The Academic Friends of Israel

I once heard of a wonderful machine that did the following: it plowed the earth, planted potato seeds, covered them with earth, watered them regularly, and when the time came, it picked them from the ground. Then it washed them, peeled them, cooked them – and ate them!

I was reminded of that story when I received the article that I am happy to host here on JCWatch, from The Academic Friends of Israel, located in Britain. The article includes a number of Jewish Chronicle stories covering anti-Israeli activities in Britain.

So on the one hand, the JC is creating – or at least  contributing to anti-Israeli feelings in Britain by publishing at least 50 anti-Israeli comments per month on its blog site – see our detailed article  JC Anti-Israelisms – an Open-Ended Compendium    –  and then it is going out and reporting anti-Israeli activities in Britain as if it was an impartial observer. And noch making a living from this! It looks as if the JC has finally solved the centuries-old mystery of Perpetual Motion: Create a provocation; Report and sell the story of the provocation; With the proceeds create a new provocation …

At least the Potato Machine could be unplugged!

Anyway, here is an academic breath of fresh air, which I am publishing on an asis basis.

______________________________________________

The Academic Friends of Israel

P.O. Box 360

Harrow

HA3 9WY

   Email: mail@academics-for-israel.org

   Website: www.academics-for-israel.org

Vol.9 No 3                                                                             

22 March 2010

The view from Britain – Hate war on campus to be “stamped out”

 The Reut Institute recently described London as one of the “Hubs of Delegitimisation” where a widespread network of anti-Zionist groups, hostile human rights organisations and home grown radical Islamists use cultural, academic, legal and financial weapons to campaign against the delegitimisation and demonisation of the State of Israel.

Therefore it is no surprise that over the last three months there have been many protests and actions by anti-Israel/anti-Zionist groups in Britain and on our campuses in particular , the latest being Israel Apartheid Week” at the beginning of March. Their protests will continue with the Boycotts Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] Global Day of Action on 30 March. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which will be putting an advert in the Guardian on that day, has also targeted students by encouraging them to involve Palestine student societies; trade union branches; faith groups and other sympathetic organisations to make BDS target relevant to each group – e.g. if a university has a contract with Eden Springs or Veolia.

Therefore the news that the Board of Deputies of British Jews has at long last put together a five-point action plan to combat this “virus of extremism” on Britain’s university campuses is welcomed, but one has to ask why has it taken them so long when the worsening situation has been apparent to everyone else for many years. The answer is that the new leadership of the Board of Deputies is much more proactive than previous ones who preferred to work behind the scenes so as not to cause fuss which they believed resulted in increased Antisemitism. There is a time and place for everything but the policy of working behind the scenes has recently proved unsuccessful when the British government betrayed the Jewish community over promises made over “universal jurisdiction”.

It has been apparent to many of us that our University Vice -Chancellors already have the necessary powers to deal with extremism and racism if they want to take action but many have been reluctant to “bit the bullet” for fear of offending one group or another or hide behind the ‘academic freedom’ or ‘freedom of speech’ banner. Therefore the recent decision by the Vice -Chancellor at Manchester University, after pressure from the Board of Deputies, to make speakers at last month’s “Palestine Week” conference sign an undertaking not to incite hatred is most welcome and not before time. Speakers at that meeting included Azzam Tamimi of the Muslim Association of Britain, who had told a SOAS audience that he longed to be a martyr and that supporters of Hamas should not be afraid to be labelled terrorists.

If signing an undertaking not to incite hatred can work at Manchester University then it can work anywhere. We owe it to our students to give this decision the widest publicity and encouragement.

Remember also that the current generation of students is being brought up on a diet of ‘Israel is an apartheid state’ and ‘Israel is a racist state’ and this will influence their decision making when they are in positions of power and influence in 30 years time.  

