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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Jewish Voice for Labour & the Politics of Self-Indulgence - Nothing to say on Palestine or Zionism

Jews in the Labour Party should oppose Israeli Apartheid not obsess about identity politics

What is the point of Jewish politics today?  At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, when most British Jews arrived as refugees from the pogroms of Czarist Russia, Jewish politics had a very specific dynamic.  They were directed against the masters of the sweat shops as represented by the formation of some 30 plus Jewish trade unions. 
Jewish politics meant involvement in the politics of the day.  In 1902 the proto-fascist British Brothers League, headed by William Evans Gordon, MP for Stepney, was formed in the East End.  Its purpose?  To put a stop to Jewish immigration.  Alone among Jewish groups, it was the Zionists who sympathised with the BBL.  Chaim Weizmann wrote that 
‘‘‘our people were rather hard on him.... Sir William Evans-Gordon had no particular anti-Jewish prejudices... He acted as he thought, according to his best lights and in the most kindly way, in the interests of his country…. he was sincerely ready to encourage any settlement of Jews almost anywhere in the British Empire, but he failed to see why the ghettos of London or Leeds or Whitechapel should be made into a branch of the ghettos of Warsaw and Pinsk. [Trial and Error, pp. 90-91)
Another ‘friend’ of the Jews was Arthur James Balfour, the Tory Prime Minister who introduced the Aliens Act of 1905 which restricted Jewish immigration.  In 1917 he sent a letter, the Balfour Declaration to Lord Rothschild sealing the alliance between the fledgling Zionist movement and British imperialism. 

Jewish politics until the second world war were about the fight against poverty and anti-Semitism.  Only the middle and upper classes were concerned with Zionism.

Today that has changed.  Virtually no Jews live in London’s East End.  Their place has been taken by Bengali immigrants.  Jews are no longer the main victims of fascism or racism.  Jews do not experience Police violence, deaths in custody or state racism.  They do not experience economic discrimination.

Jewish politics have changed out of all recognition.  Pick up a copy of the Jewish Chronicle and the main topic of interest revolves around Israel.  Jews today serve the purpose of providing an alibi for Israel and its policies.  The standard response to campaigns against Israel or Zionism is the charge of ‘anti-Semitism’. 

Hence why, for two years, even before Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader of the Labour Party, the Zionist movement has waged an anti-Semitism smear campaign.  In August 2015, Corbyn was accused of links with a holocaust denier Paul Eisen.

At the forthcoming Labour Party Conference the Jewish Labour Movement will seek to move a Rule Change which will mean that any supporter of Israel can claim to be a ‘victim’ of anti-Semitism if the issue of Palestine is raised.  

False accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ have been the principal weapon of the Right in the Labour Party.  Supporting Austerity or cutting benefits is unattractive politically.  Even supporting the bombing of Syrians and Yemenis isn’t as appealing as opposing ‘anti-Semitism’ and defending Israel’s ‘right to exist’. Cloaking yourself in the mantle of the Holocaust and ‘anti-Semitism’ even though you are supporting a 50 year old military occupation and the Apartheid State of Israel, is seen as offering better political dividends.  ‘Anti-Semitism’ is the go to weapon of choice for Labour’s Right.

Jeremy Newmark - Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement who was captured by Al Jazeera openly working with the Israeli Embassy in its infiltration of the Labour Party

Because the Jewish Labour Movement claims that they represent all Jews in the Labour Party no one doubts that an alternative Jewish organisation is necessary which stands for the principles of anti-racism and support for the Palestinians.  That is why any Jewish group worth its salt must be primarily concerned with rebutting the allegation that to support the Palestinians and to oppose Zionism makes one anti-Semitic.  Jewish socialists task is to sever the connection between being Jewish and supporting Israel.
Unfortunately Jewish Voices for Labour which has just been set up doesn’t want to so much challenge the politics of the JLM as avoid them.  Its founding statement of principles completely avoids saying anything about the Right’s ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign which has led to the suspension of Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, myself and others.  Indeed it wants to say as little as possible about Palestine and Zionism.  This is not accidental.

Jewish Voices for Labour Statement of Principles
Founding member Rachel Lever of Jews 4 Justice 4 Palestinians explained in an email to others her role in drafting the JVL’s founding statement.  She wanted a Jewish group that would explore its own ‘heritage’ and engage in navel gazing.  A Jewish consciousness raising group for which the whole Palestine/Israel/Zionist thing was an unnecessary encumbrance.  The purpose of the new group was:

To discard the shackles and gather with other Jews to explore, celebrate, critique etc our heritage at this juncture without the Israel thing, and in the context of the resurgence and ascendancy in the Labour Party of values that we share in some part because of our Jewishness.

Having a Jewish statement that omits Israel and Zionism (in either a positive or a negative formulation) is implicitly part of the argument that antisemitism and antizionism needs to be uncoupled from each other....

If anyone can’t live without the words Israel, Zionism, Palestine, Gaza, BDS (and why not add Occupation, the Wall, administrative detention, land theft, child prisoners, war crimes, apartheid, racism, settlements etc etc) then this is not the organisation for them.

So there we have it.  What Lever calls ‘the Israel thing’ is part of the ‘shackles’ of being Jewish.  Whilst many Jews are active in rejecting a Zionist movement that has linked up with Trump, Orban, Bannon and the alt-Right, Lever and co. prefer to sit around ‘exploring, celebrating, critiquing etc. their heritage’.  Quite what they think they will discover is mind boggling because, as Sivanandan explained, identity is what you do and who we are not what you think. 

Ian Saville, the Jewish Socialist Group enforcer (& a socialist magician!) speaking a year ago at a meeting against the witch hunt with Jackie Walker - today the JSG had to be dragged into issuing any statement regarding Jackie
But to Lever, Amanda Sebastyen and others, Israel and Zionism is an optional extra. It is a lifestyle choice not a permanent political commitment. Going on a demonstration is a recreational activity.

