zionism

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Where Are All These Communists the Tories Claim Are Threatening Britain?

Okay, I might be a bit slow here, but I am starting to wonder what planet Nigel Farage, Priti Patel and the Tory party and press are on when they start screaming that British society is under threat from a resurgent, but covert Marxism? About a week or so ago now Zelo Street posted a piece about the McCarthyism that now seemed set to grip the nation. The smirking, odious, racist Priti Patel had announced that MI5 were looking into renewed threats from the Fascist far right and the Marxist left. According to her, the Socialist Party, or the Socialist Workers’ Party as it used to be known, might be infiltrating Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion. Yup, as in the days of the Cold War, the Commies and Trots are at it again, trying to infiltrate other left-wing groups and take them over.

In fairness, this was a tactic of the Socialist Workers Party, which practised something called ‘revolutionary entryism’. The idea was to infiltrate other left-wing organisations and try to turn them into front organisations for the party in an attempt to make Trotskyite Marxism something like a popular mass movement. They did it in the 1970s/80s to Rock Against Racism, which had been set up to challenge the rise of the NF, BNP and other Fascist scumbags. All that it achieved, however, was the collapse of the organisation as the majority of its membership left. They weren’t interested in Trotskyite Marxism. They simply wanted to hear some great bands while combating Fascism and racial hatred. It’s because of its antics attempting to infiltrate and take over every vaguely left-wing organisation, or capitalise on every left-wing issue at the expense of other organisations, that many on the left, from the moderate, reformist Labour Party to various anarchist groups, don’t trust the SWP.

Besides this is the fact that Black Lives Matter, or at least its American parent, is already a Marxist organisation. If the Socialist Workers were trying to infiltrate it, it would be a case of one Marxist group trying to take over another. It’s possible, but seems unlikely. It sounds like something from the Illuminatus! books by Robert Anton Wilson and O’Shea, about warring secret societies plotting against and trying to infiltrate each other.

As for Extinction Rebellion, from what little I’ve seen of its broader political content – and this comes from idly looking at one of the organisation’s posters put up on a wall while waiting for a taxi – it does seem to be a radical left organisation. It’s very anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-capitalist. But it seems to me that this comes from the very radical programme adopted by parts of the Green movement. When it first emerged in the 1980s or so, the German Green Party – Die Gruenen – included as one of its leading members the lawyer for the Bader-Meinhof gang. There’s a section of the anarchist movement that is also very ecologically aware. The American anarchist intellectual, Murray Bookchin, was advocating a green, eco-friendly anarchism back in the 1980s and in the 1990s there was a British anarchist mag called Green Anarchist, I believe. You don’t need to invoke the Trotskyites of the SWP to explain Extinction Rebellion’s socially radical, anti-capitalist programme.

Would the SWP be interested in infiltrating Extinction Rebellion? I don’t know. Possibly. But they aren’t nearly as strong as they were. I think Marxism as a whole suffered a loss of credibility with the fall of Communism, which might be why radical anti-capitalists seemed to switch to anarchism or else an undefined ‘anti-capitalism’ that could take in a range of socialist and radical left views. The Socialist Workers, now renamed as the Socialist Party, are still about. You can find their videos on YouTube. But even before the lockdown they didn’t seem to be the visible presence on the streets they used to be.

The Tories and their press need to scare people with a threat from the radical left. I remember that in the late ’80s and ’90s they switched from trying to frighten people with the bogeyman of Communist infiltration – although they’d done that with the Labour Party in the 1987 election – to anarchism with the rise of Class War. Now that Class War has also gone the way of many radical movements and fizzled out, the Tories in Britain and the Republicans in America have turned once again to invoking the spectre of Communism.

And because of the very anti-racist, anti-sexist, pro-LGBTQ+ policies adopted by some universities, they’re now trying to claim that western education is under threat from Marxist infiltration. Nigel Farage apparently was in the pages of the Depress a few days ago, writing that the Marxist takeover of our education system was nearly complete. Really? I must have missed all that. There are Marxists in the universities, and have been for a very long time. And some of them are excellent scholars. I got a feeling that Vere Gordon Childe, the Australian archaeologist who first devised the notion of the Neolithic Revolution – the idea that agriculture and the rise of the first settled societies were linked and constituted a radical break with the hunter-gatherer societies of the Paleo- and Mesolithic – was a Communist. He was, however, a brilliant archaeologist and highly influential, even if recent excavations in Turkey have demonstrated that people were settling down into villages before the invention of agriculture. And yes, there are and have always been academics with very pronounced left-wing views. I can think of a number from my own experience as a student. But many others, probably the vast majority, aren’t. And some academics, who privately hold left-wing views, are very careful to keep them separate from their teaching. And whatever their political views, I think the main concern of all teaching staff, from university academics to school teachers, is simply to teach, not to indoctrinate students.

In any case, there are laws against political or religious indoctrination anyway. I think it was introduced by Blair. Teachers are not supposed to teach their political or religious opinions as fact. They are to avoid this as much as possible. If they can’t, then they are supposed to make clear that this is just their opinion. This legislation has been around since at least the middle of the last decade, if not earlier. It should provide sufficient protection already from attempts by the politically motivated to indoctrinate their students.

All these claims of a surreptitious takeover of the education system by Marxists seems to be a return to the days of Maggie Thatcher, when rags like the Depress, the Heil and the local paper for Bristol, the Evening Post, ran stories about Communist teachers indoctrinating their students. The Scum attempted to titillate and scare its readers with a tale about children in various London boroughs – possibly Brent – being taught to sing ‘Ba Ba Green Sheep’ as an anti-racist version of ‘Ba Ba Black Sheep’. This is supposed to have been invented by the wretched rag, but I’ve talked to people, who’ve claimed that it was done in their former school, so who knows? At the same time, I’ve heard that Thatcher also introduced legislation with the intention of purging Marxists from the education system. In fact the Marxists got round it by claiming to be ‘Marxian’. They were only Marxists in culture. It was a fine distinction, but it allowed them to retain their jobs.

But apart from this, university is supposed to be a place for the formulation and discussion of a wide range of views. A vital part of the university experience is the exposure to different opinions and encouragement to form their own views. The current scaremongering about the Marxists trying to takeover the education system is the opposite of this. It’s an attempt to limit free speech and discussion, as Zelo Street pointed out, only the approved Tory views will be heard. Hence the appointment of a ‘free speech tsar’.

Now I will concede that some student bodies are intolerant with protests against talks by visiting personalities they believe hold unacceptable views. Gender critical feminists and their allies, for example, have found themselves blocked from speaking at some universities because their views are held to be bigoted against the transgendered. But there’s also a cancel culture on the right. The estimable Tony Greenstein put up a piece last week about attempts by the Board of Deputies and Bristol University’s Union of Jewish Students to have one of the lecturers, David Miller, banned as an anti-Semite. This is not because of anything Miller has said against Jews. His cardinal sin is saying that Zionism must be destroyed. As we’ve seen, the Board and the other, establishment Jewish organisations are fanatically pro-Israel and conflate opposition to that nation, or simply criticism of its barbaric treatment of the indigenous Palestinians, with real Jew hatred. But Zionism has never been synonymous with Judaism. For many Jews, it’s diametrically opposed, as the graffiti on a wall in Jerusalem had it. Zionism is an ideology, not a people. Stating that Zionism needs to be destroyed is a contentious viewpoint, but it does not mean that the speaker wishes harm to the Jewish people.

