woman wearing a black niqab threw a stone at him, hitting him on the head.

These are just a handful of over 70 antisemitic incidents reported to CST since the beginning of July. This is roughly double the number we would expect to be reported during this period under ‘normal’ circumstances. Approximately ten of these incidents have involved violence. Approximately 14 have involved the use of social media.

Roughly two-thirds of the incidents reported since 1 July have been related to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza, and the number of incidents reported to CST has escalated since the beginning of Israel’s operation in Gaza on 8 July.

Another disturbing factor is that the proportion of antisemitic incident perpetrators described to CST as being of south Asian appearance has been much higher during this period than is normally the case. Antisemitism in Muslim communities is something that others have written about before; the incidents reported to CST suggest that it is playing a significant role in the high level of antisemitic incidents currently being reported. In these circumstances, last week’s statement from the Muslim Council of Britain warning against such behaviour was most welcome.

There have also been several examples of antisemitic incitement on anti-Israel demonstrations and on social media since the conflict between Israel and Gaza began. Last week the hashtag #HitlerWasRight trended on Twitter worldwide. One protestor took this theme onto an anti-Israel demonstration in London:

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It should be noted that the antisemitic incidents recorded by CST since 1 July do not include antisemitic placards or chants on demonstrations.

Other protestors have used Nazi imagery to abuse Israel:

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Comparing Israel to Nazi Germany is antisemitic. It abuses the memory of Holocaust victims and offends contemporary Jews. It attacks Israel on the basis of its Jewishness. It should have no part in pro-Palestinian campaigning.

This flag commits the same offence, and compounds it by using a Star of David next to the phrase “Baby Killers”. The Star of David is a Jewish symbol. It is found on the Israeli flag, but it is also found on synagogues all over the UK. To use it in the manner it is displayed on this flag risks inciting hatred against British Jews.

????????

This incitement has also been seen on social media. This cartoon is from the Facebook page of UK Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Taji Mustafa. it evokes the antisemitic blood libel, in which Jews are accused of murdering non-Jewish children and consuming their blood in religious rituals. The Arabic on the knife reads “Arab silence”, but the person holding the knife bears a Star of David. The Stars and Stripes on the fork also suggests an antisemitic conspiracy theory regarding alleged Jewish control of America.

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CST has also received several reports of antisemitism on Twitter. These two tweets are clear examples of incitement against Jews in the Stamford Hill area of north London:

 

It has been suggested by some people that hate and abuse on social media is not as serious as other forms of hate crime and should not be included in hate crime statistics. We do not agree. Firstly, if a victim considers a tweet to be offensive or threatening enough to report it to CST, we will respect their feelings and their reaction to what they have seen. Secondly, if somebody shouts an antisemitic comment at a Jewish person in the street, it may only be heard by one person; if that same comment is put on Twitter, it can be seen by an unlimited number of people and it has a permanent record.

This pattern of antisemitic incidents in relation to the current conflict in Israel and Gaza is replicated in several countries around the world, most notably in France where Jewish shops and synagogues in Sarcelles were attacked last night. The antisemitic incidents and incitement seen in Britain over the past two weeks suggest that this danger is getting more, not less, acute. There should be zero tolerance within pro-Palestinian groups, and wider society, for anybody who targets Jews in word or deed.

Brussels Jewish Museum shooting suspect – lessons for Europe

 Cross posted from the blog of the CST

image

Miriam and Emanuel Riva, two of the Brussels victims.

On Friday 30 May, customs officials in Marseilles, southern France, arrested 29-year-old French national Mehdi Nemmouche on suspicion of having perpetrated the previous Saturday’s terrorist attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Belgium. If this is the terrorist, then there are some blatant lessons to be learned about modern Jihadism and the security implications for Jews and non-Jews in Western Europe.

The truth is that by now, after over a decade of terror attacks and plots, from Madrid to Manchester, these lessons ought merely to be confirmed: but many people are still reluctant to accept them.

The Brussels attack occurred on Saturday 24 May and was carried out by a gunman using a pistol and an AK 47 assault rifle. CCTV images showed an unidentified man walking into the unguarded building, before he opened the museum door and shot inside, leaving three dead and another on the brink of death. The gunman then walked away. News of Nemmouche’s arrest was supplemented by statements from Belgian prosecutors and French authorities.