The purpose of a Jewish group in the Labour Party is political or it is nothing.  Zionism deliberately conflates being Jewish and being Zionist.  Any Jewish group that claims to be socialist has no choice but to challenge the JLM and Labour Friends of Israel. It has a political and moral duty to oppose the actions of those who claim Israel’s war crimes in the name of all Jews. 

It is interesting that Rachel Lever explicitly rejects the second of her four choices that she articulates in her email viz. 'To spend our lives and energies exposing it [Israel] and campaigning for justice for Palestinians, thus making its negation also an intrinsic part of our identity.'  Most of the 'non-Zionist' peace wing of JfJP aren't so explicit in saying what they really believe so we should be grateful to Rachel.
When asked about Israel's 'right to exist' the response was that JVL was a British group and therefore has no position on any state!
It has been suggested that we should judge JVL more by what it does than by what its founding principles say.  I disagree. What confidence can one have in an organisation that dares not speak its mind, that doesn't openly state what it believes in and which hides its principles behind a bushel?  Who does it think it is deceiving?  Surely not the JLM.  That is dishonest politics.
I fully understand why Asa Winstanley of Electronic Intifada, should welcome the formation of JVL, as an alternative non-Zionist Jewish group in the Labour Party. Asa is not alone in wanting to see an alternative to the execrable JLM, the British wing of the racist Israeli Labour Party, and LFI, which is an extension of the Israeli Embassy inside the Labour Party.

It is therefore regrettable that JVL has not only been set up undemocratically but a Founding Statement of Principles has been issued which is politically disingenuous.

Despite being asked to sign a statement of support for JVL, I was not invited to its inaugural meeting when a founding statement was agreed.  Nor were other Jewish anti-Zionists including the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.

It is clear that those who were instrumental in the formation of this group, in particular Jews for Justice for Palestinians and the Jewish Socialists Group, were determined that JVL would neither be a democratic nor a campaigning group inside the Labour Party on the issue of Palestine and Zionism.  In particular they they did not want it to be seen to oppose the JLM’s Zionist agenda.  Instead of debating out differences openly, its founders have used administrative methods to exclude potential critics.

I issued a statement a week ago Some Comments on the Formation of Jewish Voices for Labour. which I sent to members of JVL's Facebook group. I then applied to join the FB group and was accepted.  However that didn’t last very long.  Almost immediately Ian Saville, warned me not to ‘attack’ members of the Steering Committee and in particular not to ‘disparage the process of its formation’.  Clearly democracy isn’t one of JVL’s strong points.  When I responded to this warning with JVL – What are they scared of? I was removed from the group.

What are the problems with Jewish Voices for Labour

1.      JVL’s formation was undemocratic, effectively a stitch-up between leading members of JfJP and JSG.

2.      Given that the JLM have been waging a false-anti-Semitism campaign for nearly two years it is unbelievable that JVL have nothing to say about this campaign.  On the JVL FB group, some members of the group were openly calling for support for the expulsion of Livingstone.

3.      JVL takes no position on giving concrete support for the Palestinians.  It isn’t necessary to take an explicitly anti-Zionist position but when the JLM is saying that even to use the word ‘Zionist’ is abusive it is political cowardice to avoid the word.  Zionism is the racist ideology and movement that led to Israel, a Jewish supremacist state.  A state which has reduced Gaza to a human rights disaster yet Gaza too is not mentioned.

4.      Perhaps the single most important issue in terms of solidarity is the question of BDS.  JVL supports the right of others to support BDS however it abstains from supporting BDS itself.  Nor does it make any mention of the Palestinian Right of Return. 

5.      JVL is Jewish only.  There is often a good reason for having specific Jewish solidarity groups (e.g. Jews for boycotting Israeli Goods, JfJP etc.) but in terms of the Labour Party it is important to have a common front against Zionist reaction and that must include non-Jews.  Ironically even the JLM accept non-Jews.  It is a concession to chauvinism to exclude non-Jews from the organisation.

6.      The statement makes no mention of the Zionist campaign to redefine anti-Semitism, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition. When the Zionists are waging campaigns against our very right to campaign on Palestine and smear Palestinian supporters as ‘anti-Semitic’, to pretend this is not happening is unreal.

When the Zionists and the Right explicitly link being Jewish and supporting Israel, to refuse to mention Israel or Zionism is not some brilliant political manoeuvre but an act of political cowardice.  The Labour Party is not a knitting circle.  The idea that the JLM is going to be defeated by this political sleight of hand is wishful thinking.  The way to ‘decouple’ anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is not by pretending the debate doesn’t exist but by engaging in it and politically challenging the supporters of Zionism. 
Email of Rachel Lever and Amanda Sebestyen

Below is some of the correspondence preceding the setting up of Jewish Voices for Labour 
Email from Rachel Lever re founding of JVLOn 8 Jul 2017, at 20:26, Rachel Lever wrote:One of Zionism’s greatest triumphs has been to shackle Jews the world over to Israel, defined by it either positively or negatively. IHRA is the latest in a long line of such shackles. Jews have four choices  1. To “Love Israel” and make it part of our identity 2. To spend our lives and energies exposing it and campaigning for justice for Palestinians, thus making its negation also an intrinsic part of our identity  3. To abstain or compromise or have “doubts” which still leaves us marked by Israel 4. To discard the shackles and gather with other Jews to explore, celebrate, critique etc our heritage at this juncture without the Israel thing, and in the context of the resurgence and ascendancy in the Labour Party of values that we share in some part because of our Jewishness. There is in any case no need for yet another Jewish Anti-Z organisation, in or out of the Labour Party.  There is however an absolute imperative to deny to the JLM the status of “Labour’s Jewish voice” and the harm they can do using that monopoly. In practical terms, omitting Israel may make this alternative Jewish voice more effective and authentic and deny the JLM their franchise, than if we simply invert their pro-Israel identity and become anti-Z “usual suspects”..... I freely confess to having drafted some of the wording of the statement. It is intended both to help to create something slightly different for which I believe there is a genuine gap in the market (and which might yield some new faces and insights), and to stake a claim against the heinous new “definitions” of antisemitism that explicitly connect Jews to Israel.  Having a Jewish statement that omits Israel and Zionism (in either a positive or a negative formulation) is implicitly part of the argument that antisemitism and antizionism needs to be uncoupled from each other. Needless to say, membership is entirely voluntary. If anyone can’t live without the words Israel, Zionism, Palestine, Gaza, BDS (and why not add Occupation, the Wall, administrative detention, land theft, child prisoners, war crimes, apartheid, racism, settlements etc etc) then this is not the organisation for them. Rachel From: Haim Bresheeth Sent: 09 July 2017 09:27To: Rachel LeverCc: Michael Kalmanovitz;; Jonathan Rosenhead; Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi; Mike Cushman; richard kuper; Amanda Sebestyen
Subject: Re: FREE SPEECH AND ISRAEL: A CALL TO LABOUR PARTY MEMBERS Interesting, Rachel. Than the new organisation is devoted to silencing the debate on Palestine? To keeping mum on the anti-Semitism lies and slurs? To avoid speaking on the long list of topic you number? Well, my my, I thought that was the role of JLM, and it was already doing that rather well… So JVL will try to replace JLM in making Palestine and the occupation invisible? Now it is all clear, at last.
Yes, maybe that is not an organisation I need not consider joining. I am very impressed by the pride you voice inhaling been at the cradle of its auspicious birth… HaimProf. Haim Bresheeth Professorial Research AssociateFaculty of Arts and Humanities School of Oriental and African Studies And Director of Camera Obscura Films

On 8 Jul 2017, at 23:09, Amanda Sebestyen wrote:I think this sums up the role and importance of JVL beautifully, Rachel.

From: Michael Kalmanovitz Sent: 08 July 2017 11:05To: 'Haim Bresheeth'; mailings@jfjfp.comCc: 'Jonathan Rosenhead'; 'Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi'; 'Rachel Lever'; 'Mike Cushman'; 'richard kuper'; 'Amanda Sebestyen'Subject: RE: FREE SPEECH AND ISRAEL: A CALL TO LABOUR PARTY MEMBERS Haim Bresheeth said “three important words have not made their way to this text: Israel, Palestine and Zionism”.  May we add two more to his: “Gaza” – which is the best known example of Israel’s slaughter of the innocents; and “BDS” – the massive & growing international non-violent antiracist boycott movement.
Are we to assume therefore that these will not be central issues of the group that this letter is proposing to form? 
The Jewish Labour Movement, Labour Friends of Israel, Progress, & the Israeli embassy have constantly sought to undermine the most radical & massive movement we have seen in the Labour Party for many years (as seen on Aljazeera!). This movement, called forth by the election of Jeremy Corbyn, is the greatest protection for every sector that is discriminated against. In your text there is no mention of or commitment to it. The Zionist/right-wing’s weapon of choice against this movement are manufactured allegations of antisemitism to manipulate themselves into power in the Labour Party, and undermine Corbyn & McDonnell. (They were able to deprive us of Ken 
"what is your proposed organisation for?"                       Michael Kalmanovitz
Livingstone’s considerable electioneering skills during the campaign.)  The election result has slowed down the Zionists/right-wing. 
Bearing all this in mind, what is your proposed organisation for? 
If JVL isn’t opposing what the Israeli occupation is doing to Palestinian people, promoting BDS, opposing the Zionist/right-wing’s undermining of the new movement, what else should people organised as Jews within the Labour Party who are not Zionists be forming an organisation to accomplish?
Surely JVL will not want to resurrect the antisemitism “discussion”, which is what the Zionist/right-wing wants, taking the focus off defeating the red Tories & the blue.

From: Haim Bresheeth
Sent: 29 June 2017 17:20To: mailings@jfjfp.comCc: Michael Kalmanovitz; Jonathan Rosenhead; Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi; Rachel Lever; Mike Cushman; richard kuper; Amanda Sebestyen
Subject: Re: FREE SPEECH AND ISRAEL: A CALL TO LABOUR PARTY MEMBERS Dear Jenny Manson, Thank you for sending me the proposed text for JVL attached below. I have read this carefully, only to discover that three important words have not made their way to this text: Israel, Palestine and Zionism… If we are to have an Jewish progressive alternative to JLM, which I, as ~ member of the party would love, why can it not outline some differences, and open some distance between us and them?  Otherwise, what is the point? From the wording below, most people would not work out why there needs to be another Jewish grouping in the Labour Party… I hope a group can be set up of which I would like to be a member! HaimProf. Haim Bresheeth

Proposal to set up a new Jewish Organisation within the Labour Party - Who We Are

Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) is a network for all Jews in the Labour party.

Our political priorities are universal human rights and dignity; justice for all; freedom of speech and free-thinking; and democracy in the Labour Party. 

Our mission is to contribute to making the Labour Party an open, democratic and tolerant party, encouraging all ethnic groups and cultures to join and participate freely. As such we aim to strengthen the party in its opposition to all forms of racism including antisemitism, broadening the party’s appeal to all sections of British society.

We take our inspiration from the long history of Jewish involvement in the socialist and trade-union movement and in antiracist and antifascist struggles including the civil-rights movement. We stand for rights and justice for Jews everywhere without wrongs and injustice to other people anywhere.

At a time of profound divisions in Jewish communities, JVL offers a space to explore and debate the many questions (personal, social, cultural, political) that are important to us as progressive Labour Jews. We aim to create an alternative voice on the left for the Jewish values and heritage we can all be proud of.  

