August 20, 2014

Tricycle Diaries: a Win Win for BDS?

The Tricycle Theatre's rejection of Israeli embassy funding for the UK Jewish Film Festival which then withdrew the whole festival from the theatre was never that clear cut.

Originally the theatre said it wouldn't accept Israeli embassy funding because of the war on Gaza.  The theatre offered to replace the funding but UKJFF paradoxically claimed that the theatre was punishing Jews for the state of Israel's action at the same time as saying that "the state of Israel is intrinsic to Jewish culture."  The theatre also claimed that it wasn't objecting to the festival or to Israeli embassy funding per se and that it would be happy to host the festival in future years as in previous years regardless of where the funding was coming from.  The festival withdrew altogether and that could have been that.

Next up came a series of increasingly shrill false allegations of antisemitism together with false accounts of what had actually taken place between the theatre and the festival.

I noticed a barrister on twitter suggesting that legal action might be in order.  This worried me because it was one of two barristers who berated the complainants in the FUCU case for being so silly as to equate anti-Zionism with racism.  So he had opposed Fraser (et al) in FUCU but seemed to be advocating a FUCU II in the case of the UKJFF.

Next I saw Jewish News trumpet the news that the Tricycle Theatre had performed a U-turn.  The barrister actually tweeted two of the false accusers of antisemitism to commend them for what he saw as their help.  That wasn't just worrying, it was disappointing.  I'm rushing for work at the mo so I'll dig up relevant tags, links, tweets, etc when I get home tonight/tomorrow.

I did find the triumphalist crowing by Zionists to be a bit overblown because according to the theatre and the festival the situation hasn't actually changed.  The festival won't be at the theatre this year but is intended to be next year even with Israeli embassy funding.  The only thing that has changed is that the theatre is saying that it would host the festival this year with the Israeli embassy funding.  Certainly the Tricycle people have been a little humiliated over this but I can't really see what the big turnaround is except in their attitude which is kind of apologetic without actually apologising.

So where are we now?  Well now the Ham and High have published an article on Zionist ranter, Maureen Lipman saying that the festival can never again be at the Tricycle.

The 68-year-old, a star of stage and screen, believes the theatre’s U-turn last week - when it announced it had “withdrawn its objection” to the UK Jewish Film Festival’s sponsorship from the Israeli embassy - will not ease the furore it created anytime soon.

She told the Ham&High: “There is a very large and cogent anti-Israel feeling around that part of the world and they will have made it impossible for the festival to go ahead.

“I don’t think the Kilburn police could have policed it. I don’t think they’ll host it next year. I’m very distressed and haunted by this, I’m worried and baffled.

“It was a stupid and untimely gesture and I’m glad they’ve had the good sense to realise it was badly timed in the face of rising anti-Semitism and I’m very relieved that they can see they are in an impossible position.”

Well I was never that excited by the Tricycle rejection of Israeli embassy funding in the first place since it was by no means full support for BDS.  Equally I wasn't so disappointed by the U-Turn that didn't look much like a U-Turn to me at all.  I say this because I could well be missing something given the excitement/disappointment on both sides over what I saw as two non-events.

By the way, there is also a Facebook page by zionists calling for an on-going boycott of Tricycle.

So all in all it looks to me that BDS is now in a win win situation.  If Maureen Lipman and these Facebook Zionists have their way then the Israeli embassy funded UK "Jewish" Film Festival will no longer be at Tricycle Theatre.  And of course whatever happens, the Tricycle Theatre's statement of retraction looks like the outcome not of discussions but of Zionist bullying.  So whatever happens, it looks like a win win for BDS but then I didn't know what all the fuss was about in the first place.

I added in links etc.  I've a feeling I'll be revisiting this issue in future.

August 16, 2014

Jewish Chronicle apologises to readers for appearing humanitarian

This is as weird as it's disgraceful.  Apparently The Jewish Chronicle has had complainst about an ad in its print edition yesterday (August 15, 2014) for the Disasters Emergency Committee for Gaza.  Stephen Pollard, the JC's editor, addressed those complaints so:
There has been some controversy over the advert for the DEC Gaza appeal in this week’s paper.

I understand why some people are angry and upset and I thought it important to respond.

This is an advert, and not an expression of the JC's view. We keep editorial coverage entirely separate from our commercial operations.

As editor, I am not responsible for any ads which appear in the paper. It is a critical part of our editorial independence that we do not allow advertisers to have any influence at all on the paper.

The ad was approved by the chairman of the JC, who has no involvement in editorial decisions, as an ad for humanitarian aid which nowhere makes political or partisan points.

Both I as editor and the JC are entirely supportive of Operation Protective Edge, as our coverage has demonstrated. Almost alone in the British media the JC has stressed Israel’s right to defend herself and sought to explain why Israel was faced with no choice but to take action in Gaza.

There is, clearly, a humanitarian cost to that action. But I do not accept the figures touted around much of the media about the level of civilian casualties – many are, I am sure, terrorists.

This is not a JC-backed appeal. We have no involvement in it beyond running an ad, which has appeared in most British newspapers.

Even if you profoundly disagree with the ad appearing in the paper, I hope this will go some way to explaining its presence and that it is in no way part of our editorial stance.

So don't worry readers of the Jewish Chronicle, your weekly community newspaper doesn't do humanitarian when the most moral army in the world has created the humanitarian need.

So what's weird?  The apology by Stephen Pollard is dated August 14, 2014.  Now, whilst the JC is dated for the Friday it appears in most shops and arrives at most subscribers' homes it might appear in some shops and arrive in some homes on the Thursday.  It's delivered to my house on Fridays and I never see it on a Thursday.

So who was doing the complaining?  It could only be people from among the small minority of readers who get their copy on a Thursday, if such people exist.

Let's assume they do exist.  How many could have complained?

Ok, let's assume they don't exist and that no one gets their JC before Friday.  How did the complainers know about the ad if they hadn't seen the paper?

Now go see Stephen Pollard's explanation of how the ad, that appears to have appeared the day after he apologised to readers for its appearance, er, appeared at all.
The ad was approved by the chairman of the JC, who has no involvement in editorial decisions, as an ad for humanitarian aid which nowhere makes political or partisan points.
Now people might think the ad was approved for humanitarian reasons but Pollard is simply contrasting humanitarian with political or partisan, he is not saying that the ad was run by the JC for any humanitarian reason.  Higher up the piece he has already said, "We keep editorial coverage entirely separate from our commercial operations."  In other words, this was a commercial decision.

But now look at the Beeb.  Now I'm surprised that the Beeb has run this story at all since it puts the Zionist movement in such an unfavourable light.

First they let the JC lie for itself:
The weekly newspaper said running the advert was "meant as a purely humanitarian gesture".
Then typically it gave Israel's version of events about the attack on Gaza:
 The Israelis launched a military operation on 8 July to stop militant attacks from Gaza.
 But then comes a gem:
After a DEC advert featured in this week's Jewish Chronicle (JC), a Facebook page was set up calling on readers to boycott the title until it issued a "full apology".
A Facebook page?  The plot thickens....

And what do we see on the Facebook page?  Well, there are 182 likes.  Did Pollard really make the Jewish community look so uncaring for the sake of 182 Facebook likes?

