27 April 2009

The Humiliation of David Aaronovitch

On April 6th, at the Sunday Times Literary Festival, a debate took place between David Aaronovitch (& fellow war-monger Nick Cohen) and Gilad Atzmon. Choosing between warmongering imperialists and an anti-Semite might seem like a choice between the devil and the deep-blue sea. However, given the choice between those who acted as Blair’s cheerleaders for the Iraq war, which cost over a million lives and who supported Israel’s blitzkrieg in Gaza, and a puffed-up anti-Semite, the audience preferred Atzmon.

I first met David Aaronovitch in student politics 30 years ago when he was in the running to become President of the National Union of Students. I was a member of the far-left Socialist Students Alliance. Aaronovitch at that time was a member of the Communist Party, though the only thing that was red about him was the colour of his socks. His politics were as right-wing then as they are now. Even then Aaronovitch was a died-in-the-wool Zionist and he did his unsuccessful best to have me banned as a delegate to NUS Conference for ‘anti-Semitism’, something that Atzmon has since quoted to ‘prove’ that it is his critics who are anti-Semitic not him!

Unfortunately the renowned Israeli historian Professor Ilan Pappe had to pull out of the debate resulting in an invitation being extended to Atzmon instead. Clearly the organisers of the Sunday Times festival had as little idea of the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism as Aaronovitch.

Aaronovitch believed that there was no need to enter into a debate with Atzmon. All he had to do was read out some of Atzmon’s anti-Semitic sayings. Unfortunately for Aaronovitch, the audience was not as stupid as his normal readership and they clearly didn’t take to someone who has supported very imperialist war going and a few more he’d like to get going. Presumably Aaronovitch thought he would get a round of applause for his support of Israel’s barbaric attack on Gaza, which killed over 1,400 civilians.

When he realised that the applause had gone to Atzmon instead, Aaronovitch threw an almighty tantrum, as befits someone who believes that his lifeless and reactionary prose contains undreamt of pearls of wisdom. How, he wondered, could people applaud an anti-Semite as opposed to an imperialist? And the answer is so obvious that even someone in possession of Aaronovitch’s mediocre talents might be expected to work it out. The wars and blockades that Aaronovitch has supported in different parts of the world have killed upwards of 2 million people. Atzmon’s anti-Semitism has killed no one because, as far as I’m aware, death by boredom cannot be entered as a cause of death on a death certificate.

After 3 weeks, by which time his pride had presumably recovered, Aaronovitch penned an article for the Jewish Chronicle of 23rd April 2009 ‘Gilad Atzmon's discordant notes’ Unfortunately the passage of time doesn’t seem to have helped Aaronovitch’s critical(!) faculties. He still doesn’t seem to have worked out why, in front of an audience, he is less popular than in the admiring company of the Euston set. However the answer is so simple that I thought that the least I could do was to write him a letter explaining just where he had gone wrong. Indeed it is simplicity itself.

When you attack Palestinians and anti-Zionists, not least Jewish anti-Zionists, as being anti-Semitic, then what you do is let the real anti-Semites like Gilad Atzmon off the hook. When you deliberately confuse and conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism it is not the anti-Zionists you hurt but the anti-Semites you help. The only reason Gilad Atzmon can pass himself off as an anti-Zionist, when he is politically at one with Zionism’s founding creed, that diaspora Jewry is a hideous thing and that being Jewish and Zionist is one and the same thing, is because anti-Zionists and anti-Semites are tarred by the Zionists with the same brush of anti-Semitism.
If you cry ‘wolf’ for long enough, don’t be surprised if people no longer believe or listen to you when the wolf makes an appearance. And that is the real contribution of David Aaronovitch and Zionism to the fight against racism and anti-Semitism.
If Paul could repent on the road to Damascus then even David Aaronovitch is not beyond redemption!

Indeed the only interesting thing about the affair is that Atzmon is now openly consorting with people such as 'Lady' Michèle Renouf, an ardent supporter of assorted holocaust deniers.

Tony Greenstein

Open Letter to David Aaronovitch
Dear David,

When I first read reports that Gilad Atzmon had triumphed over you in a debate at the Sunday Times Literary Festival of April 1st, I assumed they owed more than a touch to Atzmon’s normal self-promotion and his gaggle of semi-literate acolytes. Modesty, after all, is not something that Atzmon does.

It is clear though, that in this case, the reports of what took place are true, since you yourself confirm them (‘Gilad Atzmon's discordant notes’).

What is most surprising though is your bewilderment at being routed by a crude anti-Semitic loudmouth, someone who finds the company of Michèle Renouf and assorted anti-Semites and holocaust deniers congenial. Yet despite your failure to comprehend what took place, it is easy to understand what happened and why.

By your own admission, one of those applauding Atzmon was not anti-Semitic but someone who had hoped to hear the critical Israeli Jewish academic, Avi Shlaim, speak instead. Far from suggesting that white phosphorous had been dumped on his judgement, it is your own judgement that you should question. Perhaps if you had not let your own, self-admitted arrogance get in the way and you had stopped to think, you might have experienced your very own ‘eureka’ moment.
You are a columnist on the Jewish Chronicle. Not once in the years you have been writing, have you ever criticised or even analysed, the outrages that Israel commits in the name of all Jewish people. Not once have you offended your paymasters or the JC's diminishing readership. When a controversy broke out 2 years ago over the right of the Jewish National Fund to allocate land to Jews only, David Aaronovitch remained silent, even though the JC itself staged a debate of sorts. sd

When Jewish anti-Zionists, myself included, were accused in the Jewish Chronicle of being ‘self-haters’ (22.4.09.) you thought it very amusing to pen an article alongside that stated that ‘Jews active in the movement to boycott Israel don’t hate themselves they hate their parents.’ A vacuous combination of offensiveness and childishness. Presumably if never occurred to you that those who support a Boycott of Israel do it not because they hate anyone but because they hate racism and apartheid and the massacres we have seen in Gaza recently.

When Israel Railways began sacking workers last week because they are Arabs, on the pretext that they had not served in the Army, [except for the Druze, Arabs don’t serve in the military] you again kept silent. Yet if Jews in Britain experienced the same treatment as Arabs in Israel you would be the first person to jump up and down shouting ‘anti-Semitism’.
Although you would never tell by reading the pages of the Jewish Chronicle, most civilised people are outraged by what happened in Gaza. And if the truth be known, most Jews are embarrassed by what happened and find it indefensible. Under the pretext of a rocket bombardment from Hamas, Israel launched a veritable blitzkrieg on Gaza, having broken the ceasefire unilaterally by entering Gaza to kill 6 members of Hamas on November 4th 2008.
Instead you fondly imagined that quotes from the writings of Atzmon would thereby negate yours and Nick Cohen’s open support for the Iraq War and the Gaza slaughter. You seem to forget that Jews are not dying from pogroms today nor are they being attacked on the streets of Britain. However 1,400 Palestinians died in less than a month of Israeli bombing of Gaza, amongst them over 400 children.

People will not easily forget the use of phosphorous bombs on schools and will also not be persuaded by the Israeli military’s self-serving exculpation of what most people rightly consider war crimes.
You complain that your unnamed critic was not able to distinguish between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism. If that is true, then who is to blame but those like yourself who have repeatedly criticised anti-Zionists and supporters of the Palestinians as anti-Semitic? Only last week the decision of the Scottish TUC to support a campaign of Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions against Israel was denounced as ‘anti-Semitic’ by its opponents.
It should have been easy to demonstrate that Gilad Atzmon’s anti-Semitism served no cause but his own. That attacks on Jews do not aid the Palestinians, quite the contrary. Indeed without anti-Semitism there would have been no Zionism and no Nakbah since Zionism and anti-Semitism have always shared the belief that Jews do not belong in non-Jewish society. But to do that, as a sine qua non, you would have to oppose all forms of racism, Zionism included. And that is your problem – you have supported all imperialism’s wars and acted as a cheerleader for the Israeli state.

Condemning racism and supporting imperialism was always going to be a difficult act, as you found out at Cambridge recently!

Tony Greenstein

23 April 2009

Scottish TUC Vote to Back Boycott, Disinvestment & Sanctions

Wonderful News From Scotland

As expected, following the Scottish TUC delegation to Israel, the Scottish TUC has voted to support a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel and to review its links with the Zionists' Apartheid Union next year.