We will work where appropriate with existing groups concerned with Jewish issues from an internationalist and anti-racist perspective.

We will try to arrange a meeting in a couple of weeks time to agree a minimal set of rules, membership fees and to elect such officers as decided then. We will aim to launch publicly at the Labour Party conference in September.

Please add your voice to ours by replying to


Jenny Manson, co-convenor
Ian Saville, co-convenor
Julia Bard
Graham Bash
Pam Blakelock
Mike Cushman
Richard Kuper
Pam Laurance
Rachel Lever
David Rosenberg
Jonathan Rosenhead
Amanda Sebestyen
Glyn Secker
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi
Of the 8 people who 'liked' the decision, at least 3 are Jewish Socialists Group and one, Miriam Yagud is a Green Party member who has called for Livingstone's expulsion
How my exclusion was announced to the JVL list - no mention of who is excluded still less the reason why.  But as Leah Levane explained there are more important things than democracy.  
A Warning Message from Ian Saville – Please Desist from Criticism
Hello Tony, I am writing to you as one of the administrators of the JVL Facebook Group. Whatever your intention, the effect of your interventions in the group in the short time in which you have belonged to it are likely to have a negative effect on the functioning and perception of the group. The group should be a place where people with a diverse range of opinions can engage in comradely discussion without being attacked or denigrated. Your posts attacking the steering group (of which I am not a member) and other people posting on the page seem provocative and divisive, and have caused concern to other members. If you persist with such posts you will be removed from the group. It seems also that even before joining the group you circulated some of its members with unsolicited material attacking the JVL and disparaging the process of its formation. This has also been a matter of concern to some who received your message. Please take this as a warning and desist from this sort of behaviour, as any further instances will result in you being immediately excluded from the group. 

Yours, Ian Saville

Saturday, 19 August 2017

How do you tell if someone is a Nazi?

Answer – It Depends on their Attitude to Israel

It must be very difficult for Zionists these days.  Netanyahu goes off to greet Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is busy rehabilitating the former pro-Nazi leader of Hungary, Admiral Miklos Horthy, who presided over the deportation of nearly 1/2m Jew to Auschwitz.  The loss of Steve Bannon has caused real grief amongst Zionists in Israel and the USA.  And then there is Charlottesville, who do you condemn there?  Sure they are neo-Nazis and White Supremacists on one side and anti-fascists and Black Lives Matter on the other, but that is the problem.

A simple guide to who is and who is not a Nazi

The neo-Nazis and White  Supremacists might hate Jews but they love Israel, whereas the anti-fascists and Black Lives Matter activists detest Zionism but they have no problem with Jews – indeed there were many Jews amongst their ranks.

I therefore though it might be helpful if I could post a flow diagram explaining how best to judge who is and who is not a Nazi!

Reaction to Charlottesville

As I said Charlottesville present the Zionists with a real dilemma.  It took Netanyahu three days before he could say anything about the neo-Nazi murder of an anti-fascist at Charlottesville.  In the Times of Israel of 15.8.17. in an article headed 3 days later, Israeli leaders still conspicuously silent on Charlottesville’ Raphael Ahrens wrote that:

three days after neo-Nazis marched in broad daylight through the streets waving swastika flags and chanting “Jews will not replace us,” the leader of the Jewish state had still not publicly commented on the matter as of Tuesday.

Netanyahu’s silence in the face of images that send chills down the spines of Jews worldwide has raised eyebrows among analysts and experts.

Similarly, an article For Israel, White House Ties Trump Neo-Nazi Condemnation for NDTV reports on how ‘An Israeli cabinet minister has said relations with US President Donald Trump take priority over condemning neo-Nazis, to justify Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's muted response to events in Charlottesville.’

Below is a good article on Mondoweiss on the dilemmas of Zionists today and they are dilemmas.  The far-Right in Europe and the USA is motivated primarily by hatred of Muslims and Islam.  Israel is seen as the standard bearer in that fight.  The fact that it is Jewish is irrelevant because it is also a virulently racist state.  Indeed fascists are quite capable of differentiating between Jews at home in the USA and Israeli Jews.  As Richard Spencer, leader of the Alt-Right repeatedly states, he is a ‘White Zionist’.

President Trump’s initial statement on the Charlottesville violence, where he said “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides, on many sides”, has taken on a life of its own. Equating the Nazis and white supremacists with their victims has become a national (as well as international) sport, and the promulgators of this “many sides” narrative are getting so excited with the prospect of it, that they are even going further, to regard the leftists as worse than Nazis.

All this has made various Israeli leaders rather uncomfortable. Because although they are on board with Trump’s attacks on the left, his “many sides” narrative was, after all, normalizing bona fide anti-Semitism.

But before we get to Israel, let’s see how the ‘left-equals right’ notion has been mainstreamed:
The notion of a supposed ‘Alt-Left’ as equal to the Alt-Right was voiced loudly merely a day after the Charlottesville violence via none other than the newspaper of record – New York Times, which published an op-ed by Erick Woods-Erickson, opening with the following:

“As a conservative, I see both the social justice warrior alt-left and the white supremacist alt-right as two sides of the same coin.”

Vox congressional reporter Jeff Stein tweeted in disbelief:

“NYtimes oped begins by admonishing “social justice warrior alt-left” the day after they fought Nazis. Unreal.”

Meanwhile, in Israel, Head of Republicans Abroad in Israel Marc Zell said that he holds “leftist thugs,” local authorities and organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union responsible for Saturday’s events:

“I am, of course, no supporter of Nazis or white supremacists. But this very tragic event could have been avoided,” he said. “It was clear to all that the leftist thugs would come out to provoke and escalate the events. These thugs are the ugly face of progressivism around the country. They are looking to shut down free speech.”

Zell even went as far as to suggest that the car-ramming attack might have been a ‘false flag’:

“I am confident that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the newly appointed director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, will conduct a proper investigation. And I will not be surprised if they find that the incident was deliberately provoked by the left”, he said.