These were initial responses and came before Nemmouche’s initial questioning had concluded, never mind any actual trial and confirmation of guilt. Nevertheless, a summary of the current information is extremely worthwhile:

  • Nemmouche was radicalised whilst in French prison. He was jailed for robbery and spent five stints in prison. Of Muslim origin, he went from having little or no interest in Islam, to becoming a would be Jihadist radical.
  • He joined Jihadists in Syria. He left for Syria on December 31, 2012, three weeks after being released from prison.
  • In Syria, he fought with ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), the most radical of the Syrian Jihadist groups: more so even than Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusrah, from which it split (and to which it is now hostile). ISIS is the most popular destination for western Jihadists traveling to Syria.
  • Nemmouche returned to Europe in March 2014. (Having spent over one year in Syria.)
  • He was known to the French authorities. How closely they were monitoring him before, during or after the Brussels attack remains to be seen. He was arrested in what is described as a customs search of the coach on which he was traveling from Brussels to Marseilles. (It had originated in Amsterdam.)
  • In his luggage was found the same weapons as apparently used in the Brussels attack; a baseball hat similar to that worn by the shooter; and news cuttings about the attack.
  • The weapons were found with a white cloth bearing in Arabic the name of ISIS and “G-d is great”.
  • Nemmouche also had a Go Pro camera similar to that used by Mohamed Merah when he filmed his murderous shooting attack at the Jewish Ozar Hatorah primary school in Toulouse, France in April 2012. Nemmouche has apparently admitted that the camera was strapped to his bag so it would film the attack, but it failed to do so. In his possession, Nemmouche had a 40 second film of the weaponry, which includes someone (seemingly him, but not definitely) saying they carried out the attack.

For now, the most important lessons appear to be very obvious:

  • Europeans (including hundreds of Britons) who travel overseas to fight Jihad pose a potentially deadly terrorist threat upon their return here.
  • The lack of internal European border controls makes it easy for radicals and weaponry to travel throughout the continent.
  • Comparisons of European Jihadists with International Brigade fighters of the Spanish Civil War are misguided, dangerous nonsense.
  • Those who rushed to claim that these killings were somehow not what they appeared (such as supposed brilliant intellectual Tariq Ramadan) should have kept their biases to themselves.
  • Even if some west European commentators and politicians want to keep hiding from the ramifications of each successive Jihadist terrorist attack and plot, their local Jewish communities can have no such luxury.
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Chris McGreal returns to remind us how much he despises Israel.

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Chris McGreal, the Guardian’s former Jerusalem correspondent who – unlike Harriet Sherwood – has never even tried to hide his animosity towards the Jewish state.  As we’ve revealed previously, McGreal fancies the idea that Israeli snipers target Palestinian kids, is obsessed with the power of the Israel lobby, and is one of the few Guardian reporters singled out by the Community Security Trust for engaging in antisemitic discourse.

He’s also quite predictably been among those who participate fully in what’s known as the Durban Strategy, named after at the NGO Forum of the 2001 Durban Racism Conference which ignited an orgy of hatred towards Jews and Israel and coalesced around a strategy of ‘bringing Israel to its knees’ by casting it as a racist, ‘apartheid’ state beyond the moral pale.

Though the movement to smear Israel as an apartheid state can trace it origins to Soviet and Arab propaganda of the 70s, the idea only began to gain traction within organs of the pro-Palestinian movement following Durban.  Not surprisingly, the Guardian – the epicenter of Western media subservience to even the most extreme elements within the anti-Zionist cause – has been among the most enthusiastic purveyors of the apartheid canard.

McGreal’s latest polemical effort on behalf of Israel’s adversaries was published by the Guardian on May 14 – Israeli Independence Day on the non-Hebrew calendar – and titled ‘Kerry wasn’t wrong: Israel’s future is beginning to look a lot like apartheid‘.

McGreal begins:

Organizations claiming to speak for America’s Jews – mostly too far to the right to be representative of most of them – reeled in horror after Kerry dared to say it two weeks ago: if Israel doesn’t reach a deal on an independent Palestine it risks becoming an “apartheid state”.

Israel called the envoy a hypocrite and blamed him for the failure of the latest talks. The secretary of state apologized for using the A-word, saying it was “best left out of the debate” in the US – even if it is used in Israel itself, including by two former prime ministers to sound similar warnings to Kerry’s.

