One Voice in 2009: breaking taboos

By email from OneVoice:

“2009 opened with a variety of new opportunities and unforeseen challenges which have dramatically altered the political landscape in the Middle East – elections and a war, new administrations and more violence. In some ways, the greatest challenge facing us this year is not what has changed, but what has stubbornly persisted: Palestinians still live under occupation, without freedom or independence; Israelis still live under threat from rocket attacks, without security or safety. The dream of two states for two peoples has not been realized.

The tragedy of the Gaza war widened the rift between Israelis and Palestinians – a schism that was acutely felt by OneVoice’s Israeli and Palestinian teams on the ground, threatening the very fabric of the Movement. None were more affected than our Gaza staff, who had to be evacuated following the war, and who have been temporarily relocated to the West Bank. But across all staff and members, there was an enormous amount of trust lost, which needed to be rebuilt.

To confront the situation, over the past two months, OneVoice has been engaged in a deep process of introspection, self-evaluation, political assessment, and strategic consultation to address the current situation and devise a way forward – we came together as a team, Israelis, Palestinians, and internationals, and in so doing were able to reach some conclusions about how we can strengthen the Movement, address the changing realities on the ground, and effect real change this year. After conferring with the OVI and OVP Youth Councils, the International Steering Committee, the International and Regional Boards, and staff from across the offices, OneVoice’s global leadership met together in Jerusalem in late February, and agreed on the following:

OneVoice can play a key role in the process – offering a concrete way forward to both peoples. We have built an unparalleled infrastructure and youth movement based on a unique premise: each side working in its own national self-interest to achieve freedom, independence, security, dignity, viability, and international recognition for both peoples.

But nothing will ever change if we don’t have the courage to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done. Beneath the surface of the phrase “two state solution” there is a great deal of consensus that is yet to be forged within and between both societies – a great deal of understanding that is still missing. Even with our signatories and team members, we have recognized that Palestinians and Israelis have yet to acknowledge the legitimate concerns and perspectives of the other side. OneVoice has a critical role to play in civic education: in tackling the reality of the historic compromise that will be required of both Israelis and Palestinians in order to end the occupation of Palestine, to guarantee the security of Israel, and to resolve the conflict once and for all based on a formula of mutual recognition between two independent and viable states: Israel and Palestine.

Our programs for 2009 will be focused exclusively on the need to take courageous steps and break taboos on each side in order to make progress. It will certainly not be easy – but we simply have no time to lose. The window for a two state solution is closing, and this must be the year we make the critical difference.

We look forward to updating you with more detail in the coming weeks.”

A couple on Greens Engage

The incompatible positions held by Caroline Lucas.

And a Channel 4 documentary from back in 2007 about conspiracy theories – ‘Who Really Runs the World?‘.

A meeting in South Woodford about the Israel-EU Trade Agreement

By email:

“You are warmly invited to attend a public meeting which will be held in the South Woodford Community Centre. The special guest speaker will be Claude Moraes, Labour MEP for London. We will be discussing;
The EU Trade Agreement with Israel
The South Woodford Communitty centre is located on 10-14 Mulbery Way, South Woodford, London E18 1ED. The meeting will be from 6.30-7.30pm. on Friday 13th March. Refreshments will be provided.
You may find this link helpful:
This event is open to anyone and everyone, so feel free to pass this message to everyone you know!
Best regards,
Bert Jones
Ilford North CLP Secretary
07730273619″

Joel Braunold, member of the NEC of the National Union of Students, Proud Jew, Proud Zionist

Joel Braunold

Joel Braunold

“Why I have nothing to be ashamed of”- Joel Braunold – from www.officeronline.co.uk

When I was campaigning to get elected at conference last year, I would go up to delegates and give them my election speech which revolved around my ARAF work and campaign on student housing. After speaking to one delegate, though, I was asked a question that I thought had nothing to do with my election. “Well, are you a Zionist?” A little taken a back, I said, “Yes, I believe in the concept of the state of Israel alongside the concept of the state of Palestine.” The delegate shook their head and said, “Sorry, I can’t vote for a racist,” and walked away.

At the time I shrugged this off as the ignorance of a single delegate and went on to try and persuade more people to vote for me. What I have discovered, though, is that whether in a students’ union or a seminar, the word Zionism is seen as a slur, something you say to make someone feel ashamed or embarrassed.

