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Purging the Palestinians

The British try out a new version of free speech

Stanford-Divest-300x225

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • May 3, 2016

Political purges are not new. Trotsky was purged from the Soviet Communist Party and Ernst Rohm was purged by the Nazis. Currently we are witnessing the spectacle of “progressive” groups ostensibly dedicated to the cause of Palestinian rights turning on long time advocates of that cause because they are not viewed as sufficiently engaged in demonstrating that they are not anti-Semitic. Indeed, demonstrating one’s anti-anti-Semitic credentials seems to have become a sine qua non for establishing the bona fides of any friend of Palestine, apparently more important than actually doing anything for the Palestinians, who have been losing land continuously to the Israelis and regularly getting killed whenever they resist.

That the Palestinians have been victimized by the self-designated Jewish State funded by Jewish organizations and enabled through Jewish manipulation of America’s legislature and media would appear to be an irrelevancy to the self-righteous standard bearers adhering staunchly to what they choose to describe as their “anti-racist principles.” In a recent disagreeable incident involving the Students for Justice in Palestine at Stanford University a Nakba survivor Palestinian woman speaker was actually disinvited because it was feared that she might verbally challenge the legitimacy of the Zionist occupation of her former home. One wonders if the students would have censored an anti-Apartheid speaker from South Africa in a similar fashion in the 1980s?

I have sometimes noted how the Zionist conspiracy is international in nature, with hate crime legislation strictly enforced in places like France to sanction any criticism of Israel, which has been conveniently and incorrectly conflated with anti-Semitism. The latest focal point for making any critique of the Zionist enterprise unacceptable is Britain, and more particularly in the Labour Party, which once upon a time was viewed as the most progressive of the country’s three major parties. It also has long included Jewish Britons in senior party and government positions and is home to two formidable pressure groups, the Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement.

Some recent Labour Party history is required. In September 2015 Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the parliamentary Labour Party to replace Ed Milliband. Corbyn, who has a long history as a human rights advocate and anti-interventionist in his foreign policy views, was considered a long shot when he began his leadership campaign but eventually won with nearly 60% of the vote due to “anti-establishment” fervor similar to what is taking place in the United States currently. Along the way, his campaign was assailed by a number of Jewish organizations in Britain based on allegations that he was hostile to Israel.

Corbyn had indeed been outspoken on Middle East policy as a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, condemning the Israeli handling of the conflict in Gaza and denouncing what he describes as apartheid in Israel. He has supported a selective boycott of Israel and believes that weapons sales to it should be blocked. Asked by an interviewer in July 2015 why he had referred to both Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”, Corbyn replied, “I use it in a collective way, saying our friends are prepared to talk. Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No. What it means is that I think to bring about a peace process, you have to talk to people with whom you may profoundly disagree … There is not going to be a peace process unless there is talks involving Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas and I think everyone knows that.”

Corbyn also supported the lifting of sanctions as part of a negotiated agreement to dismantle the Iranian nuclear program, and the initiation of steps to place Israel’s nuclear arsenal under Non-Proliferation controls. Though one would think that the statements were pretty mild stuff relatively speaking, Corbyn continues to be assailed as being tolerant of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party as a consequence.

Observers in Britain believe that much of the behind the scenes anti-Corbyn agitation within the Party is being orchestrated by former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who wants to see Corbyn replaced by someone closer to his brand of political centrism. One longtime Blair supporter and major Labour donor David Abrahams apparently agrees, ending his financial support of the party over its alleged anti-Semitism, declaring it “a plague that has to be stamped out.”

Britain is going to the polls on Thursday in local and municipal elections. It is perhaps no coincidence that the attacks on Labour have intensified in the past several weeks and polls are now suggested that the Party might well lose “hundreds” of local government seats at least in part due to the apparent turmoil reflected in media coverage of the anti-Semitism issue.

The wave of attacks on Labour members deemed to be too hostile to Israel actually began in August 2015 with widely publicized but later discredited claims that the Oxford University Labour Club was dominated by anti-Semites. As it turned out, Alex Chalmers, the student who made the allegations, was a member of Britain’s Israel lobby. Currently it is being fueled by appearances in the national media by Israel’s Ambassador Mark Regev and also by former associates of Tony Blair who are demanding a thorough review of possible anti-Semitism within the party. They have focused on two Labour notables, Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone, “Red” Ken, who have been suspended over comments and social media postings relating to Israel.

Naz Shah, a member of Parliament, reportedly made a Facebook post before she was elected to office that copied a graphic of Israel superimposed on to a map of the United States with the message “Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict – Relocate Israel into United States” with the additional notation by Shah “Problem Solved,” a joke intended to demonstrate that if the U.S. and Israel love each other so much they should collocate, solving the Middle East conflict as a consequence. The graphic was copied from American professor Norman Finkelstein’s blog.

Shah has apologized four times for her transgression.

Ken Livingstone reportedly told the BBC that Adolph Hitler had supported Zionism in that he negotiated with German Zionists to transfer Europe’s Jews to Palestine in the event of a German Army defeat of the British in the Middle East, a victory that never materialized. Livingstone, well known for inserting his foot in his mouth, was, in fact correct in his comment, which he later declared as “historical” in nature. Under attack, Livingstone defended himself by declaring that the truth about Hitler and Zionism is “not taught in Israeli schools.”

Corbyn and other members of the Labour Shadow Cabinet have repeatedly stated that any party member who makes anti-Semitic or racist comments will be expelled. He has responded to the demands in the media and from within the party by initiating an official inquiry into possible racism headed by Shami Chakrabarti, a highly regarded former head of a civil rights charity called Liberty.

The disturbing aspect of the current purge underway in Britain is not only about racism, if that is indeed how one should define anti-Semitism. It is over the extent to which one can criticize the state of Israel without suffering consequences and also over the degree to which any such criticism should or can be equated with anti-Semitism. It is in the interest of Israel and its supports to make the two issues one and the same and they have had considerable success in making the distinction between the two largely invisible. Corbyn’s comments on the Middle East are decidedly progressive but not necessarily wrong. Naz Shah played with a graphic on Facebook expressing her views, which were not genocidal or racist, in a silly fashion that most Facebook users have likely emulated at one time or another. Ken Livingstone has a history of shooting from the lip and turning him into a whipping boy for an ill-advised comment that had no racist overtones or that did not in any way call for violence is more than a bit of overreach. None of the three attacked Jews either as an ethnicity or as a religion but they were criticized as if they had done so.

Critics of Israel in the United States, possibly to include the Stanford University Students for Justice in Palestine, should learn from what happens in Europe. Once you start your critique with an apology lest you offend someone you have already lost the argument. Refusing to listen to speakers who just might upset part of the audience is self-censorship, designed to go along to get along and in the end it is self-defeating. If you want to tie yourself in knots over avoiding the anti-Semitism label, which is routinely used to silence and destroy critics including yourself, you will never see a country called Palestine or a United States that is free from the manipulation by the Israel Lobby.

May 3, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why was the Nakba Tour Canceled at Stanford?

Palestinian Refugee: Stanford students censored me over condemnation of Israel

Free Palestine Movement | April 11, 2016

In an interview, Amena El-Ashkar, a Palestinian refugee from Lebanon, states that she refused to speak at Stanford University after students told her she could not express her views about Israel.

I’m coming here to say that Israel has no right to exist. [The students] said we could discuss this kind of thing with each other, but not in front of American people…

Ms. Ashkar’s talk is one of several on a national “North America Nakba Tour,” a tour designed to educate Americans about the enduring effects Israel’s mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948. Ms. Ashkar and Mariam “Umm Akram” Fathallah, an 86-year-old survivor of the expulsion, had planned to speak at Stanford University on 6 April 2016. Ms. Ashkar was born and raised in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, where her ancestors were banished during the expulsion, or Nakba, of 1948.

Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which was hosting the talk at Stanford, told Ms. Ashkar that their existence as a campus organization depends on not challenging Israel’s “right to exist,” and told her not to address the topic. Ms. Ashkar refused to censor herself and was shocked that an organization named “Students for Justice in Palestine” would insist on such a requirement. Although some of the students admitted to sharing Ms. Ashkar’s views, the students cited the hostile administrative climate at Stanford to justify censoring their guest.

I told them, it is a fight, and any fight is going to have sacrifices. In Lebanon, we have Palestinian clubs… which do not take funds from the University. We pay it ourselves.