Later he opines:

After years of traveling through the West Bank and South Africa, it’s blindingly clear to me: the ever-expanding settlements are, indeed, carving out the geography of West Bank apartheid. And if Kerry was wrong, it was only in casting his warning as a prediction rather than about a present reality.

Tellingly, McGreal doesn’t explain how settlements “carving out the geography of the West Bank” create an apartheid reality.  Indeed, though sources which refute the intellectually unserious charge that Israel is practicing apartheid are ubiquitous (and include testimonies by South Africans who actually lived through apartheid), it’s helpful to briefly note what the term actually means.

Former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren explained its origins in a recent op-ed at the LA Times:

Translated from Afrikaans, apartheid means “apart-hood.” It stemmed from the deeply held racist beliefs of South African whites who, in the half-century after World War II, imposed strict legal barriers between themselves and all black people. The segregation was total: separate restaurants, separate toilets and drinking fountains, separate houses, hospitals and schools. 

First, there is absolutely no racial element involved in the fact that there are separate and distinct Israeli and Palestinian communities.  The distinction between Israelis and Palestinians is based not on race, but on the fact that they are two distinct national communities. Israel’s security barrier, for instance, is a counter-terror tool aimed to protect Israelis from Palestinian suicide bombers, and, as Oren noted, is no more an “apartheid wall” than the fence between the United States and Mexico.

Additionally, despite the fact that Israelis and Palestinians represent two national communities, and security measures have been introduced to mitigate the potential for conflict and violence, there is still an absence of codified segregation, as evident by the thousands of Palestinians who work in Israeli factories and receive life-saving medical care at Israeli hospitals.

 Of course, pro-Palestinian activists who claim to support a two-state solution and level the apartheid charge are especially hypocritical, as any future Palestinian state would almost certainly be 100% Jew-free.  Israeli Jews won’t be treated in Palestinian hospitals. They won’t be permitted to travel on Palestinian buses, nor permitted to attend Palestinian universities. Indeed, given the endemic antisemitism within Palestinian society, any Israeli Jew who ventured unprotected into the new Palestinian state would be taking a considerable risk.  Palestinian Apartheid is all but assured.

McGreal then pivots to a familiar Guardian narrative, one which champions such assaults on Israel’s legitimacy as acts of bravery – those evidently bold enough to speak truth to Zionist power in Washington.

Israel’s intent in the West Bank is an issue that has largely been off-limits in Washington. The pro-Israel lobby, with some help from Congress, has played an important role in determining the boundaries of criticism

Indeed, here is where McGreal shows his true stripes – again telling Guardian readers what they want to hear: specifically, that US foreign policy is being hijacked by the pro-Israel lobby, but, more broadly, that the reason decision makers in Washington don’t buy into their view of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is because the system is rigged and debate is being squelched – furtively of course – by a small but dangerously powerful minority of Americans who conflate the US national interest with Israel’s.

However, at the end of the day, the fact is that Israel remains wildly popular among the American public, the boycott movement produces failure upon failure, Israel’s democracy is robust, its economy is booming, and its society (by any number of indicators) is thriving. 

Much like narrow efforts to cast Israel as an apartheid state, the broader delegitimization campaign – by nearly any standard – is failing miserably.

And, Chris McGreal is simply furious. 

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Guardian’s Chris McGreal ‘honors’ Yom HaShoah by smearing millions of Jews

At 10:00 this morning, millions of Israelis stood at attention as sirens could be heard throughout the state in commemoration of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day)  –  Israel’s day of commemoration for the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

Shortly after the sirens stopped, and colleagues in our office returned to their desks, we noticed a series of Tweets by the Guardian’s former Jerusalem correspondent Chris McGreal.

(The anti-Zionist malice of the Guardian “journalist” has been the subject of many posts at this blog.  The far left propagandist – who fancies the idea that Israeli snipers target Palestinian children, and has shown himself obsessed with the power of the Israel lobby – has achieved the rare status as one of the few Guardian reporters singled out by the Community Security Trust in their annual report on antisemitic discourse.)

Here are a few of the Tweets today from McGreal, enthusiastically responding to news that the Jewish state was smeared again with the Apartheid lie.

