David Sheen is promoting a so-called ‘Lecture Tour’ of a talk entitled ‘Messiah Mode’. See my blog here for the gross insensitivity of Betty Suchar, the Chair of Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution in the face of protests by Jews that her Institution was to host Sheen at yet another Bath Friends of Palestine (aka PSC) meeting.
Sheen spoke in Bath on 1 November. The Patron of Bath Friends of Palestine aka the PSC is Ken Loach Esq who believes that Labour MPs who attend protests against antisemitism should be expelled from the Party.
Photo credit: Bath Chronicle
(Spanner to Corbyn)
And here is his fawning interview with Salma Yaqoob who called Israelis ‘European colonisers’ and said of Israel: ‘No matter how much lipstick you put on a pig, a pig is still a pig’. Not to mention Robert Cohen the ‘as-a-Jew’ who even besmirches the memory of Anne Frank in order to vilify Israel.
The venue was the highly prestigious Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, a Charity whose object is ‘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.’ How does Jewbaiting fit into that, I wonder?
I was there. The audience – about 120 strong – was (see photo below) typical of these anti-Israel events. Virtue-signalling white ‘liberals’ aged at least 50 who are reliving their 1960s days picketing against South African Apartheid outside Barclays Bank. The women with bad hair-do’s, the men with progressively less hair TO do and comfy 25-year old frayed sweaters.
Photo credit: David Sheen
I had an inkling of what was in store on the basis of the organiser; the title of the talk (‘Messiah Mode: The rise & fall & rise of Israel’s biggest racists’) and the photo used to publicise it and which was on the screen throughout the Q+A:
The photo shows Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shaking hands with Meir Kahane, the far Right extremist assassinated in 1990. Of course it is photoshopped. Kahane was arrested more than 60 times in Israel and there is no evidence that the two men ever even met (the event blurb admits it’s photoshopped – right at the end – but Sheen didn’t declare it).
As a veteran of Israel hate meetings, it takes a lot to shock me. But Sheen succeeded. (Canadian-born, his family moved to Israel when he was young). He spoke for around two hours with a brief break in the middle. He is highly articulate and showed around 100 well-ordered slides, none of which we were allowed to film, on pain of exclusion. So we cannot fact-check the many quotes from Rabbis that he presented. He promised to put the ‘official’ video on his website but that will not be for at least a month (some of his narrative is rebutted below). Fortunately he has history. The estimable ladies Petra Marquardt-Bigman and Nurit Baytch clocked him some time ago. CAMERA too.
Sheen’s traditional shtick is to accuse the government of Israel of racism against African asylum seekers and accuse the US Jewish Community of being complicit. However he has changed tack. The theme last night was Kahanism.
According to Sheen:
• The Rabbinic Principal of the Bnei David (Sons of David) Yeshiva is a racist and is teaching trainee IDF Officers to be racist.
• Kahanism operates with impunity in Israel and some members of the government are Kahanists.
Sheen began with an utterly obnoxious comparison of the Four Sons in the Passover (Seder) Service with his ‘four types’ of Jew: ‘Reformist’,’ Opportunist’, ‘Supremacist’ and ‘Humanist’ (‘ROSH’ – the Hebrew word for ‘head’). “The vast majority of Jews are Orthodox, I call them the Supremacist camp” (cue for laughter from the Virtue Signallers). He then gave his taxonomy of his four types according to what they believe about the Torah: Is it holy and is it just? (The ‘Opportunists’ are the Zionists).
Here’s his slide (available on his website, you can see this bit of his presentation here, it was a repeat). Not only did he libel the Orthodox by calling us ‘Supremacist’ he also libelled Zionists by claiming that we don’t believe in G-d but at the same time we say ‘We are the Chosen People and G-d gave us this Land’ (more laughter from the Virtue Signallers). To use the ‘Chosen People’ passage in this way is antisemitic (Sheen is a Jewish antisemite, no question). And he misled the audience into thinking that none of the Zionist Visionaries were religious. Moses Hess? Rabbi Avraham Kook?
From this Sheen segued (with a graph) into asserting that the Knesset is permanently dominated by ‘Opportunists’ and ‘Supremacists’. And that Israeli children are inculcated with these values because “all the Education Ministers that Netanyahu has appointed are religious.” A lie. Yuli Tamir – for one – was not religious. And neither was Gideon Sa’ar – at least not until AFTER his term as Education Minister (March 2009 to March 2013). Sheen moved on to attack a number of Rabbis in Israel, for extremist and racist comments:
• We are unable to factcheck the accuracy of the quotes as we were forbidden to film or photograph
• There are extremist Rabbis – just as there are extremist Imams and extremist Christians (think Westboro Baptist Church).
• But what Sheen failed to tell the audience was that extremism in Israel is universally condemned.
• Here for example is the condemnation of the two Rabbis he mentioned at the Bnei David pre-military Yeshiva.
There followed a stream of quotes from Rabbis: Rabbi Yosef Kelner, Rabbi Eli Sadan, Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg. But there was no reference to the popular revulsion in Israel at every extremist utterance of these men.
