Methodist Denial of Antisemitism: We Call BS

In February I was present at a horrifically antisemitic  meeting at a Methodist Church in St Albans. I described it here and David Collier described it here.

I complained to the Methodist Church. I assisted them by transcribing the whole talk and flagging the parts that were offensive:

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Reverend Rosemary Fletcher : It’s nice to see you all here. Some I know have been before, for some it’s your first time. Some of you asked me where the facilities are, they are through the door and turn left [….] Hopefully you’ve all brought your sandwiches and got refreshments as you came in. There are also leaflets and products, I guess Tim and Mayonne will introduce those in a little while.

(0.34) The usual drill of signing-in sheets, so we have a little idea of who’s here and […] when you’d like to come again.  A flyer for the next Thinking Lunch, the first of March one. The Reverend Paul ?Tapwood, A Christian response to terrorism. Paul and I were at theological college together an awful long time ago .. not sure if we’ve seen each other, since we were ordained. [….]

Not sure we will recognise each other […]

(1.32) He is the Executive Director of the Church […] Fund and his talk is ‘A Christian response to terrorism. [….]

Please take a flyer for next time.  […] If you didn’t get the chance to sign in just collar me afterwards. I’ll start here with the gentleman in the front row.

(2.06) It’s not compulsory to sign in but it is compulsory to take a flier for next time.

(2.15) I’m delighted to welcome Tim and Mayonne. We’ve never met before until today. We’ve had an email correspondence. They did a talk to a group that some friends of mine organised in Farnham.  Farnham Humanist Society.  My friend Jenny said they are brilliant, you must get them for your Thinking Lunch series

In the summer of 1962 Tim worked on a Kibbutz close to Nazareth and then travelled around Israel, before  a posting to Singapore. In 2013 shocked by the film The Promise . Returned four times meeting both Palestinians and Jews.

Homes have been demolished.

(3.45) Each time we have a speaker, any profit we make goes to a charity or an organisation of the speakers’ wishing. Please give generously.

After you’ve heard the talk. All profits to the cause that the speakers have chosen.

They will speak for about 30m and then we’ll have questions. I know some of you have to go early, that’s fine, come and go as you please.

Mayonne Coldicott: Good afternoon. Tim will do the talking for us as he is miked up.

Tim Coldicott: Good afternoon, or as they say in the countries we have spent quite a lot of time in  [….]. We’re grateful to have the chance to share some of the things we’ve learned during five visits now to Israel/Palestine. I should explain that the reason I’ve got this text here is front of me is to stop me from rambling on.

I’ll jump straight in. This slide is Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. I’ll go straight to the title ‘Saving Israel’.  Surely with the open support of the US, surely with its superior military power, Israel needs no saving? And how does what happens to the Palestinians have any bearing on saving Israel? Why should we concern ourselves in Britain?

Well I’ll try and sketch in quickly some of the things we don’t hear from our media or from our politicians so that we can discuss what our answer would be to these issues.

(6.45) In the summer of 1962 I worked on a Kibbutz and absorbed the founding story of Israel.

It’s what Israeli Jewish children are brought up to believe, to this day. [pause, 7.20 on audio] [12:43:40 on video]

That interesting group of Israeli schoolchildren being introduced to weapons by their parents. The sort of things that they learn are ….. They study Jewish history quite separately from world history[1]. With a special emphasis from a very young age on the Shoah, or the Holocaust as we know it.  The message that they are taught is, it could happen again, unless we are vigilant and strong. About Israel, the story is that Palestine was a land without people, ready for the Jews as a people without land[2]. They’re taught that there is no such thing as the Palestinian people[3]. Only Arabs who “want to throw us into the sea”[4].

By contrast the Israeli Defence Force they are told is the most moral army in the world. So every Jewish Israeli youngster must be proud to accept military service as a duty.  It’s all that stands between Israel  they are told – the only democracy in the Middle East – and disaster.  The message all the time is “we are victims, why is the world against us? It must be because the world is antisemitic.[5]

That story is very […] to the story we in Britain believe.

Yet 20% of the Israeli population is Palestinian and their experience is somewhat different.

In the whole of Israel by the way there are only five schools where Jews and Palestinians are taught together and learn each other’s language.  And recently these schools have been firebombed. Palestinian children have to learn Jewish history.  Their curriculum is not allowed to make any mention of the Naqba or disaster of 1948.

So in 2013 we were introduced  to a different story.  Near Nablus there is a Jewish Moshav called Zippore.  There are pleasant woods there.  There’s an old Crusader fort up on the hill. You might see it on this slide here.

A rampant clump of stubble always happens around Palestinian villages. Because this is on the edge of an old Palestinian cemetery.  Old? Well they haven’t been allowed to bury here since 1949.

(10.24) Because this is what the area looked like in 1945. You can see the Crusader fort there.

There was a large Palestinian township here called Saffuriya. Not Zippore, Saffuriya.  It was blown up and levelled in the early 1950s[6]. And this was the experience of over 400 Palestinian communities.

Here is a map and it shows what the UN proposed when they proposed there should be two States in the Mandate for Palestine that Britain was relinquishing.

The light sandy coloured area was the Jewish State, the darker ochre colour was the Arab State and the international city of Jerusalem was to be subject to special rules.

The problem is that though Jews owned only 7% of the land and represented a third of the population of the Mandate of Palestine at the time, they were allocated 55% of the territory.

And even before the mandate came to an end in 1948, Jewish military forces began to implement a longstanding plan called Plan Dalet, of attacking Palestinian villages and terrorising the population so that they fled[7].  The Palestinians lacked the resources to fight back as these had been destroyed by the British in putting down the revolt of 1937/38. So by the end of 1948, the Jews had added a further 23% of the land area to what the UN had proposed for the Jewish State.  And had taken   60% of what had been proposed for the Palestinian [State].

This is what the Arabs call the Naqba, the catastrophe [8].

So there is a flaw right at the start of Israel’s story.

It was not an empty land. It was not Jews who faced being pushed into the sea. It was Palestinians, literally. They were herded into boats in Jaffa and sent down to Gaza, and in Haifa pushed onto boats and sent up to Lebanon.

So that [..] the experience of the Palestinians.  Nearly three quarters of a million Palestinians became refugees.  But 150,000 remained in what became Israel. They were regarded as enemies[9] and were subjected to military rule. And worse, they experienced the ‘Judaisation’ of their land[10]. They were (13.33) prohibited on pain of death from returning to their villages.  The land was declared quote ‘the exclusive and perpetual property of the Jewish people’.  Untended farms just lapsed into state ownership. So by 1950, 92% of the land was in Jewish hands.

Now Ben Gurion’s vision for Eretz Israel came a step further in 1967. The frontier was pushed to the Jordan. But the Israeli response made the dilemma of ‘Two People In One Land’ worse.

(14.26) By 2014 alongside 6.2 million Jewish Israelis there were – in addition to the 1.7 million Palestinian Israelis – there were now 2.8 million West Bank Palestinians and 1.7 million in Gaza.  So now Jews in Israel are matched in number by Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories.  And remember there are still over 5 million Palestinian refugees, most now in Jordan and Lebanon although a few are hanging on in Syria.

(15.02) This is referred to in Israel as a ‘demographic time bomb’. But surely whether it’s a bomb or not depends on how Israel does  ‘occupation’.

There have been voices within Israel ever since 1968 warning of the effect that becoming an occupying power would have on the nature of Israeli society. Here is the view of one authoritative Jewish academician, Professor […] [?Leibnitz?] with a response from a former head of Shin Bet, the Israeli security service

[Video clip]

Such predictions though were ignored.The policy of illegal[11] settlements  started in 1968

An early one was Kiryat Arba. We heard from him how settlers behaved towards the Palestinians.

(18.16) [Video clip] Tim M “they’re denying it” [12.54.46 on the video]

(19.48) (12.56.18) Outside Bethlehem a special farm exists called Tent of Nations. It’s owned by Palestinians and is on one of the few hillsides left not occupied illegally by settlers.

They planted a new orchard in the valley below.  The settlers laid claim to the land. The High Court was due to decide the case shortly after this photo was taken. But not wanting to wait for the judgment, the settlers – aided by the IDF – (20.26) took matters into their own hands. Another […] was evicted. This sort of thing goes on all the time in the occupied West Bank.  In 1994 a settler murdered 29 Palestinians at prayer in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.  Israel decided the ensuing protests were best dealt with by separating the small settler population of the city from the 150,000 Palestinian majority.  H2 is the zone they established where 450 settlers are defended by 1500 Israeli troops. In 2013 we met a Palestinian family who still lived in H2, in the district of Tel ?Rumaya?.