   

 

As the Tweets demonstrate, McGreal isn’t just claiming that Apartheid exists in the West Bank, but in Israel within the green line.

Of course, the Apartheid charge – the intellectual roots of which lie in Soviet propaganda from the 1970s – against Israel has been definitively refuted by many serious commentators and South Africans who actually lived under Apartheid.

First, for clarify, here’s an accurate definition of Apartheid:

‘Apartheid’ is the Dutch-Afrikaans term for separation, used to describe the racial segregation and discrimination enforced violently by white minority governments on non-whites in South Africa from 1948 to 1994. During those years a comprehensive system of racial classification divided the population into four categories – white, black coloured (i.e. mixed-race) and Asian. The black majority could not vote in general elections or marry white people. They were segregated from white people and barred from doing most skilled work.  They even need permission from white authorities to so much as move from one segregated residential neighborhood to another segregated neighborhood. Further, an official state-promoted racist ideology of white supremacy justified all of this.

In the context of the definition above, here are some facts based in part on a comprehensive rebuttal published by Professor Alan Johnson at BICOM.

  • There are NO such racial laws in Israel.
  • Israel is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic democracy, in which Arab, Druze and other minorities in Israel are guaranteed equal rights. ALL citizens vote in elections on an equal basis.
  • Discrimination based on race is against the law. 
  • Universities, hospitals and all public facilities are integrated.
  • Some Israeli towns and  cities are mixed Arab-Jewish (e.g. Acre, Haifa, Jaffa, Lod and Ramle).
  • The Israeli Courts are effective in countering unfair discrimination. Israel’s Arab minority participates fully in the political process.
  • There is no ideology of racial supremacy within Zionism

Additionally, here are some poll results which wildly contradict McGreal’s suggestion that Arab Israelis believe they suffer from Apartheid:

  •  According to a poll conducted by Harvard’s John Kennedy School of Government, 77 per cent of the Arab citizens of Israel say that they prefer living in Israel to any other country in the world.
  • According to a 2012 Israeli Democracy Index survey, 62.3 per cent and 78 per cent of the Arab citizens of Israel have confidence in the police and Supreme Court respectively; a slightly higher level of confidence than Israeli Jews
  • According to a report by the Arab-Israeli NGO, Sikkuy, 90 per cent of Arab citizens of Israel see their future in the State of Israel

Beyond the specific smear, however, it should be emphasized that this isn’t a one-off for McGreal, and seems to represent a broader antipathy towards Jewish communities in the diaspora.

On Feb. 6th and 7th 2006, McGreal published two reports attempting to portray Israel as an Apartheid and colonial state, and went further than merely defaming Israel by lashing out at Jews more broadly in a manner reminiscent of David Ward’s infamous ‘Jews of all people‘ smear on International Holocaust Memorial Day.

Here’s a passage from McGreal’s report, in the context of comparing Jewish behavior to that of the Afrikaner S. African regime:

[Israel’s Jewish] backers question how anyone can accuse them, as Jews at the end of a long line of persecuted generations, of racism, or in any way of resembling the old Afrikaner regime. But for years, much of South Africa’s Jewish population and successive Israeli governments made their own pact with apartheida deal that exchanged near silence by most South African Jews on a great moral issue for acceptance, and clandestine cooperation between Israel and the Afrikaner government that drew the two countries into a hidden embrace.

First, most South African Jews actually voted against the pro-Apartheid National Party during the Apartheid years, and Jews were over-represented among anti-Apartheid activists, prompting Nelson Mandela to write the following in his autobiography: 

“I have found Jews to be more broad-minded than most whites on issues of race and politics, perhaps because they themselves have historically been victims of prejudice.” 

However, beyond the rebuttal of his specific claims, McGreal’s accusations against Jews – not just Israelis, but Jews qua Jews – needs a broader response.

Here are some excerpts from an essay written by Chas Newkey-Burden in response to David Ward, MP, which seem apt in light of McGreal’s latest attack:

…there is still one anti-Israel argument that makes my jaw drop. And it is one that is made with unfortunate frequency. It is the “they-of-all-people” argument: the suggestion that the Jews, having faced extraordinary persecution, should know better than anyone not to be oppressors.

Put aside for a moment that the “oppression” which proponents of this argument are accusing Israel of committing is usually imaginary. When directed by gentiles towards Jews, the “they-of-all-people” argument is in its very essence so fundamentally ill-judged and unjust, and voiced with such a breathtaking lack of self-awareness, that my spirit flags when I hear it.

I contend that, as a result of the Holocaust and what preceded it, it is we gentiles who should know better. The Holocaust followed centuries of slander, persecution, violence and murder committed by gentiles against Jews. So it is not you who have an increased responsibility to behave morally, but us.

For instance, something that we gentiles should know better than to do is lazily accuse Jewish people, or the Jewish state itself, of any misdemeanour. We have seen what centuries of slander against the Jewish people led to during the 1930s and ’40s. We see the hatred, heartbreak and bloodshed that such anti-Jewish libels continue to provoke, particularly in the Middle East.

Let us strip the “they-of-all-people” argument down to its very basics: gentiles telling Jews that we killed six million of your people and that as a result it is you, not us, who have lessons to learn; that it is you, not us, who need to clean up your act. It is an argument of atrocious, spiteful insanity. Do not accept it; turn it back on those who offer it. For it is us, not you, who should know better.

Finally, to answer a query in one of McGreel’s Tweets, the reason why the ‘Apartheid’ charge “stings” Jews so much is because, like so many other accusations leveled against us through history, it’s a vicious lie – agitprop which shares an unmistakable ideological similitude with the ‘Zionism = Racism’ narrative and other canards associated with malicious efforts to cast Israel as fundamentally illegitimate, a state beyond the moral pale.

The lesson for non-Jews on Yom HaShoah should be clear:  You can’t honor Holocaust memory nor lay claim to the mantle of anti-racism if a large percentage of the world’s living Jews have been ‘expelled from the realm of your imaginative sympathy’, and indeed the only Jews you seem to much fancy have been dead for more than 70 years.

h/t Candice

 

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Rankin: The apology

Cross posted from the blog of the CST

Yesterday’s CST blog (scroll below, or see here) covered allegations by the celebs’ photographer Rankin about movie stars running scared of the power of American “Jewish zealots“.

Today’s Telegraph carries an apology from Rankin:

In an interview that was set up with The Independent about the launch of [a fashion magazine], I regret responding so glibly to off-topic questions on such a difficult and sensitive subject. Of course this is not my official position and I apologise wholeheartedly for my use of language and any offence this may have caused.

The article includes this quote from CST:

It’s allegations about Jewish power over the media that distinguishes anti-Semitism from other forms of racism.

Rankin may well not be an anti-Semite, in which case he should learn not to spread the stink of antisemitic claims about Jews running the media and Hollywood.

The Independent, which carried the offensive claims, today published this letter from CST:

Your article about Scarlett Johansson (Rankin and a new take on why Scarlett quit Oxfam) and the supposed “power of a far right pro-lsrael lobby within the US” was redolent of openly antisemitic smears about Jews running Hollywood and the media.

Worse, the article relied upon quotes by the photographer Rankin that actually made no mention of “pro-Israel”. Instead, you quoted him saying “the Jewish zealots are so powerful” and “the main problem for me in all this is that kind of extreme Judaism”.

Rankin is as “a humanitarian”, so is no antisemite, but he seems to repeats antisemitic conspiracy theory. What a fitting snapshot of antisemitism today.

All of which should help to draw a line under this, but who would bet how much time will pass before a mainstream UK media outlet carries another such article, in one form or another. (The AIPAC conference starts on 2nd March, so anybody betting beyond that date will likely be on a loser.)

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Independent: Rankin’s snapshot of antisemitism today

Cross posted from the blog of the CST

[Yesterday’s] Independent carries an interview with celebrity photographer, Rankin. He inadvertently provides a brilliant snapshot of the paradox that underpins so much of today’s antisemitism.

Rankin speaks as “a humanitarian”, so presumably is no antisemite. Nevertheless, he repeats antisemitic conspiracy theory. That is the snapshot. It shows how modern (and old) antisemitism is about conspiracy theory, rather than race theory. As so often, the focus is against American Jews.

This is what it boils down to:

Jewish zealots…so powerful…kind of extreme Judaism…They will blacklist you…pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it…

Single names tend to denote Brazilian footballers, famous dead Russians, or really cool people – Rankin is the latter, a leading British photographer of fashionistas and luvvies.

