Open Letter to LibDem leadership

Rt Hon Jo Swinson, Libdem Leader
Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable, previous Leader
Rt Hon Tim Farron, previous Leader
Baroness Sarah Brinton, Libdem President

A couple of months ago, 12 LibDem members wrote an Open Letter to you in protest at the suspension of Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine. It has been republished (so endorsed) by Jewish Voice for Labour. The letter is full of errors and misrepresentations and cannot pass without a response (albeit delayed).

They criticise you – the LibDem leadership – for accusations about antisemitism in the Labour Party. They adduce in their support this JVL article. I fisked it here, shortly after it was published.  Here was my conclusion:

Jewish Voice for Labour wants to mobilise this sham statistical study to persuade journalists (ahead of the EHRC announcement) that allegations of antisemitism in Labour are false and are designed to undermine Corbyn.  Fortunately it is so shoddy that it will have the opposite effect.

They say that you should discard the IHRA Definition of antisemitism. You will appreciate that a fundamental right of a minority is to set out what offends it. 12 LibDem members do not have the right to tell Jews what offends them.

They say there is ‘massive evidence’ that Israel and its supporters use IHRA to label genuine criticism of Israel as ‘antisemitic’.  This lie is such a well-worn device of antisemites that it even has its own name: the Livingstone Formulation. To ‘prove’ their assertion of ‘massive evidence’ they cite an article by Tony Lerman.   Lerman is an outspoken anti-Zionist who left his job as Director of the Institute of Jewish Affairs (now IJPR) due to the objection of some Trustees to his support for ‘One State’; ‘One State’ is antisemitic since it implies the dissolution of the world’s only state founded on Judaism.  He is therefore an outlier in the Jewish Community. His paper has many factual errors, for example the assertion that ‘the UK Government adopted the definition but not the list of examples’. He supports this by a reference to a paper by an academic at Birmingham University. She in turn (footnote 18) cites a paper which states that the IHRA did not adopt the examples as part of the Definition.

This is a lie. And here:
ihra examples included
See here for proof that the UK government adopted the entire Definition, including the examples.

Lerman also states that the London School of Economics has adopted only the vague top 38-word paragraph of the Definition, without the examples. This is true – and shameful, as I commented here. All Universities should follow the example of Kings College London and adopt the entire IHRA Definition.  I hope you will encourage this.

In his opposition to IHRA Lerman cites the opposition of lawyers Hugh Tomlinson QC, Sir Stephen Sedley, Sir Geoffrey Bindman and Geoffrey Robertson.

Tomlinson was paid by four anti-Israel organisations including the PSC to produce an Opinion on IHRA and (surprise surprise) produced a critical assessment.

Sedley suggested the completely unworkable definition that “Antisemitism is hostility towards Jews as Jews”. His criticism of IHRA effectively amounts to the Livingstone Formulation.

Bindman’s criticism is here.  He states ‘the IHRA definition should only be adopted if qualified by caveats making clear that it is not antisemitic to criticise the Israeli government without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent’. Of course – and it is in the Definition! (‘ …criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic’.)

Robertson’s Opinion was funded by the Palestine Return Centre. I fisked it here.  It  was rapidly deleted. Its worth can be deduced from Robertson’s demonstrably false statement that Israel was created  ‘to compensate for the Holocaust’.

Of course Lerman (and the 12 LibDems) fail to tell you that the Campaign Against Antisemitism published a supportive legal opinion about IHRA.

The 12 suggest that ‘many British Jews question the narrative of rampant antisemitism’. Their source here is this letter in the Guardian.    David Collier fisked that letter here:

‘Who is inside the rabble? People like Naomi Wimborne Idrissi, who have spoken under the flag of the soon to be proscribed Hezbollah and Elleanne Green, founder of the antisemitic Palestine Live Facebook group. Without the antisemites, this group could not gather a regular ‘minyan‘, which is why they never publicly demonstrate. In other words everybody should know, including those at the BBC and the Letters Editor at the Guardian newspaper, that this fringe crowd is not a legitimate ‘Jewish’ voice…. Both the Independent letter and the Guardian letter have signatories who spread Holocaust Denial.’

The signatories are no more representative of British Jews than the Westboro Baptist Church is representative of Christianity.

Finally let’s look at the track record of the 12 LibDems – or at least the eight willing to be identified.  Three of them have anti-Israel history on social media.