Now is the time for Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Britain to come off the fence and openly support calls for BDS within the trade union movement, and that means Boycotting Histadrut.
Below is a report circulated by Scottish PSC

Tony Greenstein

Breaking news....
Scotland today joined Ireland and South Africa when the Scottish Trade Union Congress, representing every Scottish trade union, voted overwhelmingly to commit to boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. This is the third example of a national trade union federation committing to BDS and is a clear indication that, while Israel can kill Palestinians with impunity and Western support, it has lost the battle for world public opinion. It is now seen to be a state born out of ethnic cleansing and still expanding through the violent dispossession of the Palestinian people.

Speaker after speaker expressed intense anger at Israel’s butchery of 1,300 Palestinians in Gaza over the New Year, as well as the much longer history of Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. The vote followed a visit to Israel/Palestine by an STUC Delegation in March which heard from a wide range of trade union and other bodies and returned with a unanimous recommendation that the parent body adopt BDS.

The STUC move to a position of BDS followed debate on the Delegation report with affiliated unions as well as consultations across Scotland. There were written and oral submissions from Zionist as well as human rights bodies.

The commitment to BDS was made despite aggressive lobbying by Zionist groups, including an absurd warning that a commitment to active support for Palestinian human rights would lead to attacks on Scottish Jews, and the parachuting into Scotland of the Histadrut’s Head of Communications from Israel.

The STUC’s new position is a dramatic breakthrough which has the potential to greatly accelerate the boycott campaign already underway in Scotland against, for example, Israeli companies and sporting or cultural visits. The Scottish Government earlier in the year yielded to public concerns and cancelled a trade delegation to Israel.

It will also make easier the task of building a mass boycott campaign across the land surface of Scotland, in every town and small community, in every supermarket and every sporting and cultural event.

Israel’s New Year mountain of corpses in Gaza, together with its frequent murder of unarmed civilians across Palestine was only the latest in a long series of Israeli massacres. We may be unable to stop the next one, but our job of building the sort of mass BDS campaign that can confront Israeli violence with a countervailing force has just become easier. An aroused world opinion is increasingly ready to ensure that all don’t die in vain.

We can only offer hope to the hard-pressed Palestinians that their freedom is coming, however long Israel and its allies work to delay it.

Speaking prior to the debate, STUC General Secretary, Grahame Smith, said: “The STUC General Council is recommending support for boycott and calls for sanctions against Israel because of its attacks on the human rights of Palestinian people and its breaches of international laws.

Mr Smith continued: “On our recent visit to Israel and Palestine we witnessed the human rights violations experienced by ordinary Palestinians on a daily basis. We saw how restrictions on movement and checkpoints prevent people from going to work, to school and to visit their families – even when they are sick and dying.”

“We heard powerful arguments from the Palestinian Human Rights Organisation, Al-Haq, outlining how Israel is in breach of the Geneva Conventions, and the need for other signatories to international laws to hold Israel to account.”

“Our delegation also met with the leadership of Israeli trade union centre, Histadrut, and the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions. The STUC has carefully considered the complex issues involved, and we believe that we have a moral obligation to show solidarity to Palestinian people.”

The significant paragraphs of the STUC General Council Recommendation on BDS passed at Congress today in Perth. are:

6.1 The General Council is recommending that Congress should take a position of:
 supporting boycotts and disinvestments against lsrael,
 calling for sanctions against lsrael,
 encouraging positive investments in the occupied territories.

6.6 The STUC acknowledges its relationship with both PGFTU and Histadrut and supports the development of a constructive dialogue between them. The STUC will explain its position on BDS to Histadrut, and will, over the next 12 months, raise with them Histadrut positions in relation to Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The STUC will review its relationship with Histadrut in this context.

The full resolution is:

Palestine - lsrael. BDS Report 2009
1.1 Introduction

At STUC Congress 2007 a resolution requested the General Council explore the calls for boycott, disinvestments and sanctions (BDS)against the state of lsrael until it complied with universal law and international principles of human rights. Since this resolution was carried the General Council has given careful and urgent consideration to the BDS calls. The STUC has consulted with its affiliates, considered the implications of BDS, discussed BDS with its stakeholders and invited views and comments from interested groups and communities. In March 2009 a delegation from the General Council visited Palestine and lsrael. This enabled the STUC to speak directly with trade unionists in Palestine and lsrael, to discuss the BDS calls with them, and to see the situation in the region ourselves.

This report explains the process undertaken by the General Council in exploring the BDS calls. lt then makes a recommendation on behalf of the General Council. This recommendation is for consideration by the STUC's Annual Congress on 22 April 2009.

The Boycott, Disinvestments and Sanctions Discussion

The General Council has given serious consideration over the past couple of years to the issue of boycott, disinvestments and sanctions against lsrael until it complies with international principles of human rights and international laws, such as the Geneva Conventions and United Nations Security Council resolutions. In September 2007 the General Council agreed a process for exploring the BDS calls, which included developing a greater understanding of BDS and achieving its stated aims;

establishing the position of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions;
seeking the views of STUC affiliates, the wider trade union movement, as well as other stakeholders;
and seeking the views of 'Histadrut on this matter.

A report on the progress with this work was given to Congress in April 2008.

Palestine - lsrael. BDS Report 2009

A motion to Congress 2008 on BDS (which was remitted), and questions to the Generaf Council, underlined the urgency with which Congress wished this matter to be addressed.

2.2 The General Council undertook to participate in a delegation to Palestine and lsrael as part of the deliberations on BDS. This delegation provided vital information and experiences which have contributed to the conclusions drawn by the General Council. A formal consultation with stakeholders provided invaluable
comments and views, and has helped to shape the final decision and the campaign that the General Council wishes to pursue on this matter.

STUC Delegation to Palestine and lsrael

A delegation from the General Council visited Palestine and lsrael between 28 February - 7 March 2009. The delegation consisted of eleven senior trade unionists, including the General Secretary, General Council members, and Scottish trade union leaders. A full report from the delegation has been issued to all Congress delegates, and is available on the STUC's website, and from
Congress Office.

The delegation saw for themselves the growing lsraeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the separation wall, the checkpoints and the restrictions on movement. The delegation also saw the poverty in Palestine, and a refugee camp in East Jerusalem. On a visit to Sderot, on the border with Gaza, the
delegation saw how the rocket attacks affect the lives of lsraelis.

The delegation heard a similar message from the leadership of Histadrut, lsrael's Welfare Minister Yitzchak Hertzog, the Foreign Affairs Officials, and from the Sderot Municipal representative.

This message was of the importance of dialogue, the constructive relationship between Histadrut and the PGFTU, and the key problem that lsrael does not have a partner in Palestine to work with for peace. Hamas was derided as a terrorist organisation which was operated from lran, and which did not recognise lsrael's
right to exist.

Palestine - lsrael. BDS Report 2009

There was a failure to recognise that Palestinians had supported Hamas in democratic elections. There was no attempt to try to comprehend why some Palestinians would vote for an extreme and violent organisation.

The delegation heard of attacks on human rights of Palestinians from many organisations including human rights organisations Al-Haq and B'Tselem, the campaign group Breaking the Silence, the trade unionists at Birzeit University, the BDS campaign in Ramallah, the International Labour Organisation, as well as from the PGFTU.

The PGFTU told the delegation that the decision on BDS is one for organisations like the STUC to take for themselves. Other groups including the Palestine Women's General Federation, and the BZT Union of Professors and Employees strongly encouraged the STUC to support BDS because of the attacks on human rights of Palestinians. The Palestinian Planning Minister within the Ministry of Labour told the delegation that he believed the only way lsrael would change its policy towards the Palestinians was if it was isolated from the rest of the world. He also said that most Palestinian workers in lsrael are employed in the construction and service sectors, and, therefore, are not working in the sectors which would be primarily targeted by BDS.

B'Tselem told the delegation how the lsraeli settlements and the restrictions on movement are at the heart of most human rights violations. The human rights organisation Al-Haq explained that boycott is a personal decision for groups, where as international laws, such as the Geneva Convention, set out that where
breaches occur the signatories to legislation have a duty to impose sanctions. Al-Haq itself is involved in pursuing the British Government in UK Courts because of its failure to censure lsrael for breaching the Geneva Convention.

