Airbnb decision on Judea/Samaria

The attached note has been issued by the Israeli Ministry for Strategic Affairs

I would add that Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is perfectly legal

November 20, 2018

Report on Airbnb decision

General

  1. On November 19 Airbnb announced that it intends to remove approximately 200 rental properties located in the West Bank which are currently listed on its website. The company says its decision was reached following an in-depth examination of the issue. Since the announcement of the decision, BDS organizations have called it a victory.

About the campaign

  1. For several years now, a BDS campaign has been launched against Airbnb under the tagline “Stolen Homes,” calling out the company for listing apartments in “Israeli settlements,” which, according to the campaign’s organizers, were built on “stolen Palestinian land” and constitute a breach of international law.
  2. The campaign was promoted by a coalition of organizations led by four American BDS organizations: Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Code Pink and US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR)[1].
  3. The campaign collected over 150,000 signatures to a petition calling on Airbnb to stop advertising homes in “Israeli settlements”. According to the petition, the advertisement of apartments in the “illegal settlements” promotes structural discrimination against the Palestinians, and is therefore incompatible with the company’s anti-discrimination policy that prohibits the publication of properties that promote racism, discrimination or harm to individuals or groups[2].
  4. As part of the campaign, a “satirical” website was created that simulates a page on the Airbnb site where an apartment for rent is offered. Among other things, the description of the “property” reads: “Come stay at an illegal settlement built on stolen Palestinian land. This stolen home comes with views of the Apartheid Wall. You may hear occasional gunfire from the Israeli Occupation Forces firing zone, which recently replaced a destroyed Palestinian village nearby”[3].
  5. One event in the context of the campaign took place in November 2016, when a key Pink Code activist, Ariel Gold, burst out at a Los Angeles event with a sign reading “Airbnb out of settlements”[4].

Ties to terrorism and Iran’s leading organizations in the campaign against Airbnb

  1. AMP: Leading figures in organizations that were involved in financing the Hamas terrorist organization in the past have joined the AMP organization and currently hold senior positions. Thus, according to the testimony of Dr. Jonathan Schneller, vice President of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former US Treasury Department official, before Congress from April and May 2016[5], leading figures in the Holy Land Foundation, which was involved in funding Hamas, joined forces with AMP. Moreover, leading figures in the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), which was involved in financial aid to Hamas, joined the AMP and fill senior positions.
  2. Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP): The organization led a campaign during the years 2016-2017 for the convicted terrorist Rasmea Odeh, who was also invited as a keynote speaker at the organization’s conference[6]. In 1969, she carried out a terrorist attack in a supermarket in Jerusalem, killing two Israeli students in their 20s and wounding nine[7]. Odeh was sentenced to two life terms and was released ten years later as part of a deal on the condition that she be deported. Odeh settled in Jordan and moved to the United States in 1994. She was forced to leave the United States in 2017.
  3. Code Pink: The organization Code Pink has had tied with Iran for years. A delegation of organization members is due to arrive in Tehran on January 10-18, 2019[8]. During the visit of the delegation, some of whose participants have already visited Iran (such as Ariel Gold who is mentioned above in connection with the incident of interrupting Ashton Kutcher), there will be several meetings in Tehran with parliamentarians and representatives of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, academics and Islamic religious persons. In addition, over the past few years, the organization has carried out numerous campaigns in favour of Iran, such as a petition supporting the Iranian nuclear agreement[9] and a conference on peace with Iran[10].
  4. US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR): USCPR is the leading US organization promoting the BDS National Campaign (BNC) agenda and serves as the BNC’s fiscal sponsor[11], and the BNC heads a coalition of 27 Palestinian organizations led by the National Islamic Forces (PNIF)[12]. The national and Islamic forces are a coalition of the twelve main Palestinian factions (national and religious streams) including declared terrorist organizations such as Hamas, JAF and the PA[13].

Palestinian involvement in the campaign against Airbnb

  1. Saeb Erekat, head of PLO’s negotiations department, referred to Airbnb’s recent decision as a positive first step (November 19, 2018). He reiterated the call to the UN Human Rights Council to publish data on companies that “profit from the Israeli colonialist occupation”[14].
  2. It should be emphasized that the PLO’s Negotiations Department, headed by Erekat, has referred to Airbnb in its publications in recent years in the context of the annexation of Palestinian tourism, and that another company considered by the PLO to be “part of the problem” is Trip Advisor[15].
  3. In January 2016, Erekat demanded that Airbnb stop its activities in West Bank settlements. In an official letter to the company’s CEO, Brian Chesky, Erekat said that by promoting lists of settlements, Airbnb effectively promotes the illegal Israeli colonization of occupied territory[16].
  4. The Palestinian Authority’s representative in Ireland participated in the event at which the above-mentioned petition was distributed, involving leading Irish delegitimization organizations including the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) and Gaza Action Ireland[17].

Apartments advertised for rent by Airbnb in other areas of conflict around the world

  1. Airbnb’s recent decision distinguishes Israel and creates a double standard with other conflict zones in the world where the company continues to advertise rental properties. Thus, a search for rental properties on the Airbnb site using the words “Northern Cyprus[18]“, “Crimea[19]“, “Western Sahara[20]“, “Eritrea[21]” and “Kashmir[22]” yields results of apartments and potential rental properties.

Points to take under consideration:

  1. Unfair approach

There was no dialogue with stakeholders on the Israeli side, neither with the business owners nor with any part of the Israeli government. It is unfair to claim that there was a professional and in-depth examination when in practice there was no discussion with the stakeholders on the Israeli side.

  1. Inconsistent with the UN Global Compact

The company’s move is inconsistent with the UN Global Compact, it unreasonable to expect individuals (in this case, West Bank residents) to assume responsibility for government activity. Moreover, businesses operating in areas of conflict contribute to improving the situation:

A similar campaign was waged against the companies who were building the Jerusalem Light Rail. The French Court of Appeals held that Corporations are not subject to international law, and obligations concern States only. Nor does it apply to private sector entities or to individuals.[23]

As the UN principles put it, even in extreme cases “Where adverse impacts have occurred that the business enterprise has not caused or contributed to, but which are directly linked to its operations, products or services by a business relationship, the responsibility to respect human rights does not require that the enterprise itself provide for remediation, though it may take a role in doing so”.[24]  The UK Supreme Court of UK held that even a manufacturing company employing Israeli citizens in the West Bank cannot be construed as a company’s assisting the Israel government policy with regard to the settlement issue.

The positive contribution of companies, such as Airbnb, to the human rights in the region is that it enables both Palestinians and Israelis to use their homes and/or property to earn extra income, which has a positive effect on the economy in these areas. The individuals who are renting out their homes are acting a lawfully, as is the marketing and use of their homes by tourists. In fact, withdrawal of such services can have adverse human rights impact in this regard. The Supreme Court of the United States recently ruled in the Jesner case, that consideration of human rights in this context includes consideration of the positive role of multi-national corporations in disputed territories, and their ability to create economic stability, which is so often the essential foundation of human rights.

Moreover, the principles of corporate responsibility relate not to where you operate but how you operate, for this reason the company must examine its decision as to how it’s customers (especially those hosting) are acting.

  1. Appearance of BDS – taking sides in a political conflict

Airbnb should take into account that its move may be construed as adopting the highly controversial and polarizing approach of the BDS movement, something which will tarnish Air Bnb’s brand and its political neutrality. In fact, the company’s announcement is tantamount to taking a political stand in a protracted conflict, which can only be resolved by negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. The adoption of a boycott, which is what Airbnb has essentially undertaken, will serve to increase hostility between the parties to the conflict, particularly as it appears that the decision was influenced official PA officials. Thus the company’s actions not only harm the possibility of an official dialogue between Israel and the PA, but it doesn’t take in to account the realities of life of the Israeli residents of the West Bank.

  1. A classic case of double standard

The company’s decision is a classic example holding Israel to a double standard in in relation to other areas of conflict. Airbnb operates in other countries with disputed territories – in northern Cyprus, the Crimea and Western Sahara). This was already reflected in the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s announcement.

In this context, it should be noted that according to the definition of antisemitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which defines this action as anti-Semitic: “Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation”

Whereas Airbnb stated that “each situation is unique and requires a case-by-case approach.” This allows for unfair or arbitrary distinction in the company’s policy between internationally recognized disputed territories.

[1] https://actions.sumofus.org/a/while-palestinians-are-evicted-from-their-homes-airbnb-makes-money-off-of-stolen-land?ak_proof=1&akid=.1598254.71Iayn&rd=1&t=%20%20

[2] https://org.salsalabs.com/o/301/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=18924&track=jvpsh&tag=jvp

[3] http://airbnb.sumofus.org/

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWj9-nHt72s

[5] https://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA18/20160419/104817/HHRG-114-FA18-Wstate-SchanzerJ-20160419.pdf; https://docs.house.gov/meetings/HM/HM05/20160512/104904/HHRG-114-HM05-Wstate-SchanzerJ-20160512.pdf

[6] https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/jewish-voice-peace-proud-host-palestinian-organizer-rasmea-odeh/

[7] http://www.aljazeera.net/encyclopedia/icons/2017/8/19/%D8%B1%D8%B3%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%AF%D8%A9-%D8%A3%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D9%85%D8%AD%D8%B1%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D9%8A%D8%AA%D9%87%D8%AF%D8%AF%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%AD%D9%8A%D9%84-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A3%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%B1%D9%83%D8%A7

[8] https://www.codepink.org/peace_with_iran_delegation_to_iran_2019

[9] https://www.codepink.org/we_women_support_the_iran_nuclear_deal

[10] https://www.codepink.org/iran

[11] https://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/263409/bds-umbrella-group-linked-to-palestinian-terrorist-organizations

[12] https://bdsmovement.net/bnc

[13] http://web.archive.org/web/20081011192013/http:/www.jmcc.org/banner/banner1/bayan/aqsbayan14.htm

[14] https://www.nad.ps/en/media-room/press-releases/dr-saeb-erekat-response-airbnbs-decision-remove-listings-israeli

[15] https://www.nad.ps/sites/default/files/tourism-as-a-tool-to-normalize-the-occupation.pdf ; https://www.nad.ps/sites/default/files/annexation_of_tourism.pdf see especially page 19

[16] http://www.alhaya.ps/arch_page.php?nid=276783

[17] http://maannews.net/Content.aspx?id=851029

[18] https://www.airbnb.com/s/Northern-Cyprus/homes?refinement_paths%5B%5D=%2Fhomes&query=Northern%20Cyprus&adults=0&children=0&infants=0&guests=0&place_id=ChIJF-JCu9E53hQRQGV7lbxVT3Q&allow_override%5B%5D=&s_tag=usN9XTiN

[19] https://www.airbnb.com/s/Crimea/homes?refinement_paths%5B%5D=%2Fhomes&adults=0&children=0&infants=0&guests=0&query=Crimea&place_id=ChIJkfrH7elR6kARkpRoogcKsfY&allow_override%5B%5D=&s_tag=CzawyLOD

[20] https://www.airbnb.com/s/Western-Sahara/homes?refinement_paths%5B%5D=%2Fhomes&adults=0&children=0&infants=0&guests=0&query=Western%20Sahara&place_id=ChIJUyEwIyVIIgwRWtffcxj4prc&allow_override%5B%5D=&s_tag=avpq0J_O

[21] https://www.airbnb.com/s/Eritrea/homes?refinement_paths%5B%5D=%2Fhomes&adults=0&children=0&infants=0&guests=0&query=Eritrea&place_id=ChIJZYW6nT9abRYR-g4SL_AIwhc&allow_override%5B%5D=&s_tag=GoL4W0jL

[22] https://www.airbnb.com/s/homes?refinement_paths%5B%5D=%2Fhomes&adults=0&children=0&infants=0&guests=0&query=Kashmir&allow_override%5B%5D=&s_tag=Lb-aoFsr

[23] J. Crawford, Opinion: Third Party Obligations with respect to Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”.

[24] http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/GuidingPrinciplesBusinessHR_EN.pdf pg. 25

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Forensic Architecture shortlisted for Turner Prize? #WeCallBS

The Turner Prize – given annually – is awarded for contemporary art by a British artist.  The winner receives £25,000, the other three nominated £5,000 each.   It often attracts controversy – no-one will forget Tracey Emin’s bed (nominated in 1999).

The 2018 winner will be announced on Tuesday 4 December (9.30pm BBC News Channel).  There are four nominations.  One is called ‘Forensic Architecture’: ‘An interdisciplinary team that includes architects, filmmakers, lawyers and scientists, Forensic Architecture’s work uses the built environment as a starting point for explorations into human rights violations.’

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Forensic Architecture is described here. The team is based at Goldsmiths, University of London. Their Director is Professor Eyal Weizman. Who is he?

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You don’t have to look far to see that Professor Weizman is one of those Israeli-born expatriate academics who abuse their position to denigrate and vilify the country of their birth, promoting BDS and brainwashing their students and colleagues into hating Israel.  Here is the cover of one of his books:

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He was (of course!) a prominent supporter of the failed attempt to get the Royal Institute of British Architects to call on the International Architects Union to suspend the Israeli Association of United Architects.

His book ‘Forensic Architecture’ provides additional evidence on his motivations…….

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Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is falsely described as ‘colonisation, domination, separation and violence’.

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Weizman repeats the myth that Israel is stealing water from the Palestinians.

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What is ‘forensic’ about ignoring the evidence that the al-Dura footage was probably staged? ‘Evidence’ appearing to vilify Israel is pounced on; evidence incriminating the Palestinians is ignored.

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More ‘evidence’ that Weizman dismisses, because it fails to vilify Israel – in fact, the opposite! Marc Garlasco, Human Rights Watch’s “senior military expert” and co-author of numerous reports condemning Israel, was an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia!

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Weizman ludicrously says that the IDF (“the most moral army in the world” – Colonel Richard Kemp) shoots to kill anyone in Gaza who tries to photograph them. It’s nonsense.

Forensic Architecture works across the world: with Greece, Syria, Venezuela, Libya, UK, Pakistan, the Yazidi and more – the full list of their investigations is here. But given Weizman’s animus against Israel, it’s no surprise that the two investigations chosen for the Turner Prize Judges both vilify Israel.

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Appallingly, the official Tate Catalogue for the Turner nominee exhibition claims that the ‘Beduin population is unrecognised by the Israel State’ – utter rubbish.

The first Forensic Architecture Turner Prize exhibit attempts to ‘prove’ that Israel is ‘repeatedly and forcefully’ displacing the Beduin ‘from the land that it has inhabited for centuries’. That is simply a lie, no other word for it. The truth is here.  Israel’s government is trying to ensure that the Beduin – who, remember are a Nomadic People – are not living on unrecognised sites without services such as running water and electricity but move to existing recognised sites with such services installed. What a disappointment for the Israel bashing conspiracy theorists!

The second Forensic Architecture Turner Prize exhibit is supported by a video in the Tate exhibition (but not available online as far as I know). It concerns the event at Umm Al Hiran in the Negev on 18 January 2017 when an Israeli policeman Erez Levy was killed by a car driven by a Beduin villager, Yaqub Musa Abu al-Qi’an. The first response of the Israeli authorities was that al-Qi’an was a terrorist who deliberately rammed the policeman (he was then shot dead). The police chief said he spread incitement at a school where six other teachers were arrested for their affiliation with ISIS. When more evidence came to light – including from Forensic Architecture – the Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan began to accept that the police may have shot al-Qi’an before his car hit Levy. It then ran down the hill out of control, gathering speed. It hit and killed Levy before being stopped by the police. Another Minister later apologised to the family of al-Qi’an.

The problem is that the exhibit is presented free of context. Umm Al Hiran was an unrecognised Beduin village, as described above. The Israeli government tried to persuade its inhabitants to move to a recognised site but foreign NGOs and anti-Israel activists whipped up opposition, producing the escalation which led to the shooting of al-Qi’an, presumably for terrorist-related offences.

Like its Director Eyal Weizman, Forensic Architecture has a history of falsely demonising Israel.  In July 2015 they released their ‘Gaza Platform’ which claimed to contain an abundance of information about Israel’s Operation Protective Edge. To quote NGO Monitor, ‘this pseudo-scientific exercise repeated Amnesty’s standard political bias and was immediately exposed as factually inaccurate – terrorists were identified as civilian health care workers; a “journalist” doubled as a Hamas operative, etc. And here.

UK Lawyers for Israel sent a submission on Amnesty International to the Charity Commission which included analysis of Forensic Architecture’s ‘Gaza Platform’. It noted that Forensic Architecture has been described as ‘Biased as Hell’.  Here’s an extract from UKLFI’s submission:

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UKLFI has sent the following to the Chair of the Turner Prize Judges, Alex Farquharson, Director of Tate Britain:

I regret that we found that the content of that Platform [the Gaza Platform] and the Report based on it and the methodology used to produce them were wholly lacking in objectivity and integrity. Indeed they amounted to modern blood libels likely to promote antisemitism and attacks on Jews. I attach a copy of our analysis and direct your attention particularly to sections 6 and 7 where the Platform and Report based on it are discussed.

‘We are concerned that if the Prize is awarded to Forensic Architecture, this will result in further publicity being given to these lies. We respectfully urge you and your fellow Judges to take this into account when judging the Prize.’

Nominating Forensic Architecture for an ‘art’ prize is patently absurd. It doesn’t produce ‘art’ – it produces investigative journalism. The same as for example Andrew Norfolk of The Times: Where is his Turner Prize nomination for exposing the sexual abuse of mostly white girls, typically aged around 12 or 13, by gangs of middle-aged men, mostly of Pakistani origin, in Rotherham? Moreover unlike Andrew Norfolk, Ezer Weizman is not subject to commercial judgment : If Norfolk published an investigation that was factually incorrect, his newspaper would suffer commercially and he could lose his job.  Weizman – by contrast – would still receive his full academic taxpayer-funded salary at Goldsmiths.

Since Forensic Architecture does not produce ‘art’, we can safely judge it on the quality of what it does produce – namely, investigations.  And in the case of Israel, those have been shown to be driven by the Israel-hating animus of BDS-supporting Professor Eyal Weizman and to contain untruths.

Memo to Turner Prize Jury: If you are going to consider investigative journalism as ‘art’, so be it. But then you have to judge it by the standards of that genre, the most important of which is surely accuracy.  Award the Turner Prize to Forensic Architecture and you are validating as accurate the context-free and distorted work about Israel of a group known for its bias, led by a man who supports boycotting Israel and who has a history of mendaciously demonising that country. The purpose of these two exhibits is not to uncover the truth. Rather, it is to fuel opposition to Israel, which in turn fuels antisemitism toward the Jewish Community.

Is that really what you want?

Postscript: Congratulations to Charlotte Prodger on win.

Why we countered the ‘Stand Up To Racism’ demo yesterday

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There was a “Stand Up To Racism” demonstration in London yesterday (17 November), ‘co-sponsored by Unite Against Fascism and LoveMusic HateRacism, officially backed by the TUC and supported by Diane Abbott MP, John McDonnell MP amongst others.’

demo nov18 2
We counter-demonstrated, protesting against antisemitism and supporting the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism. Several people asked us why we were counter-protesting and not in the main demonstration …….. So here are seven reasons, if we didn’t get to talk to you:

– Because the record of Unite Against Fascism in opposing antisemitism is dismal. And here;

– Because this photo was typical of the beliefs of many of the organisations and marchers:
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– Because the speakers included several – eg Len McCluskey  and Mark Serwotka – who think that accusations of antisemitism in Labour are fake and a conspiracy to undermine Corbyn – or that they are ‘created’ by Israel!

– Because the speakers included NUT General Secretary Kevin Courtney who wants to deny Israel the means to defend itself from terror;

– Because the speakers included Matt Wrack who, after Pete Willsman suggested that Jewish “Trump fanatics” could be behind accusations of antisemitism in Labour, said “It was not antisemitic at all”;

– Because the marchers included Jewish Voice for Labour which is simply a vehicle to whitewash antisemitism in Labour;

– Because the acts included Lowkey whose lyrics demonise Israel and sometimes cross the line into anti-Jewish racism………….

That’s why.

PS Thanks to the lady on the march who showed concern when one of our ladies was upset….. At bottom we are all human ………..

 

More Israel-bashing at LSE…

lse israel nov 18

To LSE for this Israel-bashing session – not produced by the Palestine Society but by LSE academic staff.  The star turn was Phyllis Starkey, a former Labour MP and current Vice Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians, a UK based charity claiming to work “for the health and dignity of Palestinians living under occupation and as refugees” but which in reality promotes distorted and false narratives and demonising rhetoric under the guise of medical expertise and scientific fact.

The meeting was – of course – based on a false premise – that the settlements are illegal. It was left to me in the Q+A to point out that the King Had No Clothes: No court of law has ever deemed the settlements ’illegal’. The ICJ did (2004) but it isn’t a proper Court – it’s a creature of the UN.  And the terms of the Palestine Mandate, as given to the UK by the League of Nations, allow – and even encourage – settlement anywhere in historic Palestine.

Hence Starkey’s description of the settlements as a ‘warcrime’ is pure fiction. As was her assertion that ‘settlements are a permanent change’. All are subject to negotiation in a final status deal: indeed settlements in Gaza were given up in 2005. And so on: Starkey criticised the checkpoints without saying why they are needed, and claimed that Israel treats the settlements as part of Israel – no it doesn’t, hence why military law applies in Judea and Samaria to non-Israelis.

After the Richard Falk fiasco last year you’d have thought LSE academics would have been more careful about bashing Israel ………….

The film ‘The Patriot’ and Newton’s Third Law

I saw ‘The Patriot’ as part of the Jewish Film Festival. It is an important film about fighting antisemitism. Disappointingly it was very poorly attended – a sign of the indifference and ‘head in the sand’ attitude of many British Jews to antisemitism as well as the extreme reluctance to actively oppose it. Particularly worrying was the paucity of young people. You have another chance to see it on 21st. 

‘The Patriot’ is a French film (directed by Daniel Sivan) about a French hacker, Gregory Chelli (35 – also known as Ulcan), who fights antisemitism.  He managed to hack into the vile Dieudonne’s website and published the names of all his supporters. (Dieudonne is banned from the UK. Dieudonne and I have history. In 2010 Dieudonne was due to speak in London. After two venues cancelled, eventually he found one at 36 hours’ notice. I demonstrated outside and was roughed over by his Manager). Other targets of Ulcan included Alain Sorel (who suggested loading Jews onto trains) and Laurent Louis, a former member of the Belgian Parliament who runs an antisemitic website.

Ulcan’s methods of fighting these antisemites are full-on and sometimes even break the law. He managed to convince the Belgian police that his voice on the phone was that of Louis and that he had just killed his wife. Consequently six police forced their way into Louis’ house in the middle of the night. He called Sorel’s blind mother-in-law and told her that her daughter has just died. Most controversially, Ulcan went for journalist Benoit Le Corre, who had published an unflattering article about him in Rue89. After contacting Le Corre’s parents and informing them that their son had died in an accident, Ulcan summoned the police to their home in the Paris suburbs in the middle of the night. Five days later, Le Corre’s father suffered a heart attack and died a short time later.

After Thierry Le Corre’s death in 2014, the authorities began to investigate Ulcan, after years of leaving him alone. He was accused of deliberate violence that caused death, and an international warrant was issued for his arrest. He fled to Israel, where he lives in Ashdod. French efforts to extradite him have been unsuccessful. He appears to have stopped fighting antisemites, at least under his real name.

I had not heard of Ulcan so I did some reading before the film. In the May 2017 Haaretz interview with him, one passage above all struck me:

“When I went to court after setting Werlet’s motorcycle on fire, the judge said to me, ‘He’s a neo-Nazi, you’re a Zionist, everyone is allowed his political opinions.’ That’s crazy. I told the judge that I was really sorry, but my ideology doesn’t include the systematic murder of innocents and doing horrifying experiments on human beings, so how can you compare? Nobody respects the Jews when they complain through the accepted channels. The police force doesn’t work, and therefore I took it upon myself to be the police force of the Internet.”

When institutions fail, that is when people take matters into their own hands. When a Judge (as above) sees neo-Nazism and Zionism as morally equivalent “political opinions” (!), that is when civil disobedience starts, with the risk that it crosses the line into illegality.

Things in the UK are not as bad for Jews as they are in France.  Nevertheless there is an important failure of an institution. The Crown Prosecution Service is failing the Jewish Community and by separating Judaism and Zionism it has opened a door for antisemites to walk through. And pace Ulcan, Newton’s Third Law applies here, just as it does in Physics (For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction): The worse antisemitism in the UK gets, the more likely are its opponents to harden their tactics!

Failure to prosecute Nazim Ali = Open door for antisemites

The rapid decision to prosecute five people for burning an effigy of Grenfell Tower renders even more bewildering the CPS decision NOT TO prosecute the man who publicly blamed “Zionists” for the inferno.

The incident happened at the Al Quds day march in London in 2017 (18 June).  The march – organised by the ‘Islamic Human Rights Commission’, a front for Iran – is always offensive to the UK Jewish Community because of the mendacious vilification of Israel and display of terrorist flags. But in June 2017 the march broke all records in offensiveness, because of the chants of its leader, Nazim Ali. David Collier’s blog tells the story. Here are Ali’s poisonous chants:

“….. of murders by Theresa May’s cronies, many of which are supporters of Zionist ideology. Let us not forget that. Some of the biggest corporations who are supporting the Conservative Party are Zionists. They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell, in those towers in Grenfell, the Zionist supporters of the Tory Party.  It is the Zionists who give the money to the Zionists, the Zionists who give money to the Tory Party, to kill people in high-rise blocks. Careful, of those Rabbis, who belong to the Board of Deputies, who have got blood on their hands, who agree with the killing of British soldiers, do not allow them in your centres. They [the BBC] never report on the killings of innocent men, women and children. The Zionists are known to go for dinner with the heads of the BBC to make sure there is no unnecessary pressure on the innocent victims of Zionist terrorism.”

Several people including me and the Campaign Against Antisemitism complained to the police about these rants. We argued that the term “Zionists” that Ali used was synonymous with ‘Jews’:  he clearly did not have in mind “Christian Zionists” when he spoke of the Zionists who are among “Theresa May’s cronies”.  And those “Rabbis who belong to the Board of Deputies”, they are hardly going to be Buddhists.  The “Zionists” who “are known to go for dinner with the heads of the BBC” …. This is the age old trope that “Jews control the media”.  Anyone with even a passing knowledge of antisemitism knows this.

Ali should have been prosecuted under the Public Order Act.  The words he used were clearly insulting and intended to whip up hatred of Jews; and racial hatred was likely to be whipped up by those words.

Yet the Crown Prosecution Service first turned down a police recommendation to prosecute Ali, then terminated a private prosecution of him. Their reasoning is set out in a letter (10 August 2018) to my MP from Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions:

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                         (nb caption is wrong, he isn’t a ‘Rabbi’)

Incredibly the presence of Neturei Karta on the march has been used by the CPS to justify their decision that Ali’s words were not referring to Jews! Neturei Karta are an extreme Jewish sect that make up around 0.03% of the world’s Jewish population.  Equally incredibly, the CPS buys into Ali’s lie that Judaism and Zionism are distinct from each other.

Judaism and Zionism are two sides of the same coin.  Israel was created as a Jewish State because of centuries of persecution of Jews. Israel vies with the US as the country with the highest Jewish population.  Zion and Jerusalem are mentioned countless times in Jewish prayer.  The CPS accepts the IHRA definition of antisemitism which states that it’s antisemitic to describe Israel as “racist”, thus accepting the inextricable link between Judaism and Israel. Its decision in the Ali case is inexplicable.

The decision is an open door for antisemites: Just refer to ‘Zionists’ rather than ‘Jews’ and you’re safe from prosecution.  As such it represents a profound disservice to the UK’s Jewish Community – and it must be challenged.

No to Israel Boycotters on our Cash!

science 50 note

The Bank of England wants nominations for the person who will be featured on the new £50 note.  They want someone who has contributed to British science.  It cannot be a living person.  The deadline for nominations is 14 December.

Many people will nominate Stephen Hawking who died in March this year.   But Hawking was a BDS supporter. In 2013, despite using Israeli technology in his communications equipment, he capitulated to the BDS movement and boycotted a conference in Jerusalem honouring Shimon Peres. In 2009 he condemned the defensive Israeli military operation in Gaza, saying it was “plain out of proportion… The situation is like that of South Africa before 1990 and cannot continue.”

The choice of Hawking would be a kick in the teeth for the 90%+ of UK Jews who support Israel  – moreover at a time when they are already under an extent  of antisemitic pressure unprecedented in recent years.  There are many good alternative candidates to nominate.  Alan Turing stands out.  He was a brilliant mathematician whose work at Bletchley Park helped to shorten the War by an estimated two years thus saving countless lives. Because he was gay he was treated atrociously after the War, being charged with ‘gross indecency’.  He received a posthumous pardon but that’s not enough. He should have had an Honour in his lifetime and the new £50 note provides an ideal chance for a posthumous honour. (By the way Bletchley Park is well worth a visit – your ticket is valid for unlimited return visits for a year).

Three very worthy female candidates are Rosalind Franklin – who should have won the Nobel Prize – Ada Lovelace and Dorothy Hodgkin.

Others you might think about nominating: Sir Alexander Fleming, the Nobel Laureate who discovered penicillin (though the Bank might consider that he has had his turn because he appeared on a Scottish banknote issued by Clydesdale Bank).

Or Howard Florey, who developed penicillin – he was Australian but his Nobel Prizewinning work was at Oxford.

Or Sir Ludwig Guttmann, the German-born British neurologist who established the Paralympic Games in the UK.

Lots more …..Einstein, Weizmann, Sir Ernst Chain ………

Anyone but a BDS advocate …………!