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Monday, 18 June 2018

Unison’s Shameful Betrayal of its members – it supports the right to dismiss a worker for attending a demonstration

Why I face disciplinary action for criticising London Regional Organiser Steve Terry who scabbed on Stan Keable

Two weeks ago I was called to an investigation hearing. A complaint had been made against me regarding criticism I had made in various articles of UNISON’s London Region Organiser, Steve Terry, a right-wing Labour Councillor in Walthamstow.  The articles are below:

No criticism permitted

Stan Keable, an employee of Hammersmith and Fulham Council and also Secretary of Labour Against the Witch-hunt, attended a demonstration in London on March 26th called by Jewish Voice for Labour.  It was called in opposition to the Zionists’ ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration outside Parliament. It was part of the fake anti-Semitism campaign before the local elections, whose target was Jeremy Corbyn.
Unison sells itself more as an insurance company than a trade union
The Zionist demonstration was billed as an ‘anti-racist’ demonstration (the first one the Board of Deputies has called in its history) but an anti-racist demonstration at which Norman Tebbit and the Democratic Unionist Party are participants, to say nothing of Uncle Tom Chuku Ummuna and Sajid David is unlikely to be about fighting racism.
BBC 'journalist' David Grossman, with the ethics of a rattle snake
Stan got into a discussion with a Zionist in the course of which he expressed the view that the Zionist movement had collaborated with the Nazis.  The discussion was recorded by BBC Newsnight editor and all round bigot, David Grossman.  Placed on social media it caused the racist local Tory MP, Greg Hands to demand that Stan be sacked. Thus we see how the false anti-Semitism campaign is a threat to free speech and democratic rights, aided by yellow journalists such as the BBC’s Grossman.
H&F Council leader Steve Cowan promptly ensured that Stan was suspended and last month I represented Stan at his disciplinary hearing the result of which was that he was sacked.  I should not, of course, have had to represent Stan as I am from Brighton and Hove UNISON not Hammersmith but when Stan approached the London Regional Organiser, Steve Terry for support he received none.
Terry’s advice was that Stan should plead guilty and plead for forgiveness.  In a letter of May 8th Terry advised Stan that:
‘the course that you should take is to indicate that you regret any offence caused by your remarks and plead mitigating circumstances.’
A supporter of Progress, Terry was completely unfit to make a decision in this case. His own prejudices rendered him incapable of seeing that the main issue was not whether or not Stan was correct in his views but an elementary one of the right to free speech and free assembly, rights guaranteed under Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The ECHR was drawn up and approved by the European countries precisely because of the lack of rights of civilians under Nazi occupation during the war. Terry however is a pen pushing bureaucrat, incapable of comprehending such issues.  For him, defence of Zionism was the only issue. 
Tony Jones - one of my two investigators
The two main charges against Stan were:
1. That, in attending a counter demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament on the 26th March 2018, you knowingly increased the possibility of being challenged about your views and subsequently proceeded to express views that were in breach of the Council’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy and the Council’s Code of Conduct (‘Working with integrity’ and ‘Working with the media’).
2. That you made inappropriate comments which were subsequently circulated on social media which are deemed to be insensitive and likely to be offensive and potentially in breach of the Equality Act 2010 and/or the Council’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy.
In other words Stan should not have attended the demonstration in question because he rendered himself susceptible to being challenged about his view!  Could you have a more pathetic attack on the basic rights of any citizen?
Gail Adams, the second of my investigators, receiving a CBE from Prince William
To anyone with a modicum of understanding of human rights issues, let alone employment rights, these charges were a threat to all workers. Terry however was too dim to understand that.
The idea that by ‘causing offence’ Stan was guilty of a disciplinary offence is outrageous. Where lies freedom of speech? As Jodie Ginsberg wrote in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings and the murder of a Danish filmmaker by jihadists,
the right to free speech means nothing without the right to offend.  If all you have the right to do is to utter platitudes then free speech is meaningless.
Of course Terry was unconcerned by issues such as free speech. This overpaid and useless official considers that the members are accountable to him. It was therefore not surprising that Terry, who is not used to criticism from members, made a complaint via his superior, the London Regional Secretary against me.
The racist Zionist demonstration whose counterdemonstration Stan joined
On June 4th I was called to an investigation hearing conducted by 2 more officials, Gail Adams and Tony Jones from the southern region. Ms Adams is Head of Unison’s Professional Services Unit and Tony Jones is Regional Manager for the South-East and as Tony revealed during the course of the interview is himself a Labour councillor in Reading!  Most of the interview was conducted by Tony Jones, who was jovial and pleasant.  Gail Adams was mostly silent but her hostility was evidenced by her body language and general demeanour.  Clearly the idea of criticising a fellow official didn’t go down well.
You can read the whole interview here or you can listen to the tape of the interview here. Amongst the ‘highlights of the interview was my statement, in a letter to the Head of UNISON’s Executive Office, Beth Bickerstaffe, that the Inquiry could only be a ‘stitch-up.’ Tony Jones was offended by this description so I had to point out that this was not intended personally. Rather it was the fact that I was the person who was subject to a complaint rather than Terry, for his refusal to defend a member under attack and his incompetence in failing to have any grasp of basic employment or human rights, to  say nothing of his refusal to get a legal opinion.  On any objective basis Terry should be suspended on charges of gross misconduct as a prelude to his dismissal. But of course to Ms Bickerstaffe, daughter-in-law of former UNISON General Secretary Rodney Bickerstaffe, it is me who is guilty of the ‘crime’ of criticising a full-time official.
What my case demonstrates is the democratic deficit in UNISON.  Despite supporting Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership elections in 2015 and 2016 (despite rumours that Dave Prentis would withdraw his support) UNISON is not a left-wing union. In the past 8 years, at a time of massive cuts in local government, it has abysmally failed to take any action against those attacks on members’ jobs and conditions or pay. When there was action a few years ago and strikes over pensions the union leadership did their best to get the action called off by pretending that they had secured concessions. Prentis is well-known for his lack of backbone.
Despite the fact that UNISON has good policy on Palestine and supports BDS (albeit doing very little to implement it) it has also supported the false ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign against supporters of Palestine.  I spoke on the motion in 2007 and again 2008 at national conference when policy on BDS was first proposed.  The arguments of the Zionists were basically that those supporting BDS were supporters of Hamas and anti-Semitic! Rodney Bickerstaffe, when he spoke at a PSC AGM attacked the use of false accusations of anti-Semitism against supporters of Palestine.  People are well aware of how Zionists weaponise ‘anti-Semitism’ but today they remain silent.
That is what the actions of Terry are about.  He is a fulsome supporter of the idea that support for the Palestinians is ‘anti-Semitic’ and in particular criticism of Zionism, the ideology of the movement that dispossessed the Palestinians. That is why Stan has been abandoned and that is why I am subject to a bogus ‘investigation’ that can only conclude that I am guilty as charged, even though charges have yet to be laid.
Tony Greenstein