It’s important at this point to state that I am a proud Jew and a proud Zionist. I believe in the national self determination of the Jewish people in the same way that I believe in the national self determination of the Palestinian people. There is nothing shameful in this belief, nothing that makes me a racist. I am utterly perplexed and at times frustrated by people insisting that I am a morally corrupt person for believing in the above.

What I find astonishing is that it is becoming an acceptable view in the student movement that my belief in national self determination means that I am a legitimate target for hate. If I were to denounce any wish for self government, be happy with the concept of being a minority in every country, with no place to call home, then people would stop hating me and all would be well. If only I could understand that it was my belief in a homeland that leads people to the slip from anti-Zionism into antisemitism then I would see that the best way of avoiding being a victim of racism was to give up the concept of me being a people and settle for me being only a member of a religion – then I too could be a member of the progressive student community and no one would have to wonder if I have a sinister Zionist agenda.

Over the past two months there have been things said to me by students and colleagues, both in formal NEC meetings and informal ‘chats’, that range from offensive to outrageous. I have been told that I am an immoral Jew, that I am one of the bad ones who do not march against Israeli oppression and that there are good moral Jews who march and Zionist Jews who don’t (of course this was said by someone who is not Jewish). I have been told that rather than being a victim of antisemitism, I am the cause of antisemitism, I and my fellow nasty Zionists are responsible for everything that happens to the Jewish community in the UK. Not the people who attempt to burn down synagogues, attack school children on buses, graffiti over Jewish community buildings or who call for death to all Jews; not any of them, but I am the one responsible for the historic rise in antisemitism, I, a member of a people who deserve the homeland that the UN granted us sixty years ago. Lastly I was told that I do not understand how to fight antisemitism and, rather then oppose a rally that intertwines a swastika with a Star of David, I should march alongside that banner to educate the people there….

Sometimes clarity is very important so let me be clear. I have never heard of anyone in the student movement blaming a victim of racism for the abuse they get. I have never heard people justify racism when in pursuit of a political cause (whether legitimate or not). Anyone who racially abuses me because I am a Zionist is wrong as racial abuse is wrong. This is not about me smudging a line between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, but rather pointing out that clear cases of antisemitism such as speakers going around saying it is a rational thing to blow up a synagogue or people actually trying to burn down synagogues, are being explained away by motivations that lie in the Middle East. I don’t give a damn how angry you are about what happens in another part of the world, there is no excuse for people putting up the names and addresses of people’s places of worship on a protest group. Yet it is justified and absolved because the Jews were asking for it – what do they expect if they have a prayer for the safety of the state of Israel in their services. Antisemitism is not contentious and I’m sick of people ringing their hands over it and making excuses.

My aim here is not to open a can of worms, that was done at the last EGM, but to state a message loudly and clearly. To those who feel that it is a slur to accuse someone of being a Zionist I stand up proudly as a Zionist, unashamed and willing to defend it passionately. To those who are disheartened with what they have seen, who are feeling intimidated and low, you have nothing to feel bad about. Though some people like shouting louder and will use more underhand tactics, tactics that they should have to apologise for, to achieve their goals, you have a legitimate voice that should and will be heard.

Joel

“Why I have nothing to be ashamed of”- Joel Braunold – from www.officeronline.co.uk

Bob From Brockley questions the claim that people on the left should support Hamas

Here.

An Israeli diplomat responds to ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ at UC Berkley

This piece, by Ishmael Khaldi, is from the San Francisco Chronicle.

For those who haven’t heard, the first week in March has been designated as Israel Apartheid Week by activists who are either ill intentioned or misinformed. On American campuses, organizing committees are planning happenings to once again castigate Israel as the lone responsible party for all that maligns the Middle East.

Last year, at UC Berkeley, I had the opportunity to “dialogue” with some of the organizers of these events. My perspective is unique, both as the vice consul for Israel in San Francisco, and as a Bedouin and the highest-ranking Muslim representing the Israel in the United States. I was born into a Bedouin tribe in Northern Israel, one of 11 children, and began life as shepherd living in our family tent. I went on to serve in the Israeli border police, and later earned a master’s degree in political science from Tel Aviv University before joining the Israel Foreign Ministry.

I am a proud Israeli – along with many other non-Jewish Israelis such as Druze, Bahai, Bedouin, Christians and Muslims, who live in one of the most culturally diversified societies and the only true democracy in the Middle East. Like America, Israeli society is far from perfect, but let us deal honestly. By any yardstick you choose – educational opportunity, economic development, women and gay’s rights, freedom of speech and assembly, legislative representation – Israel’s minorities fare far better than any other country in the Middle East

So, I would like to share the following with organizers of Israel Apartheid week, for those of them who are open to dialogue and not blinded by a hateful ideology:

You are part of the problem, not part of the solution: If you are really idealistic and committed to a better world, stop with the false rhetoric. We need moderate people to come together in good faith to help find the path to relieve the human suffering on both sides of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Vilification and false labeling is a blind alley that is unjust and takes us nowhere.

You deny Israel the fundamental right of every society to defend itself: You condemn Israel for building a security barrier to protect its citizens from suicide bombers and for striking at buildings from which missiles are launched at its cities – but you never offer an alternative. Aren’t you practicing yourself a deep form of racism by denying an entire society the right to defend itself?

Your criticism is willfully hypocritical: Do Israel’s Arab citizens suffer from disadvantage? You better believe it. Do African Americans 10 minutes from the Berkeley campus suffer from disadvantage – you better believe it, too. So should we launch a Berkeley Apartheid Week, or should we seek real ways to better our societies and make opportunity more available.

You are betraying the moderate Muslims and Jews who are working to achieve peace: Your radicalism is undermining the forces for peace in Israel and in the Palestinian territories. We are working hard to move toward a peace agreement that recognizes the legitimate rights of both Israel and the Palestinian people, and you are tearing it down by falsely vilifying one side.

To the organizers of Israel Apartheid Week I would like to say:

If Israel were an apartheid state, I would not have been appointed here, nor would I have chosen to take upon myself this duty. There are many Arabs, both within Israel and in the Palestinian territories who have taken great courage to walk the path of peace. You should stand with us, rather than against us.

Ishmael Khaldi is deputy consul general of Israel for the Pacific Northwest.

This piece by Ishmael Khaldi is from the San Francisco Chronicle.

In response to attempts to cancel Israeli Science Day

A recent science_museum tweet reads:

“Israeli Day of Science at the museum today. Protestor’s outside. Come down for politics and potential terror, but not the IMAX as it’s shut.”

Also this letter in the Independent from leading scientists and academics:

Dear Sir,

We were saddened by attempts to cancel the “Israel Science Day” lectures and workshops for schoolchildren. Whatever our opinions on the actions of the Israeli Government, scientists and academics should not be punished simply for their nationality.

Science crosses borders, builds bridges and transcends national and political divides. It can unite people, but the protesters seek only to divide and exclude. At a time of high community tensions, these boycott calls are especially pernicious.

The group of protesters peddled a discredited academic boycott inside the University and College Union, which was widely condemned as discriminatory and was abandoned. After failing in their union, they have continued the boycott campaign in wider society, trying to prevent British schoolchildren from being inspired by scientific discovery and innovation.

We welcome the Science Museum’s principled position in refusing to cancel this event, and hope that the “Israel Science Day” events inspire British pupils to pursue a future of their own scientific innovations and successes.

Signed:

Baroness Greenfield Director, the Royal Institution

Lord May FRS President Elect, British Association for the Advancement of Science; previous President, Royal Society; former Chief Scientific Adviser to HM Government,

Lord Haskel Member, Lords Committee on Science and Technology

Lord Winston

Baroness Deech former chair, Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority

Dr Stephen Ladyman MP a professional scientist before becoming an MP

Tim Boswell MP Member, Innovation Universities and Skills Committee

Professor Denis Noble CBE FRS University of Oxford

Professor Sir Walter Bodmer University of Oxford

Professor Sir Peter Lachmann FRS FMedSci founder President, the UK Academy of Medical Sciences; past president, Royal College of Pathologists

