The blood brothers Netanyahu and Gantz

While Israel is never to be compared to Nazi Germany it too is in the grip of a brainwahed immobility to acknowlwdge its deep racism.While Israel is never to be compared to Nazi Germany it too is in the grip of a brainwashed immobility to acknowledge its deep racism.

The following is an example of  just one brave Israeli, Hagai El-Ad a truly extraordinary prophetic voice as the director-general of B’Tselem Israel’s Human Rights  Organization. In 2018 B’Tselem was awarded the Human Rights Prize of the French Republic and Netanyahu didn’t call. As Gideon Levy reported: “And this is how the news was received in Israel: “This isn’t a prize, it’s a mark of shame. B’Tselem is an organization whose work should be stopped Culture Minister Miri Regev.” Others said worse. The fate of the prophet ignored in his home town.

Gaza immortalizes what Gantz and Netanyahu have in common

It was no coincidence that the prime minister reminded his so-called rival of their actions in Operation Protective Edge in 2014, when one was PM and the other IDF chief; the two are bound together by the blood of Palestinian children

Hagai El-Ad

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t always make sure to speak truthfully, to put it gently. However, on those occasions that he does, it’s worth paying attention. 

On the morning of November 11, knowing that the security cabinet had approved the forthcoming assault on Gaza (Netanyahu says the assault was approved a week and a half earlier), and, clearly, with a good idea of what would follow, he publicly addressed his so-called rival, leader of the Blue and White party, Benny Gantz.

“Benny, you were chief of staff during Operation Protective Edge,” he said. “We ran that operation together. We sent soldiers to battle. 

“Do you remember what Ahmad Tibi did during this operation? Ahmad Tibi stood on the Knesset podium and read out the names of the terrorists that were taken out in Gaza. He said the IDF was committing war crimes. 

“The Ra’am-Ta’al faction which is part of the Joint List demanded an investigation of me and Chief of Staff Gantz during the operation. They said, in a letter to the attorney general, that an investigation should be launched ‘into war crimes and crimes against humanity during Operation Protective Edge.’ 

“A campaign ad for the Joint List said: ‘Gantz, the blood of Gaza’s children is on your hands.’ And I’m asking you Benny Gantz, are these the people you want to form a government with? A government that depends on Ahmad Tibi and Ayman Odeh? It’s a slap in the face of IDF soldiers, the soldiers you and I sent to battle. It’s just unbelievable.”

The following day, after the assault on Gaza, Gantz replied to Netanyahu.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz during the 2014 Gaza war (Photo: GPO)

 “The war on terror is a sustained effort, and there are moments that require tough decisions,” he said. 

“Tonight, the government and the IDF made the right decision for the safety of Israel’s citizens and those living in the south. Blue and White will back any move that is right for Israel’s security and will put the safety of Israelis above politics. Every terrorist threatening our security should know his life is on the line.”

This quick closing of the ranks is worth noticing and decoding.

Would-be rivals Netanyahu and Gantz did, in fact, run the Israeli assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014 together. In the fall of 2019, they may join forces to lead the country politically. 

Political pundits estimate that the escalation in Gaza paves the way to “unity” and takes the possibility of a minority government with support from the Joint List off the table.

So here is what Gantz agreed with in the prime minster’s public words, now translated into plain English: 

“Are these people, who want to stop us from doing this very thing, the ones you want to form a government with? We did manage to cover it all up, like we always do. We announced a few investigations. 

“The ICC is moving ever so slowly. If we really have to, we’ll prosecute a pawn or two. After all, nobody messes with us, so why should we stop? Come on now, we’re both better off moving ahead together.”

No Israeli politician would be eager to bring up the blood of Gaza’s children, but here we are, in one of the most dramatic moments in Israeli politics, and Netanyahu does just that. 

These children, whose names B’Tselem was prohibited even from broadcasting (for full payment) on the radio, once again rise from the pit of repression. These children, whose names MK Tibi read from the Knesset podium (Netanyahu said it was the names of terrorists), are the Gordian knot that binds Netanyahu and Gantz.

