No to Antisemitism Denial in Parliament!

The meeting I previewed at the start of this week saw around 25 supporters of Israel witnessing Soviet-style antisemitism in Committee Room 12 in Parliament on Tuesday, fomented by a tiny group of Corbyn-supporting outlier Jews (‘Free Speech on Israel’ (FSOI)) who seek to deny that hate speech involving Israel is antisemitic.

As David Collier writes, ‘the use of a handful of Jews to attack the vast majority of Jews is nothing new. After the 1917 revolution, the Soviets did it expertly using the Yevsektsiya.’

There was even a Лидер комиссариата (Commissariat Leader) checking registrations at the door (one of the most vicious antisemites in the UK who has been warned by the police against taking photos of Jews, which he then posts on Twitter with defamatory and false annotations). So he has all the names of the brave 25 ………… Delightful.

The meeting was hosted by Tommy Sheppard, an SNP MP. He has form – here, here and here.

Sheppard began the meeting with an unctious and sickening pretence that he cares about antisemitism, complete with virtue-signalling Holocaust reference: “It’s something that I have resisted for years and I want to continue to resist … But there are some voices in the political spectrum that would suggest that to criticise the State of Israel is de facto antisemitic”. This myth – that mere criticism of Israel is antisemitic – was repeated a further three times. It is utter rubbish, a lie propagated by antisemites. The IHRA definition of antisemitism says ‘criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.

Sheppard continued thus: “I’ve become aware of a small but significant section of Israeli opinion that doesn’t support the Netanyahu government … It seems to me that those voices within Israeli society and indeed within the Jewish diaspora never seem to get a proper hearing, certainly not in this place”. No shit, Sherlock … Night after night there are anti-Israel meetings in Parliament, day after day the As-A-Jews pump out their bile about Israel in blogs, the Guardian, on Twitter, on the BBC, in the Labour Party and on LBC. Only last week Sheppard himself hosted a meeting in Parliament where Israel was traduced and from which many Israel-supporting Jews with tickets were excluded.

The Chair of the meeting was Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, who thinks antisemitism is a joke. A highly appropriate Chair for a meeting whose aim was ‘Antisemitism Denial’ (which is only slightly above Holocaust Denial on the moral scale). She repeated the myth: “We find it incredibly difficult – as Jews who have a different view of the Israel-Palestine situation to the mainstream – to have any sort of platform on which we can express our opinion”. What nonsense. She spoke twice at the Labour Conference for example and FSOI held a fringe meeting there (where Miko Peled said that Holocaust Denial was an appropriate subject for Labour members to discuss).  And more virtue-signalling faux concern about antisemitism: “Jews are endangered when the term antisemitism is misused for pro-Israel political purposes”. As David Collier writes: ‘And what did Wimborne-Idrissi and her friends at ‘Free Speech on Israel’  do when these reports were released – how did they react to real, classic antisemitism? They attacked me for it, and ran articles that belittled the reports. In effect, ‘Free Speech on Israel’, came out in the defence of Holocaust Deniers, and believers in global Jewish conspiracy theory. The very idea that Wimborne-Idrissi, Free Speech on Israel, or Jewish Voice for Labour have any intention of fighting antisemitism is a cruel and vindictive joke.  These people provide cover for hard-core Jew hatred. Provide cover for those sharing material from groups like the Klu Klux Klan. And these people are given the legitimacy of a committee room in Parliament?

She also referred to an Opinion – by Hugh Tomlinson QC – hostile to the IHRA Definition. This was cited in the FSOI handout at the meeting. The handout says that the Opinion was obtained by ‘a number of UK NGOs’ – without naming them. So I will: FSOI itself; PSC; Independent Jewish Voices; Jews for Justice for Palestinians. He Who Pays the Piper … Also mentioned in the handout was an article by ‘Sir Stephen Sedley, a Jewish former appeal court judge’. Why is his religion relevant?  I fisked the Sedley article here.

The first speaker was Avi Shlaim. Formerly known as Abe, he has a massive chip on his shoulder about the way his (Mizrachi) family was treated in Israel, despite the fact that it provided them with a haven from persecution in Iraq. Now he has retired from his academic job, he no longer has any inhibitions regarding full-on Israel hate. In the Q+A he even said:

“I don’t pretend to be neutral and objective” and he criticised recent insistence by universities (LSE, Cambridge) that chairs of meetings should be neutral!

Some nuggets from Shlaim’s talk:

“Israeli propaganda deliberately conflates anti-Zionism and antisemitism. This is unacceptable moral blackmail and an attack on free speech”

‘The evidence for antisemitism in the Labour Party is exceedingly flimsy. No-one has charged Jeremy Corbyn for antisemitism. He has a consistent record of opposing every racism. This crisis was manufactured by right-wing members of the Labour Party, by disgruntled Blairites and by their friends outside the Party, with the aim of undermining Jeremy Corbyn, because he’s the only leader of a British political party who has always defended Palestinian rights.’

Comment: Corbyn supports the Right of Return for all Palestinian refugees. If granted, this would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish State. To desire this is antisemitic. Ergo …

‘Only a sick mind can associate that article [Moshe Machover’s] with antisemitism’

Comment: Machover quoted uncritically a 1935 article by Reinhard Heydrich who went on to be #2 at the SS:

National socialism has no intention of attacking the Jewish people in any way. On the contrary, the recognition of Jewry as a racial community based on blood, and not as a religious one, leads the German government to guarantee the racial separateness of this community without any limitations. The government finds itself in complete agreement with the great spiritual movement within Jewry itself, so-called Zionism, with its recognition of the solidarity of Jewry throughout the world and the rejection of all assimilationist ideas. On this basis, Germany undertakes measures that will surely play a significant role in the future in the handling of the Jewish problem around the world.