Saturday, 16 June 2018

It is time that the Palestine solidarity movement recognised that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are integral to the Occupation and the Siege of Gaza

Palestinians take part in a protest demanding the lifting of Palestinian Authority sanctions on the Gaza Strip, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on 10 June. The PA used riot police and party thugs to violently suppress a similar protest on 13 June. Eyad Jadallah APA images
As the articles below from Electronic Intifada  and Middle East Eye show, the behaviour of the Palestinian Authority is shameful. The PA, which is nothing less than subcontractors for the Israeli state, violently attacked a demonstration in Ramallah in support of their brothers and sisters in Gaza.  And they did this on behalf of Israel (& the United States & Europe).

The demands of the demonstrators were simple - that the PA stop acting as a collaborator in enforcing Israel's siege of Gaza e.g. by requesting that Israel cut the amount of electricity Gaza receives to 3-4 hours a day or by itself cutting the salaries of 50,000 civil servants in Gaza.

It is  clear that the actions of Fateh thugs who, in co-ordination with the Palestinian Security Police, attacked the demonstration mean that Fateh should no longer be seen as a resistance movement and should be treated in the same way as the Village Leagues used to be treated.  Collaborators.

What is also shameful is that Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and the solidarity movement in this country has nothing to say about this. The Anti-Apartheid Movement never hesitated to condemn Inkatha under Mangosuthu Buthelezi in South Africa.  Inkatha Freedom Party was used and helped by the Apartheid regime to attack the anti-apartheid struggle and the ANC.  It was responsible for much of the appalling violence in the lead up to South Africa's independence.

I'd be interested to hear what the difference is between the PA and Inkatha.  I have moved motions in the past at PSC AGM calling the PA a quisling regime, the equivalent of the Vichy regime in France under the Nazis and calling for PSC to dissociate itself from the PA.  Always the response is that this is 'internal' to the Palestinian movement.  This is a shameful and cowardly response.  If we condemn Israel we cannot avert our eyes from those Palestinians who enforce Israel's occupation.

It should be a matter of shame that someone can say that 'It is a bizarre feeling when everyone around you is more scared of Palestinian forces than they are of the Israeli army.'

No doubt the PA feel the need to prove to Israel and Trump that they are 'reliable'.  That whatever rhetoric they indulge in they can be relied on to uphold the occupation's norms.  In Abbas's own words, security co-operation with Israel is 'sacred'.  As an article in the Jerusalem Post last year WILL ABBAS SEVER HIS ‘SACRED’ SECURITY COOPERATION WITH ISRAEL? made clear 'suspending security cooperation is one of the Palestinians’ strongest cards. If Abbas does follow through on his threat to end it, Israel’s security will be greatly affected, as Palestinian security forces have stopped many attacks in the West Bank since a wave of terrorism broke out in October 2015.'

The suggestion that the PA is 'internal' to the Palestinian movement is a lie.  It is a threat to the Palestinian resistance movement and it has never hesitated to act to control and prevent any movement growing which challenges the Israeli state.  It is part of the political incoherence and worse of PSC and its current leadership that they have nothing to say about the role of the PA.

Tony Greenstein
Abbas  - is the Palestinian equivalent of the Mangosuthu Buthelezi - the Black African collaborator with Apartheid

Palestinians deserve better than PA brutality

Yet this week I found myself echoing a view expressed by Jason Greenblatt, a Middle East envoy for the US president. For very different reasons to the ones he cited, I arrived at the same conclusion as Greenblatt: the Palestinian people deserve better than the Palestinian Authority.
This was evident as I observed the PA’s handling of a protest on Wednesday evening.

The protest was organized by ordinary Palestinians who object to how the PA has imposed sanctions on Gaza. It was banned by the PA on the spurious pretext of avoiding disruptions to the Eid al-Fitr holiday celebrations.

Yet the protest went ahead – without official approval – in Ramallah, a city in the occupied West Bank. Its organizers refused to be bullied into canceling a display of solidarity with their fellow Palestinians in Gaza.