Back to the Beeb:
Meanwhile, Israel's embassy in the UK issued a statement in which it said its own concern about the DEC appeal "stems from the fact that the list of charities on the DEC includes Islamic Relief Worldwide, which has been designated in Israel recently as an unlawful association, for providing support and funnelling funds to Hamas, a terror group designated in the UK.
"Surely this must raise cause for concern for the public donating money for children, when one of the donors has been officially declared to be using that money to support a recognized terror group," it said.
I would guess that this brings us closer to why Stephen Pollard has flaunted the sheer cruelty of Zionism.  It cannot possibly have been 182 or whatever many ordinary Joes complaining via Facebook.  Last I heard the JC had a circulation of about 30,000 and I remember reading that advertisers like the JC because it passes through the hands of every literate member of every household to which it is delivered.  182 is a pretty small proportion of its total readership.  But the State of Israel, now that's a different story.  The JC exists to promote the interests of the entity.  I reckon it was a telling off the JC received from the Israeli embassy that had Stephen Pollard suggesting his readers are a bunch of Nazis.  The only other explanation might, just might, be he doesn't like the Chair of the JC and dangerous "humanitarian" was the only putdown he could think of.

August 15, 2014

Tricycle Successfully Bullied by Zionists, but not how you might think

Don't panic!  The Israeli Embassy funded UK Jewish Film Festival will still not be hosted at Tricycle Theatre this year because it refused to ditch the funding it always gets from the Israeli embassy.  The Tricycle did make it clear that this was a once off decision based on the situation between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza.  That is the current cull, not the occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza and certainly not Jewish supremacy throughout the whole of Palestine (aka Israel and the occupied territories).

Unfortunately Tricycle has removed its original statement and replaced it with a more Zionist friendly one and that is where the bullies have succeeded. Tricycle is now misleading readers as to the history of what was a boycott of Tricycle by the UK Jewish Film Festival because of the latter's insistence that racist war criminality is part and parcel of Jewish culture.

So where to look for the truth on this?  The case is tricky because even when the truth lurked within the articles, the headlines tended to be misleading, then as now.

Oi gevalt! I forgot about Google cache.  I've rescued the original text:


The Tricycle Theatre and the UK Jewish Film Festival

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 by Tricycle
We have been contacted by several patrons who have been given misleading information about the Tricycle and the UK Jewish Film Festival. We would like to set down an accurate account.

The Tricycle has always welcomed the Festival and wants it to go ahead. We have proudly hosted the UK Jewish Film Festival for many years. However, given the situation in Israel and Gaza, we do not believe that the festival should accept funding from any party to the current conflict.  For that reason, we asked the UK Jewish Film Festival to reconsider its sponsorship by the Israeli Embassy.  We also offered to replace that funding with money from our own resources. The Tricycle serves many communities and celebrates different cultures and through difficult, emotional times must aim for a place of political neutrality. 

We regret that, following discussions, the chair of the UKJFF told us that he wished to withdraw the festival from the Tricycle.  

To be clear, at this moment, the Tricycle would not accept sponsorship from any government agency involved in the conflict. We hope to find a way to work with the UK Jewish Film Festival to allow the festival to go ahead at the Tricycle as it has done so successfully for the past 8 years.’  Indhu Rubasingham

A comment from Nicholas Hytner:  ’I greatly regret the UKJFF’s decision to leave the Tricycle cinema. Indhu Rubasingham and the Tricycle board could not have made clearer their commitment to Jewish culture or their desire to host a festival that would have included films from all over the world, including Israel. It is entirely understandable that they felt obliged to insist that no government agency should sponsor the festival. The Tricycle serves a diverse community with a notably diverse repertoire and it has a clear responsibility to make no statement about the dispute that is behind the current conflict. It greatly saddens me that the UKJFF have unwisely politicised a celebration of Jewish culture and I deplore any misrepresentation of the Tricycle’s position. I support Indhu Rubasingham and the Tricycle without reservation.’ 

A comment from Dominic Cooke: ‘The Tricycle is a venue with a history of celebrating plural cultures and viewpoints. A central strand of this work is the platform it has given to Jewish artists, a recent example of which was Indhu Rubasingham’s delightful production of Paper Dolls, which was set in Israel. The UK Jewish Film Festival is similarly plural in spirit, giving voice to a diverse range of Jewish talents and viewpoints. As two organisations celebrating diversity, they seem to me to be a perfect match, which is why the UKJFF’s decision to withdraw from the Tricycle is so very sad.

By taking funding from the Israeli government, the UKJFF are coercing the artists, supporters and the venue involved in the festival into a public association with the actions of a government they may not agree with. This runs counter to the values of pluralism which are central to the Tricycle’s identity. That is why I fully support the Tricycle in their effort to encourage the UKJFF to accept their offer of alternative funding and hugely regret the Festival’s decision to force the theatre’s hand by withdrawing.’

A comment from Philip Himberg, Artistic Director, Sundance Theatre Program: ‘I am the Artistic Director of a major American theatre company, and the author of Paper Dolls, a play set in Israel, which looks at the warm and loving relationship between an Israeli citizen and his caretaker. The play’s world premiere was exquisitely produced by the Tricycle Theatre in its world premiere in 2013, and sensitively directed by Indhu Rubasingham. I believe, without a doubt, that as regards the current crisis in the Middle East, the Tricycle must remain neutral by refusing sponsorship from any government directly involved in the conflict. As a great lover of Jewish theatrical culture, (I will soon be supporting the development of a new Yiddish language opera), there was a clear way for the UKJFF’s celebration of diverse Jewish culture to go forward at the Tricycle – but at this particular moment in time, utilizing funds from any of the governments in power in the region would be taking an unfair political stand.’

A comment from David Lan: ‘What matters is not what is happening in Kilburn but what has been happening in Gaza and in Israel. Violence will only produce more violence – theatre has been saying this for 3000 years. The Tricycle have acted morally and with sensitivity. I support Indhu and the Board and hope that all theatre people throughout the world will do the same.’

A comment from Christopher Haydon: ‘It is wrong to describe the Tricycle’s decision as anti-Semitic – their commitment to Jewish people and culture is clear. Any arts organisation has the right to make decisions about who they will or will not accept money from – whether directly or indirectly. Personally, I feel very ambivalent about the whole notion of cultural boycotts – particularly around such a painfully complex issue as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But regardless, the Tricycle in no way tried to boycott the festival. A difference of principle around funding arose between them and the UKJFF. The Tricycle offered an entirely sensible alternative in good faith and have demonstrated a clear commitment to trying to make it happen. They have behaved reasonably and fairly and attempts by some to misrepresent their actions only serves to poison a vital debate. Indhu and her team have my full support.’

A comment from Sean Holmes: ‘Having directed many productions at the Tricycle I am writing to strongly support the Board’s decision regarding the UKJFF. It is important that the Tricycle remains politically neutral. It is a bastion of openness and tolerance and I regret the UKJFF’s decision to politicise the legitimate concerns of the Tricycle and refuse their offer of an eminently sensible compromise.’

A comment from Richard Eyre: ‘I wholeheartedly support the position of Indhu Rubasingham and the Tricycle Theatre and deplore any attempt to misrepresent that position.’

A comment from Dominic Hill: ‘The Tricycle is without doubt one of the most inclusive, multi-cultural, diverse and open-minded arts organisations in the UK. It must be, and be seen to be, politically neutral. I wholeheartedly support Indhu’s position.’

A comment from Dawn Walton: ‘The Tricycle is a space that has always delivered and supported work from a truly diverse community of artists. I support Indhu and the Board of the Tricycle Theatre for a position which seeks to maintain The Tricycle as a place of political neutrality. I support their sensitive approach in a challenging situation.’