Who is the free speech tsar, who will defend lecturers like David Miller? I think it would be a very brave politician who would risk damaging his or her career by doing so in the present political climate. Even if they had the inclination to do so, which the political establishment doesn’t.

I do find some of the radical policies now being implemented in some universities alarming, like the reports that students in some places of learning will be required to take compulsory anti-racism training in order to combat anti-Black racism on campus. It’s obviously very well intentioned, but as I’ve said, racism really isn’t simply a case of White on Black, and I am afraid such mandatory courses are based on a very simplistic view of Whites that sees White culture as innately racist, or inclined to racism. But I see absolutely no evidence that Marxists are behind it.

All this nonsense by Patel and the Tory press about Marxist infiltration is just another Red Scare in order to whip up support for legislation designed to purge the universities of anything that contradicts received Tory ideology. They are trying to destroy free speech, not defend it, and the appointment of a ‘free speech tsar’ is in many ways dangerous and hypocritical.

For further information, see:

Zelo Street: Free Speech Champion WON’T BE (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Zelo Street: War On Woke = Government Censorship (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Defend Bristol University’s Professor David Miller – Defend Academic Freedom – Defend Free Speech – Tony Greenstein

If you wish to defend Dr Miller from these outrageous allegations, you can sign a petition at Change.org here, as I have done.

http://chng.it/rTqY9r2FgM

Celebrity Supporters of Tracy Anne Oberman Bully Another Ordinary Woman Off Twitter

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/02/2021 - 7:24am in

It seems Riley and her lawyers aren’t the only people this week determined to show themselves in a bad light. Her friend and mucker, Tracy Anne Oberman, also caused another storm on Twitter this week in which she accused an ordinary member of the public of anti-Semitism, which resulted in a dogpile by her fans and supporters and her victim forced off the social network.

The woman, ‘Caroline’, had offended Oberman’s delicate sensibilities by posting that she’d been enjoying Russel T. Davies’ drama about the 1980s AIDS crisis right up until the moment Oberman appeared. This soured her experience, and she was trying to forget Oberman.

Oberman decided that the reason Caroline didn’t like her was simple: anti-Semitism. She therefore went on the offensive – and I have to say, I find her very offensive – and rhetorically asked the poor woman if she wasn’t the type of bigot Davies was talking about in his drama. She also hashtagged a number of organisations, including the Community Security Trust, a Zionist paramilitary vigilante police organisation, Labour Against Anti-Semitism, one of the organisations in the Labour party behind the anti-Semitism smears and witch-hunt, and the Labour party. Because Caroline’s picture also showed, apparently, a Labour party membership card. Stephen Pollard, the appallingly right-wing editor of the Jewish Chronicle, a newspaper with a proud history behind it, also jumped in to defend Oberman. And more people joined the dogpile.

Others, however, realised what was going on, thought better of their involvement, backed out and made their apologies. Daniel Mays, who had previously posted in support of the actor, deleted his tweet. Janey Godley also backed down, tweeting ‘Am horrified she’s being piled on, it seems unnecessary – I apologise‘. Another poster, Dileep Rao, who had posted that people like Caroline should be dragged through the street, also recanted, tweeting “I was wrong to write this. I apologize. Without reservation. It was absurdly out of proportion … It was just dumb”.

It needs to be noted, because from this it appears that some people are incapable of doing so themselves, that Caroline had made no mention of Jews whatsoever. There is zero anti-Semitism in her tweet. She just says she can’t stand Tracy-Anne Oberman. The idea that Caroline was somehow doing so out of anti-Semitism is simply Oberman’s own construction. In fact there are many reasons somebody might dislike a particular celebrity that have nothing whatsoever to do with their race or religion. In the case of Oberman and Riley, one reason might be the way they freely make false accusations of anti-Semitism towards anyone on the left. As when one of the two called the Durham miners’ band at their annual gala the other year ‘Nazis’ because they were trade unionists, who ended their gala, as they’d always done, by playing Hava Nagila.

Oberman has form when it comes to playing the victim. A few years ago she claimed in another twitter spat that she was particularly vulnerable because she was ‘a jobbing actress’. Hah! I know jobbing thesps, and that is one thing that Oberman is not. Genuine jobbing actors work damned hard just to get a part in an advert or as an extra on a TV comedy or drama. Oberman is extremely fortunate in that it seems that she is never short of work. Not only has she turned up on It’s A Sin, but it wasn’t that long ago that her fizzog appeared as Pike’s mother in the remake of the three lost Dad’s Army episodes. She’s a member of the metropolitan smart set. My guess is that, despite the job being extremely precarious, it’s been a long time since Oberman had to be seriously worried about getting work.

She isn’t a victim. She’s the victimiser. And she is able to get away with the dogpile and bullying because Mrs Justice Collins Rice has ruled in Mike’s case that Rachel Riley was not responsible for her fans’ and supporters’ behaviour when they went into a similar dogpile against a schoolgirl Riley and Oberman had accused of anti-Semitism, because she supported Jeremy Corbyn. Mike has appealed against that ruling, and points out in his piece about this squalid incident that the ruling undermines the right to freedom of expression, and contradicts the intention of the Online Harms Act, which is due to come in making such dogpiles a criminal offence.

Oberman’s own willingness to throw around gratuitous accusations of anti-Semitism could also seem a mite hypocritical, considering there’s a hint of racism around two of her own tweets. One of these was a reply to a tweet by Liz Hurley expressing her delight at Ping Pong talking. Oberman responded by asking if Ping Pong was the Thai help. No, it was her parrot. And joking about east Asians having names like it has had serious consequences for others in the political sphere. Remember the local UKIP activist who managed to torpedo her political career in a Beeb documentary by referring to another Kipper of east Asian heritage as a ‘Ting Tong’.

The second is a tasteless reply she made to David Quantick. He’d tweeted that ‘we are all pretend Muslims now. Except the real Muslims’. To this Oberman gave the classy response ‘I’ll take your clitoris off for that comment.’ Female Genital Mutilation is a very serious issue, and while Oberman obviously felt it was a suitable subject for a joke, I know other women who very much don’t. It seems to me that, if a man had made this comment to a woman, even as a jest, she’d still be entirely justified in considering it misogynistic. As it is, in my opinion, it’s islamophobic. The practise isn’t confined to Islam, but is found in a number of cultures across the world and I was told by my lecturer when I took Islam as part of my minor in Religious Studies over thirty years ago that female circumcision was something that had entered Islam from pre-Islamic cultures as the religion had expanded.

Mike is appealing against the profoundly mistaken ruling of Mrs Justice Collins, and welcomes all donations to crowdfunding campaign to defend himself. Believe me, he really appreciates all the support people have given him.