During the early stages of the protest, riot police working for the PA attacked its participants. They beat protesters, taking a number of them into custody. I saw one riot police officer – his face covered by a balaclava – rolling a stun grenade towards the crowd.

After about an hour, groups of thugs and secret police dispersed among the crowd took over the task of suppressing the protest.

The thugs in question wore hats, identifying themselves as supporters of Fatah, the party dominating the PA. Some of these hats depicted a kuffiyeh, the Palestinian checkered scarf. The irony involved here was sordid: the kuffiyeh is supposed to be a symbol of liberation.

Secret police

The secret police in the crowd were easy to spot, if you looked for them. They were men with large muscles, who watched over everyone else. They could be found in groups of four.

The secret police could be seen pointing out individuals to the thugs with the Fatah hats. If individuals who had been pointed out resisted arrest by these thugs, they were dragged away and beaten. None of the thugs looked older than 25.

The thugs grabbed many protesters and placed them in headlocks. Other protesters were punched and slapped in the head. One man had his shirt completely ripped off him by the thugs before they handed him over to the riot police.

Numerous protesters were rounded up and placed in vans, which were waiting near al-Manara Square in the city center. In one case, a protester was placed in an ambulance.

I later learned that protesters who had been rounded up were driven to police stations and to the headquarters of the PA’s “preventive security” division.

While I was standing next to some protesters on Wednesday, I suddenly felt my arms being restrained. One of the secret police had forced my hands behind my back. He did not use extreme force to do so. But he was certainly asserting his control.

The man told me to come with him. He pushed me down a lane. “Don’t be scared,” he whispered. “We respect people.”

I would have laughed – if I was not worried about having my head bashed in, which the man could have done on a whim.

The secret police officer brought me near the vans full of protesters who had been arrested. He handed me over to another man, who was carrying a walkie-talkie. That man asked me – in fluent English – what I was doing at the protest. Where was I from? Was I a journalist?
I replied in Arabic that I was not a journalist.

The man took my phone and went through the photos and messages saved on it. When he handed the phone back to me, he asked me for my ID card. I told him I did not have it with me.
The man then instructed the secret police officer who had grabbed me to take me away. I was ordered to go home. As I did so, I was followed through the streets by three other secret police officers.

Police working for the Palestinian Authority are funded and trained by the European Union and the United States. A key purpose of this training is to ensure that the PA works in the interests of Israel.

The way they handled this week’s protests illustrated how the PA’s police can be similarly brutal to Israel’s forces of occupation. Palestinians surely deserve better than that.

The author is a human rights worker in Palestine. They requested anonymity as they had been instructed by their organization to remain silent on how the PA handled Wednesday’s protests.

Protests in Ramallah: Does the PA actually care about Palestinians?

It is a bizarre feeling when everyone around you is more scared of Palestinian forces than they are of the Israeli army

Photo: Palestinian security forces stand guard in Ramallah on 13 June 2018, during a protest calling on President Mahmoud Abbas to end financial sanctions against Palestinians in Gaza (Reuters)
Tessa Fox's picture
As I stepped out onto Rukab Street, one of the main streets in Ramallah, at once I heard the cries: "There's gas!"

Wednesday night's protest, organised by the Campaign to Lift PA Sanctions on Gaza, had only just begun, but security forces were already firing stun grenades and tear gas cannisters directly at crowds that only 20 seconds earlier had raised banners demanding that sanctions against Gaza be lifted and chanted: "In spirit, in blood, we redeem you Gaza."

Everyone seemed still for a while: many were scattered in different areas around central Ramallah. Tension lay heavy in the air as people stood frozen on footpaths and in the streets, staring at the number of government personnel present.

It seemed as if the Palestinian Authority had sent out every member of its security forces for this event, including the National Security Service, the Palestinian police (including riot police), the General Intelligence Service and the Preventive Security Service.

There was also a downright terrifying gang of Fatah party members, loyal to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Some carried pepper spray. Each wore a white cap. All of them were prowling around the gathered protesters.

On Tuesday, the night before the demonstration, the PA called for a counter-protest. This, everyone knew, would be a recipe for disaster.

"I don't even know if there's going to be protest," a friend said to me. People's concerns were repressed before they could even be expressed.

The protesters' simple message was directed at the PA, which more than a month ago halved the salaries of approximately 50,000 government employees in Gaza, leaving workers unable to provide for their families.

Palestinian security personnel confront a protest in Ramallah on 13 June 2018 (Tessa Fox/MEE)

The cut came after the PA also stopped paying for Gaza's electricity last year, further limiting residents' access to power and crippling industry and essential public services including hospitals, schools.

The Palestinian National Council, the PA's legislative body, as well as factions within the PA have all called for the sanctions to be lifted. That's left Abbas to shoulder much of the blame, as his critics accuse him of trying to unseat Hamas from Gaza, where it rules the territory, while using Gaza's two million residents as political pawns.

It's left Gaza caught in a dire humanitarian crisis, between the Israeli blockade of the strip on one side and on the other the punitive approach of the PA, whose actions have been so extreme that residents within Ramallah itself, the PA's seat of government, have risen up against the authorities and called for sanctions to be lifted.

PA uses same tactics as Israel

Photos and captions circulating on social media suggested that thousands of people were there, although it was hard to differentiate between protesters, bystanders and undercover police.

I tried to push as close as I could to what was going on to take some pictures, even though I had been warned only half-an-hour earlier that taking photos and videos was banned.

