JVL kicks off the election campaign with lies

Jewish Voice for Labour – which exists to whitewash antisemitism in the Labour Party – has published a mendacious document entitled ‘Briefing for canvassers: Challenging false allegations of antisemitism’.

Here is some counter-briefing, feel free to use it in debates with Labour canvassers. A vote for Labour on 12 December is tantamount to putting two fingers up to the UK’s Jewish Community.

LIE …………the IHRA document has been adopted by only eight of the IHRA’s thirty-three members plus two of its nine observer states.”

TRUTH As of August 2019, the IHRA definition had been adopted by sixteen countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and the UK). It is also used by the US State Department and the US Department of Education and the Ministry of Education of Greece. It has been endorsed by the European Parliament, which has recommended its adoption by EU Member States, and by the Organisation for American States. It is used by a number of civil society organisations monitoring antisemitism and was recognised by the UN Secretary-General in 2018. Around 200 UK local authorities and one University have adopted it.

LIEAlready, some universities which have ‘adopted’ the IHRA document, have cancelled or obstructed student activities which support the Palestinians, and some local authorities have cancelled meetings out of a fear – with no reasonable basis – of what might possibly be said in them.

TRUTH Where meetings have been refused – eg this example – it is because of concern about antisemitism – far from there being ‘no reasonable basis.  JVL is hardly the arbiter of ‘reasonableness’ when it comes to antisemitism!

LIEThe IHRA 38 word ‘definition’, in retired Lord Justice Sir Stephen Sedley’s view, ‘fails the first test of any definition: it is indefinite’. Its clumsy drafting leaves its meaning quite indeterminate.  Plus, it is way too narrow, focusing on extreme antisemitism (hatred), whilst ignoring (so not protecting against) far more common forms, such as harassment, prejudice, hostility and discrimination.”

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

LIE “The IHRA document has been fiercely criticized by some of Britain’s most senior lawyers, who fear the political nature of its ‘Israel examples’ may seriously ‘chill’ political debate on Israel/Palestine. These critics include Jewish retired Lord Justice of Appeal (Stephen Sedley), foremost Jewish advocate on race and equality issues over the past half century (solicitor, Geoffrey Bindman) and leading human rights QCs (Hugh Tomlinson and Geoffrey Robertson), who have both written legal opinions tearing it apart. Plus, American Jewish lawyer Kenneth Stern, the original author of what has since become the IHRA definition and examples, is furious that a document he wrote to assist the collation of international police statistics on antisemitism, is now being used to regulate, chill (and potentially kill) debate about Israel/Palestine.”

TRUTH You get what you pay for and lawyers are no exception.  Tomlinson was paid by Free Speech on Israel, Independent Jewish Voices, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Robertson’s Opinion was funded by the Palestine Return Centre.

Stern was not the ‘original author’ of what has become IHRA. And his only caveat is that he says it is inappropriate for universities to use it for certain types of anti-Israel speech, because he sees campuses as a special ‘free speech’ environment. But for everyone else, his message is clear: the definition should be used more than it is (this comes from Dr Dave Rich of the CST).

Jackie Walker Belittles Jews at UCL’s Chomsky Fest

Last night at UCL there was a Chomsky fest to launch the book of the contributions to an event that I attended in February 2017. Jackie Walker contributed  a paper to the 2017 Conference (also at UCL) and so was invited to speak at the book launch.

It didn’t start well. Aware of the record of Jackie Walker, UCL  had reasonably put conditions around the meeting – the following antisemitic expressions were rightly ruled unacceptable

1. Suggestions (overt or implied) that Jews as a group or particular sections of the British Jewish community invent, exaggerate or “weaponise” incidents of antisemitism for political or other benefit.

2. Suggestions (overt or implied) that Jews as a group or particular sections of the British Jewish community exploit or exaggerate the Holocaust for political or other benefit.

3. Use (overt or implied) of “dual loyalty” tropes relating to Jews as a group or particular sections of the British Jewish community and the State of Israel – for example that they are “controlled” by Israel or are working on behalf of Israel to the detriment of Britain.

4. Suggestions (overt or implied) that antisemitism is a less toxic form of racism than any other and/or that Jews are less vulnerable to discrimination than other minority groups.

5. Repetition (overt or implied) of antisemitic tropes relating to Jews and money and/oJewish financial involvement in historical events or injustices – for example that Jews financed wars, slavery, etc

Even though the Chair (Professor Garb) suggested that these conditions had been dropped or modified, someone (JVL?) saw fit to put (unsigned) fliers on the chairs entitled “A Defence of Jackie Walker”. And Chomsky’s response to the conditions was posted on the screens:

If I’d been asked, I would have rejected all of these conditions, for two reasons. First, why bring up anti-Semitism and not Islamophobia, white supremacy, and other serious forms of racism? Second, these conditions are an utter outrage. Take the first, stating that it would be antisemitic for anyone to say or imply that any Jewish group has ever exaggerated incidents of antisemitism in the Labour Party or elsewhere. I’m frankly at a loss for words. Would it be anti-Arab racism to say that some Arab group has exaggerated incidents of anti-Arab racism? If so, I’m a hardened Islamophobe, because I know of such cases and have often said so. And so are all journals and commentators on the Middle East, because such behaviour is common — for other nationalist groups as well. Why are Jewish groups immune from criticism, alone in the world? Beyond that there happens to be solid record of exaggerating incidents of antisemitism in Labour. Greg Philo’s recent study documents this in extensive detail.

Is Chomsky seriously recommending this book?

It wasn’t long before the lies started. Walker referred to the book (see link above and here) that was to have been launched at Waterstones Brighton during the Labour Conference as being ‘peer reviewed’. No it has not been ‘peer reviewed’. The ludicrous puff from Ken Loach is hardly ‘peer reviewing’!

Walker’s speech began with her customary litany of victimhood. She called mainstream media “a carnival of reaction, oppression and deprivation”.

The next lie: She said that if you use the term “Holocaust” to describe what happened to Africans, the Labour Party will suspend you!

Then the Chair of UCL Jewish Society asked a perfectly reasonable question about Walker’s history. How could she claim to be an antiracist? (Eg she said that “many Jews were chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade”). She responded by calling his question ‘uncivil’ and suggesting that he had an agenda “probably from the Jewish Chronicle”. I called her out and Professor Garb promptly threatened to throw me out.  So much for free speech. Walker lied (bizarrely) saying that at the meeting in 2017 she had “protected” me! Another Jewish student asked her how it was that all the reports about her could be entirely without truth!

But the pièce de résistance was still to come. In July there was an excellent  Panorama programme (made by John Ware) entitled ‘Is Labour Antisemitic?’ It featured interviews with seven or so disillusioned staff who had resigned from Labour’s Disputes Team.  Only one of them – Ben Westerman – was Jewish.  Walker called the programme “laughable”.  Here’s what she then said: “All 15 people  in the programme were on the Executive of the Jewish Labour Movement”.  My jaw dropped!

This is not just a ludicrous lie.  It is a nastily antisemitic lie – Subtext: “They’re all Jewish so we don’t need to take any of their complaints seriously – they are trying to undermine Jeremy Corbyn”. It violates #1 of UCL’s conditions for the meeting to go ahead. And shames Chomsky for ridiculing the conditions.

Chomsky of course is an antisemitism denier. Just look at this slide, also posted at the meeting:

chomsky1


UCL gave a platform to a proven antisemite: Yet another example of UK Universities failing to take the problem of antisemitism seriously.

East London (In)Humanists

If you wanted a speaker about the Care of the Elderly you wouldn’t ask Dr Harold Shipman. Similarly if you wanted a speaker about antisemitism you wouldn’t ask David Rosenberg, would you? Errr – wrong – East London Humanists did precisely that. Cockup or conspiracy? Well bear in mind that these ‘humanists’ are affiliated to the National Secular Society which has been pretty obnoxious towards Jews.

There are few things more nauseating than to listen to a renegade Jew telling derogatory lies about Jews to a non-Jewish audience.  Fortunately a band of ballsy Jewish Vigilantes (six women plus me) was at Wanstead Library (at very short notice) to bear witness and speak out.

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Here is what we heard, seriatim……

1. Lie: Jeremy Corbyn is probably the most prominent antiracist and antifascist campaigner in parliament.

2. Lie: The allegation that the President of the Board of Deputies does not have democratic legitimacy: (Rosenberg said “those within the Jewish Community who define themselves as leaders put pressure on Labour to adopt the IHRA”).

3. Lie: The IHRA definition of antisemitism “mixes together attitudes about Jews with attitudes to the Israel-Palestine conflict and about Zionism and about the State of Israel”.

4. Lie: The EUMC definition (the precursor to IHRA) was written by just one man, Kenneth Stern (It was the responsibility of a broad-ranging group of representatives from governments and Jewish organisations).

5. Lie: The Fundamental Rights Agency removed the EUMC definition from its website “because they felt it was an inadequate definition”.

6. Lie: Only six countries have adopted IHRA. Truth: As of August 2019, it had been adopted by sixteen countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and the UK). It is also used by the US State Department and the US Department of Education and the Ministry of Education of Greece. It has been endorsed by the European Parliament, which has recommended its adoption by EU Member States, and by the Organisation for American States. It is used by a number of civil society organisations monitoring antisemitism and was recognised by the UN Secretary-General in 2018. Around 200 UK local authorities and one University have adopted it.

7. Lies: The IHRA definition “will have a chilling effect on comment on the Israel/Palestine conflict”; “opposition to Israeli policy is antisemitic”; “this will cause those who support the Palestinians to doubt the truth of all allegations of antisemitism and people who target the Israeli government might widen their target.”

8. Lie (the worst one, straight from the Soviet School circa 1960): The ‘H’ in IHRA stands for ‘Holocaust’. If a body dedicated to Holocaust Remembrance is responsible for a ‘shield’ to defend a government against questions, it engenders cynicism towards Holocaust Remembrance.

9. The proportion of UK Jews declaring themselves to be ‘Zionist’ fell from 70% to 59% in five years (the 59% figure is taken from the Yachad survey which also found that 90% support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State ……. Which equals Zionism ……..)

10. Accusations of antisemitism in Labour are “instrumental, exaggerated and distorted”; the main protagonists are the Conservative Party and right wing leaders of some Jewish organisations.

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Not surprisingly the meeting broke up in acrimony. One man walked out in disgust. This feral woman was particularly aggressive. Rosenberg (a member of Labour and JVL) smeared me with the EDL lie.

Memo to Humanists: If you want a speaker on antisemitism, don’t ask someone who is part of the problem!

Postscript 1

Paul Kaufman who chairs East London Humanists is Jewish. He is a member of the anti-Israel group Jews for Justice for Palestinians. JFJFP does not accept the IHRA Definition. Presumably that is why Rosenberg was invited. So it WAS conspiracy – not cockup. It appears that the Chair of East London Humanists deliberately invited a speaker who denies antisemitism and rejects IHRA to speak on the topic.

Note the link to the antisemitism-denying Jewish Voice for Labour. Richard Kuper is a founder of JFJFP and an Officer of JVL.

Kaufman is also opposed to faith schools and his group held a meeting opposing religious circumcision.

Assuming it is the same man, he also signed an open letter in 2015 attacking the Jewish Chronicle for highlighting Corbyn’s links to antisemites and Holocaust deniers. I can’t find evidence that he is a Labour member but it seems likely.

Postscript 2

Here is a video of the chaos at the end of the meeting.

Me: “You wouldn’t have a speaker who is Islamophobic – why do you have one who is antisemitic?”