As for Oberman, it seems to me that she is just a rich, privileged bully. And the fact that people, who initially joined in the dogpile against Caroline then withdrew, deleted their tweets and apologised, shows that some people at least are starting to share that opinion. She should be careful. If she carries on like this, she’ll start losing even more supporters.

Who knows – they might also join the ranks of people, who can’t stand this ‘jobbing actress’ on the box.

For further information, see

Why did ‘celebrity’ Twitter users force suspension of ordinary woman? Because they could | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

Zelo Street: Tracy Ann Oberman’s Faux Victimhood (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Bristol South Labour Party Passes Motion of Solidarity with Indian Farmers

Bristol South CLP held its monthly meeting last Thursday, and passed a number of motions. Due to the Coronavirus, these are now held over Zoom, like many meetings up and down the country generally. A number of motions were debated and passed during the meeting, one of which was solidarity with the Indian farmers. Explaining the issues was a guest speaker, Dal Singh, from the Sikh community. According to Mr Singh, the central issue is the poverty caused by the BJP’s government’s privatisation of the state purchasing apparatus for agricultural goods. The Indian government had a state organisation that bought up the farmer’s produce, giving them a fair price. But now Modi is handing this process over to private entrepreneurs, who are paying starvation prices for the produce purchased. Singh said that as a result, the farmers are going to be in debt for the rest of their lives. The farmers affected and involved in the protests aren’t all Sikhs, but Sikhs form a majority of those affected. When asked what the attitude of the Sikh community was to it, Mr Singh seemed to indicate that they were more or less resigned to it. He called it a ‘genocide’ several times, and said that Sikhs regarded it as part of the long history of their people’s suffering going back to the horrors of the partition of India and the British occupation of the Punjab. He also described how the police and armed forces were being used by the Modi government to brutalize protesters and muzzle the press, with the arrest and beating of journalists covering the protests. As well as explaining the situation, Mr Singh also gave details of charities to which people could donate to help the affected farmers, though I’m afraid I’ve forgotten what they were.

I had absolutely no problem supporting the motion. Socialists are internationalists, as the Style Council song reminds us, and we have to stand in solidarity with working people around the world. ‘Workingmen of all countries, unite!’ as Marx and Engels said in their little Manifesto. I am very pleased that others agreed, and that the motion was passed.

Someone at the meeting commented that the Indian farmers were yet more victims of Neoliberalism. Absolutely. Around the world, working people are being pushed further and further into poverty as wages are slashed, hours increased, rights at work taken away, industries privatised and deregulated. The book Falling Off the Edge, which is a critical examination of this process, the poverty it’s causing, and the violence and terrorism that it engenders as a backlash, describes very clearly how its affecting the average Indian worker. And this poverty is the creation of Modi’s BJP Hindufascist government.

Hindufascist? Yes, absolutely. The BJP is a nationalist organisation, which actively persecutes non-Hindus like Christians, Sikhs and Muslims. One of Modi’s fellow BJP politicos was the governor of a province, which took absolutely no action when pogroms broke out against the Muslim population back in the 1990s. The BJP also have connections to the RSSS, a Hindu nationalist paramilitary outfit modelled on Mussolini’s Fascists. Not only has the BJP followed the standard Neoliberal policies of privatisation, deregulation and low wages, they’ve also been trying to abolish the affirmative action programmes intended to improve the conditions of the Dalits, the former ‘Untouchables’. Debt slavery was one of the forms of exploitation and servitude that afflicted many Indians, and Mr Singh’s comment that Modi’s privatisation will mean that farmers will not be able to get out of debt certainly makes you wonder if the scumbag is actively trying to bring it back.

It’s not only non-Hindus and the lower castes Modi is persecuting. The BJP, or at least parts of it, have a real, bitter hatred of Gandhi and his influence on Hinduism, because he preached tolerance and the inclusion of the Muslims rather than turning India into a Hindu state. The party also actively persecutes liberal Indian journalists and writers. Tony Greenstein, the long term campaigner against Zionism, racism and Fascism, has also rightly criticised Labour party leader Keir Starmer for supporting Modi. Yes, I know – India is now a global powerhouse. Yes, it’s a vital trade partner with this country. But the country’s prosperity should not come through the exploitation of its working people. Just like ours shouldn’t. But this seems lost on Starmer and the rest of the Blairites.

I am very glad, however, that my local Labour party has made this gesture of support for the Indian farmers, and hope this will give them strength in their struggle with a Fascistic, exploitative government.

Facebook, the ADL and the Brewing Battle to Label Zionism as Hate Speech

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/02/2021 - 4:32am in

The Biden administration is opening a new child prison along the United States-Mexico border. The center, located in Carrizo Springs, around 100 miles southwest of San Antonio, is being specifically built for unaccompanied migrant children attempting to cross the border and will hold around 700 people when finished, although plans noted it will be expanded if the government deems it necessary.

Words are perceived in different ways by different people. That’s the nature of human communication and no matter how widely-adopted our alphabets become or how standardized our dictionaries get, we will never eliminate the personal history that gives context to what we hear and what we say.

This is the fatal flaw in the never-ending efforts by social media companies to mold inviolable definitions for the words we choose to employ when expressing ourselves on their platforms. It places them in the position to please everybody, which we all know is a fool’s errand. On the other hand, establishing rigid meanings can also be used to manipulate the message.

Zionism is one word, in particular, that evokes intense and passionate debate as all ideologies do. But, now the term is coming under scrutiny after an “innocuous” email shed light on Facebook’s response to concerted action by a powerful Jewish rights group that led to new community guidelines curbing so-called “hate speech.”

Facebook Leaked email about Zionism

A November 10 internal Facebook email first published by “The Verge”

The leaked email brought attention to a discussion ostensibly taking place inside the multi-billion-dollar company to design its censorship algorithms and moderator criteria according to the wishes of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL); posing the question of whether moderators should interpret the word as a slur against Jewish people, in general, or just Israelis.

 

The two flanks

A petition began circulating in the wake of the email’s publication in November soliciting Facebook to put a stop to any attempts to moderate the word ‘Zionist’ on its platform, arguing that it “would too easily mischaracterize conversations about Zionists – and by extension, Zionism – as inherently anti-Semitic [sic].”

The petitioners, led by the nonprofit Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP), also point out the inescapable loop that results when we attempt to regulate definitions by ignoring context, highlighting the fact that many white supremacists and Evangelical Christians support Zionism.

According to its website, JVP’s mission revolves around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and supports “an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.” Under the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which amended federal civil rights law in the United States by making the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism part of the U.S. code, JVP could be considered an anti-Semitic organization, since it could potentially be accused of de-legitimizing Israel or targeting Israel “only for peace or human rights investigations.”

Reportedly, the ADL had initially opposed the bill and expressed as much to legislators going so far as to arrange “private sit-downs” with Congress members to lay out their case against adopting this definition in questions of civil rights law. However, just a year into his tenure as ADL CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt stepped in and put the kibosh on any objection to the bill.

Fast forward to 2021 and Greenblatt is leading a crusade to have the IHRA definition installed on the most popular social media platform, with which it has already been collaborating closely on several content censorship initiatives.

