Israel’s advocates in the UK cosy up to Christian Right

Faced with the increasingly difficult task of ‘selling’ Israeli policies to the UK public, Israel’s supporters in this country are cementing relationships with some strange bed-fellows.

Israeli embassy officials are happy working with groups like ‘Mordechai Voice’, a new addition to the Christian Zionist scene in the UK. Apart from helping with local presentations, staff from Israel’s embassy spoke at a July “prayer meeting” organised by people who look forward to the day “all Israel is saved”. It seems the Embassy has no problem collaborating with Christians whose motivation for supporting Israel is the belief that such advocacy is the “key to UK revival”.

Where Israel’s government representatives go, the advocacy groups follow. In October, the UK’s Zionist Federation will host David Dolan, billed as a “Broadcast Journalist and Author”, to speak on “Turmoil in the Middle East: What comes next?” Well for Dolan, the answer is the Second Coming. In his book ‘Holy War for the Promised Land’, Dolan shares his own unique ‘analysis’:

I am personally convinced that there are strong supernatural forces at work behind the Arab-Israeli dispute. I cannot help mentioning that I often perceive a certain glowing, otherworldly light behind the conflict…

His website has details of the speaking tour that includes the Zionist Federation date, an event Dolan describes as a meeting with “members of the Jewish community”. Perhaps he’ll share with them his belief in “the only peace process that will ultimately succeed”, namely for “Arab and Jew” to receive “God’s gift of eternal life, offered in his chosen Messiah, Jesus”.

Then there’s Israel lobby outfit StandWithUs, notorious in the US for their ties to Islamophobic right-wing donors and aggressive tactics. A more recent presence in the UK, though already embraced by some student groups, they helped Mordecai Voice arrange a recent rally where signs were held saying “God warns: The nations that refuse to be Israel’s allies will be utterly destroyed”.

Their UK coordinator Gili Brenner will be a guest speaker at a November conference (PDF) called ‘Israel’s Future & Ours’, billed as “a unique, not-to-be-missed Christian conference that will educate, inspire and move you to intercede for the Jewish people”. The conference is being promoted by the likes of ‘The Time is Now’, a site that believes that God will “curse those who curse Israel”.

Alongside the StandWithUs UK coordinator will be speakers from Christian Friends of Israel (CFI), who believe that “God’s time to ‘favour Zion’ has begun”, and Nathan Barnard, whose website ‘The Last Trumpet’ aims to inform Christians “about current events in relation to biblical prophecy”. Another speaker is David Pawson, a pastor who has warned that Britain is on its way to becoming an Islamic state.

Despite discomfort in Israel about such alliances, Israel’s advocates in UK seem glad to get any support they can.

Benny Morris in London: “a mob of Moslem hooligans”

Last month, Benny Morris gave a lecture in London courtesy of the LSE’s Middle East Centre. Many were unhappy at Morris being afforded such a platform, given his views on Muslims and Arabs, e.g.:

The phenomenon of the mass Muslim penetration into the West and their settlement there is creating a dangerous internal threat.

The Muslims are busy killing people, and killing people for reasons that in the West are regarded as idiotic. There is a problem here with Islam.

[T]he notion of sharing power or being a minority in a non-Muslim Arab polity is alien to the Muslim Arab mentality.

After the event, an article by Morris was published online by The National Interest, in which he relayed the hostile reception he experienced in typical fashion:

As I walked down Kingsway, a major London thoroughfare, a small mob—I don’t think any other word is appropriate—of some dozen Muslims, Arabs and their supporters, both men and women, surrounded me and, walking alongside me for several hundred yards…Several spoke in broken, obviously newly acquired, English. Violence was thick in the air though none was actually used. Passersby looked on in astonishment, and perhaps shame, but it seemed the sight of angry bearded, caftaned Muslims was sufficient to deter any intervention. To me, it felt like Brownshirts in a street scene in 1920s Berlin—though on Kingsway no one, to the best of my recall, screamed the word “Jew.”

Morris continued to talk about the questions he received from “Muslim participants” including “girls with scarves”, before concluding that “Muslim intimidation” is “cowing” the “British Christian majority” into “silence”.

But that (ahem) subtle messaging proved too much of a strain for Morris, and it now appears that he spoke in rather blunter terms to Makor Rishon, an Israeli newspaper:

As soon as they saw me I was surrounded by a mob of Moslem hooligans, screaming and cursing at me as I advanced toward the building…I had the feeling that I was surrounded by Nazis, except that instead of black shirts these were wearing Arab scarves on their heads.  They were unambiguously Islamofascists.  Some of them screamed in their broken foreign English that the UK should never have allowed me into the country.

This is the kind of person the Israel lobby will promote – and reminds me what a relief it was that Morris did not have the opportunity to spread his hate in Cambridge last year.

JPost editor David Horovitz embarrasses himself

On Friday, editor of The Jerusalem Post David Horovitz published a comment piece under the title, ‘Guess what: Our enemies lie‘. Discussing the recent Nakba and Naksa protests, the emphasis of the op-ed was that the IDF “continues to pay a high price for its incomprehensible refusal to counter, in real time, the relentless distortion of unfolding events and, especially, the falsehoods about death tolls”.

Horovitz eventually gets round to expanding on his allegation of “the false reporting of death tolls”, and he starts by citing the example of Jenin in 2002, when, in his words, the IDF “was despicably accused by the Palestinian leadership, in numerous international media outlets, of killing hundreds if not thousands of unarmed Palestinians”.

He goes on:

The ultimately confirmed figures indicated some 55 armed Palestinian and 23 IDF fatalities in Jenin, but by the time those numbers emerged Israel had been besmirched worldwide as an indiscriminate mass killer, its name blackened even by some of its erstwhile supporters.

Now if you’re going to write an article on false death tolls, you had better make sure you get your own facts right. Unfortunately for Horovitz, he didn’t.

In their report on events in Jenin, Human Rights Watch documented that “at least twenty-two of those confirmed dead were civilians, including children, physically disabled, and elderly people”. Moreover, “many of the civilian deaths” amounted to “unlawful or willful killings by the IDF” – and some “amounted to summary executions”.

An early assessment by Physicians for Human Rights, using hospital figures of 45 dead, noted that “children under the age of 15 years, women and men over the age of 50 years accounted for nearly 38% of all fatalities.” Amnesty International also recorded “unlawful killings” by the IDF in Jenin.

But for Horovitz, the “ultimately confirmed figure” was “55 armed Palestinians”. As with so much propaganda by Israel’s apologists, this latest complaint about ‘false death tolls’ turns out to be a case of projection.

Resistance threads

On Saturday 18 September, the fifth, and most ambitious convoy leaves for Gaza. From London, Casablanca and Doha three simultaneous routes consisting of hundreds of vehicles to break the siege. Three times in the last eighteen months Viva Palestina has broken Israel’s siege, each time successfully delivering their aid, despite Israel’s murderous assault on the Freedom Flotilla , they fully intend to deliver this time too. Our VIVA PALESTINA 5 T-shirt will be worn by all drivers and crew. Sales of the shirt help fund the convoy. We can’t all be on this incredible journey to bring vital material aid and international solidarity to Gaza but by wearing this shirt we are all convoy members.

Courtesy of the team at Philosophy Football.


In their own words

On the excellent ‘Promised Land’ blog, Noam Sheizaf draws attention to an IDF slideshow which lists “the principles of Israeli policy” towards the Gaza Strip, particularly with regards to restrictions on freedom of movement. One objective is listed as “separating/differentiating Judea and Samaria [West Bank] from Gaza”. Sheizaf notes that this “is the first time an Israeli official document publicly declares that the current policy objective is to create two separate political entities in the Palestinian territories”.

This is an example of how Zionist lobby spin can often be challenged using the words of Israeli officials. Last month, Netanyahu’s testimony before the Turkel Commission included the admission that, in the words of Gaza Gateway, “Israel’s decisions on what to allow or prohibit into Gaza were based not on concern for the welfare of the population in Gaza but rather about Israel’s image in the international media”. So much for ‘security’.

Then just a week ago, the same Commission heard testimony from Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, who said that “Israel declared economic warfare against the Gaza Strip and prevented the entry of goods – including certain kinds of food and other civilian items – that posed no security threat, with the goal of disrupting civilian life in the Gaza Strip”.

Finally, remember that in a 2007 legal case, the Israeli government’s State Attorney’s Office argued [PDF] that “harming the economy itself is a legitimate means of warfare and a relevant consideration even when deciding on allowing in relief consignments”.

Jordan Valley is a microcosm of Israel’s colonisation

Israeli land seizure and ethnic cleansing should be met with arrest warrants – not arms sales and diplomatic games.

The Jordan Valley, stretching all the way down the West Bank’s eastern side, is a microcosm of Israel’s discriminatory policies of colonisation and displacement. For 40 years, settlements have been established, military no-go areas declared, and Palestinians’ freedom of movement restricted. There are now 27 colonies in the Jordan Valley – most of them had been established by the late 1970s under Labour governments. There are also nine “unauthorised” outposts. In the 1990s, the size of territory afforded to the settlements increased by 45%.

As we watch yet another bout of periodic, though tempered, enthusiasm about “direct negotiations”, Israel is doing as much as possible to determine the Bantustan borders – policies exemplified in the Jordan Valley, a substantial area of the West Bank almost isolated from the rest of the occupied territories. In 2006, B’Tselem noted how the Israeli military “made a distinction between the ‘territory of Judea and Samaria’ (ie the West Bank) and ‘the Jordan Valley’, indicating that Israel does not view the two areas as a single territorial unit”.

Continue reading “Jordan Valley is a microcosm of Israel’s colonisation”

Just a normal democracy

Here is a news item from Israel, which is, we are assured in the West by many politicians, commentators, and lobbyists, a regular democracy, if not a multicultural paradise.

Nazareth Illit, which has recently come under threat of an Arab demographic takeover, now is headed to be the religious-Zionist capital of the lower Galilee…

The article goes on to describe various initiatives intended to boost the city’s Jewish population, as a response to an increase in the number of Palestinian citizens who have moved in, keen for a better standard of living. The projects, overseen by the town’s mayor Shimon Gapso, include the renovation of “an old school building to house 15 young families from the former Gush Katif yeshiva of Torat HaChaim” – in other words, former residents of a Gaza Strip colony.

Apparently, one of the other figures involved in these efforts is MK Uri Ariel, who in 2008 “called on the government to encourage Israeli Arabs to “willingly emigrate” from Israel and from large cities within it”. Another personality is Rabbi Hillel Horowitz, who spent years living in the Hebron area settlements.

The piece concludes by reprinting a message from Mayor Gapso that appears on Nazareth Illit’s website:

“It is time to call a spade a spade. Just as Ben-Gurion and Peres said in the 1950’s that the Galilee must be Jewish, we say the same about Nazareth Illit: It must retain its Jewish character. Our goal is to bring 3,000 families within five years… We have been in contact with various ideological groups, and we are definitely considering building a hareidi-religious neighborhood as well. The primary goal is to put the brakes on the demographic deterioration…”

Continue reading “Just a normal democracy”