(21.14) (12:57:50) A small settlement of Jews from Brooklyn overlooks their house.  The settlers act like neighbours from hell. Throwing rubbish, things like old refrigerators down into the garden, poisoning the trees. Frequently invading the house and vandalising.  This is the family.  Hassem the father is dead now.  He died from tear gas inhalation and he leaves behind  a son and two daughters. I wonder how they survive with […]

The Palestinian market in H2 has to be protected from rubbish and worse being thrown  from the settlers’ houses above. There’s no point in asking the IDF to help. They are there to protect the settlers.  Make a complaint and you could well find yourself arrested.  Peaceful protesting?  Forget it. Military Order 101 makes most of the rights we take for granted, forbidden.  We met this man: Issa Amro.These are some of the things he’s not allowed to do.  Organising and participating in protesting; taking part in assemblies or vigils; waving flags or other political symbols; printing and distributing political material; influencing public opinion. All of that is illegal under Military Order 101.

Issa Amro is currently under trial on old charges that were dropped several years ago, but they’ve been  brought out again for want of a better reason to charge him.

It’s just to have a pretext for locking him away for few years, for being a persistent nonviolent protester and resister.  He leads resistance against the closure of this street, Shehade Street, next to settler homes.  A closure that’s a precursor to further theft of Palestinian property[12].

The peace process. This is the interim stage of the Oslo Peace process reached in 1995. And I’ll just explain it. The dark areas are the areas under control of the Palestinian Authority; the light yellow areas are under the joint control of Israel and the Palestinian Authority; the white area, Area C, is under the sole control of Israel. The little dots which you can see in Area C, those are settlements being established illegally[13], contrary to international law, in a part of the West Bank which the Oslo Peace process envisaged in 1998 would be handed over to the Palestinians – the whole West Bank would become the Palestinian State and Gaza too, a two state peace process.

We travelled through Area C where Israel still controls everything. We met villagers trying to resist the ethnic cleansing process going on.  Because Israel grants Palestinians almost no permits to build, but families need homes!  If you build a home for your extended or growing family then it’s liable to be slapped with a (25.13) demolition order, maybe not immediately but any time. Until they’re ready.  (25.16) And this is what it looks like.

[Video clip of house demolition]

Is occupying in this way going to save Israel?

(26.46) We listened to Osama whose house had been demolished the night before we met him

[Video or audio]

28.07 This is the harvest of aubergines ready for market.  Now rotting. Because the wholesaler didn’t want to come, he was too scared.  He didn’t want to be associated with trouble.

[…] The children on the left there. What are they experiencing? What are they thinking? Well that was in November 2013. In January the IDF returned and demolished the remaining home in the community.

So where are those kids now? What are they learning in this process?

We visited the ?Aida? refugee camp in Bethlehem.  And with some children that the Israelis treated as terrorists. Striking fear into the IDF.  Stones against fully armed soldiers.  They were throwing stones at the control tower at the edge of the refugee camp. And the soldiers replied with tear gas.

(29.15) This is the sort of thing these youngsters fear, during the night time incursions which the IDF frequently makes into this refugee camp, to harass families and to arrest youngsters.

(29.24) [Video clip]

Is that enough about occupying on the Israeli side?  But I haven’t shown you – yet – the effect of Israel’s use of live ammunition in controlling unarmed civilians[14]. Like the young man in … that we met. Crippled in his leg. His story is, he was six years old, playing with his friend. An Israeli soldier started shooting and his leg was hit three times.  When he woke from the operation he was told he had lost his leg. And his reflection on that? He realised you should never simply give up. Quite some courage.

According to Sabeel, a human rights group based in Bethlehem, a ‘Captain Nidal[15]’ of the IDF has threatened young men in [..] refugee camp, as follows: “I will make all the youths of the camp disabled.  I will have all of you walking with crutches and in wheelchairs. I will make half of you disabled and let the other half push the wheelchairs.”

The Israeli Army raided [?Arisha] three times between the end of July and mid-August 2017. At least 18 youths between 14 and 27 years old were shot in their legs. 8 were shot directly in the knee and several more in both knees.

(31.58) And you wonder, is this how the Children of the Prophet[16] are meant to behave?

Time is pressing and I haven’t yet mentioned the execution by the IDF of wounded Palestinians[17].

Many cases, all captured on Youtube.

But one youngster we know crawled through a hole in a barbed wire fence to collect special herbs […] in a market just out of reach on the other side.  He was ambushed by the IDF, they knew that this was what he was going to do. He was shot in both [..]. And then he tried to pull away, he was killed.

We met his uncle, we know this happened. The most moral army in the world?

(33.00) Israel’s problem is that the record has caught up with the story – and we now know that the story was never true[18].

But we have to move on.  So next question.  What happens to the Palestinians if we are to save Israel?  Is it to be like Gaza? Blockade for 11 years.  Invaded 4 times.  The infrastructure and housing destroyed. Unemployment 41%.   People increasingly vulnerable.  Food insecurity which robs them of the opportunity to provide for their families.  Extreme poverty leading to depression and hopelessness.  Water shortage, turning saline, polluted by sewage. Unfit for humans in the view of the WHO. And a 14% jump in kidney disease directly attributable to that.

(33.53) So who might you vote for after 35 years of occupation like that? Or will the Palestinians be restricted to Bantustans, like you see in this clip?

[Al Jazeera video clip]

So will the Palestinians living in those bantustans be expected to follow the prescription of this member of the Israeli Knesset? “We must encourage Arabs to willingly leave both from the cities and from the state”. Is this what Israelis mean by ‘encouraged’?

Professor Arnon […]of Haifa University says: “We will have to kill and kill and kill. All day. Everyday”

But then he worried : “But how can the men who did the killing return home and be normal human beings?” Yes that is the dilemma.

The answer from their Prime Minister, Bibi is “We will live by the sword, forever.”

But the […] “that state living by the sword forever” is a trick

(13.12.20) They remember an earlier long [..] won by King David. ?Amner, King Saul’s army chief, asked Yoav, commander of David, “Shall the sword [..]? [….] in the land of ?Egypt. Well Yoav didn’t listen. He killed Amnon.

We met members of Kibbutz ?Zikim in 2014, and one of the things they told us, and I quote
“We’re stuck with this government. They pump up fear and paranoia. [..] extremism. It’s a sickness. If we didn’t have the Arab community we would be falling apart.”

So is it civil war that Israel  […]?

We visited [..], home to over 60,000 Palestinian Israelis. They’re citizens of Israel with votes. But without the same rights as Jewish Israelis[19]. They have more freedom and better prospects than Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. So … Will the Israeli Palestinians find themselves confined to a Palestinian homeland, when Trump’s Masterplan is revealed? Their status at a stroke reduced from citizen to guest worker? Isn’t that phrase just like [..] the Bantu, in apartheid South Africa? Because this is what happens even now if you are an Israeli Palestinian living under […]

This is a Beduin village […] in the Negev. It’s to be cleared so that Jewish Israelis can build a small town [..] on the same site, a town for Jews only[20]. […] once destroyed, will be covered  by […]

Does that sound familiar? That’s what always happens.

So this is Israel’s dilemma. They want to be a state for Jews only[21].  And they want to be seen as a democracy.  But if Israel stretches from to Med to the Jordan and contains over 6 million Palestinians, it cannot be a pure Jewish state and also a democracy.  On the other hand, ending the occupation would challenge to the core the way Israelis think about themselves.  And equally (these are some of the objects)  what would Israeli society look like, without the occupation?

[13.15.08 on video]
Lording over Palestinians’ daily life is deeply rooted in Israelis’ day to day experience[22]. Peace frightens many Jewish Israelis because it means losing privilege[23].

So the Occupation must be maintained[24]. But quietly. Because ending it would undo Israeli identity.

Even recognising that occupation exists undermines the way Israelis see reality[25].

So equally it’s for us – British people – hearing this story – to decide what we’re prepared to allow and what we’re prepared to do if the treatment of Palestinians just does not fit with our values.

Here are some of the ideas. You could go there, take a study tour, with ICAHD [..] or [..] Amos Trust. Or an organisation called ?Oratory.

Join the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and meet other people with similar concerns about what’s going on.

And support the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement[26].

But I should warn you, if you do join the PSC, Israel won’t in future allow you entry to the country. Support for non-violent dissent is clearly seen in Israel as dangerous actually.  So gradually it seems ghetto walls[27] will be built and extend and surround all of Israel, exactly as Netanyahu has envisaged. He’s on the record as saying that’s his solution.