As I had mentioned in my first commentary on the Chartlottesville aftermath, Trump’s equivocal statements were a dog-whistle. He was calling on the dogs, and he was waiting to see how loud they could bark.

But there was also fierce pressure on Trump to name the thugs by name. So on Monday he finally did call out the KKK, Neo-Nazis and White-Supremacists, albeit ending the condemnation with “other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans”. Coming from Trump, the latter could be read as another opening to the “many sides” narrative.

Indeed, on Tuesday, Trump went back and doubled down on his original message, applying the “alt-left” notion which was being mainstreamed in the meanwhile. Speaking at the Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday, the president was asked for his opinion after Senator John McCain had condemned the “alt-right” for its role in the violent rally, to which he responded:

What about alt-left? Do they have any semblance of guilt?”

Let’s hop back to Israel now, because the fact that the Nazis are involved in this is causing a certain discomfort to many Jewish Israelis. As CNN host Anderson Cooper was saying on Tuesday, the Charlottesville Neo-Nazis “were freaking chanting ‘Jews will not replace us’ on the streets of America.”
Thus Israeli centrist leaders Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni were rather vociferous and unequivocal in their condemnations. Yesterday, Lapid said that

“There aren’t two sides. When Neo-Nazis march in Charlottesville and scream slogans against Jews and in support of white supremacy, the condemnation has to be unambiguous. They represent hate and evil. Anyone who believes in the human spirit must stand against them without fear.”

Sounds good. Let’s put aside for the moment Lapid’s own anti-Palestinianism, anti-miscegenationism (against mixed marriage) and ultra-nationalism.

Tzipi Livni, who had joined forces with the left under the Zionist Union was also quite clear:

“When it comes to racism, anti-Semitism and Nazism, there are never two equal sides. There’s good and there’s evil. Period”, she said.

Let’s also put aside for the moment the fact that Livni, who was Foreign Minister during Israel’s 2008-9 Gaza onslaught said that “Israel demonstrated real hooliganism during the course of the recent operation, which I demanded”as well as that “Hamas now understands that when you fire on its citizens it responds by going wild – and this is a good thing.”  – I mean, just because it’s hooliganism on a national level, doesn’t mean it’s racist, does it?

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett has called on US leaders to denounce the rally’s “displays of anti-Semitism” and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of Bennett’s Jewish Home party has urged prosecution of neo-Nazi activists. Once again, let’s put aside for the moment the Education Minister’sI’ve killed many Arabs and there’s no problem with that”, as well as the Justice Minister’s advocacy for genocide of Palestinians.

Now, as the condemnations were coming from the right of Netanyahu, that was a sign that he shouldn’t be too silent on this, even if he wanted to not upset Trump. So Netanyahu finally tweeted on Tuesday that he was “outraged by expressions of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism. Everyone should oppose this hatred.”

But, alas, another Netanyahu came out on this. Netanyahu Jr., that is – Yair Netanyahu. Writing on his Facebook yesterday:

“To put things in perspective. I’m a Jew, I’m an Israeli, the neo nazis scums in Virginia hate me and my country. But they belong to the past. Their breed is dying out. However the thugs of Antifa and BLM who hate my country (and America too in my view) just as much are getting stronger and stronger and becoming super dominant in American universities and public life.”

The Times of Israel reports sources “close to the Prime Minister” taking a distance, claiming that “Yair is an adult and his views are his alone”.

But this is where it gets more confusing. Because yesterday, ‘Hail Trump’, white supremacist, Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer was interviewed on Israeli Channel 2, and said that Israelis should respect someone like him, because he’s “a white Zionist”:

“An Israeli citizen, someone who understands your identity, who has a sense of nationhood and peoplehood, and the history and experience of the Jewish people, you should respect someone like me, who has analogue feelings about whites. You could say that I am a white Zionist – in the sense that I care about my people, I want us to have a secure homeland for us and ourselves. Just like you want a secure homeland in Israel”, he said.

At the same time, Spencer voiced the classical anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish ‘over-representation’ and separating them from ‘whites’, when he was asked whether slogans such as “Jews will not replace us” constitute anti-Semitism:

“Let’s be honest,” Spencer said, “Jews are vastly over-represented in what you could call ‘the establishment,’ that is, Ivy League educated people who really determine policy, and white people are being dispossesed from this country.”

This is not the first time Spencer brings up the ‘white Zionism’ notion. He has also managed to leave Texas rabbi Matt Rosenberg speechless, when the latter, an avowed Zionist, challenged him with ‘love an inclusion’, where Spencer presented to him the question:

“Do you really want radical inclusion into the State of Israel? And by that I mean radical inclusion. Maybe all of the Middle East could go move in to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Would you really want that?”

Spencer added to the blow a white-supremacist embrace of “respect”:

Jews exist precisely because you did not assimilate. That is why Jews are a coherent people with a history and a culture and a future. It’s because you had a sense of yourselves. I respect that about you. I want my people to have that same sense of themselves”, he said.

Not only is this not new from Spencer – it is not new from Nazis in general. As Adolf Eichmann said in 1960 (Time):

“In the years that followed (after 1937) I often said to Jews with whom I had dealings that, had I been a Jew, I would have been a fanatical Zionist. I could not imagine anything else. In fact, I would have been the most ardent Zionist imaginable.”

Indeed, the anti-Semitic, white-supremacist notions represented in Charlottesville, make the proximity between Zionism and anti-Semitism too close for comfort for many Jews, especially the Zionist ones. Zionism has a long and murky record of collaboration with Nazis, which presents a contradiction to the narrative of Israel being a diametric answer to anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.
But having mentioned Yair Netanyahu, it could be an interesting anecdote to mention the letter of another Yair – the Jewish terrorist ‘Stern Gang’ leader Avraham ‘Yair’ Stern (‘Yair’ being his nom de guerre), offering allegiance to Hitler in January 1941. Here Stern offers to “actively take part in the war on Germany’s side” and that “common interests could exist between the establishment of a new order in Europe in conformity with the German concept, and the true national aspirations of the Jewish people as they are embodied by the NMO” (NMO stands for National Militant Organization, of which the Stern Gang became an offshoot).

When Herzl wrote in his diary that “the anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies”, he was already pinpointing a notion which Zionism and Israel would desperately seek to conceal. Which is, that Zionism, the state ideology, and anti-Semitism, are tightly knit and inter-dependent. Zionism is not an answer to anti-Semitism – it is an extension of it. And when the unabashed racists and anti-Semites go marching, when their Israel-loving President keeps exonerating them and equating them with their victims, then it becomes a bit uncomfortable. The ideological affinity between anti-Semitism and Zionism becomes exposed. And that’s where the Zionist apologists try to cover it up again, under the balancing act of being a Zionist and opposing anti-Semitism.

But Benjamin Netanyahu’s son, Yair, he got the trick. The trick is to demonize the left as “haters” and “thugs”, so as to also be able to condemn the Nazis, as it were, but effectively making the left worse than Nazis, by downplaying the Nazis as a thing “of the past”. Because Israel is now in an ideological international fight both against anti-Semitism, supposedly and as it were, but more importantly and more truly, against the left. But it has to look good. You don’t want to seem too Nazi. 

Employment Tribunals - Guardian Letter

Abolition of Fees for Claimants

Three weeks ago I did a post Supreme Court Abolishes Employment Tribunal Fees - Thank the Lib Dems, Jo Swinson & Vince Cable for introducing them and also sent a letter into the Guardian.

Unfortunately I must have missed it and it has only just been pointed out to me.  So until I get a hard copy, I will have to make do with a copy from the Internet!

Friday, 18 August 2017

The Israeli-Saudi Alliance Deepens as Israel Begins Closing Al Jazeera

As Saudi Arabia Prepares to Execute 14 demonstrators Israel Supports the Saudis in their war against free expression

As Israel's Government Press Office prepares to remove the press credentials of Al Jazeera's correspondent in Jerusalem, Elias Karram, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, there is something quite touching about Israel’s claim to be the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ as it consummates its relationship with Saudi Arabia.  Al Jazeera is quite unique in the Arab world for being a relatively free and independent TV station.  It has produced some excellent documentaries, not least The Lobby which exposed the efforts of the Israeli Embassy, the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel to destabilise Jeremy Corbyn and create a bogus campaign of accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

Netanyahu has claimed that Al Jazeera is just a front for ISIS, Iran, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.  It was a classic tactic of Nazi propagandists to make the Jews seem responsible for all the ills of society.  They were communists, capitalists, predators etc.  A moments thought would tell you that Isis and Hamas are enemies.  Iran being Shi’ite is likewise opposed to ISIS.  The  Muslim Brotherhood also comes from a different tradition to that of the Salafists.  But combining your enemy into one is the oldest tactic of the demagogue.
Theresa May and her good friend, King Salman of Saudia Arabia - no mention has been made by the Government of this attack on press freedom
Ayoob Kara, the Communications Minister is spearheading the attack on Al Jazeera which is accused of inciting the violence at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.  Nothing to do with the security gates, or the attempts of Jewish settlers to encroach on the area or the attacks of Israeli soldiers on worshippers.
What this should also do is open peoples’ eyes as to the nature of the Israeli state.  All wings of the Zionist movement from Labour to Likud support the attacks on Al Jazeera.  From the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel in this country to supporters of Likud, Zionism is opposed to free speech for its opponents.  In fact Israel has amongst the most restrictive censorship laws in the world.  It is no surprise that the Israeli government thinks it is quite legitimate to close down a recognised and established broadcaster.
Israeli Minister Ayoob Kara seeks to close down Al Jazeera's office in Israel
Ironically Al Jazeera pioneered in the Arab world the use of Israeli spokespersons.  Arab stations have ritually barred access to Israelis as they purport to oppose the Zionist regime.  In practice, as we see with the attempted closure of Al Jazeera, there is a very close alliance between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.  Both have an interest in closing down all avenues to freedom in the Middle East.  Qatar is no oasis of democracy, far from it, but when sanctions are imposed upon it by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, with the intention of closing down one of the few relatively free broadcasters in the Middle East we  should understand why it is that Israel and the Saudi butchers are singing from the same hymn sheet.

Despite its claims to be the Middle East's 'only democracy' Israel constantly allies itself with the most entrenched and bitter opponents of freedom in the region.  From Egypt under Sisi to King Salmon's Saudi Arabia, not forgetting Bahrain of course.

Below is, as always, an excellent article from the Independent’s Robert Fisk and two other articles, one from Al Jazeera and the other from the Jerusalem Post.

 Tony Greenstein
Al Jazeera offices in  Dhofar

If you're wondering why Saudi Arabia and Israel have united against Al-Jazeera, here's the answer

There are still honourable Israelis who demand a state for the Palestinians; there are well-educated Saudis who object to the crazed Wahabism upon which their kingdom is founded; there are millions of Americans, from sea to shining sea, who do not believe that Iran is their enemy nor Saudi Arabia their friend. But the problem today in both East and West is that our governments are not our friends

Robert Fisk 

Theresa May has already suppressed a report so it wouldn’t upset the Saudis. And we wonder why we go to war with the Middle East AFP

When Qatar’s Al Jazeera satellite channel has both the Saudis and the Israelis demanding its closure, it must be doing something right. To bring Saudi head-choppers and Israeli occupiers into alliance is, after all, something of an achievement.