That was, according to google, the Tricycle site as at August 11, 2014 but it could change, and how?  Look at the Tricycle site now:
A joint statement from the UKJFF and Tricycle Theatre:
‘Some weeks ago the UKJFF fell out, very publicly, with the Tricycle over a condition imposed by the Tricycle regarding funding. This provoked considerable public upset. Both organisations have come together to end that.
Following lengthy discussions between the Tricycle and UKJFF, the Tricycle has now withdrawn its objection and invited back the UK Jewish Film Festival on the same terms as in previous years with no restrictions on funding from the Embassy of Israel in London.
The UKJFF and the Tricycle have agreed to work together to rebuild their relationship and although the festival is not able to return in 2014, we hope to begin the process of rebuilding trust and confidence with a view to holding events in the future.
We both profoundly hope that those who take differing views on the events of the last few weeks will follow our lead and come together to acknowledge that dialogue, reconciliation and engagement will resolve points of difference and ensure that cultural diversity thrives in all communities.’

That was from the same link for which I got the cache version.  

Many of us were aware from the start that this was not a BDS action.  What the Zionist bullying has achieved is not the reversal of a decision but an announcement of business as usual reworded to humiliate the organisers of Tricycle Theatre.  All very sad but not a disaster.

And I'm sure in the long term BDS will win this thing.

Did Lenin say "useful idiots" and if so who did he mean?

I've just seen this expression "useful idiots" and I know it is most often attributed to Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik revolution establishing the Soviet Union.

People who use the expression these days usually refer to leftist anti-war types or anti-zionists etc.  It suggests that Lenin referred to communists as useful idiots but I reckon if he said it at all and he was referring to people who helped or supported the revolution he can't have meant communists or leftists or he would have been calling himself an idiot.

I think I remember hearing the expression attributed to Lenin back when I was at university. I graduated 1982.  I can't be bothered to research this much  but I saw on Wikipedia that there is no evidence that Lenin said or wrote "useful idiots" anywhere.

Well I think I remember reading that Lenin did indeed say it.  According to what I think I read, there was a famine in the fledgling Soviet Union.  Western charities arranged for food aid.  Philanthropy, according to Lenin, was all about palliative relief for the poor to undermine the long term relief brought by the revolution.  So philanthropists who did their thing to undermine the revolution were alleviating famine in the Soviet Union thereby making themselves useful to the revolution.

Hence, useful idiots.  No? Yes?  Any takers?

Israel: The Community's Response to the atrocities in Gaza

The following are notes taken by Deborah Maccoby at what turned out to be a rally for the State of Israel in its war on the Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere. Comments in bold are by me and those in italics are asides by Deborah. Now read on...
13.08.14 HELD IN JFS (Jewish Free School)



I am introducing this meeting with mixed feelings.  I am chuffed that so many have come, but sad about the circumstances in which we meet. We all have relatives in Israel and we are all sad about the terror that they are experiencing there [Note: no mention from VW at all of Gaza].  And with the rise of antisemitism in Britain, we are moving into very difficult territory.[We'd better spread the word that support for war criminals is an essentially Jewish thing]  All the communal organisations have worked well together to organise this meeting.


I have to leave soon, as I am very busy; but I had to be here to accompany the meeting in expressing solidarity with Israel. Ever since the three Israeli teenagers were abducted and murdered, we have been going through anxiety on a daily basis. I am saddened by the loss of Israeli soldiers and saddened by the loss of civilian life in both Israel and Gaza. [Note: this and a reference from Gillian Merron, CEO of the BoD, to "loss of life on both sides", were the only references during the entire meeting to civilian deaths in Gaza, apart from a reference by the BICOM speaker to misleading images of dead children in Gaza and comments both from the BICOM speaker and at question time that the casualty figures can't be believed].  We live with a dual existence, as individuals and as part of a people.  We feel totally part of Am Yisrael.  In July, there were over 200 antisemitic incidents in Britain. Tomorrow I am going to Israel, on my fifth visit since the start of the conflict. I hope the meeting will consider how we can all help for the sake of Israel's future.

DERMOT KEHOE, CEO OF BICOM (The Britain-Israel Research Committee, the UK equivalent of AIPAC).

We all stand with Israel; we are not divided [Paid Israel advocates not divided, shock!].  We are united in our support for democracy.  There is a rise in antisemitic attacks and increasing fear within the Jewish community. BICOM exists to give pro-Israel voices a platform [and Jews a bad name].  I wish we had in Britain a fair and balanced media [no you don't].  I wish we had a media that expressed complex ideas in depth [nope, you definitely don't want that]. But Dan Meridor, Uri Dromi etc [a long list of more names] have been interviewed in the British media.  We have taken the argument to Israel's fiercest critics; we have debated in public with Mira Bar-Hillel, Ben White and Mehdi Hasan.  Not one opportunity to put the pro-Israel point of view has been turned down. A third of children in Sderot are likely to grow up with long-term learning disabilities. BICOM has exposed the use on social media of misleading images of dead children in Gaza that were actually of children in Syria or Iraq [Is he saying that hundreds of children were not killed in Gaza by Israel?].  Hamas casualty figures cannot be taken at face value.  Whenever you see or hear anything wrong in the media, complain to the media and seek help from groups such as We Believe in Israel.  Israel still has many friends in the UK[media].

SPEAKER FROM UJIA (the United Jewish-Israel Appeal)

Every year, we send children on summer tours.  When war broke out in July this year, we asked "can we keep them safe?  Can we still give them an educational programme?"  We decided to carry on, and right now approximately 1,225 children have completed their summer tours in Israel.  A large number of parents from the US cancelled the summer tours; but - without wanting to sound anti-American - only 20 parents from Britain cancelled. UJIA has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for relief projects in the south of Israel, including projects for the Bedouin [no mention of relief for Gaza][and this may have been a coded reference to the ethnic cleansing Prawer Plan].  We are running a two-day programme in Israel for British Jews to go there to see these relief projects for themselves. This has been the busiest month in the UJIA's history. Yes, there are critical views of Israel in the Jewish community [Note: this and remarks about Yachad and making peace with the Palestinians were the only references to critical views of Israel in the Jewish community in the whole meeting]; but instinctive, gut love for Israel has never been greater [yup, you need a strong gut to love Israel].


This is a high-profile, complex and long drawn out conflict.  We are all deeply saddened by the loss of life on both sides. But Israel's safety and security are paramount.  It has been attacked with rockets and terror tunnels.  I am proud to stand with Israel.  We face a challenging environment in the UK.  Graphic images are beamed into our TVs every night [not faked images from Syria and Iraq then].  There is effective campaigning from PSC and Stop the War.  The British government has acted with integrity. I congratulate our government for pursuing the de-militarisation of Hamas; but it has also reached the decision to restrict the export of weapons that enable Israel to defend itself.  We continue to challenge the Lib Dems over the comments made by David Ward. We have also challenged John Prescott for calling Gaza a "concentration camp".  [did they challenge David Cameron when, presumably at Obama's request, he called Gaza a "prison camp"?]