I was also warned that the police were trying to break cameras and confiscate memory cards. To me, this is one of the first signs that a government can give to show that it is actually an oppressive regime. That night the PA did everything in its power to restrict the free flow of information.

Palestinians in Ramallah demand the lifting of sanctions against Gaza on 13 June 2018 (Reuters)

The whole scene was one of chaos. In one area, security forces threw rounds of sound bombs. Riot cops started running down yet another street to try to block any entrance to al-Manara, the main square in Ramallah. And dotted among the crowd were those white-capped members of Fatah, some of whom were undercover officers, taking matters into their own hands and beating up protesters, all under the watchful eye of the police.

A friend who works at a local Palestinian TV station told me that around 2,000 undercover forces were within the area. Someone else told me that one female protester had a gun pointed at her head by one of the undercover officers. She couldn't talk afterwards, she was in such a state of shock.

It felt as if those undercover police were mirroring the same tactics as used by the Israeli mustarabeen, the undercover unit trained to look and act like Arabs.

By deploying so many police in civilian clothes, the authorities sought not only to maximise the number of arrests but also to dismantle any network of trust among civilians and destroy the solidarity that is a necessary tool against any oppressive regime.

It's always been the goal of the Israeli occupation to break the unity of historical Palestine, including movement to and from Gaza, using the building of illegal settlements, restrictions on access to pre-1948 areas of the West Bank and the Greater Jerusalem Bill.

Now it is out in the open that the PA, as led by Fatah, is prepared to crush the Palestinian cause and unity to retain power over the Palestinian population.

Undercover forces made the majority of arrests, which numbered more than 60 by the end of the night. I saw people, including women and young girls, kicked, punched and beaten with batons. People's bodies were pulled in all directions as they were dragged away by at least five men to a fenced-off car park, where riot police stood guard, waiting for vans to pick up their latest prisoners.

Need to witness brutality

I knew I had to try and document the brutality. But less than 10 minutes after arriving at the protest I had already been sternly warned by an undercover policeman not to take photos.

Eventually I managed to climb up the roundabout at al-Manara. Standing on top of one of the lion statues, I had a clear vantage point of just how many people were in the streets and the brawls that were unfolding below.

Soon, I heard someone yell at me, then realised that multiple people were pointing and starting to run in my direction. I ran down the back of the statue while taking my memory card out of my camera and shoving it in my pants.

By the time I jumped down, civilian and uniformed police had already climbed inside the fence. I was trapped. They grabbed me by my arms while another tried to take my camera. I thought for sure they were going to break it. I just kept screaming and yelling at them, telling them to let me go and to wait so I could "prove" to them I had no photos.

They then put three women police officers onto me. One held my arm and kept telling me to be quiet and calm down. I yelled back: "How on earth can I be calm down when you're trying to arrest me and break my camera?"

The sound of the commotion began to work in my favour, as an older Palestinian woman came over and started apologising for what was happening. A man dressed in civilian clothes stepped forward and declared that he was a policeman. I replied that he should be wearing uniform.

I wanted to yell at them that they weren't true Palestinians; that all they were was part of a single faction, Fatah, and were simply government employees; that they didn't care about the Palestinians in Gaza; that they didn't care about the Palestinians in Ramallah, who they were beating up; that they didn't care about the Palestinians who had travelled all the way from Haifa by bus to protest alongside their brothers and sisters; and that the the people living under dictatorships across the Palestinian territories counted for nothing in their eyes.

Why is Palestinian Authority doing this?

Finally I was released and found my friend. She was beside herself because the undercover forces had taken her cameraman's memory card while she was doing a live broadcast criticising the PA. She thought for sure that she would be arrested the next day. She was terrified.

The problem was, the Palestinian security forces were driven by complete emotion. Couple this with them not being experienced enough to deal with such large crowds and it meant that their use of weapons was a disaster.

At one stage, a security officer, holding a sound bomb in his hand, wrestled with a protester. During the scuffle, the bomb went off. It seemed like all the actions of the security forces were driven by impulse rather than orders from their superiors.

Stories have also emerged of sexual harassment, perpetrated by the men wearing those Fatah caps. One woman was chased down a side street and sexually abused before she was rescued by people she knew.

Many of the Fatah supporters are themselves from families of martyrs or political prisoners. Other Palestinians cannot fathom how they could act this way during a protest in support of their brothers and sisters in Gaza. Are they attempting to create conflict among the factions?
Protesters and residents are still in a complete state of shock, as well as physical and mental exhaustion. The night after the protest, those who had attended were still too scared to walk the streets or go into public spaces for fear of being arrested or beaten up.

People unconnected to the protests were targeted just for being in the street. I witnessed multiple families and women with babies, who were trying to walk home, standing bewildered as they were yelled at by the presidential guard.

Why the protests will continue

Another protest is already set for Wednesday. What sort of excuse will the PA use then to repress people's freedom of expression and assembly when it is held outside of the Eid holiday? Will they find new grounds to ban and criminalise protests?

Fatah and Abbas showed their true colours to the people of Palestine this week as well as alienating some of the supporters from their own party. The protest held last Wednesday night wasn't organised to bring down the PA or to depose Abbas.

It was in support of another persecuted population of Palestinians, who may live under separate Hamas rule in Gaza but whose fate has now been crushed still further by the regime controlling the West Bank.

But if the removal of sanctions against Gaza is not achieved in good time, then do not be surprised if those living in the West Bank focus their energies on removing heads of government. On Friday, 70 civil society organisations and trade unions within Palestine called for the dismissal of Rami al-Hamdallah, the Palestinian prime minister and interior minister.
The activists are now recovering, tending their wounds, being released from prison and embracing their close support networks to nurture their emotionally drained minds.

