Theresa May blames Israel for persecution of Christians …

PMQs, 28 November 2018
pmq 28 Nov 2018

It was nothing short of mind-blowing watching the recording of PMQs yesterday.  Theresa May dutifully read out the answer presumably written for her by a junior civil servant at the Foreign Office.  The notion that it is the Israeli government which is responsible for persecution of Christians in the Middle East is utterly risible and fuels antisemitism in the UK.

For the truth ask Samir Qumsieh or Christy Anastas……………….

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Dancing to the Tune of Neo Nazis

mark lewis 3
Just one of the many offensive tweets sent to Mark Lewis………………..

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Today (26 November) the disciplinary hearing of Mark Lewis (ML) ended. His punishment was a fine of £2,500 and costs of £10,000. I attended the hearing today and Friday (but not on the first day, Thursday).

ML was alleged to have breached the following principles of the Solicitors’ Code of Practice

  • Principle 2: act with integrity;
  • Principle 6: behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services.

There were two alleged offences. The first (#1) was that on 26 May 2017 ML posted two profane comments on Facebook. The second (#2) was that in 2015-16 he responded offensively over around 18 months to the neo-Nazis on Twitter (including telling Alison Chabloz that she should die). It must have been the neo-Nazis such as Chabloz and Jason Schumann who brought this second complaint. How appalling that the SRA and the Tribunal both dance unquestioning to the tune of neo-Nazis!

ML’s defence to #1 was that he is being treated for Multiple Sclerosis which causes claustrophobia. His stem cell trial treatment includes monitoring by MRI scans (which require one to pass through a ‘tunnel’ in the MRI machine, a tunnel barely wider than the human body).  So he needs strong tranquillisers (clonazepam – which he described as a ‘horse tranquilliser’). He wrote the comment on Facebook while he was in bed after an MRI treatment and not ‘compos mentis’, still under the influence of the drug. As soon as he realised what he had done, he deleted the comment and attempted to apologise profusely. (The papers included a medical report from a Professor called Dr Joseph). But the person (‘X’) he offended is not a Facebook ‘friend’ of ML and ML thought he had no way of contacting him to apologise. X’s father sent ML’s comment to Private Eye. They didn’t publish anything but a journalist phoned ML and he tried to route the apology through her.

The advocate (Rupert Allen) for the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) gave no indication that he appreciated the Twitter abuse which ML suffered.  He said that ML didn’t have to respond to his abusers, he could have blocked them or reported them – or he could have left Twitter altogether. ML’s response was impassioned but dignified. Blocking them was like “closing the curtains when there is a baying mob outside wanting to kill you”.  It’s seen as a sign of weakness.  If you report them to Twitter, they just return under a new name. He had reported them to the police as well. Why should he leave Twitter? – That is the response of a weak Jew, the response which has led to pogroms and death camps in the past. He did not “run away from Nazis”.  His responses (he said) were mild compared to the abuse he was getting. Not responding is “the route to the gas chamber”. Two of his abusers have been convicted (John Nimmo and Alison Chabloz).  At his office ML is on the police ‘red alert’ list. The police have warned him to vary the time of his departure. His office has had to install additional security. If there is trouble the police would be with him in four minutes. There are people who want to kill him. He wanted to give out the message that ‘I might be a solicitor and I might be Jewish but I’m not scared of you – I will fight you back as strongly as you’re fighting me’.  He said to Rupert Allen “You can’t understand the experience of being attacked by someone who wants to kill you. You don’t know what people thought or did.” He wanted to use “shock tactics”. Rupert Allen responded that the tweets ML had sent to his abusers did not stop them. ML said that on the contrary, it had had some effect; the SRA had not seen all the conversations. If the SRA wanted to know the effect it needed to interview those who had made the threats to ML.

On 24 August 2017, the SRA issued a ‘warning notice’ to all solicitors about social media use. As a result, ML stopped responding to his abusers. Rupert Allen (or it may have been Colin Chesterton, the Tribunal Chair) asked ML if he accepted the new code of conduct. ML said he did but that professional obligations are not the same as personal feelings. After receiving the warning ML had emailed the SRA saying “I don’t take one word back. I’d rather be struck off than apologise to a Nazi”.   Rupert Allen said that this indicated that ML did not respect the new code of conduct. ML responded that it did not indicate that – it indicated that he did not apologise for his tweets to the neo-Nazis before the SRA warning had been issued (“Before I would have been running away as a coward, now I am running away because my profession has told me to do so”). ML said he had spoken to a man at the SRA and had explained the nature of the abuse and that the man said that his responses were perfectly justified.

Timothy Kendal summed up on ML’s behalf. He began by quoting from a previous professional standards case (‘Wingate’). ‘Integrity’ is a broader concept than honesty. It’s more nebulous, less easy to define. But the duty of ‘integrity’ does not require professionals to be ‘paragons of virtue’. One should not set unreasonably high standards. As a result of the News of the World phone hacking case, ML became “a lightning rod for the antisemites”. ML had received thousands of abusive tweets but had only responded to around ten of them (“He has shown enormous restraint”). He said that the despicable war by some on the far Right against ML has been “protracted, disgusting, life-threatening, unacceptable by any standards….”.  As regards offence #1, he questioned whether ML’s actions had in any way endangered the ‘provision of legal services’ (Principle 2, see above). And if the public knew that ML was not compos mentis when he sent the offensive message, surely they would not question his ability as a lawyer. And as regards offence #2, in 2015 and 2016 there were no professional standards for responding to this kind of attack, there was no guidance.

On Monday (today) the Chair announced the Tribunal’s decision. On offence #1 they found that Principle 6 had been breached but not Principle 2; on offence #2 they found that both Principles had been breached.

Tim Kendall then spoke in mitigation. He read out a letter dated 16 October 2018 in support of Mark from the following MPs and members of the House of Lords: Ian Austin, Lord Pannick QC, Baroness Deech, Luciana Berger, Ruth Smeeth, Alex Sobel, Louise Ellman, Andrew Percy, Chris Bryant, John Mann and Tom Brake.
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The rather important unanswered questions are these:

1. The SRA knew that Mark Lewis had complied with the August 2017 warning notice and that he had sent a profuse apology to X.  The SRA should also have understood why he nevertheless said he did not regret his messages from before August 2017 when the warning notice was issued. Why then was this three-day hearing necessary? Particularly given that it was presumably neo-Nazis who complained …

2. In what way did ML’s response to antisemites indicate an absence of ‘integrity’ or threaten public confidence in lawyers?   Surely a regulator which threatens to punish professionals who protest against racism is itself lacking in ‘integrity’?  

3. In what way did ML’s social media comments affect his competence as a lawyer?

4. If this had been about a black or Muslim solicitor responding to racism, would there have been a similar hearing?

Postscript: WE ARE ALL MARK LEWIS!

Mark Lewis stood up to racism on behalf of us all. The least we can do is to ensure that he does not suffer financially.  Please donate to this crowd funding campaign and please send this blog and/or the crowdfunding link far and wide:

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/standuptoneonazis

Mark and his Partner Mandy Blumenthal are very grateful to all donors.

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Appendix  – Just to remind ourselves of the words of a song by one of the group of neo-Nazis who plagued Mark Lewis

Here are the words of (((Survivors))) by Alison Chabloz:

Hello everybody … Thanks for tuning in … New demo … It’s called “Survivors” … With three sets of brackets around it … “

My name is Irene Zisblatt and I come from Hungary
Can you believe what evil Nazi bastards did to me
They gassed me once, they gassed me twice
But escape I did
Over the electric fence
Landed on the train

I saw them taking babies and then tearing them in two
And creepy Dr Mengele he removed my tattoo
They tried to turn my brown eyes blue
Make lampshades from my skin
For months I swallowed diamonds
And shat them out again.

(Switches to tune of Hava Nagila)

Come on, my brother
Tell us another
Story for cover
Of tribal gain
Safe in our tower
Now is the hour
Money and power
We have no shame

Let’s cheat and lie on film
No one suspects a thing
Bigger the lie is better for us!
Every fake survivor
Every fake survivor’s laughing
Fake survivors’ tongues are wagging
All us frauds are busy blagging
Spin and yarn there’ll be no gagging
You shall pay
All the way
Every night and day!

