Why Palestinians have a problem with the IHRA definition of ‘anti-Semitism’w

First published by the Arab Weekly on 9/9/2018

The conflation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism suits Israel.
People wear flag of Israel glasses at a gathering organised by the Campaign Against Antisemitism outside the head office of the British opposition Labour Party in London. (AFP)
Not seeing eye to eye. People wear flag of Israel glasses at a gathering organised by the Campaign Against Antisemitism outside the head office of the British opposition Labour Party in London. (AFP)

If the average person is asked to define “anti-Semitism,” most would likely reply something like “hatred towards Jews because they are Jews.” It is safe to argue that “Israel” would not be mentioned in the same breath as “hatred towards Jews” in any traditional definition of anti-Semitism.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines anti-Semitism as “having or showing a strong dislike of Jewish people or treating them in a cruel and unfair way.” The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “hostility to or prejudice against Jews.”

This sets in context the reason supporters of Israel have been working to create a new definition to reflect what they consider to be the “new anti-Semitism,” one that would conflate anti-Semitism with opinions against Zionism, the founding ideology of Israel. This most certainly would include references to “Israel” in any such definition.

In 2005, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) published a working definition of anti-Semitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed towards Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

It then brought Israel into the mix by stating: “In addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.”

Several examples were cited as to how anti-Semitism would manifest itself when related to the state of Israel, including “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.”

While supporters of Israel referred to it as a definition, its stated purpose was to “provide a guide for identifying incidents, collecting data and supporting the implementation and enforcement of legislation dealing with anti-Semitism.”

In November 2013, the definition was removed from the organisation’s website in “a clear-out of non-official documents.” A spokesman stated that the document had never been viewed as a valid definition and that “we are not aware of any official definition.”

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which lists 31 countries as members, states that it “unites governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education, research and remembrance and to uphold the commitments to the 2000 Stockholm Declaration.”

It produced a non-legally binding working definition: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed towards Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The IHRA went further stating: “The following examples may serve as illustrations: Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.”

Had the statement stopped at the clunky 38 words of the actual definition, then many people would have accepted it. However, once Israel is brought in, its potential effect stretches beyond Jews in any country and links them all to Israel, when many of them do not identify with it.

Scholars have argued that bringing Israel into the definition would affect the ability of the Palestinians to advocate for their rights. Brian Klug, a researcher in philosophy at St Benet’s Hall, Oxford, argued that the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia’s — and by implication the IHRA’s — definition “proscribed legitimate criticism of the human rights record of the Israeli government by attempting to bring criticism of Israel into the category of anti-Semitism and does not sufficiently distinguish between criticism of Israeli actions and criticism of Zionism as a political ideology, on the one hand, and racially based violence towards, discrimination against, or abuse of, Jews.”

An opinion by Hugh Tomlinson, QC, concluded that the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is unclear and confusing and should be used with caution and, in an opinion prepared for the Palestinian Return Centre, Geoffrey Robertson, QC, said the definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the government is “not fit for purpose.”

The United Kingdom’s Conservative government has adopted the full IHRA definition. However, the British Labour Party, which has been engulfed in a controversy over anti-Semitism since Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader in September 2015, decided to develop its own code of conduct to deal with anti-Semitism in the party, based on the IHRA definition but clarifying and contextualising the examples related to Israel.

This brought the wrath of the pro-Israel lobby and raised the heat on Corbyn, who has been attacked by some party members for failing to adopt the IHRA definition in full.

While, in the past even Corbyn’s staunchest critics on the matter held back from accusing him of anti-Semitism, some, including MP Margret Hodge, have explicitly called him an anti-Semite. The controversy over anti-Semitism has reached a level that may split the party.

The reality is that Corbyn’s record on fighting racism, including anti-Semitism is exemplary. So why the attacks on him? The answer lies in his support for Palestinian rights, for an end to the suffering of the Palestinians and for recognition of a Palestinian state.

