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What Happens to PSC Now?

A few days ago we cross posted David Collier’s research on antisemitism in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) here. I’ve laid out what I think are the most damning parts of the report over at the Times of Israel.

Collier’s research is sobering stuff. I read the entirety of it (80 pages) and going through post after post of antisemitic conspiracist nonsense was, for want of a better term, a mind fuck.

The research Collier has undertaken proves that there are many activists in the PSC who believe in various conspiracy theories, deny the Holocaust and feel themselves to be in the grip of Zionist world domination. It proves these activists can be found in PSC branches all over the country and it proves PSC’s senior staff  are connected to these activists. Any attempt to excuse knowledge of these activists would be utterly disingenuous. Which is probably why PSC hasn’t put out a statement of any kind or attempted to distance itself from these kranks, antisemites and conspiracists.

Recently the PSC made a submission to the now infamous Chakrabarti Inquiry into antisemitism. In light of Collier’s research the document reads like a sick joke. That an organisation whose most active members are motivated by the belief that they’re engaged in a fight against a Zionist conspiracy to take over the world would seek to define antisemitism is an affront to Jews everywhere. According to the PSC;

“As an organisation we actively challenge racism, and do not tolerate antisemitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of racism within our membership.”

This is a fiction Collier has laid to rest. From now on it’s unlikely they’re going to be able to utter words like;

“It is vital that political parties avoid confusing or conflating support for Palestinian rights with antisemitism.”

This is advice the bosses at PSC should be taking on board themselves. Their quest for rights for Palestinians attracts way too many antisemites and the PSC as a body takes far too little responsibility when it comes to changing that proven fact. By refusing to act on the research PSC as a body is now complicit in the antisemitism of its own members. The next time they seek to contribute to any kind of Parliamentary finding one expects that they will be booted out of the room.

Denmark revives its blasphemy laws

In a worrying move, a Danish man has been charged with blasphemy after burning a copy of the Qur’an and posting a video on Facebook. The last conviction for blasphemy was in 1946, the last charge in 1971.  Here it is suggested that the decision to bring the charge might have been motivated by a wish to fend off terrorist attacks.  Another (unintended) consequence will probably be to strengthen voices further to the right.  The accused’s lawyer makes a telling point:

Mr. Paludan also noted that in 1997, a Danish artist burned a copy of the Bible on a news show by a state broadcaster but was not charged. “Considering that it is legal to burn a Bible in Denmark, I’m surprised then that it would be guilty to burn the Quran,” he said in a phone interview.

Whereas many civil liberties and secular organisations have strongly condemned this move, the Social Democrat spokeswoman expressed her approval.

But Trine Bramsen, a member of Parliament and a spokeswoman of the Social Democrats, an opposition party, defended the blasphemy law. “I struggle to see how that we’ll achieve a stronger society, or how we’ll enrich the public debate, if the burning of holy books was permitted,” she told Ritzau,

Freedom of speech doesn’t just exist for discourse or actions which might enrich the public debate or achieve a stronger society. As the New York Times points out, it is quite legal to burn the national flag in Denmark, another unedifying act which might offend viewers. Andrew Copson gets it right here:

“The accused in this case is not a sympathetic figure and his actions may have be borne of bigotry. But the prosecutors here are spreading the toxic notion that governments should criminalize sacrilege, and should decide that some symbolic acts against religion as such should be suppressed and punishable. This is a regressive, outrageous violation of free expression.

“The answer to anti-Muslim bigotry, when that is what is going on, is education and understanding and dialogue. The answer is emphatically not to resurrect the state policing of religious acts and language.”

Perez elected DNC chair

Judging from some comments in previous threads, there has been a lot of angst and eagerness about the possibility that Congressman Keith Ellison, a Muslim, would be chosen as chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Doubtless to the disappointment of some on the Left and many on the Right, it was not to be. Tom Perez, President Obama’s secretary of labor, was elected to head the party organization at a DNC meeting Saturday.

Ellison’s past support for the racist Lewis Farrakhan, which he has renounced, and some of his positions on Israel/Palestine (probably more naive than anti-Israel), made him a problematic candidate for the job. Republicans would have been happy to use him as a means of distracting voters from other issues where Democrats have widespread support.

However in terms of the political direction the party will take, the selection of Perez over Ellison is utterly insignificant.

The DNC chair is basically responsible for raising money and assisting state and local party organizations. Both Ellison and Perez emphasized the importance of focusing on non-presidential elections (especially state and local), building the party in places where it has been weak or non-existent and developing a message that appeals to working people across regional, racial and ethnic lines. Perez deserves to be judged on his success in helping to accomplish those things.

Update: At The Washington Post, Chris Cillizza observes that the Republican party is one of the “losers” from Perez’s election:

Republicans had been open about their hopes that Ellison would win the chair’s race, believing his strongly liberal record and past controversies would give them a useful punching bag for years to come. Perez, while still quite liberal, is not the lightning rod that Ellison would have been. The search continues …

Ben White’s talk at UCLAN cancelled

It was recently revealed that the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) had cancelled a panel discussion featuring Ben White which had been scheduled to take place as part of ‘Israel Apartheid Week’.  Here’s is the explanation:

But a spokesperson for the university said “Debunking Misconceptions on Palestine” contravened the definition of antisemitism adopted by the government and was “unlawful”.

In a statement on behalf of the university in Preston, Lancashire, the spokesperson said: “The UK government has formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s new definition of what constitutes antisemitism.

“We believe the proposed talk contravenes the new definition and furthermore breaches university protocols for such events, where we require assurances of a balanced view or a panel of speakers representing all interests.”

He added: “In this instance our procedures determined that the proposed event would not be lawful and therefore it will not proceed as planned.”

I certainly don’t agree with Ben White’s stance on Israel/Palestine but I think he raises some reasonable questions in this response to the ban. Key points include:

  • The lack of dialogue/communication with the university’s Palestine Society
  • A possible disjuncture with the university’s policy on enabling free speech and debate
  • The IHRA definition of antisemitism is not legislation so it’s unclear why the event was deemed unlawful

On the other hand, James makes a fair point about Ben White’s own attempts to shut down free debate here.

It’s a real worry when speakers with the most extreme views are repeatedly invited to speak in forums where they are unlikely to be challenged.  But as part of a wide ranging variety of events, advertised widely and open to all, it seems better that controversial ideas are aired openly, and countered.  On a related note, Tommy Robinson has recently been banned from speaking at Oxford Brookes University – he had been invited by their local Quilliam Society.

Returning to the issue of Israel and Palestine – given sensitivities over free speech it seems a little odd that, in this Prevent training slide, opposition to settlements should have been included in a list of views which might give cause for concern.

This slide is then qualified:

‘Holding these views may be legitimate provided they are not expressed or furthered by statements, deeds or actions which result in the harassment, intimidation or threats of violence against individuals or society itself’.

And was it really a good move to include ‘opposition to Prevent’ in this list? Perhaps one or two of these bullet points could have been replaced with ’strong hostility to Islam’, if only to avoid a quite unnecessary hostage to fortune.

Edit I had failed to process the words ‘in Gaza’ in that settlements bullet point.  There are of course no settlements in Gaza.

Update In the comments Harvela has linked to a story which demonstrates the extreme intolerance of some anti-Zionist activists. They protested against a peaceful UJS event promoting the Bridges not Boycotts campaign.  Do read the whole story, but here is one telling quote:

A member of Palestinian Society, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “Many Palestinian students find it traumatising for a Zionist presence to be on campus.” They also told London Student that many fear video footage may be used against them or their families back in Palestine.

What a hypocritical and obtuse response to a peaceful bridge-building initiative. Many Jews find the aggressive anti-Israel atmosphere on campus, including Israel Apartheid Week and the use of obtrusive stunts such as fake Israeli checkpoints, equally traumatising, and for better reason.

Guess who?

Which naive bleeding-heart liberal said that “Muslims who commit terrorist acts are perverting their religion,” and that the label “radical Islamic terrorism” was not helpful because terrorists are “un-Islamic”?

