Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Monday 16 August 2010

Anatomy of an anti-Israel Petition

Assuming all has gone to plan, a petition containing about 1800 signatures, which made its way by a vintage motorcycle from Lancashire to London, was delivered to 10 Downing Street by its organiser, Bruce Burgess, at noon today.  For many weeks Burgess has been hawking the petition among a familiar batch of Israel-demonising groups, explaining: "I'm a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. I've been disturbed by the activities of the Israeli government for years. But just recently the attacks on Lebanon, Gaza and the massacre on the boat delivering aid have really made my blood boil.” No matter, of course, that Israel is defending itself against existential threat. No matter that Hamas is suffused with judeophobia and that its genocidal charter avows “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” No matter that “the boat delivering aid” was full of Islamist activists and would-be martyrs belonging to the terrorist organisation IHH, who yelled chilling anti-Jewish slogans before setting off on their deliberately provocative voyage to Gaza armed with knives and iron bars.

Groups supporting the petition are the Palestine Solidarity Campaign; the Friends of Lebanon; the Campaign Against the Arms Trade; Jews for Justice for Palestinians; the Muslim Public Affairs Committee; Quaker Peace and Social Witness; and War on Want. Among others who have provided online links to it are the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine and branches of the Green Party. On the petition Lib Dem Councillor Richard Brett, alternate leader of Leeds City Council, comments: “I can't understand how those defending Israel think that their treatment of Palestinians in Gaza has no bearing on events like 9/11 or 7/7. It is in our own interests to stop selling arms to Israel, and the humanitarian case is overwhelming.”

Indeed, the number of Lib Dems and Greens, including town councillors, among the petition’s signatories is striking, underlining the distrust that Israel’s British well-wishers feel regarding those parties, particularly the former given its rather disproportionate role in the Coalition government. In a piece for the Guardian’s “Comment is Free” (9 January 2009) Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg wrote: “[Gordon] Brown must ... halt Britain's arms exports to Israel, and persuade our EU counterparts to do the same. The government's own figures show Britain is selling more and more weapons to Israel, despite the questions about the country's use of force.... I want an immediate suspension of all arms exports from the EU, but if that cannot be secured, Brown must act unilaterally.”

Cameron himself has boasted:
“Unlike a lot of politicians from Britain who visit Israel, when I went I did stand in occupied East Jerusalem and actually referred to it as ‘occupied East Jerusalem’. The Foreign Office bod who was with me said most ministers don’t dare say [that].” And of course more recently this slippery opportunist declared that "The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable .... Let me also be clear that the situation in Gaza has to change .... Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp." That this remark has encouraged the petition’s signatories is obvious from some of the optional comments, which directly allude to it.

The signatories, as proudly cited by its organiser on his rideforpalestine blog, include, at Westminster, two Labour MPs, Simon Danczuk (Rochdale) and Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton), and, in the European Parliament, Chris Davies, Fiona Hall, and Graham Watson (all Lib Dems), Keith Taylor (Green Party), and Jill Evans (Plaid Cymru).

Senior academic signatories include Emeritus Professor Steve Baker (University of Central Lancashire), an art historian; Emeritus Professor Richard Hudson (University College London), a specialist in linguistics; Emeritus Professor Peter Spufford ( University of Cambridge), a medieval and early modern historian; Dr Wolfgang Decker (Richmond University, London); Professor Moshe Machover (King's College London); and Dr Claudia Prestel (Reader in Modern European and Jewish History, University of Leicester). Israeli-born Machover, long resident in Britain, is a veteran anti-Zionist warhorse who helped to found the Israeli anarcho-socialist group Matzpen; his son, British “human rights lawyer” Daniel Machover, is infamous for attempting to have visiting Israeli public figures arrested for “war crimes”. Dr Prestel, an Israeli who has publicly endorsed Ilan Pappe’s "One State Declaration", has resided in Britain since the 1990s; she is active in Friends of al Aqsa, and has added her name to various Israel-delegitimising initiatives conceived both in Britain and overseas.

There is also a batch of Christian clergy – Sue Calveley, H. P. [Hazel?] Barkham, Marion C. White, Andrew Dawson, Graeme Dodd, Tony Graham, Dave Hardman, Dr J. Barr, and Fr John Harris-White. The latter writes alongside his signature: “The call to stop arms to Israel is long overdue. Throughout my life time the state of Israel has ignored United Nations resolutions, and hels [sic] in bond the Palestinian people in their own land.” (I’m not sure what denominations are represented – Rev. Calveley is an Anglican – nor whether all of these are in fact British.)

A sizeable proportion of signatories have Arab/Muslim names. The optional comments on the petition, across the range of signatories, Muslim and non-Muslim, are of the predictable kind – Israel as colonial occupier, Israel as America’s stooge, Israel as apartheid state, Israel as terrorist state, Israel as “rogue state”, Israel as illicit, Israel as persecutor, Israel as land-grabber. Look at this, for instance, from a John Bannon: “As bulk of ruling MP’s are signed up ‘Friends of Israelhell’ there is little prospect of success ... This action and boycotting the produce of the apartheid, genocidal regime are proper ways to condemn its evil ways.” Similarly, from a Robin Goodchild: “The pirate apartheid state should be suspended from decent company until it learns to follow international law.” From a Simon J. Brown: “Signing this petition is but a token. Israel lacks legitimacy and must be held to account for its continued war crimes and theft of Palestinian property and land.” From an M. Cook: “Israel has been a rogue state almost since its founding, and as such should not be armed by the UK or by any other opportunist country.” Ahmad Ismat: “Lets stop the largest terroriests group on earth together.”

Fern: “The UK Government is not the only one that has a lot to answer for but as a country that considers itself 'civilized' it should be taking the lead in opposing Zionism in all its racist manifestations.” Peter Brown: “We should obviously not sell arms to Israel. They are illegal occupiers and hijackers who should be totally isolated. There should be a complete boycott of Israel.” Ron Gray: “Many people are under the illusion, that if you support Palestine,then you must be Anti Semetic.This is not so! The Zionist Movement & Mossad is the real enemy of not just Palestine,but many other countries who are against their agressive tactics.Sainsburys openly support Israel & should be boycotted,as should others,who support them,including the British Govt.” Naveed Zafar: “Not only stop arming Israel, boycott all imports from that illegal colonial settler state and arrest every functionary of its terrorist governments, past and present and put them in the dock for war crimes.”

This comment from an Alan Pritchard represents another leitmotif of the petitioners, Israel as ethnic cleanser: “It is bad enough that Britain bears the ultimate guilt for the creation of Israel in the betrayal of the Arabs that stood alongside us against the Ottomans. It is worse that we actively held the coats of the Zionist Militia whilst they ethnically cleansed Palestine in 1947 and 1948, looked the other way when villages were massacred, even deliberately refusing to help those being massacred.”

A Pam Hardyment writes: “ they [exported armaments] are used against innocent civilians against all Geneva Conventions and MUST be stopped, we are party to a genocide happening right now and for 62 years!!!!” Robin Kinrade: “Further, this Government needs to review Israel's relationship with the Pales[t]inians. They have been bound, gagged and whipped, metaphorically speaking, have had their lands systematically stolen, and when, in deep frustration, they have lashed out, the Israeli Government commit war crimes against them.” And, from a Crystal Robert, the risible “Israel is a threat to the rest of the world.”

Those four mendaciously misleading maps of Jewish versus Arab territory in the Holy Land ("Israeli Expansion 1946-2000") that anti-Israel groups love to publish in their brochures and on their websites have evidently done yeoman service in duping some people to sign (they are on Burgess's blog and mentioned in some comments).

A Heather Stroud is among those signatories who accuse Israel of deliberately targeting civilians - “Israel has a policy of arresting and torturing children for fabricated crimes or sometimes the crime of throwing a stone.” Jewish Israel-basher Mike Cushman, a pivot of the grotesque – and essentially antisemitic  –  movement to boycott Israel, warms to the same theme: “The Israeli Army regularly attacks civilian targets and therefore the UK Government should take all steps to prevent them getting the arms and equipment to carry out these breaches of international law.”

Some of the comments are unashamedly antisemitic. Here is a selection, warts (in the shape of grammatical and spelling errors) and all. Rick Sylva (an American, by the looks of it): ‘It's time to rethink our arming & financial backing of "ISRAEL" ... LET'S TAKE BACK WHAT RIGHTFULLY BELONGS TO US , "OUR" GOV'T & DO AWAY WITH THE ZIONIST CONTROLLED "FEDERAL RESERVE BANK!’ F.E.: “Zionist state is not a reliqious entity, but a voracious sadistic parasite on the world map.” Kelly Elshafey: “The jewish lobby is to powerful to in the USA, Britain and Europe. They have the money to finance the politcal parties.” Dean Smith: “remember tyhe late 40s and early 50s when the israelis turned on our own people after we helped them??plus the first suicide bomber was a jewish woman”. Edward Glynn: “We are told that World terrorism is the work of Islamic extremists but the terrorism engaged in by the Israeli Government is far worse .... The continued support by the West of Israel makes them accessories to the criminal activities of the Jewish State in Palestine.” Barry Selby: “I think that Israel's warmongering pays no attention to the suffering they cause. The pretence that Hamas must be eliminated is just a cover so that their expansionist and subsequent commercial activities can continue. I find them to be a totally immoral nation.”

Val Shadowhawk: “Signing this Petition will send a message to Zionists that their days of running the Show are over. The World has had enough. Blackmailing, bribing, extorting, and murdering innocent people while playing Victim are Crimes. Israel is Guilty of these and more. Enough is enough” Brian Powell: “A country born out of terrorism that still terrorises not only its neighbour but the rest of the world needs stopping. Take the first step in stopping these Nazi Jews.” Robert Persson: “Israel has now demonstrated that it is an extremely aggressive, capricious and paranoid state run by people who have total contempt for anyone, whether Arab, European or anything else, who does not conform to their definition of an ethnic Jew. This lunatic state already has 200 nuclear weapons. It is completely insane to allow it access to any more weapons.” Linda Collins: “ISRAEL SHOULD BE EXTERMINATED.” Mike Casner: “Investigate MOSAAD involvement in 9/11/01. Never mind the knee-jerk anti semitic labels, there is ample evidence.” Graham Jessop: “Totally agree with all the comments. They are complicit in 911 also, check it out.”

I wonder how the members of Jews for Justice for Palestinians feel about being in such company.


  1. Great stuff- well written and well informed!
    Herbert S.

  2. Thanks, Herbert.

    Oh joy! I see that Bruce Burgess intends to make this an annual event.
    If you click on the above website you can see reps of the JfJfP group holding a big banner - and the antisemitic remarks (including the Khazar canard) on the forum should show them further what unpleasant company they keep.

  3. “I can't understand how those defending Israel think that their treatment of Palestinians in Gaza has no bearing on events like 9/11 or 7/7. It is in our own interests to stop selling arms to Israel, and the humanitarian case is overwhelming.”

    -Notice how these people never apply this same logic to Israel. They never say, "I can't understand how those defending Palestinians think that their 8,000 missiles and countless suicide bombings, calls for violent Jihad, incitement in Mosques and textbooks etcd has no bearing on events like the 2006 Gaza war?"

  4. An excellent point. Many thanks.

  5. The statement is totally ridiculous anyway. Why should New York, Madrid, London, Bali etc etc be attacked for what Israel was 'doing' in Gaza (completely evacuated by Israel by 7/7 and immediately used as a base for terrorism)? Islamist aggression does not limit itself to being anti-Israeli or anti-American (Iraq, Afghanistan). Are the atrocities in Sudan, the internecine bombings in Iraq, Mumbai, Pakistani terrorist attacks all attributable to Gaza or is Gaza just a symptom of Islamist aggression?

    The petition is a very thinly disguised 'anti-Israel' screed unworthy even of the likes of Burgess.

  6. Interesting comments on Richard Brett of Leeds City Council, looks like he's gone from crushing the poor old binmen of Leeds to attacking us now.


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