 

Flat worders

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) led a coalition of 1,000 companies to flex their collective muscle and boycott the social media giant’s ad business. “When Mark Zuckerberg said he would allow Holocaust denial on his platform” the ADL determined that it was time to take a more hardball approach to remove what Greenblatt calls “some of the worst elements of society” from the popular website.

Facebook reacted quickly to the July 2020 boycott. A month later, Zuckerberg himself had already made plans to meet with the organizers and announced changes to the site’s community guidelines that, according to him, had been based on “feedback from the civil rights community.” Four days before Facebook caved to their demands, the organizers went in for the kill in a letter asking the social media company to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism; effectively bringing Facebook into alignment with official state policy.

Facebook Antisemitism Letter

A cadre of pro-Israel organizations sent an open letter asking Facebook to adopt the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism

ADL’s push to force the company to implement the changes to its moderating policies was aided by the histrionics of Sacha Baron Cohen, who has made his name defaming other cultures through films like Borat, comparing Zuckerberg to a “restaurateur gladly serving neo-Nazis”. The associate director of the ADL’s Center for Technology and Society Daniel Kelley, meanwhile, blasted Facebook for “putting revenue above all else” and signaled that as a raison d’être for the boycott.

The hypocrisy may not have been evident to Kelley since he was perhaps unaware of why his boss had actually started on his campaign to make the IHRA definition a part of Facebook moderation policies. According to a former member of the ADL’s Civil Rights Division, Greenblatt’s “stand down” order on the staff members and executives who were advising against the definition’s adoption in 2016 was the result of a donor who “was mad at us.”

Former ADL employees identified the donor as Marc Rowan, a private equity billionaire who had partnered with Senator Harry Reid in 2012 to bring forward a bill to expand the definition of anti-Semitism and, which led directly to the introduction of the Anti-Semitism Awareness bill of 2016.

 

What’s in a Name

The ADL’s penchant for using civil liberties rhetoric to protect Zionist ideology in the United States is not as well-known as it should be. Since its inception, the Jewish non-governmental organization has engaged in the subversion of black resistance movements in America in order to set the parameters of acceptable critique of the apartheid state and has not shied away from turning public opinion against minority groups to advance the agenda, as it did with the Ilhan Omar anti-Semitism scandal two years ago.

The Facebook “Zionist” debate is yet another chapter in a strategy of polarization, that the organization has employed time and again to sow division where there might be any threat of consensus over the atrocities committed by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people. After all, it doesn’t matter what you call the act of killing a child in front of his home. There is no moderator or algorithm in the world that can hide such deeds.

Feature photo | Shutterstock

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post Facebook, the ADL and the Brewing Battle to Label Zionism as Hate Speech appeared first on MintPress News.

Beeb Documentary Next Week on American Evangelical Christian Support for Israel

Also on TV next Wednesday, 19th January 2021, at 9.00 pm in the evening, is a programme on BBC 4 on the support for Israel amongst American Evangelical Christians and their influence on Donald Trump’s administration, ‘Til Kingdom Come: Trump, Faith and Money. The blurb for this on page 89 of the Radio Times runs

Documentary exploring the relationship between American evangelicals and Israel’s foremost philanthropic institution, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, and its influence on both nations’ foreign policies.

There’s an additional few paragraphs about the programme by Jack Searle on page 87, which states

This seems at first to be telling a small, local story: we’re in woodland in Kentucky, where a man loading an assault rifle in preparation for some target practice explains how Donald Trump, he feels, spoke up for ordinary folk like him. But he isn’t just a regular Republican voter. He’s an evangelical pastor whose calling in life is to raise money for Israel.

Maya Zinshtein’s film explores the global significance of US Christians, who believe Israel is the key to the Second Coming, and ow that partly explains Trump’s highly controversial relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem. It forms a spiky fable about what happens when politics and rigid religious dogma interact.

Apocalypticism and the desire to hasten Christ’s return has been a very important strand in Christian Zionism since the 19th century. Historians and activists critical of Israel and its barbarous treatment of the Palestinians, like Ilan Pappe and Tony Greenstein, have pointed out that Zionism first emerged amongst Christians in the 19th century. They wished to see the Jews return to Israel in order to fulfil, as they saw it, the prophecies in the Book of Revelation. Support for Israel in America is now strongest amongst Christian evangelicals. The largest Zionist organisation in America by sheer numbers of members is Ted Hagee’s Christians United for Israel. Jewish support for Israel is waning, especially among the young. American Jews were like their European coreligionists before the rise of the Nazis. They wished to stay in the countries in which they were born, and this attitude continued at least up to 1969. One of the Jewish magazines ran an article that year lamenting the lack of interest in Israel among Jewish Americans. The Neo-Conservative movement, founded by William Krystol, had its origins as an attempt to raise support for Israel amongst Americans. Young Jewish Americans are increasingly losing interest in Israel or actually becoming opposed to it, because of its treatment of its indigenous Arab population. The numbers of school leavers taking up the heritage tours of the country, sponsored by the Israel state as a way of gaining their support, is falling. Many Jewish young people have joined the BDS movement against goods produced in the occupied territories. As a result, Israel is shifting its efforts to muster support to American Christians.

I do wonder how many of those evangelical Christians would still be vocal in their support for Israel, if they knew that Israel pulls down monasteries and churches as well as mosques and that some of the extreme right-wing rabbis in Netanyahu’s coalition have said that they’d like to see every church in Israel pulled down as a place of idolatry. Or that the European founders of Israel really didn’t want Arabic Jews, the Mizrahim, settling in the country, and only accepted them because they needed their labour while also heavily discriminating against them. Possibly some might find this troublesome, but I’ve no doubt others would find some way to justify it and their continued support for the country.

Rabbi Moshe Ber Beck Endured a Nearly a Century of Struggle for His Beliefs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/12/2020 - 7:41am in

Rabbi Moshe Ber Beck was 10 years old in the spring of 1944 when the Nazis invaded Hungary. He spent many months hiding in a bunker in Pest, the eastern side of the Hungarian capital Budapest before he and his family were able to leave. With his mother gone, having been taken to Auschwitz and killed, he and what remained of his family, along with millions of refugees, traveled through Europe to find a home. In 1948 he traveled to Palestine where lived and studied in Jerusalem’s ultra-orthodox community in Mea Shearim. He remained there until 1967 when he left Palestine never to return.

Among the expressions of solidarity posted on the various social media platforms during the November 2020 Palestine Solidarity Week was a photo of Rabbi Beck. Nearly 90 years old and having survived a stroke that left him partially paralyzed, he sat for a photo with a Palestinian flag behind him, and holding a sign that read, “All for Palestine.” One has to admit that his life and religious devotion make his commitment to the Palestinian struggle for liberation all the more remarkable.

 

Leaving Jerusalem

I met Rabbi Beck for the first time at his home in Monsey, New York. Rabbi Dovid Weiss, another well-known and respected anti-Zionist ultra-orthodox Rabbi and supporter of the Palestinian struggle took me to meet him. The family of Rabbi Weiss, also from Hungary, was murdered by Nazis. “My father was the youngest of ten and he managed to get out. But when he tried to return to help the others escape it was too late.”

I didn’t know who Rabbi Beck was at that point but I could see that he was a revered and greatly respected Rabbi.

