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Interview with Colin Shindler

Karl Pfeifer interviewed Colin Shindler, Emeritus Professor at SOAS University of London and author of Israel and the European Left

In November, we will mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour opposition, said that this declaration was a mistake. How will he react this time?

It was in 2013 that he offered his opinion on the Balfour Declaration. It arises from his lack of understanding of both the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict and of Jewish history itself. He reduces everything to a very simplistic approach. He sees everything in terms of British colonialism and western imperialism. However, the conflict is far more complex than that. I hope that he will have understood this complexity by November.

If he thinks this way, then he should have been a supporter of Lehi – the Stern gang, because it was anti-colonialist.

The logic of 1940 would have suggested one approach but the logic of 2017 suggests something else. Corbyn’s world outlook was formulated in the 1960s. He lived for some time in Jamaica– his views were conditioned by the colonized and not the colonizers. This would have made him more sympathetic to the embryonic Palestinian national movement in the 1960s – even before the conquest of the West Bank in 1967.

Let us go back to 1940. You found leaflets of Trotskyists which, at a time when Britain was fighting alone, demanded that young Jews in Palestine should not join the British Army.

This was mainly the work of Brit Spartakus in the Yishuv in Mandatory Palestine. One of the leading lights in this campaign was Yigael Glückstein who came from the Zionist elite. He later became known in the UK as Tony Cliff who founded the Socialist Workers Party – perhaps the most influential Trotskyist group in the UK. As a youth in Palestine, he flirted with Stalinism, and was an avid follower of HaHugim HaMarksistim of Left Poale Zion.

At the beginning of World War II, he was arrested by the British. By October 1940, he was a leading light of Brit Spartakus, which attempted to persuade young Jews not to enlist in the British Army. Like both Stalin and Trotsky, Glückstein understood the conflict between Nazi Germany and Britain as one of rival imperialisms. Therefore neither should be endorsed.

By 1948 after 8 years of committed political activity, the Trotskyists in Mandatory Palestine amounted to 30 members – 23 Jews and seven Arabs. By that time, Glückstein had left. In September 1946 as tens of thousands of Jews from the DP camps were trying to illegally enter Palestine, Glückstein was going in the opposite direction to Britain.

This is interesting since many years later Trotskyists accused the Zionists of not having done enough to save Jews. The Zionists at the time had no power; they had no army, no navy. Nevertheless, the Zionists did save many Jews. While the Trotskyists themselves did not save Jews, they repeatedly accuse Rudolf Kasztner of collaboration and not saving Hungarian Jewry– as if he could have. Now in Britain Paul Bogdanor has written a book which accuses Kasztner once again as being virtually a traitor.

I read the book and reviewed it for The Jerusalem Post. While Bogdanor has written a remarkably comprehensive, convincing book, it is still unclear to me what the role of Kasztner was. He was undoubtedly in an incredibly difficult position. He saved some of his family and friends from Cluj, but others were not included. The question that everyone has to ask him- or herself is “What would I have done if I had been in Kasztner’s shoes?” While there is no doubt that he made mistakes and that he was a flawed character, I still feel that he should not have been castigated in that way. Kasztner was killed in 1957 by members of the far Right group, Malkhut Yisrael, when these former members of Lehi shot him. It was cowardly and unworthy.

The Supreme Court of Israel denounced the accusation of collaboration against Kasztner– of which he had been earlier accused in 1955. Malkiel Gruenwald, who was his primary accuser during the trial, possessed a long criminal career from Hungary and was seemingly a CID informer in Israel.

Kasztner was also attacked for political reasons rather than for ones of justice. Herut, Menachem Begin’s party, attacked him prior to the 1955 election in order to make political capital out of this case. An election poster read: ‘Kasztner votes for Mapai, you vote for Herut’. Therefore I do not go along with those who condemn him wholeheartedly– although there are clearly many people who hold him responsible, including those who survived the Shoah. At the end of the day, it is still difficult for anyone who has not carried out detailed research for himself to come to a concrete opinion about the Kasztner saga. But there are undoubtedly double standards on the part of the Trotskyists who continually mention the case. Clearly they are bereft of a moral compass.

Your lecture at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna was on the subject of the rise of the Right in Israel. Israel has a rightwing government and it looks as if there will be no possibility of a change of government or indeed a change in the situation. How do you see that?

I think you are right. When there is violence in the Middle East, people move cosmically to the Right and will vote for the Likud and other rightwing parties in elections. There is no space in either Israel or in Palestine to explore other options. When there is violence, views which bring the two sides together are marginalized. Instead the Right promotes polarization in Israeli society and propagates the politics of stagnation.

There have been no meaningful political initiatives by Benjamin Netanyahu for the last 20 years. Netanyahu does not wish to put forward a political initiative today because he knows that the far Right members of his cabinet, such as Naftali Bennet and Avigdor Lieberman, would undoubtedly oppose it. His main objective is to assure the survival of his government so this rules out any meaningful peace plan.

Another big test for Bishop Andrew Watson

This is a guest post by John Bevan. It is divided into four parts.


HP readers will no doubt recall that, in February 2015, Stephen Sizer was banned by Revd Andrew Watson, the Bishop of Guildford, from any campaigning on the Middle East. The Bishop imposed the ban after Rev Sizer had posted an article alleging Israeli involvement in 9/11 on his Facebook page. The Bishop’s then statement included the following words:

“In order for Stephen to remain in parish ministry, I have therefore asked for – and received from him – a solemn undertaking, in writing, that he is to refrain entirely from writing or speaking on any theme that relates, either directly or indirectly, to the current situation in the Middle East or to its historical backdrop.” [emphasis in original]

“He has promised to refrain, with no exceptions, from attendance at or participation in any conferences which promote or are linked to this agenda; from all writing, tweeting, blogging, emailing, preaching and teaching on these themes, whether formally or informally – a prohibition which of course includes posting links to other sites; and from all background work in this area which may resource others to act as spokespeople in Stephen’s stead. [emphasis added]

“Should Stephen be deemed by the Diocese to have broken this agreement, in letter or in spirit, he has pledged to offer me his immediate resignation, which I will duly accept…”


Last October, Rev Sizer announced that he would be retiring from parish ministry from 16 April 2017 (Easter Sunday). in order to launch a new charity, “Peacemaker Mediators” (whose “International Board of Reference” will include, among others, Baroness Jenny Tonge).

Following this announcement, Rev Sizer attended the notorious launch meeting of the “Balfour Apology Campaign” in the House of Lords, organised by the Palestine Return Centre and hosted, coincidentally or otherwise, by Baroness Tonge. He also wrote about it on his Facebook page, thereby breaking his 2015 undertaking in two ways.

On 2 November 2016, the Bishop of Guildford released a second statement (emphasis added):

In February 2015, Dr Stephen Sizer undertook to refrain from writing or speaking on themes relating to the current situation in the Middle East and to its historical backdrop for as long as he remained a parish priest in the Diocese of Guildford. Until now, this agreement has been upheld in letter and spirit, however Dr Sizer recently attended an event which clearly engages in these themes, and around which there has subsequently been understandable controversy. Additionally, Dr Sizer published a social media post relating to the event, also contravening his agreement.

Dr Sizer has already given notice of his resignation as vicar of Virginia Water from Easter 2017, and said that he attended the event in question on the understanding that our agreement no longer stood now that his resignation had been tendered. This is certainly not the case. I have spoken with Dr Sizer to make clear that I am disappointed by his actions and to clarify that our agreement categorically must run until the end of his tenure of office.

Dr Sizer is aware how seriously I view this and has stated to me that it was not his intention to break the agreement which he has upheld until now. However, with its terms now clarified beyond any doubt, Dr Sizer has been warned that any further breach of the agreement must result in his tenure of office ending with immediate effect.


Now fast forward to 28 February 2017, a matter of weeks before Rev Sizer’s impending retirement date. On that date, as noted by Daphne Anson, Rev Sizer posted a Facebook link to a 2015 Spectator article by Nick Cohen about the Swedish foreign minister, Margot Wallström. The article includes the following words (emphasis added):

She [Wallström] is foreign minister in Sweden’s weak coalition of Social Democrats and Greens, and took office promising a feminist foreign policy. She recognised Palestine in October last year — and, no, the Arab League and Organisation of Islamic Co-operation and Gulf Co-operation Council did not condemn her ‘unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of Israel’. I confess that her gesture struck me as counterproductive at the time. But after Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out a Palestinian state as he used every dirty trick he could think of to secure his re-election, she can claim with justice that history has vindicated her.

(It only seems fair to mention that, since writing that piece, Nick Cohen has criticised both Wallström and – on more than one occasion – Stephen Sizer himself.)

On 4 Marchas noted, again, by Daphne Anson, Rev Sizer posted a link to a video titled “Islam and ISIS”.

On 5 March, Rev Sizer preached a sermon titled “Jesus is the True Temple”. That sermon included the following words about those who believe that the Jewish Temple must be rebuilt in Jerusalem:

No, the most valuable piece of real estate in the world, is the Haram al Sharif, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The site on which Abraham offered Isaac, on which Solomon and Herod built their temples. The Temple Mount is sacred to 16 million Jews as well as 1.6 billion Muslims, and of interest to 2.2 billion Christians. Were it for sale, there would be no problem getting a deposit together. Orthodox Jews pray 3 times a day that the Temple will be rebuilt in their life time.
Many Fundamentalists are dedicated to destroying the Muslim shrine, the Dome of the Rock to achieve it. And millions of Bible-believing Christians are convinced it must happen for Jesus to return…

This is a theme that Rev Sizer has written about previously, and that he considers to be relevant – indeed integral – to “the current situation in the Middle East”.

On 6 March, Rev Sizer posted a link to that sermon.

In summary: between 28 February and 6 March 2017, Rev Sizer - in four separate ways – broke his February 2015 undertaking not to write or speak “on any theme that relates, either directly or indirectly, to the current situation in the Middle East or to its historical backdrop”. He did this by linking to two other sites; by preaching on a theme directly related to the current situation in the Middle East; and by then linking to that sermon.


It would seem that Rev Sizer is trying to get away with breaching his February 2015 undertaking. He appears to have calculated that his Bishop won’t now go to the fuss of requiring him to resign, since he will be retiring on 16 April anyway. Yet the Bishop of Guildford’s November 2016 statement was (and remains) clear and unequivocal: the undertaking is to run until the end of Rev Sizer’s tenure of office; and any further breaches will result in that tenure ending with immediate effect.

What happens next could be very significant.

No decent person – and certainly no Christian – should want anything to do with “Peacemaker Mediators”, a charity whose CEO will be Stephen Sizer and whose International Board of Reference will include Jenny Tonge. Yet if his Bishop now takes no action, Rev Sizer will retire after Easter, like the soldier who is discharged with honour. He will then, no doubt, trade on that relentlessly in his fundraising and future work. Yet if the Bishop upholds the twice-stated agreement, Dr Sizer will be forced to resign his parish ministry prematurely and with dishonour. This would have well-deserved negative effects on his future activities.

And so Bishop Andrew Watson once again faces a challenge. Will he now act on his strong and unequivocal warning of last November? Or will he meekly retract it, now the time has come for enforcement? Let’s hope he has the courage to do the right thing.

Am I an Antisemite?

This is a guest post by Jonathan Hoffman

This was the topic of Ilan Pappe’s talk on Tuesday evening at UCL (another ‘Apartheid Week’ event – on the strength of this talk, there is really no question).  It was a real gathering of the Israel-traducing clans, including the Trotskyist John Rose, author of ‘The Myths of Zionism’.

Ilan Pappe published his book “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” in 2006. It has been widely criticised as dishonest.  See here how Pappe is accused of rewriting history (It compares his book  with newspaper archives). Pappe’s hysterical thesis – that Israel ‘ethnically cleansed’ half the Arab population in 1948 – has been comprehensively disproved, for example by Efraim Karsh in 2008:

“By the time of Israel’s declaration of independence on May 14 1948, the numbers of Arab refugees had more than trebled. Even then, none of the 170,000-180,000 Arabs fleeing urban centers, and only a handful of the 130,000-160,000 villagers who left their homes, had been forced out by the Jews.”

Incredibly Pappe on Tuesday said ‘Israel in 1948 was as bad as Daesh today’.  Let’s remember that in 1948, the Mayor of Haifa, Shabtai Levy, pleaded with the Arabs to stay.  How on earth does this compare with the atrocities perpetrated by Daesh?

Benny Morris said of Ilan Pappe: “At best, Ilan Pappe must be one of the world’s sloppiest historians; at worst, one of the most dishonest. In truth, he probably merits a place somewhere between the two.”

Pappe further disgraced his academic status by his approbation of Thomas Suarez’s racist apology for a ‘book’ : ‘A tour de force, based on diligent archival research that looks boldly at the impact of Zionism in Palestine and its people in the first part of the 20th century. The book is the first comprehensive and structured analysis of the violence and terror employed by the Zionist movement and later the state of Israel against the people of Palestine. Much of the suffering we witness today can be explained by, and connected to, this formative period covered thoroughly in this book.’

And remember him on the Al Jazeera ‘Lobby’ programme, saying that the charge of ‘antisemitism’ is being used falsely, “to intimidate Corbyn”!

The security at Tuesday’s meeting was as near as possible on a UK University campus to closing down opposition.  It was reminiscent of the meetings of the former Communist Party of the Soviet Union.  The organisers tried to eject me even before the meeting began. The pretext was that I had the wrong ticket but of course the truth was that they wanted to censor me. No filming was allowed, though that injunction seemed to apply only to the Zionists – at least one anti-Zionist (Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi) filmed freely.

Two security guards in Hi-Vis jackets were present throughout the Q+A. Hecklers (there were none) would surely have been manhandled out. The biased Chair failed to call on me in the Q+A.  Questions not relevant to what Pappe had said were not allowed (so no criticism of his dishonest book, for example).

The Hatefest was presided over by Yahya Abu Seido and Yousef (I think his second name is Anis).  How ironic that they were free to hold this Hatefest when (27 October 2016) they did their best to stop a UCLU Friends of Israel event from happening.

Yahya Abu Seido’s desire that Israel be destroyed is laid out here.  He was one of the leaders of the attempt to stop Hen Mazzig speaking on 27 October. He was caught on camera celebrating what he believed was the success in achieving this.  He was responsible for the people that left Jewish students locked in a room. Those who necessitated a police escort for pro-Israel students and advocates to leave UCL safely on 27 October.   At 12.30 on 27 October in the Quad at UCL, the following conversation with Seido was noted by an Israel activist:

Yahya Abu-Seido: You seem interested, can I help you?
X:No, I’m fine thanks

YAS: Because you’re staring at people, they find it intimidating
X:I hardly think so. Are you going to intimidate the speaker this evening?

YAS (confidently): The talk is not going to happen

X:Why not?

YAS – does not answer, turns his back

X:I hope you are not going to do anything illegal

YAS: Don’t worry, we won’t do anything illegal
The drama on Tuesday began even before the start.  I got there early, before the ticket checking started. Yousef and Yahya Abu Seido checked my ticket – and deemed it invalid, asking me to leave and join the waitlist.

Apparently the early bookers (like me – I booked on 8 February, before the date of the meeting was changed from 24 February) were asked to rebook and non-students to pay £5. Well, I never received that message – so I stood my ground.  They threatened me with security. Fortunately a Union sabbatical officer was there to resolve it. The truth – of course- was that they wanted me out – pure censorship.

The meeting started by introducing the Chair, Dr Lee Grieveson, Reader in Film Studies at UCL.  Like the Chairs at the other three IAW meetings I have attended, he was of course irredeemably biased. He has signed anti-Israel letters here and here.

Pappe’s talk was pure anti-Israel vitriol and falsehoods.  His thesis was that Israel was founded by ‘settler colonialists’ and that the Jews righted the wrong done to them by the Nazis by committing another wrong, on the Palestinians (in his talk he repeated the phrase ‘settler colonialism’ 13 times – remember how he organised a hatefest ‘conference’ on the topic at Exeter University in October 2015).   Fifteen years ago pro-Israel people said “don’t criticise Israel, you will damage the peace process”. But now there is no peace process so (according to Pappe) supporters of Israel have to call all criticism of Israel ‘antisemitic’.  Ridiculously Pappe said that Israelis and Zionists define antisemitism as “criticising Jews for what they are doing, even when they are doing something wrong.”

In other words, Pappe did not address the question. Instead he railed at a straw man – our old friend the  ‘Livingstone Formulation’: the charge that Israel advocates use the charge of ‘antisemitism’ to suppress all criticism of Israel.  Of course it is a false charge and those who use it can never – when challenged – provide an example. The IHRA Definition of Antisemitism does NOT attempt to suppress criticism of Israel  - and the allegation that it does is absurd, shameful and ‘Antisemitism Denial’.

The reason Pappe did not address the question is doubtless because of the number of antisemitic remarks that he wished to make.   One of the worst was the suggestion that the solution to the antisemitism of the Nazis was also antisemitic because “people who live in Palestine are also Semites”.  The response “Arabs are Semites too” is used by antisemites to deny Middle Eastern antisemitism. Antisemitism Denial is right up there alongside Holocaust Denial. Pappe also said several times that Israel is a racist state – the IHRA Definition says that to ‘claim that the State of Israel is a racist endeavour’ is antisemitic. Pappe said “For me, Israel is not a Jewish State”; “Is there a legitimacy for a racist state?” And “regimes like the one we have now in Israel cannot exist for very long”.  We also had David Ward-style admonition of naughty Jews for not learning the lessons of the Holocaust: Pappe described how he lost members of his family in the Holocaust and then said “The State of Israel – instead of creating a certain sensitivity toward crimes against humanity, sees it as a licence to perpetrate crimes against humanity. I don’t accept that an abused person is entitled to abuse”. Suggesting that Israel has not learned the lessons of the Holocaust is vile, period – the fact that Pappe lost family in the Holocaust absolutely does not give him licence to say it with impunity. Not only vile but anti-Semitic: To compare Jews with Nazis is antisemitic.

Several people heard one of the audience members made a borderline antisemitic comment too. Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi turned around to the pro-Israel supporters behind her and alleged “the media are all on your side”.

However despite the intimidating security and biased Chair, Pappe did not have it all his own way on Tuesday. The Jewish students there did a ‘silent protest’ with signs (‘Ilan Pappe does not represent me’ plus the name of their institution):

I joined them with this sign, referring to the topic of the meeting and the offensiveness of the suggestion that non-Jews should decide what constitutes racism against Jews:

(The footage is on the Facebook page of the organisers).

And the debate after the meeting outside in the yard was fierce and peaceful, with the Jewish students rebutting the lies with passion and knowledge.  Well done guys, you know who you are!

But why could this debate not have happened in the room ……….

International Women’s Day, Putin style

From an AP roundup of worldwide activities on International Women’s Day:

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (dih-MEE’-tree med-VYEH’-dyev) has approved a five-year national action plan supporting women’s interests.

The signing came on International Women’s Day on Wednesday.

Valentina Matvienko, who as speaker of the upper house of parliament is one of Russia’s most prominent female politicians, calls the strategy a “gift to all the women of Russia.”

The plan sets out broad terms for improving women’s health, their economic opportunities and their involvement in the country’s politics.

Meanwhile, Russian news reports say seven women have been arrested after a demonstration on Moscow’s Red Square marking International Women’s Day.

The independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta said those arrested included four activists, two of the newspaper’s reporters and a photographer.

It was only last month that President Vladimir Putin signed a law that was not exactly a gift to all the women of Russia. It decriminalizes some forms of domestic violence.

Dubbed the “slapping law,” it decriminalizes a first offense of domestic violence that does not seriously injure the person, making it a less serious administrative offense.

The punishment carries a fine of up to 30,000 rubles ($507), an arrest up to 15 days, or compulsory community service up to 120 hours.

In cases of repeated assaults, a defendant faces a fine of up to 40,000 rubles ($676), compulsory community service for up to six months, or being held under arrest for up to three months.

More than 85% of legislators in Russia’s Duma approved the bill last month — seen as part of Putin’s drive to appease conservative pushing “traditional family values.”
Official data on domestic violence in Russia is not centrally collected so it’s difficult to verify. But state-run news agency RIA Novosti has reported that 40% of serious crimes in Russia are committed in the family, 36,000 women are beaten by their husbands daily, and 12,000 women die yearly as a result of domestic violence — one woman every 44 minutes.

The previous penalty for domestic violence was a maximum of two years imprisonment. Some reduction in maximum penalties might be justified if the Russian government was fully committed to combating domestic violence. But that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Alena Popova, an activist who has campaigned against the law, said it would be fine to pass the amendments if a draft law specifically aimed at tackling domestic violence was passed at the same time. But that law, which provides for restraining orders and other safeguards in domestic abuse cases, is stalled in parliament and is not expected to be passed.

PSC Loving Hamas

Just when you thought the Palestine Solidarity Campaign would want to lie low and try not to get much attention in the wake of David Collier’s devastating reports on antisemitism and nutcase fantasism in their ranks they go and tweet these:

Update: @PSCUpdates the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s Twitter handle has just been pulled.

Update 2: @fiona_bowden of the PSC says that their Twitter feed has been hacked: which is plausible. The PSC generally avoids these sorts of statements. They are more closely aligned with Fatah than Hamas. The picture of the PSC leadership, although genuine and from a PSC source, was published on Harry’s Place some time ago, and is probably the source for the original tweet.

Update 3: If you look at the time on the Tweets they are two hours ahead of GMT further implying that the Tweets were not written in the UK but in a different timezone.

Jenni Murray and the trans controversy

Jenni Murray’s recent article ‘Be trans, be proud, but don’t call yourself a “real woman”’ divided readers.  Many applauded her stance, but others were unconvinced by her opening assurance that she is ‘not transphobic’.

The category of ‘real woman’ strikes me as problematic.  What value of ‘real’ are we talking about here?  The phrases ‘real woman’ and ‘real man’ can be weaponised to exclude and marginalise people for a whole range of reasons, as often as not unwelcome ones.

Murray distances herself from the language used by Burchill and Greer – so far I’m with her.

She goes on:

Equally, I’m appalled at the repulsive misogyny evident in the response of trans activists who have accused Nimko Ali, a Somali and a courageous campaigner against female genital mutilation, of “practising white feminism”[.]

I couldn’t find the criticism of Nimko Ali she alludes to – it doesn’t sound like an especially trans-focused critique, though it is certainly a very perverse one.  I wondered whether Murray might instead have been thinking about an absolutely vile accusation levelled at Ali cited here by Sarah Ditum

Yet simultaneously in the UK, anti-FGM campaigner Nimko Ali receives vicious abuse accusing her of propagating a “cunt-obsessed culture” because of her work protecting girls from genital mutilation.

(Though having followed Ditum’s link I’m unsure whether  this abuse was motivated by trans issues.)

Murray continues:

But my concern, which I know is shared by numerous women who are now to be known as “cis” (short for “cisgender” — natural-born women, in the language that’s more familiar to most of us), is for the impact this question of what constitutes “a real woman” will have on sexual politics. And for who has the right to be included in gatherings or organisations that are defined as single sex.

Two points bother me here.  The first is the implication that only cisgender women will have a problem with this alleged horrifying abuse of an anti-FGM campaigner.  The second is the sneeriness around the term ‘cisgender’ coupled with the use of the phrase ‘natural-born woman’.

A lengthy portion of the article is taken up with Murray’s  reflections on apparently unsatisfactory encounters with two transwomen, Carol Stone,a vicar, and India Willoughby, a news presenter.  Both, it is claimed, were unalert or indifferent to feminist issues.   Stone died in 2014, but Willoughby has questioned Murray’s account of her views on unequal expectations of female staff at the Dorchester .

“She and Woman’s Hour have subsequently tried to portray me as someone who believes all women must have perfectly shaved legs at all times, which quite frankly is ridiculous.

Even if Willoughby was as anti-feminist as Murray suggested, she is still only one individual – many women would fail a feminist purity test.  Although many transwomen are feminist, it doesn’t seem reasonable to expect them to be any different from other women – who hold a range of views on feminism.

Murray concludes the article by quoting a transsexual woman who does not think female spaces should be open to males.  Her last sentence is ‘Now that’s a “woman” after my own heart.’ Those scare quotes don’t seem designed to soften increasingly entrenched positions on this issue or encourage an honest and nuanced debate about such difficult topics as the appropriate treatment of children by gender-identity clinics.

Something Is Rotten In The State Of Academia

This is a guest post by Jonathan Hoffman

Having attended three IAW meetings this week (UCL, KCL, Brunel), blogged about two of them and taken an early bath from the third, I have been thinking hard about various aspects of this annual hatefest.

The most obvious observation is that if IAW was a brand, it would be judged to have failed long ago. It is clear that its main aim is to boost support for BDS. But BDS has failed miserably. Israel’s GDP rose an estimated 3.5% in 2016 and annual growth since 2009 has averaged 3.8%. Neither is BDS gaining followers. I see the same Israel haters at anti-Israel meetings now as I saw five years ago.  Neither is the law going their way – in fact, the opposite – in the UK the government has made it absolutely clear that in local authority purchasing decisions and investment decisions, a boycott of Israeli goods and services is not acceptable (in truth in public procurement decisions, it never was). And in the US many State have passed laws which discourage BDS.   At the Federal level this is also the case.  So IAW has very little impact on Israel. Its main impact is on Jews in the Diaspora – particularly students.

The second response is how shocking that with only one exception (the University of Central Lancashire), Vice Chancellors appear studiously indifferent about hosting these hatefests of lies and demonisations of Israel.  In the Medieval Disputation a Jew was required to defend a philosophical position. But the contest was rigged. The only way for the Jewish side to ‘win’ was to force a draw by drawing the Christian side into a position in which it was necessary to deny the Old Testament to win, committing heresy. IAW is much the same. For a Zionist, either (i) you stay away completely or (ii) you go and wait until the Q+A to speak or (iii) you go and make your voice heard in response to the lies as they are voiced. In every case the dice are loaded against you.

If you stay away, you hand the field to the liars and defamers to brainwash young people. Standing aloof has never been a smart move for Jews. Nobody else is going to stand up for us.  We stand up for Israel and Israel gives us in the Diaspora the confidence to stand up for ourselves. If you go and stay quiet and discuss it afterwards on Facebook – what’s the point?  Waiting until the Q+A can sometimes work, but the biased Chairs often either do not call you or cut you off – or you get shouted down by the anti-Israel audience.  The final alternative is to rebut the lies at source and then hang around after the event to see if anyone is open-minded enough to want to talk and learn. That of course risks being thrown out of the Disputation……….. Except if there are enough of you the event can be brought to an early close – as happened in Manchester on Wednesday for Esack and Monet (the event was disrupted three times then brought to an early close). As seen below, the Disputations are an affront to academia, both to its spirit and its letter – so the Queensberry Rules of normal courtesies for attendees simply go out of the window.

The third observation is that these events are diametrically opposed to the ethos of a University – scholarship, seeking after the truth and teaching independent thinking. They are nothing more than a hatefest of defamatory lies, designed to lure young people into the BDS cult. If you don’t believe me, see my reports of the UCL and KCL events and David Collier’s reports (here and here) and David’s report of the Brunel event on Thursday. Just three examples:

  • At UCL Dr Ang Swee Chai produced fake maps of Israel since 1948.
  • At KCL Farid Esack said ‘Life in the shadow of Zionism is worse than Apartheid’. If that’s the case, how some Arab women in Israel get the best education in the Middle East and how come – when asked if they want to transfer to a Palestinian State through land swaps – the vast majority of Arabs in Galilee wants to remain in Israel?
  • At Brunel Salayma said that Israel ‘arrested’ a five year old boy for no reason. It takes about 30 seconds to expose this lie. The boy was detained for throwing stones – not arrested – and was returned to the Palestinian police along with his father.

And there isn’t even an attempt at these events to discuss Hamas or Hezbollah terrorism against Israel. Nor the Israelis who have been killed in recent months by stabbing or by ramming with vehicles. Nor the Islamist nature of the government in Gaza or in Judea/Samaria (both appear to be assumed to be secular!). No – It is simply assumed that Israel is the Great Satan and then the time is divided between defamatory lies and recruiting for BDS. The KCL event was even sponsored by War On Want – the most viciously anti-Israel of all the charities.

Fourth –the Vice Chancellors with IAW events on the campuses (at least 20 of them) are in breach of their Prevent obligations, their Equality Duty and their duty to respect the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism.

The Prevent Obligation says that if an event has the risk of radicalising students (which these IAW events clearly did) then the speakers must be researched, a risk assessment drawn up if the speakers are deemed suitable and opposing speakers engaged to speak at the event – not afterwards. There certainly weren’t any opposing speakers at the three events I attended! I very much doubt that the other Prevent requirements were respected.

The Equality Duty says Universities must have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation, to advance equality of opportunity, and to foster good relations between persons of different ethnicities, nationalities and religions. The term ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ is anti-Semitic, because it suggests Israel is a ‘racist endeavour’. Therefore in accordance with the Equality Duty, Vice Chancellors should not allow events that have been promoted by means of these antisemitic words to be held on their campus.

Imagine if students wanted to start a “Muslim Sex Abuse Week” each year with captions such as “Remember What Happened in Rotherham, Rochdale and Oxford” and speakers such as Dame Louise Casey?  The term “Muslim Sex Abuse Week” is not nearly as misleading or damaging as “Israel Apartheid Week” and Dame Louise Casey is honest and moderate compared with the speakers at last week’s “Israel Apartheid Week” events.

The IHRA Definition of Antisemitism is accepted by the government. Inter alia, it says that it’s antisemitic to suggest that Israel is a racist state; to compare Jews with Nazis is antisemitic; and to hold Israel to a higher standard than any other democratic nation is antisemitic. As was said above – the very phrase ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ is antisemitic.  Vice Chancellors should know that.

Moreover Vice Chancellors are responding inconsistently to these obligations and often do not know what is happening on their campuses.  After the Brunel meeting on Thursday I received the following from the Deputy VC:

The event to which you refer was a discussion group on the theme of ‘Describing the state of Palestinian since the creation of Israel (Balfour Declaration)’.  This is a legitimate topic of debate within a University and opposing speakers have been invited to attend.  Initially there was some unauthorised advertising used but this was removed and replaced with a poster that more accurately reflected the nature of the event and made no reference to ‘Israeli Apartheid’.


Yours sincerely

Professor William Leahy BA (Hons), MA, PhD, FRSA

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs and Civic Engagement)

Vice Chancellor’s Ambassador for Teaching and Student Experience

He says ‘opposing speakers were invited to attend’. But it’s not enough to ‘invite’ them – they have to be there and speak! (I have submitted an FOI to find out who they were). He suggests the meeting was not branded as ‘Israeli Apartheid’. That’s just not true. It is there, on the ‘Israeli Apartheid’ website:

And even Universities UK – the body that represents universities to the government – does not appear to understand (or maybe, to want to understand) the Prevent/Equality/IHRA responsibilities of universities. Those who emailed Nicola Dandridge (CEO of Universities UK) received a lawyer-speak response straight out of ‘Yes Minister’. Unbelievably she believes that the PSC is committed to combatting antisemitism! That’s the PSC, 45% of whose supporters are hard core antisemites according to the explosive findings in  David Collier’s inestimable undercover research………:

Separately, we have liaised with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and discussed the implications of IAW with them. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign share a common concern about the importance of being able to explore and debate views free from racism, antisemitism or Islamophobia. ….. We do not believe that the government’s recently adopted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism precludes IAW events from going ahead, providing they are properly handled and remain within the law.“

Fifth is the impact on Jewish students. Most have an affinity with Israel. Many have friends and/or family there. Vice Chancellors who preside over IAW events are causing distress to Jewish students and are in blatant transgression of their Equality Duty. There are undoubtedly some ‘no-go’ Universities for many Jewish students because of the extent of hostility to Israel. Exeter and Manchester are examples. The number of Jewish students at Manchester has fallen from over a thousand some years ago to less than 200 now It is shocking that in twenty-first century Britain, Jewish students are shunning a major university because of its hostile reputation.

Sixth is the ability of Palestine Societies to use blatantly biased Chairs for their meetings whereas Israel Societies are made to use neutral academic Chairs for their meetings. This is blatant discrimination and it is an outrage. All three Chairs at the meetings I attended were irredeemably biased. Dr. Saladin Meckled-Garcia at UCL considers Zionism a “racist ideology”; the Chair at SOAS was Rafeef Ziadah, a ‘Palestinian poet and human rights activist’ employed at SOAS and previously at War On Want.  She has extremist connections and she has praised a terrorist member of Islamic Jihad, Khader Adnan.  And at Brunel, the Chair was a member of the Friends of Palestine Society. With such Chairs there is no chance of challenging the lies properly. Indeed when you try, you are asked to leave.  It is the crudest form of censorship.

Seventh – there were some successes however last week. Notably the University of Central Lancashire – which cancelled an IAW event. Well done Professor Mike Thomas!  Exeter also cancelled an event, albeit on Health and Safety grounds.  The Manchester event on Wednesday was disrupted and brought to an early close and an ‘apartheid wall’ at Manchester University was removed.  Leeds University asked Craig Murray to submit a speech in advance.

But the overall conclusion has to be that by allowing these offensive and often antisemitic events, the Vice Chancellors and the government are failing the Jewish community. Just the name ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ is antisemitic.  Vice Chancellors need to stop conveniently hiding behind ‘free speech’ and start to meet their obligations to Jewish students. If they do not – then government must step in.

In the years to come – when EU students will be discouraged from studying in the UK by having to pay the same fees as non-EU students, after exit from the EU – does the government really want to see increasing numbers of Jewish students opting to study in the US?  And shunning universities such as SOAS, Manchester and Exeter because they do not wish to run the gauntlet of the Israel Haters?

Wait. What?

From a program on the Putin regime-funded propaganda TV channel RT:

Review and interview with Dave Rich

Guest post by by Karl Pfeifer

Dave Rich, author of “The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti-Semitism,” is the deputy director of communications at the Community Security Trust, a group that monitors anti-Semitic incidents and provides protection services.

I can only recommend his book, which reveals how people on the British Left have tried to make sense of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, how much of the Left stopped loving Israel, how some leftists moved from Anti-Apartheid to Anti-Zionism, how anti-racists banned Jews.

Nowadays leftist anti-Semites do not just deny antisemitism, they accuse Israel’s supporter of dishonesty and intimidation. David Hirsh named this phenomenon the Livingstone-Formulation, after Ken Livingstone wrote in 2006 that, “For far too long the accusation of anti-Semitism has been used against anyone who is critical of the policies of the Israeli government, as I have been.”

This came after he had told a Jewish journalist that he was behaving like a “concentration camp guard.”

Will his suggestion to “understand and appreciate the central place that Israel now holds in global Jewish life and Jewish identity while also campaigning for Palestinian rights” be heeded by leftwing antisemites? As long as the extreme Left does not understand Zionism’s essence as a national liberation movement of European origin that offered a solution to the modern Jewish Question in a world of nationalities, they will look on the Israel-Palestinian conflict as one that must end by the liquidation of the Jewish and democratic state of Israel.

Dave Rich has published a crisply written, balanced and comprehensive work for anyone interested to repair the rift between Jews and the Left in Britain.

Is it not strange that an Austrian journalist who was asked frequently about antisemitism in Austria has to make an interview with a British expert on antisemitism in the UK?

Every country has its history and its pattern how antisemitism operates and it is different from one country to the next, the antisemitism in Austria how it worked over the centuries is different from in the UK. However, that does not mean that there is no antisemitism in the UK. Of course there is. It has a long history. In medieval times, there was a very potent and lethal form of antisemitism. Therefore, we have our own patterns in each country and each one carries its own dangers.
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Trump: Antisemite or Equal-Opportunity Conspiracy Theorist?

Why would president Donald Trump casually imply that a spate of recent attacks and threats made against Jewish Community Centres in the US are false flag operations? It certainly sounds like an antisemitic trope. A promise that this inchoate theory would be elaborated during his address to Congress went unfulfilled and observers were left none the wiser.

At this point Trump’s serial defenders, sympathizers, and apologists will usually mention that he has a Jewish daughter to whom he is clearly devoted and a Jewish son-in-law he evidently likes and trusts. Trump’s pro-Israeli bona fides will be marshaled in his support with Netanyahu as a character witness to Trump’s apparently impeccable philosemitic credentials. And right-wing Jewish voices will translate his words into something benign and accuse anyone who interprets what he said otherwise of ‘smears’ and a partisan lack of charity. It will also be noted at some point during this ever-more familiar process that those on the Left accusing Trump or his administration of antisemitism have a lot of nerve given the Left’s inglorious recent history in such matters.

Today’s febrile environment can make sober assessment of incidents like this one difficult. Umbrage on the Right is in part an expression of garden-variety tribalism in a polarized political environment, but it also seems to be a consequence of a changing ideological landscape. The Right has become accustomed to occupying the moral high ground on antisemitism and is in no mood to surrender it. This has, in turn, made it slow to identify and quick to minimize growing evidence of antisemitism in its midst. On the other hand, Trump’s clumsy impulsivity is often matched by reflexive outrage on the part of his opponents, who seldom stop to consider a charitable interpretation of whatever he’s just said and done. It is usually worth contemplating other explanations before reaching – and possibly overreaching – for an antisemitism accusation since false alarms serve no-one.

A number of commentators inferred from Trump’s characteristically vague ruminations about the JCC threats that he was blaming Jews for staging the attacks, but this was not in fact made explicit by Trump himself. Earlier in the day, an informal advisor to the president, Anthony Scaramucci, had speculated that the Democrats were behind them (an allegation he has since partially walked back), and it is more likely that Trump was echoing this suspicion. It is also worth noting that there have been a series of reports of people fabricating racist attacks in what appear to be attempts to implicate Trump supporters. Nevertheless, there is not, as far as I know, any evidence to suggest that the threats made against American JCCs are themselves fabricated and, consequently, Trump’s speculations to that effect sound fantastically insensitive and irresponsible.

Trump’s reflexive suspicion is not specific to these incidents, however – it appears to be a character trait informing (or informed by) a generally paranoid worldview. During the election campaign, intelligence officials were bewildered by his refusal to credit allegations of Russian interference and this led some observers to conclude that Trump was covering for Putin. But it also looked like an attempt to push back against those he suspected were attempting to discredit his support with politically-motivated allegations. The same could be said of Trump’s sluggish disavowal of David Duke and the alt-right. Putin, Duke, and Richard Spencer had flattered him so why should he denounce them just because people who only ever seemed to criticize him demanded it?

This sense of embattled indignation is compounded by Trump’s generally conspiratorial mindset. Trump aggressively promoted the ‘birther’ lie, he gives credence to vaccine alarmists, he has speculated that global warming is a Chinese-concocted hoax, and he gets at least some of his understanding of current events from cranks like former advisor Roger Stone and Alex Jones at InfoWars. It should not be surprising that he sees enemies and plotters lurking everywhere, nor that his default understanding of reality is that nothing is as it appears to be.

Trump first floated the possibility that the uptick in antisemitic incidents following his election was the work of his opponents when he excoriated a Jewish journalist who he thought was accusing him of antisemitism (even though the journalist in question had taken pains to stress that was not his intention). Still smarting from an election result that had not been as decisive as he might have liked, and from derisive media reporting of his inauguration attendance, Trump sensed another attempt to tarnish his victory with racism, and so he lashed out at both his interrogator and the unseen hand of political enemies. The encounter certainly looked terrible, but is that enough to infer a specifically anti-Jewish animus?

If Trump perceives vandalized cemeteries and antisemitic threats as part of a wider conspiracy of hacks and leaks designed to discredit his embattled presidency, then it is not necessary to invoke antisemitism to understand his response. The ethnicity of the actors in this reading is secondary – the hostility to Trump is paramount. This points to a candidate whose distrust and delusion make his presidency a fraught and dangerous prospect – conspiracism by definition deforms the conspiracist’s rational comprehension of reality. But it is not a prospect necessarily driven by bigotry.

And yet…even if one accepts all the above, the Trump administration’s attitude to Jews remains very odd. Why the pointed omission of any reference to the genocide of Europe’s Jews in the administration’s Holocaust Memorial Day statement, and why the stubborn refusal to concede any criticism on this point? Here was an unforced error that the administration insisted was not an error at all, and it was hard to escape the feeling that a marker was being put down. For whose benefit or for what purpose remains obscure, but the tenacity with which the administration clung to its position was bizarre. And whatever the reason for Trump’s apparent hesitancy in condemning antisemitism, and his insistence in quarreling over responsibility, the optics are dire, not least because concern for those terrorized by a rise in Jew hatred is so clearly subordinated to the need to attack perceived foes and protect his own reputation.

Those on the Right, complacent in their assumption that antisemitism is a problem confined to the Left, should remain vigilant. Tortuous explanations for Trump’s behavior will become less and less persuasive the more they have to be offered. It is profoundly concerning to hear the president of the United States use his position to circulate baseless conspiracy theories, whatever the deeper motivation or purpose. Doing so lends authority and credence to what ought to be fringe notions and obsessions, and excites the prejudices of his more radical supporters, such as the former Klansman David Duke and his followers who are not at all hesitant to accuse Jews of fabricating victimhood.

Even if Trump’s present behavior can be satisfactorily explained without recourse to a bigotry diagnosis, there is no guarantee things will stay that way, particularly if he suspects that reports of antisemitic incidents are being used to torment and discredit him. Conspiracism and antisemitism are rarely discrete categories. Antisemitism, after all, is itself a conspiracy theory for which paranoid minds like Trump’s are extremely fertile soil. Instead of accusing Trump’s critics of bad faith when accusations of prejudice arise, or using his pro-Israeli positions and Jewish relatives as a shield, his supporters would do well to bear this in mind.