There were over 200 antisemitic incidents in July,  This is over four times what could be expected.  It is the second highest monthly total since CST started recording antisemitic incidents in 1984 - the first highest monthly total  being in January 2009, under similar circumstances.  There were 374 antisemitic incidents in the first six months of this year.  We have increased security at synagogues and Jewish events. CST is working closely with UJS (the Union of Jewish Students). If you are a victim of an antisemitic incident, please report it to CST.[are they using the working definition of antisemitism? If so, we'll never know how many incidents there have been]


We are challenging BDS, which means the delegitimisation of Israel [you're damn right geezer, except Israel had no legitimacy in the first place].  The National Union of Students and the TUC Conference have passed boycott motions. Even Tesco might be in the process of boycotting certain products [certain products?].  There are demonstrations outside the Kedem store in Manchester. Labour and the Lib Dems could have plans for boycott.  [Note: the NUS motion included support for a two state solution; and the TUC motion was only against settlement goods; the Kedem demonstrations are against the Occupation, not Israel per se; Tesco, Labour and the Lib Dems would only support boycott of the Occupation][and the good news?].  What are we doing about it?  Our mechanisms include: a) the Fair Play Campaign; b) supporting the TUC Friends of Israel; c) re-organisation of the way we coordinate responses to the delegitimisation of Israel.  We are protesting against local councils that have taken the ludicrous decision to fly Palestinian flags.  We are opposing the Tricycle Theatre's discriminatory decision to force out the UK Jewish Film Festival [Note; the Tricycle asked the UKJFF to drop its funding from the Israel Embassy, in view of the situation in Gaza, so that it would not look as though the Tricycle was supporting the Israeli government, and offered to make up the shortfall itself; the UKJFF chose to keep its Israeli Embassy funding and leave the Tricycle].


I am not Jewish but am proud to support Israel. MPs have been getting thousands of anti-Israel letters. Anti-Israel groups have generated 58,000 letters to MPs. Our side has only sent 5,000.  The government is threatening to suspend licences for the very weapons that Israel needs to defend itself.  What you can do: complain about media bias; visit Israel; attend rallies.  Sussex Friends of Israel are organising a big rally in Brighton this month.  There will be another Israel Solidarity Rally in London next month. 


1) We all know what "from the river to the sea/Palestine will be free" means.

2) Hamas has links with ISIS.

3) The Gaza casualty figures are all lies.

4) Tirade against Yachad, [the UK equivalent of J-Street], for organising tours in which people from Britain are taken on Breaking the Silence tours of the West Bank.

5) Can we try to get Jon Snow off the air?

6) Why isn't the Zionist Federation up on the platform?

7) Why are we not being led by the Board of Deputies? (loud applause and anger against the BoD).

8) A woman said she had gone with a delegation to Bradford to oppose George Galloway's call to make Bradford an "Israel-free zone" and had brandished her Israeli passport there, but had got no support from the Board of Deputies. (Standing ovation from audience).

9) Question from JfJfP signatory: what perspectives do you have on ways to make peace with the Palestinians?  No-one has mentioned this all evening. [she was hissed apparently]

10) Comments from Chair of UK Jewish Film Festival denouncing the Tricycle.

11) Comments about the Hamas Charter

12) Comments about Yvonne Ridley speaking in Glasgow.  What is the Board of Deputies doing in support of the Glasgow Jewish community?

A few responses from the panel (who seemed overwhelmed by the antagonism and didn't answer all the questions).

a) Re Yachad: we caution everyone in this room against demonising any organisation in the Jewish community that reflects a basic commitment to the Jewish and democratic state.

b) re Jon Snow: BICOM rep said they were going to look into prosecuting him for contravening media standards.

c) In response to question 9 from the JfJfP signatory:  we want to acknowledge the absolute legitimacy of this question., 76 per cent of Israeli Jews would like to see a two state solution, but the same percentage thinks it won't happen in their lifetime.  A majority of Israelis wants to see a peaceful outcome.[well that's alright then]


August 14, 2014

When a man's tired of Geras he's tired of life

We're in one of the periods when many people are thinking thoughts like, just when I thought Zionists couldn't stoop any lower they pull something out of the bag.  That must have crossed a few minds when The Guardian decided to run an ad too racist even for The Times.

Similarly, the generalist Decents (Zionists all but with a few other violent racist staples thrown in) are in apoplectic why oh why mode what with Boko Haram and ISIS threatening democracy and much else besides and the Egyptian coup to defend.  I didn't say being a Decent was easy.

The Decents have mainstreamers like David Aaronovitch, Nick Cohen and many others who I hardly ever read because, well, I always think I know what they're going to say without reading them and then looking at various tweets like this Flying Rodent chap's my prejudice is usually confirmed.  To list the Decents out doesn't really do justice to their ideology/political persuasion.  It dominates the discourse in the mainstream media on such things as Israel and foreign interventions/wars but it tends to be more shouty than the run of the mill mainstream media and the card carrying Decent tends to denounce the rest of the mainstream for not being hard enough on leftists who never get a lookin in the mainstream anyway.  The late Decentpedia or Encyclopedia of Decency is very good on er, Decency.

So what's new?  Nothing should be new in Decency, they've said it all before and when matters arise you just know what they're going to say but there is a new blog of Decency with the most ludicrous name ever imagined.  It's called The Gerasites.  Really it's a blog purporting to be followers of the late Norman Geras.  Norman Geras was one of those intellectual marxists who later on in life decided that intellectual and marxist weren't such nice things after all so he ditched both.  In common with a lot of the Decents I don't think he owned up to ditching marxism.  They usually claim that it ditched them.  Something like that.

When I saw the name, The Gerasites, I assumed it couldn't be anything to do with acolytes of Norman Geras because I thought even the worst of them wouldn't be so ridiculous.  It crossed my mind that it could be anti-Gerasites having a laugh at the expense of the er, Gerasites.  It also occurred to me that it looked like the kind of putdown that Enver Hoxha would throw at his enemies, like The Titoites.

Jeez, I'm falling over myself here.  I see that an Artful Hoxha has picked up on this new blog in a Flying Rodent twitter conversation:

Even a guy with the name the Artful Hoxha can't quite believe there's a supposed group blog called Gerasites!

Of course I could be missing some self-parody here like, yes these people are followers of Norman Geras but since his imperialist turn is pretty common among former leftists in the mainstream media there's no need to sanctify His, I mean, his name.  But it's not self-parody, these people are serious.

I say "these people" though the "about" bit is rather vague as to who they are in fact it doesn't say anything.

The home page is simply the latest article followed by previous ones.  The main person behind it seems to be some Jamie Palmer chap and I noticed Harry's Place's Sarah Annes Brown in the comments hedging her bets about whether to become a full blown Gerasite.

But the bit that makes me think that even Gerasites are tired of Gerasism is the sub-heading.  Take a look:

The Gerasites

Liberal hawks, Eustonites, Anti-Anti-West Left, etc

Really, that's all it says.  Liberal hawks, Eustonites, Anti-Anti-West Left, etc? Etcetera? What's that about?  They put etcetera in place of pro-Israel?   They  couldn't be bothered to say "anti-totalitarian"?  What's going on?  Are the Gerasites tired of Gerasism?  Sure, why wouldn't they be?

August 13, 2014

Guardian fills (un)subscriber with disgust

Here's a letter to the Guardian from my friend Deborah Maccoby to her former friends at The Guardian:
Dear Sir,

As a signatory of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, I am so outraged by your decision to publish the infamous Eli Wiesel/Shmuely Boteach ad that I have decided to make a protest by cancelling my subscription to the Guardian.  I do this with great regret, as I have been a long-standing Guardian reader and subscriber.  I switched many years ago from reading the Times to reading what seemed to me to be the much more interesting and informative pages of the Guardian. But even the Times refused to publish this ad.  

Freedom of speech does have some limits in a newspaper with civilised standards. The ad includes the sentence:  "It is a battle of civilisation versus barbarism".  This ad is barbaric.   After 1,400 Palestinian civilians, including over 400 children, have been massacred in an utterly unnecessary and avoidable onslaught, in what is a war crime and a crime against humanity, it is an outrage to publish an ad that effectively exculpates from responsibility the Israel soldiers who did the killing.  Even the Murdoch press could not stomach this ad, so why did the Guardian publish it?

Deborah Maccoby
Sadly there's a crop of letters in today's Guardian all (most anyway) making the same bogus argument that they wouldn't know what the zionists were saying if the advert hadn't been published.  That's absurd, the reason there were so many complaints before the ad was run was because the ad had been shown elsewhere so its content was known and The Guardian had already reported on it.  Of course, if they want to know broadly what Zionists are saying all they have to do is read Jonathan Freedland.

August 11, 2014

A Guide to the Perplexed Owen Jones

Another day another article purporting to be about antisemitism in The Guardian.  I haven't actually read it yet and I only know about it because I suddenly found myself tagged in a twitter conversation involving Owen Jones, who penned the latest piece.

Without rushing in and reading it there are some immediate problems with the article.   It has come hot on the heels of two bogus allegations of antisemitism in the print edition of The Guardian on Saturday just gone. One was an editorial presumably written by Jonathan Freedland and the other by a Hadley Freeman.  Both falsely claimed that the Tricycle Theatre conflated Jewish identity with the State of Israel and both did exactly that themselves.  Both of those arose over the very limited action by Tricycle Theatre in refusing to accept funding (£1,400) from the Israeli embassy via the UK Jewish Film Festival.  And both of those followed a dubious Guardian article on Thursday just gone, listing a mixture of genuinely antisemitic actions with perfectly innocent anti-Zionist/Israel ones. By way, inadvertently, of an explanation for the sheer panic on Freedland and Freeman's part, The Observer published, Theatre's decision to ban Jewish film festival is 'thin end of wedge'. Hopefully it will be the thin end of the wedge.

Anyway, on top of all this, The Guardian hasn't just seen fit to carry a racist advert from some fanatical American Zionist group in today's print edition, it boasted about it in an article by the usually reasonable (as far as I know) Roy Greenslade.  The advert is so racist it was even rejected by Murdoch's Times newspaper.  By the small hours of yesterday morning I had counted 6 pro-Zionist propaganda Guardian pieces on their site in 5 days only partially redressed by a crop of letters in today's edition.

And now we have Owen Jones in The Guardian with Anti-Jewish hatred is rising – we must see it for what it is.  Now I've got to sort myself for work so I'll read the article on my phone.  But if Owen Jones is perplexed and reads this post he might get some idea of why some people are so suspicious of allegations of antisemitism which appear in the middle of a campaign of abject slaughter in Gaza by the self-styled Jewish State.  Meanwhile. if you're not Owen Jones, you might read the article before slagging it.  That's what I'm going to do.

August 09, 2014

Minor BDS Victory over Gaza has Zionist Lunatics taking over Guardian Asylum

The Guardian is sinking fast under a welter of Zionist penned articles wantonly blurring distinctions between opinion and fact and fact and falsehood.

It all began with a calm factual article about the UK Jewish Film Festival's withdrawal from The Tricycle Theatre because of the latter's objection to the receipt of £1,400 from the Israeli embassy.  There were Zionist reports of how the Tricycle had simply banned this generalist Jewish festival.  In fact the Jewish Chronicle has a front page article now with the headline, Film festival BANNED, in spite of the facts of the case now being well known.

There has been tremendous coverage of this throughout the print media and on-line but the Zionists are in such a panic they are swarming all over The Guardian to smear BDS supporters and the Tricycle people as antisemitic.

The first I noticed was an editorial that could only have been written by Jonathan Freedland who, a friend of mine told me, has considerable editorial influence at The Guardian.  I know The Guardian is often described as anti-Israel by Israel advocates but there are lines it rarely crosses so as to stay on the right side of the Zionist movement.  And of course, without getting into details, how can it be anti-Israel if Jonathan Freedland writes for it and wields editorial influence?

Anyway, the editorial is headed, The Guardian view on Gaza and the rise of antisemitism.*  I just did a word search for Gaza because I just had a feeling he wasn't writing about Gaza at all.  I was right. The word Gaza doesn't appear in the text.  Yup, in an article supposedly about Gaza and antisemitism Freedland has fulfilled an important part of the Zionist dream: he's made Gaza disappear.  Actually, he does nod to the slaughter by reference to the (you guessed it) "conflict between Israel and Hamas". 

He writes mostly about something that wasn't antisemitic at all and that's the Tricycle saga though he also detours to France and Germany where he writes of what would be genuine cases of antisemitism if only they could be verified by a more reliable source than himself.  Apparently it is true that synagogues have been attacked in France but the first report of an attack on a synagogue was actually a counter-attack by Palestine solidarity demonstrators against the openly racist terrorist group, the Jewish Defense League (banned as terrorists in the USA, the UK and even in Israel) who had come from the synagogue to attack the demonstrators, the JDL having the protection of the police.  Richard Seymour aka Lenin is very good on this.

Now, what else does he do?  Ah of course, he gets downright silly over the boycott campaign:
Some have made the argument that, if receiving money from a state implies endorsement of that state’s policy, then the Tricycle ought to return the £725,000 it receives from the taxpayer-funded Arts Council, lest that be read as backing for, say, UK participation in the invasion of Iraq.
This shows the anti-BDSrs' failure to consider what BDS is aimed at achieving and on whose behalf.  Many Palestinian groups have called for a boycott of Israel and that is what the solidarity movement supports.  Israel is a foreign aid junkie and it gets privileged access to EU markets.  The boycott movement is aims to neutralise that.  Who among those oppressed by the war on Iraq is calling for a boycott?  What could it achieve?  Boycotting is not simply a principle, it is a tactic that could work against Israel, a joint colonial project of western powers.

In the same paragraph he comes close to saying that support for colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and Jewish supremacy is an innate Jewish characteristic.  In fairness he falls just short of that but look at what he does say:
most, not all, Jews feel bound up with Israel, even if that relationship is one of doubt and anxiety. To demand that Jews surrender that connection is to tell Jews how they might – and how they might not – live as Jews. Such demands have an ugly history.
 It's tempting simply to say, "Oh fuck off!" but let's not be nasty to the self-indulgent prick.  He is saying that if most Jews support a political project then the rest of humanity has to accommodate that.  As it happens, it's impossible to know what most Jews want because it's impossible, in the west anyway, to know who most Jews are.  Thankfully, in spite of the ravings of one mad Zionist blogger, we don't have to register as Jews here.

But what if most Jews do support the State of Israel? So what?  Does everyone have to support or tolerate the political persuasion of most Jews?  I've seen Palestinian flags flying around London's East End.  What if most Jews object, should they come down?  No matter where you stand on the question of Palestine, support for a state, any state, is political and there is no reason why everyone should support the politics of a proportion or the entirety of any ethno-religious community, especially if the political persuasion is so clearly racist.

He ends on a totally bogus line:
Nor should [Jews] be required to declare their distance from Israel as a condition for admission into polite society. We opposed such a question being put to all Muslims after 9/11 and, though the cases are not equivalent, the same logic applies here
The logic is not the same.  The UK "Jewish" Film Festival came to the Tricycle declaring their support for and from Israel.  Tricycle said that they could not host Israeli embassy funded events at the present time.  The equivalent for Muslims would be if a Muslim group asked the Tricycle to host an event celebrating 9/11.  Tricycle did not ask the UKJFF where they stand on Palestine.  UKJFF volunteered the information, evidently with some pride.  And that flight from logic was in an editorial in a supposedly serious liberal newspaper of record.

So who's next?  Ah yes, someone I'd never heard of before called Hadley Freeman.  Now if that self-seeking tosh from Freedland wasn't enough, on the same day (yesterday August 8, 2014) we get a lecture from another zionist at The Guardian - two on the same day and both saying the same thing in response to the same thing.  Here goes, but we probably won't need as much detail as the previous one.

It's headed Please don’t tell me what I should think about Israel.  Now I suppose from the heading it could go either way.  Zionists are forever trying to impugn the Jewish identity of those who, like me, think the wrong thoughts on Israel but the sub-heading is an early giveaway:
To a liberal American Jew in Britain, the Gaza crisis reveals some very unsavoury attitudes among those on the left
Uh oh, it's those lefties again, those nasty people who as an article of faith object to colonial settlement and ethnic cleansing.  Right, a quick scan, I promise (myself).

Ah, I think I can use the Gabriel scale on this one.  You know, we rock, they suck, you suck, everything sucks.

Let's see:

Yes, there's a little glimpse of "we rock":
Israel, like America, was a country made from desperate immigrants
Well they certainly had a disproportionate number of refugees but the state was made by a well armed, well trained and well organised army, or armies if you count the minor terror gangs.  In fairness you can't quite tell if Ms Freeman is calling out the myth or promoting it.

How about, they suck?  Well she skipped straight to "you suck" with a false allegation of antisemitism leveled at the pro-Israel Rory Carroll:
This week it was reported in this paper that it’s “unthinkable” in Hollywood to criticise Israel (that pesky Jewish mafia – displease them and they’ll force-feed you matzos until you explode).
The article was actually about how new Israel-critical voices were being heard and support for Israel was rather muted. Needless to say this style guru offered nothing to refute the idea that criticism of Israel used to be ""unthinkable" in Hollywood". And then there came the "everything sucks" whataboutery with a swipe at "India’s not exactly perfect human rights record" and the UK's war on Iraq.

So what happened to "they suck?"  Well they, of course, are the Palestinians and like the Freedland editorial, Gaza gets a mention in the headline (well the sub-heading) but the Gazans are absent from the article. It's all about Jews according to these two articles that appeared in today's print edition of The Guardian.

Now the third hasbara by smear piece I saw on The Guardian website was published the day before the previous two.  Headed, Obsessive Gaza coverage is fanning antisemitism, thankfully it's so ludicrous I can dismiss it out of hand.  It's basically a plea not report on the atrocities committed by a state that's given more privileged access to EU markets than any other non-European state and receives more US aid than any other state.  Oh ok, here's a taste:
The Everyday Antisemitism Project, which I established two weeks into the current round of conflict
As it happens it used to be the case that you could tell when Israel was behaving badly without knowing what it was doing by the number of allegations of antisemitism that flew around.  This guy so realised that Israel was on the PR ropes he went out and formed yet another antisemitism project.  But now the media is reporting more the crimes of Israel.  The Daily Mail has been a bit of a revelation.  The Beeb was pretty dodgy at first but there have been some useful appearances and tweets by Orla Guerin and Jeremy Bowen.  Channel 4 too has been very informative on tv and in tweets.

Even The Times refused to take in an advert containing the nastiest racist hasbara I would ever have seen in a mainstream UK paper.  Israel's sheer ferocity has had the facts of its violent racist nature speaking for themselves and there does seem to have been a new-found openness in the media to reporting stuff that paints Israel in an unfavourable light.

Whatever has happened it has led to some influential hasbarista or other at The Guardian asserting enough control to get 2 articles in today's print edition that falsely allege antisemitism at BDS whilst clumsily coming close to insisting that support for the racist war criminal State of Israel is somehow intrinsic to the Jewish identity.

And hold that thought about The TimesThe Guardian has now, via the blog of Roy Greenslade, announced that it will be running the advert in its Monday edition.  This is particularly dismaying because Times owner Rupert Murdoch is very pro-Israel and The Guardian is supposed to be liberal or even left-leaning.  Let's have a look at what Greenslade is saying:
The Times is under attack for refusing to run an advert about the conflict in Gaza. The paper is accused of being part of a British media "infamously skewed against Israel."
Straight away there is something wrong here.  Greenslade must know that The Times of all papers is not "skewed against Israel".  He is also of course using his blog to announce that The Guardian is joining in this attack on The Times for a rare instance of it doing the decent thing.

Greenslade goes on to quote from the ad and one its makers,  Shmuley Boteach, without any question, criticism or correction of his own:
It [the ad] calls on President Obama and other political leaders across the world "to condemn Hamas's use of children as human shields", which amounts to "child sacrifice".
It's left to me to point out that no evidence at all has been presented to support the "human shields" endless run of repeat stories.  It doesn't point out that it is actually Israel killing this large number of children and even more parents.  Nowhere does Greenslade contradict what the ad or its maker says, so for one racist ad these extreme murderous Zionists get two bouts of publicity one of which is free.

And we get more quotes from Boteach:
At a time when Israel is fighting for its very existence against the genocidal terrorists of Hamas, the British media, already infamously skewed against Israel, refuses a paid ad that every major American outlet... was proud to run as a full page ad
Criticism came there none.

The only partial distancing of The Guardian from the content of the racist ad is Greenslade's parting line:
But the Guardian's acceptance of an advert does not mean, of course, that it endorses the views and claims made within it.
Well it definitely means that The Guardian finds such racism acceptable and it does mean that some Zionist or other at The Guardian wants the ad run because for the past 3 days they have been pulling out all the stops to place The Guardian firmly in the Zionist camp.

Curiously I noticed Roy Greenslade hasn't tweeted his article but he has recently done two tweets supporting demonstrations for Gaza.  It's almost like his heart wasn't in this piece.  I wonder why he wrote it.

Anyway, I have an update on Jonathan Freedland's editorial from reading the print edition.  Don't worry I didn't buy it nor would I.  The title is completely different.  Gone (again) is "Gaza" and instead it's headed, Intolerable Intolerance.  Got that?  Most of the article is about the Tricycle Theatre and after time to think The Guardian is accusing the theatre of intolerable intolerance.  So what, apart from self-indulgent whingeing, are the Zionists going to do?

The Guardian, The Tricycle and Jews in Britain against Genocide

The Tricycle Theatre is coming under enormous pressure from Zionists over the UK Jewish Film Festival's decision to withdraw rather than reject funding from the Israeli embassy.

Jews in Britain against Genocide have written to express their thanks but first here's a reminder of the Tricycle Theatre's statement on the whole affair:

Now the letter to Tricycle:
Dear Indhu Rubasingham,

We write to thank you for refusing to accept Israeli sponsorship of the Jewish Film Festival.   

We particularly appreciate that you distinguish between Jews in Britain and the Israeli State. We could not be further apart from the Israeli state.  The insistence of the organisers of the UK Jewish Film Festival on including sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy, even when you generously offered an alternative, has made their priorities clear: not Jewish people or Jewish film but the hijacking of Jewish culture to disguise Israeli policies and particularly its bloodied image.  Its murder and maiming of Palestinians and others in the Middle East has been going on for many decades.  But its recent unrestrained, sadistic attack on Gaza has reinforced its genocidal intentions against the Palestinians.  

We are particularly appalled as Jews that our suffering as a people is the occasion and the excuse for the genocide of others.  We are aware of the suffering of others, which is why we have said, unlike Zionists: Never again – for anyone.  Including of course Tamils in Sri Lanka, about which you would be familiar.