I tried to understand what it was that made him decide to leave Jerusalem. He was, at the time, a young man with a large family and little means. He was living and studying at the heart of the ultra-orthodox world in the Holy Land, so I wondered what could possibly have made him want to leave.

Rabbi Beck speaks Yiddish and very little English, so Rabbi Weiss was kind enough to translate. Using hand gestures and even raising his otherwise very quiet voice, Rabbi Beck made it clear there were many reasons for him leaving Jerusalem and all of them had to do with Zionism. After the 1967 war, he and a group of devoted and promising young Rabbis realized that the state of Israel was no place for Jewish people.

He spoke in Yiddish gesturing with his hands pointing to his beard, payos, and religious clothing, and then Rabbi Weiss translated: “He did not want his beard and peyos and kaftan to crown the Zionist state.”

Rabbi Wiess and Beck edited

Rabbi Weiss (left) and Rabbi Beck. Photo | Miko Peled

While there were many reasons for his leaving, the final straw was the 1967 Israeli assault on neighboring Arab countries. He felt he had to leave no matter what. With four children and not a penny to his name, he somehow managed to make his way to the UK.

 

Heresy

Rabbi Beck became more and more animated as he explained to me through Rabbi Weiss that the very idea of the Zionist state is heresy. “He left pure and simple because of Zionism,” Rabbi Weiss explained, and other young notable Rabbis felt that the State was doing everything in its power to disrupt their Jewish way of life.

This seemingly frail, elder Rabbi passionately explained how Zionism and the State of Israel, “scorns and ridicules” the very tenets of the Jewish faith and represents “Kefira,” or heresy. He refused to crown this “facade of Judaism” with his presence and Jewish look and appearance.

 

“These are our guys”

A story that Rabbi Beck related to me and which I also heard from his son, Rabbi Elhonon Beck in London, involves an incident that took place while Rabbi Beck and many others were sitting in a bomb shelter in Jerusalem during the 1967 war. The neighborhood of Mea Shearim sits in an area that, until 1967, was right on the border between the State of Israel and Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem. During the war, heavy fighting took place in that area and the people huddled in the bomb shelter could hear the thundering sounds of shooting and explosions.

At one point, they heard warplanes flying overhead when a man walked into the shelter and, wanting to reassure the others, said, “don’t worry, these are ours.” That was something that Rabbi Beck and his fellow Rabbis could not stomach. That religious Jews would associate themselves with Israeli warplanes and refer to them as “ours.” The Zionist State and its army were anathema to them and it was at that moment that several of them decided it was time to leave the country. “They didn’t want their children growing up in that atmosphere where religious Jews felt an association with the Zionist army.”

One result of the Israeli propaganda campaign that followed the 1967 assault was that religious Jews began to believe that the Israeli victory was a miracle. Israel perpetuated the myth that it was faced with the overwhelming force of the Arab armies and was miraculously able to defeat them all. Rabbi Beck and the others in his group see this as heresy, “that a Zionist victory would be seen as a miracle.”

From the rooftop of their Yeshiva, called “Torah Veyir’a” – a famously anti-Zionist Yeshiva in Jerusalem, “you could see the Arab part of the Jerusalem,” which includes the Old City.” Before 1967 one could only look in that direction, but after the war, they were able to go there “and it gave a sense of false power,” which Rabbi Beck abhors. He did not want his children to grow up in an atmosphere that idolizes that kind of power.

 

A dangerous environment

“Was it dangerous for you to live there?” Rabbi Weiss asked.

“Have you seen their police hit people?” he snapped back.

Rabbi Beck was beaten and arrested by the Israeli police on many occasions during protests against the Zionist state, and while plastering anti-Zionist posters on walls. “The danger was never the Arabs, only the Zionists,” he added.

When the Israeli police enter ultra-orthodox neighborhoods, they do it in full force. Riot police in full gear and often riding specially bred horses, trample people with no regard to the lives or to the safety of the residents. The sights one sees during their marches and protests are harrowing. Only in Israel are religious Jews treated with such contempt and violence.

When I visited Rabbi Beck’s beis midrash (synagogue) in Monsey one Friday night, I saw dozens of religious Jews praying. It is a modest place, and on one of the walls, hangs a large poster denouncing Zionism and its anti-Jewish, heretic characteristics.

 

Supporting Palestine

This last expression of solidarity by Rabbi Beck was by no means his first. In 2018 I spoke at a rally in Brooklyn and saw him sitting there among other members of the community who came to express solidarity.

Rabbi Beck protest edited

Rabbi Beck (center left) and Rabbi Weiss (center right) with members of the ultra-orthodox community at a 2018 protest in Brooklyn. Photo | Miko Peled

Zionist propaganda regularly targets ultra-orthodox Jews who reject Zionism and Israel, creating the impression that they are irrelevant fanatics.

While their numbers may not seem significant their actions certainly are invaluable. When a member of this community pays their respects to a Palestinian family who lost a loved one to an Israeli soldier or shakes the hand of a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike, or even a gesture as simple as an 87-year-old Rabbi holding a sign to express solidarity with Palestine, it goes a long way. It reminds all of us that in Palestine before the Zionist invasion, people lived side by side in peace, respecting one another. It shows us that there are common goals that unite us.

Hirsh Maher edited

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Hirsh visits Palestinian detainee and hunger striker Maher Al-Akhras in Jerusalem. Photo | Miko Peled

Feature photo | Rabbi Moshe Ber Beck joins activists marking Al Nakbah as they march across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City on May 15, 2016. Photo | Shutterstock

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post Rabbi Moshe Ber Beck Endured a Nearly a Century of Struggle for His Beliefs appeared first on MintPress News.

Starmer’s Purge Dictated by Board of Deputies’ Hit List

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 09/12/2020 - 5:07am in

This comes from a piece on The Electronic Intifada from 20th November 2020, by their main man, Asa Winstanley. Winstanley’s another decent, committed anti-racist, who was purged due to accusations of anti-Semitism. The reality is that he’s no such thing. But he is a pro-Palestinian activist, as you can tell from the title of the online magazine he contributes to. The article reports the finding by another pro-Palestinian activist, Becky Massey, that she and ten other members of the Labour party were expelled on the demands of the Board of Deputies of British Jews in a hit list the Board submitted to Starmer on 11th May 2020. Massey discovered she was on the Board’s list of people they wanted expelled and on a Labour party email chain discussing her after making a subject access request for the information the party hold on her. Massey was sent the letter of expulsion on the evening of the day of the email chain. Coincidentally, Starmer had also paid a visit that day to the Jewish Labour Movement. A Labour party spokesperson at the time categorically denied that the meeting had in any way been connected to Massey’s or anybody’s expulsion. That can be taken with a pinch of salt, as the Jewish Labour Movement, previously Paole Zion, has been demanding the expulsion and suspension of left-wing members and pro-Palestinian activists for years. And there is hints that the two are connected. The Board later wrote that they had sent the Labour Party a list of eleven people they wanted expelled, and were heartened that Starmer had met the JLM.

