It’s not easy supporting Israel in the UK. However, a few days ago, a spontaneous rally gave great hope to those concerned with the pernicious anti-Jewish sentiment that has pervaded British society. But before and afterwards, the rally was condemned by fringe elements within the Jewish community, some from the nutty Left, and others from the lunatic Right. When you’re stuck in the middle, you start to notice some similarities.
On Tuesday 22nd May, hundreds of British Israel Coalition activists and local residents rallied to support Israel and the Jewish National Fund in London. The rally took place just outside a JNF event with the Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman; Douglas Murray, the acclaimed author and political commentator; and the Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub. The rally was in response to a demonstration by religious and political supremacists who protested the appearance of Lieberman and the called for the destruction of Israel.
As news of the anti-Israel demonstration spread, local residents turned out to join with the British Israel Coalition, swelling their ranks and amplifying their voice.
The counter-protest, organised by British Israel Coalition with just a day’s notice, turned the tables on the anti-Israel groups, who were driven out of the area.
On the other side, screaming hysterically for the destruction, the usual mob was comprised of the usual nuts. Shamiul Joarder, the head of Public Affairs for Friends of Al Aqsa:
Friends of Al Aqsa is an openly pro-Hamas organisation, and proudly claims the help of notorious anti-Semites such as such as Gilad Atzmon, Israel Shamir, and Paul Eisen (all PDF links).
As the Head of Public Affairs, Mr Joarder will have approved these writers, as well as ‘journalists’ such as Khalid Amayreh, who wrote the following on the Friends of Al-Aqsa website:
“If Jews who support this satanic entity are not willing to call the spade a spade and recognize a holocaust as a holocaust, then they should be viewed as active accomplices in this wanton rampage of murder and terror.”
Here’s Mohammed Sawalha, whom the BBC has identified as a fugitive Hamas commander:
(in the middle, with beard and suit)
And Zaher Birawi:
Birawi is a well-known Hamas operative resident in the UK. He is connected to the Palestinian Return Centre, which is banned by Israel, as well as Hamas’s financial lifeline ‘Viva Palestina’, the Palestinian Forum of Britain and the ‘Union of Good’-linked charity ‘Education Aid for Palestinians’.
He is also is spokesman for the Palestinian Forum in Britain (PFB), another Brotherhood front, which, according to the Egyptian paper Al-Masry Al-Youm (24/4/2010), was under investigation on suspicion of helping launder money for the Brotherhood in Egypt.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a rally without the odious Neturei Karta (NK):
NK is an extremist Jewish group that attended Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial conference. Its leader, Ahron Cohen, once stated that Holocaust victims ‘deserved’ it.
One revolting video recorded comments such as, “I hope you’re raped in prison” and “why did you not die in Hitler’s camps?” (found around 5 mins 30 onwards – the latter comment at 6 mins 45).
Despite all this depressing evidence, there is good reason to celebrate: our pro-Israel rally dwarfed their mob, to the point that they were forced to leave the area.
However, once the rally was over, we were angrily criticised by two, seemingly different, groups of people.
The first group was the rather frightening lunatics from the “Jewish Defence League”, who are nothing more than a bunch of neo-Nazis. Their website (google it, I refuse to give them web traffic) lavishes great praise on Kahane, and their five ‘principles’ on strength, honour, inter alia, reads chillingly like a 1930s diatribe.
The JDL’s website soon posted a message condemning us and noting:
“Our member was wearing a Kahane t-shirt and holding a JDL Kahanist flag but some uneducated Jews, who seemingly did not know who Kahane was or what the JDL is, verbally attacked him.”
Unfortunately for the JDL, it was precisely because we knew who they were that we had the police remove these people from the rally.
The second group was a number of Jewish community figures, who had previously provided a great deal of ammunition to the anti-Jewish protestors by claiming that Lieberman was a “far-right” “fundamentalist” and that they would protest his visit. The anti-Jewish mob gladly took up their mandate.
This group accused the British Israel Coalition of being a hateful organisation. Adam Langleben, a Jewish, ‘pro-Israel’ anti-Lieberman ‘activist’, wrote:
“What shocked me was the behaviour of many in the Pro-Israel pen. You had chants fairly regularly proclaiming that “There is no such thing as Palestine”, you could hear clearly a protester shouting at a young Pakistani man filming the protest “go home to Pakistan you Paki, this is not your country” you had more chants calling the PSC “Islamist Fascists” and the people with megaphones were evoking anti-fascist language. Claiming that we (the Jews) should “Drive these fascists out of Hendon”. The language was emotive, aggressive and embarrassing for me as a Jew and as a Zionist.”
If the insult at the Pakistani man is true, then it is reprehensible. Undoubtedly, rallies can attract a few odd or extreme people, and it''s conceivable that someone so unpleasant could have come along. However, I know who the ‘young Pakistani man’ in question is. He works for London BDS, films everything, and then promptly publishes it all straight away. And yet there is no evidence for the claim, and the somewhat hysterical Langleben is unable to provide it. Interesting.
The anti-Lieberman Jews and the far-Right Jews are united as one through the dogma of their argument. Both are convinced as to the fundamentalism of their views. It’s not about morality; it’s about political supremacy.
The anti-Lieberman Jews have signed petitions claiming that the JNF UK is doing everything from forcing the Bedouins from their homes to darkly working to ‘Judaize Jerusalem’. JNF UK, with which I am involved, does exactly the opposite. It has run projects with Bedouins before and is continuing to do so now, benefiting their communities in the Negev greatly. It is not involved in any dispute with Israeli Bedouins.
But for our accusers, this makes no difference, because, as JNF chairman Samuel Hayek recently put it, for these people, “truth and fashionable causes are mutually exclusive”.
Incidentally, it is rather interesting that the dozen pro-Israel Muslims I know have joined up with the British Israel Coalition (one of whom is BIC’s co-Director Kasim Hafeez), instead of going anywhere near these dogmatic Jewish groups. It would, perhaps, be a bit of a push to claim these Jewish groups are Islamophobic. But then again, maybe not – is not one of the most frightening forms of Islamophobia the act of ‘engaging’ with the extremists and deliberately stigmatizing the moderates? Sections of the British Jewish community, including our dear critics, have done just that.
For example, British Masorti leader Rabbi Wittenberg recently defended his interfaith work with the East London Mosque through a group known as London Citizens. The East London Mosque needs little introduction beyond its reputation as one of the most extreme institutions in the UK. One does not have to look far back through its events to find speakers who denounce women, Jews and homosexuals. One example is Sheikh Saad al-Beraik, who has said:
“Muslim Brothers in Palestine, do not have any mercy neither compassion on the Jews, their blood, their money, their flesh. Their women are yours to take, legitimately. God made them yours. Why don’t you enslave their women? Why don’t you wage jihad? Why don’t you pillage them?”
Wittenberg has refused to stop working with these extremists, and responded to criticism by opining, “We have to take risks to engage with each other. The Jewish community will be far weaker if we all shelter within a comfort zone labelled ‘They all hate us out there’.”
Pro-Israel Muslims are especially feared. Kasim Hafeez – my Muslim friend and Israel advocate whom I mentioned earlier - was recently banned from speaking to Jewish students by the Union of Jewish Students (UJS). The UJS stated that Kasim’s presence would be dangerously provocative during the annual ‘Israel Apartheid Week’, because his speaking tour was:
“very controversial and could potentially backfire on the J-Socs, exacerbating tensions and disrupting interfaith relations. We are concerned that he will stir up unnecessary anti-Israel & anti-Jewish sentiment among several hostile groups on campus.”
This proscription was supported by a number of Jewish organisations within Britain. They saw Kasim as an anomaly whose mere existence is insulting to other, less moderate Muslims. What sort of message does this send out to Muslim students? – that any prospective supporter of the Jewish right to self-determination is ignored in favour of dialogue with extremists?
A dogmatic devotion to political ideals is entirely visceral by its very nature, prevents rational discussion and works to distort truth. One group sacrifices liberal principles for the futile hope of appearing morally superior, while on the other side, the supremacism of the Jewish Defence League, who view the murderer Baruch Goldstein “as a martyr”, needs little explanation.
Both groups work to demonise others, and consequently contribute towards the delegitimisation of Israel by providing a great deal of ammunition to its enemies.
At first glance, it would appear that these two groups could not be more different; but in reality they enjoy a symbiotic relationship, whereby the dogma of each gives confidence to the hysteria of both.
The JDL describe us as treacherous ‘leftists’ while the Jewish loons claim we are treacherous - as Darren Cohen spoke of my Jewish and Muslim colleagues - ‘fascists’.
With idiots to the left of us, and neo-Nazis to the right, we really are stuck in the middle (with you).
BIC activists and local residents drive anti-Jewish protestors out of Hendon