My name is Elie Wiesel may I show you my tattoo
[Talks … “Oh … Where’s it gone?”]
I wrote a book for US kids to study while at school
It’s full of nonsense tales of course
What do you all expect?
But it made me very wealthy
As a liar I’m the best

At Auschwitz they burned babies
Though the water table’s high
Fred Leuchter’s work on ditches, well it made me almost cry
Treblinka was a another one
There was no funeral pyre
And I cannot speak Hungarian
But oh boy can I lie

Tell us another
Come on my brother …. [Repeats, see above]

History repeats itself
No limit to our wealth
Thanks to your debt
We’re bleeding you dry
We control your media
Control of your books and TV
With the daily lies we feed you
Suffering victimisation
Sheeple have no realisation
You shall pay
All the way
Until the break of day

My name is Otto Frank and my daughter’s name is Anne
The poor girl died of typhus at Bergen-Belsen camp
She wrote an introduction
To her famous diary
But the rest was penned by Levin
And then publishèd by me

Two thousand and sixteen the copyright came to an end
The Anne Frank Trust decided once again the rules to bend
We truly had no choice although
The whole thing really stank
But the book now has two authors
Yes they’re Anne and Otto Frank.

Tell me another
Come on my brother …. [Repeats, see above]

Bank notes let’s print some more
We love to see you poor
Let’s start a war
Our pockets to line
There is no more doubting
Every nation’s debt is mounting
While the bankers keep on counting
Pension fund has now gone awol
Nothing left upon your table
You must pay
Night and day
Until the end of time

 

Airbnb decision on Judea/Samaria

The attached note has been issued by the Israeli Ministry for Strategic Affairs

I would add that Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is perfectly legal

November 20, 2018

Report on Airbnb decision

General

  1. On November 19 Airbnb announced that it intends to remove approximately 200 rental properties located in the West Bank which are currently listed on its website. The company says its decision was reached following an in-depth examination of the issue. Since the announcement of the decision, BDS organizations have called it a victory.

About the campaign

  1. For several years now, a BDS campaign has been launched against Airbnb under the tagline “Stolen Homes,” calling out the company for listing apartments in “Israeli settlements,” which, according to the campaign’s organizers, were built on “stolen Palestinian land” and constitute a breach of international law.
  2. The campaign was promoted by a coalition of organizations led by four American BDS organizations: Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Code Pink and US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR)[1].
  3. The campaign collected over 150,000 signatures to a petition calling on Airbnb to stop advertising homes in “Israeli settlements”. According to the petition, the advertisement of apartments in the “illegal settlements” promotes structural discrimination against the Palestinians, and is therefore incompatible with the company’s anti-discrimination policy that prohibits the publication of properties that promote racism, discrimination or harm to individuals or groups[2].
  4. As part of the campaign, a “satirical” website was created that simulates a page on the Airbnb site where an apartment for rent is offered. Among other things, the description of the “property” reads: “Come stay at an illegal settlement built on stolen Palestinian land. This stolen home comes with views of the Apartheid Wall. You may hear occasional gunfire from the Israeli Occupation Forces firing zone, which recently replaced a destroyed Palestinian village nearby”[3].
  5. One event in the context of the campaign took place in November 2016, when a key Pink Code activist, Ariel Gold, burst out at a Los Angeles event with a sign reading “Airbnb out of settlements”[4].

Ties to terrorism and Iran’s leading organizations in the campaign against Airbnb

  1. AMP: Leading figures in organizations that were involved in financing the Hamas terrorist organization in the past have joined the AMP organization and currently hold senior positions. Thus, according to the testimony of Dr. Jonathan Schneller, vice President of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former US Treasury Department official, before Congress from April and May 2016[5], leading figures in the Holy Land Foundation, which was involved in funding Hamas, joined forces with AMP. Moreover, leading figures in the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), which was involved in financial aid to Hamas, joined the AMP and fill senior positions.
  2. Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP): The organization led a campaign during the years 2016-2017 for the convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh, who was also invited as a keynote speaker at the organization’s conference[6]. In 1969, she carried out a terrorist attack in a supermarket in Jerusalem, killing two Israeli students in their 20s and wounding nine[7]. Odeh was sentenced to two life terms and was released ten years later as part of a deal on the condition that she be deported. Odeh settled in Jordan and moved to the United States in 1994. She was forced to leave the United States in 2017.
  3. Code Pink: The organization Code Pink has had tied with Iran for years. A delegation of organization members is due to arrive in Tehran on January 10-18, 2019[8]. During the visit of the delegation, some of whose participants have already visited Iran (such as Ariel Gold who is mentioned above in connection with the incident of interrupting Ashton Kutcher), there will be several meetings in Tehran with parliamentarians and representatives of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, academics and Islamic religious persons. In addition, over the past few years, the organization has carried out numerous campaigns in favour of Iran, such as a petition supporting the Iranian nuclear agreement[9] and a conference on peace with Iran[10].
  4. US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR): USCPR is the leading US organization promoting the BDS National Campaign (BNC) agenda and serves as the BNC’s fiscal sponsor[11], and the BNC heads a coalition of 27 Palestinian organizations led by the National Islamic Forces (PNIF)[12]. The national and Islamic forces are a coalition of the twelve main Palestinian factions (national and religious streams) including declared terrorist organizations such as Hamas, JAF and the PA[13].