Labour party apparatchiks in the email chain discussed suspending Massey with a view to her ‘autoexclusion’. Like all authoritarian movements, the party deliberately uses language to imply that they’re not at fault, but the victim. The term ‘autoexclusion’ means to state that somehow, those expelled did it all themselves. Andre Breton, the ‘pope of Surrealism’, used to say the same thing whenever anyone queried him for expelling people from his movement. The letter sent to Massey herself simply said that she had been suspended subject to the approval of the NEC’s next meeting. Another line in the email chain, which somehow escaped redaction, indicates that Starmer was actively involved in the expulsion, or at least knew full well about it. It reads “Subject: RE: For LOTO: Rebecca Massey.” LOTO’s an acronym for ‘Leader Of The Opposition’. In other words, Starmer appeared to have interfered politically in the case, which is one of the accusations levelled at Jeremy Corbyn.

The Board’s Hit List

Strangely, neither the Board nor the Labour party offered any comment when they were contacted about this The Electronic Intifada. The article states that although the Board claims to represent the Jewish community, much of its activity is protecting Israel’s crimes and that in 2013 its president wrote ‘We lobby unashamedly for Israel’.

Revealed: the Israel lobby’s Labour hit list | The Electronic Intifada

The article descibes Massey as ‘a leading activist in one of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s most visible branches, in Brighton on the south coast.’

I don’t know her, but Tony Greenstein appears to be a member of the same branch. He’s also been expelled and smeared as an anti-Semite, despite being Jewish. From what I’ve read of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign on Tony’s and other websites – many of which are also by Jewish supporters of the PSC – the organisation most definitely does not accept real anti-Semites. They’ve also been highly successful in boycotting local shops selling goods made in the occupied West Bank or which are owned by businesses based there. They’ve also embarrassed the local, Sussex Friends of Israel outfit, or however they describe themselves. There are videos up on the net showing the pro-Israel activists threatening and abusing the pro-Palestine demonstrators, despite claiming in their literature that they stand for peaceful and respectful debate. The Sussex pro-Israel bunch also seem to have some very bizarre members. One is a balding, clean-shaven bloke, who claimed on his website to be an Orthodox Jew, despite his appearance to the contrary. Massey is almost certainly no kind of anti-Semite, but another victim of the Blairite’s and the Israel lobby’s campaign to purge the party of left-wingers and pro-Palestinian activists.

This also seems to show that Starmer himself is deeply implicated in these expulsions. Which should come as no surprise considering the revelation by The Canary that two organisations devoted to attacking left-wing sites and blogs as ‘fake news’, the Center for Countering Digital Hate and Stop Funding Fake News, were set up and run by Blairites with links to him.

As for the Board of Deputies, they are an unrepresentative organisation that smears and persecutes left-wing, pro-Palestinian Jews and gentiles. They are not a part of the Labour party, but through the smears and lies of the political and media establishment, have been allowed dictatorial control over it.

This needs to end now. It should be Starmer who is on trial for his crimes against Labour, not these decent people. And the control of the Board should be resisted and them shown up for their malign interference, smears and libels.

This Is What Real Anti-Semites Look Like

I really don’t want to labour the point about the witch hunt and victimisation of decent, anti-racist members and supporters of the Labour Party under the pretext of purging it of anti-Semitism. But I wanted to show graphically how utterly pathetic and grotesque it was. Images that showed how far from reality the Blairites’ and British establishment’s idea of who anti-Semites are.

This photo below is of John Tyndall and Martin Webster, two of the fuhrers of the National Front at a demonstration. It’s from Richard Thurlow’s Fascism in Britain: A History, 1918-1985 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell 1987).

They were the face of British Fascism when I was growing up in the 1980s. The caption for the photo reads:

John Tyndall and Martin Webster at an NF demonstration. Tyndall’s imitation of Mosely’s style with the use of flags, megaphone and inter-war economic and political programmes is combined with a thinly disguised and cleaned-up version of Arnold Leese’s obsession with The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and gutter racism. It is presented in the more acceptable language of the conservative fascist tradition with due homage to the influence of A.K. Chesterton.

And This Is What They Don’t!

This is Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, one of the two left-wing Jews recently suspended from the Labour Party. She’s the vice-chair of Chingford CLP and one of the leaders of Jewish Voice for Labour, and has been vocal in her support for Jeremy Corbyn. She is absolutely no kind of racist, anti-Semite or Fascist. Quite the opposite. I found this photo of her on the web. It’s from the Socialist Workers’ YouTube channel, SWP TV. And while I don’t agree with the Socialist Workers, the image does show her commitment to combating racism. The image is blurred, but behind her there are posters urging people to fight Fascism and racism, as well as the attacks on benefits and climate change.

She’s been targeted because, like Moshe Machover, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Martin Odoni and many others, she’s the ‘wrong kind of Jew’. The British establishment wants the Jewish community to conform to an unswerving support for Israel. Any Jew that steps out of line, like the peeps above, is immediately accused and reviled as ‘self-hating’ and anti-Semitic. They suffer truly horrific abuse and death threats. Mira Bar Hillel, another Jewish journalist, has said that many Jews are afraid of speaking out about Israel because of this. But as these images show, there are very many Jews like Naomi and the others, who aren’t afraid to criticise Israel and attack its apartheid and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

This appears to be Naomi at another pro-Palestinian event, and as you can see from the slogans and the name of the organisation on the banner, it’s a Jewish event. The slogan reads ‘It’s Kosher to Boycott Israeli Goods’. And underneath the organisation’s monicker is Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods.

This is why Naomi and the others are being accused of anti-Semitism and self-hatred. Despite the fact that they are not ashamed of their Jewish identity. If they were, they’d try to hide it, and if they really were Nazis, you’d see them with real Nazis. They wouldn’t stand on the barricades fighting them, as the above do.

Here’s another, related pic showing a banner for the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.

I don’t know who this organisation is, but I would imagine they were another group of Jews outraged at Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. So, more of the ‘wrong kind of Jews’, the kind of Jews the establishment don’t want you see or even know exist.

I hope these images show very clearly the difference between the real and falsely accused anti-Semites. The real anti-Semites are Fascists thugs like Tyndall, Webster, and their successors, Nick Griffin, National Action and the rest. They aren’t respectable Jewish ladies or eminent Israeli mathematicians and philosophers, like Moshe Machover, or ordinary, Labour supporting Jews like Martin Odoni or Tony Greenstein. Real Nazis and anti-Semites tend not to speak to Marxist gatherings about anti-racism and the fight against fascism.

It’s a travesty that left-wing Jews like Naomi and the others are being smeared and purged simply for being left-wing and critical of Israel. Just as it is that decent, anti-racist non-Jews like Mike, Ken Livingstone, Marc Wadsworth and Jeremy Corbyn himself are being smeared.

This shameful farrago has to stop. Now. They should all be reinstated and their accusers instead suspended and tried for their sectarian anti-Semitism. It is they who are really bringing the Labour Party in disrepute!

Abby Martin Hears Ordinary Israelis’ Support for Ethnic Cleansing

This is another excellent video from Tele Sur’s Empire Files. In it Abby Martin interviews ordinary Israelis on the street in Jerusalem about the Palestinians and their country. She also talks to Ronnie Barkan, an Israeli human rights activists.

The attitude expressed by these Israelis, many of whom are young people, is that Israel is rightfully theirs by virtue of it being the Jewish homeland 2,000 years ago. The Palestinians have no history there. Some feel that they should be kept separate in their own settlements because they’re a terrorist threat. Others simply feel that they have no place in the Jewish state. Two young women talk about kicking them out in Hebrew, with one telling her friend that she can’t say that. One young man proudly states that he is a member of Lehava, a Jewish organisation set up to discourage mix marriages and interracial romance between Jews and Palestinians.

Several of the speakers claim that the Palestinians are actually well treated. A few deny that they have ever existed historically, and that Palestine was empty before they arrived. They also claim that it is Jews, who have built everything in Israel and improved the land. Israeli should build more settlements and houses for its own people. One young man says that it’s fitting that the Palestinians are suffering because 1,400 years ago it was the Palestinians who threw the Jews out of the country. It wasn’t the Romans. An elderly man believes that the Nazis and the Palestinians were sent to punish the Jewish people for their sins. Some advance the religious justification for Jewish possession of Israel: that God gave it to them. The Palestinians should go back to Iraq or wherever it is they came from. Other people deny that Israel is an apartheid state, with one saying that if you go to Jnin, you won’t see a Jewish face. They also claim that international criticism of Israel and the BDS movement is anti-Semitic, stating that Turkey doesn’t face the same criticism for its settlements in Cyprus and that North Korea, a far worse state, doesn’t experience the same international condemnation. Some state that it is occupation, and that the occupation is good, while others deny that Israel is occupied territory. They argue that it isn’t, because no-one talks about America being occupied because of the English presence in North America. Some people also state that the Palestinians are treated well. They have been given Gaza, and should go back there. And the Israeli state has treated them with restraint. If it were the Russians or Americans, within three days the Palestinians would be gone. One man, who believes the occupation should be more humane, says that he is abuse as a leftist, a terrible insult in Israel, for his views.

They’re all proud of their country, and say that people should come there to see how safe it is, and how well the Palestinians are treated.

Barkan states very clearly that Israel is an apartheid state, not quite like South Africa, but it certainly fits the definition of the crime of apartheid under international law. The debate about Palestinian rights is presented as a complex issue due to Israeli self-delusion. The Israelis see themselves, or want to themselves, as liberal and progressive, and so try to convince themselves that it is far more complex than simply Israelis oppressing Palestinians. Barkan states that everyone is brought up to believe this and to be a fighter in the IDF. He believed it, until he saw through it. He also states that there isn’t a left in Israel. Instead there are left Zionists, and the real debate isn’t about whether the Palestinians should have rights, but about whether they want a large Israel with no Palestinians or a small Israel with no Palestinians. They also hide the reality of the ethnic cleansing that occurred in 1948. Some, however, will admit it, but say it’s a good thing. He also points out that it wasn’t just Palestinian land and property that was seized, but also their culture. The Israeli National Library went around seizing books from vacated Palestinian homes. There is a concerted effort to erase the Palestinians and their culture from history. Barkan certainly doesn’t believe that Israel should be exclusively a Jewish state. It isn’t a Jewish state, except in the same sense that South Africa was a White state: through force. Palestinians rights should be non-negotiable, and the Israeli apartheid system dismantled.

Everyday Israelis Express Support for Genocide to Abby Martin – YouTube

This is shocking, though it’s not surprising that so many Israelis view Palestinians as terrorists or a security threat. It is also unsurprising that so many of them claim that the land is rightfully theirs based on God’s grant of the land to the Abraham and the Jewish people in the Bible. The Zionist pioneers were secular, but as Jewish authors and activists critical of Israel have shown, they have always cited the Bible as the basis of their claim. Some of the views they advance is just Israeli propaganda. It might have been Golda Meir who started the idea that before the Jewish settlers arrived in the 1890s or so the land was vacant and unoccupied – ‘a land without a people for a people without a land’, the slogan goes. This has been long refuted using land records from the Ottoman Empire, so it’s ironic that one of the speakers wonders where the Palestinians were during the centuries of Ottoman occupation. The simple answer is: there. Despite the fact that the Israeli claim has long been disproven, you still hear from American right-wing sites. As for the Diaspora and the Jewish exile, the Palestinians definitely weren’t responsible for that. Jews under Islam were generally better treated and suffered fewer restrictions than in Christian Europe. And you could also argue that the ultimate homeland of the Jewish people is also Iraq. Before he migrated to Canaan, Abraham and his father, Terah, lived in the city of Ur in ancient Mesopotamia.

I don’t believe that all Israelis hold these views. The Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem and others have been very critical of the Israeli state’s increasing encroachment on Palestinian land and the dispossession of its people. But it’s clear that such attitudes are widespread. And it is these genocidal views that the British establishment and organisations like the Board of Deputies, Chief Rabbinate, Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and celebrities like Rachel Riley and Tracy Ann Oberman are protecting and encouraging when they denounce even the mildest criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. I dare say that some of them may genuinely believe that they are not supporting a form of apartheid, and that the Israeli state is serious about a two-state solution. But Barkan is probably right, and this is just a form a self-delusion.

I don’t doubt that this video is very much the kind of film the Board of Deputies would like to hide, because of the unflattering exposure of the horrendous views of some of the Israeli public. As Peter Oborne’s documentary for Channel 4’s Dispatches on the Israel lobby revealed way back in 2009, the Board tries to silence any critical reporting of Israel and atrocities committed by its armed forces, no matter how factual, objective and impartial, with charges of anti-Semitism and claims that it will cause people to hate Jews. But there are also many ordinary, self-respecting Jews that are deeply critical of Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians. And we’ve seen in the recent Labour suspensions of Moshe Machover and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, how these thoroughly decent people are being smeared and silenced in order to give the false impression of a united Jewish community four-square behind Israel.

Which is why films like this are necessary. They need to be seen and made to expose the carefully constructed and maintained lies of the Israeli state and the British establishment. And the people genuinely working for a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians, real anti-racist Jews and gentiles, who also fight anti-Semitism and Jew-hatred in Europe and the rest of the world, need to be supported.

Racially, the Palestinians May Be the Real Jews

In his piece critiquing the article by Catherine Heszer, professor of Jewish Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the Jewish Chronicle, Tony Greenstein argues very strongly that biologically it is the Palestinians, not the Israelis, who are descended from the people of ancient Israel. Heszer had claimed that Israel isn’t a colonialist state and that it is simply the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland. Greenstein disputes this, citing Israeli historian Shlomo Sand, who believes that European Jews are really the descendants of converts to Judaism. He also cites studies, including articles published in extreme right-wing settler magazines, that the Palestinians are descended from the peoples of ancient Israel and Judea. Greenstein writes

Let us leave aside the fact, as Tel Aviv University Professor Shlomo Sand has shown in The Myth of the Jewish Nation that there never was a Jewish exile from Palestine. The idea that rights deriving from where one’s ancestors lived 3,000 years ago trumping those who live there today is a product of Western Colonialism and Orientalism. The same myths of a 1,000 year Reich justified Hitler’s colonisation of  Eastern Europe and the expulsion of its inhabitants.

