Letter to Joan Ryan MP
To: Joan Ryan MP
Chair, Labour Friends of Israel
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
Thursday, 25 August 2016
Dear Ms Ryan,
As the only Jewish member of the Labour Party to have been suspended for ‘anti-Semitism’, I note with interest the open letter which you recently wrote to Richard Burgon MP regarding his comments that Labour MPs should quit Labour Friends of Israel and that Zionism is the enemy of peace.
You suggested that the comments were so far outside the boundaries of what passes for acceptable political debate in the salons and interview rooms of Westminster, that they must have been misreported. I think we can assume that this is merely a literary device on your part. If you had any doubts that the above comments were genuine, you would have written a private not public letter.
I shall not indulge in fake politeness on a subject which involves the racial subjugation and immiseration of millions of human beings. When one and a half million Palestinians in Gaza are forced to live through a decade long siege, when people die because basic medicines cannot be imported and when they are forced to drink polluted water, 95% of Gaza’s water is polluted as a result of Israel’s water theft and bombing of water purification plants, then one should not engage in semantics. Keeping Palestinians thirsty is no doubt part of Israel’s war on ‘terrorism’.
You profess outrage that anyone could suggest not wanting to associate with LFI. You must be aware that in 1982 large numbers of MPs, Tony Benn and Eric Heffer among them, resigned from LFI because of its support for Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, when some 20,000 civilians were killed and 100,000 injured.
During the invasion of Lebanon, Israeli soldiers besieged Beirut in alliance with their fascist friends the Phalange (named in honour of Franco’s Falange). Israel’s army lit up the night sky with flares and sent Phalangist death squads, armed with knives, to perpetrate an ISIS style slaughter of the inhabitants of the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps. Some 2,000 women, children and old people were slaughtered, women had their breasts cut off and young boys were castrated.
Despite this atrocity, Israel’s then Defence Minister, Ariel Sharon went on to become Israel’s Prime Minister between 2001 and 2006. Your friends in the Israeli Labour Party formed a coalition with Sharon, the ILP ‘s current leader, Yitzhak Herzog, serving as Minister of Housing and Construction.
You profess to be surprised that Richard described Zionism as an ‘enemy of peace’. You even advise him to take note of Shami Chakrabarti’s advice to use the term ‘“Zionist” advisedly, carefully and never euphemistically.’ I am happy to follow her advice. I can assure you I would never use Zionism ‘euphemistically’ given it is one of the most pernicious racial movements in colonial history.
The Zionist movement was formally established in 1897 by Theodor Herzl, at the first World Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. As you probably do not know, it was originally scheduled to be held in Munich, Germany but the local Jewish community objected because Zionism was seen as a form of Jewish anti-Semitism. Zionism reflected the anti-Semitic belief that Jews did not belong in the countries of their birth.
Zionism’s aim was the formation of a Jewish state in Palestine in alliance with a colonial power. In 1917 it formed just such an alliance with British imperialism, in what became known as the Balfour Declaration. Like many colonial movements it campaigned on the slogan of ‘a land without a people for a people without a land.’ The native Palestinians were invisible in the eyes of the Zionists.
You claim that Zionism is ‘the broad ideological movement for Jewish national self-determination in Israel.’ Perhaps you would enlighten me as to when Zionism was first described as a ‘national liberation movement’? It appears you are attempting to bask in the reflected glory of liberation movements such as the African National Congress. Incidentally, the notion that Jews form a separate nation is, in itself, deeply anti-Semitic and basis of the world Jewish conspiracy theory.
Zionism was a movement of settler colonialism. That was why Israel was the best friend of Apartheid South Africa, breaking the arms embargo and supplying it with weaponry including nuclear weapons. Perhaps you were not told about the visit of John Vorster, South African Prime Minister to Israel in April 1976? Vorster, who was interned during the war for his support of the Nazis and membership of the Broederband, nonetheless paid homage to the Holocaust dead at Yad Vashem!
Israel is the state that helped train the death squads of Central America, supplied the Argentinian Junta with weaponry (despite murdering up to 3,000 Argentinian Jews) and armed and trained the Guatemalan army which in the 1980’s murdered up to 200,000 Indians. Your suggestion that Zionism shares anything in common with the ANC is obscene.
The aforementioned Theodor Herzl wrote to Cecil Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia, asking for his support for Zionism. Herzl wrote ‘How, then, do I happen to turn to you since this is an out-of-the-way matter for you? How indeed? Because it is something colonial.’ This can be found in Herzl’s Diaries, Vol. 4, page 1194. The founders of Zionism always saw it as a colonising movement.
You are right. Zionism was indeed a consequence of European anti-Semitism, in the 19th (not 20th) century. It was unique amongst Jewish movements since it accepted the basic premise of the anti-Semites that Jews were aliens in the lands in which they lived and were born.
You said that it is a great pity that ‘the Labour Party’s relationship with the British Jewish community has been so damaged by the events of the past year.’ I agree. The deliberate making of false claims of ‘anti-Semitism’ by MPs such as Ruth Smeeth and papers such as the Daily Mail, which in the 30’s opposed the entry of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, has indeed been damaging. I can only hope that you use your influence to bring these false accusations of anti-Semitism to an end.
You profess to support a two-state solution. Why then do you support the military dictatorship in the West Bank and the unremitting attacks on Gaza? Your call for a 2 State solution serves only as a cover for Apartheid. It enables Jewish settlement to take place whilst providing a pretext for the denial of any political or civil rights to the indigenous Palestinians.
Perhaps you could name even one Israeli government Minister who believes in a 2 state solution? Deputy Foreign Minister Tsipi Hotoveli is typical when she said that ‘This land is ours. All of it is ours. We expect as a matter of principle of the international community to recognize Israel’s right to build homes for Jews in their homeland, everywhere.”
Even the ILP does not support a 2 state solution. It supports segregation and a Bantustan. Herzog explained that ‘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.’ If you don’t understand why this is racist imagine someone saying they didn’t want a Jewish Prime Minister in Britain. [Who needs the Right when we have Isaac Herzog?]
In an ILP election video Herzog was described as ‘someone who “understands the Arab mentality” and “has seen Arabs in all kinds of situations,” including “in the crosshairs.” Why did we forget about Herzog's anti-Arab campaign? +972 Magazine 23.3.15. Again imagine someone describing the ‘Jewish mentality’. Racist? Historically the Israeli Labour Party was more racist than Likud. It was the party of the Nakba, the expulsion of ¾ million Palestinian refugees.
You state that you support a negotiated settlement in Israel/Palestine. Israel has spent billions of dollars on building its settlements and stealing its land and water. It’s not going to negotiate them away. As Martin Luther King famously wrote in Letter From a Birmingham Jail ‘Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily.’
You say you support peace. Perhaps you could tell me if you have ever opposed Israeli repression in the Occupied Territories? You supported the 2014 war in Gaza which killed 550 children. You have kept silent about the continued destruction of Palestinian homes and European Union funded structures, over 600 of which have been destroyed this year alone, in the West Bank. Have you nothing to say about Jewish roads and separate entrances for Jews and Palestinians at checkpoints? What I do know is that Louise Ellman, an LFI officer, supported the imprisonment and torture of Palestinian children as young as 12 in a recent debate in the House of Commons.
Your complaints about Hamas’s Charter, which is a dead letter, would be more impressive if it wasn’t for the fact that Israel played a crucial part in the creation of Hamas as a counterweight to secular Palestinian nationalism. [see Israel’s Jerusalem Online News Agency for Wikileaks revelations or the Wall Street Journal How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas]
I would be more impressed by your concern about anti-Semitism if you displayed an equal concern about the most recent survey by Pew Research Centre which found that a plurality of Israeli Jews (48%) support the physical expulsion of Israeli Palestinians and 79% believe that Jews should be given preferential treatment. [Israel’s Religiously Divided Society]
You will be pleased to hear that I agree with you that ‘fostering links with, and supporting, progressive forces in Israel is an important task for an internationalist party’. However the ILP is not such an organisation. There are such organisations, like the soldiers group Breaking the Silence, which has revealed the truth about Israeli military atrocities but the ILP is hostile to it.
I hope you will now understand why increasing numbers of Jews oppose Zionism and why we join Archbishop Desmond Tutu in supporting a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. Boycotting Apartheid is never anti-Semitic nor racist.
Why Zionism is a murderous, expansionist and racist settler colonial movement
Joan Ryan MP, formerly a junior Home Office Minister under Blair/Brown, is a pretty non-descript right-winger, with no obvious talent other than to claim vast sums of money as expenses. She was one of those caught out changing her second homes designation as she attempted to get the tax payer to buy her another house whilst paying for repairs on her main accommodation. As such she was an excellent choice as Chair of Labour Friends of Israel - no principles and no morals.
On 8th August Richard Burgon MP, who is one of the best Labour MPs there is, a strong supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, made the unremarkable statement that Zionism is an ‘enemy of peace’. Yes, I hear you say, so what? You might be forgiven for thinking that Burgon had informed people that the Earth is round or that 1+1=2.
|As befits a Zionist, Ryan nominated Liz Kendall last time around and Owen Smith this time - hostility to Corbyn goes with the grain|
Any objective view of Israel, which has just bombarded the utterly defenceless people of Gaza with 50 rocket strikes in response to the launching of a firecracker, could not help but conclude that Richard Burgon was simply making a statement of the obvious. Not so Joan Ryan.
|Ryan and her Zionist friends decided to try and rewrite history - not this time about the Nakba (Catastrophe) of the expulsion of the Palestinian refugees in 1948 but Ryan's own Catastrophe!|
Joan Ryan is the Chair of the Labour Friends of Israel, a group whose sole mission in life is to defend Israel right or wrong and which boasts of its relationship to the racist rednecks of the Israeli Labour Party. Zionism she whined was a ‘Jewish national liberation movement’. Quite who she thinks it was liberating Jews from is impossible to determine. Possibly the laws of logic and rationality.
To say that Zionism is a national liberation movement is like saying that Apartheid in South Africa was a liberating force or that Nazism was a German liberation movement (of course Hitler believed it was liberating the German people from a mixture of the Jews, Freemasons, Versailles etc.). It is the rationale of the oppressor, who finds justification for their activities in some supposed oppression. They come to believe that the people they are oppressing are in fact their oppressors. It is a characteristic of all settler states that the settlers develop a siege mentality in which they are the subjugated. Israeli Jews are the same in this respect as the Afrikaaners were.
|Ryan tweets her support for Owen Smith|
Zionism however never liberated Jewish people from anything. On the contrary they collaborated from the very start with the Jews' anti-Semitic oppressors. Theodor Herzl, the founder of Political Zionism, declared in his Diaries that he saw in Zionism a 'divine will to the good'. Anti-Semitism was seen as a useful force for 'educating' Jews into leaving their homes and colonising Palestine. This attitude never changed and in the 1930's they adopted the same attitude to the Nazis, but this time with fatal results.
According to his official biographer, Shabtai Teveth, after Hitler came to power David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, declared that it was imperative to ‘turn a disaster… into a productive force’ and that ‘The harsher the affliction, the greater the strength of Zionism.’ [The Burning Ground, p. 850]
Zionism was never a national liberation movement because it never liberated anyone from anything and because the Jews were and are not a nation. It was a nationalist as opposed to a national movement in just the same way as the Nazis were a nationalist movement.
As I explain to Ryan in my letter, Zionists have only recently called themselves a national liberation movement. Zionism likes to capture the zeitgeist of the moment. Today colonialism is out of fashion. Liberation movements have inspired people who have seen the people of the colonial countries rise up and replace their oppressors, even if in most cases they have replaced the faces of the colonial oppressor with one of their own nationality. American and European domination has continued behind the façade of self-rule.
When Zionism first began no one would have described it as a form of national liberation. They openly called themselves colonists and appealed to the European imperial powers on that basis. Next year we will ‘celebrate’ the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration when the anti-Semitic Arthur James Balfour promised the land of the Palestinians to the Zionist movement over the heads of the indigenous population and, incidentally, against the opposition of the only Jewish member of Lloyd George’s war cabinet, Sir Edwin Montagu. It wasn’t the Jews who wanted Zionism it was anti-Semitic Evangelical Christians. The Balfour Declaration was an agreement between British imperialism and Zionist settler-colonialism. To describe such a movement is grotesque but then the LFI is indeed a grotesque and nasty little group.
|During the original expenses scandal Joan Ryan was found with her paws in the kitty. She was lucky not to be prosecuted as would a benefit claimant. She is a fitting choice as Chair of LFI|
Joan Ryan herself is an unremarkable person. She is not known as a parliamentarian or speaker. She is of the far-Right Progress faction. She was an MP until 2010 when she was defeated at the General Election. Unfortunately she came back in 2015 Her entry in Wikipedia is extremely revealing. According to the Evening Standard (26.10.07.) in 2005/6 she made the second highest expense claim of any MP. In 2006/7 she did even better, achieving first place with a total of £173, 691. It was no wonder that her electors rejected her in 2010.
In May 2009 Ryan claimed more than £4,500 under the Additional Costs Allowance for work on a house she had designated as her second home.[Telegraph 17.5.09.] In February 2010 Ryan was asked to repay £5,121 mortgage interest which she had corruptly claimed. [Evening Standard 4.2.10.]
Not surprisingly Ryan found her greed somewhat embarrassing and unhelpful when she was trying to get back into Parliament. The Independent of 9th March 2012 reported that:
"[a]t least 10 attempts have been made from computers in Parliament to remove information about [Ryan's] expenses claims and a further 20 efforts to delete the information, some from her constituency of Enfield North, have also been recorded in Wikipedia's logs."
Ryan’s Wikipedia entry reports that to this present day ‘similar edits to hide Ryan's record continue to be made.' [Telegraph 26.5.15] At least 10 attempts were made from computers inside the Houses of Parliament to remove information about Ryan’s expenses claims and a further 20 efforts to delete the information, some from her constituency of Enfield North, were also been recorded in Wikipedia’s logs. The efforts were successful and all mention of expenses claims were removed and instead replaced with a paragraph about edits to Wikipedia.
During the 2015 general election, The Daily Telegraph returned to this issue. In Ryan's case, the entire expenses section was deleted, including information on repairs and decorations on her home paid for out of her MP's expenses; the edits were made while Ryan was not an MP, and according to the Telegraph she denied involvement, though it’s difficult to think who, apart from her Zionist friends, would be interested in cleaning up her record.
Below is the letter that I wrote to Ryan.
|Joan Ryan MP - racist who was caught by the expenses scandal - claimed the highest of any MP in 2006/7|