Palestinian involvement in the campaign against Airbnb

  1. Saeb Erekat, head of PLO’s negotiations department, referred to Airbnb’s recent decision as a positive first step (November 19, 2018). He reiterated the call to the UN Human Rights Council to publish data on companies that “profit from the Israeli colonialist occupation”[14].
  2. It should be emphasized that the PLO’s Negotiations Department, headed by Erekat, has referred to Airbnb in its publications in recent years in the context of the annexation of Palestinian tourism, and that another company considered by the PLO to be “part of the problem” is Trip Advisor[15].
  3. In January 2016, Erekat demanded that Airbnb stop its activities in West Bank settlements. In an official letter to the company’s CEO, Brian Chesky, Erekat said that by promoting lists of settlements, Airbnb effectively promotes the illegal Israeli colonization of occupied territory[16].
  4. The Palestinian Authority’s representative in Ireland participated in the event at which the above-mentioned petition was distributed, involving leading Irish delegitimization organizations including the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) and Gaza Action Ireland[17].

Apartments advertised for rent by Airbnb in other areas of conflict around the world

  1. Airbnb’s recent decision distinguishes Israel and creates a double standard with other conflict zones in the world where the company continues to advertise rental properties. Thus, a search for rental properties on the Airbnb site using the words “Northern Cyprus[18]“, “Crimea[19]“, “Western Sahara[20]“, “Eritrea[21]” and “Kashmir[22]” yields results of apartments and potential rental properties.

Points to take under consideration:

  1. Unfair approach

There was no dialogue with stakeholders on the Israeli side, neither with the business owners nor with any part of the Israeli government. It is unfair to claim that there was a professional and in-depth examination when in practice there was no discussion with the stakeholders on the Israeli side.

  1. Inconsistent with the UN Global Compact

The company’s move is inconsistent with the UN Global Compact, it unreasonable to expect individuals (in this case, West Bank residents) to assume responsibility for government activity. Moreover, businesses operating in areas of conflict contribute to improving the situation:

A similar campaign was waged against the companies who were building the Jerusalem Light Rail. The French Court of Appeals held that Corporations are not subject to international law, and obligations concern States only. Nor does it apply to private sector entities or to individuals.[23]

As the UN principles put it, even in extreme cases “Where adverse impacts have occurred that the business enterprise has not caused or contributed to, but which are directly linked to its operations, products or services by a business relationship, the responsibility to respect human rights does not require that the enterprise itself provide for remediation, though it may take a role in doing so”.[24]  The UK Supreme Court of UK held that even a manufacturing company employing Israeli citizens in the West Bank cannot be construed as a company’s assisting the Israel government policy with regard to the settlement issue.

The positive contribution of companies, such as Airbnb, to the human rights in the region is that it enables both Palestinians and Israelis to use their homes and/or property to earn extra income, which has a positive effect on the economy in these areas. The individuals who are renting out their homes are acting a lawfully, as is the marketing and use of their homes by tourists. In fact, withdrawal of such services can have adverse human rights impact in this regard. The Supreme Court of the United States recently ruled in the Jesner case, that consideration of human rights in this context includes consideration of the positive role of multi-national corporations in disputed territories, and their ability to create economic stability, which is so often the essential foundation of human rights.

Moreover, the principles of corporate responsibility relate not to where you operate but how you operate, for this reason the company must examine its decision as to how it’s customers (especially those hosting) are acting.

  1. Appearance of BDS – taking sides in a political conflict

Airbnb should take into account that its move may be construed as adopting the highly controversial and polarizing approach of the BDS movement, something which will tarnish Air Bnb’s brand and its political neutrality. In fact, the company’s announcement is tantamount to taking a political stand in a protracted conflict, which can only be resolved by negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. The adoption of a boycott, which is what Airbnb has essentially undertaken, will serve to increase hostility between the parties to the conflict, particularly as it appears that the decision was influenced official PA officials. Thus the company’s actions not only harm the possibility of an official dialogue between Israel and the PA, but it doesn’t take in to account the realities of life of the Israeli residents of the West Bank.

  1. A classic case of double standard

The company’s decision is a classic example holding Israel to a double standard in in relation to other areas of conflict. Airbnb operates in other countries with disputed territories – in northern Cyprus, the Crimea and Western Sahara). This was already reflected in the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s announcement.

In this context, it should be noted that according to the definition of antisemitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which defines this action as anti-Semitic: “Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation”

Whereas Airbnb stated that “each situation is unique and requires a case-by-case approach.” This allows for unfair or arbitrary distinction in the company’s policy between internationally recognized disputed territories.

[1] https://actions.sumofus.org/a/while-palestinians-are-evicted-from-their-homes-airbnb-makes-money-off-of-stolen-land?ak_proof=1&akid=.1598254.71Iayn&rd=1&t=%20%20

[2] https://org.salsalabs.com/o/301/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=18924&track=jvpsh&tag=jvp

[3] http://airbnb.sumofus.org/

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWj9-nHt72s

[5] https://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA18/20160419/104817/HHRG-114-FA18-Wstate-SchanzerJ-20160419.pdf; https://docs.house.gov/meetings/HM/HM05/20160512/104904/HHRG-114-HM05-Wstate-SchanzerJ-20160512.pdf

[6] https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/jewish-voice-peace-proud-host-palestinian-organizer-rasmea-odeh/

[7] http://www.aljazeera.net/encyclopedia/icons/2017/8/19/%D8%B1%D8%B3%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%AF%D8%A9-%D8%A3%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D9%85%D8%AD%D8%B1%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D9%8A%D8%AA%D9%87%D8%AF%D8%AF%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%AD%D9%8A%D9%84-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A3%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%B1%D9%83%D8%A7

[8] https://www.codepink.org/peace_with_iran_delegation_to_iran_2019

[9] https://www.codepink.org/we_women_support_the_iran_nuclear_deal

[10] https://www.codepink.org/iran

[11] https://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/263409/bds-umbrella-group-linked-to-palestinian-terrorist-organizations

[12] https://bdsmovement.net/bnc

[13] http://web.archive.org/web/20081011192013/http:/www.jmcc.org/banner/banner1/bayan/aqsbayan14.htm

[14] https://www.nad.ps/en/media-room/press-releases/dr-saeb-erekat-response-airbnbs-decision-remove-listings-israeli

[15] https://www.nad.ps/sites/default/files/tourism-as-a-tool-to-normalize-the-occupation.pdf ; https://www.nad.ps/sites/default/files/annexation_of_tourism.pdf see especially page 19

[16] http://www.alhaya.ps/arch_page.php?nid=276783

[17] http://maannews.net/Content.aspx?id=851029

[18] https://www.airbnb.com/s/Northern-Cyprus/homes?refinement_paths%5B%5D=%2Fhomes&query=Northern%20Cyprus&adults=0&children=0&infants=0&guests=0&place_id=ChIJF-JCu9E53hQRQGV7lbxVT3Q&allow_override%5B%5D=&s_tag=usN9XTiN

[19] https://www.airbnb.com/s/Crimea/homes?refinement_paths%5B%5D=%2Fhomes&adults=0&children=0&infants=0&guests=0&query=Crimea&place_id=ChIJkfrH7elR6kARkpRoogcKsfY&allow_override%5B%5D=&s_tag=CzawyLOD

[20] https://www.airbnb.com/s/Western-Sahara/homes?refinement_paths%5B%5D=%2Fhomes&adults=0&children=0&infants=0&guests=0&query=Western%20Sahara&place_id=ChIJUyEwIyVIIgwRWtffcxj4prc&allow_override%5B%5D=&s_tag=avpq0J_O

[21] https://www.airbnb.com/s/Eritrea/homes?refinement_paths%5B%5D=%2Fhomes&adults=0&children=0&infants=0&guests=0&query=Eritrea&place_id=ChIJZYW6nT9abRYR-g4SL_AIwhc&allow_override%5B%5D=&s_tag=GoL4W0jL

[22] https://www.airbnb.com/s/homes?refinement_paths%5B%5D=%2Fhomes&adults=0&children=0&infants=0&guests=0&query=Kashmir&allow_override%5B%5D=&s_tag=Lb-aoFsr

[23] J. Crawford, Opinion: Third Party Obligations with respect to Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”.

[24] http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/GuidingPrinciplesBusinessHR_EN.pdf pg. 25

Forensic Architecture shortlisted for Turner Prize? #WeCallBS

The Turner Prize – given annually – is awarded for contemporary art by a British artist.  The winner receives £25,000, the other three nominated £5,000 each.   It often attracts controversy – no-one will forget Tracey Emin’s bed (nominated in 1999).

The 2018 winner will be announced on Tuesday 4 December (9.30pm BBC News Channel).  There are four nominations.  One is called ‘Forensic Architecture’: ‘An interdisciplinary team that includes architects, filmmakers, lawyers and scientists, Forensic Architecture’s work uses the built environment as a starting point for explorations into human rights violations.’

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Forensic Architecture is described here. The team is based at Goldsmiths, University of London. Their Director is Professor Eyal Weizman. Who is he?

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You don’t have to look far to see that Professor Weizman is one of those Israeli-born expatriate academics who abuse their position to denigrate and vilify the country of their birth, promoting BDS and brainwashing their students and colleagues into hating Israel.  Here is the cover of one of his books:

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He was (of course!) a prominent supporter of the failed attempt to get the Royal Institute of British Architects to call on the International Architects Union to suspend the Israeli Association of United Architects.

His book ‘Forensic Architecture’ provides additional evidence on his motivations…….

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Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is falsely described as ‘colonisation, domination, separation and violence’.

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Weizman repeats the myth that Israel is stealing water from the Palestinians.

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What is ‘forensic’ about ignoring the evidence that the al-Dura footage was probably staged? ‘Evidence’ appearing to vilify Israel is pounced on; evidence incriminating the Palestinians is ignored.

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More ‘evidence’ that Weizman dismisses, because it fails to vilify Israel – in fact, the opposite! Marc Garlasco, Human Rights Watch’s “senior military expert” and co-author of numerous reports condemning Israel, was an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia!

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Weizman ludicrously says that the IDF (“the most moral army in the world” – Colonel Richard Kemp) shoots to kill anyone in Gaza who tries to photograph them. It’s nonsense.

Forensic Architecture works across the world: with Greece, Syria, Venezuela, Libya, UK, Pakistan, the Yazidi and more – the full list of their investigations is here. But given Weizman’s animus against Israel, it’s no surprise that the two investigations chosen for the Turner Prize Judges both vilify Israel.

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Appallingly, the official Tate Catalogue for the Turner nominee exhibition claims that the ‘Beduin population is unrecognised by the Israel State’ – utter rubbish.

The first Forensic Architecture Turner Prize exhibit attempts to ‘prove’ that Israel is ‘repeatedly and forcefully’ displacing the Beduin ‘from the land that it has inhabited for centuries’. That is simply a lie, no other word for it. The truth is here.  Israel’s government is trying to ensure that the Beduin – who, remember are a Nomadic People – are not living on unrecognised sites without services such as running water and electricity but move to existing recognised sites with such services installed. What a disappointment for the Israel bashing conspiracy theorists!

The second Forensic Architecture Turner Prize exhibit is supported by a video in the Tate exhibition (but not available online as far as I know). It concerns the event at Umm Al Hiran in the Negev on 18 January 2017 when an Israeli policeman Erez Levy was killed by a car driven by a Beduin villager, Yaqub Musa Abu al-Qi’an. The first response of the Israeli authorities was that al-Qi’an was a terrorist who deliberately rammed the policeman (he was then shot dead). The police chief said he spread incitement at a school where six other teachers were arrested for their affiliation with ISIS. When more evidence came to light – including from Forensic Architecture – the Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan began to accept that the police may have shot al-Qi’an before his car hit Levy. It then ran down the hill out of control, gathering speed. It hit and killed Levy before being stopped by the police. Another Minister later apologised to the family of al-Qi’an.

The problem is that the exhibit is presented free of context. Umm Al Hiran was an unrecognised Beduin village, as described above. The Israeli government tried to persuade its inhabitants to move to a recognised site but foreign NGOs and anti-Israel activists whipped up opposition, producing the escalation which led to the shooting of al-Qi’an, presumably for terrorist-related offences.

Like its Director Eyal Weizman, Forensic Architecture has a history of falsely demonising Israel.  In July 2015 they released their ‘Gaza Platform’ which claimed to contain an abundance of information about Israel’s Operation Protective Edge. To quote NGO Monitor, ‘this pseudo-scientific exercise repeated Amnesty’s standard political bias and was immediately exposed as factually inaccurate – terrorists were identified as civilian health care workers; a “journalist” doubled as a Hamas operative, etc. And here.

UK Lawyers for Israel sent a submission on Amnesty International to the Charity Commission which included analysis of Forensic Architecture’s ‘Gaza Platform’. It noted that Forensic Architecture has been described as ‘Biased as Hell’.  Here’s an extract from UKLFI’s submission:

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UKLFI has sent the following to the Chair of the Turner Prize Judges, Alex Farquharson, Director of Tate Britain:

I regret that we found that the content of that Platform [the Gaza Platform] and the Report based on it and the methodology used to produce them were wholly lacking in objectivity and integrity. Indeed they amounted to modern blood libels likely to promote antisemitism and attacks on Jews. I attach a copy of our analysis and direct your attention particularly to sections 6 and 7 where the Platform and Report based on it are discussed.

‘We are concerned that if the Prize is awarded to Forensic Architecture, this will result in further publicity being given to these lies. We respectfully urge you and your fellow Judges to take this into account when judging the Prize.’

Nominating Forensic Architecture for an ‘art’ prize is patently absurd. It doesn’t produce ‘art’ – it produces investigative journalism. The same as for example Andrew Norfolk of The Times: Where is his Turner Prize nomination for exposing the sexual abuse of mostly white girls, typically aged around 12 or 13, by gangs of middle-aged men, mostly of Pakistani origin, in Rotherham? Moreover unlike Andrew Norfolk, Ezer Weizman is not subject to commercial judgment : If Norfolk published an investigation that was factually incorrect, his newspaper would suffer commercially and he could lose his job.  Weizman – by contrast – would still receive his full academic taxpayer-funded salary at Goldsmiths.

Since Forensic Architecture does not produce ‘art’, we can safely judge it on the quality of what it does produce – namely, investigations.  And in the case of Israel, those have been shown to be driven by the Israel-hating animus of BDS-supporting Professor Eyal Weizman and to contain untruths.

Memo to Turner Prize Jury: If you are going to consider investigative journalism as ‘art’, so be it. But then you have to judge it by the standards of that genre, the most important of which is surely accuracy.  Award the Turner Prize to Forensic Architecture and you are validating as accurate the context-free and distorted work about Israel of a group known for its bias, led by a man who supports boycotting Israel and who has a history of mendaciously demonising that country. The purpose of these two exhibits is not to uncover the truth. Rather, it is to fuel opposition to Israel, which in turn fuels antisemitism toward the Jewish Community.

Is that really what you want?

Postscript: Congratulations to Charlotte Prodger on win.

Why we countered the ‘Stand Up To Racism’ demo yesterday

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There was a “Stand Up To Racism” demonstration in London yesterday (17 November), ‘co-sponsored by Unite Against Fascism and LoveMusic HateRacism, officially backed by the TUC and supported by Diane Abbott MP, John McDonnell MP amongst others.’

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We counter-demonstrated, protesting against antisemitism and supporting the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism. Several people asked us why we were counter-protesting and not in the main demonstration …….. So here are seven reasons, if we didn’t get to talk to you:

– Because the record of Unite Against Fascism in opposing antisemitism is dismal. And here;

– Because this photo was typical of the beliefs of many of the organisations and marchers:
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– Because the speakers included several – eg Len McCluskey  and Mark Serwotka – who think that accusations of antisemitism in Labour are fake and a conspiracy to undermine Corbyn – or that they are ‘created’ by Israel!

– Because the speakers included NUT General Secretary Kevin Courtney who wants to deny Israel the means to defend itself from terror;

– Because the speakers included Matt Wrack who, after Pete Willsman suggested that Jewish “Trump fanatics” could be behind accusations of antisemitism in Labour, said “It was not antisemitic at all”;

– Because the marchers included Jewish Voice for Labour which is simply a vehicle to whitewash antisemitism in Labour;

– Because the acts included Lowkey whose lyrics demonise Israel and sometimes cross the line into anti-Jewish racism………….

That’s why.

PS Thanks to the lady on the march who showed concern when one of our ladies was upset….. At bottom we are all human ………..

 

More Israel-bashing at LSE…

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To LSE for this Israel-bashing session – not produced by the Palestine Society but by LSE academic staff.  The star turn was Phyllis Starkey, a former Labour MP and current Vice Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians, a UK based charity claiming to work “for the health and dignity of Palestinians living under occupation and as refugees” but which in reality promotes distorted and false narratives and demonising rhetoric under the guise of medical expertise and scientific fact.

The meeting was – of course – based on a false premise – that the settlements are illegal. It was left to me in the Q+A to point out that the King Had No Clothes: No court of law has ever deemed the settlements ’illegal’. The ICJ did (2004) but it isn’t a proper Court – it’s a creature of the UN.  And the terms of the Palestine Mandate, as given to the UK by the League of Nations, allow – and even encourage – settlement anywhere in historic Palestine.

Hence Starkey’s description of the settlements as a ‘warcrime’ is pure fiction. As was her assertion that ‘settlements are a permanent change’. All are subject to negotiation in a final status deal: indeed settlements in Gaza were given up in 2005. And so on: Starkey criticised the checkpoints without saying why they are needed, and claimed that Israel treats the settlements as part of Israel – no it doesn’t, hence why military law applies in Judea and Samaria to non-Israelis.

After the Richard Falk fiasco last year you’d have thought LSE academics would have been more careful about bashing Israel ………….

The film ‘The Patriot’ and Newton’s Third Law

I saw ‘The Patriot’ as part of the Jewish Film Festival. It is an important film about fighting antisemitism. Disappointingly it was very poorly attended – a sign of the indifference and ‘head in the sand’ attitude of many British Jews to antisemitism as well as the extreme reluctance to actively oppose it. Particularly worrying was the paucity of young people. You have another chance to see it on 21st. 

‘The Patriot’ is a French film (directed by Daniel Sivan) about a French hacker, Gregory Chelli (35 – also known as Ulcan), who fights antisemitism.  He managed to hack into the vile Dieudonne’s website and published the names of all his supporters. (Dieudonne is banned from the UK. Dieudonne and I have history. In 2010 Dieudonne was due to speak in London. After two venues cancelled, eventually he found one at 36 hours’ notice. I demonstrated outside and was roughed over by his Manager). Other targets of Ulcan included Alain Sorel (who suggested loading Jews onto trains) and Laurent Louis, a former member of the Belgian Parliament who runs an antisemitic website.

Ulcan’s methods of fighting these antisemites are full-on and sometimes even break the law. He managed to convince the Belgian police that his voice on the phone was that of Louis and that he had just killed his wife. Consequently six police forced their way into Louis’ house in the middle of the night. He called Sorel’s blind mother-in-law and told her that her daughter has just died. Most controversially, Ulcan went for journalist Benoit Le Corre, who had published an unflattering article about him in Rue89. After contacting Le Corre’s parents and informing them that their son had died in an accident, Ulcan summoned the police to their home in the Paris suburbs in the middle of the night. Five days later, Le Corre’s father suffered a heart attack and died a short time later.

After Thierry Le Corre’s death in 2014, the authorities began to investigate Ulcan, after years of leaving him alone. He was accused of deliberate violence that caused death, and an international warrant was issued for his arrest. He fled to Israel, where he lives in Ashdod. French efforts to extradite him have been unsuccessful. He appears to have stopped fighting antisemites, at least under his real name.

I had not heard of Ulcan so I did some reading before the film. In the May 2017 Haaretz interview with him, one passage above all struck me:

“When I went to court after setting Werlet’s motorcycle on fire, the judge said to me, ‘He’s a neo-Nazi, you’re a Zionist, everyone is allowed his political opinions.’ That’s crazy. I told the judge that I was really sorry, but my ideology doesn’t include the systematic murder of innocents and doing horrifying experiments on human beings, so how can you compare? Nobody respects the Jews when they complain through the accepted channels. The police force doesn’t work, and therefore I took it upon myself to be the police force of the Internet.”

When institutions fail, that is when people take matters into their own hands. When a Judge (as above) sees neo-Nazism and Zionism as morally equivalent “political opinions” (!), that is when civil disobedience starts, with the risk that it crosses the line into illegality.

Things in the UK are not as bad for Jews as they are in France.  Nevertheless there is an important failure of an institution. The Crown Prosecution Service is failing the Jewish Community and by separating Judaism and Zionism it has opened a door for antisemites to walk through. And pace Ulcan, Newton’s Third Law applies here, just as it does in Physics (For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction): The worse antisemitism in the UK gets, the more likely are its opponents to harden their tactics!