You guessed it. It was Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, President Trump’s recently-appointed national security adviser.

Whether or not you agree with McMaster, it’s good to have someone in that position who doesn’t feel the need to toady up to Trump. I can only imagine the outrage on the Right if a President Hillary Clinton’s national security adviser had said the same things.

I vaguely recall someone denouncing Barack Obama for taking essentially the same position.

Ah, it’s coming back to me…

Last night: A Corbyn supporter’s response.

This is not – because you were probably wondering – a parody account.

Here’s Corbyn’s own response to the Copeland result

and a rather different perspective from Dan Hodges.

UK’s National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre

This is a guest post by Jonathan Hoffman

What should be the look and feel of the proposed Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in London? What visual relationship should it have with the Gothic-style Parliament next door?

Those are the questions addressed by the architects in the short list (of ten) for London’s latest public architectural project.

The designs are out for public consultation – it closes at the end of April (the date isn’t given in the website). Sir Eric Pickles MP launched the consultation at the Board of Deputies meeting last Sunday (see 1:43:05 on the video or 1:34:00 for his excellent complete speech).

Designing a Holocaust Memorial is a huge challenge. It has to make people remember the past but also give them hope for the future. It has to meet with the approbation of the survivors and of the relatives of those who perished but without being too literal. It must have the ‘wow’ factor but cannot be trivial or eccentric. It has to relate to Jews – who formed the vast majority of those who perished – but also to the other victim of the Nazis: Roma, disabled people, Slavs, Jehovah’s Witnesses, gays – as well as the political opponents of the Nazis who were killed.

I spent some time looking at the designs and responding to the consultation.  Each of the ten designs includes a short video of the architects describing their plans.  I was fascinated by the different ways in which the ten consortia approach the challenge. All incorporate elements of the Holocaust – eg Jewish religious objects, train tracks, damaged books, stones on graves – but in very different surrounds and using different materials.  Some go for very angular constructions, others for curved ones.  Some use abstract shapes, others more concrete ones.  Some tie the designs in with the neighbouring Victoria Tower – as a metaphor for the democracy with the Nazis destroyed – others separate from it. Studying, contrasting and writing about the proposals would make a really great school project.

I said in my response that London’s Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre should be named in honour of Sir Nicholas Winton MBE – who organised the rescue of 669 children.  No-one deserves the honour to more than him. He died in 2015 at age 106. Who can forget that scene from That’s Life in 1988 (viewed 35.5m times on Youtube) ?

If forced to choose,  I would vote for the proposal by Daniel Libeskind, ‘The Longest Shadow’.  Libeskind designed the Jewish Museum in Berlin which is sensational.  It sits adjacent to the existing baroque building; the new building is a twisted zig-zag, reminiscent of the symbol of the SS. It is accessible only via an underground passage from the old building.

As regards the Memorial Centre underground, the Libeskind proposal got my vote.

But for the Memorial above ground, I thought five of the other proposals were also compelling:

  • I loved Allied Works’ metaphor of the Tallith, the Jewish prayer shawl, and the visibility of Victoria Tower through the aperture of the Tallith. It’s very dignified and appropriate.
  • The Anish Kapoor meteorite memorial is very compelling, with its silent spherical space inside the meteorite and the extension into the gallery below ground.  The theme of ‘instability’ is very relevant to the subject of the design.
  • The Diamond Schmitt elipse – with its duality between despair and hope – evokes the memorial concept.
  • The Foster proposal features a ramp reminiscent of train tracks. The broken books sculpture is very relevant and will remind visitors of the other atrocities apart from the genocide. Michal Rovner’s room with the endless procession of people is evocative.
  • The McAslan proposal features the six million stones, each with a name on, which visitors could take away. This is a terrific concept, if it passes muster with the Health and Safety brigade.

Have a look and see what you think. If you have kids or are a teacher, ask them what they think. It’s a great and painless way of teaching them about the terrible crimes of the Nazis and communicating the lessons for their generation.

Hugging Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial. Welcome to the PSC!

This is a cross post from David Collier’s blog referring to an extraordinary amount of research he carried out on activists in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Well worth reading and well worth downloading the report via the link at the bottom of the article.

I have just concluded an in-depth investigation into antisemitism inside The Palestine Solidarity Campaign that has spanned months but drew on several years of underlying research.  The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) claims to be “the biggest organisation in the UK dedicated to securing Palestinian human rights.”  The PSC patrons include: Jeremy Corbyn MP, Pat Gaffney, Rev Garth, Ken Loach, Dr Ilan Pappe, Hilary & Steven Rose,  Alexi Sayle, Baroness Tonge of Kew, and Betty Hunter.  It partners with many of the largest unions in the UK.

The result of this research is an eighty-page report, that focuses on seventeen separate PSC branches across England and Wales, and culminated with an in-depth case study of a mass demonstration in London. The full report can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

In truth, I stopped the detailed analysis at seventeen branches simply because I was inundated with material.  Although not mentioned in the report, I also found ‘qualifying material’ at the PSC branches in Brighton, Faversham, Camden, Haringey, Lambeth, Waltham Forest, Liverpool, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth & Portsmouth. As the researched progressed, finding more of the antisemitism at every branch became an exercise in pointing out the obvious. The question became to how to find a way to measure and quantify it.

When I refer to antisemitism within this study, I avoided *all references to the conflict*. We all know the trick is to deflect accusations of antisemitism with a false cry about criticism of Israeli policy. I set out to avoid this. I was only interested in those pushing conspiracy theory, holocaust denial or classic antisemitic tropes. The argument that antisemitism is about legitimate criticism of Israel simply has no weight against this research. The bar for antisemitism that was used is unnaturally high.  As an example, if the worst I found was an activist suggesting Israel should be destroyed, is committing genocide and Zionists are all Nazis, that activist *would not* have made the grade for this research. Let that fact sink in.

The ‘antisemitism’ referred to here is *ONLY* ‘hard core’ antisemitism. Examples include: USA controlled by Zionists; Jews responsible for 9/11; the Paris Bataclan massacre was a ‘false flag’ to increase support for Israel; Ashkenazi Jews are fake; Zionist Jews support ISIS; Jewish Zionists stir up fake antisemitism; many varieties of Holocaust Denial; Israel harvests organs from the dead; Israel harvests organs from the living; Mossad wanted to assassinate Obama; the BBC is ‘the Zionist Broadcasting Corporation’,  ‘Zionist tentacles’ controlling Parliament; Mossad did 7/7/2005 in London; Kristallnacht instigated by Communist and Freemason Jews to promote War against Germany; Babylonian Talmud advocates sex with child age three; Goyim bloodshed ritual by the Talmudic worshipers [sic] of Moloch, the children holocaust bloodthirsty monster…..

Below are pictures of the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, next to a PSC activist. Meeting not once, but at least twice. Once inside a PSC event, the other at a Palestine Return Centre gathering. The man standing next to Corbyn posts a constant stream of ‘9/11 truth’, holocaust revisionism and other such vile messages. In UK anti-Israel activism he is a star, he was the central figure (if he is not still running) PSC Reading, is an admin for a major secret online anti-Israel group and just last month, attended the PSC AGM. The thing is, everyone knows about him, including the PSC.  PSC have known about him for years. When the PSC permit those like Tony to continue to associate with the organisation, the PSC spit in the face of all Jews and insult all those who seek to fight antisemitism.

corbyn with antisemite

This a quote from an article Tony Gratrex posted, one of the scores of such posts:

The Zionists’ militarist mindset is evidently motivated by the ethnocentric myths of Jewish victimhood. World-conquering Neocon-Zionist belligerence is driven in large part by the religious adherence to the official propaganda of the victors of World War II. Elite Jews played an important role in bringing about the Second World War as the final phase of their plan to establish the state of Israel. The First World War accomplished several things for the Zionists: it freed up Palestine from Ottoman control (the Ottomans previously rejected Zionist offers to purchase Palestine), it fractured the big empires of Europe who could then be manipulated into future conflicts, and lastly it delivered Russia to the Bolsheviks, a majority of whom were Jewish chauvinists hell-bent on the subjugation of that Christian Empire. With Russia now in the hands of Jewish communist extremists and Palestine falling under British dominion, the Zionist plan for Israel was well on its way.

But the research is full of such articles.  Having successfully found antisemitic posts in abundance, I attempted to quantify antisemitism (how much of the activity is driven by antisemitism). I focused on a single mass demonstration in London, the anti-Netanyahu demo on 6th February.   I was honestly shocked by the findings. Fifteen out of the thirty six accessible social media accounts identified, carried Jewish conspiracy style posts.  They suggest that the more likely someone is to pick up a Palestinian flag and call for people to boycott the Jewish state, the more likely it is that antisemitism is involved.  By the time someone is engaged with publicly protesting against Israel outside Downing Street, there is a good chance he is antisemitic.

There were many sickening moments during the research and it was emotionally draining to continue with this task day after day, week after week. To clarify, the correlation between activity and Jewish conspiracy was evident throughout the research, it was only at the demo was I able to quantify it. I had already seen numerous examples of people on the street, calling for the boycott of Israel, who believed in global conspiracy theory.

Watch this video post by a BDS action group:

That is Kajsa Anckarström.  These are some of her posts:

Kajsa Anckarström

Another of her posts called Charlie Hebdo a ‘Zionist false flag’, and the top left post came immediately after the Paris terror attacks on November 13th. Now look at the video again. We have someone displaying deeply antisemitic attitudes, entering a shop and trying to persuade people to boycott products from the Jewish state. It looks and is horrific.

PSC will no doubt try to distance themselves from the activists in the report.  But in some cases it is the Chair of the branch, in others it is someone on the stall in the high street. On too many occasions it is someone clearly connected to the PSC.  What they should do is apologise. Apologise to Jews, apologise to their partners, and apologise to some members who have innocently aligned themselves to an organisation riddled with such antisemitic hatred.  Here for example is the PSC top table:


Sitting next to the ex-Director of the PSC Sarah Colborne and its current Chair Hugh Lanning, is Tabash Abu Shaim. Here he is on the street (far left) protesting against Israel.

blood diamonds

He made many unacceptable posts, but this is a quote from one of the articles he linked to:

It does a disservice to the Palestinians and non-Palestinian victims of Israeli foreign policy to try to divorce the Palestine Question from the broader manifestations of the locus of power which James Petras has referred to as the “Zionist Power Configuration” (ZPC). This ZPC operates at both a global and local level as was indicated on 9/11. As Naomi Klein accurately wrote in the Guardian “[the] Likudisation of the world [is] the real legacy of 9/11.”

Tapash appears to have been on the PSC stall at the Labour party conference. One inevitably has to conclude that antisemitic conspiracy theory is welcome at the top table of the movement.

Given the research found rabid antisemites, with a long history of Jew hatred, welcomed wherever they go within the PSC family, including into the HQ at the AGM, the PSC clearly only pay lip service to fighting racism within their ranks. They play a game which visibly laughs in the face of antisemitism, relying on a tiny minority of Jewish supporters to provide cover for blatant and rabid global conspiracy theory, holocaust denial and other antisemitic ideologies.

These findings should have repercussions as it brings into question all support that this group receives. The NUT alliance, the War on Want alliance, the other trade union alliances, the cooperation with elements of the Labour party, all these groups should rethink their policy towards activism that is clearly connected to rabid Jew hatred. The TUC is allied with the PSC, how is this acceptable?

All venues that host these groups and all Patrons of the PSC should surely sever their links.  Jeremy Corbyn is a Patron.  How is an association with a group that accommodates Holocaust revisionists and antisemitic conspiracy theorists acceptable to The Leader of the Opposition?

What does this message say about BDS activists?  The report shines light on people who apparently subscribe to dark antisemitic ideology shouting out in public about boycotting Jewish goods. This is not 1930’s Germany; there is no reason to accept such behaviour, regardless of the cause it attempts to hide behind. Download the report. Read it. Digest it. Act on it.



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Commiserations to Cage Prisoners

Cage Prisoners (now “CAGE”) celebrated the release from Guantanamo Bay in 2004 of British prisoner, Ronald Fiddler, aka Jamal Al Harith:

Jamal Al Harith, 35, is from Manchester and a website designer of Jamaican origin.

Born Ronald Fiddler on November 20, 1966, to devout, churchgoing Jamaican parents, al Harith converted to Islam in his 20s after reading Malcom X’s biography. He has two sisters, Maxine and Sharon.

His family say he is a gentle, quiet man who rarely spoke of his faith unless asked, and after four years learning Arabic and teaching English at Khartoum University in Sudan, he seemed happy enough to return home where he started to study nursing. At this time, he also established a computer business. He later moved back to Manchester, where he worked as an administrator in a Muslim school.

He travelled from the UK to Pakistan at the end of September 2001, retracing a journey he had made to Iran in 1993. He paid a lorry driver to take him from northern Pakistan to Iran as part of a backpacking trip, but they were stopped near the Afghan border by Taliban soldiers who saw his British passport and jailed him, in October, fearing he was a spy. He had been away from home only three weeks when he was captured.

As the operation to mop up al Qaida forces went on into the spring of 2001, he was captured by US forces while being held in Kandahar Jail. He was interrogated by the CIA in Afghanistan before being taken to Guantanamo.

He was released from Guantanamo and returned to the UK on 9th March 2004. After a few hours of questioning he was released without charge and reunited with his family. Jamal was the first of the British detainees to speak publicly about his ordeal. He married in late 2004 and has three children (aged 3,5, and 8) from a previous marriage.

The Daily Mail reported in 2015:

“[A]fter intense campaigning by Tony Blair’s government, British citizen al-Harith – who had pleaded his innocence – was let out two years later.

He launched a compensation claim on the grounds British agents knew or were complicit in his mistreatment and was handed up to £1million of taxpayers’ money to stay silent.”

Fiddler also participated in George Galloway’s “Viva Palestina” convoy, alongside various other lovely people:

A third suspected member of the gang was also revealed as Allexanda Kotey, a Queens Park Rangers fan who grew up just two miles away from Emwazi in west London.

The Muslim convert travelled to the Middle East in 2009 on an aid convoy organised by George Galloway and is suspected of being “Ringo” in the group.

Others on the 100-vehicle convoy included Munir Farooqi, who received four life sentences at Manchester Crown Court in 2011 after being found guilty of trying to recruit undercover police officers to fight in Afghanistan.

Reza Afsharzadegan, a leader of the notorious London Boys gang who was close to Emwazi, also volunteered on the £1 million aid convoy.

Another was Jamal Al-Harith, from Manchester, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who is believed to have slipped through UK border controls to Syria last year.

Fiddler is now dead. He blew himself up at an Iraqi army base in Mosul, while fighting for ISIS:

They announced that a man using the name Abu Zakariya al-Britani was one of two fighters to target Shia militia southwest of the city using reinforced 4×4 vehicles laden with explosives.

An image was circulated showing the smiling Briton wearing military fatigues inside the heavily fortified car. He was surrounded by what appeared to be improvised explosive devices and a detonator dangling in front of him on a wire. A video was said to show the man, whose nomme de guerre signifies that he has a son called Zakariya, speeding into the distance. There followed a plume of smoke.


Shepard Smith calls out Trump

As he has in the past (here, here and here) Shepard Smith cuts a singular path at Fox News:

Even though President Trump didn’t mention Fox in his latest unhinged tweet, I suppose it’s fair to call Smith an honorary “enemy of the American people.”

Update: I took some heat recently for pointing out that Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon had once called himself a Leninst. But Lenin himself referred to his opponents as “enemies of the people.”

Is it a stretch to detect Bannon’s Leninist influence here?

Further update: As a former newspaper reporter, I’ve always liked this scene from the movie “Deadline USA.”