Personally Mayonne and I have been […] We think trying to separate the two peoples in this land of Palestine is a big mistake.  And I want to show you a clip to show you what happens when people do dare to meet and listen and acknowledge each other’s story.   In Jerusalem we met people from the Bereaved Families Forum where Jews and Arabs come together, each having lost family members to the conflict.  And they’re able to recreate a closeness of Muslims and Jews that used to exist in Palestine in the 1920s. [..] the violence respectively of the Holocaust and the Naqba.

[Video clip]
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You can see, it’s all there: Holocaust Revisionism; judging Israel differently to other democratic nations; mendacious, dehumanizing and demonising allegations about Jews; using Nazi language about Jews. Plus the lies, plus the presence IN A CHURCH of the PSC, an organisation riddled with hardcore antisemites and Holocaust Deniers.

Note that the Methodists’ definition of antisemitism appears to encapsulate the IHRA Definition, widely accepted including by all major parties, over 200 local authorities and the UK government:

methodist 1

The response to my complaint was signed by Rev Dr David Chapman. You can read it here:

methodist 2

In short, it is a disgrace. It shows no understanding whatsoever of the contemporary problem of antisemitism and even no recognition of the Methodists’ own definition of it.Peace frightens many Jewish Israelis because it means losing privilege” – what an obscene antisemitic lie.  Where is the ‘privilege’ in having to send your children away to the army, knowing there is a risk of them being killed or maimed? Where is the ‘privilege’ in being blown up by a suicide bomber or attacked with a knife? And where is the recognition of the sacrifices Israelis made for the peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt?

I appealed to the ‘connexional complaints panel’ (Rev Andrew Goodhead, Rev Brenda Mosedale and Rev Christopher Jones). They quickly agreed with Rev Chapman’s whitewash.

The meeting at Marlborough Methodist Church on 1 February was an obscenity. Shame on those Methodists who fail to call out racism for what it is.

[1] Not true; caricatures Jewish people and culture

[2] This was never said by a Zionist. Also not true; caricatures Jewish people and culture

[3] Not true; caricatures Jewish people and culture

[4] Not true; caricatures Jewish people and culture

[5] Not true; caricatures Jewish people and culture

[6] Incites hate against Jews. Saffuriya aligned with the Arab irregular forces. It was hostile and had joined those trying to destroy the Jewish state.

[7] Not true; Plan Dalet was a defence plan. Incites hatred against Jews.

[8] Holocaust Revisionism. Discriminates against Jews. The Holocaust was in no way equivalent to the few thousand Arabs displaced by Jews in 1948 (se Efraim Karsh, http://www.paulbogdanor.com/israel/karsh1948.pdf).

[9] Not true; incites hatred against Jews

[10] Not true; incites hatred against Jews

[11] No court has ruled them illegal; incites hatred against Jews

[12] Not true; no such ‘theft’ is planned, neither has there been ‘theft’. Incites hatred against Jews

[13] See above; no court has found them illegal. Incites hatred against Jews

[14] Not true; Incites hatred against Jews

[15] No clue given who he is; unable to verify. Incites hatred against Jews

[16] Judging Israel by standards not applied to other nations.

[17] A lie which incites hatred against Jews

[18] Suggests Israel falsifies history; incites hatred against Jews

[19] Arabs have the same rights as Jews. Incites hatred against Jews

[20] Not true; Incites hatred against Jews

[21] Not true; Incites hatred against Jews

[22] Outrageous deeply antisemitic lie. Incites hatred against Jews

[23] Outrageous deeply antisemitic lie. Incites hatred against Jews

[24] Outrageous deeply antisemitic lie. Incites hatred against Jews

[25] Outrageous deeply antisemitic lie. Incites hatred against Jews

[26] The Methodists do not have a Boycott policy. Completely wrong to have this policy recommended in a Church

[27] ‘Ghetto walls’ is a Nazi comparison which is antisemitic if used about Jews

Update: I appealed to the heads of the Methodist Church, Rev Loraine Mellor and Rev Canon Gareth Powell.  They claimed they do not have the power to overrule the decision. They asked me to remove from this blog the names of those who considered my complaint. I refused. They must be able to be held accountable for their appalling decision.

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