Stanford SJP released a false statement attributing the cancellation to concerns about Alison Weir, a pro-Palestinian commentator who was in the audience. Ms. Weir was subject to widely disputed — and widely rejected — accusations of anti-Semitism by other Palestinian rights organizers last summer, revealing deep-seated divisions within the Palestinian rights movement. Although Tour organizers had informally asked Ms. Weir to give Ms. Ashkar public speaking advice, and Ms. Weir had offered the Tour some generic informational materials — none of which are authored by Weir — Ms. Weir is not one of the national organizers of the North America Nakba Tour and was not a planned speaker. Weir offered to sell copies of her own writings at the event to raise money for the Tour, but complied when Stanford students asked her not to sell them. The statement alleges that Ms. Weir refused to leave when asked, which Weir and Tour organizers deny. No security personnel were called to remove Weir or anyone else from the audience; instead, the speaker herself felt alienated and called off the event.

Ms. Ashkar explains that disagreements about who was in the audience were not why the talk was canceled. Instead, Ms. Ashkar says that she herself called off the talk when the organizers demanded that she censor herself.

The existence of Israel, as I told the SJP, means that I have no right to exist. Because I am a refugee in a Palestinian camp inside Lebanon. The Lebanese government doesn’t want me, and we cannot return. So what are we? Are we going to stay stateless refugees generation after generation?

One of the informational flyers provided by Weir, but authored by former PLO legal advisor John V. Whitbeck apparently sparked the feud with similar arguments. The flyer states, in part,

To demand that Palestinians recognize “Israel’s right to exist” is to demand that a people who have been treated as subhumans unworthy of basic human rights publicly proclaim that they are subhumans. It would imply Palestinians’ acceptance that they deserve what has been done and continues to be done to them. Even 19th-century US governments did not require the surviving native Americans to publicly proclaim the “rightness” of their ethnic cleansing by European colonists…

North America Nakba Tour organizers call on Stanford SJP to retract its false explanation and issue a public apology for their behavior to Ms. Ashkar. They have also asked concerned citizens to consider donating to the Tour and attending Tour events in lieu of the cancellation. Paul Larudee, a Tour organizer, and Ms. Weir have separately authored their own accounts of the incident.

Paul Larudee | April 7, 2016

Last night, Mariam Fathalla and Amena Elashkar were scheduled to speak at Stanford University, sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine. The previous day, I had asked Alison Weir, who has been giving talks on Palestine for 15 years all over the country, to meet with Amena and give her advice on reaching American audiences since this is Amena’s first trip to the U.S. It was an excellent, fruitful meeting.

I then said it would be valuable if Alison could hear Amena’s presentation to see if she would have any suggestions. Alison is extremely busy but agreed to come down to Stanford with us for that purpose.

When Alison learned we did not yet have any written materials along to provide the audience, she brought some along with her for us to use and also gave us some of her books that we could sell to help raise money for the tour. We had already discussed that IAK would supply their excellent written materials for the tour.

We had no idea that Alison would turn out to be an issue, or that the Stanford SJP would object to what Amena might wish to say.

Alison is an extremely committed and popular antiracist writer, speaker, and activist, and people even follow her work in refugee camps in Lebanon.  While some groups oppose her and If Americans Knew, most people working for justice in Palestine feel she is one of the top writers and speakers on this issue.

In any case this should not be an issue for the Nakba Tour; Alison is not one of the national organizers of the tour, and she was not intended to be one of the speakers or to have any role in the presentation at Stanford. She was simply there as a favor to us, as described above.

However, some members of the SJP immediately objected to Alison’s presence, perhaps assuming she was going to speak, and also to the presence of her book and the If Americans Knew materials. We immediately explained that Alison was not to be a speaker and was just there to sit in the audience, and that we had invited her to come with us. We also agreed to remove the books, but said we were disturbed that they also wished to censor the materials we could make available on our own tour. In all my years of activism, I’ve never heard of such a thing.

Amena then began discussing the situation with the students, and was extremely upset when they told her that she could not speak truthfully about her feelings and the feelings of the thousands of dispossessed Palestinian refugees living in camps about their situation, about the Nakba, and about whether or not Israel has “the right to exist” that Israel partisans claim.  This was not an issue at the two previous talks.

When it became clear that they wished Amena to censor her excellent talk, she refused to do so and the event was canceled.

We think it is extremely important that people hear from Amena and Mariam. They represent millions of Palestinian refugees whose rights and views have been trampled upon and who are often ignored. Thank you for helping us bring their voice to the discussion. It is long past time that they are heard.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

– Paul Larudee, Tour Coordinator

April 14, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment