31 March 2023

Palestine Action Trial of the Shenstone 6– Update – The British State is Intent on Criminalising Opposition to Elbit’s Death Factory

‘This is not a political trial it is a criminal trial’ – so sing Judge and Prosecution in harmony

I promised in my last blog to provide an update on the trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court in which I’m charged, together with 5 others, with having in my possession ‘articles with intent to destroy or damage’ property belonging to Elbit.

Overwhelmed as I am by messages of support (see comments) the supporters of Ben Gvir, Smotrich and Israel's genocidalists are crossing their fingers in the hope I will be locked up!

I was informed by my barrister, Danielle Manson from Garden Court Chambers that the reason why I am the lead defendant is because of my blog of two years ago!  A rare honour indeed. No doubt I shall be cross-examined on every word and past participle.

There is one theme that Judge Chambers and Prosecutor Deborah Gould are agreed on and that is that this trial has nothing to do with politics.  It’s only about criminal conduct and criminal damage in particular.

If Chambers and Gould are to be believed, then 6 people, most of whom did not even know each other beforehand, conspired to engage in a spot of vandalism on the morning of March 9th for no other reason than that they felt in a destructive mood. Quite why we didn’t focus on breaking a few windows nearer home or vandalizing a phone box is one of life’s mysteries.

Six members of the German Jewish Resistance Group in Nazi Germany Who in May 1942 set fire to Goebbel's Soviet Paradise Exhibition in Berlin's Lustgarten. They had broken the law and were beheaded. According to Judge and  Prosecutor in the trial, adherence to the law is a supreme value

There is therefore a deliberate attempt to exclude or play down the real reasons for what happened, i.e. the role of Elbit in manufacturing drones such as Hermes 450 which has been responsible for the death of thousands of Palestinian civilians, to say nothing of its supply of drones to the Indian army for use in Kashmir and its supply of weaponry to the genocidal junta in Burma.

Herbert Baum - executed leader of the German Jewish anti-Nazi Baum Group - died under torture

Jo Wadsworth, the Blairite co-editor of the Brighton & Hove News published an article on the case today. No doubt she and the Editor of the Jewish Chronicle are salivating at the prospect of me being convicted!

Today the jury was whittled down from 18 to 12. It was thus only on the afternoon of the fourth day of trial that the Prosecution opened its case with lurid tales of conspiracies and plots. Factually she was all at sea despite copious amounts of information supplied by mobile phone companies on our whereabouts on the night of March 8/morning of March 9.

Thus I was supposed to have left Brighton at 5.30 when I picked up the van and arrived by 9.30. In fact I didn’t leave Brighton until about 7.30 and didn’t arrive until after midnight. Just a small point but it shows the sloppiness of the Prosecution despite the massive powers of search they have under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

Demonstration March 29th outside Shenstone's factory in Walsall

Thus tomorrow (Friday) the trial begins proper as the Prosecution opens its case. However as Judge Chambers has other business, sentencing a rapist and murderer in the afternoon, there will only be a short session from 10.00-12.00. 

Thus ends the first week. The second week will consist of only 3 days because of Easter and the third week will be four days because of Easter Monday so this trial is likely to continue into the third week of April.

However this also gives people time to mobilize around the issues in the case, which is the right to take action against those who deliberately flout international human rights law in search of profit. Britain is signed up to the UN and European Human Rights Conventions but they are observed in the breach and a blind eye is turned to arms exports by Britain.

In June 2019 the Court of Appeal held that the government’s export of arms to Saudia Arabia to be unlawful. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss blithely ignored the ruling and proceeded regardless. It was all a ‘mistake’ she said.  Not a defence I suspect we will be able to use.

Tony Greenstein 

This blog has been legally vetted and there are a number of things I have been forced to omit for legal reasons which will become clear later

26 March 2023

After two years waiting I shall be on trial for the ‘crime’ of trying to prevent Elbit System’s continuing commission of war crimes

GMB 3 Pickets Acquitted in Brighton Magistrates Court

What is the Meaning of the Massive Opposition in Israel to Netanyahu’s Judicial Reform Plans?

John Ware Accuses Me of Being Disagreeable!


Those of you with long memories may recall that in the early hours of Tuesday 9 March I was arrested with 5 supporters of Palestine Action whilst driving a van to Elbit Systems Shenstone factory.

The trial, in Wolverhampton Crown Court, is due to start on Monday before Judge Chambers. I shall, of course, be pleading not guilty to the charge of intending to destroy or damage property, contrary to section 3 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971. My intent was not  to cause criminal damage but to prevent war crimes being committed.

Elbit's Hermes Drone

British justice places a premium, as it has always done, on the protection of property over people, even when that property’s sole reason for existence is to kill and maim the innocent.

The trial is scheduled to last between 2 and 3 weeks and I shall try to keep people informed as to its progress from time to time though my blog will not be appearing as regularly as before.

Picket of Brighton Magistrates Court

GMB 3 Pickets Acquitted of Obstructing the Highway

Yesterday the case against the “GMB three”, who were accused of wilful obstruction of the highway collapsed. Three GMB officers were arrested in May last year during an industrial dispute with waste management company Biffa in Wealden, East Sussex. They were found not guilty at Brighton Law Courts after the Crown put forward no evidence. Gary Palmer, one of those involved, was quoted as saying:

Picket of Brighton Magistrates Court

“This was always a political case about the rights of people during a cost-of-living crisis to win enough money to look after their families.

“Our members were taking part in lawful industrial action to win a decent pay rise.

“This was an attempt by the company and the police to restrict the right to protest,”

The 3 were arrested under the 1980 Highways Act on suspicion of “obstructing the highway” in the course of asking strike-breakers not to cross their picket line. Among the scabs was “a manager driving a vehicle who GMB and the strikers believe does not have the correct paperwork to drive the vehicle he was in.” But the Police weren’t concerned with such trifles as health and safety.

Picket of Brighton Magistrates Court

GMB senior organiser for Southern England Charles Harrity said,

“This is a serious health and safety risk for GMB members on the picket line he was crossing and the general public. The licence violation was reported to the police.”

A statement by Sussex Police read,

“Pickets or assemblies in trade disputes are not immune from criminal law and police have powers at their disposal to respond to any issues or breaches of the peace, including any offences of blocking the highway.

The Highways Act was introduced by the Thatcher government in 1980—one of its first major pieces of legislation aimed at suppressing the right to strike. It has been routinely used against pickets and protests. Under “Obstruction of highways and streets”, section 137 of the Act reads,

“Penalty for wilful obstruction (1) If a person, without lawful authority or excuse, in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage along a highway he is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding £50.

“(2) A constable may arrest without warrant any person whom he sees committing an offence against this section.”

The Informed Dissent website notes,

“‘Obstruction’ includes anything that prevents passing and re-passing along the highway. To be committing this offence, you don’t have to be blocking the whole width of the highway. This is because the offence is obstructing the highway itself (and not other users of the highway). The prosecution, therefore, do not have to prove that anyone was actually obstructed, but instead that you obstructed the highway itself.”

The police attack on the refuse workers’ pickets came after the police consulted with senior Tory Party politicians. In a statement following the police operation Wealden District Council said,

“following intervention by the Police today to enforce lawful access to and from the depot, which had until now been blocked by the picket line, Biffa have been able to operate two rubbish collection rounds in the southern half of the District today.”

Simon Hester, chair of Hastings and District trades union council, told Socialist Worker,

“A number of GMB full-time workers and I were blocking vans from leaving the depot. We knew Friday would be a stand-off because the council had recalled all the vans to the Amberstone depot on Thursday.

“Vehicles were in line waiting to leave the depot, and I was in front of the trucks. They sent officers to deal with pickets. When the chief inspector arrived, he said we would be arrested for blocking a highway. 

“He also made it clear that we needed to stop blocking vans because public pressure on the council to clear the streets of rubbish was starting to mount.”  See UK: Police attack refuse workers’ picket in Wealden, England, arresting union officials

Being attacked for being disagreeable by John Ware is like being accused of sexual harassment by a rapist

Readers of this blog will be shocked to hear that Islamaphobe-in-chief John Ware, has accused me of being ‘one of the most disagreeable individuals I’ve ever set eyes on.’ Leaving aside the minor point that he has never set eyes on me, you will understand why I have to consult m’learned friends about this attack on my good character and reputation.

Coming from the man who was quoted in the Guardian as having ‘a track record for displaying unfairness and twisting the truth’ this is a case of pots and kettles.

Ware's 2005 programme "A Question of Leadership" was described by a senior ex-Panorama journalist as "the most disgusting Panorama that I have ever seen. The presenter was acting like a prosecuting attorney, not a journalist." The Guardian's Madeleine Bunting called the documentary "McCarthyite".

Ware is also on record, in the Jewish Chronicle (where else?) as saying that Islamaphobia is rational and the fault of Muslims themselves.

‘Yet there are several differences between antisemitism and (authentic) Islamophobia. The former is entirely irrational, the latter reactive.

It is surely Muslim radicals who have brought it [Islamaphobia] on their fellow Muslims — by their promotion of Islam as a political ideology, and by invoking Islamophobia to close down criticism of this ideology, pouring fat on the fire of those predisposed to blind bigotry in the first place.

Islamophobia — however it is defined — will abate when terrorism carried out in God’s name ceases.

All you have to do is substitute ‘Jew’ for ‘Muslim’ and John Ware would be the first to protest. Given the extent of Israeli terrorism the possibilities are endless. Clearly anti-Semitism is rational.

It is no surprise that Panorama has employed Ware so frequently, all in the name of that famous ‘balance’ between the right and far-right.

What is the Meaning of Israel’s Jewish Protests?

It is important to understand the nature of the massive Israeli demonstrations against the judicial reforms that Netanyahu is proposing. As Gideon Levy wrote in Ha’aretz:

To most Israelis, real democracy is tantamount to “the destruction of Israel.” They’re right. True democracy will bring an end to the Jewish supremacism they call Zionism, and an end to the state they call Jewish and democratic. Therefore the threat of democracy is the existential threat, against which all Jewish Israelis unite: Should democracy be instituted for all the state’s residents, it will bring an end to the pretend democracy.

Therefore, the leaders of the protest make sure to steer clear of any true contact with democracy, lest the entire thing collapse like a house of cards. It is not due to racism or hatred of Arabs that they don’t want Palestinian flags or protesters – they are good people, after all – but only due to the understanding that raising the question of apartheid will render their struggle ludicrous.

That is why most Israeli Palestinians have avoided the demonstrations which are about Jewish democracy only. Both Netanyahu and his opponents agree on the place of Israeli Arabs and they also agree with the repression that Palestinians face.

One of the most vociferous opponents of the ‘judical coup’ is former Defence Minister and Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, who promised to bomb Gaza ‘back to the stone ages’. It was Gantz who outlawed 6 Palestinian Human Rights organisations and it was under Gantz that Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was assassinated.

In the eyes of these Jewish demonstrators the Supreme Court represents all that is good about Israel. As the Jerusalem Post reported:

Around a hundred activists from the civil society movement Darkenu argued that the High Court of Justice protected IDF soldiers from international lawfare campaigns.

The High Court is the flak jacket of IDF soldiers, it is protection for our sons and daughters that serve in the army, from attempts to petition against IDF soldiers at the International Criminal Court in The Hague," warned Darkenu CEO and former Kulanu MK Rachel Azaria. "The Override clause and Levin's moves to weaken the justice system would hurt IDF soldiers, and hurting our soldiers is a red line.

The military fears that the war crimes that the Israeli army perpetrates would be open to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court at the Hague if the judicial reforms go through.

The demonstrations in Israel reach into the innermost parts of the secret state. Thousands of reserve soldiers, some from the elite forces, have said they would refuse to serve.

Ex-Generals, heads of Shin Bet and a raft of Judges have condemned the override clause that would enable 61 votes in the Knesset to overturn any decision of the Supreme Court. Coupled with proposals that would allow the government to choose who sits on the court this has provoked panic at the heart of the Israeli establishment.

Israeli Palestinians however have been conspicuous by their absence from the protests. Why? Because the Supreme Court has an unparalleled record of approving legal discrimination against Arabs. Not one piece of anti-Arab legislation has been disallowed.

Even the Jewish Nation State Law of 2018 which officially made Israel an Apartheid State was approved by a vote of 10-1, the sole dissent coming from the sole Arab member of the court.

Eg the Central District Court reduced the time spent on Administrative Detention for two settler suspects in the Huwara pogrom from 4 to less than 2 months and from 4 to 3 months. Administrative Detention is almost never used against Jews. It is a form of internment without trial and Palestinians are routinely given 6 months detention renewable every 6 months. In the case of these settlers they were given less than 6 months in the first place. The Supreme Court has an unparalleled record for  approving Administrative Detention for Arabs.

Little wonder that the settlers’ legal representatives from Honenu said that ‘it was precedent-setting for the court to significantly shorten an administrative detention order’ They are right. Court reduces detention without charges for 2 held over assault on Huwara

Khalil Awawdeh - Hunger Striker - Imprisoned Without Trial - Supreme Court Refused to Release Him

Yet in the case of Khalil Awawdeh, who had been on hunger strike for 170 days and was at death’s door the Supreme Court refused to intervene. As a matter of course they refused to challenge the assertions of Israel’s Shin Bet secret police. As Diana Buttu, a Palestinian lawyer and former negotiator said

“The Supreme Court rubber stamps everything that the Israeli security services put forward. It is only in very rare circumstances that we actually see that they are pushing back against what the security services are saying.”

As +972 Magazine recounted:

On Wednesday afternoon, Palestinian administrative detainee Khalil Awawdeh announced that he was ending his hunger strike, which had lasted over 170 days, after the Shin Bet agreed not to renew his detention beyond October 2. Until then, he will remain at Shamir Medical Center in central Israel, where he is currently hospitalized, in order to recover….

In recent days, photos of an emaciated Awawdeh on the brink of death flooded social media, energizing the global campaign to release the prisoner. If the Shin Bet’s policy of extending the detention and agreeing to release the hunger-striking detainee as his life hangs in the balance were not grotesque enough, it is worth remembering that only on Tuesday, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected another urgent petition for Awawdeh’s release.

So on Tuesday the Supreme Court were satisfied by Shin Bet’s evidence that Awawdeh was a dangerous terrorist and the day after Shin Bet itself agreed to end the Administrative Detention making a fool of the Supreme Court. This speaks volumes about the racism of the Court.

But if the Supreme Court is racist towards Palestinians it is liberal towards Jews and that is what has earned it the ire of the Jewish Supremacist Religious Zionism and the Orthodox Jewish parties. It has repeatedly recognised non-Orthodox conversions for the purpose of being a Jew entitled to the law of return.

It has always made clear that its version of ‘who is a Jew’ is an all encompassing one, rejecting the narrow racial purity definitions of the Israeli right. It does indeed have a liberal attitude to gay Israelis and others. But when it gets an Arab in its sight it is as racist as Ben Gvir.

So what is likely to happen? In the short-term we should not be surprised if the judicial reform plans do not go ahead, at least unreformed.

Israeli Defence Minister

‘Yova Gallant has reportedly threatened to resign his post recently over concerns for the brewing crisis in the military and fears that it could be beset by mass desertions and refusals to serve’.

The Jerusalem Post asked ‘Could senior Likud MKs force compromise on judicial reform? – analysis’. It reported that possible defectors include MKs Danny Danon, Yuli Edelstein as well as MK David Bitan and Avi Dichter, a former head of Shin Bet. The Coalition’s majority of 64-56 could easily disappear as it would only take four Likud MKs to vote against or abstain to prevent the passage of the legislation.

If this were to happen then it is almost certain that the ruling coalition would break up and Religious Zionism would defect, thus causing fresh elections. So in the short term the judicial reforms could be nixed.

ButiIn the longer term the beneficiary is likely to be Religious Zionism which already has 14 seats. Israeli Jewish society is undergoing profound changes. Until 1977 the Israeli Labor Party, which has just 4 seats in the Knesset today, formed the government in partnership with the National Religious Party.

The effect of the 1967 war and the conquest of the West Bank was to cause the NRP, which no longer exists today, to move to the right as the settler movement began, with ILP encouragement, colonising the West Bank. What was a handful of settlers in 1967 is 700,000 today.

Today Israeli politics are driven by the Jewish settlers with their messianic dreams of a Third Temple, the Return of the Messiah and eternal salvation. ‘Left’ Zionism is dead. How did this happen?  I would argue that it was inherent in Zionism itself.

Labor Zionism created the Israeli state. Most of their leaders were atheists who based their claim to Palestine on the god they denied! In order to provide their movement with legitimacy, at a time when most Orthodox Jews saw Zionism as a secular heresy, they formed a faustian pact with the minority of Orthodox Jews led by Rabbi Abraham Kook who supported Zionism. Why? Because without their backing there could be no definition of a Jew that would be accepted by religious Jews. The NRP were given control over personal affairs – birth, death and marriage. They defined who was a Jew (although the definition was different for the purposes of the Law of Return).

As Jewish nationalism and religious Zionism became intertwined, both feeding off each other, so Israel has moved further and further to the settler right. Today much of the army has been taken over. Recently we saw the active  complicity of the army in the Huwara pogrom.

The settler lobby will continue to grow, politically and numerically, until it exerts a stranglehold over Israeli politics. It knows what it wants unlike secular Israeli Jews. Although the racism of secular Jews is not fundamentally different from that of religious Zionists they do not want Israel to become a halachic state, a state ruled by Jewish law.

There is a very real prospect of Israel having the attributes of a theocratic state based on the principles of racial purity and with an open dictatorship and apartheid. The rabbis, corrupt as they are, will then rely on their own interpretation of the bible to rule. Already segregated classes in universities are accepted. The present coalition is proposing to prevent chametz, forbidden food at Passover, entering hospitals.

The old wars between the two Jewish states of Judah and Israel is more than likely to be repeated. What has held Israeli Jewish society together over the past 75 years has been a common antagonism towards the Palestinians. Today religious Zionists see no need to compromise with their secular opponents. That is what we are seeing played out today.

So although it is more than possible that the judicial reforms will be watered down in the long-terms they and more will be introduced.

Tony Greenstein

21 March 2023

Why the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) is neither anti-Zionist nor pro-Palestinian

The SWP Decision to Welcome Zionist Groups to its ‘anti-racist’ march in Glasgow last weekend proves that the SWP's support for the Palestinians is hot air


On 16 February, in response to an email on behalf of Brighton and Hove Trades Council, Scottish SUTR i.e. the SWP, reassured me that:

SUTR Scotland … has no formal relationship with Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland or any of its local groups. Claims it "works closely" with or "invites" these groups are false. Neither is true that this group has been "welcome" to marches. We have no knowledge of their intention to attend the march in 2023.

Today Glasgow Friends of Israel posted this message on Facebook:

a letter of thanks from GFI chair Sammy Stein to Kier McKechnie and Mohammed Asif, organisers of the SUTR march that took place on Saturday, who made sure that GFI and COFIS members were kept safe during the march.

Hi Keir and Mohammad

It was good to see you both at the SUTR march in George Square on Saturday and many thanks for the welcome you gave us.

The Letter of Thanks ends:

‘I will of course post this message on social media so that all the good folk in Scotland will know about your kind and on-going support.’

Many thanks and I look forward to meeting you again in 2024.

Keep safe

Sammy Stein

chair Glasgow Friends of Israel. 

I don’t mind being lied to by the SWP/SUTR. Indeed I expect it. What I do object to is being lied to on behalf of a racist Zionist group by those who dare to call themselves socialists. Especially since they were lying to me in my role as an Executive Member of Brighton &  Hove Trades Council.

GFI is a 100% racist outfit. It had room on its Facebook page for a story about ‘A violent Palestinian mob attack on 2 German tourists’ who were attacked when entering Nablus in a vehicle with Israeli license plates and an Israeli flag. The tourists escaped with light injuries thank to the help of other Palestinians.

There has been no mention on GFI’s Facebook page of the reign of terror by settlers and the Israeli army on the West Bank. No condemnation of the call by Bezalel Smotrich, the West Bank’s head of civil administration, to ‘wipe-out’ the  town of Huwara.  No mention of the pogrom in Huwara in which Israeli soldiers accompanied and defended the settlers whilst attacking their victims, 1 of whom was killed and nearly 100 injured, some seriously. No mention of the Jewish Nazi Ben Gvir who is now Israel’s Police Minister. No mention of the ethnic cleansing of Masafer Yata.

Glasgow Friends of Israel are 100%  racist scum yet the SWP welcome them onto its ‘anti-racist’ demonstration. The SWP have demonstrated that there is no principle that they are not prepared to sacrifice, no promise that they are not prepared to break, no ethic that they won’t undermine for the sake of building their party.

Whenever there is a Palestine solidarity march you can be sure that there will be an SWP stall with posters and placards. The impression given is that the SWP is in the forefront of Palestine solidarity.

The reality is somewhat different. The way the SWP works in practice marks it out as an organisation that combines verbal support for the Palestinians with the most shameful appeasement of Zionism and its British supporters.

Zionists on the march with the SWP's blessing

This contradiction has come to a head again this year on the SWP/Stand Up to Racism march, March 18 in Glasgow. Since 2017 the SWP has welcomed Glasgow Friends of Israel [GFI] and the Confederation of Friends of Israel–Scotland [COFIS] on its marches.

But we are now fighting back against the SWP’s  capitulation to Zionism’s far-right supporters. Dundee Trades Council’s refusal to support the SWP’s march was joined this year by Brighton & Hove Trades Council. At Lewisham Trades Council a similar motion of non-support was narrowly defeated. It is to be hoped that next year more trade union branches and Trades Councils will join in saying no to SWP/SUTR’s collaboration with far-Right Zionists.

Glasgow Friends of Israel Contingent 2023

It is no surprise that the ‘right’ of these Zionist groups to march was vociferously supported by that friend of anti-racism, the Scottish Daily Express! The SWP’s real reason for allowing Zionists to march each year is a fear of being accused of ‘anti-Semitism’, in other words a surrender to the campaign that brought down Corbyn.

In other words GFI will be marching against anti-Zionism i.e. the Palestinians, courtesy of the SWP

On 16 February Scottish SUTR wrote to me saying ‘SUTR has no policy on the Middle East’.  However most anti-racist groups do oppose apartheid, today in Israel yesterday in South Africa. Even the SWP used to oppose apartheid.

If an anti-racist Zionist actually exists then no one objects to them marching as an individual. Hopefully they will come to recognise their own cognitive dissonance. The objection is to organised supporters of Israeli Apartheid marching with flags and placards. To Palestinians the Israeli flag is the equivalent of the Confederate flag for Black people or the Swastika to Jews.

The Lies that Justify Ethnic Cleansing from COFIS

As Mick Napier of Scottish PSC said:

"SUTR pretend to be neutral on the issue of of Israeli ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Bad enough to try to be neutral but in fact they are very partisan. Their absurd claim that "we cannot build a united anti-racist movement if the politics of the Middle East are imported into the movement" is belied by their insisting on the right of Friends of Israel to march with them, ie precisely to import the Politics of the Middle East onto their demonstrations, thereby making them no-go areas for Palestinians".

When I was a teenager I was a member of the International Socialist group, which pre-dated the SWP. I remember that they took a fierce anti-Zionist position. The first anti-Zionist pamphlet I read was The Class Nature of Israeli Society by Moshe Machover and others.

 Today the SWP is proud of the fact that they have the support of the right-wing TUC and trade union bureaucracy. The same people who are calling off the biggest wave of strikes we have seen in 40 years.  It doesn’t seem to have occurred to them that this ‘support’ is a way that they can parade their anti-racist credentials without them doing anything.

If the TUC were serious about fighting racism then they would have condemned the statement of Rachel Reeves criticising the Tories for not having deported enough refugees.

It is more than ironic that on an allegedly anti-racist march you have organisations marching whose sole purpose in being there is to support racism.

The leader of GFI, Sammy Stein, was caught fraternising with Max Dunbar, an ex-BNP Treasurer. Stein was pictured on the latest march with an SWP banner! GFI’s main support is from anti-Semitic Christian Fundamentalists.

Stevie Harrison is Sutherland and together with Matthew Berlow (below) they faked an antisemitic attack which was intended to be blamed on Scottish PSC

Although GFI later dissociated themselves from Dunbar, the statement confirming this was from Edward Sutherland, who was reprimanded by the General Teaching Council for sharing an anti-Semitic post online.

In a recent post on Facebook Sammy Stein demonstrates how far to the right he is, even for Zionists, when he cast doubt on the Deir Yassin massacre in April 1948 which he calls ‘disputed’. Zionist militias Irgun and Lehi carried out a savage massacre in the village. Over 100 women, children and elderly died.  David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister condemned it and the Jewish Agency sent Jordan's King Abdullah an apology. Holocaust deniers dispute the Nazi Holocaust so shall we have doubts about that too? 

Stein also repeated the myth of Palestinian refugees having voluntarily left of their own accord whereas this lie was designed to cover up the ethnic cleansing in 1947-8. Stein even made out that he supported refugees in this country. But not Israel of course where non-Jewish refugees are refused asylum automatically. But since Stein supports the rights of refugees in Britain so much perhaps he will support the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees to Israel too?  I somehow doubt it because he’s wedded to the Jewish supremacist nature of the Israeli state.

Has the SWP ever asked GFI if they support the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees and if not why not?

That the SWP choose to align themselves with the likes of Sammy Stein demonstrates that they have learnt nothing from the rape scandal that nearly destroyed them in 2012/3. They have also learnt nothing from their association with the anti-Semitic Gilad Atzmon from 2005-2011.

The problem in Scotland is part of a wider problem with the politics of the SWP on Zionism, racism and imperialism. Instead of treating racism as flowing from imperialism and Britain’s role in the world the SWP treats racism and imperialism as separate entities.

On the one hand the SWP will proclaim that Zionism is racist and Israel is an apartheid state, but when it comes to anti-racist work, the issue of Palestine disappears as the SWP allies with these very same racists! The fact that Israel and Zionism is to the fore of Islamaphobia is simply ignored.

On the GFI Facebook page a supporter wrote, after the murder of 50 Muslims in New Zealand that:

‘it’s payback for the attacks that muslims have perpetrated across the globe. perhaps this will curb their appetite for bloodshed.’

It is difficult to think of a more vile racist comment yet the SWP is unconcerned. Imagine that someone had celebrated the murder of 11 Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018 because of the Palestinians murdered by the ‘Jewish’ state. The air would be thick with cries of anti-Semitism, prime amongst them the SWP.

Also on the GFI FB group was a post which talked about Israel ‘euthanasing’ 3 Palestinians. This is language which one would normally expect from neo-Nazis. The SWP supports refugees coming to Britain but it refuses to ask why they come and to integrate this understanding into broader anti-racist struggles.

The SWP confines itself to broad statements of support for Palestine solidarity but rarely discusses the causes of their dispossession and the role of Zionism except once a year at Marxism when anti-Zionism is brought out on display.

At the 2021 Palestine Solidarity Campaign conference, the Executive proposed a new constitution eliminating anti-Zionism. The two SWP members present, Tom Hickey and Rob Ferguson, spoke in support of the Executive’s proposals and against those who wanted PSC to remain an anti-Zionist organisation.

Sammy Stein reveals himself as a far-right Zionist bigot behind all the talk of mutual recognition etc.

The arguments of Hickey and Ferguson were that we should concentrate on activism and not get distracted by Zionism. Except that Zionism, as an ideology and movement, was responsible for the dispossession of the Palestinians. How can you support the Palestinian struggle and have nothing to say about Zionism? This, more than anything, reveals the bankruptcy of SWP politics.

The question of Zionism was a central feature of debates inside the Labour Party. Yet to the SWP what matters is activity for its own sake despite the fact that Israel, unlike South Africa, depends on maintaining political support in the West. Anti-Zionism is not a theoretical luxury but a necessity. We constantly have to win the argument on campuses and in trade unions.

The reluctance of the SWP to argue for anti-Zionist politics is a product of their opportunistic politics. Tony Cliff, their founder did understand Zionism being born in Mandate Palestine but SWP theoreticians today – John Rose and Rob Ferguson – do not have that background.

The SWP and Zionist Relations with the Nazis

In ‘Don’t fall into your opponents’ traps’, John Rose criticised Ken Livingstone for even mentioning the subject:

… the anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian case must be argued effectively and sensitively. Traps must be avoided which favour our opponents. On Thursday Ken Livingstone created then walked into precisely such a trap. The argument about Zionist collaboration with the Nazis has been around for a long time. It is rightly ignored by solidarity activists with Palestine….

It’s true that when Hitler came to power some Zionist leaders stupidly thought that they could do a deal with him that would enable some German Jews to go to Palestine. But Ken should have known that this disgraceful manoeuvre bitterly divided the Zionist movement.

Rose went on to say that ‘there was no coherent, united Zionist leadership in the 1930’s. It was deeply split.’ This is simply untrue, indeed it is a lie. As I show in Zionism During the Holocaust it is also ahistorical nonsense. There was almost complete agreement about the need to create a Jewish State and ‘transfer’ the Palestinians out of it in the 30s and 40s. The differences amongst the Zionist leadership between Weizmann and Ben Gurion were about which imperialist partner they preferred – Britain or the United States. Even the differences between Labour and Revisionist Zionism were tactical.

Nor was there anything ‘stupid’ about negotiating with Nazis from the Zionist perspective. Ha'avara, the Nazi-Zionist trade agreement was not about saving German Jews. What it sought to do was rescue their wealth.

David Ben Gurion was the most important pre-state Zionist figure. A cursory reading of the final chapter, Disaster Means Strength, of his biography by Shabtai Teveth makes it abundantly clear that the Zionist leadership welcomed the rise of the Nazis and Hitler. The very title of the chapter gives us a clue.

On the eve of Hitler becoming Chancellor, in January 1933, Ben-Gurion explained his thinking to the Central Committee of Mapai (Israeli Labour Party) when he warned that

‘Zionism… is not primarily engaged in saving individuals’ and that if there was ‘a conflict of interest between saving individual Jews and the good of the Zionist enterprise, we shall say the enterprise comes first.’

In November 1935, after the passage of the Nuremberg Laws he said:

To the disaster of German Jewry we must offer a Zionist response, namely, we must convert the disaster into a source for the upbuilding of Palestine.

On 15 October 1942, by which time the Zionist leadership was aware of the holocaust, Ben Gurion remarked to the Zionist Executive:

Disaster is strength if channelled to a productive course. The whole trick of Zionism is that it knows how to channel our disaster, not into despondency or degradation, as is the case in the Diaspora, but into a source of creativity and exploitation.

Berl Katznelson, a founder of Mapai and editor of Davar, saw the rise of Hitler as ‘an opportunity to build and flourish like none we have ever had or ever will have.’ Ben-Gurion predicted that ‘The Nazis’ victory would become a fertile force for Zionism.

It is to the critical Zionist historian Noah Lucas, not John Rose, that we must turn if we want to understand Zionism’s approach:

‘As the European holocaust erupted, Ben-Gurion saw it as a decisive opportunity for Zionism... In conditions of peace,… Zionism could not move the masses of world Jewry. The forces unleashed by Hitler in all their horror must be harnessed to the advantage of Zionism. ... By the end of 1942… the struggle for a Jewish state became the primary concern of the movement.’  [A Modern History of Israel, pp. 187/8].

Rose was also wrong when he said that ‘this disgraceful manoeuvre bitterly divided the Zionist movement’ The Labour Zionists were united in support of Ha'avara. The General Zionists and Religious Zionists of Mizrahi supported it too. Only the Revisionists under Jabotinsky opposed Ha'avara.

Ordinary Zionists bitterly opposed Ha'avara and didn’t understand what was happening but the Zionist movement was not a democratic movement and their voices counted for nothing.

On June 21 1933 the German Zionist Federation voluntarily wrote to Hitler expressing their opposition to the Boycott and their agreement with Nazi fundamentals. They wrote:

On the foundation of the new state, which has established the principle of race... fruitful activity for the fatherland is possible…. Precisely because we don’t wish to falsify these fundamentals, because we too are against mixed marriages and are for maintaining the purity of the Jewish group… The realisation of Zionism could only be hurt by resentment of Jews abroad against the German development. Boycott propaganda… is in essence fundamentally unZionist, because Zionism wants not to do battle but to convince and to build.’[Lucy Dawidowicz, A Holocaust Reader, pp. 150-153].

The Zionist leaders were not stupid. If anyone can claim credit for the founding of Israel it is Hitler. Between 1933 and 1939, as a result of the rose of the Nazis, the Jewish population of Palestine more than doubled from around 215,000 to 449,000, giving the settlers a critical mass. 60% of capital investment in Palestine between 1933 and 1939 came from Nazi Germany.

John Rose was dazzled by meeting the last Commander of the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance, Marek Edelman in 1989. The anti-Zionist Bund, of which Edelman was a member and members of left-Zionist groups such as Hashomer Hatzair and Dror, fought together. But the Zionists fought, not because of their Zionism but despite it.

Mordechai Anielewicz, the first Commander, expressed his regret over the wasted time undergoing Zionist educational work. I quote in my book the speech of one of these Zionist fighters, Hayka Klinger, to the Histadrut Executive in March 1944. She described the Judenrate, the Jewish Councils who collaborated with the Nazis thus:

after they began assisting the Nazis to collect gold and furniture from Jewish homes, they had no choice but to go on to help them prepare lists of Jews for labor camps... And precisely because those who stood at the head of most of the communities were Zionists, the psychological effects on most of the Jewish masses vis-à-vis the Zionist idea was devastating, and the hatred towards Zionism grew day by day...

Klinger told the Histadrut Executive that ‘we received an order not to organize any more defence.’ To the Zionist leadership the ghetto fighters were more valuable in Palestine. Klinger observed that

Without a people, a people’s avant-garde is of no value. If rescue it is, then the entire people must be rescued. If it is to be annihilation, then the avante-garde too shall be annihilated.

After the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a Zionist emissary arrived in Bedzin in July 1943 to persuade Frumka Plotnicka to leave. She replied that ‘I have a responsibility for my brethren... I have lived with them and I will die with them.’ The Zionist youth in Europe, such as Zivia Lubetkin and Plotnicka, refused on principle to leave. One can only admire the bravery and commitment of these young Zionist fighters who, given the choice between the fight against the Nazis in the Diaspora and the Arabs in Palestine, committed what in Zionist eyes, was a mortal sin. They chose the Diaspora.

One of the Zionist emissaries, Yudke Hellman, described how in October and December 1939 he witnessed the return of Plotnicka and Lubetkin to German-occupied Poland and how he had tried and failed to persuade them to leave for Palestine. Frumka stood up and announced that her decision to return to Warsaw was final.

Never was the ethical and moral distinction between the Jewish diaspora and Palestine’s Zionist leaders clearer. Rose failed to perceive that Zionism was established on the basis that anti-Semitism could not be fought and that its principal task lay in the establishment of a Jewish state. 

It was the Revisionists who put up the strongest resistance in the Warsaw ghetto because they were armed by their fascist friends. They had an abundance of arms unlike the left-wing Jewish Fighting Organisation (ZOB). So yes, Zionists fought. It was not because they were Zionists but because they were organised in groups. The Zionist parties in Warsaw however were opposed to resistance.

Individual Zionists are not the same as the movement. At times of despair the Jewish masses supported the Zionists and when the fight against anti-Semitism grew, they abandoned Zionism. In the last free elections in 1938 in Warsaw out of 20 Jewish Council seats the Zionists obtained precisely one compared to 17 for the anti-Zionist Bund.

As anti-Semitism grew in Poland Poale Zion split into a right and left in 1919. Left Poale Zion had effectively abandoned Zionism. But these contradictions entirely escape the SWP and its theoreticians.

The Israeli state was extremely hostile to Edelman, who had written an open letter to the Palestinians asking them to enter into peace negotiations. The letter caused outrage because Edelman did not mention the word terrorism. Israeli leaders were incensed by its title: Letter to Palestinian partisans’.

When Edelman died on 9 October 2009 he was honoured with a state funeral and a fifteen-gun salute. Not even the lowliest clerk at the Israeli Embassy attended. No official representative of any international Jewish organisation attended either.

Edelman received Poland's highest honour but he died unrecognised and forgotten in Israel. The President of Poland spoke at his funeral and two thousand people attended the grave-side ceremony.

John Rose has been the SWP’s main theoretician on Zionism since Cliff. He has never understood the internal dynamics and logic of Zionism. Imperialism has used the tragedy of the Holocaust to legitimise its barbarism and to paint anyone opposed to Zionism as ‘anti-Semitic’. Unfortunately Rose and the SWP instead of standing up to this have bowed to it and the winds of chauvinism. In an article critiquing Norman Finkelstein, Rose wrote that:

Even in its most reactionary form, Zionism before the second world war was one of the voices of oppressed Jews facing the growth of violent anti Semitism as a mass movement everywhere.

This statement represents an abandonment of any class politics. Zionism was the voice of the reactionary Jewish petit-bourgeoisie who, given half the chance, would betray working class Jews as Marcel Liebman demonstrated so vividly when describing his experiences as a child seeking refuge in Nazi-occupied Belgium. He described one leader of the Belgian Judenrat, the Association of Jews of Belgium telling a poor Polish Jewish woman:

Well, well! If you ended up in Eastern Europe what would be wrong with that? You are all from Poland anyway! You’d just be going back where you came from!

Another wealthy Zionist member of the AJB, ‘S.V.’ wrote in his diary on 12 December 1942, after the Germans had released a Jew who was married to a non-Jewish woman:

I find it extraordinary that someone should be recompensed for having been unfaithful to his religion.

Two-thirds of the Judenrat, which were hated by poor and working class Jews, were Zionists but Rose saw them as the voice of the oppressed, writing that ‘Zionism was perfectly capable of inspiring resistance to the Nazis’.

Rose went on to say that ‘Zionism later mis-used its genuinely heroic anti-Nazi resistance fighters for cynical ideological ends in Palestine.’ How surprising! The Zionists also misused the Holocaust to justify ethnic cleansing in Palestine. Why? Because historically the Zionists were indifferent to the Holocaust. To many Zionists those who died in the Holocaust brought it upon themselves. Idith Zertal observed that:

There hasn’t been a war involving Israel ‘that has not been perceived, defined, and conceptualized in terms of the Holocaust.’ Israel has mobilised the Holocaust ‘in the service of Israeli politics.’

This is more than cynicism. It is the exploitation of the Holocaust in the service of imperialism and Israel’s war against the Palestinians.

Rose referred to Hitler’s view of the Jews as a ‘satanic race’.

Hitler didn’t just think that Jews were a distinct race. He also thought that they were a Satanic race, and ultimately, that they were a Satanic race that had to be exterminated.

Rose echoes Zionist holocaust historians such as Yehuda Bauer who attributed anti-Semitism to ‘a political elite that had come to power with pseudo-messianic concepts of saving humanity from the Jews.’

What Bauer was saying was that Nazi anti-Semitism lay outside of history. It was inexplicable. That is also what Rose is saying. That the Holocaust lies outside class politics. This is simply anti-Marxist.

Did the elimination of up to 3 million Polish intelligentsia occur because the Poles were Satanic? Or the Russians or Disabled? The attempt to exterminate the Jews was not unique. Why did Hitler want them gone? Because the Jews were seen as the biological parents of their main enemy, Bolshevism. Hence the term Judeo-Bolshevism.

Rose wrote about the

truly sinister cat and mouse game the Nazis were playing when they appeared to be supporting the Zionist project in Palestine even if did mean some German Jews, by moving to Palestine with Hitler’s agreement, escaped the death camps.

Rose did not understand the Ha'avara agreement (or the Nazis’ Jewish policies) which led to just 20,000 wealthy German Jews moving to Palestine. They had to have £1,000 (today about £85,000). These Jews would have found refuge in other countries.

If anything Ha'avara undermined the position of other Jews wanting to emigrate. Between 1933 and 1939 the Nazis’ policy was expulsion not extermination. There were no death camps to escape from. The first death camp, Chelmno was established in December 1941.

The problem with the SWP is it shouts slogans about Zionism but has never taken the time nor trouble to understand it.