Last Wednesday David Collier brilliantly exposed a cesspit of antisemitism in the secret Facebook group ‘Palestine Live’ (3,279 members).
The following Press Statement has been issued by Thomas Tallon. While I do not agree with Thomas about the Disputed Territories, I salute his judgment in quitting ‘Palestine Live’ in August 2014. Thomas clearly knows what is legitimate criticism of Israel and what crosses a red line into antisemitism. What a contrast with Jeremy Corbyn, who didn’t quit until after he became Labour leader in September 2015, and who appears to have accepted the hardcore antisemitism in the group without so much as a murmur.
‘I joined the ‘Palestine Live’ Facebook group in I think the spring of 2014. I had met Elleanne Green socially, and she struck me as a pleasant enough woman. We chatted for half an hour or so, not about politics. I gathered that she was an actor, and it is possible that my assumption was, if anything, that a member of so strikingly diverse and cosmopolitan profession was unlikely to be a racist.
I am a Christian and an Englishman with, so far as I know, no Jewish or Arab heritage on either side. I believe in the two-state solution. I believe in Israel’s right to exist, to defend itself, and to be as Jewish as lox on bagels within its internationally recognised borders. I believe also that the Palestinians are suffering grievous wrong and injustice in the occupied territories. I believe, along with the civilised world, that the occupation is unlawful under the provisions of the Geneva Conventions forbidding the settlement of civilians on land conquered in warfare. I also believe, with many Israelis and diaspora Jews, that the occupation is not in Israel’s long-term interest, and I see a large practical difference between the Zionist dream and the imperialist nightmare.
All this by way of introduction to my interest in the Palestinian cause. I joined the Palestine Live group, started by my friend, thinking that it would be reportage, links to reputable news sources. One would indeed see them, but the day came when they were becoming fewer and further between. The comments were taking a very hard and unpleasant tone. Zionists, it seems, want to create a master race. (A deliberate and hostile misunderstanding of the ‘chosen people’, I think, and as such antisemitic per se) The Holocaust is greatly exaggerated. Israel is the result of a colonialist movement (so much for Mizrachi Jews) and therefore has no right to exist. Jacob Rothschild and his relations control the world’s media and banks and manipulate them in the interests of Jews.
This is not news of the latest settler outrage on a Palestinian farm. This is Nazi-grade, unequivocal racism, and reader, I wanted no part of it. Seeing no reason not to say openly why I was leaving, I did so on 26 August 2014 with the following words:
I hoped that this would strike a chord with others of like mind; four ‘likes’ suggest that it did. It’s a pity there weren’t more.
Anyone who joined around or after the summer of 2014 will assuredly have been perfectly aware of what he was getting into.
Being against racism is no particular virtue. It’s common decency. I write this not to vindicate myself, but for what lawyers call the avoidance of doubt about the Palestine Live page.’