Ronnie Fraser

Director

The Academic Friends of Israel

News

 

1.   Hate war on campus to be “stamped out”

2.   TAU academic opens ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ on London campus

3.   Fury at Muslim hate speaker invited to universities

4.   Palestine group gets student union ban

5.   Students clash over Israel Ambassador’s visit to Manchester

 

6.  Analysis: You’ve betrayed the Jewish community, Jack Straw

7. Human rights group takes UK to court over Israel sanctions

8. Terrorism and the Internet: “Electronic intifada” declared on Israel on Facebook

9.   A year of Middle East editorials in the Financial Times

10 Analyzing the Durban 2 Conference –an Interview with Gerald Steinberg

 

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1.Hate war on campus to be “stamped out”

Jewish Chronicle

By Martin Bright, March 4, 2010

There is now a “virus of extremism” on Britain’s university campuses that is at risk of turning into a pandemic, according to the Board of Deputies.

Growing parental concern at the safety of Jewish students at UK universities has led the community leadership to take the unprecedented step of developing an official strategy for combating extremism on campus.

The strategy draws on recent experience of campaigning against extremist Muslim speakers at Manchester and London universities who are known to hold views deeply hostile to Israel.

A five-point action plan can be revealed for the first time here:

● Proactive monitoring of visits from extremists with the co-operation of the Community Security Trust and the Union of Jewish Students.

● Immediate, vigorous response to any visits that do take place, including warnings to vice-chancellors on the track record of extremists.

● Withholding the use of university premises by extremists.

● Insistence that participants sign strict written undertakings that hate speech will not be used and agree to filming by university authorities.

● Increased pressure on ministers to tackle extremism while working closely with the Grant Inquiry into campus radicalisation.

At the same time, guidance on the limits of free speech is currently being developed by the Board and the CST.

The strategy has been developed by the Board’s senior vice-president Jonathan Arkush, who has a daughter at Manchester University.

As a result of discussions, the Board now has a renewed commitment to “a robust and uncompromising opposition to extremist ideologies that adversely affect the Jewish communities”.

Mr Arkush said that universities needed to understand that the independence of student unions could not come at the price of protecting Jewish students. “It seems to me that universities have been abnegating their responsibilities by hiding behind student unions.”

He also called on universities minister David Lammy to get to grips with the issue.

“What we have had so far from Mr Lammy is fine words, but no action,” he said. “We need concerted action from the government and universities. They shouldn’t need the Jewish community to act as a catalyst.”

The Board’s new strategy has its origins in the campaign against South African trade unionist Bongani Masuku, who visited Britain last September despite an ongoing investigation into his alleged antisemitism by his country’s human rights commission.

Mr Masuku spoke at the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University but left the country before speaking at other universities.

The other major lightning rod is Manchester University, where the atmosphere for Jewish students has become increasingly tense. Israel’s deputy ambassador, Talya Lador-Fresher, was forced to pull out of a talk last month after her security staff decided it was not safe to attend.

But pressure from the Board and the UJS forced the university to make speakers at last month’s “Palestine Week” conference sign an undertaking not to incite hatred. They included Azzam Tamimi of the Muslim Association of Britain, who had told a SOAS audience that he longed to be a martyr and that supporters of Hamas should not be afraid to be labelled terrorists.

http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/29079/hate-war-campus-be-stamped-out

2.TAU academic opens ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ on London campus

JPOST CORRESPONDENT
By JONNY PAUL, 26/02/2010

Adi Ophir to share a platform with Sari Hanafi, an associate professor of sociology at the American University of Beirut.

 LONDON – A Tel Aviv University professor is set to open this year’s “Israel Apartheid Week” taking place at three London university campuses next week.

Adi Ophir, an associate professor at TAU’s Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science, will open the event on Monday. “Israel Apartheid Week” takes place at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the London School of Economics and University College London.

In a talk titled “Anatomy of rule in the occupied Palestinian territories,” Ophir, who is author of the book The Power of Inclusive Exclusion: Anatomy of Israeli Rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, will share a platform with Sari Hanafi, an associate professor of sociology at the American University of Beirut.

Also taking part is Israel-born lawyer Daniel Machover, co-founder of Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights. Machover is also a major player in the campaign to arrest Israeli officials who visit the UK, on charges of war crimes.

Ending the week of events will be Israel-born filmmaker Eyal Sivan, who will answer questions following the screening of his film Yizkor: Slaves of Memory.

The event program describes the film as “a portrait of the Israeli society that has never been shown before” that looks “in depth at this imperative that is imposed on the children of Israel.”

The film accuses Israel of using the “myths and symbols” of Purim and Pessah to indoctrinate Israeli youth.