Hopefully the organisation and unity of Palestinians will now only be strengthened even more, as their fight for their brothers and sisters in Gaza is emboldened by the brutality that the protesters in Ramallah faced.

- Tessa Fox is a freelance journalist, photographer and filmmaker focusing on war & conflict, indigenous affairs and the environment. She has had work published for Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle, Al-Monitor, The Independent (UK), Holistic News (Poland), Mail & Guardian (South Africa), Knack (Belgium), Australian Broadcasting Corporation, SBS World News, New Matilda, VICE and Crikey among others. Fox was also a finalist for the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma Asia Pacific Prize and, as a correspondent, has reported from Turkey, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Russia, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Australia and the EU among others.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

The Zionist Attacks on Gordon Nardell QC, Labour’s newly appointed lawyer, demonstrate their contempt for the Idea of Innocent until Proven Guilty

If there’s one thing the Tories & Zionists can’t stand it is Natural Justice, Due Process and Fairness

Beware the rubber backbones of Corbyn and Formby – the pressure on Nardel to ‘resign’ will be immense

The appointment of Gordon Nardell QC has outraged the merchants of anti-Semitism
It must have sent the Israel lobby and the Tory press into apoplexy.  Having invested a small fortune in time and money in waging the false anti-Semitism campaign, having gathering ‘evidence’ that the Labour Party is ‘riddled with anti-Semitism’, having waged a bogus war from John O’Groats to Lands End on Jeremy Corbyn, having successfully intimidated Corbyn into confessing that there are non-existent ‘pockets’ of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, to say nothing of John McDonnell ‘weeping’ over non-existent anti-Semitism, what do they go and do?  They appoint a Jewish lawyer and QC who is not only of the Left (strange that in the Labour Party) but one who believes in justice!!  Even worse, the man isn’t a Zionist.  Oy vei some might say.

That well known anti-racist paper the Sun was apoplectic. In the neutral and unbiased tones for which it is justly famous, its headline ran ‘Leftie lawyer hired by Labour to oversee anti-Semitism cases is ‘friends with anti-Jewish activists’.  In the Sun’s eyes those who are accused of anti-Semitism must be guilty as charged.   The job of Labour’s lawyer is to ensure that the bogus charges stick not to pussy foot around with notions of due process and natural justice.  The Sun, lest anyone forget, is the paper which has employed the two most racist ‘journalists’ in Britain – Richard Littlejohn and Katy Hopkins.  However when it comes to ‘anti-Semitism’ the Sun is with the best of them.
Lucian Berger is worried that natural justice and due process may form a part of the disciplinary processes in Labour - the sooner this racist is deselected the better
Luciana would prefer a safe Tory pair of hands - a left wing lawyer is not to her taste

Luciana Berger, who was Director of Labour Friends of Israel for 3 years before becoming an MP, let it be known that she had ‘no faith’ in Nardell, which to most people must be a good thing. Berger, being a member of LFI, made no complaint about the tweet a month ago which blamed those who were murdered in Gaza by Israeli snipers for their own deaths.
Civil Liberties group Liberty have rejected the IHRA definition of antisemitism

What is even worse is that Nardell believes that you cannot use the discredited International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism (which the civil liberties group Liberty has just rejected). Whereas the Oxford English Dictionary definition of anti-Semitism takes just 6 words ‘Hostility to or prejudice against Jews’ the IHRA definition takes up some 450 words.  This is necessary in order to conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism.
The Jewish Chronicle's take on Nardell's appointment
The Jewish Chronicle, never one to let a bogus allegation of ‘anti-Semitism’ pass by unnoticed, could barely constrain its anger. Not being a great believer in separating new and comment out, it led with a headline (as if British Jews have no other problems) ‘Gordon Nardell, lawyer dealing with Labour antisemitism, to adopt only part of broader Jew hate definition - Respected QC will not use IHRA definition of antisemitism.  
As the respected former Appeal Court Judge, Sir Stephen Sedley, who is himself Jewish, wrote in London Review of Books, [Defining Anti-Semitism] the purpose of the IHRA definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ is 
to conflate the two [anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism] by characterising everything other than anodyne criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic’  Further  ‘what is new is the adoption by the UK government (and the Labour Party) of a definition of anti-Semitism which endorses the conflation.’
The OED definition of antisemitism is just 6 words - the Zionists prefer a definition of 450 words 
 The appointment of Gordon Nardell throws a spanner in the works. Zionists are not interested in genuine Jew hate, on the contrary they spend much of their time these days demonstrating alongside anti-Semites and fascists. [see The Zionist – Fascist Alliance was Consummated at the Al Quds Demonstration].  When fascist groups from Britain First to the EDL, British National Party and Tommy Robinson fall over themselves to express their admiration for Israel and Zionism, as the only state which truly oppresses Muslims and Arabs, you might think that those concerned with anti-Semitism would turn their attention elsewhere. 

