25 March 2017

Open Letter to Len Duvall, Labour's Racist Leader in the Greater London Assembly

Forward, America's oldest and most influential Jewish magazine, which is liberal Zionist is baffled at the warm reception for Trump and Bannon by Zionist and Israeli leaders - not something that idiot Duvall is even aware of

Labour’s Greater London Assembly Members Support Israeli Apartheid in the fight against ‘Anti-Semitism’
On February 8th Labour’s Greater London Assembly members voted to support the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ that Theresa May’s government has recently adopted.  The IHRA definition conflates hostility to Israel’s Apartheid regime and anti-Semitism.  It also takes 493 words to do it. 

The witless racist who leads the Labour group on the Greater London Assembly believes democracy and apartheid are compatible
In response Mike Cushman of Free Speech on Israel protested that the decision of the Labour group, at the behest of Andrew Dismore, a prominent member of Labour Friends of Israel, called into question ‘the Assembly’s commitment to freedom of speech’.  GLA gets it so very wrong on antisemitism

There is of course a much simpler definition of anti-Semitism, hatred of Jews as Jews, which is what most people understand by anti-Semitism.  Dr Brian Klug of Oxford University, an academic expert on anti-Semitism drew up a simple definition of anti-Semitism.  In his lectureWhat Do We Mean When We Say ‘Antisemitsm’? Echoes of shattering glass’ given at the Conference “Antisemitism in Europe Today: the Phenomena, the Conflicts” which was held on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, in 2014, at the Jewish Museum, Berlin, Klug came up with a 20 word definition of anti-Semitism: Anti-Semitism is:

a form of hostility towards Jews as Jews, in which Jews are perceived as something other than what they are.
A Rogue's Gallery - Not a Socialist or an Anti-racist Amongst Them 
Klug went on to explain that anti-Semitism was really ‘hostility towards Jews as not Jews. For the ‘Jew’ towards whom the antisemite feels hostile is not a real Jew at all. Thinking that Jews are really ‘Jews’ is precisely the core of antisemitism.’ [see The collective Jew: Israel and the new anti-Semitism, Patterns of Prejudice, Vol. 37, No. 2, June 2003, Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group)

The problem with this definition, for Zionists anyway, is that nowhere does it mention the State of Israel!  Hence why the IHRA definition was first proposed by the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee in a Report  Anti-Semitism in the UK. [see my Manufacturing Consent On ‘Anti-Semitism.  The Report was a combined attack by Labour right-wingers Chuku Ummuna and David Winnick and Tory members of the Committee on Jeremy Corbyn.

The response to Mike Cushman from Len Duvall, the leader of the Assembly Labour group, could have been written (and possibly was) by Israel’s Ambassador in London, Mark Regev, the slick former PR spokesman for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 
This is a good example of Duvall's Israeli democracy - a debate on whether to let Israeli state land (93% of all land in Israel) to non-Jews.  Racist?  Perish the thought Len
Duvall’s reply is classic hasbara (propaganda).  Israel is ‘a fully functioning and vibrant participatory democracy.  I therefore decided it would be useful to write him an Open Letter.  Not in the hope of convincing him.  Duvall is a convinced racist who sees nothing wrong in a Jewish supremacist settler colonial state founded on ethnic cleansing.  To him that is ‘democracy’ – Duvall is no different from previous labour imperialists and colonial apologists.  However I hope to enlighten others.

When looking for the names of members of the GLA Labour Group I noticed one particular name, Unmesh Desai, the member for Newham.  I remember Unmesh from the 1980’s when both of us were on the Executive of Anti-Fascist Action.  Both of us went on numerous anti-fascist actions together, many of which ended up in confrontations with the National Front and assorted neo-Nazi thugs.  Unmesh was a supporter of the Newham Monitoring Group, an anti-racist group that was at the forefront of the conflict with the racist Metropolitan Police.  It’s quite sad to see someone swap their previous principles for the trappings of office and the salary and perks that come with it.

Tony Greenstein
Andrew Dismore - Labour Friends of Israel member who moved the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism
Open Letter to Len Duvall, the Racist Leader of Labour in the Greater London Assembly
Without Anti-Semitism There is no Zionism

Dear Mr Duvall,

I read with interest your response to Mike Cushman of Free Speech on Israel.  Mike wrote to you concerning the Labour group’s support for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism. 

This definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ was drawn up by 31 governments including the far-Right anti-Semitic governments of Poland and Hungary, amongst others.   The Hungarian government under Victor Orban, which is viciously hostile to refugees, combines anti-Semitism and Zionism.  It is consciously rewriting history to portray Admiral Horthy, who presided over a puppet Nazi government in 1944, which deported nearly ½ million Jews to Auschwitz, as a nationalist hero. [Rewriting the history of the Hungarian Holocaust]

You say that the definition is ‘a fair representation  of how Israel  can be criticised when necessary in a reasonable way’.  What has a definition of anti-Semitism got to do with Israel?  Are you suggesting that British Jews bear a responsibility for Israel’s actions?  If not, why conflate the two?

You quote the definition as saying that ‘‘criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic’.  The whole point about criticism of Israel is that it is not like other states.  It is the world’s only Apartheid state.
Unmesh Desai - from anti-fascist activist to New Labour sycophant
You also say that criticism of Israel should not be ‘referring back to the Holocaust’.  Perhaps you would tell that to Israel’s supporters who routinely justify Israel’s actions on the basis of the Holocaust.  For example Abba Eban, Israel’s former Foreign Minister described the Green Line between Israel and the West Bank as an ‘Auschwitz border’.

I realise that your knowledge of Israel is probably gleaned from the briefings and expenses paid trips that you have received from the Israeli Embassy, however your muddled defence of Zionist racism is worthy of the Booker prize for fiction.

You put forward the view that ‘Anti -Semitism is fuelled by far right and far left views’.  I understand our ignorance but anti-Semitism has always been fought by the Left and supported by the Right.  Zionism has always been unique as a Jewish political movement in that it accepted the idea that Jews didn’t belong in the countries.  Like the anti-Semites they believed Jews should live in their ‘own’ state.  That was why the only Jewish member of Lloyd George’s War Cabinet, Sir Edwin Montagu, opposed the Balfour Declaration.  Historically Zionism was seen as a form of Jewish anti-Semitism.

You refer to the alt-Right and Donald Trump’s Strategic Advisor Steve Bannon who talks of “cosmopolitan elites in the media”... He means Jews.’  Yes you are right.  Perhaps you would care to explain then why the Zionist Organisation of America welcomed Bannon to its annual gala dinner in November?  

It was a demonstration organised by the anti-Zionist Jewish Voices for Peace and If Not Now that persuaded Bannon to stay away. [see Ha’aretz’s ‘Zionist Organization of America Flooded With 'Dozens of Calls' Amid Backlash Over Bannon Support’Ha’aretz’s subtitle was 'We did not survive the Holocaust, we did not found the State of Israel, just so that less than two generations later we could cozy up to neo-Nazis.'   According to your views above, Ha’aretz must also be anti-Semitic.

Netanyahu is fulsome in his support, not only for Donald Trump  but Steve Bannon. [Why Netanyahu doesn’t worry about Steve Bannon]  Isn’t it strange that the Jewish Prime Minister of a Jewish state welcomes anti-Semites in the Trump administration.  And not only Netanyahu but Israeli Labour’s Isaac Herzog. [Herzog to Trump: Your win shows elites are thing of pastYou see without anti-Semitism there is no Zionism.

Your suggestion that the Left calls Israel a ‘Nazi state’ or compares Israelis to SS murderers is simply untrue and I challenge you to back up your lies.  There are though many comparisons which can be made between Israel and Nazi Germany, especially in the period before 1941.  The Palestinians are treated as an untermenschen.  When Israeli mobs march to the beat of ‘Death to the Arabs’ – maavet la’aravim] it does bear a similarity to the chant of ‘Death to the Jews’ that was commonplace in fascist Europe during the 1930’s.  Don’t you agree?

However the full measure of your racism, because turning a blind eye to racism makes you equally guilty as those who practice it, is in your assertion that ‘it is wrong to call Israel an ‘apartheid’ state.’  Apparently it shows ‘real  disrespect and diminishes the sacrifices made by the majority population in South Africa’.

This is hypocritical cant.  It is South Africans above all who make the comparison between Apartheid in South Africa and Apartheid in Israel. The Jerusalem Post reported Archbishop Desmond Tutu thus:

"I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces.  Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government." 

Nor is Desmond Tutu alone.  Ronnie Kassrills, the ANC’s Jewish Police Minister noted, at South Africa’s Israel Apartheid Week that it was the architect of apartheid, Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd who stated that Israel was an Apartheid State.  That was why Israel was South Africa’s best friend.  Desmond Tutu: Israel guilty of apartheid in treatment of Palestinians

You are simply wrong when you state that Israel doesn’t enforce pass laws.  In fact its system of check points, databases and ID cards in the West Bank is far worse than South Africa’s pass laws. 

You say that in Israel incitement to racism is a criminal offence.  Not true.  Jews are never penalised for incitement to racism because their anti-racist laws exclude discrimination on the grounds of religion.  Only Arabs are ever prosecuted.  To this day the fascist Lehava organisation, whose leader Benzi Gopstein called for the burning down of mosques and churches remains free.  Indeed the Israeli state funds Lehava’s ‘charitable’ wing, Hemla, which campaigns against sexual relations between Arabs and Jews.  When Nuremberg Came to Israel

Apparently ‘Every person in Israel has full equal rights; 1.6 million Arab Israelis have the same rights as the 6.8 million Jewish Israelis’.  Yes Israel’s Arab population has the vote, but it is meaningless.  In nearly 70 years, no Arab party has ever been part of Israel’s government.  Only last week the Knesset passed a Bill which will prevent parties that don’t accept that Israel is a Jewish state rather than a state of all its citizens standing. Expanding Political Persecution With an Amendment

You also said that ‘Every person in Israel has full equal rights; 1.6 million Arab Israelis have the same rights as the 6.8 million Jewish Israelis...Israel is a fully functioning and vibrant participatory democracy.’  It is difficult to know where to begin when confronted with such nonsense.  Perhaps the best place is the Pew Research Centre Report Israel’s Religiously Divided Society.

In this Report some 64% of Arabs said Israel could not be both a Jewish and a democratic state (27% disagreed).  79% of Israeli Arabs say there is a lot of discrimination as opposed to 74% of Jewish Israelis who disagree.  No doubt you believe the racists!  A plurality of Israeli Jews (48%) support the physical expulsion or transfer of Arabs from Israel.  79% of Israeli Jews believe that Jews should be given preferential treatment in comparison with Arabs.  Perhaps you would care to explain how this is compatible with a free and equal society? 

To give but one example of the equality you talk about, in Israel, despite a 10 fold population increase Israel’s Arabs are confined to the same area of land (about 2%) that they occupied in 1948.  There have been no new Arab towns.  Planning applications are routinely rejected resulting in thousands of house demolitions.  Half of the Arab villages are ‘unrecognised’ which means that basic facilities – running water, electricity, sewerage is not supplied.  This would be unheard of for Israeli Jews.

Just four weeks ago the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran was demolished and one villager murdered by the Police in order to make way for a Jewish town, Hiran, in its place.  This is the real meaning of a Jewish state.  Israel’s Inhumane and Stupid Bedouin Policy

You compare Israel as a ‘Jewish’ state to Islamic states.  There is one difference.  In Israel to be Jewish means to be privileged, like being White in South Africa.  In Iran, Saudi Arabia etc. Islam is used as a means of justifying the oppression of Muslims. 

The Labour Party has a long history of supporting colonialism, including in South Africa.  It is no surprise that you should continue this inglorious tradition with your racist apologia for Israeli Apartheid.  What is surprising is that the Black Assembly members should go along with what you wrote.  I can only assume that the perks and salary go some way to alleviating their consciences.

Yours fraternally,

Tony Greenstein

Response from Len Duvall to Mike Cushman of Free Speech on Israel

Good morning

This is the response which is on behalf of the Labour Group.

Thank you for your email  about the anti -Semitism motion.

I believe this represents mainstream Jewish opinion about anti- Semitism and is a fair representation  of how Israel  can be criticised when necessary in a reasonable way. The motion says in terms:
‘criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic’.

Of course, there are minorities within the Jewish and other  communities  who will disagree from both a fundamentalist religious viewpoint and from an anti- Zionist  left view, but  I think criticisms of Israel should be expressed in a way that does not encourage or reflect anti – Semitic tropes, especially referring back to the Holocaust.

Anti -Semitism is fuelled by far right and far left views, in my opinion. On the right, believers that the world is engaged in a clash of cultures approve  of a strong Jewish state in the Middle East – they support  Israeli settlement building as part of a generational struggle rooted in Islamophobia. These same groups on the right hold in disdain the majority of diaspora Jews, who are overwhelmingly centrist liberals and generally do not support parties of the far right or far left  especially in the UK and North America.

This in the eyes of the alt-right  makes them enemies of their national projects. For example Steve Bannon, chief strategist to President Trump is on record using various demeaning terms about Jews.  When he refers to a shadowy group of “cosmopolitan elites in the media that live in a handful of larger cities.” He means Jews.  At a meeting of Jewish Republicans, President Trump stated how honoured he was to be in a room of ‘great negotiators’ and then went on to suggest that they wouldn’t like him because he doesn’t want their money. Another anti-Semitic trope.

And  when people from the left proclaim  that Israel is a Nazi state or compare Israelis to SS murderers, they are using the most horrific and personal imagery to Jewish people. To do so is not only anti-Semitic in itself, but also downplays the significance of the Holocaust and  the suffering of its victims and  survivors.

Equally it is wrong to call Israel an ‘apartheid’ state. To do so is not merely a sloppy and inaccurate analysis, it shows real  disrespect and diminishes the sacrifices made by the majority population in South Africa, to obtain the rights all Israelis have.

Israel does not deny Arab Israelis voting rights, nor enforce pass laws, nor insist, unlike Apartheid South Africa’s Afrikaans rules, that Hebrew should be the medium in schools.

Every person in Israel has full equal rights; 1.6 million Arab Israelis have the same rights as the 6.8 million Jewish Israelis; in Israel incitement to racism is a criminal offence; people have freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and they enjoy universal adult suffrage.

Israel is a place where women enjoy equality, religious minorities are free to practice their faiths, the media is unfettered and critical, an independent judiciary protects the powerless from the powerful, educational excellence and scientific innovation are pursued and a welfare state supports the poor.
Israel is a fully functioning and vibrant participatory democracy.

By the same token, any criticisms of Muslim states and the activities of the Palestinian Authority  should be measured, though many of those who demonise   Israel seem willing to turn a blind eye to them.

Those who criticise Israel as a ‘Jewish’ state should reflect  that whilst this does not form part of the country’s official name, ‘Islamic’ is  part of the official name of  quite a number  of countries; they  expelled their Jewish communities 60 years ago, (incidentally  in far greater numbers than displaced Palestinians), do not allow Jews to visit , do not promote religious  tolerance, criminalise homosexuals, have restrictions on the media, deny rights to women and are not functioning democracies

Such criticisms  can be advanced, as I just have,  without recourse to the insulting language that some critics of Israel feel they are free to  deploy against Israel.

Best wishes

Len Duvall AM

FSOI letter to all GLA members

 Jewish led Free Speech group says London Assembly antisemitism vote is “A charter for censors”
Dear Assembly Member

We would like to draw your attention to this statement from the Jewish-led Free Speech on Israel campaign regarding the motion on antisemitism passed by the London Assembly on Feb 8.

In the statement, the group points out the worrying implications of the position the Assembly has taken – a position that could call into question the Assembly’s commitment to freedom of speech.
We invite you to look more carefully at the decision you made at the behest of Andrew Dismore, a prominent member of the lobby group Labour Friends of Israel.

briefing document from Free Speech on Israel explains how equating anti-Zionism (a valid political position) and antisemitism (a noxious form of race hatred) constrains discourse about Palestine under the rubric of protecting Jews from antisemitism. This can only have the unintended consequence of stoking new hostility to Jews who may be seen as attempting to determine what non-Jews may or may not say about a foreign state.

We have a large number of London-based Jewish members who would welcome the opportunity to talk to you, individually or as a group, about this important subject.

Yours faithfully,

Mike Cushman
for FSOI

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