The conflation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism suits Israel. Its supporters have suggested — without evidence or justification — that the UK Jewish community would face an existential threat from a Corbyn-led government. The message to the British electorate is not to vote Labour while Corbyn is its leader.

The Labour Party’s adoption of the IHRA definition, including all 11 illustrative examples, was a huge blow to the Palestinians and their supporters. They said they fear it would restrict their ability to describe events leading to the creation of Israel, which they consider a racist endeavour. This is despite the party’s National Executive Committee adding that it would not “in any way undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of the Palestinians.” This statement has been seen by Israel-supporters as a farce. Richard Angell, director of the centre-left Progress group, said: “The Jewish community made it clear and simple to Labour: Pass the IHRA definition in full — no caveats, no compromises.”

While the controversy is currently about the Labour Party, the effect of the adoption of the IHRA definition in full is chilling in that it is designed to curtail criticism of Israel. There has been no assessment made to measure how this would affect the Palestinian people’s ability to campaign for their rights, denied by Israel, without fear that they or their supporters would be accused of anti-Semitism.

It is important to note that the Palestinian people, who have been the victims of the creation of the state of Israel in their homeland and without their permission, have not been consulted about any definition of anti-Semitism that brings Israel into the equation.

While the Labour Party consulted with British Palestinians and solidarity groups about its code, which advised the National Executive Committee against its adoption, it adopted it, raising fears that legitimate criticism of Israel at its inception and its policies may be called anti-Semitism by pro-Israel groups despite the additional statement. This could lead to their suspension or expulsion or at least smear them as racists while an investigation takes place.

Attention turns to other public bodies that will be pressured to follow Labour and adopt the IHRA definition in full. They, too, should be cautious about taking steps through the adoption of the IHRA definition that could curtail discussion on the effect of the creation of the state of Israel through ethnic cleansing and dispossession and its policies on the Palestinian people. This is particularly important now that Israel passed the Nation-State Law, which confirms its apartheid status.

The UK’s new anti-Semitism definition is more about protecting Israel than British Jews

First published by the Middle East Eye on 13/12/2016

The definition makes anti-Semitism less about problems an individual or group has with Jews and more a refusal to accept Israeli policies

_________________________________________________________________

Britain’s pro-Israel lobby has won a battle, but its win won’t help bring about the peace that Palestinians and Israelis crave.

This week, the British government announced that it will adopt a new definition of anti-Semitism which, in itself, will not provide British Jews with greater protection from hatred any more than the previous definitions and understanding of this scourge did.

However, it could potentially make it more difficult for campaigners for justice for Palestinians, and Palestinians themselves, to speak out against Israel’s 68-year long colonisation and 49 years of illegal occupation. In fact, my previous sentence may itself now be judged to be on the edge of whether it is anti-Semitic.

My contention is that existing definitions and understandings of anti-Semitism were adequate. This was clearly demonstrated by the case of Joshua Bonehill-Paine. His vile anti-Semitic trolling of British MP Luciana Berger landed him with a conviction for racially aggravated harassment last week.

Prosecutor Philip Stott said “the ideology which so stirred Mr Bonehill-Paine is one of fierce anti-Semitism” and that he had demonstrated “hostility based on her membership or presumed membership of a particular racial group, namely Jews”.

May’s announcement

On Monday, the British prime minister took time out from her busy schedule and the Brexit shenanigans among her ministers to make a speech to the Conservatives’ own pro-Israel lobby, Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI). Britain, she announced, will adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) ‘formal’ definition of anti-Semitism.

“Just last week we were at the forefront to try to ensure that the definition was adopted across the continent too, at the summit of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The result was 56 countries in favour. One country opposed it: Russia,” May told the crowd. “But, as I said, we will adopt it here in the UK.”

Her contention was that “there will be one definition of anti-Semitism – in essence, language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews – and anyone guilty of that will be called out on it”.

The IHRA definition, which is largely based on the discredited European Union’s Monitoring Centre definition that Britain is adopting, is: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

However, had the PM stopped there – and made it clear that the definition stops there – other Palestinians and I would have been able to live with this. In fact, that definition still effectively states the traditional understanding of what anti-Semitism is, namely “hatred of Jews because they are Jews”.

However, May and her team failed to elaborate on the small print which makes this definition problematic, especially for Palestinians.

The small print

The IHRA’s small print moves immediately to bring criticism of Israel into the definition as an example of anti-Semitism stating that “manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.”

The IHRA goes on to offer contemporary examples of anti-Semitism. Some were examples of classic anti-Semitism which most fair-minded people would agree are wrong. However, several were specifically related to Israel including:

  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel

Suddenly, anti-Semitism becomes not a problem an individual or group may have with Jews because they are Jews, and more about refusing to accept the policies, practices and actions of a state. Most importantly though, there is no attempt either in the definition or the prime minister’s speech to formally and fully acknowledge that Israel does not exist in a vacuum.

From a Palestinian perspective

No, prime minister. The last time I checked, Israel was created on a land that was not empty against our will, one that was a homeland to my people, the Palestinians. It expanded beyond even the unjust UN Partition Plan to now rule over the whole of the Palestinian homeland. It defies international law, and has been in breach of international humanitarian law, not for a few days or years, but for decades.

It builds settlements only for Jews illegally on internationally recognised land that belongs to another people. It continues to lay a siege on two million people in Gaza for political reasons and has repeatedly carried out wars against the enclave which UN reports concluded may have included the committal of war crimes.

It continues to deny Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homeland in defiance of UN resolution 194. It has rejected the Arab Peace Initiative offered in 2002. Israel continues to confiscate Palestinian land, demolish Palestinian homes and evict Palestinian families from their homes, moving Jewish settlers into them.

It continues to demolish ‘unrecognised’ Bedouin villages in the Negev and in the case of Umm Al-Hiran plans to build a settlement only for Jews on the same spot. It has some 50 laws that discriminate against non-Jewish citizens. The list goes on. That is how Palestinians see Israel.

However, the prime minister only sees it as “a thriving democracy, a beacon of tolerance, an engine of enterprise and an example to the rest of the world for overcoming adversity and defying disadvantages”. She even agreed with Israeli ambassador Mark Regev who said “we have common values; we work together, on health, counter-terrorism, cyber-security, technology; and we can help each other achieve our aims”.

However, what I described above from a Palestinian perspective she reduced to a slight problem, stating that “no one is saying the path has been perfect – or that many problems do not remain”. For the Palestinians, it is not just a few problems but a catastrophe that started in 1947 and continues to this day.

Palestinians had no choice in who had an eye on their homeland and who then settled it without their consent. The Zionist movement chose Palestine knowing it was a land for a people. When we Palestinians criticise the occupier, resist its oppressive regime and ask supporters of justice across the world to help us, we do not target Israeli Jews because they are Jews but because they are our occupiers. That is an undisputable fact.

The new definition of anti-Semitism has been adopted without consultation with the Palestinian people or British Palestinians to ascertain its impact on them. Equality legislation requires that an assessment is carried out to consider the impact of actions in order to avoid unintended consequences.

At the very least, an impact assessment should have been carried out to assess the unintended consequences of silencing Palestinians and their supporters through the adoption of the new definition – unless of course that was the intention. Either way, the Palestinian people cannot afford to be silent. We will not be a ‘model occupied people’.

– Kamel Hawwash is a British-Palestinian engineering professor based at the University of Birmingham and a longstanding campaigner for justice, especially for the Palestinian people. He is vice chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and appears regularly in the media as commentator on Middle East issues. He runs a blog at www.kamelhawwash.com. He writes here in a personal capacity.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: British Prime Minister Theresa May at a press conference last month (AFP)

Redefining anti-Semitism will not silence Palestinians’ struggle for justice

First published in the Middle East Eye on 19/10/2016

The UK home affairs select committee has fallen for the Israeli lobby’s attempt to conflate criticising Israel with anti-Semitism

I would not be writing this column in this way if the UK Parliament’s home affairs select committee had not dragged my homeland, Palestine, into the controversy surrounding anti-Semitism in this country through its decision this month to redefine the term.

Britain, which made the Balfour Declaration to the Zionists in 1917, has through the findings of this report, given the right to Zionists to silence Palestinians and their supporters in 2016.

It may surprise some people to read this, but that is exactly what happened when the select committee decided to bring Israel, which exists in historic Palestine, into its proposed revised definition of anti-Semitism.

The very fact that the committee brought the state of Israel into the discussion on anti-Semitism was in my view misguided and a disservice to the Jewish community in this country.

The committee decided that it should “aim to establish a definition which achieves an appropriate balance between condemning anti-Semitism vehemently, in all its forms, and maintaining freedom of speech – particularly in relation to legitimate criticism of the government of Israel”.

However, once criticism of Israel is linked to hatred of Jews in the UK, a line was crossed which implicitly makes the Jewish community somehow responsible for the actions of a foreign state. Previously established definitions of anti-Semitism did not make such a connection.

Just like in 1917, our voice as British Palestinians has neither been sought nor heard, while the voice of the Jewish community was sought and heard by members of Parliament. If anyone had asked, we would have told them that we have a clear view on racism and anti-Semitism which, unlike the views of some contributors who offered evidence, is not marred by support for a foreign state.

This includes representatives of Friends of Israel groups in the main political parties and several groups which claim to speak on behalf of the Jewish community, but are part of the pro-Israel lobby, including the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council.

It is telling that the chair of Conservative Friends of Israel, Eric Pickles, a former Conservative Party chairman, is listed as UK special envoy for post-Holocaust issues. Pickles told the committee: “The old stereotype of Jews owning everything, how they look and how they dress, that is completely unacceptable, but a kind of new anti-Semitism has crept in through this back-door, through anti-Zionism. Things that people say about Israelis or Zionists if they said about Jews would be clearly seen as being anti-Semitic”.

The Chief Rabbi himself suggested that “Zionism has been an integral part of Judaism from the dawn of our faith” when in fact it was developed in the 19th century.

Palestinians oppose anti-Semitism

As I wrote earlier this year, when the controversy surrounding alleged anti-Semitism in the British Labour party broke, we British Palestinians said we wanted to see anti-Semitism eradicated and also want sanctions imposed on Israel for its crimes against us. We stand with our fellow Jewish British citizens in their fight to eradicate the specific form of racism that affects them, which targets them, and we stand with fellow Palestinians in our homeland as they seek a just solution to our collective predicament.

I have always understood what is meant by racism and the specific form that targets Jews which is anti-Semitism. The definition of anti-Semitism which I grew up knowing is “the hatred of Jews because they are Jews”. This can and does apply to whichever country one lives in, including the Arab world, and should apply in a future independent Palestine.

If Jews are targeted because they are Jews then that is anti-Semitism. There is no need to qualify this or to renew it every few years for political motives. I can already hear cries that I have no right to define anti-Semitism for Jews. However, the cries will come from those who had no right to take or support the taking of my homeland.

In recent years, there has been a move to qualify and even redefine the term in light of the creation of Israel as a result of the development of a political ideology, Zionism, in the 19th century.

Various definitions of Zionism exist, but as far as Palestinians are concerned, the ideology revolved around the creation of a political entity for Jews in our homeland, historic Palestine, without our permission because they thought it would solve their problem. The fact that it was and continues to be a catastrophe for us is a minor inconvenience.

Bizarrely, Zionists claim that they have an eternal right to exclusively populate a specific plot of land and the world must accept this claim without question, they are simply “returning”. I say bizarrely because Christians do not argue that they have an eternal right to the birthplace of their religion, Palestine, nor do all Muslims claim an eternal right to the birthplace of their religion, Mecca and Medina.

Even more bizarrely, the claimants to my homeland were not living in it when they made their claim; my people, the Palestinians were. And, just as Jews, Christians and Muslims inhabited Palestine as a people, they also did so in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Yemen, to name but a few Arab countries where Jews lived alongside Muslims. Palestine was not an empty land as Zionists claimed.

Had Israel not been forced onto Palestine, an independent Palestine would have probably emerged in which Christians, Jews and Muslims became citizens of that new Palestinian nation as would have been the case in Syria and Iraq, for example. It was the forced creation of Israel that created a catastrophe for Palestinians (the Nakba) and turmoil in the Middle East, which resulted in most Jews leaving their Arab homelands for the newly established Israel.

‘Model occupied people’

We Palestinians are told that we must accept Israel as a reality, that we must not question its right to exist. But those who ask this of us would not have accepted the creation of a Zionist entity in their homeland. As I argued in a letter I wrote back in May, the Welsh people would not have accepted the creation of Israel in their homeland if Balfour had promised Wales to the Zionists.

Not only are Palestinians asked to accept Israel, we are expected to behave as a “model occupied people” while it decides what to do with us. The so-called “international community” has thus far failed to pressure Israel to agree to the most painful concession a people could give, to accept the existence of a foreign state on nearly 80 percent of our historic homeland. Israel wants more.

Israel’s education minister has recently made an explicit call for the annexation of the West Bank, to get even closer to achieving the dream of Zionism: Israel from the “river to the sea”. As Western governments have failed us, we Palestinians have turned to ordinary citizens to support us and they have.

Our call for a campaign to pressure Israel through Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), a peaceful campaign, has been gathering momentum. It is hurting Israel which has decided to fight it rather than come to its senses and meet its legitimate demands.

Israel has dedicated significant resource to this fight but has also called on its supporters in other countries to fight it too. The UK government has regularly expressed opposition to BDS and the current foreign secretary was caught in a controversy about it when he visited Palestine and Israel as London’s mayor last November.

Redefining anti-Semitism

In addition, some supporters of Zionism and apologists for Israel’s illegal practices have in recent years been attempting to qualify the established definition of anti-Semitism with the explicit intention of establishing a significant linkage between being a Jew and Israel. They have tried tirelessly to conflate Judaism, Zionism and Israel. If you are anti any of them, you should be labelled an anti-Semite.

They attempted to steer the recent debate on anti-Semitism in the UK’s Labour Party in this direction. When the inquiry into Baroness Chakrabarti did not find in their favour, they rubbished her report and turned their attention to the Home Affairs Select Committee on anti-Semitism.

Instead of rejecting the pro-Israel camp’s desire to redefine anti-Semitism, the select committee took a discredited European Union definition, and then amended it to now include criticism of Israel as part of the term, but not always, resulting in a dog’s breakfast.  The committee fell for the pro-Israel lobby’s desire for the conflation of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism hook, line and sinker. Anti-Semitism was redefined and the supporters of Israel are cheering.

Criminalising dissent

We Palestinians are not cheering. We are entitled to be extremely concerned that our ability and that of our supporters to educate and campaign has been compromised through the deliberate attempt by supporters of Israel to abuse anti-Semitism for the purpose of taking the heat off the rogue state they support.

They not only want us to think twice about speaking out and criticising Israel, but they also want the government to move to criminalise us if we do and when they (whoever they are) judge that we have overstepped the mark.

It seems that from Balfour to anti-Semitism, Britain is determined to complete the Zionist colonisation of our homeland, Palestine.

Our message to British politicians is this: as long as Israel continues to occupy Palestine, to oppress and murder, to lay siege to two million people, to steal our land and resources, to restrict our movement, to refuse to allow the refugees to return, to attack our religious sites, to illegally settle our land and to leave our people with no hope of freedom, dignity or independence, we and our supporters will continue to speak out, to educate and to demand that the British government changes its shameful, but deliberate policies which place trade with Israel above human rights.

We will not allow Zionists who support a state that does all of the above to silence us under the disguise of the “new anti-Semitism” but we will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Jews in their fight against the real anti-Semitism that some still undoubtedly face.

As Palestinians, we demand the British government reject the select committee’s call to adopt its proposed definition of anti-Semitism.

British Palestinians want anti-Semitism eradicated and sanctions on Israel

British Palestinians want anti-Semitism eradicated and sanctions on Israel

First appeared on the Middle East Monitor on 3 May 2016

The current debate about alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and the ensuing clamour for eradicating this scourge from British politics is one that British Palestinians have followed with great interest; there has also been some concern. All British Palestinians I have spoken to over the past week or so have been troubled by this controversy. First, the presence of anti-Semitism – which we abhor – in this country, as well as the impact that this storm may have on campaigning for Palestinian rights and a just solution to our cause. There are many Jews in the Palestine solidarity movement in this country who are robust in their condemnation of Israel’s contempt for international law and who support strong measures to bring pressure to bear on the state until it accepts and follows the laws and conventions that the rest of the world is expected to abide by. And, indeed, until the Palestinian people obtain their freedom and legitimate rights. They support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign because they see it as a peaceful campaigning tool and because it makes legal and moral demands. We as Palestinians are horrified if some BDS colleagues face hatred in this country simply for being Jews; if, indeed, any Jew is thus persecuted.

We are, however, troubled that the recent storm engulfing the Labour Party and, in particular, Bradford North MP Naz Shah and former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, two supporters of Palestinian rights, has given Israel’s apologists, including senior politicians, the opportunity to expand the definition of anti-Semitism rather deviously to effectively include not only criticism of Israel but outrage at what it does. This is not clever nuancing, but disingenuous and dangerous scheming.

The Labour Party has initiated an inquiry into anti-Semitism and the two Labour politicians should have a fair opportunity to explain their remarks; it will then be up to the party to decide what the consequences should be. I believe that one of the challenges the inquiry has to wrestle with will be precisely what definition of anti-Semitism is used to decide guilt or otherwise. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has published a document which may help them in their endeavours. It includes a repudiation of the claim that there is an accepted definition of anti-Semitism that conflates what we have traditionally understood this to mean with criticism of Israel, the so called and discredited definition prepared by the European Union Monitoring Committee (EUMC) on Racism and Xenophobia.

Over the past few days I have heard claims that this storm has been manufactured in order to damage Labour’s chances in the 5 May elections and that once this has passed people will sit and wait for the fallout. If Labour does badly then the pressure for a change of leader will mount. Some are even claiming that the groundwork for replacing Jeremy Corbyn, a well-known supporter of Palestinians and, even more importantly, an anti-racist campaigner for justice and human rights, has started in earnest. But what if Labour does well at the polls? Would that indicate that there is a much wider problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and its supporters or will it simply indicate that the British people also have other issues that concern them that impact on their daily lives and they see Labour as a preferred alternative to the Conservative Party? Pro-Israel supporters cannot tolerate a party led by a politician who supports Palestine and this has been troubling them since he was elected as leader last year.

As far as British Palestinians are concerned, we seek support for our liberation movement from across the political spectrum, racists and bigots excluded. Our cause is a just one – and supported by international law – and so we expect that those campaigning for justice, equality and human rights across the globe will join us in our quest for freedom and independence. Hence, we need to ensure that they are not hesitant about supporting our cause for fear of being labelled racists and, in particular, anti-Semites. This is where we see the long-term danger from the current storm.

We believe that Israel’s declared policy to tackle and intimidate both individuals and organisations campaigning for Palestine by labelling them as anti-Semites is in full flow, aided by organisations in Britain which either lobby for Israel explicitly or operate a dual role by claiming to represent the Jewish community while placing Israel at the top of their list of lobbying objectives with decision-makers, especially governments. There is, of course, nothing illegal about this. We Palestinians and our supporters also lobby for government pressure on Israel to end its illegal and racist policies.