When every self-respecting fascist and anti-Semite, from Marine Le Pen of France to Geert Wilders of The Netherlands to Heinz Christian Strache of Austria say how much they love Israel then you might think that our Zionists might show some humility.  When the founder of the alt-Right in the USA, the movement that helped bring Trump to power, neo-Nazi Richard Spencer declares that he is a ‘White Zionist’ you would expect the Zionists to keep a low profile.
Instead we have this utterly false and fake campaign of ‘anti-Semitism’ directed at the Labour Party.  It is to Corbyn’s eternal shame and McDonnell too, that instead of standing up to this campaign they have given in to it, almost oblivious to the fact that it is they, not me or Jackie Walker or Marc Wadsworth, who are the main targets. We are simply collateral damage.
The artificial campaign against Gordon Nardell is simply the latest instalment of the fake anti-Semitism campaign.  The Zionists characterised Chakrabarti’s Anti-Semitism Report as a whitewash not because it was hostile to Zionism, quite the contrary but because it argued for due process and natural justice in Labour Party disciplinary procedures.  Even though Chakrabarti herself abandoned this when she pushed for Livingtone to be expelled, the fact is that natural justice is the last thing the Zionists want. The whole basis of this false anti-Semitism campaign rests on people being expelled for artificial trumped up reasons.
Collier's outrage is a good reason to keep Nardell
David Collier with Brian Thomas, who has recently organised a 'Free Tommy Robinson' demonstration outside the British Embassy in Tel Aviv
Another person who is outraged is Tommy Robinson supporter David Collier. Collier, who is a far-Right Zionist, makes Netanyahu seem a moderate.  He denies that there is any such a thing as Palestinian refugees, who whom he refers in the third person as 'it'.  He is of course outraged by the appointment of Nardell.  He would prefer the appointment to be left in the hands of the Israeli Embassy.
It is of course understandable that Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth prefer Israel’s form of justice whereby political critics are simply locked up without trial, however so far in this country there is still a presumption of innocence.
Collier and Mad 'Mel P'

Collier with Britain First member Paul Besser (in blue anorak)
I was expelled for ‘abusing’ Louise Ellman – calling her a supporter of Palestinian child abuse was apparently an attempt to ‘shame her (not that she has any shame).  Marc Wadsworth offended  Ruth 'liar' Smeeth by pointing to her links with the Daily Telegraph.
If Labour's disciplinary processes are to be fair then the MPs who support LFI should have the whip withdrawn

This is what the campaign against Gordon Nardell is about and my great fear is that Corbyn will once again cave in just as he did with Christine Shawcroft, who Corbyn personally told to resign, and Ken Livingstone with whom he did likewise.  Together with Jenny Formby, Corbyn and McDonnell believe that if they appease the Zionists and Labour Friends of Israel,  they will be left alone.  They are mistaken.  Feeding sharks only increases their appetite. In the words of John Donne, ‘don’t ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.’
By supporting Gordon Nardell we are, despite Corbyn, supporting Jeremy Corbyn.
Tony Greenstein

Thursday, 14 June 2018

If Israel is ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ why does the Knesset Refuse to Even Discuss a Bill Calling for Israel to be a State of all its Citizens?

As long as Israel is a Jewish state it can’t be a democratic state

When the three members of Balad in the Knesset proposed a Bill calling for Israel to be a state of all its citizens rather than a Jewish state, all hell broke loose.  The Knesset Praesidium, a Committee responsible for the conduct of parliamentary business refused even to table it for debate – an extremely unusual occurrence – the first time this has occurred in this Knesset.

Why?  Because any challenge to the Jewish nature of the Israeli state is like going to church and challenging the existence of god.

The Jewish MK’s were unanimous in their hostility.  Possibly the most ludicrous comment of all was from Zionist Union (Labour) MK Revital Swid:

“Placing this bill on the Knesset's table may set a precedent for placing other inherently racist bills on the Knesset table,”

A bill which explicitly grants equality to all citizens without making any religious or national distinctions is apparently ‘racist’.  Clearly the word ‘racist’ has taken on an entirely new meaning in this Alice in Wonderland parliament.  Usually racism means discrimination against someone on the grounds of race, religion etc.  In Israel it means not discriminating against them.

Of course the cry goes up that ‘Israel is the only Jewish state in the world.’ The argument being that everyone has a vote in Israel. This is, however deliberately disingenuous in a state where Arabs are in a permanent minority and apart from the Communist Party all parties are either Arab or Jewish. The Israeli state is specifically constructed in order that Jews have a permanent majority. The definition of a Jew can be as flexible as racial demographics allow but the key unwritten assumption is that Arabs can never become a majority.

That was why, in 1948, 85% of Palestinians, some 3/4 million, were expelled from what became Israel.  

This was best expressed by the former leader of the Israeli Labour Party, Isaac Herzog:

In about a decade, the Arabs between the Jordan and the Mediterranean will be a majority and the Jews a minority. The Jewish national home will become the Palestinian national home. We will be again, for the first time since 1948, a Jewish minority in an Arab state. I want to separate from the Palestinians. I want to keep a Jewish state with a Jewish majority. I don’t want 61 Palestinian MKs in Israel’s Knesset. I don’t want a Palestinian prime minister in Israel. I don’t want them to change my flag and my national anthem. I don’t want them to change the name of my country to Isra-stine. (my emphasis)

When Enoch Powell, in his Rivers of Blood speech in 1968, spoke about the Black man having the whip hand over the white man’ people understood that this was an appeal to the basest racial prejudice yet such sentiments as the leader of the Israeli Labour Party expressed are par for the course in Israel.   Israeli politics are based not on class but on a racial division between Jew and Arab.

It should also be stressed that we now have one Greater Israel in all but name.  There is no Green Line dividing pre-1967 Israel from the Occupied Territories.  Yet in the West Bank there are two sets of laws – military law for the Palestinians and normal Israeli law for the settlers.  In Israel’s general elections the half a million settlers can vote but those living under occupation have no vote.  If they did then Palestinians would be in the majority and Herzog’s nightmare would come true.