4 Palestine - lsrael. BDS Report 2009

Views of Affiliates

The General Council sought views from affiliates on the issue of BDS in January 2008 and again in June 2008. The General Council received responses from six of its affiliates. lt is worth noting that a number of those submitting views forwarded resolutions from their own conferences, and that since views have been submitted, subsequent conference resolutions have changed or added to these policy positions.

A number of these responses clearly supported BDS, one opposed BDS, and another explained that it had legal advice stating it was not within the union's power to call for or implement a boycott.

The STUC's two largest affiliates support some kind of boycotting action. A report on the responses is attached at Appendix A.

Consultation with Interested Parties

The General Council sought views from a number of groups and organisations who have an interest in the issue of BDS in January 2009. Helpful submissions were received from organisations and faith groups which addressed a number of issues including:

* human rights,
* the peace process,
* the potential impact of BDS on the economies of lsrael and Palestine,
* the relationship between Histadrut and the PGFTU,
* comparisons with apartheid South Africa,
* the impact of BDS upon communities in Scotland,
* Anti-Semitism,
* the debate on the breadth or not of the call for BDS.
* views on the targets of BDS,
* the role of the STUC-

5.2 A report analysing the views of interested parties is attached at Appendix B.

5 Palestine - lsrael. BDS Report 2009

5.3 Whilst not part of the formal consultation with interested groups and organisations, it is worth recording that the STUC engaged in informal dialogue with representatives of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland. The purpose of this discussion was to consider any issues for the STUC in taking a decision to call for BDS, in terms of equality and human rights laws in Scotland and the UK. The advice received emphasised the importance of taking a rights based approach, and balancing the human rights of the different groups affected in this debate.

General Council Recommendation

The General Council is recommending that Congress should take a position of:
* supporting boycotts and disinvestments against lsrael,
* calling for sanctions against lsrael,
* encouraging positive investments in the occupied territories.

The General Council is recommending this action because of lsrael's attacks on the human rights of Palestinian people, and its failure to comply with agreed international law. The STUC strongly supports a peaceful two state solution in Palestine and lsrael. lt is deeply disappointed at the failure of negotiation and diplomacy to achieve the two state solution to date. By taking the position of supporting boycott and disinvestments and by calling for sanctions, the STUC hopes to bring economic, political and social pressure on the government of lsrael and the world's powers, to reach a peaceful solution through dialogue. The STUC also intends to draw greater attention to the fact that international human rights laws are being violated by lsrael.

In reaching this decision, the STUC has considered the views and comments of significant groups of people, not least the people of Palestine whose human rights are infringed on a daily basis. We are very clear that our position is taken because of the actions of the lsraeli state. However, the STUC wants to do all that it can to
ensufp that our decision does not impact detrimentally upon communities in Scotland.

6 Palestine - lsrael. BDS Report 2009

We envisage a targeted consumer led boycott, where trade union members should not put their own jobs at risk by refusing to deal with lsraeli products, or work with organisations that are involved in the lsraeli occupation of Palestine. Rather, these trade union members have a campaigning role, in working with their employers to raise greater awareness of the issues and the case for boycott.

The campaign will encourage trade unionists to boycott goods and especially agricultural products that have been produced in the illegal lsraeli settlements in the Occupied Territories. The STUC recognises the place of lsraeli goods, such as kosher products, in Jewish religious observance, and wishes to ensure that a consumer boycott is targeted so that it does not affect, as far as practicable, religious observance. The campaign should develop and encourage a greater awareness of organisations' investments and interests in companies which are supporting the occupation. The STUC is particularly encouraging campaigns of disinvestment (or divesting) in companies associated with the occupation.

Publicly calling for sanctions against lsrael for its breaches of international laws and human rights violations is an important element of the campaign. Sanctions are a valid action imposed upon a party or nation where it has breached agreed rules. The STUC will raise the matter with the British Government, impressing
upon them their obligations as signatories of the Geneva Conventions, and as United Nations Security Council members.

The sanctions campaign, in pressurising the British Government, European Union institutions, and other nations, is vital to protect the integrity of agreed international laws and to uphold the rights of victims of human rights abuses.

6.6 The STUC acknowledges its relationship with both PGFTU and Histadrut and supports the development of a constructive dialogue between them. The STUC will explain its position on BDS to Histadrut, and will, over the next 12 months, raise with them Histadrut positions in relation to Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The STUC will review its relationship with Histadrut in this context.

Palestine - lsrael. BDS Report 2009

6.7 Whilst recognising this paper and recommendation is a starting point for this campaign within the STUC, the General Council acknowledges the urgency of the situation facing Palestinian people. To ensure that the campaign is effective, and to make this decision meaningful for trade union members in Scotland, and
appropriate for particular workplaces, the STUC and affiliates will need to take fonrvard further work and activity. The General Councif urges Congress to support a continual awareness raising process on these issues, to provide guidance and support to affiliates, and to ensure that a BDS campaign, along with positive investment in the Palestinian territories. is effective.

Scottish Trades Union Congress
April 2009

20 April 2009

The Charity Commission Attacks Gaza Convoy Aid

The Charity Commission is officially a non-governmental organisation. A quango in short. It comprises the good and the great, and like the BBC, is stuffed with conservative gentlemen (& a few ladies) who are eager to do the Government's bidding.

The Charity Commission is also invested with quite enormous powers over organisations they don't like and for the second time, they have been used by New Labour to attack projects that George Galloway MP is involved in. Last time it was Operation Marianne which helped get hospital treatment for a little girl who had been denied medical effect because of western sanctions. Now the Charity Commission is complaining because of the support of the Gaza Convoy to breaking Israel's murderous blockade of Gaza.

Galloway points out the utter hypocrisy of the CC in doing nothing whatsoever when the Zionist Federation launched an appeal for 'care packages' for the war criminals who were bombing Gaza. Imagine if someone launched an appeal for 'care packages' for Al Quada fighters yet Israel's military has killed far more people in far less time.

The Charity Commission is equally supine when it comes to other Zionist charitable endeavours. The Jewish National Fund's British wing is a charity. This is an organisation that appeals for funds in order to prevent land in Israel passing to or being used by non-Jews. Since when is racism and apartheid a charitable objective?

In fact the Charity Commission has been here before. Years ago they acted at the behest of the Tory Government to remove Arthur Scargill as a trustee of the miners' pension funds. He opposed their use to support repressive regimes, their tax holidays and much else besides. Now it is all coming home to root as the pension funds also have massive gaping holes in them, but the Charity Commission acted as befits a New Labour poodle.

I've often disagreed with George Galloway and his political style of operation but this open letter to the Charity Commission hits the nail on the head.

Tony Greenstein

14th April 2009

Hard copy will be sent to
Louise Edwards
Compliance Investigation Unit ( London)
Charity Commission Direct
PO Box 1227
Liverpool L69 3UG

To the Charity Commission,

I have been travelling for many weeks in North Africa and the Middle East, Europe, and North America. I have returned to a London address I seldom visit to find a blizzard of correspondence from you. Your correspondence, when read together, as I have just done, seems to represent a wildly disproportionate and inappropriate reaction to our recent delivery of aid to the suffering Palestinians in Gaza , and must raise the question: Why?

The peremptory letters from you, and by you I mean the Charity Commission, are full of bluster and threat, issuing absurd deadlines to people it does not seem to occur to you are not even receiving your letters, either because they are working abroad (Ms Razuki and Mr Al-Mukhtar), travelling abroad on high profile political business (myself), or you are writing to them at the wrong address.

In my own case, Easter Saturday opened with your, latest, threat to go before a High Court judge in a bid to force me to appear before you. That will not be necessary. I look forward to telling you to your faces what I think of you. Which is this.

I have become increasingly concerned about the abuse of your powers displayed in your brazenly obvious political double standards. About your attempts, under the guise of regulating British charities, to police the democratic efforts of political activists in Britain in a way never envisaged by parliament. About your preparedness to waste large sums of public money in political stunts, either at the behest of others or in the hope that you are properly anticipating their wishes. And above all, in the context of this issue, your almost laughably obvious prejudice against the Palestinian cause and against Britain 's two million-strong Muslim community.

Just one example will suffice for now, although I have more, much more.

During Israel's 22-day attack on virtually defenceless Palestinian civilians in Gaza - condemned by virtually everyone in the world from the United Nations to the Pope and including the British government – an organisation The Zionist Federation took out a full page advert in the Jewish Chronicle on 9 th January asking readers to send "care packages" to "our [ie Israeli] soldiers fighting on the front line” in Gaza and to send charity vouchers to a British registered charity Operation Wheelchairs Committee (charity number 263089) for the same purpose.

Although this was immediately drawn to your attention you appear to have done absolutely nothing at all about such an abuse of charitable status. The Zionist Federation is presumably not a registered charity any more than Viva Palestina was. The Zionist Federation appeal was for money for “care packages” with donations possible online to www.zionist.org.uk and to the charity Operation Wheelchairs Committee. By the logic of your actions towards Viva Palestina, surely you should have immediately declared the Zionist Federation to be a charity with all that that entails. But you did not do so. Why? In any case, the Operation Wheelchairs Committee is a charity, soliciting for funds in this advert to support a foreign army involved in a widely condemned military action, in which thousands of civilians were killed, maimed and orphaned. Yet the Charity Commission did nothing. No freezing of bank accounts, no press releases, no carefully briefed "concerns", no threats of High Court judges.

It will only take the reader (I am publishing this letter as widely as I can) a moment's thought to imagine what the Charity Commission's attitude would have been if a British - Muslim - Charity had taken a full page advertisement in a different British newspaper raising money for "care packages" for "our [ie Palestinian] soldiers fighting on the front line” in Gaza.

Not only would you have gone into overdrive and immediately begun freezing their assets, the hue and cry in the press you would have fed, would have seen the charity's trustees under arrest.

This is an incontestable example of your persistent bias. Because in contrast to your inaction on a British charity raising money for the Israeli army and in the absence of such a hypothetical Muslim charity, you have launched this hysterical campaign to try and wreck the work of Viva Palestina instead.

Without any knowledge of the intentions of Viva Palestina and on the basis of press reports, you pronounced, as is your wont, that we were in effect a charity, to give yourselves locus in our affairs. You misunderstood - I believe deliberately - the structure of our Gaza convoy, purporting to believe that we - the subscribers (whatever that means) - were holding more than a million pounds about which you expressed "concerns", when in fact, as you have been told but continue to ignore, this was never the case.

You first frightened the banks into refusing our attempts to open a bank account. When we finally found a bank which would allow us to open an account you intimidated them into freezing it, I believe exceeding your powers. You then began procuring documents - possibly illegally - about us from the Islamic Bank. As a result of your press briefings about your "concerns" newspapers began to refuse to accept advertisements from us, donors turned away, and the public were encouraged to believe that Viva Palestina was something to be avoided - conjuring-up an undisclosed but lurking suspicion about it.

In all this you acted not as the public would expect a Charity Commission to do, but rather as a self-appointed state policeman of the activist sector, a mission-creep towards a style of work which simply must be contested.

Here are the facts. Accept them and save the public purse a lot of money it can't afford. And get off the backs of Britain 's Muslims and the Palestinian people.

I am not a trustee of Viva Palestina. You say I am a "subscriber" though you do not say what that means. I have nothing to do with Viva Palestina's finances, I am not a signatory to its frozen bank account. I will attend the meeting with you, because I intend to launch a parliamentary campaign, and take it to the country, to put you back in your place.

I did inspire the creation of Viva Palestina and I am very proud of that. If those running it listen to me they will refuse to take anything off their website at your behest. The example you cite of an item which should be taken down, could just as easily have been any one of a hundred items. And would become so, once your right to dictate the activities of a political campaigning organisation was conceded.

For that is what Viva Palestina was, and is. Its constitution - its actual constitution not the one you wish it had - makes this abundantly clear. So does everything it says and does. If all that renders Viva Palestina not eligible to be a charity, then that's fine. Let me emphasise this as strongly as I am able. Viva Palestina does not want to be a charity .

It is you, for transparently political reasons, who insisted that charitable status should be sought. You registered Viva Palestina as a charity in record quick time and without the great bulk of the information you normally required. And then you froze the record-quick new charity's bank account so that it could not operate. These are police state tactics, entirely inappropriate and without any basis.

Viva Palestina simply provided a focus for an aid convoy from Britain to Gaza . It was de-centralised. Each participant was responsible for raising their own money, bringing their own vehicles, filling their own vehicles with their own aid, making their own donations in Gaza . You have been told this but continue to misrepresent the position. The money raised by Viva Palestina itself - a much smaller amount - was publicly declared to be intended as a donation to a British charity for work in Gaza - Interpal, with which you are depressingly familiar for having harassed it for years on repeatedly debunked smears.

The vast majority of the participants in the convoy, and the vast majority of those who helped them with money and aid, were British Muslims.

Having exerted that mighty effort, those British Muslims now find that their peaceful democratic response to the crisis in Gaza has been criminalised by you, and their aid confiscated. This all follows the high-profile police raid on vehicles from the Muslim community in the North West heading to join the convoy the night before its departure. This raid, blazed across the media, saw the arrest of ten Muslims headed for the convoy. All ten of them were later released without charge, but not before sowing the seeds of tremendous bitterness in the communities from which the men came.

This is dangerous as well as foolish. There are extremists on the edge of the Muslim community even now saying "I told you so" to those who had been naive enough to think Britain was still the kind of country where efforts like ours could be appreciated and, at least, be free from the kind of arbitrary and unjust actions taken by you. These actions undermine the confidence of British Muslims in the democratic system in Britain and are therefore dangerous and against the interests of our country.

I understand from my colleagues that you have now frozen more than £100,000 intended to help the suffering Palestinian people. Shame on you. I suppose it is too much to hope that you might have that on your conscience. But be sure I intend to let as many people as possible know, here and abroad, what you have done.

Viva Palestina's work has effectively come to a halt since your intervention in its affairs and in my absence. This was, I'm sure, your intention. Viva Palestina has not spent any money improperly. It would not do so. Indeed it could not do so. It has spent hardly anything at all - thanks to you. But it intends to get its money back from you. Viva Palestina have instructed lawyers to deal with you and a barrister will accompany us to the meeting with you. If necessary we will start a new organisation free from your wrecking efforts. But we want this money back, please be sure about that. There are Palestinians dying as a result of the malignant, sinister, cynical actions taken by you. Trust me you'll be hearing more about this.

Yours faithfully

George Galloway MP

17 April 2009

Guardian Comment is 'Free' and Newspeak

One of the disting
uishing features of 1984 was Newsspeak. Black is White, Lies are Truth. Under Bike Fanatic Matt Seaton [how can anyone write 3 books on the machines?] the Guardian's CIF has moved decisively in the direction of the Israel Lobby.

And who has he hired but David Toube, the slick city solicitor who runs Harry's Place - a racist and anti-Islamic blog that also believes in 'free' speech. Toube as therefore given free reign to post a boring piece attacking an article on CIF by Tony Lerman, someone who the Israel Lobby witchhunted when he was Director of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research.

What got Toube's goat was Lerman's quite gentle criticisims of the Zionists' goon squad in Britain, the Community Security Trust. Based on research I had done in a previous article on the CST I posted an article (below) on CIF. Sure enough it was deleted. Why? Because according to one Adam Censor it breached 'community standards'. And what might be the specific offence? No answer How? No answer? What community? How does the community make decisions? Of course there is no community but the Grauniad likes these nice New Labour buzzwords that are meaningless.

So let us have a look at what possible offences could have merited the wrath of the censors:

i. Pointing out that the Lee Barnes of the BNP that Toube cites in his article is an avid Zionist whose only disappointment with Israel's Lebanese War in 2006 was that more Muslims weren't killed.

ii. Maybe it was quoting an article in the Guardian that cited the BNP's site as the most pro-Zionist of any major political party.

iii. Maybe pointing out that the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which set up the CST, has always had a long history, going back to the Battle of Cable Street of 1936, in opposing any fascist mobilisations. At the time it told Jews to stay indoors and avoid trouble!

iv. Or maybe demonstrating that the true role of the CST is to 'protect' the Jewish community from Jewish anti-Zionists?

v. Or maybe revealing details of the CST's murky finances. The fact that it has £11m in reserves, makes over a million quid a year profit, pays 3 of its staff £100,000+ salaries for 'fighting fascism' and leaches of Jewish charities by raising the bogey of 'anti-semitism' at the very same time that the most basic social care of the elderly and disabled in the Jewish community is under threat.

vi. Or maybe it was my criticism of Toube's attack on the 'genocidal racist' of Hamas and the continuation of the racist Harry's Place theme that Muslims are to blame for anti-Semitism.

vii. Or was it pointing out that the only country the Nazis occupied which didn't deport any of its Jews was Morocco and that superficial and glib attacks on Arabs for 'anti-semitism' ignores that there are no social roots to anti-semitism in the Middle East. Now that certainly seems to be dangerous knowledge to throw around but then again the censors are hardly likely to understand what I was saying anyway.

So I shall leave it to you dear readers to decide which is the most likely. Or maybe it was the taking apart of an ignorant Zionist solicitor was the real reason.

Tony Greenstein

15 Apr 09, 7:19pm

David Toube’s article is disingenuous.

The Community Security Trust doesn’t just provide advice on protecting Jewish buildings and events from attack. If that was its only remit then no one could complain. The problem is that the CST is a Zionist organisation. Its openly conflates anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. One of its undeclared roles is to insulate the Jewish community from Jewish anti-Zionists. Is that fighting anti-Semitism? See:

If Lee Barnes of the BNP is going to be quoted then it should also be pointed out that he is an ardent supporter of the Israeli state. During Israel’s war against Lebanon he wrote:
As a Nationalist I can say that I support Israel 100% in their dispute with Hizbullah. In fact, I hope they wipe Hizbullah off the Lebanese map and bomb them until they leave large greasy craters in the cities where their Islamic extremist cantons of terror once stood.
David Toube is reticent about the BNP’s support for Zionism. E.g. the Guardian of Thursday 10.4.08. carried a story ‘BNP seeks to bury antisemitism and gain Jewish votes in Islamophobic campaign’.· Ruth Smeed of the Board of Deputies of British Jews stated that ‘The BNP website is now one of the most Zionist on the web - it goes further than any of the mainstream parties in its support of Israel’.

The reason why is quite simple. The BNP first and foremost hate Muslims. Zionism, as Toube demonstrates, also target Muslims. Hence the basis for the BNP’s support of Zionism – which of course is quite compatible with anti-Semitism.

I agree with Tony Lerman. Indeed I would go further. If there was a real threat of anti-Semitism in Britain, as with the National Front in the 1970’s, then the CST and the Board of Deputies would be telling Jews it is exaggerated. The CST works hand in glove with the Police. Anyone with any experience of anti-fascist mobilisations and organisations knows that the Jewish establishment were always OPPOSED to anything that smacked of conflict with fascism.

The CST have never organised a single anti-fascist mobilisation. They take their stance from the Board of Deputies which in October 1936 at Cable Street told Jews to stay indoors and ignore the British Union of Fascists when they attempted to march through the East End. Jewish and non-Jewish workers ignored them and drove the fascists from the streets.

Those who think the CST would do any differently now live in cloud cuckoo land.

What the CST is about is making Jews scared of something that doesn’t exist and pretending that anti-Zionism and support for the Palestinians is anti-Semitic. And in the process they hoover up lots of cash. With about £11 millions in reserves and an income of about £5m a year and 64 employees, including 3 with salaries over £100,000 (anti-fascism has never been so profitable!) the CST has a different agenda altogether.

When researching a list of Jewish charities something struck me. How nearly all of them had made donations to the CST. This at a time when Jewish Care and other organisations are running out of funds to care for the Jewish elderly and sick in this country. The CST is an establishment parasite on the Jewish community, raising fears to feather its own nest at the expense of the most vulnerable in the Jewish community.

Toube writes that Britain is not a country in which antisemitism is widespread among ordinary people. That’s right, because anti-racist and anti-fascist campaigns have seen to it that that is the case. So why then the need for the CST? Because raising fears about anti-Semitism at the end of the day means more immigrants for Israel.

The major form of racism in Britain today is anti-Islamic racism. And what does Toube have to say about that? Supporters of Islam are anti-Semitic!! Hamas is blamed. Hamas is not anti-Semitic, which is not to say that it isn’t politically backward. Jewish people who have gone IN SOLIDARITY with the Palestinians to Gaza have not been subject to anti-Semitism, as veteran peace campaigner Uri Avneri will testify. But when Israeli soldiers say that they are destroying peoples’ homes and killing their children in the name of ‘the Jews’ it’s not surprising that some people believe them.

But anti-Semitism HAS NO SOCIAL ROOTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST. The only country (Denmark apart) where a Nazi occupation didn’t lead to deportations was Morocco. Why? Because Arabs were opposed to the deportation of their fellow Jewish citizens. To now come, and say that Arabs are the real anti-Semites speaks volumes about David Toube’s real agenda.

If anyone makes the ‘provision of alibis for genocidal racists’ then it is Mr Toube and his friends.

15 April 2009

Israel Rail's Racist Sacking of Arab Workers

When the Zionist state was in the making, the main campaign of the Histadrut 'trade union' was for the Boycott of Arab Labour (Jewish Labour), i.e. the exclusion of Arabs from workplaces owned by Jews. It opposed all forms of workers solidarity. Today that policy has been extended into nearly all forms of state employment (the major employer in Israel).
The way the racist Zionists do this is not by declaring that 'Arabs cannot work here'. That would sound too much like Apartheid and give Israel a bad name. Instead they impose conditions that Arabs cannot meet but which, on the surface, are neutral.
In Britain and Europe this is called 'indirect discrimination'. An apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice is operated, which in its effect or purpose disadvantages a larger section of one group - whether it be by race, sex, colour, sexual orientation etc. more than another.
In Israel there is no such thing as indirect discrimination. Indeed racism itself is allowed and is not outlawed, as is natural in a racist state. There is an anti-racist law of sorts, but it excludes discrimination based on religion! So absurd is this that the overtly Nazi Rabbi Meir Kahane voted in favour of it!
It is essential that trade unions in the UK and elsewhere around the world take up the plight of Israel's Arab railway workers and force the Israeli state to back off from sacking Arabs to make way for Jews - which is what usually happens when unemployment rises.
As is usual, the Histadrut, Zionism's racist 'trade union' which in the West portrays itself as a model of a peace-loving organisation, has said and done nothing about this latest outrage.
Tony Greenstein
April 13, 2009
International Appeal in Solidarity with Palestinian Arab Railway Workers in Israel
Support Arab railway workers in Israel in their struggle to keep their jobs!
Call on Israel Railways to revise its new policy requiring army service as an employment condition!
This policy is clearly discriminatory: it disqualifies Arab workers because Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel are exempt from service in the Israeli army.
The appeal was developed in cooperation with Arab railway workers who have been sacked as a result of this policy.
In March 2009, Israel Railways, a state-owned company, launched a new policy denying employment to railroad crossing guards who have no permit to carry weapons – that is: who have not served in the Israeli army. This policy will lead to the lay-off of the approximately 150 Arab railway workers who monitor and maintain Israel’s level crossings. Israel Railways explicitly stated that the new employment policy is designed to give priority to young army veterans.
Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel have always been extremely underrepresented in Israel’s public sector (including state-owned companies), and despite existing anti-discrimination laws only about 5% of civil servants are Arabs, while they make up almost 20% of the overall population. Exclusion of Arabs from the public sector is mainly a result of Israel’s state security policies, which deny Arabs who have not served in the Israeli army and do thus not have a permit to carry weapons access to employment in public administration and services (such as: communication, water, electricity, public transport and port authorities, fire brigades etc.).
This strong focus on state security is also reflected in the biographies of executive officers in Israeli government-owned companies. Yitzhak ‘Haki’ Harel, general manager of Israel Railways, for instance, is a Major General in the Israeli army (IDF). He retired from the army in August 2006, shortly after the July War on Lebanon, and has headed the company since 2007.
Israel Railways’ new policy is an instructive example of the way Arab workers are systematically excluded from the Israeli labour market:
Firstly, it shows that state security takes absolute preference over personal safety and security in Israel’s employment policy;
Secondly, it reveals that these security concerns are used to camouflage double standards in favour of Jewish Israeli workers because a) the job of crossing guard has so far not required bearing arms, b) other railway workers, such as train drivers, are not addressed by the new policy, and c) some positions are reserved for "minorities who did not serve in the army". This allows the conclusion that army service is in fact an irrelevant employment condition. At this point, it should be noted that the new policy also excludes recent immigrants, ultra-orthodox Jews, disabled persons and conscientious objectors.
On April 7, 2009, the Tel Aviv Labour Court suspended the dismissal of the railway workers until the next court hearing on April 19, 2009. However, workers told Sawt el-Amel that Israel Railways has already started recruiting new crossing guards. On April 8, 2009, Israel Railways responded to Sawt el-Amel’s enquiry about the new employment policy, reaffirming that the policy decision is based on ‘practical and security considerations’ and does not aim to ‘discriminate against minorities’.
On the whole, Israel Railways’ new employment policy should be seen both as a continuation of Israel’s long-standing strategy to exclude Arab workers from the labour market and as an assault on all economically and socially marginalised groups in times of growing economic crisis.
What you can do:
1) Endorse the appeal
Fill in the ‘Endorse the Appeal’ form below and send it to: laborers@laborers-voice.org
2) Forward the appeal to your colleagues and friends
3) Encourage your organisation/branch to endorse the appeal
Fill in the ‘Endorse the Appeal’ form below and send it to: laborers@laborers-voice.org
Attach your organisation’s logo to the email
4) Write a protest letter to Israel Railways
Copy-paste the sample letter below or write your own message to:
Yitzhak Harel, CEO
Israel Railways
Fax: +972 (0)3 6937480 Email: pniyot@rail.co.il
CC your email/fax to Sawt el-Amel:
Sawt el-Amel
Email: laborers@laborers-voice.org
Fax: +972 (0)4 6080917
Sample letter to Israel Railways:
Dear Mr. Yitzhak Harel,
I am concerned about Israel Railways’ new policy requiring army service and weapons training as an employment condition for guards at level crossings. Since Arab citizens of Israel are exempt from obligatory army service, it can be assumed that all or most Arab crossing guards will be laid off as a consequence of this policy decision.
This contradicts the fundamental right of workers to equality and non-discrimination in employment, and consequently, the policy should be revised.
I would much appreciate to hear your position on this issue.
Initial signatories:
TaherJayousi, railway worker
Assad Salami, railway worker
Ibrahim Nasrallah, railway worker
Luqman Salami, railway worker
Mustapha Matani, railway worker
Karim Qadi, railway worker
Ali Rabus, railway worker
Yussef Nasrallah railway worker
Amir Hamoudi, railway worker
Ahmad Hamoudi, railway worker
Sawt el-Amel/The Laborer’s Voice
Jibran Naddaf, Chairperson Sawt el-Amel
Wehbe Badarne, Director Sawt el-Amel
Marie Badarne, Int’l Relations Sawt el-Amel
Fakher Badarne, Young Workers Sawt el-Amel