Those of us said who were part of the demonstration in front of the Tricycle last November against Israeli sponsorship of the JFF, which was led by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, welcome this decision of the Tricycle to respect the multi-racial nature of the community of which it is part, by refusing blood money from apartheid Israel.

We are a group of Jews in Britain including from Israel and are appalled that you have been subjected to false accusations of anti-Semitism. Zionism cynically uses the sufferings of Jews to silence critics of the Israeli genocide of Palestinians. This is an abhorrent attempt to intimidate a local theatre for refusing to be enlisted to serve the Israeli State, in order to camouflage its most recent assault on hospitals, UN schools in which thousands were sheltering, children, and civilians of all ages. 

We take this opportunity to share with you a few examples of how Israel harnesses culture as a propaganda tool.

1) Israeli artists who receive government sponsorship are contractually obligated to promote the state as a condition of their sponsorship, which includes Israeli films that are promoted as being critical; but while they might show some criticism their overall message is to present Israel as a democracy and camouflage its apartheid. 

If they receive funding by the state, Israeli artists who play internationally are expected to be political ambassadors and must sign contracts which declare their cooperation with state marketing aims. The standard Israeli sponsorship contract states:”

The service provider (i.e. artists) undertakes to act faithfully, responsibly and tirelessly to provide the Ministry with the highest professional services. The service provider is aware that the purpose of ordering services from him is to promote the policy interests of the State of Israel via culture and art, including contributing to creating a positive image for Israel.

2) In 2005, Nissim Ben-Sheetrit of Israel’s Foreign Ministry emphasised:
We are seeing culture as a hasbara (i.e. propaganda) tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between hasbara and culture


3) In 2008 the Israeli Foreign Office identified London as one of the hubs it targeted for “Brand Israel”. It stated: "The Jewish community has to be part of it for it to succeed. It's very important for us to convey the message to them that a better image for Israel and a better performance of that image is part and parcel with Israel's national security.”  "But it's mainly it's an attempt to change the mindset of people when it comes to Israel” “”That doesn't mean conducting an advertising campaign, but the execution of a program that will support the brand identity… it could include organizing film festivals” “… the hope-for result is a change in peoples' perception of Israel

In short, any event accepting sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy or from any other Israeli state bodies is legitimising the Israeli apartheid, ethnic cleansing and its genocidal attacks on the Palestinians, including the Gaza Strip that Israel turned into a concentration camp.

We value the Tricycle and as your loyal supporters, your audience, we ask that you will not renew your association with Israel, as long as it violates international law, and until the 3 conditions set out in the Palestinian call for boycott demanding Israel meets its obligation and comply with international law (see

Jews in Britain Against Genocide
The Zionists are pulling out all the stops with this one and with the war on Gaza in general. The first Guardian report I saw on this was fairly straight forward and factual but then Jonathan Freedland seems to have taken over with this editorial listing the Tricycle affair together with attacks on synagogues in Europe and some absurd fashionista or cultural commentator, Hadley Freeman, doing pretty much the same as Freedland, though unlike Freedland, writing in her own name rather than in the name of The Guardian.

It should be noted here that for all the false allegations of antisemitism being thrown around, the only antisemitic thing I have seen said during the whole affair was this: 
"Jewish culture... is of course intrinsically connected to the state of Israel".
And who said it?  Why the spokesperson for the "apolitical" UK Jewish Film Festival.

Anyway, while this has been going on, an advert by Zionists justifying the slaughter of children by Israel was rejected by The Times newspaper presumably for being too racist even for them.  Remember The Times is owned by the very pro-Israel, born-again Christian, Rupert Murdoch. Well it turns out that one of the more disgusting manifestations of hasbara, the advert, isn't too racist for The Guardian, where their sheer lack of principle was announced by Roy Greenslade.

But, of course, it isn't mere opportunism.  As the facts of Israel's genocidal campaign speak loudly for themselves, Israel needs more propaganda cover than ever.  We've seen the establishment wobbling over this.  Longstanding friends of Israel have been distancing themselves.  Opponents of BDS are becoming supporters.  Latino states have severed relations with Israel.  Hasbara is urgent.  Freedland is always on hand to provide that whether by talking Israel up, pointing people in other directions (whataboutery) or smearing Israel's critics.  But why does the whole of The Guardian have to fall into line.  What has Freedland got that people of integrity haven't got?  Or are the latter just too few or too weak at The Guardian.

August 07, 2014

The Case of Steven Salaita

This is a straight copy and paste from Corey Robin:

Another Professor Punished for Anti-Israel Views

6 Aug Until two weeks ago, Steven Salaita was heading to a job at the University of Illinois as a professor of American Indian Studies. He had already resigned from his position at Virginia Tech; everything seemed sewn up. Now the chancellor of the University of Illinois has overturned Salaita’s appointment and rescinded the offer. Because of Israel.

The sources familiar with the university’s decision say that concern grew over the tone of his comments on Twitter about Israel’s policies in Gaza….

For instance, there is this tweet: “At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised? #Gaza.” Or this one: “By eagerly conflating Jewishness and Israel, Zionists are partly responsible when people say antisemitic shit in response to Israeli terror.” Or this one: “Zionists, take responsibility: if your dream of an ethnocratic Israel is worth the murder of children, just fucking own it already.”

In recent weeks, bloggers and others have started to draw attention to Salaita’s comments on Twitter. But as recently as July 22 (before the job offer was revoked), a university spokeswoman defended Salaita’s comments on Twitter and elsewhere. A spokeswoman told The News-Gazette for an article about Salaita that “faculty have a wide range of scholarly and political views, and we recognize the freedom-of-speech rights of all of our employees.”

I’ve written about a number of these types of cases over the past few years, but few have touched me the way this one has. For three reasons.

First, Steven is a friend on Facebook, and we follow each other on Twitter. I don’t know him personally but I’ve valued his unapologetic defense of the rights of Palestinians. Often he posts articles and information from which I’ve learned quite a bit.

Second, I have no doubt that an easily rattled administrator would find some of my public writings on Israel and Palestine to have crossed a line. If you’re in favor of Salaita being punished, you should be in favor of me being punished. And not just me. On Twitter, many of us—not just on this issue but a variety of issues, and not just on the left, but also on the right—speak in a way that can jar or shock a tender sensibility. We swear, we accuse, we say no, in thunder. That’s the medium. Though I’ve never really thought twice about it, it’s fairly chilling to think that a university official might now be combing through my tweets to see if I had said anything that would warrant me being deemed ineligible for a job. Or worse, since I have tenure, that an administrator might be doing that to any and every potential job candidate.
Third, Cary Nelson, who was once the president of the American Association of University Professors, has weighed in in defense of this decision by the University of Illinois Chancellor.

“I think the chancellor made the right decision,” he said via email. “I know of no other senior faculty member tweeting such venomous statements — and certainly not in such an obsessively driven way. There are scores of over-the-top Salaita tweets. I also do not know of another search committee that had to confront a case where the subject matter of academic publications overlaps with a loathsome and foul-mouthed presence in social media. I doubt if the search committee felt equipped to deal with the implications for the campus and its students. I’m glad the chancellor did what had to be done.”

Asked if he feared that the withdrawal of the job offer could represent a scholar being punished for his unpopular political views, Nelson said he did not think that was the case. “If Salaita had limited himself to expressing his hostility to Israel in academic publications subjected to peer review, I believe the appointment would have gone through without difficulty,” he said. Nelson added that harsh criticism of Israel is widespread among faculty members. “Salaita’s extremist and uncivil views stand alone. There is nothing ‘unpopular’ on this campus about hostility to Israel.”

Once upon a time I wrote an essay for an anthology Nelson edited on unions in academia. When I was the leader of the grad union drive at Yale, he came to campus and spoke out on our behalf. I thought of him as not only a champion of academic freedom but as an especially acerbic—some might even say uncivil—commentator willing to throw a few elbows at his fellow academics. One time, he even compared a fellow English professor to a vampire bat, and proceeded to make fun of his bodily movements and facial gestures. In an academic publication subject to peer review.

But in recent years Nelson has become an outspoken defender of the State of Israel and a critic of the BDS movement. A man who once called for the boycott of a university now thinks boycotts of universities are a grave threat to academic freedom. A man who serially violates the norms of academic civility—urging fellow academics to “give key administrators no peace. Place chanting pickets outside their homes. Disrupt every meeting they attend with sardonic or inspiring public theater”—now invokes those same norms against a critic of Israel. A man who once wrote that “claims about collegiality are being used to stifle campus debate, to punish faculty, and to silence the free exchange of opinion by the imposition of corporate-style conformity,” now complains about an anti-Zionist professor’s “foul-mouthed presence in social media.” A man who once called the movement against hostile environments and in favor of sensitive speech on campus “Orwellian,” now frets over a student of Salaita’s fearing she “would be academically at risk in expressing pro-Israeli views in class.”

I bring this up not to pick on Nelson, but to ask him, and all of you, a simple question: Should Nelson be deemed ineligible for another job at a university simply because of these statements he has written? Should l be deemed ineligible for another job at a university simply because of some “foul-mouthed,” perhaps even intemperate, tweets that I’m sure I have written?

But I bring up Nelson’s case for another reason. And that is that his hypocrisy is not merely his own. It is a symptom of the effects of Zionism on academic freedom, how pro-Israel forces have consistently attempted to shut down debate on this issue, how they “distort all that is right.” Nelson’s U-Turn demonstrates that we’re heading down a very dangerous road. I strongly urge all of you to put on the brakes.

In the meantime, do something for Steven Salaita. Write a note to University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise (best to email her at both and, urging her to rescind her rescission. As always, be polite, but be firm. Don’t assume this is a done deal; in my experience, it often is not. We’ve managed through our efforts, on multiple occasions, to get nervous administrators to walk away from the ledge.

Update (3:30 pm)
Here is a third email to add to your list; it’s actually a direct email to the chancellor. It is Also, when you write your email, please cc Robert Warrior of the American Indian Studies department at the University of Illinois. His email is Also cc the department:

August 06, 2014

UK Establishment wobbles over Gaza

Things are changing for sure.  I just saw this tweet
From a "columnist and leader writer for ".

And see where the link leads.  Not a whole lot because of the paywall.  So here's what I could get from google cache:

  • A Palestinian woman sits next to her destroyed house in Gaza
    Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, said that the Israeli military operation had been disproportionate Khalil Hamra/AP
David Cameron was struggling to contain a growing revolt over his handling of the Gaza crisis yesterday after the dramatic resignation of Baroness Warsi as foreign office minister.

Dominic Grieve, the former attorney-general, added his voice to the chorus of senior Conservatives questioning the proportionality of Israel’s military operation and piling pressure on the prime minister to condemn the country’s airstrikes on Gaza.

Lady Warsi, a former party chairman, told Mr Cameron that she could no longer support his “morally indefensible” policy. In a strongly worded resignation letter, she warned that his failure to condemn Israel could radicalise a generation

Well it doesn't even get to the Alistair Burt bit but if Murdoch's papers are reporting to the wobbles over Israel's attack on Gaza and the wobbles are for real, Israel's latest Palestinian cull could haunt the hasbara community for some time to come.

Pushed or Pulled? Israel Embassy Funded Film Festival not to be Hosted by Tricycle Theatre

Little bit confusing this but hang in there.

For the past 8 years the Tricycle Theatre has been hosting a so-called Jewish Film Festival (UKJFF).  BDS activists have been trying to persuade the theatre not to host UKJFF on account of it being funded by the Israeli Embassy in London.  Well now, because of Israel's assault on Gaza, the theatre will not be hosting the festival.

Now this has been a very recent decision but there's already some fog about what happened.  The Jewish Chronicle wouldn't normally be the go to site for the facts of any case but theirs was the first site I saw the news on.  Here's their headline:

Tricycle Theatre refuses to host UK Jewish Film Festival over Israeli sponsorship

 So what do they say happened?
A major London theatre has refused to host the UK Jewish Film Festival because it is sponsored by the Israeli embassy.

The Tricycle Theatre was scheduled to be the main venue for the UKJFF in November, with 26 films due to be screened there as well as six gala events.

But in a statement issued on Tuesday, UKJFF executive director Judy Ironside said: “The Tricycle told us that they cannot be associated with a festival which in turn is associated with the UK’s Israel embassy”.

The embassy is a long-standing sponsor of the festival, whose programme includes Jewish-themed films from around the world.

Mrs Ironside described the decision by the theatre, which has hosted the UKJFF for the past eight years, as a “great surprise”.

She said: “That the Tricycle Theatre have shown themselves unwilling to work with what is clearly an apolitical cultural festival is tremendously disappointing.
 Ok, so they are saying that out of the blue the theatre has cancelled the event on account of its Israeli embassy funding.  In spite of the funding the director, Judy Ironside, claims the event is apolitical.  Now I can see how some people might argue that an event is apolitical even it is funded by an embassy.

But the Tricycle Theatre isn't happy with the coverage so it has issued a statement of its own:

The Tricycle has always welcomed the Festival and wants it to go ahead. We have proudly hosted the UK Jewish Film Festival for many years. However, given the situation in Israel and Gaza, we do not believe that the festival should accept funding from any party to the current conflict.  For that reason, we asked the UK Jewish Film Festival to reconsider its sponsorship by the Israeli Embassy.  We also offered to replace that funding with money from our own resources. The Tricycle serves many communities and celebrates different cultures and through difficult, emotional times must aim for a place of political neutrality. 

We regret that, following discussions, the chair of the UKJFF told us that he wished to withdraw the festival from the Tricycle.  

To be clear, at this moment, the Tricycle would not accept sponsorship from any government agency involved in the conflict. We hope to find a way to work with the UK Jewish Film Festival to allow the festival to go ahead at the Tricycle as it has done so successfully for the past 8 years.’
 So the UK Jewish Film Festival has withdrawn itself from the Tricycle because the Festival insists on being funded by the Israeli embassy even though the Tricycle offered to replace the funding.

Now its bad enough that the Festival wants to implicate all Jews in Israel's sheer criminality but to claim that the festival is apolitical is utterly bogus.

Anyway, lots of good has come out of this, not least the media coverage.  There are reports in the following mainstream newspapers/websites (in no particular order):

The Daily Mail

Yahoo News

The Guardian

The Daily Telegraph

There are bound to be more.  They're just the ones I've seen.

So, the Tricycle has certainly taken the principled stand in not hosting the Israeli embassy funded UK Jewish Film Festival but if the latter wasn't so nakedly political it could have been very different.  In fact if they didn't want this political confrontation with Tricycle they could have suspended Israeli embassy funding, taken the dough from Tricycle, and then carried on Zionist business as usual when emotions over the Gaza slaughter had calmed down.  Or maybe the Zionists know that their attack on Gaza has done lasting damage to public perceptions of Israel and that Israeli government involvement with any cultural event is a political kiss of death.