Entitled “Rankin and a new take on why Scarlett quit Oxfam“, the Independent article by Jenn Selby quotes him as saying that Scarlett Johansson chose the Israeli company SodaStream over Oxfam because:

in America, the Jewish zealots are so powerful. Especially in the entertainment industry…what they could do to her career

Selby interviewed Rankin at length. In her article, she writes of his concerns, because apparently “the power of a far right pro-Israel lobby within the US makes it increasingly tough for creative artists to take the ethical high ground in favour of Palestinians“.

Actually, nowhere is Rankin actually quoted as saying “far right pro-Israel“. This appears to be Selby’s paraphrasing or interpretation of his remarks. Did the Independent notice this? Did Selby? It all shows how permeable the boundaries are. Rankin is also quoted as saying:

The main problem for me in all this is that kind of extreme Judaism.

What is this “kind of extreme Judaism“? He continues:

That extreme belief that this [ie Israel / Palestine] is their homeland and those people [ie Palestinians] are worthless to them. That’s very powerful in America. They will blacklist you. Its worse than McCarthyism. Are you pro-Palestinian? Forget it?

(The website version goes further than the print version, quoting, “You are pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it“.)

Of course, we can presume that Rankin is no antisemite. He tells us he is “fascinated from a humanitarian perspective” and is “just about human beings“. Nevertheless, here he is aping the blatant antisemitic smear about Jews running the media and Hollywood. It is all so typical of what Brendan O’Neill recently described as:

not a resurrection of old, explicitly racial fears of the Jews, but rather the mainstreaming of the [antisemitic] conspiratorial imagination

The antisemitic conspiratorial imagination is amplified by Rankin’s explanation of how this all supposedly works:

People have said to me that if you go to Palestine you will be put on a list and it doesn’t matter if you’re a humanitarian. You will be put on a list…I’m just about human beings.

Note the opener, “people have said to me…You will be put on a list“. And that is the conspiracy done.

Like all good photographers, Rankin has captured the essence of things.

Rankin names nobody. Not Steven Spielberg, not Aaron Sorkin and certainly not Woody Allen. Had he done so, perhaps the Independent’s lawyers would have stepped in on libel grounds. Instead, we can join the dots:

Jewish zealots…so powerful…kind of extreme Judaism…They will blacklist you…pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it…You will be put on a list.

Finally, it is deeply depressing to see this in the Independent. Any newspaper that regularly publishes Howard Jacobson’s stunning deconstructions and analyses of antisemitism cannot be simply dismissed as unknowing, far less as antisemitic. Similarly, its recent articles on French antisemite Dieudonne have been amongst the most impressive of any UK media outlet…and yet, it still photoshopped and published this repellent snapshot.

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Economist removes antisemitic cartoon; apologizes for ‘inadvertent’ offense

Earlier today we posted about the following cartoon published at The Economist – used to illustrate an article about negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 – which evoked the antisemitic narrative complaining of the injurious effects of Jewish power on U.S. foreign policy.

Within the past hour, we learned that the Economist removed the cartoon from the online edition of the article, and issued the following addendum:

econ

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Nicolas Anelka and Dieudonne: the quenelle is an antisemitic salute

Cross posted by Dave Rich from the blog of The CST

The quenelle salute given by West Brom striker Nicolas Anelka when he scored in their Premier League match on Saturday is an antisemitic gesture, and he should be punished accordingly by the FA.

In the Luis Suarez and John Terry cases the FA established the ‘zero tolerance’ principle, that a player’s intention does not excuse the use of racist language. The same principle must be applied in this case. Anelka says that he is not racist or antisemitic and that he did not intend his quenelle to have an antisemitic meaning, but this is beside the point:  just as the FA accepted that Luis Suarez is not a racist person while banning him for eight matches after he used racially abusive language towards Patrice Evra.

That the quenelle is antisemitic is beyond dispute. In France it has become part of a social media craze in which people find ever-more offensive places to insult Jews by doing a quenelle: this blogpost shows photographs of people performing quenelles at Auschwitz, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, outside synagogues and Jewish shops and at dozens of other Jewish sites. There is even a photograph of someone doing a quenelle outside the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, where Mohammed Merah murdered three children and a teacher in March 2012:

 ob_43b6f7b494bb77257061d86e28388882_quenellemerah2

If the people in these photographs did a Nazi salute at any of these sites they would risk instant arrest and prosecution. The quenelle is a way of getting around the law, while still getting the same thrill of breaking the taboo against antisemitism.