Nothing is more unifying in Israeli politics than sharing in the killing of Arabs. Political rivals? Two who have walked together – two who know full well what they’ve done together, and what they may yet to do.

Hagai El-Ad is the executive director of B’Tselem

No Israeli Peace, Joy or Goodwill at Christmastime for Palestinians

Peace, Good Will and Joy on Earth at Christmas! But what does that mean for Palestine and Palestinians? Yet on the 25th of December in Palestine, the world pauses once again to honor the hallowed birthplace of Jesus and commemorate the life and teachings of that consummate Prince of Peace. But during that sacred time each December is exactly when yet another moment should be taken to pause and honor not only the birthplace of Jesus Christ but also give a face to all those lost millions of nameless, faceless, innocent ones by paying a living tribute to the fearlessness of those like the Palestinian peoples and other unheralded ones, who still daily, alone and with little help from the world, lose their lives as warriors or as collateral damage in defense of their right and that of their nation to exist and remain free.

Ever since that “World War to End All Wars” came to a bloody halt, Britain’s Balfour Declaration, a racist-assimilationist document made at the war’s conclusion, with the Western World’s acquiessence, changed the course and composition of the Middle East forever, but for the worse. Among the artifical divisions that the Balfour Declaration created, Palestine ended up being mandated to the Jewish race to the exclusion of the Palestinian peoples themselves.

What that Balfour Declaration in essence created was an immigrant settler-occupier-conqueror reality that ever since the end of the Second World War has threatened the integrity of Palestine as a nation and the rights of the Palestinians as a people deservant of the same level of respect and defense of their right to exist and remain free and independent in their own homelands. To this day, they represent the poster child face of the world’s collateral damage.

Without the world’s protection and defense of their right to exist, the nation of Palestine and the Palestinian people’s former way of life has continued to be reduced down to pathetic fragments of what it once was. 

The once prosperous Palestinian villages, towns and cities filled with happy children, families and commerce of a viable way of life, now have been turned into squalid refugee camps with little hope for the future: cordoned-off by Israeli checkpoints at gun point; reduced to walled-in enclaves of homes cut off from their fields and livestock, with; borders demarcated on three sides by an Apartheid Wall on land and a fourth invisible wall, demarcated by the Mediterranean Sea and patrolling Isreali Defense Force boats that represent death, arrest and humiliation to all who dare to attempt to penetrate or go beyond Israel’s imposed 3-Mile Limit. But to the rest of the world it’s as if all this remains invisible.

And yet, ever since, the same hatred that the Jewish people once felt towards the Nazi for the many pogroms, expulsions and genocide they were forced to endure, that earned them the expression “Am Israel Chai”, meaning “The Jewish Nation Lives”, could also be used as an apt phrase to describe the same fierce defiance that Palestinians continue to display against those in Israel and their allies who now hate them as much. The fact that places like Gaza survive and the people defiantly struggle to find joy in spite of their miserable state could amply be described as Am Palestine Chai.

In spite of it all, during each Christmas-tide, special tribute and honor continues to nevertheless be paid to what the birth of the baby Jesus in Palestine still symbolizes. Yet, oddly, the birth of that extraordinary human and spiritual being once ended up being assassinated by the same Jewish people who now ruthlessly rule today over Palestine and the Palestinians.

The Nakba War that began in Palestine in 1948; the endless intifadas and military operations that ever since have proliferated in still other occupied territories, in violation of innumerable international laws and U.N. resolutions; continue to everywhere provoke perpetual terror that rage on like deadly untreated cancerous scourges.

Yet the sheer magnitude of so many betrayals that have been perpetrated against so many different peoples over the past century have been committed with the consent of an indifferent world that, like modern-day Pontius Pilate’s washing their hands of the whole matter, has left the fate of many to those who lust for their blood, homelands and natural resources.