Tony Greenstein

Thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel take part in the March of Return, in the lands of the destroyed village of Hadatha, near Tiberias, April 23, 2015. (photo: Omar Sameer/

10 June 2018

Just as Israel’s belligerent rule in the occupied territories is under ever greater scrutiny, so too is its claim to be a democracy conferring equal rights on all citizens

Jonathan Cook - The National – 10 June 2010

For most of the seven decades after its establishment, Israel went to extraordinary lengths to craft an image of itself as a “light unto the nations”.

It claimed to have “made the desert bloom” by planting forests over the razed houses of 750,000 Palestinians it exiled in 1948. Soldiers in the “most moral army in the world” reputedly cried as they were compelled to shoot Palestinian “infiltrators” trying to return home. And all this occurred in what Israelis claimed was the Middle East’s “only democracy”.

An industry known as hasbara – a euphemism for propaganda – recruited Jews in Israel and abroad to a campaign to persuade the world that the Palestinians’ dispossession was for the good of mankind. Israel’s achievements in science, agriculture and medicine were extolled.

But in a more interconnected world, that propaganda campaign is swiftly unravelling. Phone cameras now record “moral” soldiers executing unarmed Palestinians in Gaza or beating up children in Hebron.

The backlash, including a growing international boycott movement, has driven Israel’s right wing into even greater defiance and self-righteousness. It no longer conceals its goal to aggressively realise a longed-for “Greater Israel”.

A parallel process is overtaking Israel’s traditional left but has been far less noticed. It too is stubbornly committed to its ideological legacy – the creation of a supposed “Jewish and democratic state” after 1948.

And just as the immorality of Israel’s belligerent rule in the occupied territories is under ever greater scrutiny, so too is its claim to be a democracy conferring equal rights on all citizens.
Haneen Zoabi of Balad
Israel includes a large minority of 1.8 million Palestinian citizens, the remnants of those who survived the expulsions required for its creation. Although Palestinian citizens have the vote, it was an easy generosity after Israel gerrymandered the electoral constituency in 1948 to ensure Palestinians remained a permanent and decisive minority.

In a system of residential apartheid, Palestinian citizens have been confined to ghettos on a tiny fraction of land while Israel has “nationalised” 93 per cent of its territory for Jews around the world.
But after decades of repression, including an initial 20 years living under military rule, the Palestinian minority has gradually grown more confident in highlighting Israel’s political deficiencies.

In recent days, Palestinian legislators have submitted three legislative measures before parliament to explode the illusion that Israel is a western-style liberal democracy.

None stood the faintest chance of being passed in a system rigged to keep Palestinian lawmakers out of any of Israel’s complex but entirely Zionist coalition governments.

The first measure sought to revoke the quasi-governmental status of major international Zionist organisations like the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and the Jewish Agency.

Although they are treated like state bodies, these organisations are obligated through their charters to discriminate in allocating state resources and rights to Jews around the world rather than to Israelis. The aim is to exclude Palestinian citizens from major state benefits.

The JNF bans access for non-Jews to most land in Israel and develops new communities exclusively for Jews, while the Jewish Agency restricts immigration and associated perks to Jews alone.

The bill – designed to end decades of explicit discrimination against one fifth of Israel’s citizenry – was defeated when all the Jewish parties voted against it. Zuheir Bahloul, the sole Palestinian legislator in Zionist Union, the centre-left party once called Labour, was furiously denounced by Jewish colleagues for breaking ranks and voting for the bill.

That was no surprise. The party’s previous leader, Isaac Herzog, is the frontrunner to become the next chair of the Jewish Agency. Israel’s left still venerates these organisations that promote ethnic privileges – for Jews – of a sort once familiar from apartheid South Africa.

Mr Bahloul also found himself in the firing line after he submitted a separate bill requiring that for the first time the principle of equality be enshrined in all 11 Basic Laws, Israel’s equivalent of a constitution. The proposal was roundly defeated, including by his own party.

The third measure was a bill demanding that Israel be reformed from a Jewish state into a state of all its citizens, representing all equally. In a highly irregular move, a committee dominated by Jewish legislators voted to disqualify the bill last week from even being allowed a hearing on the parliament floor.

The parliament’s legal adviser, Eyal Yinon, warned that the measure would alter Israel’s character by giving Jewish and Palestinian citizens “equal status”. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein called the bill “preposterous”. “Any intelligent individual can see it must be blocked immediately,” he said.
Law professor Mordechai Kremnitzer, meanwhile, conceded that the bill exposed Israeli democracy as “fundamentally flawed”.

These three bills from Palestinian legislators might have redressed some of the inequities contained in nearly 70 Israeli laws that, according to Adalah, a legal rights group, explicitly discriminate based on ethnicity.

Paradoxically, the number of such laws has grown prolifically in recent years as Adalah and others have challenged Jewish privileges in the courts.

The Israeli left and right have joined forces to shore up these threatened racist practices through new legislation – secure that an intimidated supreme court will not dare revoke the will of parliament.
The reality is that left-wing Israelis – shown beyond doubt that their state is not the liberal democracy they imagined – have hurried to join the right in silencing critics and implementing harsher repression.

Palestinian citizens who peacefully protested against the massacre of demonstrators in Gaza by army snipers were assaulted in police custody last month. One arrested civil society leader had his knee broken. There have been barely any objections, even on the left.

Today, Israelis are hunkering down. Boycott activists from abroad are denied entry. Unarmed Palestinian demonstrators have been gunned down in Gaza. And critics inside Israel are silenced or beaten up.

All these responses have the same end in mind: to block anything that might burst the bubble of illusions and threaten Israelis’ sense of moral superiority.

Knesset blocks bill to deem Israel 'state for all its citizens'

June 7, 2018

Article Summary

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein rejected this week a law proposal presented by the Arab Joint List redefining Israel as the state of all its citizens.

REUTERS/Ammar Awad Israeli lawmakers attend a vote on a bill at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, Feb. 6, 2017.

Rarely do parliaments in democratic states flatly refuse to debate proposed bills and disqualify them before they are even put on the agenda. However, this happened June 4 when the Knesset Presidium decided in “an unusual move,” by its own admission, to reject the submission of a proposed constitutional law sponsored by three members of the Balad faction within the Arab Joint List. Their proposed basic law, titled “State of all its citizens,’’ sought to redefine the character of the Jewish state, qualifying it as giving equal status to the Jewish nationality and the Arab nationality.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said this was the first time since he took office five years ago that he had recommended vetoing proposed legislation, adding that the presidium had not vetoed a single proposed bill in the current Knesset or in the previous one.

“The three [Knesset members] from Balad keep trying to garner votes through provocation,” Edelstein stated, “and we cannot lend a hand to this.” Has he really forgotten the embarrassing provocation to which his Likud Party colleague Culture Minister Miri Regev subjected him on Israel’s recent Independence Day celebrations? When she hijacked the traditional keynote address at the ceremony from the speaker for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was Regev not trying to “garner votes” among Likud members? Does Edelstein not know of any Jewish lawmakers who submit bills in order to pick up votes? “Placing this bill on the Knesset's table may set a precedent for placing other inherently racist bills on the Knesset table,” said Knesset member Revital Swid of the center-left Zionist Camp. Swid was one of seven presidium members who voted to disqualify the proposed law. Only two presidium members (both Arabs), Esawi Frej of the left-wing Meretz Party and Ahmed Tibi of the Joint List, voted “nay.”

What was the issue that so riled Jewish lawmakers from the coalition and opposition parties? Why did this proposal make them bare their teeth? What is that “precedent for other inherently racist bills” to which Swid referred? Can they be referring to a clause in the bill that recognizes the existence and rights of the two national groups — one Jewish, one Arab — living in the State of Israel? Perhaps the problem lies in its proposed system of government based on separation of religion and state, while ensuring freedom of worship for all religions? Or were they beside themselves over language stating, “The state shall respect the individual and collective identity of its citizens on an equal basis, without discrimination on the basis of nationality, race, religion, gender, language, color, political views, ethnic origin or social status"?

Indeed, the proposed law is not Zionist. Its sponsors seek to nullify the right of return that grants automatic citizenship to all Jews and to change the symbols and anthem of the state so that they provide equal expression to both nations living in Israel. What racist overtones does it contain that are any different from the ones enshrined in the proposed nationality law that enjoys the support of Netanyahu and most members of the ruling coalition? The proposed nationality law seeks to define the character of the state through constitutional-style legislation that fails to guarantee the human rights of all the country’s citizens, chief among them the right to equality, the right to language, culture and minority rights. The proposed bill enshrines racial segregation in housing and undermines the rights of one-fifth of the country’s citizens to their language, culture and identity.

“There is something highly embarrassing in viewing Israel’s definition as a state of all its people as undermining the fundamental principles of our system of government and therefore disqualifying it in advance,” wrote leading legal scholar Mordechai Kremnitzer in Haaretz on June 5. Kremnitzer, a professor emeritus of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said, “If this is not an obvious fact, there is something fundamentally flawed in our democracy.” The latest Peace Index, issued this week, indicates that almost half of all Israelis (41%) think the country’s democracy is under severe threat. That view is held by 75% of those defining themselves as left wing and 70% of the Arabs polled.

To protect the state from any hint that its Jewish character and symbols are being eroded in favor of the principle of equality, most Knesset members are willing to destabilize one of the central pillars of democracy. At the same time, these same lawmakers support policy and legislation that deprives Israel of its Jewish majority. Since the seating of the current Knesset, 31 bills have been submitted calling for the direct annexation of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, whether by annexing the entire West Bank, annexing blocs of settlements or imposing Israeli planning and construction laws on extensive areas outside sovereign Israel. It is only thanks to human rights organizations that refuse to give in to the campaigns of incitement being waged against them that the Regularization Law, designed to authorize the establishment of settlements on private Palestinian lands, is now under deliberation by the Supreme Court.

In addition to the moral, security and diplomatic cost being exacted by the settlements on Israel, they are forcing the state to choose between turning into a binational state or an apartheid regime.  
According to data presented to the Knesset by military authorities in March, Arabs outnumber Jews in the area under Israeli control between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River — 6.8 million Arabs versus 6.5 million Jews. The latest violence along the border with Gaza clearly demonstrates that Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the enclave in 2005 failed to sever it from Israel, which continues to control its air space, territorial waters, supply of goods, water and power.

The Jewish majority in the Knesset can violate the right of Arab lawmakers to submit a bill seeking to define Israel as a state of all its citizens, even though this is an accepted definition in all democratic nations around the world. However, Israel can hardly be called a democracy when this majority refuses to represent millions of people whose fate is controlled by the state and to ensure their rights. At the same time, many Jews around the world, most of them affiliated with liberal Judaism, are having a hard time defining an occupying state that establishes settlements on stolen lands as a Jewish one.