The quenelle was invented by French comic Dieudonné Mbala Mbala. Anelka has excused his quenelle by saying that it was “just a special dedication to my comedian friend Dieudonné”; but this is no excuse, it just confirms the offence. Dieudonné has numerous convictions for antisemitism in France. One of these was for a sketch in which he gave a heroism award to French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson. The ‘comedy’ was that the award was presented by a man in a concentration camp uniform, complete with a yellow star.

Dieudonné claims that the quenelle is anti-establishment and anti-Zionist, not antisemitic. This is true, but also misleading – because Dieudonné believes that the establishment is run by “Zionists”. He told Iran’s Press TV:

The Zionist lobby … have taken France as hostage and we are in the hands of ignorant people, who know how to structure themselves into a mafia-like organisation and… have now taken over a country.

This is not the anti-Zionism of people who think that the Palestinians get a raw deal from Israel: it is the anti-Zionism of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, of a conspiracy theory that believes “the Jews pull all the strings”, as French extremism expert Jean-Yves Camus put it. (There is more background about Dieudonné’s political journey here).

It is also a political worldview that has led Dieudonné into a friendship with leaders of the far right Front National (FN). In 2006, Dieudonné attended the FN’s annual festival, and in 2008 veteran FN leader Jean Marie Le Pen became godfather to one of Dieudonné’s children.

Here is Le Pen (centre) with the FN’s Bruno Gollnisch (left) and friends, doing a quenelle:

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The quenelle was unknown in Britain before this weekend, but it has been at the centre of a public storm in France due to the viral spread of people doing it at Jewish sites and posting the photos on social media. Government ministers are talking of banning Dieudonné’s public appearances because they believe that he incites hatred of Jews and poses a threat to public order. Dieudonné denies this, but when Nicolas Anelka did his quenelle during a match that was broadcast live on French TV, he inserted himself into a race row in his home country – on the side of the alleged racist.

This does not mean that Anelka intended to make an antisemitic statement, or even that he understood the meaning of what he did: but now that the quenelle has entered British football, the FA need to set a clear precedent by acting swiftly and unequivocally to punish those who do it.

New CST report on antisemitic discourse in Britain slams the Guardian

The last time we posted about the annual report on antisemitic discourse in Britain by the Community Security Trust (the charity organisation advising British Jews on matters of security and antisemitism) we focused on the fact that the Guardian was singled out for opprobrium.  

cst 2011

In fact, CST devoted an entire section of their 21 page report to the Guardian, noting that “in 2011, the Guardian faced more accusations of antisemitism than any other mainstream UK newspaper.”  Specifically, CST focused on an article by Chris McGreal characterizing US government support for Israel as “slavish” and a widely condemned ‘chosen people‘ slur by columnist Deborah Orr.

(See CiF Watch’s commentary on McGreal’s “slavish” comment here and here, and our take on Deborah Orr’s ‘chosen people’ slur here and here.)

In the latest CST report on antisemitic discourse, released just today, the Guardian again was singled out.  

cst 2012

Specifically, the CST wrote the following:

The largest antisemitism-related controversy concerning mainstream media content in 2012 was a cartoon in the Guardian, by Steve Bell. This depicted Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary William Hague MP as glove puppets of the Israeli Prime Minister. Bell resolutely denied any antisemitic intent and the cartoon was not removed.

Steve Bell cartoon, Guardian. Nov. 15, 2012.

(See CiF Watch’s commentary on the Steve Bell cartoon, here and here.)

The CST report also singled out a ‘Comment is Free’ commentary by Juan Cole, and included the following:

An intervention by CST caused the Guardian Comment is Free website to partly amend an article that had echoed antisemitic charges of Jewish conspiracy and warmongering.

(See CiF Watch’s posts about the row here and here)

Also of note, Robert Fisk was singled out for making “a highly insulting allegation about people supposedly being called antisemitic Nazis for writing the “truth” about Israel.”

(CAMERA posts about Robert Fisk can be found here)

CST’s summary of their annual report is here, while you can see the full 36 page PDF here.