Jonathan Coulter is a PSC activist.  He co-authored the flawed JVL article which the 12 cite in their support. He is a member of the secret Palestine Live group in Facebook that is riddled with antisemitism.  He initiated a judicial review of the IPSO decision regarding the Times and Sunday Times coverage of a meeting in Parliament hosted by Jenny Tonge in October 2016. A meeting that saw full-on Holocaust Denial and blame of Zionists for the Holocaust. He lost…… Coulter thinksthe press is bullying people in such a way that they are reluctant to speak up on Israel/Palestine’. And he thinks that the reason MPs join Friends of Israel organisations is because they are “scared of being done over by the Jewish Chronicle”. You get the picture………….

Roger Higginson’s lies about Israel can be seen here. For example he says that Israel expelled over 700,000 Palestinian refugees in 1948. Nonsense. Read the respected historian Efraim Karsh:

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.’ The Mayor of Haifa begged the Arabs to stay and many fled on instructions from their leaders.

Denis Mollison has advocated One State, which is antisemitic because it means the end of Israel as a state founded on Judaism.

Following the resignation under pressure of Jenny Tonge – after she was suspended – the LibDems have become the Party of choice for many UK Jews, appalled by Labour’s institutional antisemitism and opposed to Brexit (or at least a no-deal Brexit).  No doubt they will be confident that you will treat the ‘Open Letter’ with the derision that it deserves.

Addendum

Geoffrey Bindman’s critique of IHRA is set out in  Journal called European Judaism (March 2019). Here is an extract:

bindman sept 19

What a joke………….These ‘Jewish members’ are anti-Israel ‘As-A-Jews’. Tomlinson was paid by four anti-Israel organisations to produce an Opinion on IHRA and (surprise surprise) produced a critical assessment.

The four were Free Speech on Israel, Independent Jewish Voices, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Anti-Israel propaganda in UCL’s refugees exhibition

At University College London (UCL) there is an exhibition called ‘Moving Objects’ in the Octagon Gallery (entrance via ground floor of Wilkins Building).  It began on 18 February and lasts to 6 October.

The blurb on the website says it is about refugees.   So does the introductory panel.

UCL AUG19 1

In truth it is anti-Israel propaganda. Hardly any refugees are featured apart from Palestinians.   At the same time as Arabs fled from the new State of Israel in 1948 (under the command of their leaders) and in subsequent years, thousands of Jews were being expelled from Arab countries. Why does the exhibition not include them?

UCL AUG19 2

There is a map of Israel (exhibit 31) with the country entirely erased and with a Palestinian flag on top.

UCL AUG19 3.jpg
The caption’s suggestion that it is ‘a pre-1948 rural vision’ is outrageous.  This is pure anti-Israel propaganda.

UCL AUG19 4
Just as bad – in fact worse – is exhibit 25a. It shows an airmail letter dated July 1957 from Jordan, addressed to someone in the USA.

UCL AUG19 5.jpg

But the CAPTION states ‘Posted from Palestine by a sister to her brother before 1948. This letter was sent by a sister to her brother at the time when Palestine was still on earth. ‘

1. The letter is postmarked 1957 not ‘before 1948’ !

2. The caption suggests there was a country called ‘Palestine’ before 1948 which was ‘still on earth’ –the subtext being that Israel (created in 1948) destroyed the country called ‘Palestine’ which was the home of the ‘Palestinians’.

This is a complete falsehood. ‘Palestine’ was the name of the region which the League of Nations in July 1922 entrusted Great Britain with a Mandate. This encompassed both present day Israel and present day Jordan.  The name ‘Palestine’ had nothing to do with the descendants of refugees who now call themselves ‘Palestinians’.  It was not until years after Israeli independence in 1948 that the Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were called Palestinians.

This letter is simply a letter from Jordan.

I have complained to UCL. I will publish their response here. This is yet another example of truth about Israel in UK academia being wilfully supplanted by lies. One of the academics who created the exhibition is Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, a Professor at UCL. She has form. She signed a petition stating ‘Israel’s policies have brought Gaza to the brink of economic, social and ecological collapse’ (the truth is that it is Hamas which is the obstacle to progress in Gaza) and that Israel ‘inflicts collective punishment on the people of Gaza’ (the truth is that Israel acts to defend its citizens from rocket fire and only restricts the import of items which can be used to make weapons). She also was at SOAS – the well-known incubator of Israel demonisation and antisemitism – for two years in research and teaching jobs.

UCL was the university where anti-Israel students succeeded in violently closing down a meeting by an Israeli in 2016.  Hen Mazzig and the Jewish students were denied free speech.  How ironic then that free speech is now being used at UCL to promote anti-Israel propaganda in the guise of an exhibition to publicise issues around refugees. And how shocking that in six months, no-one seems to have noticed the abuse or complained about it (David Collier alerted me to the exhibition after Daniela Vinkeles Melchers, a student on a summer course at UCL, alerted him).

UCL Donors please note ………………………..

Please sign and share the petition

Postscript

Here is an email from Professor Sasha Roseneil Dean of the Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences at UCL (emboldening mine):

I think it’s a really poorly put together exhibition and am pretty disappointed by the quality of the curation… The four exhibition cases don’t hang together – and it’s not really made clear that they are (I think) from four different projects, only very loosely related.  In terms of the work that the student is referring to, I can see the student’s point. Israel is presented as not existing in the embroidered map. But this is a set of objects co-curated by UCL academics and “displaced people”, and it represents the latter’s world view, stories and versions of history, imagined worlds, memories, wishes etc, rather than any sort of “objective truth”. The commentaries do say that these are the objects and stories of the people, and don’t claim to be presenting historical truth or contemporary actuality. But the complexity of ethnographic research, and the fact that ethnographic research deals with the writing (graph) of “peoples” (ethnos) in their own terms and stories, isn’t at all well conveyed so that it is easy for a visitor to think this is the (UCL academic) curator’s presentation of the history or current reality, or even imagined future, of Israel-Palestine… (which it might also be…)… It’s a very tricky instance where academic freedom/ interpretation/ research on a contentious issue comes into conflict with deeply held beliefs and alternative versions of history/ truth… Here we have a presentation of some Palestinian people’s own objects and experience, and a set of objects curated by UCL academics around this theme. One might say, perhaps, that there should have been some kind of counter narrative offered, given this, but on the other hand, it is, surely, legitimate to present the stories of Palestinian people, without having to present the stories of Jewish-Israelis… (just as it would be the other way round). So, it is very tricky.

Postscript #2

Email received 26/9/19 from Fiona Ryland, Chief Operating Office at UCL. What  a disgrace (though she said earlier that they did change the date on the caption on 25a)

‘Dear Mr Hoffman,

I am responding to make you aware that we have undertaken a review of the Moving Objects exhibition, in consultation with academic colleagues with relevant expertise. This is an exhibition that draws on ethnographic work and was co-curated with refugees and asylum seekers. The exhibition explores the perspectives of people who have experienced displacement. UCL is committed to principles of academic freedom, and it is the right and responsibility of scholars in a university to draw on their research expertise to represent how peoples, societies and cultures see themselves. This exhibition will continue as planned.

Kind Regards

Fiona’

On the Shoulders of Giants: 43s Veteran donates to defend antifascist streetfighters

scan0081

I was thrilled to receive a donation to our Defence Fund from Harry Kaufman, the 88 year old Veteran of the 43 group. He was twice convicted for fighting fascists. The 43 Group was a group of Jewish ex-servicemen who were demobbed at the end of World War Two and returned to London, only to find that representatives of the fascists whom they had fought were rife there and that the government – particularly Home Secretary Chuter Ede – was doing nothing. The 43 group heckled the fascists in the street – just like we did – and did all they could to break up their meetings.

43 group book

72 years after the Battle of Ridley Road it is appalling that fascist antisemites are still allowed freedom on London’s streets.  Thank you Harry.  Just like you, Vidal Sassoon, Jules Konopinski and the other brave members of the 43s, we promise that they will never go unopposed.

#ZeroTolerance: #StandingOnTheShouldersOfGiants

Like Harry, please give generously to the Defence Fund.

43 group slogan

Open Letter to Rosie Duffield MP

Dear Ms Duffield,

You have received an Open Letter from your constituent Diane Langford. It contains so many lies and defamations that I feel impelled to follow with this Open Letter.

Langford calls Hanna Braun a Holocaust Survivor.  She was not a ‘survivor’ – and to call her this is an insult to genuine survivors.  Braun was never in a death camp. She left Germany in 1937 with her parents, age 10. They went to Palestine (called Israel wef May 1948). Presumably Langford misrepresents Braun’s history because she thinks Israel hatred from a Holocaust Survivor has a better cachet than that from a mere refugee. How sick – but how typical of the Israel defamers.

Langford calls Deir Yassin ‘a notorious massacre in the ethnic ‘cleansing’ of Palestine.’

Latest research suggests that (a) Deir Yassin was a fortified village with scores of armed combatants (b) it occupied a strategically important position on the route to Jerusalem and the attack on it was part of an attempt to relieve the siege of Jerusalem (c) the Arab villagers received advance warning to evacuate the village and 700 did so (d) to describe this episode in the civil conflict as a ‘massacre’ is incorrect; Tauber writes that 61 of the 101 people killed, died in circumstances of combat or were combatants.

To say there was ‘ethnic cleansing’ by Jews of Arabs is a downright lie. The Mayor of Haifa for example begged the Arab inhabitants to stay.

Langford mentions that Braun founded the Palestine Solidarity Campaign branch in Coventry. The PSC is an organisation that wants to see the end of Israel as a Jewish State and which is riddled with antisemitism.   Langford herself was a longstanding member of the secret and horrifically antisemitic Facebook group Palestine Live, only leaving after it was exposed by David Collier in March 2018.

langford palestine live
Langford writes about Hanna Braun’s memorial gathering at London’s Conway Hall (she died in 2011, the meeting was in 2011 or early 2012). She notes that Richard Millett was there and that ‘the police had to be called to expedite his removal from the venue.’ That is a lie. The event was publicly advertised and Millett had every right to be there. It was him who called the police, after he was surrounded aggressively by Israel haters.

Then Langford says that I and Richard Millett were ‘evicted from the House of Commons when the police had to be called to a pro-Palestinian event in 2017.’ Now for the truth. This was an Israel hate meeting, not a ‘pro-Palestinian’ one. The presentations (during which we were silent like good dhimmis) included the antisemitic allegation that Israelis were “breaking into” the Al Aqsa Mosque and that Israel “is an expert in inciting hatred”. Mark Hendrick MP (since knighted) threw us out for voicing our opinion of the lies during the Q+A. Ms Duffield, you will be aware that (unlike you) Hendrick failed to sign the statement recommending  suspension of Chris Williamson and has failed to show any opposition to Labour’s institutional antisemitism. In March 2018, you attended the Jewish Community’s rally against antisemitism. Hendrick of course didn’t.

Langford writes that I ‘appear at far-right, e.g. EDF, events with an Israeli flag.’ Presumably she means EDL. This is a lie and has been referred to a lawyer.

She then suggests that I played a role ‘in the horrendous abuse and intimidation inflicted on staff of the Holiday Inn Hotel and threats received by the Quaker Meeting House in Brighton.’ Another lie – which has been referred to the lawyer. First, there is no evidence that any campaigner against the Williamson meeting in Brighton last week used ‘abuse’, ‘intimidation’ or ‘threats’. I certainly didn’t. My only public action was to post the third venue on Twitter (the Friends’ Meeting House).

Of you – Ms Duffield – Langford writes ‘Your association with Ella Rose, who threatened to ‘take down’ Jackie Walker using Israeli martial arts, is inexcusable.’ The truth about that incident is in the blog which I wrote at the time. This was classic Jew-baiting.  A woman later expelled from Labour for antisemitism abused a Jew online and then feigned self-righteous shock when the victim tried to pick up the pieces and preserve her self-respect (Rose imagined using her Krav Maga skills on Walker).

Ms Duffield, I hope you will treat Langford’s Open Letter with the derision it deserves.  Particularly as she wants you deselected. And your stance against antisemitism in Labour is much appreciated. Thank you.

Yours sincerely

Jonathan Hoffman

*********************************************************************************

For shouting at antisemites, we were prosecuted. Please help us meet our legal costs. Many thanks.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/defending-a-trumped-up-case-ai/

 

 

Shaun of More Truth

Shaun Lawson is a Corbyn supporter who lives in Uruguay and writes about football.  He has been exposed as a smear merchant by both me and David Collier.

The Community Security Trust has just published ‘Engine Of Hate’, an interesting Open Source Intelligence study of antisemitism on Twitter. The report ‘identifies 36 key pro-Corbyn Twitter accounts, each with their own, overlapping, online networks that drive social media conversations about antisemitism and the Labour Party’. Interestingly the technical work was contracted out to the data analytics company ‘Signify’.

Lawson tweeted a series of criticisms about the CST work. He has 12,500 followers so it’s worth taking the time to examine his critique. Turns out of course that it’s another pack of lies.

LIE #1: Absurdly Lawson says that the CST is suggesting that ‘you’re antisemitic if you ‘angrily criticised Rachel Riley’; ‘angrily criticised Tom Watson’;  ‘used the hashtag GTTO (Get The Tories Out)’; ‘referred to what al-Jazeera exposed in their film, The Lobby; ‘criticised Luciana Berger.’  The CST suggests nothing of the sort, of course. The first three were simply used to identify the 36 ‘Engine Room’ Twitter accounts ‘that drive social media conversations about antisemitism and the Labour Party’. The Al Jazeera non-exposé is included in the study because Asa Winstanley’s piece about it was the most popular article shared on Engine Room accounts. Six of the top ten URLs shared by the Engine Room accounts in tweets that mentioned the keywords (such as ‘antisemitism’, ‘Jew’, ‘witchhunt’, ‘Rothschilds’, ‘Zionist’, ‘smear’) came from one website: Electronic Intifada. Four of these six articles were written by Winstanley.

Luciana Berger MP features in the CST Report because of @WarmongerHodges, one of the 12 of the Engine Room accounts that tweeted antisemitic content. @WarmongerHodges targeted Berger, suggesting that she was lying in declaring that she needed police protection at the 2018 Labour Party conference.

LIE #2: Lawson’s next untruth is to suggest that the CST report fails to distinguish anti-Zionism from antisemitism. A blatant lie – see page 11 of the report – ‘Not all anti-Zionists are antisemites: for example, a minority of Jews, usually for religious reasons, do not believe that the existence of the current secular State of Israel is in the best interests of the Jewish people.

LIE #3: I need hardly mention what follows: the hoary old ignorant lie that supporting Zionism and supporting the Palestinians are mutually exclusive.

LIE #4: The next lie is Lawson’s assertion about the Al Jazeera non-exposé. He suggests that Joan Ryan MP ‘flat out lied about an ordinary Labour member being ‘antisemitic’ when she was anything but.As I blogged at the time, at the 2016 Labour Party Conference a woman called Jean Fitzpatrick comes to the Labour Friends of Israel Stand. It is clearly a setup job and she is clearly scripted – but of course Ryan does not know this (neither does the viewer, come to that…..). Fitzpatrick is a Facebook friend of Jackie Walker; it is possible that Walker recommended her for the role.  Other of her Facebook friends include notorious Israel haters Tony Greenstein, Glyn Secker, Mike Cushman, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi and Timothy Horgan. Fitzpatrick is a hardcore PSC supporter.
fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick asked Ryan how LFI proposes that a two state solution should be reached. Fitzpatrick moves quickly into antisemitism mode (asking “at what expense” Israel exists). She revealed she is a PSC supporter. She professed to want to know how LFI will facilitate a Two State Solution “because you’ve got a lot of money, a lot of prestige in the world …. Working for LFI is a stepping-stone to a good job …. A friend of mine’s son got a really good job at Oxford University on the basis of having worked for LFI”.  Ryan (to her credit) immediately spotted the antisemitism and tried to terminate the conversation.  She did NOT say that Fitzpatrick was an antisemite! She said that Fitzpatrick’s comment was antisemitic – which it was.

LIE #5: Lawson says that antisemitism ‘has been repeatedly found to be considerably lower on the left than on the right’. Not true. See here and here.

LIE #6: He states that antisemitism has ‘fallen on the left since Corbyn became leader’. Not true.

 

 

 

My Interview with Simon Barrett of RevelationTV

Revelation TV is a multi-award winning Christian television channel which broadcasts worldwide.   A few weeks ago I recorded an interview with Simon Barrett who hosts the Channel’s Middle East Report. You can see the interview here. Some of it is about the funeral of the hero Tom Bowden which I wrote about here.

A few of the things I said…..

On antisemitism: “The first thirty years of my life there was little antisemitism and I thought this was the norm. In fact those years were the exception. Antisemitism was there before and it has reappeared now.”

On the Puma trial:Simply for shouting at antisemites we were prosecuted. It was a prosecution on the basis of lies. If you can’t trust the justice system, what’s the point? Advocates for Israel are being seen as the perpetrators  – not the victims.  We’re being short-changed by the CPS, the police and the judiciary.”

On universities:There are a number of universities which are effectively ‘no-go’ for Jewish students and this is a disgrace.”

In the interview I mention our Defence Fund for the Puma Trial. The link is here. Many thanks to all who contribute.

Postscript

The Revelation TV interview is now on YouTube.