But in reality not even this is true. Jews from Europe and America had no physical connection whatsoever with Palestine or Israel.  Their only claim is that they profess a religion whose centre is Jerusalem. That does not confer any material rights over those living there.

The Jews who left Judea and Palestine over 2,000 years ago did so because the land would not support them. Palestine saw many peoples, among whom were the Hebrews, wander over the area. The idea that this gives people who are Jewish and living in London the right to displace the indigenous population is a fascist idea.  SOAS should not be in the business of propagating racial myths.

2,000 years ago a million Jews were living in Alexandria alone as well as other Hellenised cities such as Antioch and Seleucia. According to Jewish historian Salo Baron there was an explosion of Jews in the Middle East at the time owing to massive proselytising. He suggests there were 8 million Jews living in the Middle East. Sand suggests half that number. The Jews, like the Phoenicians before them, became a trading people.

The pastoralist Jews who remained in Palestine after the destruction of the second temple either converted to Christianity or remained speaking Aramaic. With the Arab invasion they largely converted to Islam whilst continuing to speak Aramaic, a biblical form of Hebrew.

The irony, as Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion and its second President Yitzhak ben Zvi accepted, is that the Palestinians, not the Jewish settlers, are the descendants of the ancient Hebrews. [see e.g. Dov Ivri’s Most Palestinians Are Descendants Of Jews]. Ben Gurion even sent Moshe Dayan with a rabbi to convert the Bedouin!

In Jewish-Roots Arabs in Israel in the far-Right settler news agency Arutz Sheva, Tzvi MiSinai claimed that ‘Up to 85 percent of Arabs in greater Israel stem from Jewish ancestors, it is estimated’. The article describes how

‘One Arab says his father told him the secret of his family’s Jewishness on his deathbed, while another one, on the backdrop of a photo of the saintly Cabalistic sage Rabbi Abuchatzeira on his wall, says their roots have been known in his family for generations. Wrapping what apparently used to be kosher tefillin on his arm, he says, “My father used to do this, and he taught us to do it whenever someone was sick or in trouble.”

The myth of a Jewish ‘exile’ from Palestine and the idea of their ‘return’ is a Christian racial myth born of colonialism’s desire to establish a friendly settler state adjacent to the Suez Canal. That is why the first western Zionists were Evangelical Christians like Lord Palmerstone and Shaftesbury and also why the vast majority of western Jews were hostile to Zionism when it began.  Because if Jews belonged in Palestine they didn’t belong in England.

See: If SOAS Cares For Its Reputation It Should Send Racist Professor Heszer, Head of the Jewish Studies Centre, on an Unpaid Vacation to learn what Zionism means for the Palestinians – Tony Greenstein

Sand’s is an extreme view. I’ve also come across the argument that European Jews were the descendants of Jewish merchants rather than political exiles. The impression I had of Israelite history was that after the failure of the Bar Kochba revolt in the 2nd century AD, the Jews were forcibly expelled from Jerusalem. This became a Roman colonial city and the Temple desecrated and dedicated to Zeus. The Jewish religious leadership moved to Galilee, which thus became the centre of the Jewish faith. However, there were still Jewish communities in Israel. I believe that there was conflict between Jews and Christians and Jewish revolts against Roman imperial persecution when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

It also would not surprise me in the slightest if genetics showed that the majority of Palestinians were descended from the ancient Israelites. Archaeologists and geneticists have been studying the genetic makeup of the British people since the 1980s. This has overturned some of the traditional views about the origin of the English. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the English are descended from Germanic invaders, the Angles, Saxon and Jutes, who conquered the country from across the North Sea in the 5th-7th centuries AD. But genetic studies of the modern English doesn’t show a comprehensive replacement of the existing Romano-British population. Furthermore, recent archaeological studies of migration period human remains have shown that the vast majority of the skeletons of people buried with Anglo-Saxon grave goods were from people, who had been brought up in this country. There were very few continental invaders. It now appears that instead of a full-scale invasion and replacement of the indigenous population, the conquest simply consisted of the Romano-Brits and their leaders adopting continental Germanic customs and language in a rejection of Roman identity as Roman rule collapsed.

Genetic studies also show that there was no replacement of the indigenous British population. It now appears that the British, including the English, are largely descended from the Bronze Age population of the British Isles and Ireland. At the level, the English are genetically the same as the Irish. When this was revealed to one Irish personality on TV a few years ago, he remarked that it must be galling for the English to find that they’re the same as the peeps of the Emerald Isle. Well, at one time, when the Irish really were looked down upon and there were crazy racial hierarchies being devised to show how they and the Blacks were at the bottom of human evolution, perhaps. But not now, when so much British popular culture comes from Ireland.

My guess is that the racial history of Palestine is pretty similar. I doubt that there was any replacement of the indigenous Jewish population. Many of them would have converted to Christianity. I’ve seen it estimated that about a third of the Jewish people would have converted to Christianity during the late Roman Empire. These were Greek-speaking Jews, whose conversion was assisted through theirs and the Christians’ use of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible. The remaining Jews probably did speak Aramaic. It was the popular language of the Jewish people at the time of Christ. It’s the language of the Targums, paraphrases of the Hebrew scriptures to help people, who couldn’t understand Hebrew, and the Talmud, the compilation of the rabbinical oral law and the debates and opinions of the sages. I also think that Aramaic would have been the language of some Christians as well. Syriac, the language of some eastern Orthodox Christians in Lebanon and Syria, developed from the form of Aramaic spoken by those communities in the fourth century AD.

As for the Arab conquest and the adoption of Arab culture, this seems to be the result of a conscious policy by the caliph Mu’awiya in the 8th century AD. The Arabs were a tiny minority amongst the subject peoples of the new Islamic empire, who had retained their languages and customs. Greek continued to be used as the language of the imperial civil service in the western half of the empire. Mu’awiya was afraid that the Muslim Arabs would lose their ethnic identity through being absorbed by the non-Muslim population, so that their only distinction between them and the peoples they ruled would be their Islamic faith. He therefore passed a series of legislation designed to strengthen Arab ethnic identity, such as changing the language of the civil service to Arabic. This set in motion the process of Arabization which saw the majority of the population of that part of the Roman Empire adopt the Arabic language, culture and Islam.

I’m not sure about Sand’s argument that European Jews are descendants of proselytes and aren’t racially Jewish. That’s an extreme view. But Greenstein’s right about the size of the Jewish population of the Roman Empire. It may have been as large as 8 per cent and there were huge synagogues in places like Alexandria and Sardinia.

I therefore consider it highly likely that the vast majority of Palestinians are descended from the Jewish people of ancient Israel and Judea. I’m also not surprised that many Muslim Palestinians have more recent Jewish ancestry. There were large Jewish communities in Palestine before the establishment of the state of Israel, and many Jews preferred to live under Muslim rule as there wasn’t the restrictions there they faced in Christendom.

From the genetic perspective, they’re probably as Jewish as the Israelis, and so from that perspective also have an absolute right to remain on their ancestral lands against the attempts to expel and cleanse them by the Israeli state.

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