Me: “The IHRA says you can criticise Israel the same as any democratic country – that’s what he didn’t say – he’s a racist speaker”

Rosenberg: “I would like to point out that the person who has disrupted this meeting is very happy to work with members of the the English Defence League and the British National Party”

Me: “I have never worked with the EDL. You’re a f*cking liar”

-1:50: ‘Ms Feral’ is seen to raise her hand at my face

-1.08: She lays into a woman

Postscript 3

Ms Feral has outed herself it seems

humanist feral2

 

Drowning in ‘Narratives’ at UCL

ucl 1 oct 19

ucl 2 oct 19

I went to this meeting last night. Hollis’ book is about the responses to the ten questions she posed to her ‘Olive Tree’ Israeli and Palestinian students at City University, together with responses from Israelis and Palestinians who had not been on the Olive Tree programme. Her conclusions seem bleedin’ obvious:  National ‘narratives’ can drive conflict and those on one side are sometimes reluctant to listen to the narrative of the other side. And she had observed two parallel narratives (no shit Sherlock).  However it got both more interesting and more fictional: She mentioned that when her Israeli students go home, their opinions are suppressed ‘by the authorities‘ …. ‘you do not question the accepted narrative or you get called a ‘self-hating Jew‘.  No evidence was provided for this rubbish and those of us familiar with the incredible diversity of views expressed in Israel will regard Hollis’ claim with enormous scepticism. Hollis also talked about a ‘blockade’ of Gaza. She clearly knows nothing. There is no ‘blockade’: truckloads of goods arrive every day, only goods which might be used for making weapons cannot go in.

Anziska cited a report in Ha’aretz earlier this year, entitled Migration Report 1948. Ha’aretz reported that the Defence Ministry kept back some archives relating to conduct toward Palestine’s Arabs, particularly during the 1948 war. Anziska suggested that the report contained revelations about atrocities committed by Israel: “3 to 400,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes.”  No it does not say that! As Benny Morris says – most of the ‘revelations’ were nothing of the sort – they were already known.

I asked a question about ‘narratives’: What had happened to facts? Anziska’s response was weak: facts are not facts because more source documents might become public and might change the facts.

As I had expected, the meeting at UCL simply confirmed the parlous state of Middle East Studies at British Universities.

Postscripts

Dennis Ross’ interesting review of Anziska’s book

Sitting in front of me was the Israeli Professor who tells students that Hamas Supports Two States ………………

Antiracism’s gone down the plughole in Bath

You wouldn’t imagine that Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution – a venerable Charity with a 250 year history) would be a friendly venue for the PSC, would you?

After all, its objective (see its Articles of Association) include ‘the promotion and advancement, for the public benefit, of science, literature and art in the City of Bath and its surrounding areas by such means as the Directors of the Company think fit.’

You wouldn’t imagine that this would include hosting the PSC, an organisation that desires the end of Israel as a Jewish State and which is a refuge for antisemites, would you?

But apparently it does. In April the PSC (aka Bath Friends of Palestine) at the BRLSI hosted Thomas Suarez, author of a viciously antisemitic book. In September they hosted Kamel Hawwash, the PSC’s Chair.  Hawwash defended Mohammad Halabi – who murdered two Israeli men and injured a woman and baby in 2015 – calling him “a martyr” because he was subsequently shot and killed by police.

Now the BRLSI is hosting this meeting on 1 November.

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Look first at the title ‘Messiah Mode: The rise and fall and rise of Israel’s biggest racists’.

To refer to Israel’s religious or political leaders as “Messiahs” is profoundly offensive to Jews. The Messiah in Judaism is a significant figure, with the characteristics of a priest and king, who will change the world order, in accordance with the will of God.  The Messiah has yet to come. To suggest that Israel’s leaders imagine themselves to be the “Messiah” is a very nasty slur. Even nastier is that the title refers to them as ‘racists’. The rights of Israel’s non-Jewish population are protected by law and non-Jews can be found in senior positions in every profession, including as diplomats and as Judges on the Supreme Court.

Now look at the speaker, David Sheen. Sheen lies about Israel and demonises the country, see here.

Sheen also fabricates quotes in order to demonise Israel, see here. 

The widely accepted IHRA definition of antisemitism states that ‘Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective’ is antisemitic. Sheen clearly falls into this category.

The response of Betty Suchar – the BRLSI Chair – to protests is that she believes in free speech ‘and that any group within reason can hire a room at BRLSI’.

But the maintenance of ‘free speech’ is conditional, as set out in Article Ten of the European Convention on Human Rights. This says that ‘free speech’ must be subject to ‘the protection of the reputation or rights of others’.    Jews have the right to not be subjected to antisemitism.

Would it be ‘within reason’ for the BRLSI hire a room to David Irving for a meeting to promote Holocaust Denial?

Or to the English Defence League for a meeting to be addressed by a White Nationalist?

If not – how is accepting this meeting ‘within reason’?

And look how Bath Friends of Palestine is promoting the meeting on Eventbrite and Facebook:

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It is a fake image. It is photoshopped.  Binyamin Netanyahu NEVER shook hands with Meir Kahane who died nearly 30 years ago

Read to the bottom of the event description and they even admit it’s photoshopped. But of course it will be reproduced thousands of times by Israel haters without such a qualification.

London church hosts neo-Nazi group

A constant theme of my blogs has been churches which host antisemitic speakers.

David Collier (and yesterday) and Hope Not Hate have reported on a meeting last week which was possibly the worst ever example.

St Anne’s in Soho, London hosted a neo-Nazi group, ‘Keep Talking’.  The booking was made in the name of ‘Keep Talking’ – they made no attempt to disguise themselves. The founder of ‘Keep Talking’ is notorious Holocaust Denier Nicholas Kollerstrom who argues that the purpose of the gas chambers at Auschwitz was to kill lice (David Irving argued the same but this was disproved at his libel trial by Richard Rampton QC who argued correctly that the Zyklon B gas concentration needed to kill lice is a quantum higher than that found in the walls of the concentration camp).

Yet again it seems that someone responsible for taking bookings failed to do elementary Due Diligence.  Had they enquired as to the nature of the meeting, they could easily have found out the truth about the organisation and the Israel-hating speaker, Miko Peled. He thinks that Holocaust Denial comes within the ambit of free speech.  Attendees included “manifestly antisemitic” Alison Chabloz, “neo-Nazi” James Thring ,  “disgraced conspiracy theorist” Stephen Sizer and Elleanne Green who promoted the meeting, has expressed Holocaust denial sentiment on social media and created the antisemitic ‘Palestine Live’ secret Facebook group.

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Also there was Irfan Dean and Naila Smith.  Ian Fantom – who co-founded and organises ‘Keep Talking’ –  is at the front in the photo, to Chabloz’s left. See David Collier’s blog for other attendees. It was a classic ‘horseshoe’ meeting where neo-Nazis sat next to so-called ‘human rights activists’, eg from the International Solidarity Movement.

Some of Peled’s talk is on video. He demonised Israelis, saying that when he was growing up, “nobody in their right minds would go into a Palestinian town – because they’re Arabs, they’re different.”  That is nonsense. In the 1960s for example many Israelis went to Gaza. He also accused Israel of only giving 3% of the water to Palestinians. This is a lie.

Twice in the video the neo-Nazi audience revoltingly breaks out with demonic laughter at the mention of the word ‘antisemitism’.

It is completely unacceptable for Churches to host antisemitic speakers – let alone, if they are booked by neo-Nazi groups. There is no excuse for failing to do Due Diligence before accepting a booking.

Please tell me if you know of others who attended. You can contact me via Twitter @jhoffman1 or Facebook

Please help us with our defence for legal costs, incurred because we shouted at antisemitic terrorist supporters – thank you.

Update
church oct 19
At our protest outside the Church on 6 October, the Rector promised to publish this apology on the Church website and the Bishop of London undertook to remind all London Clergy that bookings for meetings must be properly checked.

Index to this Blog

Posts which are cited the most frequently are asterisked.