Speaking about those who supposedly try to suppress criticism of Israel, Shlaim said “what they overlook is that many of the British critics of Israel are Jewish themselves”.

Comment: Why is their religion relevant?

“It is not antisemitic to advocate a One State Solution”

Comment: Yes it is

“The real problem in British politics is the influence and power of the Israel Lobby. There is illegitimate Israeli interference in the democratic process.”

Comment: Shlaim based this slanderous allegation on a vacuous Al Jazeera documentary which I fisked here. After Shlaim’s speech, Wimborne-Idrissi was (hilariously) at pains to tell us that he meant the ‘Israel Lobby’, not the ‘Jewish Lobby’! Guess that’s one bit of antisemitism she feels unable to deny ….

“The use of antisemitism as a weapon to silence the critics of Israel is not just discreditable, it’s also dangerous”

The second speaker was an actress and author who gave a meaningless and facile talk along the lines of ‘I’m proud to be a Jew because we allow dissent and this doesn’t make me an antisemite.” She even praised My Name Is Rachel Corrie …..

The final speaker was Neve Gordon (and see here), an Israeli Professor based there but currently on secondment at SOAS. On the evidence of this vile tirade, they deserve each other. It is shocking that he has a position teaching young people. Gordon separated so-called ‘new’ antisemitism (that which involves Israel or Israelis) from ‘traditional’ antisemitism. There is really no difference. Prejudice is prejudice! Here’s the world according to Gordon ….

[On Israel] “Its ethnocratic character, its Islamophobia, its unapologetically harsh policies towards black migrants from Africa”

Comment: Utter nonsense. All Israeli citizens – Ashkenazi Jews, Mizrachi Jews, Muslims, Christians, all others  – are equal under the law. Like all advanced nations Israel has a problem with illegal immigration. To suggest that this is dealt with in a racist way is pure antisemitism (‘racist endeavour’).

“The act of decolonisation is perceived as antisemitic … The ‘new’ antisemitism has as its ultimate objective to deflect attention away from the daily dispossession of Palestinians”

‘You can be Zionist and antisemitic with intellectual consistency, all you need to do is look at the US Administration to see it’

[On the IHRA Definition] ‘Any reproach directed at Israel is antisemitic’

‘Zionism’s project of settling the so-called Greater Land of Israel’

“The ultimate objective of ‘new antisemitism’ is to deflect attention away from the daily dispossession of Palestinians”

“The Israeli government needs the ‘new’ antisemitism to justify its actions and to protect it from international and domestic condemnation.  Antisemitism is accordingly weaponised, not only to stifle speech but also to deflect policies of liberation.”

“The person who deploys the charge of new antisemitism is using the charge of antisemitism to defend racist policies”

The meeting became disorderly in the Q+A, as the pro-Israel attendees lost patience and began to protest – particularly because Wimborne-Idrissi was careful not to call on those whom she knows (like me) (the reason of course why Shlaim opposes neutral Chairs!). But Greenstein and Rosenhead were called on (of course). Three signs were held up in a silent protest, emphasising what outliers the Jews in FSOI are:

we are the 99% of Jews

Gordon responded to the signs – absurdly – by saying “the Jewish prophets were never in the majority”. Like there were Opinion Polls and Democracy 5,000 years ago! Later we got this hoary old lie from him, straight out of the antisemites’ playbook:

“Any criticism of the Israeli government is now deemed a form of antisemitism”

Conclusion: ‘Free speech’ does not mean that anyone is entitled to the privilege of a meeting room in Parliament!

No MP would want to host David Irving in a Parliamentary Committee Room to advocate Holocaust Denial.  So why does Tommy Sheppard think it’s OK to host a meeting advocating Antisemitism Denial? Would he host a meeting where gays are told they are making false claims of homophobia? And where those false claims are said to simply make the problem worse?

Of course he wouldn’t. So why are Jews fair game?

Several MPs contacted the Speaker before the meeting to say that it was not an appropriate event to be hosted in Parliament. John Bercow – If you read this, please believe that you can no longer rely on the good sense of MPs as regards what are suitable topics for Committee Room meetings. You have to set up a system of permissioning.  You owe it to the Jewish Community and you owe it to the taxpayer who funds Parliament.

‘Free Speech On Israel’ – Yes. But not free of charge (in a Parliamentary Committee Room) to lie about Israel and deny antisemitism. The organisers of this and the many similar meetings need to be told to rent a meeting room away from Parliament. If they don’t want to pay, there’s always Speakers’ Corner….

POSTSCRIPT

Board of Deputies expresses disappointment over SNP MP’s ‘Free Speech on Israel’ event in Parliament

6 December 2017

Board of Deputies Chief Executive Gillian Merron has expressed her concerns about a ‘Free Speech on Israel’ event which took place in Parliament last night hosted by SNP MP Tommy Sheppard.

In a letter to Ian Blackford MP, the SNP’s Westminster Group Leader, Gillian wrote: “We are concerned that an SNP MP is allowing this group to be given a privileged public platform when the group’s entire raison d’être is to downplay and minimise antisemitism.

She added: “We were pleased when the SNP adopted the IHRA Definition of antisemitism. Seeing an SNP MP hosting this event undermines this good work.

“You will understand that when a representative of a mainstream political party hosts a group like this in the Houses of Parliament it raises questions about intention and ability to combat antisemitism.”

 

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