Anything But Free – The Guardian’s CIF under Seaton

It’s one of life’s few delights, prick the tender skin of a censor and the same bureaucratic language comes forth. And none come more delightful than a Grauniad censor, puffed up with the best of liberal conscience and well-meaning sentiment. But at the end of the day, even the most ‘liberal’ censor is, well, still a censor.

Matt Seaton, with all the self-importance that comes with being Censor-in-chief tells me not to call him after he's just sent me an e-mail out of the blue, confessing he's 'dropped the ball'. A prize chump by any measure.

And one of the cardinal rules of being a Censor, sorry Moderator, is never ever give a reason for what you do, because that means entering into a debate and dialogue. And that is not what censorship is about.

I have therefore reproduced some of my correspondence with assorted Censors (Moderators) as well as the censor-in-chief, Matthew Seaton. I was probably being somewhat hard on poor Adam, who in the best of traditions complains of ‘lack of resources’.

Quite by coincidence I was reading Martin Gilbert’s ‘Auschwitz & the Allies’ recently [a book that doesn’t once ask ‘why’ Auschwitz remained ‘undiscovered’ but that’s another story] about how inmates at the death camps were quite easily able to fool the censor through the combined use of German and biblical references. Because another attribute of a censor is stupidity. It goes with the job and if you’re not stupid then the job will make you stupid.

But enough of poor Adam, who is to the editor Matthew Seaton what a footstool is to a fallen man.

The message is clear. Whatever Israel does, and whatever slogans its settlers or soldiers daub on Palestinian walls [‘gas the Arabs’ ‘we have come to annihilate you’] you must not make comparisons between the Zionists and the Nazis. After all they might cause offence, upset someone, and make someone feel threatened. It is fortunate that Seaton was in short pants when the anti-Apartheid struggle was at its height, otherwise he would have thrown a wobbyly everytime someone mentioned that John Vorster was interned during the war for Nazi sympathies or that he was typical of the Nationalists.

And it's no good pointing out that the emperor has no clothes because, in the best traditions of British hypocrisy, Matthew Seaton will swear blind that they are clothed, that nakedness is in the eye of the beholder and anyway we are discriminating against those who can't afford clothes.

After all, the cardinal rule is not to offend or upset people with our honesty:

‘Adolf, why are you killing the Jews.’
‘Herr Sir, I find your language most upsetting. My concentration camps are exactly that – facilities for concentrating and re-educating. Haven’t you read the ‘community standards’ that we all adhere too? What's happened to the famed British stiff upper lip? I find your anti-German racism unacceptable. It is the whole German volk you are attacking’.

But enough of that. I include the correspondence with the Guardian's censors in the interest of openness, although I understand that Seaton has previously complained about such practices!

Tony Greenstein


I realise that being a censor must be an onerous and time consuming job. However there is a point of principle which even a lowly hack like you might be expected to understand - but then again not.
1. Tony Lerman pens an article on why comparisons with Nazis and what Israel is doing may, note may, be offensive but not anti-Semitic.
2. I contribute a comment which cites the use of such comparisons by Zionists and I cite someone whom I'm sure you have no knowledge of, because censors are as a rule ignorant of all but the obvious.
3. You come back with twaddle about not respecting other people's views and beliefs, which if taken to its logical conclusion should mean you are out of a job and CIF is shut down.
4. You suggest I consider their impact. Whatever that means I would hope it sets some people thinking, as most pungent debate is supposed to, rather than the anodyne, feel-good liberal platitudes that you obviously feel comfortable with.
5. You then suggest that 'others might find [it] extremely offensive or threatening without giving any reason why this should be so, though clearly people who support the use of phosphorous bombs against schools may indeed take exception.
The major point is that at a time when civil liberties are under unprecedented attack, rather than defend Voltarian principles you seek comfort in weasel words and meaningless phrases.
At least you should be honest and change the title, because Comment is Free.
And as for your implied threat of suspending my 'privileges' - I always assumed the right to comment and contribute was a right, or is it now based on a Guardian journalist's expense account?
They had a word for you Adam at the time of Vietnam. Police-state democrat.


Tony Greenstein

--- On Tue, 4/14/09, comment.is.free@guardian.co.uk wrote:

Dear Tony,
Thanks for your comments. I'm afraid we do not have the resources to enter into lengthy debate over moderation issues, but please note that moderators' decisions are final and your post will not be reinstated in this instance.



Dear Adam,

this is the kind of gobbledydook that one comes to expect from those schooled in the McCarthyite/police state mentality. My comment infringed 'community standards'. What does that mean? Which part of the comment? Citing from the 7th Million by Tom Segev?

Which precious and parochial little conscience was offended? Chapter and verse please if you are up to it. Or have you forgotten that the point of debate is that sharply differing opinions are aired rather than the anodyne, 'non-offensive' and meaningless platitudes offered by politically correct worthies like yourself?

My comments had nothing to do with respect for other peoples' views but why do you think it is a mark of disrespect to express strongly held views that are anti-racist. Do you have a problem with saying what you think rather than skirting the issues? Does it make you feel good to know you have had a discussion that says nothing because people feel too intimidated to say what they mean?

Your response is on a par with New Labour's pathetic spin whenever confronted with reality. To repeat there was nothing 'divisive, threatening or toxic to others' in what I wrote and only a complete vacuum head could think otherwise.

I suggest you reread 1984.

Tony Greenstein

On Tue, 4/14/09, comment.is.free@guardian.co.uk wrote:
Subject: Re: Comment is Free (Except when we Censor sorry Moderate it)

To: "tony greenstein" tonygreenstein@yahoo.com

Date: Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 11:12 AM

Dear Tony,

Your comment was removed as it directly contravened our community standards. I refer you to the following passages: Please respect other people's views and beliefs and consider their impact when making your contribution. We understand that people often feel strongly about issues debated on the site, but we will consider removing any content that others might find extremely offensive or threatening...

We don't want to stop people discussing topics they are enthusiastic about, but we do ask that users find a way of sharing their views that does not feel divisive, threatening or toxic to others.

You can read our participation guidelines in full here:

Please be aware that, should you continue to disregard these, your posting privileges may be withdrawn.


Adam Community Moderator

tony greenstein 11/04/09 01:09
To: matt.seaton@guardian.co.uk cc: brian.whitaker@guardian.co.uk,
Subject: Comment is Free (Except when we Censor sorry Moderate it)

Matthew Seaton,
Editor Guardian Comment Is Free

Dear Mr Seaton,

I refer to the article published by Antony Lerman in the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog last Thursday 2nd April. The article argued that the cartoon by Pat Oliphant, showing a ‘headless Nazi-like, goose-stepping, jackbooted figure, with one arm raised and outstretched, holding a sword, and the other wheeling a head in the form of a Star of David’ may have been offensive but it was not anti-Semitic.

Lerman argued that ‘political cartoons are often very offensive, and offensive – even when it involves comparing Israelis with Nazi’ but that ‘does not automatically mean antisemitic.’ It is an argument which is, I would have thought self-evident. Especially when, as Lerman goes on to point out:

‘The effect of the complaints of antisemitism made by the American Jewish organisations is to attempt to protect Israel from legitimate, if deeply unpleasant, criticism…. All it seems to be doing is devaluing the currency. If the ADL and the Wiesenthal Centre don't like or agree with the comparison, why can't they just argue that it's wrong?.. This only makes it increasingly difficult to raise concern about genuine instances of antisemitism and to develop effective means to prevent them.’

This was a well argued article about the pernicious effects of labelling critics of Israel and Zionism as anti-Semitic. I therefore wrote in to support the main thrust of the article and to point out the hypocrisy of those who label others as anti-Semitic when they don’t hesitate themselves to make comparisons between their opponents and the Nazis. In particular I highlighted:

The fact that Israeli soldiers returning home from Gaza had tee-shirts printed legitimising the killing of children and in particular one which showed a pregnant woman in the cross-hairs of a rifle with the slogan ‘one bullet, two kills’. The Nazi mentality behind such thinking should be obvious to all.

The comparisons that have regularly been made between Palestinians and Arabs and the Nazis by Zionists and gave Begin’s comparison of Arafat in Beirut with Hitler in his bunker as but one example.

I recalled the fact that even internal critics of Israel, Zionists themselves, had drawn comparisons to earlier massacres such as that at Kfar Quassem, and the Nazis. I cited Aharon Zisling, later to become a Mapam Minister in the Israeli government who said of the above massacre that ‘Nazi acts have been committed by Jews as well, and I am deeply shocked.’

I noted that on no occasion have those, like Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League ever criticised Zionist comparisons between Palestinians and the Nazis as anti-Semitic.

I drew attention to the trip that Baron von Mildenstein, Head of the Gestapo’s Jewish desk, made a journey in 1933 to Jewish Palestine for 6 months at the invitation of the Labour Zionist movement. Now I wouldn’t expect you to know this, clearly you don’t, but it is documented in Jacob Boas’ ‘A Nazi Travels to Palestine’ which was printed in the January 1980 edition of History Today, a journal which isn’t usually considered on the wilder fringes of the political spectrum.

And finally I drew attention to the fact that those who deprecate comparisons between Zionism and the Nazis have no hesitation in making just such comparisons themselves eg. between BDS campaigns against Israel today and the Nazi ‘Boycott’ of Germany in the 1930’s. Indeed the very same people who objected to Oliphant’s cartoon make this comparison.

I cited as a source for the Zisling and other quotes, the book, 7th Million, by ex-Haaretz journalist, Tom Segev, about the survivors of the Holocaust who emigrated to Palestine/Israel after 1945. I posted this comment at 1.09 pm last Saturday 4th April and, because of previous experiences of censorship at the Guardian’s Comment is Free site, took the precaution of saving it.

Sure enough, when the same petty-minded censors of CIF ( ‘moderators’) got round to dealing with the inevitable Zionist complaint, my comment was removed. Now I understand that moderators can fulfil a useful function of removing libellous, defamatory and generally ad hominem comments, whose only purpose is to disrupt debate. But my comment was a contribution to, not an attempt to disrupt, a debate. Clearly this is a difference you are having trouble with. Nor was it in any sense anti-Semitic, though its logic was certainly bound to offend our narrow minded opponents and your tiny-minded moderators.

There was a time when CIF, under Georgina Henry, had no hesitation in encouraging debate such as this. It would seem that you on the other hand were brought in as Editor of CIF precisely in order to clamp down on controversial debate, CIF having been subject to a concerted campaign by the Zionist Federation and their allies who were and are afraid of any debate they cannot control. I look forward to an apology for the deletion of this comment and failing that I would hope that you are honest enough to rename CIF to something more appropriate such as ‘Comment is Free Except When We Censor It’ or ‘Comment is Free (in moderation)’.

At the moment CIF is a tribute to Orwell’s Newspeak where censorship is called free debate.

Tony Greenstein

The concern of Mr Foxman and all the other slavish apologists for Israel's actions about a cartoon, stand in marked contrast to their silence, indeed their exculpation of the murder of over 400 Palestinian children in Gaza. Just imagine - 400 Jewish children slaughtered by an intensive air, land and sea bombardment in an attack against their ghetto (which is what Gaza is)? The hypocrisy is breathtaking. Oh we know the excuse. Hamas are hiding behind civilians - just like Haganah, the Zionist pre-state militia. Presumably the British would have been right to shell kibbutzim, synagogues (where weapons were definitely stored - see ).

But at least the soldiers who committed the atrocities in Gaza were honest. The children will only grow up to be 'terrorists' hence why killing them too is legitimate. The tee shirts Israeli soldiers were made up to 'celebrate' their deeds - such as the picture of a pregnant Palestinian woman in the cross-hairs of a gun sight - 'one bullet 2 kills' is indeed an example of the Nazi mentality. As are slogans such as 'we have come to annihilate you'.

But of course this misses the point. For years Zionists and apologists for everything the Israeli state does to the Palestinians have done so in the name of fighting the Nazis. The settlers invoke the Nazis and ‘never again’ to justify their deeds, the attack on Beirut was likened by Begin to an attack on Hitler’s bunker.

And likewise the Israeli opponents of their State’s barbarism also resort, quite correctly, to analogies with the Nazis. ‘We must demand of the entire nation a sense of shame and humiliation. That soon we will be like Nazis and the perpetrators of pogroms," wrote Rabbi Benyamin’. This was written after the cold-blooded murder of 46 Palestinians at the Kfar Quassem village just prior to the Suez War.

Likewise, after some of the events of the 1947-9 war Aharon Zisling, later to become Minister of Agriculture for the Zionist Mapam said at a cabinet meeting that ‘I have not always agreed when the term Nazi was applied to the British. I would not want to use that expression with regard to them, even though they committed Nazi acts. But Nazi acts have been committed by Jews as well, and I am deeply shocked.’ [Tom Segev, the 7th Million, pp. 300-1]

And yet I cannot recall Foxman or the Hoffmans of this world criticising the use of Nazi analogies to demonise the Palestinians because that is their view too. It is only when the victims use such analogies that they are verboten. Strange that.

But maybe the apologists for Israel’s latest slaughter in Gaza have forgotten that it was in 1933, when the Head of the Gestapo’s Jewish Department, Baron von Mildenstein visited the Yishuv, Jewish Palestine, for 6 months, that he not only wrote a series of laudatory articles in Der Angriff when he returned to Germany, having been the guest of Histadrut and the Kibbutzim, but he even had a coin minted – with the Swastika on one side and the Star of David on another. But this was when the World Zionist Organisation had decided that parleying with the Nazis was better than the anti-fascist boycott of them! But I forget - boycotts too have been compared these days to Nazi ‘boycotts’. And who has made the comparison? Ah yes, the same people who object to such comparisons when the Palestinians make them!!!

Tony Greenstein

From: comment.is.free@guardian.co.uk
To: tony greenstein Sent: Monday, February 9, 2009 3:35:21 PM
Subject: Re: Idiot moderation

Dear Tony,

Thanks for contacting us about this. I expect the comment came down to avoid potential legal problems, given some of the specific claims away fromthe broader issue.

Best wishes,


To: http://www.blogger.com/mc/compose?to=commentisfree@guardian.co.uk
Subject: Re: Idiot moderation

I posted the comment below yesterday morning to find that it has been deleted. Was it abusive? Crude? Ad hominem?What the hell are you scared of, apart from your own shadow? Are there now some arguments, viz. making comparisons between Israel today and similar regimes in the past that you find too difficult to handle?It's not really worth arguing with you since you know nothing about the subject anyway but are applying a definition of 'anti-Semitism' that is itself the subject of contention and which I wrote about in previous CIF articles, before that is you began to start running scared. The posting below is well argued, referenced and to anyone except an idiot with a red pen and a stiff mind would be perfectly acceptable.

Creatures who are censors are of course renowned for lacking open minds or indeed the ability to argue beyond fixed positions mapped out for them in advance. What a moronic job you are performing if you are unable to discern the difference between serious argumentation and abuse, which was your original function.

Tony Greenstein

Excellent article Brian.

Brian makes an important distinction between equating and comparing Israel with Nazi Germany. It would be churlish to list the Israeli writers who make/ or have made such a comparison. People such as the distinguishedwinner of the Israel prize the late Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz or indeedthe late Prof. Israel Shahak, a childhood survivor of both the Warsaw Ghetto and Belsen.

Or maybe the late Prof. Baruch Kimmerling, also of the Hebrew University who called Israel a 'herrenvolk republic.'If you cannot compare the Nazis to other phenomenon what is being said is that it is unique. And if the Holocaust is unique then presumably Jews are also unique, which is the other side of the coin of being the chosen ones. The use of the Star of David, which was always a minor Jewish symbol incomparison with the Menorah (Candelabrum) with the Swastika first occured when the Nazis minted a coin with these 2 symbols on either side. And why? Because of the successful trip of one Baron Mildenstein, head of theGestapo's Jewish desk to visit Jewish Palestine (Yishuv) in 1933 at the invitation of the kibbutzim, where he stayed for 6 months. So impressed washe that he wrote a series of articles in Goebbel's paper Der Angriff.

Of course the Holocaust and the Nazis can be used as a comparison. And not just Israel, yes the slaughter of the Tamil people and the Rwandan genocideto name but two. I don't accept that there has been an upsurge in anti-Semitism. The Community Security Trust from which all these allegations emanate is a virulently Zionist organisation which has a vested interest in conflating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. It not only ignores abuse of anti-Zionist Jews by Zionist Jews but itself is involved in preventing the former attending meetings of the latter. Clearly they believe that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are the same thing.

When recently one Zionist spoke about 'necklacing' anti-Zionist 'traitors' Mark Gardener of the CST chose to applaud the e-mail in which these comments were written whilst denying he had approved the particular sentiments. Norman Finkelstein put his finger on what is happening in his 'Beyond Chutzpah - On the Misuse of anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History.''Put simply, the claims of a rampang new anti-Semitism are a sham... the hysteria over a new anti-Semitism hasn't anything to do with fighting bigotry - and everyting to do with stifling criticism of Israel.'

It's no coincidence that whenever the Israel state embarks on another round of mass murder of Palestinians or Arabs, then charges of 'anti-Semitism' quickly surface. If these claims are true then clearly Israeli actions are the cause. If not it is an example of the cynicism of Israel and Zionism's apologists. As someone who is the No. 1 target on the neo-Nazi Redwatch South Coastsite, then I find it strange that Jonathan Freedland didn't notice that the British National Party, a party led by a holocaust denier lest one forgets, is also, according to the Board of Deputies of British Jews the most pro-Zionist (4.10.09, 'Ruth Smeed, of the Board of Deputies, said:

"The BNP website is now one of the most Zionist on the web - it goes further than any of the mainstreamparties in its support of Israel and at the same time demonises Islam andthe Muslim world.'

It's strange that Jonathan didn't notice. But I echo what Brian said about the virulent hatred of Zionists for anti-Zionists. We are 'traitors' (although we have never been loyal toZionism), 'self-haters' (a good Nazi phrase used against anti-fascist Germans) etc. As someone with more experience than most of the fascists I can honestly say that the anti-Semitism I have experienced from Zionists is FAR FAR worse than anything that I have had said by the BNP or NF. Comments such as: 'It''s a pity Hitler didn't get you' are standard fare for these creatures.

And why? Because hatred (or what was termed negation of the Galut) of the Jewish Diaspora is a standard part of Zionist ideology. Anti-semitism arose as a natural reaction to the unnatural phenomenon of Jews living outside Israel. In fact Zionism has always welcomed such anti-Semitism. As Rabbi Yehudah Amital, Rosh Yeshiva of Har Etzion noted in the wake of the Lebanon War(1982):

The 3rd Red Light came when some elements, especially the ReligiousZionists, expressed satisfaction at the clear and open display ofanti-Semitism which took shape during and after ‘Operation Peace forGalilee’ ...It is felt that the more overt anti-Semitism becomes, the more beneficial it will prove for the Jews, because through anti-Semitism, the Jews of the Diaspora will come to the realisation that they must move to Eretz Yisrael.
‘The Red Lights are Flashing’, Jewish Chronicle 15. 4. 1983.

Complaints about moderation should be addressed to moderators via commentisfree@guardian.co.uk

From: tony greenstein [tonygreenstein@yahoo.com]Sent: 07/02/2009 15:09
Subject: Idiot moderation

I posted the comment below early this morning to find that it has been deleted. Was it abusive? Crude? Ad hominem?

What the hell are you scared of, apart from your own shadow Mr Seaton? Typical liberal, despite all the pontification about free speech that is the very thing you are scared of. And the post underneath justifying mass murder in Gaza is allowed?
What moronic value system is that I wonder?

Tony Greenstein

From: "tony greenstein"

To: matt.seaton@guardian.co.uk

The word 'scared' is yours not mine.
However you have offered no substantive reason for turning this down and given Israeli peace groups are widely using the analogy it is a fair question - just what are you scared of, apart from your own shadow? Is the purpose of CIF to now confine debate within acceptable liberal parameters.

The only time I called you was at your suggestion, so there is no need to be obnoxious.

Tony Greenstein

From: matt.seaton@guardian.co.uk

To: tony greenstein
Cc: brian.whitaker@guardian.co.uk
Sent: Saturday, January 10, 2009 9:26:38 AM
Subject: Re: CIF: Gaza and comparisons

That's right, Tony, I'm just too scared. Btw, please don't call again.

Re: Proposed article - Anti-semitism - turning a blind eye
Wednesday, November 26, 2008 2:56 PM
From: "
matt.seaton@guardian.co.uk" <mailto:matt.seaton@guardian.co.uk%3EView

tony, i've somehow dropped the ball on the student protester piece - please can you forward me the details of the guy who was coordinating the piece?

From: tony greenstein [tonygreenstein@yahoo.com]Sent: 09/01/2009 15:28 PST
To: Matt Seaton
Cc: Brian Whitaker
Subject: Re: CIF: Gaza and comparisons


I don't understand your logic. I've submitted the article to CIF not Times on-line. I don't read Aaronovitch's column as I don't take The Times and I consider him politically superficial but with the ability to convince others of the opposite.

Today is a different medium and is likewise irrelevant.
I don't know what an 'old chestnut' is other than that presumably you don't wish there to be a sustantive debate about the deeper causes of the unrestrained ferocity of the current Israeli invasion and the complete disregard of any international conventions. I don't know why you are so afraid of there being any analogy with the Nazis. It seems that you are now frightened of any controversy from those who don't hesitate to paint the Palestinians and Hamas as Nazis.

Is CIF now confined to liberal critics of Israel and Zionism who won't offend anyone too much?
There are valid comparisons between the Nazis and Israel's behaviour on a number of levels and for you to come out with this glib sophistry is an insult.

It seems you are afraid of any debate that might ruffle certain feathers.


From: matt.seaton@guardian.co.uk
To: tony greenstein
Cc: brian.whitaker@guardian.co.uk
Sent: Friday, January 9, 2009 9:06:42 PMSubject: Re: CIF: Gaza and comparisons

Hi Tony. Thanks but really feel Aaronovitch in Times and Today prog have done this already, plus is bit of an old chestnut for Cif anyway. Sorry but prefer to pass.