Now Sheen turned to the “life and times of of Meir Kahane”. Referring back to his ‘ROSH’ taxonomy, Sheen said that Kahane added a fifth category: nationalist and secular (but – again – he had earlier lied that all Zionists are secular!). He described the ideological ‘platforms’ of Kahane: anti-Left, anti-Black, ‘anti-Diaspora-ism’. Sheen said that when Kahane was convicted in New York, the Judge said “Either you go to prison or you go to Israel”. Sheen was clearly trying to tell the audience that Israel provides a haven for convicted Jewish criminals. It’s mendacious nonsense: Kahane served his sentence in 1971 and then went to Israel. Next Sheen described the fourth, fifth and sixth ‘platforms’ of Kahane: ‘Anti-love’, anti-Gentile and anti-secular. In 1984 Kahane entered the Knesset. As Sheen said, he proposed all sorts of obnoxious laws – including the ‘removal of foreigners from the Temple Mount’ – none of which were passed. But what Sheen DIDN’T say – again – was that there was revulsion in the Knesset at Kahane. He was boycotted and barred from office. A law was passed in 1985 banning racist Parties. Sheen deceived the audience, saying that racist parties were only banned AFTER the Baruch Goldstein atrocity in 1994. NOT TRUE. Kach (Kahane’s party) WAS BANNED from running in the 1988 legislative elections SIX YEARS BEFORE the atrocity. Sheen’s inference – that it had to take the murder of 29 Palestinian Muslim worshippers for Israel for Kach to be banned – is simply untrue.
In connection with an extremist plot, Sheen alleged that Netanyahu said “I assure you that our policy is to fully cooperate with the murderers.” He may have misread his brief but according to the transcript, what Netanyahu said in 1998 in Washington was this:
“I assure you that our policy is to cooperate fully with the law, and we don’t make a distinction, sir, between the murderers of Arabs or Jews.”
Now Sheen came to his peroration: His allegation that Kahanism operates with impunity in Israel and some members of the government are Kahanists. It is total and utter defamatory rubbish. The two names he mentioned were Lieberman and Hanegbi. Avigdor Lieberman resigned from the government in November 2018. Anyway he never had anything to do with Kach. The same applies to Tzachi Hanegbi. More lies. Also defamatory rubbish was Sheen’s insinuation that there is a significant movement in Israel that wants to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque and rebuild the Temple. Anyone who suggests otherwise is playing with fire – it’s a surefire way of inciting the Arab population.
At last we reached the Q+A. Until then I had been silent but I said my piece, listen here (I say the photo on the screen is photoshopped, that the speech was a farrago of lies, I recommend the Nurit Baytch article (I spell the name), I point out that there are extremist clerics in every religion and I ask Sheen why he has come to lie?)
Sheen’s pathetic juvenile response to my further intervention was “I live there [Israel], you don’t”. Well I have never been to Turkey but that doesn’t mean I don’t have reasonably well-informed views about Erdogan’s treatment of the Kurds. It is such a ridiculous argument – it denies the ability to learn from media and books. He then started talking Hebrew to me, thinking I did not understand and could not answer back! Well I could – I’m not a native speaker but I can get by. He proceeded to mock my non-native Hebrew – in Hebrew. That is the level to which Sheen descends when challenged. Unfortunately he rarely seems to GET challenged, certainly not by anyone else at the event in Bath. His final response was “if you care about Israel, you should be challenging this racism, not challenging me”. Which assumes that what he said was true – but it wasn’t.
Later in the Q+A Sheen referred to the 2016 Pew poll which found (he said) that “48% of Jewish Israelis agreed that Arabs should be expelled from Israel“. As I pointed out to Sheen, he misquoted the question. It was ‘do you agree that Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel?’ And – of course – Sheen failed to point out the grave problems with the wording, simply glorifying in the opportunity to badmouth Israel.
Not much else to report from the Q+A – apart from a ritual attack on IHRA by an audience member and then by Sheen – of course. Except that Ken Loach had entered the room, having been delayed to do a Channel 4 interview. Loach gave a a brief talk, praising this worthless book (but getting the title wrong), praising Jewish Voice for Labour and attacking the Jewish Labour Movement because they say they will only campaign for a few Labour candidates (such as Margaret Hodge and Ruth Smeeth).
Here is what Loach said about the book: “The average person in the street thinks that 34% of Labour members have been reported for antisemitism”. The real number is 0.1%”. As I say in the blog (link above), the 34% number – the arithmetic mean – is misleading because of the outliers. A better number is the mode which is 0-9%. And Loach’s 0.1% number is pure fiction. The numbers reported by Labour Against Antisemitism are much higher!
At the end of the meeting I could not escape fast enough into the fresh, damp air in Queen Square. I stood outside with my Israel flag proudly held high to recover. The guy who had been sitting to my right (I think it was Mr Faiq Tukmachi, see above photo) told me he was a paediatrician and I was at risk of a heart attack. Another man told me he had been to Israel and it was exactly like Sheen described it. The Patron of Bath Friends of Palestine – Ken Loach – emerged. I asked him why he thought that Labour MPs who attend counter-antisemitism rallies should be expelled from the Party. He merely grinned inanely. Then I got talking to a lady who was very nice – we disagreed of course but it was such a relief to have a civilised conversation. Thank you ‘Susan’ – I called you Susan because the name seemed to fit you: You wouldn’t tell me your real name! In case Mossad stole one of your shoes I suppose. We walked to the station together and ‘Susan’ went back to Bristol and I to London, home from Bath.
And ‘bath’ it was that was needed – or at least a very hot shower – to wash away Sheen’s filth down the plughole – where it belongs.
Basel University has cancelled Sheen’s meeting on Wednesday. Let’s hope that Zurich and Berne Universities do the decent thing too. Unlike Ms Betty Suchar, the Chair of Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution.