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Stoke Imam convicted of supporting ISIS

A worrying story from Tunstall:

Radical preacher Kamran Hussain has been convicted of supporting the Islamic State terror group and encouraging terrorism – with sermons from his Stoke-on-Trent mosque.

An undercover law enforcement officer recorded the 40-year-old’s radical sermons from the Tunstall High Street mosque over a four-month period last year.

He told children that martyrdom was better than anything they would achieve at school, encouraged terrorism and supported the terror group in Syria.

It’s sometimes claimed that radicalisation has nothing to do with mosques, but clearly that’s not entirely true – and it’s particularly concerning that it took an undercover officer to expose this given how many people must have heard Hussain preach.

This is an interesting take on the sermons:

Following his arrest, Hussain said the ability to discuss “difficult concepts in a challenging world” was an essential part of religion and claimed he was exercising his right to freedom of speech.



Brent Councillors disgracefully distort the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism

This is a guest post by Jonathan Hoffman

On Monday night Brent Council debated whether to adopt the IHRA Definition of antisemitism.  It was a farcical debate which saw three Jewish residents articulate the ‘Livingstone Formulation’, claiming that the Definition would be used to stifle criticism of Israel (the truth is that it says that ‘criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic’ – besides which, I have never heard an Israel advocate describe genuine criticism as ‘antisemitic’.)

The Brent Councillors accepted an amendment to the part of the Definition that the hard Left loves to hate. They deleted ‘Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour’, replacing it with ‘Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour, alongside Palestinian right of self-determination.’ (This is taken from the video of the meeting. It can be seen from time stamp 1 hour 1 minute 24 seconds to 1.02.06). (I am assuming that there is a comma after the word ‘endeavour’ – rather than a fullstop – but it was not made clear; the minutes (not yet published) will clarify).

The amended sentence is a nonsense. One’s view on Palestinian statehood is a political matter. It has nothing to do with what is antisemitic. Or is the Council suggesting (pace  CAA) that it’s antisemitic to deny Palestinian statehood, in the mistaken view that ‘Arabs are Semites too’ (a well-worn antisemitic trope implying that Arabs cannot be antisemitic)? Worse: It is spitting in the face of Jews, to introduce an irrelevance into the definition of antisemitism. It’s antisemitic to state that Israel is a racist State. Period. One’s view on the desirability or feasibility  of a Palestinian State is as irrelevant to that as one’s view on the desirability of assisted suicide (for example).

The amendment also changed the first line below (in the Definition) to:

‘The guidelines highlight *possible* manifestations of antisemitism as *sometimes* including: ————-

The guidelines highlight manifestations of antisemitism as including:

- Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.

- Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as

such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth

about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or

other societal institutions.

- Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed

by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.

- Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and

accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).

- Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

- Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews

worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

- Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.

- Applying double standards by requiring of it behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

- Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews

killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

- Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

- Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.”

So let’s get this straight.  In Brent, sometimes it’s antisemitic to compare Israeli Jews to Nazis but sometimes it’s OK. Unlike in neighbouring Barnet, Camden and Harrow – where it’s never OK. Message to Gilad Atzmon: Brent Welcomes You!

Maybe Councillor Shafique Choudhary (Labour) – whose amendment it was – could tell us when it’s acceptable to call Israeli Jews ‘Nazis? (I called him, but am none the wiser; he just told me that it was democratically voted).

In yet another own goal, the JLC and the Board of Deputies seemed unaware that Brent had disgracefully distorted the IHRA Definition:

Maybe we shouldn’t have stopped at three Own Goals …………

Unlike the Board of Deputies and the JLC, the Campaign Against Antisemitism was not asleep at the wheel (‘Brent Council’s vote on adopting the International Definition of Antisemitism was turned into a fiasco by people who appeared to be more obsessed with the politics of the Middle East than surging antisemitic crime in Britain’).

Sarah AB adds

I’ve had an interesting discussion with Jonathan about this issue (which he has followed far more closely than me). From a more cheerful, glass half full, perspective it could be seen as positive that Brent has adopted even a revised version of a definition which has elicited so much hostility from some on the further left.  The clause about Palestinian self-determination may perhaps be seen as largely rhetorical, although the implication seems to be that, if you support Jewish self-determination, you should also support Palestinian self-determination.  And similarly I’d like to suggest a softer view of the caveat clause.  It’s not very clear – I’m not even entirely sure whether it’s designed to signal that the list isn’t exhaustive or, as Jonathan suggests, to indicate that sometimes these symptoms aren’t in fact antisemitic. (Particularly difficult in the case of the first example listed below!).  I thought that the caveats were similar to the pervasive uncertainty of the EUMC definition where the words ‘could, taking into account the overall context’ are repeated like a litany. Context and nuance are important when discussing such issues.


Fathom Forum | ‘City on a Hilltop’? Sara Hirschhorn on the clash between liberal values and settler realities

To shamelessly quote from American constitutional history, we may find this truth to be self-evident: there is an emerging nexus between the Trump administration and the Israeli settler movement. Last summer, the Trump campaign opened an office in the Israeli settlement of Karnei Shomron to ‘get out’ the Israeli-American vote for the Trump presidency. Members of the Trump administration have deep ties to the Israeli settler movement, specifically to Beit El, which the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman supports politically and philanthropically. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and special advisor on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, also has deep ties to the settlements. Now these people are in power. Talk of the ‘alleged occupation’ by Ambassador Friedman, as quoted in the press, perhaps portends a shift in the administration’s policy to the settlement question as part of a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But this relationship goes far beyond the Trump administration. Today over 60,000 American Jews live in the occupied territories – they constitute 15 per cent of the Israeli settler movement and about half of the total number of America Jews in Israel on either side of the Green Line. Their story begins across the ocean back in the US of the hippie generation, with the coming together of the dynamics of the Six-Day War and other concurrent trends of ‘the Sixties’ including the civil rights movement.

1967 AND THE WAR THAT TURNED AMERICAN JEWS INTO ZIONISTS

American Jews living in the occupied territories have often grabbed the headlines for shocking acts of terrorism or as the public relations spokesperson for the Israeli settler camp, but very little is known about why they chose to devote their lives to living at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Six-Day War was a watershed movement for American Jewry as a whole and specifically for the cohort of American Jews who would later migrate to Israel and then move to the occupied territories. As the US neoconservative Norman Podhoretz once said, the 1967 war turned American Jews into Zionists. READ MORE.


Antisemitism in contemporary Great Britain

The Jewish Policy Research report into antisemitism in the UK, prepared by Daniel L. Staetsky, and published in conjunction with the CST, functions as a kind of social media Rorschach test.

Some are flagging the link between antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment, or the association between anti-Israel sentiment and the left, whereas others prefer to emphasise the fact that antisemitism correlates more strongly with the far right.  Others zoom in on the higher incidence of antisemitism amongst Muslims.

Here are a few reflections on the findings.

Antisemitic ideas are not as marginal in Great Britain as some measures of antisemitism suggest, and they can be held with and without open dislike of Jews. (p. 4)

The report puts forward an ‘elastic’ view of antisemitism; only a tiny minority are actively and hostilely antisemitic, but many more may weakly hold a single antisemitic view, perhaps not understanding its significance.  Thus, depending on quite how you set the threshold, you may decide that only about 3% of Britons are antisemitic, yet as many as 30% hold one antisemitic view.

A majority of those who hold anti-Israel attitudes do not espouse any antisemitic attitudes, but a significant minority of those who hold anti-Israel attitudes hold them alongside antisemitic attitudes. Therefore, antisemitism and anti-Israel attitudes exist both separately and together. (p. 5)

This is a complex issue.  An anti-racist critic of Israel might want to point out that many of the questions testing attitudes to Israel were brushing up against antisemitic tropes.  Someone might be trenchantly critical of Israel, a boycott supporter, while hesitating over giving affirmative answers to many of these questions.