It is, though, not acceptable to find government ministers, including senior figures such as Justice Secretary Michael Gove, spouting Israeli hasbara (propaganda). Take, for example, his recent declaration that the BDS movement is worse than Apartheid and his labelling of those committed to the BDS movement as anti-Semites. Neither is true, but when said with the authority of a Secretary of State it is dangerous simply because of the office he holds. In labelling BDS as anti-Semitic he is actually labelling myself and many other Palestinians who support the peaceful movement as a Jew-hater. I and, no doubt, all of my fellow British Palestinians, reject and condemn such an accusation. This label is extended to our supporters, many of whom in the past campaigned against Apartheid in South Africa until it collapsed and continue to campaign on other issues in support of the oppressed. Gove is not the only senior politician to level such accusations.

We British Palestinians stand with our Jewish fellow citizens in their fight against anti-Semitism and our joint fight against any form of racism in this country and elsewhere. We ask them equally to understand that we support peaceful means for ending Israel’s occupation, racism and its refusal to implement the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to our country. The BDS movement is a peaceful tool for achieving this. Labelling it and therefore many Palestinians as anti-Semites is inaccurate, wrong and dangerous. Please stop it. It does not help to achieve peace. It is both possible and reasonable to want anti-Semitism eradicated and still campaign for sanctions on Israel until it ends its occupation and oppression.

Kamel Hawwash

 

Welcome Foreign Secretary Hammond, support the occupied not the occupier

As Philip Hamnond moves into the Foreign Office, my message to him is simple. Britain has for decades, supported the occupier over the occupied and conducted business as usual with Israel. It is time Britain reversed this shameful policy.

20140715-125640-46600442.jpg
Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, British Foreign Secretary

Dear Secretary Hammond

Congratulations on your appointment as Foreign Secretary. This carries with it tremendous responsibilities and a few legacies. I want to highlight one of these, the Palestine question.

I know this is long before your time but one of your predecessors, Lord Balfour, issued the letter that became known as the ‘Balfour Declaration’ in 1917. He simply promised the land of the Palestinians to Zionists to create a homeland for Jews without consulting with Jews, Palestinians or the British public. I know it sounds strange now that anyone would do such a thing but he did. Note the date, 1917, decades before the Holacaust. So, you will note there was no connection between the plight of Jews and this promise. Your predecessor simply supported a colonialist project.

The Balfour letter is produced below.

20140715-130434-47074334.jpg

When Britain occupied Palestine, it did not protect the indigenous Palestinians when Zionists entered the implementation stage. The British army left in 1948 leaving a powerful set of Jewish Zionist terrorist gangs that mercilessly drove 750,000 Palestinians our of their homeland, replacing them with Jews from other parts of the World with no connection to the land.

I want to keep this short so I will come to the point. Sixty seven years on from the creation of Israel, the state the Zionists created thrives but continues to illegally occupy Palestine and refuses to allow the refugees and their descendent to return. It is in breach of UN resolutions and International Humanitarian Law. It has not declared its borders nor has it engaged in serious, genuine talks to bring peace yo historic Palestine.

Your predecessors from both major Political parties gave unwavering support for Israel and generally talked of ‘humanitarian issues’ when they referred to the plight of the Palestinians. Both parties presided over an immoral siege on Gaza and have put the security Israelis higher in importance than that of the Palestinians as if they are a lesser people.

The recent violence and the unforgivable war by Israel on Gaza illustrates the reality that without a just solution people will continue to lose their lives, disproportionately Palestinians.

I realise it is difficult to change matters drastically when you sit behind your new desk but you arrived there through a reshuffle. It is an opportunity to reshuffle the UK policy and align it with International Law. I don’t think that this would be an extremist measure, rather one that is long overdue.

20140715-130132-46892070.jpg

Your Office will have already received meeting requests from lots of pro Israel groups so they can test your resolve on Israel. They will ask you to support it unreservedly in its ‘self defence’ operation and to sanction Iran.

Please find time to hear the other side. Ours is the side of Justice and International Law. No, I don’t just mean meeting Arabs and Palestinians, I mean almost every group other than the pro Israel groups.

Please start your tenure by demanding the ending of the siege on Gaza and an end to settlement construction. Please insist that any future talks are based on the implementation of International Law.

I wish you all the best in your new role and hope that you will take this opportunity to help bring a close to Britain’s historic role in Palestine by freeing the Palestinian people. After all 2014 is the UN International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

20140715-125853-46733515.jpg

67 years on, Zionist Jewish terror is back with a vengeance

As far as Israel is concerned terror is only practiced by ‘Arabs’. A whole dictionary of types of terror has been invented ranging from violent acts, to ‘diplomatic’ terror. Israeli politicians and commentators have used possibly millions of airtime minutes ensuring they say the word, repeatedly terror terror terror. When the three Israelis went missing this was immediately reported as a ‘terrorist’ incident committed by ‘terrorists’ belonging to the ‘terrorist’ group, Hamas. References were made to the ‘terrorists’ homes and relatives.

20140702-185139-67899089.jpg
Settlers arrested in 2012 suspected of ‘price tag’ attacks

But when it comes to Jewish violence for nationalistic reasons is not classified as or referred to as terrorism. Rising settler violence in particular is mostly referred to as ‘price tag’. This includes damaging cars, burning mosques, damaging churches and generally scaring Palestinians. This culminated today (2/7/2014) with references to the , abduction, murder and burning of a 17 year old child, Muhammed Abu Khdair from Shu’fat in Jerusalem as a ‘revenge’ attack. Revenge could be the motive but the act us a terrorist act by any definition.

20140702-184547-67547889.jpg
17 year old Mohammed Abu Khdair from Shu’fat, murdered by Jewish terrorists on 2 July 2014

One would struggle to find reference to an act if violence by Jews that Israel terms an act of terror. Take the case of American born Jewish terrorist Baruch Goldstein who murdered 29 peaceful Palestinians in 1994 during Dawn prayers in the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron. Even if you google ‘terrorist’ and Goldstein you do not find hits that specifically call him a terrorist.

20140702-190919-68959760.jpg
Jewish terrorist Baruch Goldstein

British Foreign Secretary William Hague also differentiates between killing of Israelis by Palestinians and killing of Palestinians by Israelis. This was his tweet after discovery of bodies of three Israelis near Hebron.

20140702-192436-69876224.jpg
Contrast this with his statement about the abduction and killing if Palestinian teenager Muhammed Abu Khdair

20140702-192826-70106199.jpg
Hague is very careful in his choice of words because he does not want yo upset the Israelis. He further offers condolences to the families if the Israelis but not yo the family if the Palestinians.

The message both from Israel and Britain is clear. A different value is placed on a Palestinian life and a Jewish life. This is outright racism. Calling the death of Abu Khdaira an act of terror means his family may be entitled to compensation from Israel, so avoid this at all costs.

Israel was born out of terror and its terrorist Jewish gangs morphed into the Israeli Defence Force. Its settlement project has provided a new breaking ground for terror. Young Israelis are growing up thinking they can get away with terror. They can rely on the IDF yo protect them. In fact they are the IDF. The West gives blind support for Israel as soon as it claims ‘security’. They have played a hand in this dangerous development.

It is time Jewish terrorism was recognised and dealt with for what it is. The Palestinians have no protection from it. If it remains unchecked it will result in more casualties and may one day turn against ‘moderate’ Israelis if they ever suggest evacuation of illegal colonies. Israeli leaders are squarely behind them because they further the achievement of the racist ideology that is Zionism.

20140702-232207-84127467.jpg
It is ironic that Mohammed Abu Khdair was murdered and burned almost on the site of the infamous 1948 massacre at Dir Yasin. Zionist Jewish terrorism is truly back with vengeance.

20140702-201511-72911516.jpg