But don’t get too romantic about this. When the wealthiest Saudis fall ill, they have been known to fly into Tel Aviv on their private jets for treatment in Israel’s finest hospitals. And when Saudi and Israeli fighter-bombers take to the air, you can be sure they’re going to bomb Shiites – in Yemen or Syria respectively – rather than Sunnis.

And when King Salman – or rather Saudi Arabia’s whizz-kid Crown Prince Mohammad – points the finger at Iran as the greatest threat to Gulf security, you can be sure that Bibi Netanyahu will be doing exactly and precisely the same thing, replacing “Gulf security”, of course, with “Israeli security”. But it’s an odd business when the Saudis set the pace of media suppression only to be supported by that beacon of freedom, democracy, human rights and liberty known in song and legend as Israel, or the State of Israel or, as Bibi and his cabinet chums would have it, the Jewish State of Israel.

So let’s run briefly through the latest demonstration of Israeli tolerance towards the freedom of expression that all of us support, nurture, love, adore, regard as a cornerstone of our democracy, and so on, and so on, and so on. For this week, Ayoob Kara, the Israeli communications minister, revealed plans to take away the credentials of Al Jazeera’s Israeli-based journalists, close its Jerusalem bureau and take the station’s broadcasts from local cable and satellite providers.

This, announced Ayoob Kara – an Israeli Druze (and thus an Arab Likud minister) who is a lifelong supporter of the colonisation by Jews of Israeli-occupied Arab land in the West Bank – would “bring a situation that channels based in Israel will report objectively”. In other words, threaten them. Bring them into line.

Bibi Netanyahu long ago accused Al Jazeera of inciting violence in Jerusalem, especially in its reporting of the recent Jerusalem killings – but since just about every foreign journalist in and outside Israel who has dared to be critical of the state has at one time or another been accused of incitement as well as anti-Semitism and other lies, this is just par for the course.

Personally, I have found Al Jazeera’s reporting from Israel pretty pathetic, its fawning reverence for the state all too painfully illustrated when its Qatar anchorwoman expressed to an Israeli government spokesman live on air her channel’s condolences on the death of Ariel Sharon, the monstrous Israeli ex-defence minister who was held responsible for the massacre of up to 1,700 Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp massacres of 1982.

Ayoob Kara, however, has actually taken his cue from his fellow Arabs. And he admits it. Israel had to take steps, he said, against “media, which has been determined by almost all Arab countries to actually be a supporter of terror, and we know this for certain”. So the Israelis, it appears, now receive lessons on media freedoms from “Arab countries”. Not just the Saudis, of course, but from “almost all Arab countries” whose unfettered media – one thinks at once of the untrammelled liberal press of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Algeria and yes, “almost” the entire media of the Gulf – are bastions of truth-telling, hard-hitting opponents of authoritarian regimes, constitutionally protected from dictatorial abuse. Forgive the hollow laughter. But is this really how Israel wants to define itself?

Well, yes it is, I suppose. For if an unwritten alliance really exists between Saudi Arabia and Israel, then all options – as US presidents and secretary Hillary Clinton used to say – are “on the table”.
Imprisonment without trial, extrajudicial executions, human rights abuses, corruption, military rule – let’s say this at once: all these characteristics belong to “almost all” Sunni Muslim Arab nations – and to Israel in the lands it occupies. And as for being a “supporter of terror” (I quote Israeli minister Kara again), one must first ask why Sunni Gulf Arabs have exported their fighters – and their money – to the most vicious Sunni Islamists in the Middle East. And then ask why Israel has never bombed these same vile creatures – indeed, ask why Israel has given hospital treatment to wounded fighters from the Sunni al-Nusra – in other words, al-Qaeda, the perpetrators of 9/11 – while attacking Shiite Hezbollah and Alawite (Shiite) led-Syria, and threatened to bombard Shiite Iran itself which is a project, I should add, of which Kara himself is all in favour.

Nor must we forget that America’s insane President and his weird regime is also part of the Saudi-Israeli anti-Shiite confederation. Trump’s obscene $350bn arms sales to the Saudis, his fingering of Iran and his hatred of the world’s press and television channels makes him an intimate part of the same alliance. Indeed, when you look at one of Trump’s saner predecessors – George W Bush, who also hated Iran, kowtowed to the Saudis and actually talked to Tony Blair of bombing Al Jazeera’s own headquarters in Qatar, he who made sure the wealthy bin Laden family were flown out of the States after 9/11 – this American-Saudi-Israeli covenant has a comparatively long history.

Being an irrational optimist, there’s an innocent side of my scratched journalistic hide that still believes in education and wisdom and compassion. There are still honourable Israelis who demand a state for the Palestinians; there are well-educated Saudis who object to the crazed Wahhabism upon which their kingdom is founded; there are millions of Americans, from sea to shining sea, who do not believe that Iran is their enemy nor Saudi Arabia their friend. But the problem today in both East and West is that our governments are not our friends. They are our oppressors or masters, suppressors of the truth and allies of the unjust.

Netanyahu wants to close down Al Jazeera’s office in Jerusalem. Crown Prince Mohammad wants to close down Al Jazeera’s office in Qatar. Bush actually did bomb Al Jazeera’s offices in Kabul and Baghdad. Theresa May decided to hide a government report on funding “terrorism”, lest it upset the Saudis – which is precisely the same reason Blair closed down a UK police enquiry into alleged BAE-Saudi bribery 10 years earlier.

And we wonder why we go to war in the Middle East. And we wonder why Sunni Isis exists, un-bombed by Israel, funded by Sunni Gulf Arabs, its fellow Sunni Salafists cosseted by our wretched presidents and prime ministers. I guess we better keep an eye on Al Jazeera – while it’s still around.
Israel moves to close Al Jazeera, ban its journalists

Doha-based network denounces the decision to revoke credentials of its journalists and close its offices in Jerusalem.

It was unclear when Israeli government will act on the request [File: Reuters]

Israel plans to revoke media credentials of Al Jazeera journalists and close the network's office in Jerusalem, the country's communication minister has announced.

Ayoub Kara made the announcement on Sunday during a press conference in Jerusalem, where Al Jazeera was barred from attending. 

 "We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work," Kara said, adding that the channel is being used by groups to "incite" violence - an accusation the network has denied.

Kara said he expects Israel's parliament, the Knesset, to consider his request in the next session.
"I will go through the [legislatorial] mechanism to create the authority in which I can act freely. We will try to end it as quickly as possible."

Kara accused Al Jazeera of inciting violence - an accusation the network has denied [Dusan Vranic/AP]

Al Jazeera denounces measures
In a statement, the Doha-based media network denounced the measures from a country it says claims to be "the only democracy in the Middle East".

"Al Jazeera stresses that it will closely watch the developments that may result from the Israeli decision and will take the necessary legal measures towards it," the statement read.

Al Jazeera also denied the charges its coverage of al-Aqsa Mosque unrest was unprofessional.
 "Al Jazeera will continue to cover the events of the occupied Palestinian territories professionally and accurately, according to the standards set by international agencies, such as the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom)."

The pan-Arab network's offices in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah would not be affected by the current Israeli move.

The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, also known as Adalah, challenged the plan, saying it would be subject to scrutiny before the Supreme Court, adding that "it would fail the test of legality".

Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler, reporting from Jerusalem on Sunday, said that the request to revoke the credentials cover all the network's journalists in both the Arabic and English channels. 
It was unclear when the government will act on the request.

Our correspondent reported that Israel is also seeking to shut down Al Jazeera's cable and satellite transmissions in the country.

During the press conference, Kara also said that the interior ministry will also be involved in shutting down Al Jazeera's office in Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly threatened to shut Al Jazeera's operations in the country, accusing the network of inciting violence against Israel. His most recent attack on July 27 accused the network of "inciting violence".

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera senior political analyst, said the latest move by Israel shows a "synergy" of "dictatorships" in the Arab world and "dictatorship of military occupation in Palestine".

"It is as if closing down a network will diminish violence, when everyone knows that repression and military occupation and aggression is the reason for violence in the region. Not reporting it," he said.
Attack on press freedom

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Rami Khouri of the American University in Beirut, denounced the plan saying it is "very typical of regimes" in the region. 

"Regimes that want to control power will almost always go after two targets - the media and the foreigners. Everybody goes after the media." 

Aidan White, director of the London-based Ethical Journalism Network, called Israel's decision "a full frontal attack" on press freedom.

"It is a shocking statement, and it completely undermines Israel's claims to be the only democracy in the region, because it gets to the heart of one of the most important institutions of democracy.
"This attack on Al Jazeera is really an attack on all critical independent journalism."
The Committee to Protect Journalists has also criticised the Israeli move.

"Censoring Al Jazeera or closing its offices will not bring stability to the region, but it would put Israel firmly in the camp of some of the region's worst enemies of press freedom," CPJ Middle East and North Africa Programme Coordinator Sherif Mansour said in a statement.

"Israel should abandon these undemocratic plans and allow Al Jazeera and all journalists to report freely from the country and areas it occupies," it said.

In recent months, Saudi Arabia and Jordan both shut down Al Jazeera bureaus as part of a coordinated diplomatic and economic campaign against Qatar, where the headquarters of Al Jazeera Media Network is located.

Al Jazeera's signal has also been blocked in the United Arab Emirates. 

Egypt, which is also part of the blocking group, banned Al Jazeera several years ago. 


 Communications Minister Ayoub Kara starts working on Al-Jazeera shutdown

 AUGUST 6, 2017 17:53

Following in the footsteps of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Israel aims to revoke press credentials of Qatari-based news organization.

An employee walks inside an office of Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network in Jerusalem June 13, 2017. . (photo credit:REUTERS)

Security comes before freedom of expression, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said at a press conference on Sunday, as he laid out a fivepoint plan backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to shut down Qatari cable network Al Jazeera.

Netanyahu congratulated Kara on Twitter, writing: “Following my instructions, he took several practical steps today to stop the actions of incitement by Al Jazeera in Israel.”

Kara said Al Jazeera should be banned from broadcasting from Israel on grounds of incitement.
 “I want to make clear: Our citizens’ security and welfare overcomes freedom of expression in times of terror, period. Freedom of expression is not freedom to incite,” Kara said. “Democracy has limits. When we ask what overcomes what, I have no doubt at all. I prefer our citizens and soldiers alive.”

Kara asked the Government Press Office to revoke Al Jazeera reporters’ press cards. He also spoke to the cable and satellite television companies in Israel, which he said expressed willingness to stop broadcasting Al Jazeera.

In addition, Kara asked Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to use his authority to close the network’s Israeli offices and asked for the channel’s broadcasts on open satellites – used by many Israeli Arabs – to be blocked.

Finally, Kara announced plans to promote legislation that would give the government the ability, in exceptional cases, to put security before freedom of expression.

Last week, Kara put his plan to shutter Al Jazeera in a broader Middle Eastern context, saying Saudi Arabia and other Sunni countries have called to shut down Al Jazeera entirely as part of their pressure on the Qatari regime. The countries campaigning against Qatar are not democracies that purport to have a free press.

 “We identify with the moderates in the Arab world who are fighting terrorism and religious extremism,” Kara said. “Here in Israel, there is no place for a channel that backs terrorism either.”

The Foreign Press Association, of which Al Jazeera journalists in Israel are members, said most of them have identification cards issued by the Government Press Office, which means they are government- vetted. They called Kara’s actions a “slippery slope.”

When reports first surfaced last month that the channel might be taken off the air, Al Jazeera stressed it would take “all necessary legal measures [if Israel] acts on its threat.”

See Israel moves to close Al Jazeera, ban its journalists