Lord Turnberg

Professor Raymond Dwek FRS University of Oxford

Professor Jeremy K. M. Sanders FRS University College London

Professor Sir Alan Fersht FRS University of Cambridge

Professor Felix Weinberg FRS Imperial College London

Professor Stephen Neidle University of London

Professor Sarah Annes Brown Anglia Ruskin University

Professor NH Freeman University of Bristol

Professor Shalom Lappin Kings College, London

Professor Ludwik Finkelstein OBE FREng City University

Professor Yan V Fyodorov University of Nottingham

Professor Richard Bell University of Nottingham

Professor Michael Yudkin University of Oxford

Sir Ian Gainsford King’s College London (retd)

Professor Norman Fenton Queen Mary, University of London

Professor J M Reese University of Strathclyde

Professor Naomi A Fineberg University of Hertfordshire

Professor Ashley Grossman FRCP FMedSci London School of Medicine

Professor Geoffrey Alderman University of Buckingham

Professor Peter Maitlis Sheffield University

Professor David R Katz University College London

Professor Anthony Warrens FHEA FRCP Imperial College, London

Professor Ruth Itzhaki University of Manchester

Professor Alan Zinober University of Sheffield

Professor John Friend University of Hull (retd)

Professor Matthew H. Kramer University of Cambridge

Professor Yehuda Baruch University of East Anglia

Professor Gregory Gutin Royal Holloway, University of Londojn

Professor Daniel Hochhauser University College London

Professor David Stone University of Glasgow

Professor Irving Taylor ChM FRCS FMedSci FHEA University College London

Professor Mervyn Singer FRCP University College London

Professor A. David Smith University of Oxford

Professor Bernard S. Jackson University of Manchester

Professor Mark Schankerman London School of Economics

Professor Naomi Chayen Imperial College London

Professor Efraim Karsh King’s College London

Professor Keith Willison Institute of Cancer Research

Professor Brian L Burrows Staffordshire University

Professor Dame Hazel Genn University College London

Professor Stanley Bleehen University of Sheffield

Professor D. H. Foster University of Manchester

Professor Adrian Hyde-Price University of Bath

Professor Michael Sternberg

Professor Bryan Reuben London South Bank University

Professor Clive Jones University of Leeds

Professor Simon Wesseley Institute of Psychiatry

Dr Patrick Carmichael University of Cambridge

Dr Bernard S. Kay University of York

Dr Raya Khanin University of Glasgow

Dr Eugene Avrutin University of York

Michael Krom University of Leeds

Leslie Reinhorn University of Durham

Dr Eldad Avital Queen Mary, University of London

Dr Michael Kandiah University of London

Dr Margaret Myers retd

Dr Teresa Tiffert University of Cambridge

Dr Virgilio Lew University of Cambridge

Dr N.E.Scott-Samuel University of Bristol

Sophie Garside University of Manchester

Dr SM Lewis Imperial College, London

Dr Yuri Bazlov University of Warwick

Dr Anna Zecharia Imperial College, London

Rob Stevens Sheffield Hallam University

Dr Howard Kahn Heriot Watt University

Derek Meyer St Georges, University of London

I.Lewis Chemist, English Electrical Company (retd.)

Dr Nina Collins University of Leeds

Dr Jeffrey Ketland University of Edinburgh

Dr Ray Noble University College London

Dr Shoshana Squires University of Cambridge

Dr Jennifer Mindell University College London

Dr Liz Lightstone FRCP Imperial College London

Louis Lyons Imperial College London

Mark Katz CEO, Mark-IT

Brian Kerner MRPharmS (retd)

Barry Landy University of Cambridge (retd)

Dr Jose Liht University of Cambridge

Dr Ariel Hessayon FRHistS Goldsmiths, University of London

Yael Benn student, University of Sheffield

Julian Love University of Derby

Dr Elijah R Behr St George’s University of London

Maria Toledo University of Nottingham

Dr Sygal Amitay Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham

Dr Norman Solomon University of Oxford

Dr Sharon Morein University of Cambridge

Dr Hillary B. Katz London South Bank University

Dr Alan Benster

Peter Fine University of Sussex

Dr Michael Bardill

Marta Carroni PhD Student, Imperial College London

Dr Jonathan Rosier University College London

Dr Federico Carafoli Imperial College, London

John Akins Imperial College, London

Also in The Independent, a piece about Israeli science and the difference it makes:

“International co-operation in science is near-universal because scientific research recognises few borders. Indeed, there have been attempts to forge more direct links between Israeli scientists and their Palestinian colleagues. An umbrella organisation called the Israeli- Palestinian Scientific Organisation was established in 2002 to distribute grants worth about £50,000 for joint research projects.