Supporters of Israel might also, for different reasons, want to flag the controversial status of some of the anti-Israel statements used in the survey.  (Edit: see for example Jonathan Hoffman here.) Although the survey acknowledged that many Jews would see some of these as antisemitic (e.g. on p. 65), at other times it seemed implicit that endorsing the anti-Israel statements was not, in itself, a possible mark of antisemitism.  On a related note, those concerned by the way in which anti-Israel activism acts as a vector for antisemitism might wonder whether those avoiding agreeing with any blatantly antisemitic statements were on their guard, ensuring that:

our arguments can’t become polluted with charges of anti-Semitism

to quote Sarah Glynn, fisked here recently by David Collier.

But – to put a less cynical gloss on the fact that quite a few of Israel’s strongest critics got top marks for avoiding antisemitism – it’s worth considering that, just as many people sincerely find much anti-Israel discourse antisemitic, zealous critics of Israel may be sincerely opposed to antisemitism and shun conspiracy theories.

It was very interesting to look (p. 45) at the detailed charts correlating different degrees of strong and weak antisemitic and anti-Israel views with opinions across the political spectrum.  (Note that all the graphs indicate an estimated range rather than a single figure).

The far left seems a little more antisemitic than the centre left, but no more so than the centre right. By contrast they are very anti-Israel, more so than the far right, although the far right is by far the most antisemitic grouping.

This was an interesting passage:

Levels of antisemitism among those on the left-wing of the political spectrum, including the far-left, are indistinguishable from those found in the general population. Yet, all parts of those on the left of the political spectrum – includingthe ‘slightly left-of-centre,’ the ‘fairly left-wing’ and the ‘very left-wing’ – exhibit higher levels of anti-Israelism than average. (p. 6)

This finding has perhaps been rather flattened in some reporting.  Here, for example, this piece in Algemeiner, by simply noting the anti-Israel/antisemitism link and pairing it with the anti-Israel/left link, allows the reader to infer a correlation between antisemitism and the left:

Critically, the report demonstrates that “the stronger a person’s anti-Israel views, the more likely they are to hold antisemitic attitudes,” noting as well that “all parts of those on the left of the political spectrum – including the ‘slightly left-of-centre,’ the ‘fairly left-wing’ and the ‘very left-wing’ – exhibit higher levels of anti-Israelism than average.”

This is perhaps where definitions and boundaries complicate the issue. As noted above, many would feel that some of the ‘anti-Israel’ statements used in the survey are at least borderline antisemitic, and might still be wary of someone who subscribed to many of these positions, even if they disassociated themselves from the crudely antisemitic statements. However the findings seem to demonstrate that Israel’s opponents on the left are better at uncoupling their critiques from overt racism, whereas for those on the far right opposition to Israel is probably a function of racism.

A useful parallel might be drawn with attitudes to Islam.  It’s a complex spectrum, but my guess is that a similar survey would throw up a greater association between critical views of Islam and racism on the far right than on the left.

I was surprised by the low level of support for boycotts evidenced in the survey, and puzzled by the fact that fewer supported boycotts than agreed with a series of quite troubling statements about Israel (p. 29).

When the survey looked more closely at the intersection between antisemitism and religion, only Muslim respondents differed markedly from the national average, demonstrating elevated levels of both antisemitism and anti-Israel views, particularly when they also identified as religious and observant rather than secular.  This finding seems broadly in line with other recent surveys.

Update: Jonathan Hoffman has written a follow up piece to his earlier post (linked to above) which addresses the problematic nature of the ‘anti-Israel’ statements in the survey.


Alberto Nisman was indeed murdered

It’s not a surprise, but it’s good news that after two-and-a-half years of lies and coverups (some of which we documented here), the truth has finally come out.

A team of forensic analysts has determined that Alberto Nisman, the special prosecutor who claimed that the president of Argentina [Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner] covered up Iran’s role in the deadly bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center, was murdered and did not commit suicide, the South American nation’s media are reporting.

A new toxicology report on Nisman’s body found traces of the drug ketamine, an anesthetic used on animals, and posited that at least one other person forcefully held him down around the time of his death, the Infobae digital news outlet and the TN cable news network reported Thursday.

The Israeli-Argentinian journalist Noga Tarnopolsky, who has been tracking the Nisman case, has some observations on her Twitter account.

There are two principal suspects: the then-government of Argentina, in which I include all the warring intelligence agencies and Kirchner’s office and the Iranian government. These are the two entities who wanted this man gone and had the means to do it. Did they cooperate? Who knows, it wouldn’t have been the first time.
…..
In any event, without knowing either who was behind the murder or who committed the act we know that many people were involved, a fact I find hopeful. The more people in the know, the better the chances that one of them, at some point, may break. Second, we also know that whoever broke into Nisman’s flat wanted him dead [and] took no chances: poison, violence, shooting– all of the above. Finally, let’s restate the brutal fact that 4 days before turning up dead, Nisman accused Cristina Kirchner of conspiring to cover up the murder of her own citizens.

Fernandez de Kirchner left office at the end of 2015.


Sixteen years after 9/11 troubling questions still remain

This is a cross-post from 5 Pillars

By 5 Pillars – 11th September 2017

It’s the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 atrocity which took place on September 11th 2001.

Nearly 3,000 people, including many Muslims, were killed in the attack.

Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda were immediately blamed, and President George Bush, Prime Minster Tony Blair and their allies launched the so-called “war on terror” which quickly transformed into a “war of terror” on the Muslim world.


The Israeli visa law and other own goals in the BDS wars by Gerald Steinberg

It’s time to press reset on Israel’s confused response to the genuine threat of BDS and demonisation. A series of own-goals have created the impression of a powerful, aggressive government harassing weak NGOs. An alternative approach, based on Israeli MKs and their counterparts in foreign parliaments creating a shared policy framework, is needed.

Among Israeli politicians and pundits, the recognition of threats from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and demonisation, through labels such as ‘apartheid’ and ‘war criminal,’ dawned very slowly. When the response came, it took the form of an overreaction and a series of own-goals that, if anything, have made matters worse.

The most damaging involves policies preventing the entry of BDS activists (actual and imagined) into Israel, first through the actions of overzealous officials in the Interior Ministry at Ben Gurion International Airport, and later through Knesset legislation. This led to intense criticism, and became another major source of friction between Jewish critics of Israel in the Diaspora and the government.

For a large part of the Israeli political spectrum, including right, center and center-left, BDS is seen as a form of antisemitism that singles-out the country for criticism, blunts effective counterterror measures and seeks to end Jewish self-determination. The economic damage has been minimal, but the demonisation that feeds attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets around the world is seen as a major danger. The fear is that such activities, modeled on the fight against South African apartheid and launched at a 2001 UN conference in Durban South Africa, will erode Israeli sovereign equality, including legal sanctions in the UN. While Israel is militarily and economically powerful, a strong sense of isolation and vulnerability continues to permeate large parts of Israeli society, and various forms demonisation amplify these concerns.

The network of NGOs leading BDS is also involved in lawfare, in the form of attempts to bring cases against Israelis to the International Criminal Court and in individual countries, including the UK. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and government ministers have referred to these campaigns as a form of strategic warfare – a view shared by centrist politicians such as Yair Lapid.

But on the Left, BDS in general, and in the ‘selective’ form of boycotts of West Bank and Golan Heights products, are seen as legitimate forms of protest with the limited objective of ending the post-1967 occupation. This is true even for some liberals who consider themselves to be on the Zionist Left. Peter Beinart, for example, wrote that ‘we should lobby to exclude settler-produced goods from America’s free-trade deal with Israel’. Similarly, Kathleen Peratis, a board member at Human Rights Watch, has written that ‘settlement businesses help make settler life possible’ and hence should be boycotted. But for many Israelis, these distinctions are different aspects of the same battlefront. Selective boycotts use the same tools and slogans as the wider BDS movement, erasing the nuances, particularly in harsh political debates.

OWN GOALS

It is against this background that a spate of recent actions, laws and regulations against BDS activists – real and imagined – have created a crisis. READ MORE.


Beyond the Green Line

The walls of the ancient Kasbah of Nablus were plastered with posters of suicide bombers back then. Each poster had a little film strip at the bottom lifted from the news showing the carnage they inflicted. These posters were interrupted only occasionally by a picture of Arafat with a heavenly light beaming down onto his face. There were so many posters you could barely see the stone behind them.

I return to that period every day of my life. Every day since my release from the army I’ve thought about the best way to tell you the story of what we did. It’s been 15 years since I joined the IDF at the height of the al Aqsa Intifada. That’s a lot of time to gain perspective and a lot of time to spend remembering. I have a family now, I have a child and another on the way. Still I think back to Nablus, to the days when I wore green and carried a rifle and hunted the enemy.

I think back to the days when we were doing line duty in Migdalim, a settlement near Nablus. We would regularly drive into a village called Kutsra just at the foot of the hill Migdalim is built on. Every time we drove in we hoped the kids there would throw stones and glass bottles at our jeeps so that we could jump out with stun grenades and gas grenades and fight the mini rioters. Then there was that day when we drove in throwing chocolates at them instead of riot control munitions and held our own little peace process right in the centre of town.

I remember being shot at. I remember being shot at quite a few times. There was one time they were far away from me, I could see the shooters through my aquila night scope. I remember wondering why they were signalling to me in morse code only to hear the pinging of their bullets on the rocks around me and realise I was looking at their muzzle flashes.

In the army I met the men who would become my brothers in arms, friends for life. Some are from from cities I’d heard of like Jerusalem and Beersheba and some from towns I’d never heard of like Reut, Har Gilo and Tekoa. Our team was so diverse It was as if someone in the IDF had decided to construct a team with soldiers representing every part of the country and then thrown in a lone soldier from England for good measure. For what tzevet is complete without a lone soldier?

I lived in Tel Aviv during my service and drank at Mike’s Place whenever I was home. Then it got bombed by British volunteers of an entirely different kind to me and I carried on drinking there anyway, because f*ck them.

I lived on kibbutz Dalia for a part of my service too. I spent my days in a combat zone a mere bus ride from my home. Perhaps it’s a distinctly Israeli thing to experience that kind of intimacy with your enemy. Your home and their home are next door to one another but separated by different dimensions.

Eventually that kind of sudden change became too much to bear and I would lock myself in my room on kibbutz and just wait for my time off to end, petrified that being in a “normal” place would erode my ability to function in Nablus.

There is so much to tell, so many memories swirling around the recesses of my mind. There were missions to arrest bombers, ambushes, sweeps through whole villages, jeep patrols that lasted for eight hours at a time, there was the sight of the dirt kicked up next to me by seven shots fired in quick succession by a man called Fuddy Buddy who we were on our way to kill or capture but never quite reached.

There was the time I was engulfed in an explosion of pure white light, the flashbacks from which came to me again and again once I was back in London. I’ve told you about all of them in Beyond the Green Line.

I remember the desperation I felt to go back to that time and place as soon as I was out of the army as I felt like my world had changed and no one I knew from home had, and that the only people I could talk to I had left behind in Israel.

My memories of the army burn through me reminding me that there were times when I was hungry and cold and tired and under threat…and with my tzevet. They remind me that there was a time when my own life was forfeit in the service of a nation. Sometimes I remember feeling like a holy warrior staring at one person who won’t blow themselves up because we arrested them. When I looked at a suicide bomber I didn’t see a terrorist but 30 people who were going to live for him (or her) being taken away.

I feel ashamed about the fact that civilians were caught up in it all, the people who were never suspected of doing anything but who happened to have a window overlooking some tactically important place that we needed to use. I feel ashamed at enjoying running battles with stone throwers, about the man I was sometimes. I feel despair about the future generations destined to repeat my experiences as I repeated the experiences of those who went before me.

These memories are seared into me and now I can only hope that I have succeeded in portraying my reality of those days to you. That you will read the book I’ve written and that you’ll understand a little about that time in the al Aqsa Intifada that still burns me inside, that still shapes my identity.

Hesitantly, with shaking hands and adrenaline coursing through me I entrust those memories to you.

My book, Beyond the Green Line, is available from Amazon in paperback and ebook format and soon from ibooks.

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When ‘progressives’ excuse Nazi ideology: The case of Bella Caledonia

This is a cross-post by David Collier

Just over a month ago, my report into hard-core antisemitism in the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) was published. Following its release, condemnation of the SPSC crossed the political divide, and was swift. Given what was uncovered, it seemed an obvious and natural response. Nobody wanted to be seen protecting hard-core Nazi ideology.

After all, what had been uncoveredwas indefensible. It was shown that almost every time SPSC activists ran a stall or held a demonstration, 40-50% of those present had previously shared material that circulated in far-right white supremacy websites. At one demonstration alone, ten of the attendees had shared material on their social media pages denying the Holocaust.

Consider this for a moment. Imagine a stall run by a right wing party. Then imagine that 40-50% of those people running it, shared *EXACTLY* the same material as the SPSC activists. How would civil rights campaigners view such a group? What excuses would be considered acceptable? As I said, indefensible.

What also spoke volumes was the relative silence from the SPSC. Little in the way of apology, regret and introspection. The SPSC shrugged their shoulders, denied all responsibility, and chose to respond by calling me names. Their silent reaction spoke volumes.

Sarah Glynn’s acrobatics

And that was all I heard. Until three days ago. When a blog called ‘Bella Caledonia’, published a piece written by anti-Israel activist Sarah Glynn. Sarah’s apparent problem with the SPSC report, wasn’t the fact so many racists are out on the streets handing out SPSC leaflets, oh no, Sarah’s problem with the report, was that I had written it.

Of course, in the article, Sarah had to tell everyone she was speaking ‘as a Jew’. It took 40 words for Sarah Glynn to place her Jewish credentials before the reader. Although in the strictest sense, as the first 39 words of the article were a basic introduction, ‘as a Jew’, was how she began.

Sarah chose to condemn a report exposing Nazi ideology as ‘a gross and politically motivated slur’. According to Sarah then, it doesn’t seem to be in the public interest to inform on those who share Holocaust denial material and stand outside malls boycotting a Jewish business. As the majority of articles I had found came from hard-core white supremacist sites, I wonder if Sarah has other examples where she doesn’t want such vile racism exposed publicly?

You see, Sarah needed to write a piece that condemned those posts, but actually wanted to write one that cleansed the SPSC, and yes, even the activists of any real blame. Because here is the crunch. Those activists weren’t just SPSC ‘fringe material’ as Sarah Glynn would desperately want you to believe. These activists are the people who man the SPSC stalls, they are the ones who come out in the rain to demonstrate. These activists are the ones that call the SPSC HQ their ‘second home‘. Without these activists, the SPSC can’t move.

And the report was flawless because its findings are so clearly evident. Don’t let me tell you these people are front line SPSC activists. Google SPSC, find images of them in action, and then cross-check with the names in the report. It is that easy. Which is why the SPSC, and now Sarah Glynn’s attempts, to suggest that this isn’t actually about the ‘SPSC’, are so laughable.

Do read the rest of David’s post here


11 September 1997

No, not the last affirmative Scottish referendum which Fish-heid McMoonface welcomed as follows:

It’s Happy Frasier Crane Day!