“In Israel during the month of April feast days and celebrations take place one after another. School children of all ages prepare to pay tribute to their country’s past. The collective memory becomes a terribly efficient tool for the training of young minds,” the program states.

Speaking also next week is Michael Warschawski, described as a “leading Israeli anti-apartheid figure,” and Arab-Israeli Salah Mohsen, a member of the Balad party’s General Council.

Other participants include Yasmin Khan from War on Want, a charity whose political campaigning and stance on Israel has been decried by the UK’s Charity Commission, and veteran anti-Israel activist Ben White, author of a book titled Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide.

The event will also take place at Oxford University; participants include Israel-born academics Ilan Pappe and Avi Shlaim as well as MK Jamal Zahalka, chairman of the Balad party, who has a doctorate in pharmacology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

 

The event has been strongly condemned and deemed as a “crass campaign” by the National Union of Students (NUS).

“I do not recognise the description of Israel as an ‘apartheid’ state,” said NUS president Wes Streeting. “Crass campaigns like this do little to promote the cause of peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. The Union of Jewish Students will be running a national Israel awareness week on campuses in March, which I hope will give people a more accurate picture of life in Israel.”
“Hosting events which do more to drive a stake between ‘pro-Israel’ and ‘pro-Palestine’ students is both unconstructive and irresponsible,” Raheem Kassam, national director of anti-racism campaign group Student Rights. “Never before have we been in a position to so easily bring people around a table to have practical and positive discourse on these issues, and instead we see downbeat, detrimental movements which achieve very little.”

“There are all sorts of ways to debate international affairs on campus as elsewhere, but it is entirely unacceptable that institutions paid for by the tax-payer should continue to receive funding when they sponsor and host hate-fests like those taking place in London next week,” said Douglas Murray, director of the London think tank Centre for Social Cohesion.

“The UK government should pull the funding plug from universities that cannot get their house in order. Israel is not an apartheid state – it is a democracy, an ally and a friend. Demonising the State of Israel in such a way is entirely illegitimate,” he added.

Meanwhile former MK Azmi Bishara, who is accused of passing information to Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War, and Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian National Council, who participated in airline hijackings in 1969 and 1970, are both to address a conference at the School of Oriental and African Studies over the weekend via video link

http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=169744

3.Fury at Muslim hate speaker invited to universities

Jewish Chronicle

By Marcus Dysch, February 25, 2010

Three universities have been slammed for hosting an extremist Muslim who has expressed antisemitic views. Sheikh Abdullah Hakim Quick has previously denounced Jews and homosexuals as “filth”.

He was due to speak at King’s College London yesterday after being invited by its Islamic Society.

The Qabeelat Al Shams group, a student section of the Islamic education group Al Maghrib Institute, asked him to appear at the University of East London (UEL) this weekend and at City University last week.

Sheikh Quick is an American who converted to Islam in 1970. He has previously given lectures saying homosexuals are “not natural”.

Peter Tatchell, of lesbian and gay rights group OutRage!, said: “King’s would not host a white supremacist.

“The complacent, hands-off attitude of the vice-chancellor is appalling. King’s is not a safe place for Jewish and gay students when it facilitates a speaker like Sheikh Quick.”

The Federation of Student Islamic Societies failed to comment on why Sheikh Quick had been invited to speak.

But a UEL spokeswoman said it was “obliged to allow freedom of expression” where it believed speakers would not break the law.

A City spokeswoman said: “It was agreed with the speaker that his content would adhere to the University’s values and behaviours.”

Chris Coe, a spokesman for King’s, said the university had only just been made aware of the issue and would be investigating. However, he said that the Sheikh was speaking on ecology to the Islamic Society “with whom we have very good relations.”

http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/28765/fury-muslim-hate-speaker-invited-universities

4.Palestine group gets student union ban

Jewish Chronicle

By Marcus Dysch, March 11, 2010

A pro-Palestinian group which launched an angry protest against an Israeli speaker has been banned from using a student union’s facilities.

Leeds University Union took action against the student Palestine Solidarity Group after protesters interrupted a talk given by Ishmael Khaldi, Israel’s deputy consul.

They chanted and banged on the doors of the lecture theatre as Mr Khaldi spoke at the Jewish Society event.

The union’s activities executive has stopped PSG booking rooms in the union building until the start of the next semester in April.

James Wallis, Leeds JSoc president, said: “The event was open to all students and engaged them in the Israel debate. To hear banging on the doors and anti-Zionist chanting was very intimidating for our members. People were taken aback by it and I had a lot of feedback from Jewish students who had been scared.

“The union took it into their own hands and that’s what we’d expect. We are happy action has been taken.”

A LUU spokesman said: “We think all societies should be free to hold events and protests on campus, but not to the detriment of another society. LUU believed that the PSG protest went beyond what was acceptable, and infringed on the right of the JSoc to hold their event in peace.”

But Yacoub Al-Ouri, joint president of PSG, told Leeds Student newspaper: “The decision was made quite arbitrarily. PSG did not have a chance to defend itself in front of the committee. The activities executive committee was quite unfair.”

Last week the Board of Deputies revealed a five-point action plan intended to tackle extremism on campus and act as a guide for vice-
chancellors.

It included proposals to monitor visits and withhold campus premises from extremists, who have been to Leeds in the past.

The strategy has been welcomed by the Community Security Trust and Union of Jewish Students.

Universities UK, which represents the heads of British universities, has set up a working group to tackle extremism. Chaired by University College London provost Malcolm Grant, it has met once and is not expected to report on its findings until later this year.

A spokesman said: “We have long had a positive relationship with the Board of Deputies and they will be consulted as part of the working group’s deliberations.”

http://www.thejc.com/node/29310

 5.Students clash over Israeli Ambassador’s visit to Manchester

By Alena Eis and Adam Farnell,

Manchester Student Union Paper

Palestine and Israel supporters came to blows in front of the Students’ Union last week after a controversial speaker pulled out of a Union hosted event.

Israel Deputy Ambassador Talya Lador-Fresher was scheduled to speak at a Politics Society event last Thursday, but “postponed” her appearance following a barrage of criticism and threats of a protest by Action Palestine activists, allegedly because of security concerns.

Despite the cancellation of the talk, over 100 Action Palestine protesters gathered on the Union steps in the afternoon. “The Politics Society accepted the invite of the Deputy Ambassador, who has since cancelled the visit, or at least postponed it,” said one of the organisers. “It is still important to continue with the rally to highlight that Union executives let go ahead a talk that contravenes a motion that was passed at a General Meeting that was the largest in our history with 1,200 people attending.

“Manchester has a strong history in supporting Palestine and I think there is quite an overwhelming movement in support of Palestine. We can’t let the Israeli PR Machine win, we have to stand up against this.”

Last academic year, over 1,000 students attended General Meeting to vote on the ‘Gaza Crisis’ motion in support of Palestine. A part of the policy stipulates that UMSU joins the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that boycotts companies that support or benefit from the Israeli occupation.

The Deputy Ambassador was supposed to deliver a talk entitled ‘Hopes and Challenges in the Middle East’ hosted by the Politics Society in Academy 2. Action Palestine and other supporters strongly criticised the decision to allow the talk on Union premises in light of the declared solidarity with Palestine.

However despite the potential clash with Union policy, it is illegal to prevent a speaker from visiting the Union because of their politics. The 1986 Education Act, which governs Students’ Unions, stipulates that: “The use of premises is not denied to anyone because of their beliefs or politics.”

This conflict between the General Meeting policy and the law was a source of heated debate at an emergency Executive meeting the day before the protest and scheduled talk. At the meeting the Union Executive committee eventually agreed that allowing Lador-Fresher to speak at the Union contravenes policy, yet voted against cancelling the event.

Union General Secretary Gabriel Hassan explained the series of events leading up to the meeting, saying: “The Politics Society followed the Union procedure around visiting speakers and handed in the necessary forms on time two weeks before the event. The speaker was identified as controversial but in light of the University of Manchester’s Code of Practice on Freedom speech it was deemed that Deputy Israeli Ambassador should be allowed to speak.”

Explaining the Executive’s vote, Welfare Officer Vicky Thompson said: “This Union has a Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) policy that was democratically passed by a majority of hundreds in the wake of the Gaza massacre. Being part of the BDS movement not only means there shouldn’t be Israeli products in our shop; it means that no Israeli diplomats should be speaking in our Union.

“In a vote, the majority of the Executive agreed that permitting this meeting to go ahead would be a contravention of our policy. Then several of the same Exec members didn’t have enough courage in their convictions to vote to cancel the event. They backed down, sending out the dual message that democracy doesn’t matter and that if a meeting is kept quiet long enough, it can go ahead.

“This Union is supposedly controlled by its members and General Meetings are supposed to be our supreme policy making body. When hundreds of students make a democratic decision, the task of the Union’s Executive should be to uphold that decision, not to trample all over it.”

Fellow Executive member Oliver Worth, Humanities Faculty Officer, voted against both decisions. “The Executive’s decision to consider a speech by Israel’s Deputy Ambassador to be against union policy was racist, undemocratic, and highlighted an executive willing to drastically overstep their authority,” he said.

“I voted against this decision because I don’t believe in gagging someone’s right to speak based on their nationality. Efforts to prevent this speech are orchestrated by members of Action Palestine, an organisation happy to host terrorists, yet eager to prevent someone speaking for fear of students hearing a balanced view of a conflict they like to polarise to the maximum.”

Women’s Officer Hazel Kent said considering that three out of ten Union policies are about Palestine, she felt it was “against the will of the student population to have a representative of the Israeli government speaking, though this is my interpretation.

“I abstained from voting to cancel the talk because I couldn’t decide on the ‘right’ decision. However, here are my two conflicting trains of thought. Cancel: Logically, having voted that the talk would be against Union policy, the next step would be to cancel it. Don’t cancel: Two weeks ago I would have said, “move it to the University, due to our policy this should categorically not happen on Union premises.

“But…The Politics Society followed procedure; it’s the Union’s responsibility we weren’t discussing it until the day before. The possibility that some Jewish students on campus would feel under attack, or even be under attack if this was cancelled was brought up. And it would be illegal under the Education Act to cancel it.

“I couldn’t decide between the two choices, and so I abstained. I’m unsure whether that was the right decision – but given how I felt at the time, it was the only one I felt I could make.”

A statement from the Union Executive added that in future “the procedure for visiting speakers that may contravene Union policy should be reviewed.”

The talk by the Israeli Deputy Ambassador would not have been the only controversial one in recent weeks. The Islamic Society hosted a speaker who allegedly had links to Hamas on February 13, which attracted criticism from the Jewish Society.

In an interview with Student Direct: Mancunion, Deputy Ambassador Lador-Fresher said she was very disappointed to not be able to attend the talk, where she was going to speak about the current situation in the Middle East from an Israeli perspective.

“It was decided to postpone it due to the fact that there were many security concerns regarding the event. As I’m sure you’re well aware there were a lot of organisations happening both outside and inside the hall.

“The security was not so much concerned with the protesters outside, but also with the protesters inside. And again, I have been shouted at before and it is unpleasant and inconvenient, but that was not the issue at all. There were serious concerns about physical abuse.”

She added that freedom of information, speech and discussion were the very cornerstones of academia, and that academic boycotts were leaving Israel out of “everything that academia stands for.”

“This trying to silence Israeli voices, it’s absolutely disturbing.”

Members of the Jewish society organised their own rally after the talk’s cancellation, confronting the Action Palestine protesters on the Union steps.

One Jewish Society protester said: “Being critical of Israel is one thing, but denying that the state as a whole should exist is another. You can criticize Israel without calling it illegitimate. We wanted to make the point that Union policy does not represent us. It was intimidation that meant that the speaker couldn’t come today. Action Palestine’s tactics are that they scare. It’s not OK that a speaker, welcomed by a society, couldn’t come because of intimidation.”

Jamil Keating, a 16-year-old local high school student and member of Action Palestine’s protest, was at the front as the two opposing sides converged. Each side refused to stop pushing and tension grew with some protestors from both sides forced to climb over the railings to avoid injury.

Keating said: “The Deputy Israeli Ambassador decided not to come, so we were really happy. The union here have a really good policy of speaking out against repression like they did with South Africa, and like they are [doing] with Israel and Palestine. The speaker decided not to come, so we decided to make the protest a symbolic one, rather than a tactical one, and try and represent the plight of the Palestinian people. The protest was enjoyable; there was music and chanting. And then from across the road we see a Zionist group assembling. We have people who support our protest who are Israeli, but support the Palestinian people. They called us anti-Semitic. We ignored them, but they came up the stairs. We linked arms, and we said ‘This union has taken a policy against the Israeli government since they have been proven to be war criminals.’

“But it started to get aggressive. There was pushing, I was kneed in the crotch. The police were pulling people apart. It is inevitably going to happen when you have two groups of people with opposing ideological and political ideas.”

Eventually the protesters were herded inside the Students’ Union by police and security staff, where they continued confronting each other. Protesters from both sides were standing their ground in the foyer, shouting paroles and chanting.

“They were ridiculous protests and became not about politics, but about who could shout louder,” said second year Politics and History student Dan Berkeley. “That was the problem with the lack of debate in the first place. It was just aggressive people shouting. I’ve never been able to hear their views. All I’m told is, ‘I should be ashamed’ and ‘I’m scum’ and that ‘I’m a murderer’.  They don’t know my views and frankly, I don’t know theirs. They never want to sit down and speak. They never want to debate. It’s not politics.”

Patrick Cowling, a History student and member of Action Palestine’s protest added: “It got pointless towards the end. We had a rally here for solidarity to the Palestinians. The pro-Israelis came and it became who could shout who down. We are here for the Palestinians. They are here to support their apartheid racist government, who are actively pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing.”

However, the protests also sparked genuine debate between members of the two groups. First year student Jacob Rothschild commented: “I’m not a radical person. We’re all grown up students, why not be cool with each other and let everyone speak? I don’t see the point, these people have the same right to speak as [Lador-Fresher]. There are many ways of engaging with each other.”

The Politics Society, who were to host the talk was largely sidelined during the protest. In a statement given to Student Direct: Mancunion, they said:

“The Politics Society regrets the non-attendance of the Deputy Israeli Ambassador due to heightened security risks.  The Politics Society always strives to represent the broad medium of views in its capacity as a neutral vehicle of political opinion. The right to protest is something to be cherished, it is just a shame the cost is what would certainly have been an engaging and interesting event.”

The cancellation of the talk coincided with the Israeli Ambassador being summoned by the Foreign Office following the assassination of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. Several suspects had been travelling with fake British passports. However, asked about links between the cancellation of the Manchester talk and Foreign Office summon, Lador-Fresher replied “absolutely not,” maintaining the reason was security.

Greater Manchester Police had a presence at the protest, but reported no incidents and no arrested were made.

http://www.student-direct.co.uk/2010/02/students-clash-over-israeli-ambassador-visit/

 6.Analysis: You’ve betrayed the Jewish community, Jack Straw

Jewish Chronicle

By Martin Bright , March 11, 2010

The time has now come to tell the full story of how the government betrayed the Jewish community over “universal jurisdiction”. In more than a decade of covering UK politics, I have never known a story quite like this.

It is now three months since David Miliband and Gordon Brown pledged to change the law that allowed an arrest warrant to be issued for Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni.

Last Thursday, the Prime Minister wrote an article for the Telegraph reaffirming his commitment to a change in the law (although, tellingly, he did not mention Israel by name). Within hours, Justice Secretary Jack Straw had issued a ministerial statement announcing a consultation exercise on the law change that means nothing will happen until after the election.

From the outset, Jack Straw has never been convinced and has done everything in his power to undermine attempts to introduce law change. For students of dirty politics, Mr Straw’s actions since last December are a masterclass in ministerial skulduggery.

The Justice Secretary has a reputation for being the wiliest old fox in the Labour government. His latest manoeuvrings show that he hasn’t lost his touch. With a closing date of April 6 for submissions to the consultation, there will now be no time to pass a new law before the election campaign begins.

Thus, Mr Straw has successfully outwitted the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister and faced down pressure from the Israeli government and the UK Jewish community.

After the JC reported on January 7 that Jack Straw was blocking the legislation, I received a call from the Justice Secretary’s special adviser, Mark Davies, who had clearly watched one too many episodes of The Thick of It. I will save JC readers the expletives, but he explained that the Justice Secretary was full square behind the plans to change the law. I would soon see how wrong I was, he explained, because the government’s plans were to be announced the following week.

I asked for an on-the-record quote and Straw obliged with the following words: “I am keen to resolve this issue and am urgently discussing it with colleagues across government. We hope to come forward with proposals very soon.” I took Mr Davies at his word, but this turned out to be a mistake.

Throughout this process, sources at the highest level of the Foreign Office and Downing Street have warned me that Jack Straw intended to torpedo the change in the law. Again, I will save readers details of the colourful language used about the Justice Secretary.

As January turned to February, Mr Straw began carefully to shift his argument. Where early delays had been explained by legal technicalities, now the problem became political: the growing resistance to the law change among Labour backbenchers. Mr Straw was now saying that he didn’t want to “break the crockery”.

By March, it had become a matter of judicial principle. Now Mr Straw argued that there could be no law change without further consultation.

It was the master stroke. And the final betrayal. I believe Gordon Brown and David Miliband wanted to change the law. But they were outmanoeuvred.

The Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council assumed they were negotiating in good faith. They will not make that mistake again.

http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/29308/analysis-youve-betrayed-jewish-community-jack-straw

 7.Human rights group takes UK to court over Israel sanctions

Jewish Chronicle

By Simon Rocker, February 25, 2010

 

A Palestinian human rights group is making a fresh attempt through the courts to force the British government to adopt sanctions against Israel.

The West Bank-based Al Haq wants a ruling that Britain is in breach of its human rights obligations by failing to take action.

The group, represented by the Birmingham-based Public Interest Lawyers, lost an application for a judicial review to hear its case in the High Court last year.

But an appeal, which will be contested by the Foreign Office, was due to begin in the Court of Appeal yesterday.

The group argues that Britain has violated international law by failing to take measures to stop Israel building settlements in the West Bank or causing civilian deaths in operations such as Cast Lead in Gaza last year.

It wants the UK to suspend arms-related exports to Israel; to press the EU to suspend its preferential trading agreement with Israel; and hand over evidence of alleged Israeli war crimes to British police.

The Palestinian General Delegation, which represents the Palestinian Authority, urged supporters to pack the courtroom so the case would have to be moved to a larger court with the hope of gaining “wider media attention”.

http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/28770/human-rights-group-takes-uk-court-over-israel-sanctions

8.Terrorism and the Internet: “Electronic intifada” declared on Israel on Facebook

The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center has published a report on Terrorism and the Internet: “Electronic intifada” declared on Israel on Facebook. Hamas and radical Islamic groups, encouraged by Iran, employ social networks on the Internet for the struggle against Israel.

Following the Israeli government’s decision to include the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem in the national heritage sites, a new Facebook group was created in late February by Palestinian web activists, calling for an “electronic intifada” to protect the holy sites of Islam from Israel. The group has several thousand members, with more people joining constantly. The first message of the group (published on February 25) states that the group members consider themselves a power “that will uproot the [Zionist] entity”.

The first announcement published by the group calls upon all the Muslims in the world to join the struggle for the holy sites in Jerusalem and to exert pressure on their governments to take a firm stance against Israel. The announcement attempts to incite its various target audiences by spreading false information according to which Jewish organizations intend to declare an international day for the establishment of the third temple, during which they are going to break into the Temple Mount. The terminology used by the group is radical Islamic. Several indications show that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is involved in the initiative. It is also possible that the group members include activists affiliated with Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations.

One of the implications of using Facebook is the creation of yet another platform for spreading messages of hate and incitement, encouraging violations of public order in Judea and Samaria (specifically the Temple Mount). The effectiveness of that platform was proven in the wave of protest which engulfed Iran after the last presidential elections. Recently, Iran’s minister of intelligence, speaking at a recent pro-Palestinian convention in Tehran, called to declare a media intifada against Israel using online social networks.

To read the full report:

http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/mt_e008.htm

9.A year of Middle East editorials in the Financial Times

 Just Journalism’s latest report provides a detailed qualitative study of key themes in the Financial Times’s editorial coverage throughout 2009 relating to Israel, the Palestinians, Iran and the Arab states.

An analysis of 121 editorials from the period shows clear patterns of thinking on the major political issues in the Middle East. The over-riding impression is that the FT’s editorials have a tendency to omit much of the broader argumentation and wider context central to understanding the situation in Israel and the Middle East. The key messages emanating from the editorial column are summarised below:

The FT views Israel as primarily responsible for the perpetuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while downplaying other factors. In particular it places the role of settlement-building in the West Bank above any other single factor affecting the conflict. Settlement-building is referred to as ‘colonisation’ in nine editorials.

 Other aggravating factors such as terrorism, disunity within Palestinian ranks and a failure to accept Israel as a Jewish state are downplayed. Neither of these last two are addressed as areas of legitimate concern for Israel; rather, both are viewed as ploys by Israel to ‘change the subject’ The editorial coverage over the past year reflects a gradual shift away from the view that Iran’s nuclear intentions might be peaceful towards the conclusion at the end of 2009 that they are not

The prospect of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities is referred to in five editorials; yet no Financial Times editorial in 2009 makes reference to the threatening rhetoric from Iran’s President Ahmadinejad against Israel

The publication backed the Goldstone Report, which described the Israeli military operation as ‘a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population’. The Financial Times described Israel’s actions in Gaza as ‘disproportionate’ in four editorials.

Israeli political leaders are depicted as ‘irredentist’, ‘hawkish’, and ‘ultra-nationalist’. In contrast, Palestinian leaders are portrayed as ‘moderate’ and ‘conciliatory’, if corrupt Israel’s total military and civilian withdrawal from Gaza in August 2005 is not viewed as a meaningful Israeli concession, rather it is seen as inadequate at best, and a cynical ploy at worst.

The Arab world is portrayed as having made a substantial effort for peace in the broader Arab-Israeli conflict. The Saudi Peace Initiative of 2002 is touted in seven editorials and the newspaper expresses sympathy with the recent Arab refusal to meet Israeli concessions with Arab concessions.

Mixed attitudes towards the nature of Arab regimes are displayed. The newspaper attacks the West – the US in particular – for backing ‘an ossified order of … Arab strongmen’ typified by the Mubarak regime in Egypt; however, Saudi Arabia is spared harsh criticism, particularly regarding its human rights record.

To read the full report:

http://www.justjournalism.com/special-reports/download/Financial_Times_2009_A_year_of_Middle_East_editorials.pdf

10.Analyzing the Durban 2 Conference –an Interview with Gerald Steinberg

By Gerald M. Steinberg

Bar-Ilan University

  • From 20-24 April 2009, the Durban Review Conference took place in Geneva. It is also known as Durban II, a follow-up to the infamous “Durban I” World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in the late summer of 2001. At Durban I, an NGO Forum accepted what can be summed up as a declaration of war against Israel. Participating nongovernmental organizations adopted a strategy for the complete isolation of Israel through boycotts, divestment, and sanctions.
  • The Canadian Harper government was the first to announce in February 2008 that it would not participate in Durban II, followed nine months later by Israel. Other countries, including the United States, eventually followed suit in refusing to come to Geneva. The withdrawal accelerated when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced his intention to participate. Many funders that had provided large amounts of money for the Durban I NGO Forum, including Canada and the Ford Foundation, did not provide NGO support for 2009.
  • Although the nonparticipation of so many key countries made Durban II less of a diplomatic disaster for Israel than Durban I, it did not result in any erasure or renouncement of the anti-Israeli “Durban strategy” adopted at the 2001 NGO Forum.
  • Many UN-sponsored mini-Durbans promoting the indictment of Israel continue to take place, led by the same NGOs active in the Durban I hate-fest. In the dominant narrative, Israel is the world’s worst violator of human rights and must be held accountable through investigations predetermined to find it guilty. Judge Richard Goldstone has become the patron saint of this “Durban process.”

To read the full report: http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DRIT=3&DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=624&PID=0&IID=3446&TTL=Analyzing_the_Durban_II_Conference

 

Patron:

The Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks

Advisory Board: 

Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld – Chairman of the Board of Fellows, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Vivian Wineman – President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews

Amir Lev

John D A Levy – Director of the Academic Study Group on Israel and the Middle East

Andrew R. Marks, M.D. – Columbia University, USA

Professor Leslie Wagner CBE

Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham

The Academic Friends of Israel Ltd is limited by guarantee and registered in England No 5297417.

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