One British scientist who has close links with Israel said that many of his Israeli friends and colleagues strongly disapprove of the recent actions in Gaza. But his view is that it is counter-productive to call for a boycott of Israeli science and scientists: isolating the most liberal-minded Israelis would only make matters worse.”]#

UPDATE (DH)

See also yesterday’s Times editorial

President Ahmadienjad of Iran is a Holocaust denier

Holocaust denier

Holocaust denier

Report from news-en.trend.az via HP.

The myth of the Holocaust is the grounds for Zionist crimes, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at the opening ceremony of the fourth conference on Palestine.

Ahmadinejad said the Israeli government was formed with the help of superpowers on the basis of lies. He called the Holocaust “fiction” and said the “function of the Zionist regime is to make constant threats and turn Eastern countries into a market for weapons of the West.” He said the only way to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is to respect the rights of the Palestinian people live on the IRINN television channel.

A general free referendum should be held to resolve this issue, he said.

“Israel’s crimes should be considered in the supreme courts. The UN Security Council should get out from under the influence of the Zionist movements,” Ahmadinejad said.

The fourth international conference promoting Palestinian resistance started today in Tehran. The conference will last two days. Parliamentary representatives from 80 countries will attend.

At the Goldsmiths Gaza debate

We spread the word about ‘The Great Debate – The Gaza Issue’ at Goldsmiths last week – I took some notes. Somebody made a video recording – might be worth checking the SU Middle Eastern Society page in a few days.

This debate was envisioned by its organisers (an unprecedented and positive parnership between Goldsmiths Middle-Eastern Society, Jewish Society and the Palestine & Israel Peace Society) as a departure from the kind of Israel/Palestine event Goldsmiths is used to. But something untoward happened with the way the panellists were recruited and fairly late in the day the organiser who had arranged Eric Lee and John Strawson found out that the other two speakers were known provocateurs. John Rose in particular practically lives in Goldsmiths Student Union as a guest of the Goldsmiths Palestine Twinning Campaigners.

Maybe the clue is on the Facebook event page – four panellists “two representing each ‘side'”. The dichotomy which disrupts so many campus debates about Israel and Palestine was also present here.

Consequently there were last minute worries on the part of the Student Union (the event was promoted as public on Facebook) who briefly attempted to limit the audience to Goldsmiths staff and students in the hope of avoiding the seemingly-inevitable controversy due to the choice of Israel-eliminationist panellists. During this last-minute flip-flopping about this, John Strawson cancelled (with the offer to return another time). In the end, the event remained public.

However there was a lot which was good about this event. The chair in particular was principled, firm, bright and something else – concerned that the audience should leave in a positive frame of mind. The mood was relatively tolerant despite some revolting statements from one ‘side’ of the panel. Eric Lee, being without anybody else on his ‘side’, was allocated the appropriate amount of extra time. The format was also good – three questions interspersed with panellists’ responses and questions from the floor. These well-conceived measures kept the toxicity which dogs SWP/RESPECT-organised events out of this one and distinguished the co-organisers as SU societies committed to improving general understanding of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Hopefully they will organise more events.

The notes I took at the time [pdf]. Worth noting is Ghada Karmi’s “extremely generous offer” to allow Jews to live alongside Palestinians in “my country”, and Eric Lee’s response. Karmi’s main argument was to insist that it was simple: Jews came, stole my country and threw me out. John Rose defended suicide bombing and Islamism as resistance to imperialism which deserve our “unconditional but critical support”. This deeply appalled Eric Lee on behalf of the Iranian workers who were betrayed by the Islamist counter-revolutionaries. For John Rose, the inclusion of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the Hamas charter was a “mistake”. He went on to evade a question on whether he’d condemn suicide bombing against innocent Israeli civilians by reading from a Darwish poem about a suicide bomber, making (regardless of Darwish’s intentions) the facile connection between suicide bombing and desparation. He closed with advice to “engage with the Jewish students” in order to change their minds as his mind had been changed. The SWP has been failing at this for decades.

%d bloggers like this: