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Monday, 29 May 2017

Lest We Forget - The Dog That Failed Even to Whimper

Ella Rose, the JLM's new Director was none too happy at her former employment  being revealed
If you annoy me you are a fucking anti-Semite!
The Jewish Labour Movements fragrant Ella Rose giving vent to her feelings about anti-Zionists

I have taken this amusing but very true piece by Jonathan Rosenhead, a Professor at the LSE, from the newsletter of Bricup - British Universities Palestine.  It echoes the piece I did when the Al Jazeera  revelations first broke - why wasn't the story of state and Israeli interference in the Labour Party and the false anti-Semitism allegations revealed by the British press.  The answer of course is that our 'free press' was up to its ears in manufacturing stories about 'anti-Semitism'

Tony Greenstein

Al Jazeera's 'The Lobby' and the British Media

Jonathan Rosenhead
Iain 'Crooked' McNicol, Labour's General Secretary, has just exonerated the fragrant Rose despite her threats of violence
we couldn't put it better ourselves - the winning is all that counts with Ella Rose
Many readers of the Newsletter will already be aware of the ground-breaking Al-Jazeera English series The Lobby, broadcast on 4 consecutive nights from January 11th. Some will not – and in this they will be in the good company of the vast majority of the UK’s population. It got a front-page splash in the Daily Mail (of all places), but this was not followed up by the sort of in depth coverage elsewhere that its explosive contents deserved.

However that silence is not the one this article’s title refers to. This silence is analogous in its essentials to that of the dog in the Sherlock Holmes story The Silver Blaze. The crux of the plot is the disappearance one night of a famous race horse, and the violent death of his trainer. The dog slept in the stables where this happened. The celebrated dialogue runs like this:
Joan Ryan MP, LFI Chair inquiring about the money she had applied for
Labour Friends of Israel Chair Joan Ryan MP receiving the good news that she had won over £1m for her slush fund.  Her only other claim to fame is claiming more expenses than any other MP in 2005 and 2006
Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
Holmes: "That was the curious incident.”

The dog that signally failed to bark, not for one night, or over the last month, but for year after year is the entire British mainstream media – print, radio, television. What is the story that they missed and why did they miss it?
Labour Friends of Israel's Parliamentary Officer and Fabian Michael Rubin letting us know that he works closely with the Israeli Embassy
The set up

The Lobby is still viewable at  and if you haven’t seen it you should. It makes gripping viewing.

The programmes depend on ‘Robin’, whose face we never see. He created a cover story as an aspiring Labour party activist with strong Israeli sympathies, and for 6 months managed to penetrate the shadowy world where Israeli embassy officials set up sham organisations to support Israel, mingle with very willing activists (both Labour and Conservative) and make funds available to them. And all the while Robin wears a concealed camera.

We have known about ‘The Israel Lobby’ in the US, and its most notable unit AIPAC, for years. Mearsheimer and Walt wrote a celebrated book with that title. The Lobby however is about the UK’s own Israel Lobby. To UK activists its existence has been known, in principle, for years. There has been circumstantial evidence galore - the inside track which Israel so evidently makes use of, the lavish funding of pro-Israel organisations, the sabotage of pro-Palestinian events. So we ‘knew’. But now we really know.
Joan Ryan MP has tropes on her brain and precious little else
It is worth pointing up here the reason why the activity revealed in The Lobby is taking place at all - the growing world-wide success of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. This is now seen by Israel as the principal strategic threat to its continuing domination over the Palestinian people. The frenetic and multi-headed activity of Israel’s friends, supporters and proxies revealed in these programmes is, paradoxically, a measure of BDS’s success. Israel can no longer afford to rely just on discreet words in sympathetic ears; it is mobilising on many levels. In the process, they run a greater risk of their slips showing.

For supporters of academic boycott, such as BRICUP, and of BDS as a whole, the revelations of The Lobby are both an education, and a motivator.
It is tempting, I'll agree
The plot

There is so much material in these programmes that I can only be selective. But I’ll give a fairly detailed rundown of what is in the first programme, and then get more selective.

In Episode 1 we see Robin swanning around in the milieu of Labour Friends of Israel, the Israel Britain Alliance (a Zionist Federation Project), BICOM, Sussex Friends of Israel, Jewish Labour Movement. He is under the wing of Shai Masot of the Israeli Embassy, an unimpressive but gregarious character, anxious to be popular. He is quite deeply embedded – claiming for example to know all 200 London-based members of the Young Fabians. And in fact he did organise a trip to Israel for the Young Fabians in 2015. As Masot says in conversation: “Delegation to Israel – always a good start”.
The subtlety of fragrant Rose's analysis leaves us speechless
The revelations come thick and fast. We meet a couple of NUS Vice-Presidents plotting against their President Malia Bouattia, who supports Palestine. (The Chair of Labour Students is in on the plot.) One of them, not I think Jewish, had been taken on an expenses-paid Union of Jewish Students trip to Israel. The Israeli Embassy actually funds UJS itself! A University College London pro-Israel student activist has set up the Pinsker Centre which channels funds from AIPAC to appropriate causes.

We eavesdrop on the summer barbecue of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM). We meet Ella Rose, who has been President of UJS, and has just been appointed Director of JLM. As she herself says, her CV didn’t have the most Labour Party experience among the candidates. But hey, what does that matter if you are applying from a staff position within the Israeli Embassy? (Later, unknowingly on camera, Rose boasts that with her martial arts training – from Israel – she could easily ‘take’ anti-racist campaigner Jackie Walker.)
Joan Ryan can't contain her glee at learning that she's won the Zionist jackpot
And then Masot invites Robin to chair the Young Labour Friends of Israel. It doesn’t exist – Robin’s job is to set it up. He is invited to apply for a job at the Embassy, first by Masot and then by its Head of Civil Affairs, who says his job would be to research the UK’s BDS movement.

What we get is a picture of a heady swirling mix of right-wing politics, ambition, wads of Israeli and US money, fake and shadow organisations, and over-weening self-confidence. Stirring the mix is an Israeli diplomat who isn’t even a diplomat.

Later episodes

We are really spoilt for choice. Episode 2 shows the famous JLM training session (on antisemitism!) at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool. This was the session at which Jackie Walker was set up, and secretly filmed so that an edited version of her interventions could present her in a bad light. It worked – she was ousted as vice-Chair of Momentum and suspended from Labour Party membership.

Shai Masot is on the scene at the conference, sometimes in convoy with Regev, or sitting hugger-mugger with him and the Chair of JLM Jeremy Newmark at a private meeting with pro-Israel supporters. (Regev says that people on the 3 left are very opposed to Israel “and probably antisemitic”.)

We share the delight of Joan Ryan MP, Chair of Labour Friends of Israel, when Masot tells her he has more than £1 million from Israel needed to fund trips to Israel by influential Labour MPs. We share her fury when a conference delegate persistently asks her how a 2-state solution can work – persistently because her interlocuter is dissatisfied with the non-answers she is getting. Ryan then persuades herself that the questioner has indulged in an antisemitic trope (about Jews working for banks – which we can see is Ryan’s own subconscious interpolation of material that wasn’t said). Ryan makes a complaint; the delegate is suspended from party membership.

Of course it isn’t only happening in and around the Labour Party. Masot seems to be best buddies with Maria Strizzolo, the young chief of staff to MP Robert Halfon, a Minister in the Government, and deputy chair of the Conservative Party at the time the recording happened. Simultaneously she is also a Westminster-based civil servant. Their highly indiscreet conversation is recorded as ever by Robin’s attentive camera. They talk about setting up a ‘City Friends of Israel’ for young finance professionals, with AIPAC’s assistance.

The crunch point, politically, is when she and Masot discuss the possibility of ‘taking down’ some non-compliant Tory MPs. As Strizzolo says “If you look hard enough, I’m sure there is something that they are trying to hide”. The one name that they put in the frame for this treatment is Sir Alan Duncan – certainly well known for showing more sympathy for the Palestinian predicament than most of his colleagues. But he was, and is, Deputy Foreign Minister! This small indiscretion has lost Maria Strizzolo both her jobs, and got Masot sent back to Israel in disgrace. The Foreign Affairs Select Committee is now investigating “How UK policy is influenced by other states and interested parties”.

Strategic Affairs

So that’s all right then? Well, not really. This is the tip of a rather large iceberg. Craig Murray has ferreted out of a reluctant Foreign Office the fact that Masot was supposed to be a member of the embassy’s ‘technical and administrative staff’, a grade well below the diplomatic salt. But as we see in the series, Masot is Ambassador Regev’s chosen travelling companion to the Labour Party conference – not really a technical and administrative duty. Evidently this is not all above board.

In fact Murray has examined the register of Israeli Embassy employees, and believes he has discovered what he calls ‘a large nest of Israeli spies’. It is, he says, “simply impossible” that the FCO would normally grant seventeen technical and administrative visas to support sixteen diplomats, when six of those sixteen are already support staff. So it seems that we have quite a bunch of supernumerary staff at the Embassy, up to something, and connived at by the UK government.

There is certainly some circumstantial evidence for this reading in Masot’s own biography, in so far as it is known. Until quite recently he was a major in the IDF. London was his first ‘diplomatic’ assignment, it was temporary, and he was not a regular member of the diplomatic service. The very credible suggestion has been made that his placement in London was the responsibility not of Israel’s Foreign Ministry but of its Ministry of Strategic Affairs. The MSA was set up in 2010 to counter Israel’s perceived ‘strategic threats’, principally the international BDS campaign. In the last year or two it has been on a spending spree for new ‘talent’, quite affordable from its $50 million budget. The new employees are “mostly former officers from Israel’s intelligence community”. All this fits Masot’s profile rather well. And then there is the fact that when the Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan visited London last September, Masot was among the Israeli officials he met.

No wonder, then, that Israel removed Masot from the UK at something approaching the speed of light, and that the FCO in an unseemly rush pronounced the matter satisfactorily closed. We must hope that the Foreign Affairs Select Committee will not so easily be deflected from its task.

The second scandal

In fact the fiasco of Masot’s incompetent machinations is only one, and perhaps the lesser, of two scandals. The other scandal is how this can have been going on, evidently for years, yet no British news organisation with the resources to do so thought it worth investigating. Why do we have to rely on Al-Jazeera to cleanse our stable? It is that overwhelming silence that shouts complicity.

There is one honourable exception to this charge sheet. In 2009 the respected right-wing journalist Peter Oborne made a television programme Inside Britain's Israel Lobby for the Dispatches series. He concentrated then on the Conservative Friends 4 of Israel (barely touched on in The Lobby), which the programme makers describe as "beyond doubt the most well- connected and probably the best funded of all Westminster lobbying groups". (The full text is available on line.)

Oborne is interviewed for comment on the Al-Jazeera programme, and is almost incandescent with indignation about the revelations of Israeli interference with UK political processes. But some of that rage should surely be diverted and redirected at our own media. In the USA the operations of big oil and the gun lobby in distorting the political agenda are well known and visible. This relative transparency doesn’t just happen – it needs an alert, vigilant media with the courage and freedom of its convictions.

The British media is a watch dog that hasn’t barked. It is as appropriate to ask why that is so, and perhaps more useful, than to fulminate about the iniquity of Israel’s ruthless pursuit of what it perceives to be its interests. Are the watchdog’s teeth rotten beyond repair? Is it muzzled? What are the mechanisms that have maintained this complaisant silence in the presence of a blatant affront to open democracy?

Postscript


























We left Conan Doyle’s dog in the stables waiting for Sherlock to sort out the mystery of its silence. But nowadays the government has adopted a problematic ‘definition’ of antisemitism, and the Anti-Antisemitic Tropes patrols are out in force. So I won’t draw any possible analogy. You’ll just have to read the story yourself.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Open Letter to Britain’s Only Green MP – Caroline Lucas

Don’t support the IHRA Definition of anti-Semitism that Conflates anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism


On Wednesday the European Parliament is going to debate a motion, ‘Combating anti-Semitism’ that includes support for the bogus International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism. 
Caroline Lucas MP supports a definition of anti-Semitism which brands BDS as 'anti-Semitic' thus proving that when they get near power, the Green Party jettisons its radicalism
I have sent a number of MEPs a letter asking that they oppose Clause C2 of the motion supporting the IHRA.  You can see my letter hereI am pleased to say that the Green group in the European parliament will be opposing the definition.  There is no doubt that the far-Right, Le Pen and co. will be only too happy to support the IHRA.  After all anti-Semitism and Zionism have always gone hand in hand and the IHRA definition has nothing to do with anti-Semitism and everything to do with supporting Israel.
Victor Orban, the racist Prime Minister of Hungary, who has villified and demonised asylum seekers at the same time as seeking to rehabilitate the anti-Semitic rulers of Hungary in the pre-war period, has no problems supporting the IHRA definition precisely because it has nothing whatsoever to do with opposing anti-Semitism.
On the picket line in Brighton but breaking the BDS picket line
I am therefore even more surprised to find that Britain’s only Green MP, Caroline Lucas, the MP for Brighton Pavilion, who has previously claimed to support the Palestinian cause, has signed up to support this bogus definition of anti-Semitism which the far-Right Zionist Campaign Against Anti-Semitism has campaigned for.  Already the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism has been used to stop Israel Apartheid Week at one university, has meant restrictions at Exeter University and UCL and has led to repeated attempts by Zionist organisations in this country to prevent speakers such as Jackie Walker and Tom Suarez speaking.

The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is a menace to freedom of speech and liberty.  In the wake of the Manchester bombing there are increasing attempts to curtail our liberty in the name of fighting terrorism.  I realise that being a Green means that you have no guiding compass politically.  Capitalism for most people in the Green Party is something that can be tamed and reformed.  It is this lack of basic political principles that can lead to someone like Lucas giving support to the Zionist attempt to clamp down on support for the Palestinians.


Jonathan Bartley - co leader of the Green Party - joined the rest of the panel in supporting the expulsion of Ken Livingstone for telling the truth about Nazi-Zionist relations - a particularly pathetic performance
Another example of Green cowardice was the performance of Lucas's co-leader Jonathan Bartley on Question Time earlier this year.  As the rest of the Establishment hacks lined up to call for Ken Livingstone's expulsion from the Labour Party for daring to tell the truth, Bartley demonstrated what a political pygmy he is when he joined the mob.

I hope that others in the Green Party will give Ms Lucas a hard time.  Like most Greens who get elected into positions of power, she has already become part of the British establishment.  In Germany Die Grunen when it formed a coalition with the SPD with Joshka Fischer as Foreign Minister, became the first German government to send troops into battle in a foreign country, Afghanistan.  Without any class politics the Greens are destined to drift politically as Caroline Lucas demonstrates.

Below is an Open Letter to Ms Lucas taking her to task over her support for this fake definition of anti-Semitism.

Tony Greenstein
Professor Daniel Blatman, a Holocaust researcher at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is according to the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, an anti-Semite


Caroline Lucas,
House of Commons
London SW1 1AA
Sunday 28th May 2017

Dear Caroline,

As you will be aware, following the Home Affairs Select Committee Report Antisemitism in the UK, Theresa May adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. This Report was widely considered as politically motivated, lacking any evidential base and a hatchet job on Jeremy Corbyn by Chuku Ummuna of the Labour Right and the Tory members of the Committee. The Committee had no terms of reference and it criticised a number of people from whom it had refused to take evidence.

This Wednesday the European Parliament will be debating a Motion on Combatting Antisemitism which also recommends adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. I am pleased to hear that the Green group in the European Parliament has decided to vote against it. 
I am therefore extremely surprised to hear from friends in the Green Party that you support this bogus and racist definition of anti-Semitism.  Racist because it proceeds from the basis that Zionism and Israel represents all Jewish people.

The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is another name for the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism which the Fundamental Rights Agency removed from its web site in 2013 because it conflated support for the Palestinians with anti-Semitism.  It has now been given a new lease of life. It deserves to be put back to sleep again, this time for good.

No one doubts the evils of anti-Semitism although the concentration on this form of racism to the exclusion of, for example, racism against Romanis or Islamaphobia, raises suspicions that the government’s real motive is to use peoples’ opposition to anti-Semitism to underpin its foreign policy alliances in the Middle East.

The IHRA, is an intergovernmental organisation consisting of 31 countries. It includes a number of countries which tolerate anti-Semitism, such as Poland under its far-Right Law and Justice government. Hungary’s government under Victor Orban, whose racist attitude to refugees needs no elaborating, is set on rehabilitating Admiral Horthy who presided over the deportation of some 430,000 Jews to Auschwitz between March 19th and July 9th 1944.  [The Reinterment and Political Rehabilitation of Mikl√≥s Horthy, Randolph Braham].  Orban though has had no difficulty signing up to the IHRA because like many anti-Semites he is ardently pro-Zionist.  That in itself should give you pause for thought.

The IHRA definition has nothing to do with opposing anti-Semitism. Its sole purpose is to conflate opposition to Zionism and the Apartheid State of Israel with anti-Semitism. Seven of its eleven examples of anti-Semitism mention the State of Israel. By identifying Jews with the actions of Israel, the IHRA is likely to increase not diminish anti-Semitism.

Brian Klug, when giving a talk What Do We Mean When We Say ‘Antisemitsm’? Echoes of shattering glass’ at the November 2014 International Conference at the Berlin Jewish Museum “Antisemitism in Europe Today: the Phenomena, the Conflicts” produced a definition of anti-Semitism in 21 words:  ‘antisemitism is a form of hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are.’  The IHRA definition needs 409 words, because its purpose is not to define anti-Semitism but to conflate anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism includes ‘Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel’.  Ironically that is the main purpose of the definition.
According to the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, this article in Israel's Ha'aretz paper is 'anti-Semitic'
The IHRA definition states: ‘Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis’ is anti-Semitic.  Presumably Professor Daniel Blatman, a Holocaust researcher and head of the Institute for Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem is also anti-Semitic for comparing the Nuremburg laws with the raft of racist laws targeting Israeli Arabs in Ha’aretz.  Heading Toward an Israeli Apartheid State.  Indeed Professor Blatman is doubly anti-Semitic because he also transgresses another IHRA example of ‘anti-Semitism’:  ‘claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.

Anyone who is seriously concerned about anti-Semitism and indeed any form of racism, should be determined to separate off Jewish people from the actions of Israel.  To associate Jews with the actions and policies of Israeli state, is to invite anti-Semitism. 

If calling out Israel as a racist endeavour is anti-Semitic, as the IHRA definition states, then we should be honest and admit that telling the truth can be anti-Semitic.

In a 2012 opinion survey 59 percent of Israeli Jews wanted preference for Jews over Arabs in admission to government jobs and 49 percent want the state to treat Jewish citizens better than Arabs. 42 percent don't want to live in the same building with Arabs and 42 percent don't want their children in the same class with Arab children. ‘Only’ a third wants a law barring Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset and 69 percent would oppose giving 2.5 million Palestinians the right to vote if Israel annexes the West Bank. In last year’s Pew Research Centres survey Israel’s Religiously Divided Society, a plurality of Israeli Jews, 48% supported the physical expulsion of Israel’s Arab citizens.
The prevalence of racism amongst Israeli Jews reflects the racist nature of the Israeli state.  There is nothing anti-Semitic in stating that openly.

The IHRA definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ is designed to keep the truth about Israel and Zionism under wraps. It has already been used in Britain to close down Israel Apartheid Week at the University of Central Lancashire and to prevent activities at other universities.  The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is already having a chilling effect on free speech. 

I would hope that you reconsider your support for this bogus definition of anti-Semitism. .
Yours sincerely,


Tony Greenstein 

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Israel, ‘The Only Democracy in the Middle East’ Set to Expel Derk Walters for ‘hostile and biased description’ of Hebron


 Derk Walters, a Dutch journalist working for NRC Handelsblad Facebook who is set to be expelled from Israel for critical coverage of the racist state
Derk Walters is being expelled by Israel for his hostile and critical reportage of Israel.  The pretext is visa problems. It is a logical culmination of a series of repressive laws such as those attacking human rights NGOs, refusing admission to Israel to supporters of BDS coupled with the refusal by Netanyahu to see the German Foreign Minister after he had agreed to see human rights organisations Btselem and Breaking the Silence.

This followed a tweet from Walters that Israeli Arabs can’t talk about boycotting Israel.  Ron Paz of the Government’s Press Office asked if the tweet could be construed as supporting BDS, commenting ‘I hope not’ which can be taken as a threat of deportation, since support for BDS in Israel is almost akin to a criminal offence.  Israel, just like South Africa, doesn’t take kindly to being boycotted though they are more than happy to impose a forcible boycott on Gaza.

Derk Walters works for the Netherland’s fourth largest newspaper, but that is no obstacle when it comes to Zionist attacks on freedom of the press.  This follows previous threats to the BBC if they didn’t behave, however the BBC quickly backtracked and changed its headlines.

Tony Greenstein

The Government Press Office says Derk Walters knowingly worked without an updated visa, but internal correspondence tells a different story

Ha’aretz, Ravit Hecht May 04, 2017  

Visa problems are Israel's pretext for getting rid of a critical journalist - Israeli democracy doesn't extend to hostile foreign press coverage as the BBC learnt 10 years ago
Israel is refusing to renew the visa of a Dutch journalist who has lambasted Israeli policy toward the Palestinians in the West Bank, though the Government Press Office says he knowingly worked without a visa extension or permit.

Derk Walters has criticized Israeli policy in the Netherlands’ fourth biggest newspaper, NRC Handelsblad, though the GPO, which operates out of the Prime Minister’s Office, denies that this the reason for his expulsion.

Last year, Walters criticized Israeli actions in Hebron in the West Bank and tweeted about boycotts as political action against Israel.

Walters has been reporting from Israel since 2014. In January 2016 he ran an article describing constant friction between the Palestinians and settlers in Hebron early in the wave of stabbing and car-ramming attacks against Israelis.

He wrote that because of collaboration between the Israeli army and settlers, the Palestinians did not believe that the Israeli army was actually acting against assailants. Instead, it was planting knives near the bodies of the dead.

On January 13, 2016, a day after a Walters article on Hebron ran, he received an email in English from Ron Paz, the GPO’s foreign press chief.

“I do not challenge you about the hostile and biased description of the reality in Hebron,” Paz wrote to Walters in the email obtained by Haaretz. “I don’t challenge you for not even mentioning that Hebron is the most radical religious Islamist city in the West Bank and that dozens of suicide attackers came from there in the past 3 months, triggering tighter security measures.”

Paz added that a Walters headline saying that 175,000 Palestinians in Hebron were captives of 600 Jewish settlers was anti-Semitic.

Paz particularly criticized what he called Walters’ “severe accusations” against the Israeli army, “including seemingly-quoting the IDF/security forces policy and actions, without asking for a comment from the IDF.” As Paz put it, this was “just unimaginable.”

NRC’s editor-in-chief, Peter Vandermeersch, responded to Paz, criticizing the Israeli’s email to Walters. Four days later, Walters came to the GPO in Jerusalem to pick up a press card. He says he not only did not receive one, he was assailed by complaints, especially about the Hebron article and his paper’s coverage of Israel in general. He says he only received a press card after the Dutch ambassador intervened.
Nitzan Chen, the head of the Government Press Office, 2016.Yitzhak Harari / Knesset
 On March 8, 2016, the GPO again contacted Walters, this time about a tweet. Walters quoted a Palestinian blogger who tweeted that “Boycott is legitimate political expression. It’s not less so just because used against Israel.”

Walters then added his own interpretation: Israeli Arabs cannot talk about boycotting Israel because they could be persecuted for it. Paz wrote to Walters asking if the tweet could be construed as supporting BDS. ‘I hope not,’ Paz wrote in an email.

Paz also wrote that retweeting an article from the left-wing website +972 Magazine raised “several questions, if I may point them out in the frame of our open and frank dialogue.” Paz wrote to Walters that “we do not think it is legitimate for journalists to take a stance in this highly controversial issue.” He wrote that such a tweet “gives the feeling of supporting the ideas in the articles.

Paz also asked, “If you merely quoted an opinion (although highly controversial) which is not your own, would you consider quoting/tweeting an intelligent well-put article which explains why singling out Israel for political boycott is the new form of anti-Semitism?” He added: “Palestinian Israelis’ is a problematic phrase in many people’s opinion.”

At the end of 2016, when the GPO rejected Walters’ request to renew his visa and press card, it cited as grounds that NRC is not a recognized media organization under the GPO’s standards because its editor-in-chief is a board member and thus it suffers conflicts of interest between its commercial and editorial sides. The GPO later withdrew that argument after the Dutch Embassy intervened.

GPO head Nitzan Chen suggested that Walters receive a visa and press card for three months, during which the newspaper could get organized as the GPO required. The paper took that to mean that the GPO wanted Walters to be expelled.

Walters says that based on his previous experience with the GPO, he decided not to answer that particular email; instead, he told his paper it should talk with the GPO, or the Dutch government should use diplomatic means as in the past.

In February this year, Walters received another email from Chen, saying that since he had not answered the email from December 2016, he had been working illegally without a permit since December 20. The GPO also demanded proof that he lived in Tel Aviv, as written in his visa application.

Paz accidentally attached to Chen’s letter internal correspondence in which Paz wrote about his proposed answer to Walters. This included references to making the other side sweat and leaving all options on the table including a U-turn, and letting the Foreign Ministry get involved.
The internal correspondence accidentally sent to Walters.
"They'll sweat here". The internal correspondence accidentally sent to Walters (Hebrew)
Paz said the need for Walters to prove his Tel Aviv residence was based on his knowledge that Walters had actually moved to East Jerusalem – he posted it on Facebook.

NRC says the correspondence between Paz and Chen increases suspicions that Walters and the paper are being harassed. The temporary permits given to Walters expire in July and, he says, the GPO told him that his permits would not be renewed.

In a letter published this week in Dutch, Vandermeersch, the NRC editor, wrote that there was no way to interpret this decision other than as an attempt to prevent the publication of articles critical of Israel. Vandermeersch wrote that strangely, the April 4 letter from the GPO did not mention the tenor of Walters’ reporting. The nature of his articles was never a factor in the Israelis’ decisions, which contradicts Israeli accusations that Walters was engaging in improper activism.

Vandermeersch also quoted from a GPO statement saying the office believed that Walters’ reports were professional and adhered to journalistic ethics. As a result, the way Israel was expelling its writer was a stain on a country that depicts itself as a nation of laws.

Meanwhile, NRC has quoted Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders as saying he regrets that Walters’ work permit has not been renewed. Journalists should write what they want under the rules of freedom of expression that apply in Israel too, Koenders said.

GPO: Walters broke the law

Chen, for his part, told Haaretz that Walters “wrote things connected with agitation and incitement but I don’t even want to go into those alleys. Mr. Walters broke the Israeli law in that, despite all our requests, he worked without a working permit. The offenses were committed intentionally, not by mistake. For example, he made a statement that I don’t want to say was perjury, but it was highly problematic – that he lives in Tel Aviv, while actually he was in East Jerusalem.”

As Chen put it, “We sent four or five reminders to renew his visa but he scorned the GPO at every level. Ron Paz called him and said, let’s arrange this, take a temporary visa. He wouldn’t hear of it. We don’t look into issues of content. That isn’t our arena. We look into whether he’s a journalist, not an activist or mercenary, for example, and whether the publication behind him meets the rules.”

NRC Handelsblad by Anonymous 2tNhW1B9 on Scribd 

Letter sent from Government Press Office to NRC Handelsblad

 On Paz’s claim that he had contacted Walters at least twice over the reporter’s comments in the paper and on Twitter, Chen said the office indeed considers the ethics and credibility of journalists, universal journalistic ethics, but the GPO never made a connection between Walters’ writing and work permits.

We are an administrative authority that just inspects. We don’t care if he waxes critical. There are examples of Al Jazeera writers in English and CBS being much more radical or influential,” Chen said.

“We never bundled the content aspect with the permits. Let them check if we ever denied a visa or press card to a journalist who wrote against Israel. Not only did we not impose gags, we give five-star service compared with any other media outfit, including to Al Jazeera and Al-Arabiya.”

In an English-language statement, the GPO added: “Unfortunately, both articles published by the Dutch paper NRC Handelsblad are tendentious, distorted and based on half-truths: the GPO has never conditioned its recommendation for work visas and press cards [on] the content published by one journalist or another. Nevertheless, when the GPO recognizes a substantial deviation from the facts and from universal journalist ethics, we request a clarification accordingly. This was the case of the article in question published by Mr. Derk Walters in Hebron in the beginning of 2016.

“The article’s headline, in which the reason for not extending the journalist’s visa beyond 3 months due to ‘activism,’ is an absolute lie, and the GPO has documents proving it. The article also claims that NRC requested the GPO’s response and did not get it − that is another lie. The GPO sent its response to the newspaper, and they did not bother publishing it.

“Mr. Derk Walters has violated Israeli law by working without a permit for months. According to NRC’s position, he did so with intent and not as negligence. Following information the GPO received regarding the NRC failing to comply with the rules, the GPO turned to the journalist and offered a 3 month renewal for his permit pending clarification. However, Mr. Walters and the paper chose to ignore the offer and immediately turned to diplomatic channels, during which time the journalist continued to work in Israel without a permit.

“Nevertheless, and beyond the letter of the law, after the GPO was satisfied with the NRC complying with the rules, the journalist was issued a 3 month work permit, and it was explained to the paper that it won’t be renewed due to the law violation above – to allow the paper time to send a replacing journalist which will receive permits by law.

“The GPO strongly rejects any suggestion that the material published in NRC had anything to do with the above. Hundreds of foreign journalists operate in Israel, some of which are critical to the state of Israel and its policies, yet the only one who decided to operate against the rules and regulations is NRC journalist Derk Walter[s]. Our decision is a direct consequence.”

The GPO concluded: “The State of Israel in general and the Government Press Office in particular champion freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The GPO does everything in its power to accommodate the media in Israel in all respects.”

In December, the GPO told Australian journalist Antony Loewenstein that his GPO card was “under review” after he challenged MK Yair Lapid at a press conference and a media watchdog blog charged that he was not a journalist, but “a prominent anti-Israel activist” and “a public supporter of the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement,” quoting public statements he made.

Ultimately, however, Loewenstein was permitted to keep his credentials and his visa until it expired in March. Given his plans to leave the country and return to Australia in May, the GPO agreed to allow him to remain in the country as a tourist until his departure, following lobbying on his behalf by the Foreign Press Association and others. 

Allison Kaplan Sommer contributed to this report

Friday, 26 May 2017

The MANCHESTER Bombing is the Price We Have Paid for Iraq and Libya

Trump and May Support Saudi Arabia’s Bombing of Civilians in Yemen and then Complain about Terrorism


When it comes to hypocrisy no-one can outdo the British press. Virtually the whole of the British press, with the exception of the Daily Mirror, supported Britain’s invasion of Iraq.  An invasion that killed up to 1 million civilians.

Today the US and Britain support, with all the modern weaponry that Saudi  money can buy, the murderous war of destruction in Yemen.  One in 3 Saudi air raids hits civilian sites.  Over 10,000 civilians have been murdered in circumstances no less tragic than what happened in Manchester.  Theresa May and Donald Trump, no less than Obama and Cameron before them, literally have blood on their hands, together of course with the Sun which then has the gall to talk about terrorism and ‘our way of life’. One in three Saudi air raids on Yemen hit civilian sites, data shows
Saudi Attack on Yemeni School
There were no terrorist groups in Iraq before the invasion.  There were no weapons of mass destruction either.  The only thing Iraq possessed was an abundance of oil and it was this that the United States was determined to lay its hands on.
The terrible aftermath of Manchester is a consequence of Blair, Cameron and May's war policy
After the invasion in 2003 Al-Qaeda in Iraq grew in leaps and bounds.  A few years later they changed their name to ISIS.  Thus began the growth of this monstrous death cult.  ISIS was a product of the bloody war that the United States and Blair’s New Labour imposed on Iraq.  Nor was it accidental.  When the Americans ran into heavy armed resistance in Iraq they did what all imperial powers do, they played the divide and rule card.  The US and Britain deliberately sowed the seeds of division between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims in order to shore up their own positions. 
The Scum Always Had a Problem with the Truth
Donald Trump today is still doing this.  He went a few days ago to Saudi Arabia to condemn the Iranian terror axis in the Middle East!  ISIS, Al Qaeda and the other Jihadi groups in Syria and Iraq are 100% Salafist Sunni groups.  Hezbollah, the main Shi’ite guerrilla group in the Lebanon, which is allied with Iran, has never exploded bombs in Western cities. Nor has Hamas, which is Sunni.  Both condemned Al Qaeda for its Charlie Hebdo murder yet they are called 'terrorists'  because they fight or have fought the terrorist regime in Tel Aviv.  
The SCUM has the gall to accuse Corbyn and McDonnell of having blood on their hands
The western press deliberately conflates organisations which fight a guerrilla war against Israel with organisations that butcher and murder anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their definition of the Islamic faith.
Was it any wonder that the Scum supported Tony Bliar?  That's what the Labour Right wants again
In reality ISIS are not motivated by Islam.  It is a flag of convenience.  Much fun was made of ISIS recruits in this country who bought Islam for Dummies before setting out on their Jihad.  Those who murdered and maimed in Brussels and France, almost without exception, were petty criminals who drank and led anything but a pious Islamic way of life.  Being a Muslim was a way of dignifying their alienation.
Lest we forget - the Sun attacked the one party leader, the late Charlie Kennedy, who opposed the Iraq War - under Nick Clegg the Lib-Dems became the pro-war party
Not content with what it had done in Iraq, Cameron and Clegg also decided to intervene in the Libyan civil war.  Despite Britain’s previously close relations with the Ghadaffi regime, we decided to repay old scores and support the Islamic opposition to his regime.  The consequences were predictable.  Once again Al-Qaeda, ISIS and various Jihadist groups thrived. Ghadaffi had warned of just such an outcome but we decided on another ‘humanitarian’ bombing campaign.
Germans reading the Nazi equivalent of The Sun - Der  Sturmer was also a semi-pornographic paper

The Sun Has the Blood of Manchester and 1 million dead Iraqis on Its Hands

On Tuesday the Sun came out with a headline accusing Jeremy Corbyn of having blood on his hands.  The irony is that it is the Sun which is covered in the blood of the innocents.

As the headlines displayed here should remind people, the Sun was the chief cheerleader for the illegal war in Iraq.  In Nazi Germany the editor of the Nazi newspaper, Der Sturmer, which did most to support Hitler’s wars of aggression and the attacks on the Jews, one Julius Streicher, was hanged at Nuremburg in 1946 for crimes against humanity.  Instead of being feted by Prime Ministers, Rupert Murdoch should also be treated as a war criminal.

The Sun’s reference was not to Manchester but Corbyn’s previous support of Sinn Fein and the Republican movement.  It is to be hoped that Corbyn does not duck the challenge.  Jeremy Corbyn did indeed support the fight of the Catholic people of Northern Ireland for justice and a United Ireland.
The Sun of course never acknowledges its own mistakes - it assumes that its readers are idiots (probably true!) and have no memory
People forget that up to the imposition of Direct Rule in 1972, Northern Ireland had been a Protestant supremacist police state (much like Israel and South Africa).  If you were a Catholic you couldn’t get a job in the civil service or decent housing.  Discrimination was institutionalised in a state which the former Prime Minister, Lord Brookeborough described as a Protestant state, which it was.  Northern Ireland was created in 1921 after the all-Ireland elections in 1918 had produced a Sinn Fein majority.  This was unacceptable to the Tories allies amongst the Unionists who threatened to use force to reverse the results of the election.  Thus began Ireland’s war of independence.

When in 1969 the Catholics launched a civil rights movement they were viciously attacked by the B-Specials and Protestant supremacists at the Battle of Burntollet.  It was the ‘spark that lit the prairie fire’ i.e. the Troubles.  The Catholic ghetto of the Bogside in Derry was attacked in a two day battle by the RUC and B-Specials (a paramilitary police force).  A civil rights march in Derry was attacked by the RUC.  This was the beginning of ‘The Troubles’.  To those who want a greater understanding than that provided by the Sun then The Troubles in Derry article provides a starter.  It was only when Britain accepted that the North of Ireland could no longer be a Protestant supremacist state that a peace accord was possible.
Lest we forget - the Sun invited people to cut out their dartboard filled with anti-war targets
The IRA fought a war with the British.  Undoubtedly they, like the British Army, killed many innocent civilians.  That is always the consequence of war.  Britain and the US call it 'collateral damage'.  However the IRA killed far fewer civilians than the British army in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere.  

21 years ago the IRA exploded a massive 1500 Kg bomb in Manchester city centre.   It devastated the heart of Manchester yet not one person was killed.  The reason?  They gave a 90 minute warning.  On occasions elsewhere, not least Birmingham, when warnings went astray or weren’t heeded, people did get killed, however the IRA never deliberately murdered civilians.  Protestant paramilitary groups like the UDA and UVF, which the British Army and its secretive Forces Research Unit infiltrated with agents, deliberately targeted Catholic civilians.

That is one of the major differences between the IRA bombing campaign and that of ISIS and the US military.  The latter two don't give warnings when they bomb people.

It was also the case that the IRA and Sinn Fein had and continue to have massive support in the Catholic ghettos of Northern Ireland.  The fact that the majority group amongst Catholics in Northern Ireland is Sinn Fein not the SDLP is proof of that.  ISIS by contrast has to terrorise the inhabitants of the areas it controls.

In the article below, Patrick Coburn exposes the hypocrisy of the British political establishment and Theresa May.  Saudi Arabia's Wahabist regime and Qatar have sponsored, armed and funded ISIS, Al-Qaeda and a host of Jihadist groups in Syria and Libya.  The regime in Saudi Arabia, under King Ibn Saud, was armed and funded by the British in the wake of the first world war.  We have continued, with the United States, to support them ever since, for the simple reason that this most austere and barbaric version of Islam is ideal to keep the population of Saudi Arabia cowed.  What better way of legitimising repression and coercion than religion?  For us to condemn the head choppers of ISIS when we support the head choppers of Saudi Arabia is the kind of hypocrisy for British imperialism was long renowned.

Tony Greenstein

In the wake of the massacre in Manchester, people rightly warn against blaming the entire Muslim community in Britain and the world. Certainly one of the aims of those who carry out such atrocities is to provoke the communal punishment of all Muslims, thereby alienating a portion of them who will then become open to recruitment by Isis and al-Qaeda clones.

This approach of not blaming Muslims in general but targeting “radicalisation” or simply “evil” may appear sensible and moderate, but in practice it makes the motivation of the killers in Manchester or the Bataclan theatre in Paris in 2015 appear vaguer and less identifiable than it really is. Such generalities have the unfortunate effect of preventing people pointing an accusing finger at the variant of Islam which certainly is responsible for preparing the soil for the beliefs and actions likely to have inspired the suicide bomber Salman Abedi.

The ultimate inspiration for such people is Wahhabism, the puritanical, fanatical and regressive type of Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia, whose ideology is close to that of al-Qaeda and Isis. This is an exclusive creed, intolerant of all who disagree with it such as secular liberals, members of other Muslim communities such as the Shia or women resisting their chattel-like status.

A further sign of the Salafi-jihadi impact is the choice of targets: the attacks on the Bataclan theatre in Paris in 2015, a gay night club in Florida in 2016 and the Manchester Arena this week have one thing in common. They were all frequented by young people enjoying entertainment and a lifestyle which made them an Isis or al-Qaeda target. But these are also events where the mixing of men and women or the very presence of gay people is denounced by puritan Wahhabis and Salafi jihadis alike. They both live in a cultural environment in which the demonisation of such people and activities is the norm, though their response may differ.

The culpability of Western governments for terrorist attacks on their own citizens is glaring but is seldom even referred to. Leaders want to have a political and commercial alliance with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf oil states. They have never held them to account for supporting a repressive and sectarian ideology which is likely to have inspired Salman Abedi. Details of his motivation may be lacking, but the target of his attack and the method of his death is classic al-Qaeda and Isis in its mode of operating.

The reason these two demonic organisations were able to survive and expand despite the billions – perhaps trillions – of dollars spent on “the war on terror” after 9/11 is that those responsible for stopping them deliberately missed the target and have gone on doing so. After 9/11, President Bush portrayed Iraq not Saudi Arabia as the enemy; in a re-run of history President Trump is ludicrously accusing Iran of being the source of most terrorism in the Middle East. This is the real 9/11 conspiracy, beloved of crackpots worldwide, but there is nothing secret about the deliberate blindness of British and American governments to the source of the beliefs that has inspired the massacres of which Manchester is only the latest – and certainly not the last – horrible example.

The attack on Manchester Arena – and those on the Bataclan and the Pulse nightclub before it – can trace their roots to the Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia. The UK and US governments just won’t admit it.