What continues to happen in places like East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is nothing less than a blatant outrage against humanity. But it isn’t. The Palestinians continue to struggle to survive in open-air prisons and squalid refugee camps, victimized by on-going illegal sieges, blockades and onslaughts against their some 2 million and counting refugee residents, crammed into a tiny 24 mile by 7 mile strip of land that represents one of the worlds most densely populated concentrations of human life on earth.

But in spite of it all, over the years Israeli air, missile and artillery bombardments have continued to surgically fire upon Gaza, whether at UN-designated sites, hospitals, schools, mosques, homes and marketplaces, that have killed thousands of civilians with whole families and clans wiped out. Yet the resistance of the people still remains strong in the face of however many more innocent, defenseless civilians become the victims of endless punitive death and destruction inflicted by one Israeli military operation after another, with IDF military snipers constantly maiming, murdering terrorizing and humiliating the people.

In the past, some Israeli leaders, lke Gilad Sharon, son of Israel’s former PM Ariel Sharon and a major in an elite Israeli Defense Unit (IDF), have even had the temerity to wish for the utter destruction of Gaza, not by the use of gas chambers but by a nuclear bomb that would create yet another Hiroshima or Nagasaki and send the Gaza Strip back to the Stone Age.

Meanwhile, in the hell-hole that is Gaza, the people continue to be subjected to innumerable inflicted tortures, such as: trying to cope with only two to four hours of electricity per day; left without air conditioning or heating in blistering hot or freezing cold tempertures; while the nearby Mediterranean ocean, as polluted and empty of fish as it is, is designated off-limits beyond an artifically-imposed limit to the rights of fishermen to search for food or adventurous Palestinian sailors who desire to explore the world beyond; while 97% of Gaza’s water is considered undrinkable because the people are denied the ability to purify the water; with 50% of Gaza’s hospitals deemed non-operational due to an inability to get medical supplies through Israel’s maze of cruel, concentration camp-like borders and military checkpoints. Palestinians even find it physically difficult get in or out of the Gaza Strip without onerous restrictions, while virtually nothing that human beings everywhere in the world normally take for granted to make their lives viable, if not palatable – like food, medicine, fuel and goods – can ever get into Gaza, further perpetuating their misery. But the same could be said for the plight of many other dispossessed indigenous peoples throughout the world.

Meanwhile, the state media apparatus of countries like the U.S., Canada, Israel, and their allies in the EU and U.N., only ever refer to Palestinian and Hamas activists and freedom-fighters as ‘militants’ and ‘terrorists’, rather than ‘patriots’ and ‘heroes’ who desire to live free and dream dreams of a more positive future.

The riotous anti-Semitic speech of President Trump

Donald Trump’s speech to the Israeli American Council on Dec,7 in the presence of his biggest donors, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, was  chaired by convicted tax cheat Adam Milstein, a major funder of anti-Palestinian causes.The president reached heights of rhetoric not heard since Gerald Ford and the laughter, you wouldn’t believe it!

Few squirmed as Trump spewed out an anti-Semitic diatribe (below) and generally made a fool of himself but what the heck, he loves Israel

I said to Sheldon, “What do you think was bigger? … Israel and the embassy going in, and it became Jerusalem, the capital of Israel? Or the Golan Heights [recognition as Israeli territory]?” He said, “Neither.” I said, “What do you mean ‘neither,’ Sheldon?” He said, “The biggest thing you did for Israel was breaking up and terminating the horrible, one-sided, catastrophic deal that was made by President Obama.” (Applause.) Right?

I said, “I never thought of it that way, Sheldon, but I agree with you. If you want to know the truth, I agree with you.”

We have to get the people of our country, of this country, to love Israel more. I have to tell you that. We have to do it. We have to get them to love Israel more. Because you have people that are Jewish people, that are great people — they don’t love Israel enough. You know that. You know that. (Applause.)

As President, I want to be very clear my administration vigorously condemns the BDS campaign against Israel. (Applause.) But sadly, BDS has also made disturbing headway on American college campuses. You know that, don’t you?…

            It’s Unthinkable It’s anti-Semitic!

Shockingly, a number of far-left members of Congress have also recently joined the international effort to bully, attack, and denigrate Israel. And it’s incredible what’s been happening with your Congress. Ten years ago, it was unthinkable. Six years ago, it was pretty unthinkable. And now, to see what’s going on and to watch Nancy Pelosi and these people be pushed around is unbelievable… Earlier this year, a number of prominent Democrat lawmakers sponsored legislation to support the BDS movement. You know that, right? Outrageously, the resolution compared boycotting Israel to boycotting Nazi Germany, a grave insult to the memory of the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. You remember that, don’t you, where this was just put before Congress.

This is different. This is different than what it was. This couldn’t have happened 10 years ago; couldn’t have happened. Twenty years ago, it would have been impossible. Ten years ago, it would have been impossible. You’ve got to be very careful. Make no mistake: Radical lawmakers who support the BDS movement are advancing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda. And Americans will not stand for it. We’re not going to stand for it.

               Kings and Queens called: You wouldn’t believe it!

Many, many [U.S.] Presidents said they were going to move the embassy to Jerusalem. A I started getting calls from everyone. I got calls from presidents. I got calls from prime ministers. I got calls from kings and queens. I got calls from everyone. (Laughter.) “Don’t do it. Don’t do it, please.” Don’t do it. It will be terrible if you do it. It will be horrible if you do it.”

And I heard this from many people. And then the time came closer and closer, and I did something that was smart, because I learned then and there — for that two-week period, I was inundated — I learned why other Presidents, in all fairness to them, why they made the campaign promise but why they never got it off: Because they were besieged by foreign leaders. The top, the biggest people in the world called them. You wouldn’t believe how many; some countries you never even heard of were calling. (Laughter.) I said, “What’s that country all about?” (Laughter.)

And about a week and a half out, I said, “Listen, tell these people I’m going to call them back.  I’d say, “Hi, I’m sorry, I couldn’t get back to you quickly” — (laughter) — “but what’s up?” (Laughter and applause.) “What’s up?”

                 Shelly taught me

Well, I learned all these tricks from Sheldon. So, you know. (Laughter.) So I call: “Hi, King. What’s up? What’s happening?” (Laughter.) H What can I — “Yeah, I wish — you know, I wish I could have gotten you sooner, but I’m so busy.” (Laughter.) I took about 40 of those calls. Right? Everyone was the same: “I wanted to tell you…” I said, “But, you know, in the meantime, it opened and it And it was a big deal, and it was great. 

Trump speaks of Jews with wealth who will be opposed to Democratic progressive tax legislation.

A lot of you are in the real estate business because I know you very well. You’re brutal killers. (Laughter.) Not nice people at all. But you have to vote for me; you have no choice. You’re not going to vote for Pocahontas [his slur for Elizabeth Warren], I can tell you that. (Laughter and applause.) You’re not going to vote for the wealth tax. “Yeah, let’s take 100 percent of your wealth away.” No, no. Even if you don’t like me; some of you don’t. Some of you I don’t like at all, actually. (Laughter.) And you’re going to be my biggest supporters because you’ll be out of business in about 15 minutes, if they get it. So I don’t have to spend a lot of time on that.

York U still behind the curve

Advanced  capitalism erases historical memory with lightning speed. History is The Beatles.

Take York University formerly a centre of Jewish influence (in its earlier days, it actually closed on the High Holy Days) harassed a Jewish professor the late David Noble for showing sympathy for Palestine. He and some grad students actually had the nerve to be part of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights. One student Freeman-Maloy was about to be hauled in front of committee for  using a megaphone to protest the latest assault on Gaza.The stacked committee, some with connections to Israel wanted to ban him for 3 years before the whole thing was quashed  in July 2004 by Madame Justice Epstein of the Ontario Superior Court.

15 years later with Israel’s horrific crimes laid bare by social media and with Palestinian and Arabic speaking students now attending York, the landscape has changed everywhere but in the front office. The latest embarrassing Zionist provocation and the re-appearance of the thuggish Jewish Defense League plus the stunning lack of preparation by the university  provoked this briefly-edited  letter:

Dear Dr. Lenton,

Amnesty International is writing this Open Letter to request that you convene an independent review into all concerns associated with the “Reservists on Duty: Hear from former Israeli Defense Force soldiers” event, organized by the Herut Zionism Club at York University on November 20, 2019.

As you know, this controversial event was met with protests which descended into violent confrontations outside the venue. It was clearly foreseeable that there would be controversy and protest, given the history of human rights violations committed by Israeli Defense Force soldiers amidst the illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territories. That was exacerbated by the fact that members of the Jewish Defense League, a far-right group classified as a terrorist organization in the U.S. and with a record of violence and assaults at protests, were allowed on campus.

Amnesty International has an active and dynamic student group at York University that works on a range of campaigns, including our serious concerns about widespread and longstanding human rights violations associated with Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories. 

The group brings a positive voice for human rights to York, in keeping with the university’s encouragement of student agency and leadership. They actively defend and promote universal human rights protection for all people, including the freedoms of speech, expression and assembly and the obligation to condemn war crimes occurring anywhere in the world.

While Amnesty International at York had no official presence at the protest, a number of our members chose to participate in an individual capacity, as is clearly their right. We are very troubled to learn that some members were physically assaulted during the confrontations that occurred and have been receiving threatening messages on their cell phones. They are now fearful when they are on campus and have taken to limiting their movements, staying in groups, and ensuring that there are safe spaces to study in security.

It is evident that the considerable confusion, tension and fear associated with the November 20th event and its aftermath lingers. That is clear from the number and nature of statements and resolutions that have been issued by various student groups on campus. We have noted from your statement on November 21st that you have taken two steps in response, namely: (1) tasking the Vice President of Equity, People and Culture and your Division of Students to take the lead in developing a strategy for “fostering a more productive dialogue around these issues”; and (2) the launch of an upcoming Freedom of Speech Working Group to “make specific recommendations on how to create a more respectful climate on campus for the discussion of difficult topics.”

Given conflicting views about what happened that evening, the worrying ongoing impact on students at York and the important human rights considerations that are at stake, Amnesty International urges York University to go further and convene an independent review of all circumstances associated with the Herut Zionism Club event and its aftermath, with a mandate that includes examination of:

• considerations that were taken into account in approving the event, including the fact that the speakers were former members of a military with a clear record of responsibility for war crimes and other serious human rights violations;

• decisions made with respect to the presence of members of the Jewish Defense League on campus;

• measures put in place to uphold the freedoms of expression and assembly while ensuring public safety and the security of all protesters;

• decisions and actions of security personnel and university officials as the protest proceeded and confrontations occurred;

• the role of Toronto Police Service officers;

• allegations of violence and other criminality perpetrated during the demonstration; and

• measures taken to respond to ongoing concerns about threats and intimidation in the aftermath of the event.

The independent review should also make any appropriate recommendations with respect to accountability, redress and reform. Amnesty International urges the administration at York University to pursue this review with the attention and seriousness it deserves, and to engage professionals and experts to assist with this..

We look forward to hearing from you Dr. Lenton with respect to the steps you take to establish an independent review.  I can be reached directly via my Executive Assistant Jina Rodas-Wright at jrodas-wright@amnesty.ca or by telephone at 613 744 7667 extension 263.

Sincerely,

Alex Neve                                                          
Secretary General

Liberté, égalité, fraternité – only for the Jews?

Leave it to Gideon  Levy to ridicule the McCarthyite attacks on anybody criticizing Israel today. Last column  he tore a strip off the more Tory than Torah Chief Rabbi of England’s attack on Jeremy Corbyn. This week he skewers the French Government.Levy follows.

The plague is spreading. Under cover of the (just) war against anti-Semitism, Europe and the United States silence every voice daring to criticize Israel. Under cover of this war, they are undermining their freedom of speech. Incredibly, this new phenomenon is not triggering any protest, as one would expect. Laws labeling anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism and the anti-occupation movement as anti-Semitic, are passed with overwhelming majorities. Now they are playing into the hands of Israel and the Jewish establishment, but they are liable to ignite anti-Semitism when questions arise about the extent of their meddling.

Last week, the phenomenon hit France, cradle of the revolution. The French National Assembly passed by a sweeping majority a bill that adopts the definition of anti-Semitism issued by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Liberty? Equality? Fraternity? Not when it involves Israel. Here, these values are rendered mute.

French parliament member Sylvain Maillard formulated the bill. He is another friend of Israel’s who reportedly participated in a meeting with settler wheeler-dealer Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria regional council, some months ago. “Criticizing the very existence of Israel as a collective composed of Jewish citizens is tantamount to hatred towards the Jewish community as a whole; just like collectively holding Jews accountable for the policies of the Israeli authorities is an expression of anti-Semitism,” the law’s introduction states. The cat is out of the bag: It is forbidden to raise doubts about Zionism, one of the only ideologies in the world whose righteousness cannot be questioned by the nations of the free world.

First, the language. Israel “as a collective composed of Jewish citizens.” The nation-state law was also accepted in the National Assembly in Paris. If Israel is a collective of Jewish citizens, what are the Palestinian citizens? And what are the subjects living under occupation? The 154 parliamentarians who raised their hands in support of the decision cannot evade these questions. Liberté, égalité, fraternité – only for the Jews? And what are they offering the six million Palestinians, citizens and subjects of the occupation, who live under “the collective of Jewish citizens”? Second-rate liberty, equality, fraternity? From now on no one is even allowed to ask these questions. Anyone who asks is an anti-Semite.

Anti-Zionism is a legitimate position in Jewish history, and it also has a long history in Israel,” a petition signed in vain by 129 Jewish and Israeli professors and intellectuals against passage of the law, stated. The petition’s signatories mentioned that there were many anti-Zionist Holocaust survivors. Now they, too, are anti-Semites.

From now on, every Palestinian and every Arab, except for Ayoub Kara, is an anti-Semite. Even every Jew and every Israeli who supports a solution of one democratic and egalitarian state, precisely in the spirt of the French revolution, is an anti-Semite. So too anyone for whom Zionism is a colonialist movement – is that not a legitimate position? – is an anti-Semite.

For generations of Palestinians, Zionism is the essence of their existence; it expelled them from their country, deprived them of their lands, dishonored them, ruined their lives, and kills and torments them to this very day, without the end being in sight. Are they forbidden from being anti-Zionists? Are they able to not hate Zionism? Will France try them for the transgression of anti-Semitism? They are not fighting Zionism because they are anti-Semites. They are anti-Zionist only because Zionism destroyed their lives.

And what are the protesters of the fence around the cage of Gaza? Are they anti-Semites? Are they not freedom fighters? And what about people of conscience around the world who identify with them? From now on they are all anti-Semites, and that is outlawed in France. And if denying the right of Jewish self-determination is anti-Semitism, how will the French National Assembly refer to Israel’s denial of the Palestinians’ rights? Why does it not pass a law about that? Only because the Palestinians and justice don’t have a powerful lobby in France.

Hooray, Gilad Erdan! Great, Jews of France. Congratulations, Mr. Maillard. You’ve won.

The Card has lost power

Thankfully the antisemitic card has been played too many times and like all good tricks, too much usage negates its effect. The following story simply gives us another “Cry wolf” attempt.

These phoney trips to Israel (Hillel, Birthright) simply avoid the deep suffering  and humiliation of Palestinian life and it finally has become too much for serious Jews of integrity who understand that they have been lied to. Two years ago a young 20 year old Jewish student  at McGill Tali Iolesevich phrased it this way

I am meant to believe that the center and core of my existence as a Jew is tied to a strip of land an ocean away that can be crossed by car from tip to tail in less than six hours. A land that has been grabbed by force and violently occupied by white settlers since even before the night of the Nakba in 1948, and has since been defined by increasing military expansionism, state-sanctioned brutality, and discrimination against its non-Jewish citizens.

Sad to relate another McGill alumnus Prime Minister Trudeau has embarrassed himself by rejecting a tried and true nonviolent response to oppression BDS

From Independent Jewish Voices

The Student Society of McGill (SSMU has come under harsh criticism for censuring a student leader for accepting an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel-Palestine. While one student, Jordyn Wright, claims that she was singled out for accepting the trip invitation simply because she is Jewish, we stand by the SSMU in affirming the fact that the motion censuring Wright had nothing to do with her Jewish identity, but rather the fact that she was in contravention of the SSMU’s own conflict of interest policy for accepting a gift worth over $50 in monetary value. The reason she was the only person named in the SSMU’s motion is because, as a member of the SSMU Board of Directors, she was the only person who accepted the trip under SSMU’s jurisdiction.

“IJV firmly stands against any and all acts of antisemitism wherever they may appear, but sadly this is another example of pro-Israel groups using the red herring argument that anything that might hurt the reputation of Israel on campus is by extension antisemitic,” says Aaron Lakoff, a member of IJV. “Not only do false claims of antisemitism in this case hurt Palestinian students and their allies at McGill, but they also serve to put Jewish students at risk by weakening our ability to recognize actual acts of antisemitsm when they do occur. This is why IJV is campaigning against the International Holocaust Rememberance Association’s (IHRA) redefinition of antisemitism, which serves to conflate legitimate criticism of Israeli state policy with anti-Jewish hatred.”

IJV applauds the dozen or so McGill student leaders who decided to turn down the all-expenses paid trip. Organized by Hillel Montreal, the trip would have brought McGill students on a “once in a lifetime” delegation to Israel-Palestine from December 29 to January 8. In the words of Hillel, it was intended to be an “intensive experiential seminar that will explore the region’s deep history and grapple with nuanced political and religious realities”. The actual purpose of the trip seems to have been left intentionally vague in the Hillel invitation, but according to the Mcgill Daily, one executive of the SSMU claims that a Hillel representative offered the junkets as “a free trip to Israel so [they] could better understand the context of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and educate others on campus [against it]”.

“Such trips have been a common tactic deployed in recent years by pro-Israel student groups with the goal of combatting Palestine solidarity activism and disuading student associations from passing BDS resolutions,” adds Lakoff. “While claiming to expose students to both sides of the Israel-Palestine debate, these Hillel-organized junkets clearly privilege narratives in favour of the Israeli occupation and colonization. At the same time, they seek to delegitimize BDS, a grassroots movement with widespread support among Palestinians living under occupation, in Israel and in exile.” 

Hillel chapters in the USA have organized over 40 similar student trips to Israel between 2014 and 2018. In the USA, these trips have been funded by the Maccabee Task Force, a conservative group intent on stopping BDS initiatives on campuses. 

“There is nothing innocent about these trips to Israel, a country that continues to thumb its nose at international law with the longest-running military occupation in modern history, and regular massacres of unarmed civilians,” said Lakoff. “Even as Hillel’s invitations were going out to McGill students over the fall, Israeli occupation forces killed over 30 people in Gaza, including several children.”

IJV and its student chapters will continue to work with all students who seek an end to Israeli occupation and colonization in Palestine. “We strongly encourage student leaders to refuse such trips to Israel in the future,” concluded Lakoff. 


F

The blind rabbi

who forgot Deuternomy 16:20 tzedek,tzedek tirdof— justice, justice you shall pursue.

A BRIEF RESPONSE TO  CHIEF RABBI MIRVIS

By Jamie-Stern-Weiner

In a partisan intervention calculated to inflict maximum damage to Labour’s election campaign, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis ‘calls upon the citizens of our great country to study what has been unfolding before our very eyes’.

Let’s do that

The evidence indicates the following:

– There is no antisemitism crisis in Britain. The respected Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) emphasised in 2017 that Jews in Britain are ‘seen overwhelmingly positively by an absolute majority of the British population’. Anti-Jewish animus is relatively low, stable over time, and mild in effect; unlike many other forms of prejudice, it does not appear to translate into socioeconomic or legal discrimination, let alone widespread violence. As Mirvis himself observed, as recently as 2016, ‘life is good for Jews in the UK. . . . It is great to be Jewish in Britain’.

There is no antisemitism crisis in the Labour Party. No evidence has been presented showing that antisemitic attitudes among Labour members are widespread, or more widespread than in other parties, or more widespread than they used to be. On the contrary: surveys indicate that the prevalence of anti-Jewish attitudes has declined across the political spectrum since 2015, while antisemitism on the Left and among Labour supporters—the Labour Party’s natural constituencies from which its members are disproportionately drawn—is lower than on the Right and among Conservative supporters:

• ‘[t]he political left, captured by voting intention or actual voting for Labour, appears . . . a more Jewish-friendly, or neutral, segment of the population’ – Institute for Jewish Policy Research, 2017

• ‘Labour Party supporters are less likely to be antisemitic than other voters’ – Campaign Against Antisemitism, 2017

Let’s now look at the Chief Rabbi’s specific complaints. Bear in mind that this is the most damning evidence he was able to marshal against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership after fully four years of non-stop attacks that have marshalled every scrap of evidence, however minute and irrelevant, to discredit this leadership.

According to General Secretary Jennie Formby, reporting to Labour MPs in July 2019, the actual number of Labour members brought through the disciplinary process in relation to allegations of antisemitism amounts to approximately 0.06% of the membership. That’s less than one-tenth of one percent.

Life is good for Jews in the UK.The rabbi’s own allegations against Labour Party are wildly distorted.

(By Alan Maddison)

2. The Chief Rabbi alleges that ‘supporters of the Labour leadership have hounded parliamentarians, members and even staff out of the party for challenging anti-Jewish racism’. The Chief Rabbi is keen at smearing Labour but, alas, more parsimonious when it comes to the evidence. Indeed, the evidence shows that this allegation has mostly been contrived.

 For example, whereas it was alleged that Louise Ellman MP was driven out of the Party because she is Jewish, a forensic investigation by Jewish Voice for Labour found that she was unpopular for other reasons entirely, and that she and her supporters hurled false accusations of antisemitism to discredit their political opponents. Moreover, many left-wing Jews have faced astonishing intimidation and slander for refusing to fall in line with the anti-Labour smear campaign, while one study found that the politician most targeted for abuse is the Labour Shadow Home Secretary, and close Corbyn ally, Diane Abbott MP. In what must be the most shameful exploitation ever of antisemitism for partisan political gain, Corbyn himself has been slandered as an antisemite, even as his entire documented political career marks him out as—in the words of Jewish researcher and activist Joseph Finlay—‘Britain’s leading anti-racist politician’.

3. It is telling that the best the Rabbi can produce, after years of mud-slinging, is this feeble attempt at guilt-by-association. The British Government openly proclaims Saudi Arabia—among the world’s leading producers of sectarian as well as anti-Jewish propaganda—its close friend and ally. Does Chief Rabbi Mirvis consider this proof of antisemitism? The fact is, Jeremy Corbyn has, to his eternal credit, been an isolated supporter of the Palestinians’ long struggle for elementary human rights and dignity, consistent with his championing of human rights for Kurds, blacks in South Africa, and other oppressed peoples.

 By contrast, Chief Rabbi Mirvis and the rest of the British Jewish establishment have consistently endorsed and enabled Israel’s brutal racist regime. In summer 2014, as one of the world’s most sophisticated armies subjected the besieged civilians of Gaza to yet another unending barrage of explosives, Mirvis came out in support of the terror bombing. 550 children were killed. Before he presumes to lecture a principled anti-racist on ethics, shouldn’t the Chief Rabbi reflect upon his own abysmal moral record?

It is difficult to over-state how poorly Britain’s Jews are being served by their self-proclaimed communal leaders.

This election is not like any other. The far-right is winning around the world. It might very well be that we are just one economic crisis, one climate shock away from the return of fascism across Europe.

This is the real threat to Jewish people.

Jamie Stern-Weiner is a graduate student in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford.