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Friday, December 23, 2011

It’s the right moment for churches to pay attention to Israel’s occupation

 James M. Wall

23 December 2011
In his book Kairos for Palestine, Rifat Odeh Kassis deals with a topic that is as fresh as the destruction of a Palestinian home by Israeli-driven, US-built bulldozers, and as ancient as the use of the term kairos, derived from an ancient Greek word which refers to a specific moment in time.

Why does this wanton destruction of private Palestinian homes continue unabated? The answer is simple: Israel controls the narrative that justifies its conduct by reporting the demolition of a Palestinian home as a “necessary step” for the “security” and well-being of Israel. The Israeli narrative keeps the Western world locked into a permanent state of ignorance, following the pattern of previous Western colonial invaders and occupiers.

The Israeli narrative, carefully honed by Israel well before Israel’s 1947-48 war of conquest, has skillfully made the case that Israel is a state whose inhabitants deserve their own state as victims of oppression and genocide. They chose the ancient biblical lands of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) on the grounds that the land was “given to them” by Yahweh (the Hebrew word for God).

That narrative — mixing ancient biblical beliefs with modern political strategy — has so totally dominated the perspective of the Western world outside the Middle East, that it has emerged as the only view of reality known to the West. It is in this narrative that Israel is the “victim” and the Palestinian people are an enemy that seeks to drive Israelis “into the sea.”

It has been Israel’s goal since it gained UN recognition as a state in 1949 to control this narrative and prevent any contrary narrative from obtaining a hearing. The occupation of the Palestinian people is sold to the West as a necessity. Palestinians in this narrative are perceived as a threat to the well being and security of all Israelis.

The large majority of Americans have accepted this narrative as the only available reality. They permit their government to function as a financial backer of Israel, and to politically support Israel in world forums. American politicians function within a bipartisan political operation which accepts and promotes the “Israel is a permanent victim” narrative. This narrative obscures the political reality that Israel serves as an important part of the American empire, which seeks to control the people of the Middle East through military power and political deceit.

The invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and the current role the US plays in Libya and in the agitation for war against Iran, are the most recent examples of this power and deceit.

The Palestinian narrative traces its history through Arab history, from which Palestinians emerged as an important part of the Ottoman Empire. Following Arab support for the Western allies in their war in 1917-18 against Germany and Turkey, Palestinians were assured they would retain their homeland in their corner of the Ottoman Empire. The Palestinian narrative in the modern era emphasizes the Nakba (catastrophe), the ethnic cleansing that led to Israel’s establishment. That narrative has been denied a part in American discussions of the Middle East.

Israeli propaganda saturates American society


It is the Israeli narrative that enables Israel to be an important American ally in the Middle East. That narrative saturates American society through the media, the economy, political structures, nongovernmental institutions involved in education and religious groups.

The Zionists were amongst the last of the western colonial invaders to arrive in the Middle East to conquer a land and exploit its population. This invasion was built on military power and deceit, the twin sins that continue to shape the US/Israel alliance in the Middle East.

Kairos for Palestine traces the history of what led to the Palestine Kairos Document that emerged from the situation created by that alliance. It tells the story of the Christian churches’ effort to communicate the suffering imposed by Israel on Palestinians and it does so from a Christian perspective.

The document originated within the Christian churches working inside Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza. It is a community-created document written out of the experience of the Palestinians. It calls upon Christians everywhere to wake up to the conditions under which all of the people of Palestine — Christian, Muslim and non-religious — and respond appropriately to gross injustice created by the US/Israel alliance of empire-building through oppression.

The political strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is a separate project from the Kairos Document. The two run parallel, however, as different ways in which Palestinians address the outside world.

BDS is a strategy of nonviolence that advocates economic pressure on Israel to halt its oppressive military occupation. It calls attention to the manner in which outside corporations endorse that occupation and profit from it.

BDS originated as a political movement in July 2005 as a “call from Palestinian civil society.” It was signed and sent out from a large number of civil society groups within the West Bank and Gaza. It is important to note that, unlike the Kairos Document, BDS is a strategy which the civil society of Palestinians has developed.

Kairos Palestine, which is the primary focus of Kassis’ book, originated in Bethlehem as a statement from Palestinian Christian leaders. The document was released in December 2009. It is a theological document of faith, not a proposal of strategy. Circumstances since the original document was written in 2009 have grown even worse as Kassis explains (9):

Jerusalem is being forcibly de-Arabized and systematically Judaized with unprecedented speed and aggression: Life for Palestinians there becomes less and less bearable as house demolitions, evictions, arbitrary arrests and interrogations, residency revocations, and the imprisonment and house arrests of children all increase. The siege on the Gaza Strip remains and intensifies unabated.

The Israeli government is forgoing its longstanding public relations campaign — its ongoing propaganda as the only ‘democracy’ in the Middle East — and reverting instead to openly racist laws like the one that seeks to criminalize individuals and organizations that call for boycott.

BDS, with its secular origins, is not promoted by the Kairos Document, but BDS has been adopted by some Christian groups as a practical strategy which Palestinians propose the West adopt as a means toward putting economic pressure on Israel to give up its oppressive control of the Palestinian people.
Resistance of Americans to BDS illustrates how effectively the Israeli (“we are the victims under outside threat”) narrative works to prevent Americans from hearing the call of either the Kairos Document, or the economic strategy of BDS.

Confronting apartheid


The modern use of a Kairos statement by an oppressed population dates back to the first edition of a statement from South African Christians in 1985, a document intended, Kassis reports, “to provide an alternative discourse to the dominant theological thinking” of the day. This South African document confronted the apartheid structures maintained by the minority white population of that society.

Subsequent Kairos documents have emerged in Kenya, Zimbabwe, India and Latin America, each in ways appropriate to the historical moment addressed, all insisting that the Christian faith calls for the oppressors to acknowledge the sinfulness of their oppressive conduct. The various Kairos documents all pursued the same goal, a prophetic call to those in power to acknowledge that the New Testament commands them to halt their oppressive conduct and identify with the oppressed.

Kassis writes (83) that these Kairos documents all emerged from similar contexts: oppression, injustice and the denial of equality and human rights.

They are also “united by their timing, by the kind of moment at which they came into being. They aren’t written at any time; rather they are created when there are no options than true participation in a process of collective change.” To use a theological term, kairos “speaks to the qualitative, not sequential, form of time; for example, the New Testament defines it as “the appointed time in the purpose of God.”

Kassis adds that this moment is one in which God acts. It is a moment, as well, in political terms, that implies “a crucial time, an appointed time, in which the message of the text is delivered” (83).

Adopting a more modern form of expression, Kassis concludes that “the message of the Kairos is both the SOS signal of a sinking ship and a call for hope in the face of despair.”

The Palestine Kairos Document, Kassis explains, arose from a dialogue within Palestinian Christian communities, in short, not from outsiders, but from those who suffer under occupation, which is to say, oppression and captivity.

The Kairos Document emerged from a Palestinian dialogue among a group of 15 interdenominational Palestinian Christian leaders.

After two years of work, prayer, many meetings and discussions, along with debates and draft, the leaders produced a final draft of the document, which they called “A Moment of Truth: A Word of Faith, Hope and Love from the Heart of Palestinian Suffering.”

The final document was released to the public at an event in Bethlehem on 11 December 2009. Kassis was deeply involved in preparing the final document. With its release, Kassis was selected to serve as the General Coordinator of the Kairos Palestine Group.

He began his career as an activist and religious leader in 1988 when he served as director of the YMCA rehabilitation programs in the West Bank, the first of many assignments he has handled since.
In 2005 he became the international manager of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel.

From September 2007 until March 2009, Kassis was the WCC’s general secretary’s special advisor on the Middle East. His current task is to write about and explain the significance of the Palestine Kairos Document.

Demand to pay attention


The kairos moment places a demand not only on Christians, but on people of other religions or no religions, to pay attention to the message that Israeli occupation is “oppression” in the same way South African apartheid and Latin American economic oppression of the poor were oppressive.
The challenge to readers of this book is for its readers to bridge the gap between the Christian theological language of a “right and opportune moment” and the universal cry for justice for those who suffer and are oppressed.

However the reader understands the term kairos, the impossible-to-refute “facts on the ground” in Israel and Palestine, are clear; this is the “right moment” for the world to recognize and acknowledge that Israel’s occupation of Palestine is unjust, immoral, illegal and destructive. Read this book, learn from it, and use it for small group discussions, and as an instrument with which to fight the wall of ignorance that endorses Palestinian suffering. It is a book that demands that attention must be paid to the conduct of the governments in Israel and in the United States, the two military powers who have the power to maintain or end this suffering.

James M. Wall is a contributing editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher. He writes a personal blog,, which he began in April 2008.

In The Name of Security

Date posted: December 21, 2011
By Julie Holm for MIFTAH

Whenever I get the opportunity to explain and show to people the injustice the Israeli occupation creates for the Palestinians I take it. In these situations one of the questions I get the most is “but how do the Israelis legitimize doing that?” And I have realized that there are three words that seem to legitimize every one of their inhuman actions, as if they had some magical power. It seems that as long as it is “for security reasons” the Israelis can do more or less whatever they want.

The Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons are there in the name of security, even the 12-year olds who threw a rock at an armored army car. The bombings of Gaza, the killing of civilians are done because the Israelis feel unsafe. The eight-meter high, 750-kilometer long wall robbing the Palestinians of their land is build for the safety of the Israelis living on the other side. For security reasons Palestinian farmers can’t reach, cultivate and water their own land or go to the market to sell their produce.

In the summer some Palestinian villages only have access to water every two weeks and they are denied permits to build shelters for their sheep because that would apparently be a threat to the safety of the Israelis. In the name of security Palestinians have to wait in line at checkpoints every day, only to be harassed by soldiers. They are separated from their families, denied visits to their home towns and holy sites and many have never seen Jerusalem or the sea other than from a hilltop on a clear day. In east Jerusalem, houses are being demolished and families left homeless, legitimized by the security of the Israelis. Israeli settlers are allowed to burn mosques, uproot olive trees and expand their settlements on Palestinian soil.

An elaborate system of roads and buses has been established in the West Bank, unavailable to the Palestinians, so that settlers, whose presence here is illegal, can travel safely and quickly from one illegal settlement to another.

In other words, the magic word here is security. The security discourse inside Israel is so vast everyone grows up with the belief that the people on the other side of the wall are someone they should fear and protect themselves from. The mandatory military service creates an environment where everyone is part of the security discourse that is integrated into family life and education, through social interactions and culture. The number one Israeli radio station is the military station and only few Israeli reporters go to the West Bank, leaving the military to provide the media with information about what is going on here. The legitimization of the Israeli government and military that anything they do is for the safety of the Israeli people lies deep in Israeli society and is rarely questioned by its citizens.

It is not only Israel’s citizens, however, who are convinced of the legitimacy of the Israeli security discourse. Security is used to excuse many of Israel’s actions against the Palestinians in the international arena as well. And of course, in most circumstances a state is expected to protect its citizens. The problem is when this discourse is used to suppress someone else, when it is used as an excuse to steal land and resources and force Palestinians out of their homes.

In the end, security is hard to measure. It is about feeling safe, and as long as the security discourse is so dominating in Israel and Israeli citizens are made to believe that Israeli military actions against the Palestinians are necessary for their security it is easy to legitimize. But what about the Palestinians? Don’t they have a right to feel safe? Who is protecting them from extremist settlers and 18-year old soldiers who have grown up learning that the Palestinians are the enemy? If security was to be measured, it could be done in the number of Israeli soldiers, the number of checkpoints and roadblocks, the number of Palestinians not allowed to travel wherever they want and the number of settler roads and buses. But seeing as Israel is the occupier, which justifies any and all of its actions in the name of security, I personally feel safer among Palestinians.

The Two Faces of the United Nations: The Power of Israel and its Lobby

by Mohamed Khodr on 12/23/2011
Truth and Justice have been a historical anathema to all Empires and the powerful oligarchies throughout history.

From all divine revelations to the necessity of humanity's coexistence in peace, Justice has been the highest and noblest of virtues to ensure that no man, no government, and no nation is above the law of equality of rights for all mankind whereby the weakest, poorest, and oppressed, can exact and restore their freedom, equality of worth, dignity, and receive justice for the ills and evil perpetrated against them. Life, liberty, human rights, freedoms, and free will are divinely endowed, thus humanity's purpose is to allow no man usurp such virtues and blessings.

"There is but one law for all, namely that law which governs all law, the law of our Creator, the law of humanity, justice, equity - the law of nature and of nations."
--Edmund Burke

For the first time in human history nations came together in a united institution to prevent and resolve conflicts, to settle disputes, and to provide an international venue where injustice and the inhumanity of man against man can be heard and adjudicated

Thus emerged from the ashes of two world wars in Europe, the United Nations, an institution of hope, freedom, justice, equality, and human rights for all, people's right to self determination, freedom from aggression and occupation; an institution that fosters peace; but sadly it became an institution of the powerful, for the powerful, at the expense of the lives of billions of people around the world. Since its inception the U.N. has served the political, economic, military, and social whims of the oligarchy of five Security Council nations each with a vote or veto that can preserve lives and peace, or commit wanton genocides allegedly acting in self defense and in the national interests. Much of these Security Council decisions are dependent on domestic politics and the power of special interests. It seems western appetite for imperialistic power has not been satisfied by centuries of imperial occupation of most of the world.

National interests boils down to money, especially in alleged democracies where elections are bought and paid for by the top one percent of their populations. Politicians and political institutions are held hostage by the very people who paid for their elections.

United Nations of Israel

The most glaring examples in modern history are the illegitimate creation of the State of Israel in Palestine due to the influence and power of Britain and the United States who imposed their will on the United Nations as well as the illegal, immoral, and genocidal invasion of Iraq by the U.S. (and allies) due to the powerful influence of mostly Jewish Neocons operating in the interest of Israel, along with the unquenchable avarice of oil companies. They manufactured false intelligence and mass propaganda that created an unstoppable hysteria in the White House, Congress, and nation.

"The war in Iraq was conceived by 25 neoconservative intellectuals, most of them Jewish, who are pushing President Bush to change the course of history."
--Ari Shavit, "White Man's Burden", Haaretz, April 3, 2003

After nine years of death and destruction the U.S. finally pulls out of Iraq (not completely) leaving behind a previously prosperous nation converted into a desert, but which they label as a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous Iraq. They killed to spread democracy. Today Iraq is enduring the most violent sectarian violence that threatens the unity of the nation, thanks to Israel and the United States.
"In the emerging world of ethnic conflict and civilizational clash, Western belief in the universality of Western culture suffers three problems: it is false; it is immoral; and it is dangerous...Imperialism is the necessary logical consequence of universalism."
--Professor Samuel Huntington, "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order", p. 310
These two examples showcase the ineptness, failure, and incompetence of the very United Nations created to prevent just such illegal, unjust and immoral genocidal acts by one nation against another committing unimaginable war crime, crimes against humanity, genocide, and aggression.

Our world has indeed become an Israeli-centric planet where Israel's interest have become the focal point and obsession of all governments, no where more so than in the United States where Israel's interests form the basis of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. U.S. Presidents usually appoint Jewish Zionists to the National Security Council to direct MidEast policy. Is it any wonder that with U.S. backing Israel has rejected every U.N. Resolution, every International initiative or peace process, even opposing America's national interests, the very hand that feeds, arms, and protects it.

The U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, speaking to the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) on September 6, 2011 publicly admitted what the entire world already knows; that U.S. foreign policy is an Israeli formulated policy that only serves Israel, not the United States.

He said:

"The first is this: the test of every policy the Administration develops in the Middle East is whether it is consistent with the goal of ensuring Israel's future as a secure, Jewish, democratic state. That is a commitment that runs as a common thread through our entire government, even while approaching the U.S.-Israel relationship and regional challenges from a variety of perspectives.....The test of our policy - that it advances Israel's status as a secure, Jewish, democratic state - also explains our commitment to vigorously battle against those who would attempt to isolate or delegitimize Israel in the international community."

Many American politicians, diplomats, military officials, academicians, journalists and national organizations have been saying this for decades, but they've been denied any media exposure to address the power of Israel and its lobby, mainly AIPAC, on the U.S. government.

"President Bill Clinton," said AIPAC was "better than anyone at lobbying in this town," or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who called it "the most effective general-interest group ... across the entire planet." Former Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC) said upon his retirement that "you can't have an Israel policy other than what AIPAC gives you around here," (Quote from Professor Stephen Walt, "The Mythical Power of the Arab Lobby", Dec.9, 2010) Thus for whom the bells toll; they toll for Israel and never for its millions of victimized dispossessed Palestinians. According to Golda Meir "There were no such thing as Palestinians."

The world has been indoctrinated to accept Israel's narrative of history of its creation and its professed innocence toward the suffering of the Palestinians. Israel has attacked Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Libya, and Yemeni - and now next stop: Iran.

All the while the U.N. and international community can only profess "concern"; which is meaningless to the dead and injured.

"Right and wrong are the same in Palestine as anywhere else. What is peculiar about the Palestine conflict is that the world has listened to the party that committed the offence and has turned a deaf ear to the victims."
-- Professor Arnold Toynbee, British Historian

Thus too whom do the victims of western and Zionist imperialism turn to for protection and justice? Who on this planet is courageous and principled enough to tell Israel, one of the smallest nations on earth, that its thievery of Palestine, its unabated ethnic cleansing, its utter destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages, its demolition of thousands of homes, farms and orchards, its oppression and daily violation of the human rights of its subjugated people, its theft of Palestinian water to fill the settler's swimming pools, and its non stop construction of new settlements on stolen Palestinian land despite the repeated "concern" of the U.N., U.S., E.U., the Quartet, and hundreds of U.N. Resolutions that Israel ignores and stomps on with impunity, even humiliating the President of the United States in the Oval office who dared suggest a "freeze" of new settlements.

No such expressed "concerns" have ever stopped one brick from being laid in what the world calls "illegal settlements", but which the U.S. deems only as "illegitimate" as evidenced by the very pandering and humiliating veto cast by the U.S. in the Security Council against a resolution that identifies these settlements as "illegal".

Although fourteen nations in the Security Council somewhat redeemed themselves recently by criticizing the U.S. for blocking condemnation of Israel's continued settlement activity in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem. Tragically, Israel will once again thumb its nose at the Security Council.

The United Nations has embarrassingly failed in its stated mission and has lost all credibility, with the exception of the U.N. Human Rights Council, that it has any authority or legitimacy to impact Israel's decades of an illegal occupation of over three million Palestinians, much less the status of seven million Palestinian refugees living in squalor camps in neighboring Arab nations. Israel has tried hard to end UNRWA's mission to provide much needed assistance to the Palestinian refugees, even forcing Congress to threaten defunding the organization. According to Israel Palestinian children must not be fed, provided with health care and an education, nor clean drinking water. If it can't kill them with bullets, it'll kill them by starvation and disease.

As long as the world is impotent and cowardly to face Israel there will never be any justice for the Palestinians, or any peace in the region or western hemisphere.

The world has come to accept that Israel is always above the law, that it will never be held accountable for its wars, genocides, and oppression of the Palestinians; that it will continue to rule and act with impunity with American weapons and vetoes against hapless Palestinian and Lebanese civilians.
The world is holding its cowardly breath wondering when will Israel attack Iran, an action with serious consequences for the region, the U.S., Europe, China, and Japan, both militarily and economically.

But let's look at the other side of the coin where the United Nations Security Council flexes its muscle. The UNSC's power is only reflected against weaker nations, in particular in the Arab and Muslim world. Here harsh resolutions with serious political and economic consequences are routinely passed whereby these nations are held accountable and some leaders are sought for prosecution in the ICC.

The independent International Criminal Court, much like the U.N. Security Council, is hampered by its Statute, hypocrisy, double standards, and the political will of the same powerful nations who dominate the U.N. In practice it's a court against southern hemisphere nations and leaders, but never against the U.S., Britain etc, for their illegal invasion and devastation of Iraq; and never against Israel, the world's last colonial power.

According to the Associated Press, December 15, 2011, the International Criminal Court's Prosecutor, Mr. Luis Moreno Ocampo, said this regarding the issue of the potential arrest of the Sudanese President for alleged war crimes:

"The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (Luis Moreno Ocampo) said Thursday that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's "destiny" is clear: he will face justice for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur... International justice is here to stay."

How courageous against Sudan, but oh, how cowardly against Israel. Is there no courageous state party member of the ICC. that will refer Israel for possible prosecution for its war crimes? Won't anyone refer the two murderous tyrants of Syria and Yemen for their slaughter of innocent civilians yearning to break free from their dictatorships?

Sadly, in the entire structure of the ICC there is not one single Arab or Muslim judge or prosecutor, a glaring omission of representation of 1.7 billion Muslims in the world residing in 57 Muslim nations representing 30% of all nations.

It is conceivable and inhumane that the entire international community has been watching in horror and silence the daily carnage of Syrian and Yemenie civilians without taking any action to stop the ongoing slaughter. The world is more than satisfied to let the impotent and incompetent Arab League, a league of tyrants, to deal with the Syrian issue and allow the Gulf Cooperation Council to resolve Yemen's potential civil war.

The Arabs are doomed to fail given their internal strife and political loyalties to foreign nations, in particular, to the United States and thus indirectly to Israel.

It is hard to fathom why the west, Russia, and China are still attached to Arab dictators given the Arab Spring which will spread to other nations despite its initial growing pains, unless they all fear the rise of "Islamists" who potentially may challenge their hegemony and economic greed.

The Arab Spring is unstoppable and in its conclusion across the Middle East will surely be antagonistic to all the nations that oppressed them, especially the United States and Israel, occupied them, monopolized their resources, and fought and smeared their beloved faith, Islam, and their beloved and revered Prophet Muhammad. The tragedy in the Arab Muslim world is that in their disunity they are their own worst enemies.

Thus the Arabs can vote, they can have a democracy but only if it's a democracy approved by the United States and Israel, free of Islamist, or else, "Remember Saddam.".

The U.N. must reform its charter regarding the Security Council's membership and abolish the Veto structure and adopt resolutions by majority vote. It must be funded in large part by the southern hemisphere nations, especially the wealthy Arab oil nations, to remove the constant American threat to defund the organization. Perhaps even consider moving its headquarters outside of the U.S.

"The United Nations, whose membership comprises almost all the states in the world, is founded on the principle of the equal worth of every human being."
-- Kofi Annan

* Mohamed Khodr is a political activist who frequently writes on the plight of Palestinians living under the brutal occupation of Israel, U.S. Foreign Policy, Islam, and Arab politics.

America’s growing isolation because of President Obama’s grovelling for Jewish campaign funding and votes

by Alan Hart on 12/23/2011

On 19 December, in the Jewish Daily Forward, Josh Nathan-Kazis wrote this:
"Top-level Jewish fundraisers from President Obama's 2008 campaign are sticking with the president in 2012.

"Despite reports that President Obama faces a loss of Jewish funders due to his Middle East policy, analysis of a list of elite bundlers from his 2008 race shows no defections among the president's top Jewish supporters in 2012."

Gilo Israeli settlement

That's not good news for the would-be presidents on the Republican side who are grovelling for Jewish campaign funds and votes.

On the same day, in what the BBC's Barbara Plett called "a highly unusual move", all the regional and political groupings on the UN Security Council sharply criticised Israeli settlement activities. They said in their statements that "continued settlement building threatened the chances of a future Palestinian state." They also expressed dismay at rising settler violence. ("They" were the envoys representing the European Union, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Arab Group and a loose coalition of emerging states known as IBSA).

It was UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant who read the statement of the EU group.
"Israel's continuing announcements to accelerate the construction of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, (1000 new housing units tendered for last week), send a devastating message. We believe that Israel's security and the realisation of the Palestinians' right to statehood are not opposing goals. On the contrary they are mutually reinforcing objectives. But they will not be achieved while settlement building and settler violence continues."
As Barbara Plett noted,
"Despite the unanimity of views, the envoys did not try to draft a single Security Council statement because they knew the US would veto it." She also noted that the Obama administration's stance was that "anything to do with Israeli-Palestinian peace talks belongs in a US-led bilateral process, not at the UN."
It could be said, and I do say, that such criticism of Israel's settlement activities is 44 years too late. So what, really, is its significance?

My answer is in three parts.

The first is that it's a strong indication of America's growing isolation because of the Obama administration's unconditional support for Zionism's monster child.

The second, related, is that it seems to confirm what I have been saying and writing for several months – that behind closed doors almost all of the governments of the world, European governments in particular, are more than fed up with Israel's contempt for and defiance of international law.

The third is that the governments of most of the member states of the UN have come to terms with the fact that Zionism's assertion that a Palestinian state on the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip could and would pose a threat to Israel's existence is propaganda nonsense of the highest order. (This, of course, is only of academic interest because the two-state solution has long been dead if not yet buried).

When I am thinking about Obama's grovelling, my memory recalls a comment made to me by Dr. Hajo Meyer, the passionate anti-Zionist Nazi holocaust survivor and author of An Ethical Tradition Betrayed, The End of Judaism.

We had shared a platform in London and over breakfast the following morning I asked him a question. I said: "Hajo, you're well into your eighties and you are being vilified by Zionism's verbal hit-men for your efforts to unmask the Zionist monster. Why are you continuing with your truth-telling? Why don't you sit back in peace and quiet and enjoy what's left of your life?"

He replied with nine little words. "The first person I see every morning is me," meaning "I have to live with myself."

It's more than reasonable to assume that Obama looks in the mirror from time to time. I wonder if he can live with himself.

Footnote: My comments on Israel's response

Israel's response as delivered by Karean Peretz, spokeswoman for Israel's UN Mission, included this:
"The main obstacle to peace, has been, and remains, the Palestinians' claim to the so-called right of return and its refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state,"

That, too, is Zionist propaganda nonsense of the highest order.

Israel is not a Jewish state. How could it be when about a quarter of its citizens are Arabs and mainly Muslims? Israel could only be a Jewish state after it had resorted to a final round of ethnic cleansing. Israel is a Zionist state.

Because Arafat kept them informed through a secret channel, Israel's leaders have long known that in the event of a two-state solution, the PLO was reluctantly reconciled to the reality of the right of return being confined to the territory of the Palestinian state, which would mean that only about 100,000 refugees would be able to return, with the rest having to accept financial compensation for the loss, theft, of their land and rights.

As I explain in my book Zionism, The Real Enemy of the Jews, when they decided they had no choice but to be pragmatic, Arafat and his leadership colleagues took a degree of comfort from two hopes. One was that all Palestinian refugees everywhere could and would have a Palestinian passport. The other was that if there was a two-state solution, it could evolve over one or two generations into one state for all - i.e. because in peace and partnership enough Israeli Jews would say something like "We don't need two states". In the event of a one-state solution coming about by mutual consent, it was assumed on the Palestinian side at leadership level that, over time, all Palestinians who wanted to return would be able to return. So in theory the two-state solution was not necessarily the end-game on the right of return.

* Alan Hart is a former ITN and BBC Panorama foreign correspondent who covered wars and conflicts wherever they were taking place in the world and specialized in the Middle East. Author of Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews. He blogs on and tweets on

Natural History Museum, London: Christmas Carols and the Campaign Against Veolia

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The Case Against Veolia

London 17 December 2011. Report by Isvestia

Veolia is a key target of the call of Palestinian civil society for an international Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions campaign in support of Palestinian rights. French multinational Veolia directly supports and profits from Israel’s illegal occupation through 1) its construction and management of the Jerusalem Light Rail project, 2) the operation of apartheid buses serving illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and 3) the dumping of waste from Israel and illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land.

As a result of successful and concerted action by human rights campaigners, both in the UK and throughout the world, Veolia lost billions of Pounds worth of business.


London's Natural History Museum

Saturday December 17th was one of the coldest days in London. However that did not deter seventeen human rights campaigners who turned out to raise awareness of Veolia’s activities with visitors to the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition whose corporate sponsor is Veolia. Campaigners used specially designed flyers and postcards summarising Veolia’s complicity in supporting Israel’s grave breaches of international and humanitarian law, denying justice, equality and freedom to the Palestinian people.

Human rights campaigners have been at the Natural History Museum (NHM) every two weeks since the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition opened in November and have distributed thousands of postcards and flyers about Veolia to the visitors and tourists who throng to this area of London known as ‘Museum Row.’

The postcards and flyers not only provide the facts, but also ask museum-goers to complain to the NHM about its choice of corporate sponsor. As on previous occasions, many people stopped to express their support and also say that they too were unhappy about Veolia’s sponsorship of the exhibition. Running alongside this campaign is a London BDS initiative encouraging people to post messages on the Natural History Museum’s Facebook page to urge the NHM to drop Veolia as a corporate sponsor.

Without a doubt, this is not what Veolia had in mind when it decided to sponsor the photography exhibition. Veolia thought it would be basking in the adoration of grateful museum-goers. Instead, it has made a serious miscalculation and provided a platform for campaigners to provide the public with a very different picture of the Veolia ‘brand’.

Raising awareness about Veolia's complicity in Israel's illegal occupation outside London's Natural History Museum.

If the presence of human rights campaigners were not bad enough for Veolia, seven Zionist Federation (ZF) counter-protesters turned up at the museum to shout “Support Israel! Support Veolia!” – which is not the sort of advertising or help Veolia is looking for.

The ZF’s chants and shouting were led by Co Vice-Chair of the UK Zionist Federation, Jonathan Hoffman, who has previously campaigned alongside the racist English Defence League outside the Israeli cosmetics shop Ahava.

Despite the ZF’s presence, campaigners spread out along the footpath and quietly and politely engaged with the public. The contrast with the aggressive shouting of the ZF could not have been greater.

It was not long before the ZF seemed to become frustrated with their lack of success and started to loudly interrupt members of the public who stopped to talk to the human rights campaigners.  On at least four occasions and much to the bemusement of passers-by, members of the public loudly and clearly admonished  ZF members for their behaviour and interruptions.

Rather than take the hint, the ZF resorted to chanting “No Nazi boycotts” and “They want terror, we want peace.”


 Zionists exposed! Zionist Federation hooligans unsuccessfully attempt to disrupt the carol singers and look foolish at the same time.

To mark the festive season, human rights campaigners formed an impromptu choir and started singing seasonal carols with lyrics about the illegal Israeli occupation and the plight of Palestinians. The reaction from passers-by was very positive; there were many smiles and much interest, including a young mother and daughter who were passing-by who stopped to join in the carol singing.

The reaction of the small ZF gaggle however was a different spectacle; they became even more aggressive and loud. Hoffman and his close ZF associate Harvey Garfield, started loudly chanting “Go home you bums” at the human rights carollers – to the visible disgust of the public and Natural History Museum staff.

The carol singers refused to be silenced by the ZF and continued with their full repertoire of alternative carols while other campaigners took the opportunity to engage with the public about Veolia and distributed even more literature.

At this point the ZF became even more visibly divided – some desperately tried to calm down their thuggish colleagues but with little success. As the human rights campaigners finished their protest, members of the ZF were last seen arguing loudly and aggressively with Natural History Museum security personnel.

The net result for Veolia and its brand? A public relations disaster.

And with friends like Jonathan Hoffman and his Zionist Federation entourage, Veolia must be wondering who needs enemies?

For more information about Veolia and its activities, visit the BIG Campaign’s Veolia page.

Veolia Takes Severe Blow As It Fails To Win 485 Million Pound Contract In West London: London 23rd Dec 11

December 23, 2011

Human rights campaigners are celebrating after the West London Waste Authority ('WLWA') excluded French multinational Veolia from a £485 million contract covering 1.4 million inhabitants of the London boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond-upon-Thames, for treatment of residual domestic waste.

The reasons behind the decision by the WLWA to exclude Veolia are commercially confidential but the impact of human rights campaigners should not be under-estimated.

Over the last six months campaigners lobbied Councillors and Council officials to exclude Veolia from the contract and submitted a letter to the WLWA documenting Veolia's direct complicity in grave breaches of international and humanitarian law in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Campaigners pointed out that:

Veolia helped build and is involved in operating a tram-line which links Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.

Veolia takes waste from Israel and illegal Israeli Settlements and dumps this on Palestinian land at the Tovlan landfill.

The letter also gave evidence of Veolia's racist recruitment policies in Israel, as well as the company's operation of buses on Highway 443 which Palestinians are prohibited from using.

Veolia's failure to win the WLWA contract is a heavy blow for the company because it owns a domestic waste depot in the area covered by the WLWA and so should have been ideally placed to meet some of the necessary criteria for the WLWA tender.

Worse still for Veolia, this blow comes only six months after it failed to win Ealing Council's £300m new 'Clean and Green' contract even though Veolia already did much of the work under the old contract. When bidding for that contract Veolia had faced determined opposition from Palestinian rights campaigners over its track record in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Campaigners across the world are focussed on Veolia because it is a key target of the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions ('BDS') campaign for Palestinian rights and which is led by Palestinian civil society organisations.

'Complicity in infringing human rights and international law has become an expensive business for Veolia. Other companies please note: There is a strong, determined and popular international campaign for justice for Palestinians; if you aid Israel's oppression of Palestinians your business will suffer just like Veolia's'

EU Warns Israel Against Connecting Ma’ale Adumim With Jerusalem

Friday December 23, 2011 13:23 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies
The European Union warned the Israeli government against creating a geographical contiguity between the Ma’ale Adumim settlement and occupied East Jerusalem by constructing a new settlement in the area.
Ma'ale Adumim - Arabs48
Ma'ale Adumim - Arabs48
EU envoy, Andrew Stanley, submitted an official document in this regard to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

The EU said that Israel is demolishing Palestinian homes in Area A, an area Israel intends to use for establishing a settlement that would create a chain between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim.

Stanley stated that the EU is extremely concerned regarding the new Israeli plan, and demanded explanations on the issue.

The EU stance was made after several EU countries, members of the Security Council, including Germany and Italy, denounced the escalated settlement activities in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and the sharp rise in settler attacks against the Palestinians and their property.

Recently, Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat, said that Israel must cede East Jerusalem Palestinian areas that are now behind the Annexation Wall. Such an issue would isolate the residents from their work places, educational facilities, medical facilities and all other aspects of their daily life.

Experts in issues related to the Wall and Settlements stated that all initial indications point to the Israeli intentions to create two networks of roads that would separate Palestinian and Israeli traffic from each other.

One network would link between West and East Jerusalem, from Jerusalem to Ma’ale Adumim in East Jerusalem, and from the north to the south in order to link settlements in the northern part of the West Bank with Jerusalem and other settlements in the southern part of the West Bank.

The experts also believe that the second network of roads would be used by the Palestinians linking Ramallah with Bethlehem, and in the future linking the southern areas of West Jerusalem with the Jericho area via a bypass road that keeps Palestinian traffic from approaching Ma’ale Adumim.

The EU said that such projects would foil any chances for the two-state solution. The United States also expressed its ‘rejection’ to the Israeli plan, adding that the plan would not only block Palestinian geographical contiguity, but also leads to the collapse of the efforts to reach a final status peace agreement.

Israeli daily, Haaretz, report that the EU stance was made two weeks ago during a meeting between the 27 EU member countries.

The EU stated that there is a sharp rise in the number of homes demolished by Israel in area C of the West Bank, and pointed out the deteriorating economic situation of the Palestinian population in the area.

During the meetings, detailed reports submitted by a number of human rights organizations, revealed that Israel intends to remove 2500 Palestinians from Al Jahaleen area, an issue that raised concerns regarding Israeli intentions to prepare the Palestinian lands in order to be used settlement activities around Ma’ale Adumim settlement.

Two weeks ago, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Kristalina Georgieva, sent a letter for Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, expressing concern regarding the forced eviction of Bedouins from Area 1, and expressing fears that Israel wants to build a new settlement neighborhood in Ma’ale Adumim.

But Israel claims that it is evicting the Bedouins “in order to resettle them”, and denied any relation between their removal and any settlement activities in the area.
Barkat is trying to officially approve the Annexation Wall as the border of Jerusalem, “the united capital of Israel”.

Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that a source at Barkat’s office stated that the municipality created a plan to transfer all services provided to Arab neighborhoods that became behind the Annexation Wall, in East Jerusalem, to be run under “Civil Administration”. The Civil Administration is run by the Israeli military.

Israel recently transformed the Shufat roadblock into a border terminal, an issue that effectively removed 70.000 Palestinians out of the boundaries of Jerusalem.

The plan to create the network of roads that would link Ramallah with Bethlehem aims at convincing international powers that that the new plan will not block the geographical contiguity of the Palestinian territories.

Israeli artillery fire target the southern and northern Gaza Strip

[ 23/12/2011 - 07:19 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)– Israeli occupation tanks on Friday morning fired artillery shells to the east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip and Jabal al-Kashef in the northern Gaza Strip without any casualties reported.

Local sources told PIC correspondent that occupation tanks fired two artillery shells which fell to the west of the Shahin water well in Abasan al-Jadida targeting a group of Palestinians, but no casualties were reported.

The sources said that ambulances rushed to the scene and started searching for any casualties.
Occupation tanks also fired two artillery shells at the Jabal al-Kashef neighbourhood in the northern Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported.

Source and more at the Palestinian Information Center

Ministry of detainees: Israel still keeps some prisoners as unlawful combatants

[ 22/12/2011 - 10:26 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)– Information director of the Palestinian ministry of prisoners Riyadh Al-Ashqar said there are still three civilian prisoners from the Gaza Strip classified by the Israeli occupation as unlawful combatants in its jails, although they ended their prison terms.

Ashqar stated on Wednesday the number of prisoners who were classified arbitrarily by Israeli courts as unlawful combatant shrank to three after they released Mohamed Abu Jamous from Khan Younis on Tuesday.

He added that Abu Jamous spent four years in Israeli jails although he was sentenced to two years and thus was supposed to be released in June 2009.

The Israeli occupation released a month ago a Palestinian citizen from Gaza called Hammad Abu Amrah after it used against him this law making him spend more than his six-year imprisonment sentence.

The Israeli occupation invented this law through the Knesset and kangaroo courts to use it against Gaza prisoners after it had withdrawn from the Gaza Strip in December 2005 in order to circumvent international law and jail them for open periods without any charges leveled against them.

Source and more at the Palestinian Information Center

Brutal assault on 16 year old boy

Friday, 23 December, 2011 | 15:29
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) -- Dawood Yousef Sharaf, 16, was brutally beaten by Israeli soldiers on two separate occasions in the past week in Silwan. Here he recounts the dramatic story to Silwanic.

On Thursday, 15 December Dawood was on his way home from school in East Jerusalem. As he passed by the Mercy Cemetary near the Lion Gate of the Old City the police station outside Silwan, Israeli troops began to harass him. Three troops called Dawood over and asked for his ID and if he’d ever been arrested. He was then told to come into the police station, remove his clothes and get ready to be searched.

“I stood against the wall and raised my hands. One soldier forced me to put my legs apart, then started to beat them. The soldier demanded to know why I had spoken in a high voice when being questioned outside, and I told him that I was in a hurry. They then left me wait over 30 minutes before allowing me to leave. As I was about to exit the building, several officers drew their weapons and forced me back in for another inspection. Finally I was able to leave.”

Two days later as Dawood was on his way home from school, an Israeli soldier stopped him in the street and said “you’re the one they took in and humiliated on Thursday.” He pointed to a group of soldiers standing nearby, and said “those are the ones over there who did it. Why don’t you go and ask them why they did it?”

“I thought that confronting them might stop them from harassing me in the future,” said Dawood. “So I went over to the three soldiers who had assaulted me. As I approached them, they knocked me to the ground immediately. They handcuffed me and dragged me back into the police station, where I was beaten for over 40 minutes. I was beaten brutally, all over my body, until I passed out. I didn’t believe I would get out alive.”

Dawood comments that he is only the most recent in an ever-increasing line of brutalities inflicted on the children of Silwan. “Soldiers are constantly harassing children from Silwan.” He also added that soldiers told him that despite his clean record, Dawood would now have a criminal record after the attack.

The Children Protection Committee at the Wadi Hilweh Information Center states that “physical assault of children from Silwan by Israeli forces are taking place both in and outside of the Silwan area at an unprecedented level. Israeli soldiers, settlers and settler guards often target Silwan children when they are outside the neighborhood on their way to or from school.

EI exclusive: UK charity with Mossad links secretly denounced anti-Zionist Jews to government

21 December 2011
Raed Salah sits next to two anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews
The Community Security Trust sent a document to the UK Home Office titled “Neturei Karta & Raed Salah”(Mahfouz Abu Turk/APA images)

An influential UK charity denounced Jewish critics of Israel in secret reports to the government earlier this year, The Electronic Intifada has learned.

The Community Security Trust (CST) is known for its work recording anti-Semitic attacks and for security patrols at Jewish communal events.

But evidence uncovered by The Electronic Intifada suggests the CST works behind the scenes with an assertively pro-Israel agenda not stated in its charitable remit. There are also serious questions over the CST’s links to the government of Israel and, allegedly, to its intelligence services.

The Electronic Intifada contacted the CST and inquired about these points, but representatives of the organization declined to comment.

In a report sent to government department the Home Office, the CST denounced several “anti-Zionist British Jewish individuals and groups” as “extreme groups,” claiming they were “unrepresentative of the vast majority of British Jews.”

Dating from August, the report was primarily an attempt to help the government in its court case to deport Palestinian political activist Raed Salah. The report expressed concern that certain Jews had “voiced support for Salah,” recommending that the “extent of their credibility to speak on these issues should be considered.”

The CST denounced as “extreme” well-known Palestine solidarity activist Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and the anti-Zionist Orthodox Jewish group Neturei Karta. The report highlights that Wimborne-Idrissi is secretary of Jews For Boycotting Israeli Goods.
Use of the term “extreme groups” is significant. It’s a phrase the CST usually reserves for violent far-right groups such as the British National Party, the National Front and Combat 18; or for Islamic political groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir.

The CST sent a second document to the Home Office at the same time titled “Neturei Karta & Raed Salah” as part of a larger dossier. This four-page report suggests the group is guilty of everything from Holocaust denial to “defending” a 2008 terrorist attack against Jews in Mumbai.

Both texts formed part of the Home Office’s defense against Salah’s attempt to resist deportation. In September, a civil servant testified in court that the CST had been its “principal source.”

The full text of both secret CST reports can be read in the blog post accompanying this article.

Pure lies”


The Electronic Intifada sent copies of the reports to the activists attacked in the documents and asked for comments.

Rabbi Yacov Weisz of Neturei Karta UK replied that the report was “pure lies” and “absolute nonsense.” He said it was no surprise to find the CST trying to marginalize his organization. Weisz said the CST was a provocative organization not wanted by many in his own Orthodox community in Stamford Hill, London, since it “plays into political Zionism.” He said there is a problem with racism in the UK, but it could be directed at Muslims just as much as Jews.

Wimborne-Idrissi said the CST does not like the fact that Jewish critics of Israel are becoming more numerous and vocal.

Our existence shows that organizations like the Board of Deputies [of British Jews], the Zionist Federation and CST cannot legitimately claim to represent all Jews,” she told The Electronic Intifada. “We give the lie to their insistence that defending Israel is central to Jewish identity and that to defend Palestinian interests against it is synonymous with anti-Semitism.”

In a statement, IJAN said the CST was “known to many as the Zionist police… We would ask who but racists would call opposing all forms of racism ‘extreme’? It is the CST that is ‘unrepresentative’ — most of the world does not support Israeli apartheid, including a substantial and rapidly-increasing number of Jewish people.”

Lauded by government


As demonstrated in The Electronic Intifada’s coverage of the Raed Salah case, the CST has strong links with government departments — especially the Home Office and Department for Communities and Local Government. In some areas CST volunteers jointly patrol with the police.

It has also been lauded by politicians at the highest levels of government. Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have both given speeches at black tie CST dinners this year.

Founded as a charity in 1994, the CST had several notable predecessors. The Group Relations Educational Trust (GRET) was founded by Gerald Ronson in 1978. Now CST chairman, Ronson wrote in his memoir Leading from the Front that he hoped GRET would “operate as a sort of umbrella organization” for the 62 Group and other militant anti-fascist groups.

The 62 Group was a street-fighting Jewish activist group formed to combat the rise of neo-Nazis in the 1960s. It reportedly specialized in infiltration and intelligence gathering.

Ronson wanted to distance GRET from such militant direct action approaches. He wrote that although he was the chief fundraiser for the 62 Group and “I was once a foot soldier out there fighting on the front lines,” he increasingly came to think that “being hooligans to fight hooligans wasn’t the smartest way.”

The CST’s immediate predecessor was the Community Security Organization — part of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. In 1994, it broke away from the Board and established itself as a new charity — the Community Security Trust.

Trained by Mossad?


Antony Lerman, founder and former director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR), told The Electronic Intifada that CST volunteers had in the past received self-defense training from Mossad, Israel’s overseas spy agency.

Mossad is perhaps most well known for its assassinations of Palestinian intellectuals, activists and fighters around the world. It is thought that the Mossad was behind the 1972 Beirut car bomb that murdered writer and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine activist Ghassan Kanafani. In 1986, Mossad agents kidnapped Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli nuclear technician turned whistleblower. More recently, it was thought to be behind the murder of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, in which the killers used forged passports as part of their operation.

But Mossad also claims to protect Jews, says Lerman. “On one level you can understand why” CST trained with the Mossad, he said. “One of the things the Mossad believes that it should be responsible for is Jewish security all around the world.”

The Electronic Intifada had a wide-ranging conversation about the CST with Lerman. JPR ran the first project to monitor anti-Semitism in a human rights fashion, he added. Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, Lerman had “very close relations” with GRET and, later, the CST.

In the early 1990s “the Israeli government was trying to exert control over the monitoring of anti-Semitism through diaspora communities around the world,” he recalled. Lerman and the CST both resisted this, preferring to remain independent. They were “quite angry with the way the Israelis were handling this kind of thing.”

The Israelis’ list of anti-Semitic incidents “was appalling stuff,” he added. “I wouldn’t say at that time they were so much into exaggerating the problem, but they just had no real feel for what anti-Semitism really was. They would take any kind of incident, anything that involved Jews often would sometimes go down as an anti-Semitic incident when it hadn’t [really been one] and often they would miss anti-Semitic incidents as well.”

The Israel Government Monitoring Forum on Anti-Semitism at that time operated through representatives at embassies throughout the world, and “they were mostly Mossad representatives,” said Lerman.

During that time the CST … felt they needed to keep good relations with the Board, with the Israelis, with the Israel embassy … [but] they were broadly supportive of our position throughout the 1990s,” he recalled. “During that time my experience with them as a whole was rather good.”

This didn’t last. “My relations with them began to deteriorate at the end of the ’90s and from 2000 onwards,” he said. “I from the beginning was never in agreement with this idea of the ‘new anti-Semitism.’” But the CST was “very much behind that kind of line.”

Lerman is a noted critic of this “new anti-Semitism” line. Writing earlier this year, he described it as “the notion that Israel has become the Jew among the nations and that therefore extreme criticism and anti-Zionism are a new version of the anti-Semitism that existed prior to the establishment of the state.”

He added, “The entrenchment of the concept of the ‘new anti-Semitism’ [has] so extended the range of expressions of what can be regarded as anti-Semitic that the word anti-Semitism has come close to losing all meaning” (“The farcical attack on the UCU for voting against use of the EUMC ‘working definition’ of anti-Semitism,” Antony Lerman’s blog, 2 June 2011).

Conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism


Lerman’s is far from the only Jewish voice critical of the the CST. Tony Greenstein is a Palestine solidarity and anti-racist activist who has blogged extensively on the CST. He has frank criticisms of their methods. “The CST has a long record of barring anti-Zionist Jews from meetings and harassing them,” he wrote on his blog in January 2009 (“Community Security Thugs Bar Jewish Opponents of Gaza War from Liberal Judaism Meeting”).

While leftist critics such as Greenstein allege the CST exaggerates or inflates its anti-Semitism figures, Lerman disagrees. “They’re not making up the numbers, it’s what they do with the information [that’s more problematic],” Lerman said. “It’s the role that they play behind the scenes with government, it’s the connections with the Israelis — whether it’s lobbying on their behalf or not, they’ve got very close relations.”

Lerman still gives the CST credit for the rigor it uses when deciding which incidents to record as anti-Semitic and which to reject. He said that it does not record incidents as anti-Semitic unless it is absolutely sure. But the “new anti-Semitism” logic means they will be predisposed to see an anti-Israel statement as being anti-Semitic, he added.

What its critics tend to agree on is that the CST conflates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Its latest report describes anti-Zionism as “in effect anti-Semitic” (Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2010, 8 December 2011 [PDF]).

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi said the CST “try to undermine our credibility by noting that we are small in number. They cannot acknowledge that growing numbers of Jews are breaking with the unquestioning loyalty to Israel that has been the norm in past decades.” Wimborne-Idrissi was barred from a 2009 “liberal Judaism” meeting by CST guards.

Greenstein has accused the CST of thuggish behavior against Jewish critics of Israel, and has written that CST security volunteers guard pro-Israel demonstrations and events. “Its stewards looked benignly on as the EDL [English Defense League] joined a demonstration outside the Israeli embassy in August 2010 to celebrate the murder of nine unarmed activists aboard the Mavi Marmara,” Greenstein wrote on his blog (“Community Support Trust supplies false information to deport Sheikh Raed Salah,” 3 October 2011).

Lack of transparency


Although the CST claims to represent the Jewish community, it has asked for a special dispensation from the Charity Commission so that the names of its trustees are not publicly accessible (most charities in the UK have the names of their trustees listed on the Charity Commission’s website). A spokesperson from the Charity Commission said such dispensations were only given in “very exceptional” cases, such as for women’s shelters where the trustees were thought to be “in personal danger.”

However, in May 2003 the CST established a private company called Support Trustee limited. The Memorandum of Association filed at Companies House in Cardiff says Support Trustee limited acts as “trustee, custodian trustee, nominee or director of or for the charity Community Security Trust.”

According to documents filed at Companies House, the current directors of Support Trustee Limited are: Keith Black of the United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA), Lloyd Dorfman (chairman of the Travelex currency exchange group), banker and UJIA trustee Jeremy Isaacs, solicitor Brook Land, property investor Gary Landesberg, former chairman of the British division of Jewish educational group ORT Mark Mishon, CST chairman Gerald Ronson and accountant Jeremy Trent. Its secretary is CST Chief Executive Richard Benson.

A multi-million pound operation


CST chairman Gerald Ronson is a property magnate and the multi-millionaire owner of the Heron Group. Accounts on the Charity Commission website show that Ronson’s charitable trust has donated almost £500,000 ($780,000) to the CST since 2007. In the early 1990s, he was sentenced to a year in prison for his role in the “Guinness affair.” This was a share price inflation scam The Daily Telegraph has described as the best-known British stock market scandal of the 1980s (“Famous stock market scandals,” undated).

In a 2009 interview with The Jewish Chronicle, Ronson claimed to have friends at the highest levels of the Israeli government: “He received a phone call from the then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, and met [current Prime Minister] Binyamin Netanyahu, at the time a minister in Shamir’s government, while on a day-release for a medical examination,” the article states (“Interview: Gerald Ronson,” 4 June 2009).

Greenstein described the CST as “a well-paid gravy train.” Accounts available on the Charity Commission’s website show the CST spent £5.3 million ($8.3 million) in the year ending December 2010 — £2.1 million ($3.3 million) of this was on salaries and wages. It is thought to employ 64 staff, some full-time on security issues.

Last year the government announced £2 million ($3.1 million) in new funding for security at Jewish faith schools. The CST’s Chief Executive Richard Benson wrote in The Jewish Chronicle that this came in response to five years of CST lobbying (“Let’s recognize our friends,” 22 December 2010). Antony Lerman said the schools are likely to give the CST an advisory role in how the money is spent.

The CST and “infiltration”


In April and June, historian Geoffrey Alderman wrote two pieces for The Jewish Chronicle taking the CST to task for being unaccountable to the community. “What right does a completely private body that happens to call itself the CST have to involve itself in the safety and well-being of British Jews?”
Alderman is a Zionist and hostile to the Palestinian people and their supporters. In May of this year, he wrote a column saying nothing had caused him “greater pleasure in recent weeks than news of the death of the Italian so-called ‘peace activist’ Vittorio Arrigoni,” the International Solidarity Movement volunteer murdered in Gaza (“This was no ‘peace activist,’” The Jewish Chronicle, 13 May 2011).
In one of his columns, Alderman made reference to a more “murky dimension” of the CST’s work — possible “infiltration” of “extremist organizations” (“Our unrepresentative security,” The Jewish Chronicle, 18 April 2011).

What does Lerman think of that accusation? “I certainly wouldn’t rule it out,” he replied. “What I am absolutely certain about is that they’ve got connections with people who have [infiltrated]. So whether that’s through Searchlight or others, I’ve no idea”

Searchlight is an anti-fascist organization and magazine which has long been criticized by anti-fascist activists on the left for allegedly strong links to intelligence services and law enforcement entities. Its central figure, Gerry Gable, was involved in the 62 Group with Ronson.

In 1980 The New Statesman magazine published the “Gable Memo,” a secret memorandum to Gable’s then bosses at London Weekend Television. In the 1977 memo, Gable makes various accusations against a journalist, Phil Kelly, and infamously concluded: “I have now given the names I have acquired to be checked out by British/French security services … I may try somebody in the Israeli Foreign Office.”

Gable’s accusations against Kelly included that he “acted as a cheerleader on several Arab demonstrations in London” and “he could have blown the cover of a man who had infiltrated the Palestinians and some left groups” (“The Gable Memo,” Lobster, December 1992).

When the Raed Salah case came to the attention of the British government, it called on the CST for information. As reported in detail by The Electronic Intifada, government departments asked the CST to send information on Salah that they could use to ban him from entering the UK.

As Salah prepared to go to the High Court hearing that would ultimately release him on bail, the CST posted two Jerusalem court indictments against Salah on its blog. Both related to old incidents (one from 2007). And both were dated 23 June — the exact date that Home Secretary Theresa May said she banned Salah (“Sheikh Raed Salah: The Indictments,” 6 July 2011).

I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the Mossad,” said Lerman. “They had close relations with the Mossad when I was working with them, and I’m sure that they still do.”

A freedom of information request to the UK Border Agency sent by The Electronic Intifada in July was finally answered this month. A request for a copy of the original banning order signed by May was denied on data protection grounds.

Israeli government links


The Israel Government Monitoring Forum on Anti-Semitism with which Lerman was at odds in the early 1990s now has a successor body called the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism. The forum’s website lists the CST as one of the “members of the forum” along with the Anti-Defamation League and the Israeli prime minister’s office.

Lerman said that CST volunteers “go along at their own expense to guard Jewish sites and meetings and things of that kind. Well they get training, and I believe that the training has been done in the past by people from the Mossad, who come over and give them training in self-defense and that sort of thing.”

How likely is it that the CST lobbies politically for Israel behind the scenes?

In September, the law on universal jurisdiction was changed, making it easier for Israeli ministers and generals charged with war crimes to visit the UK. The Jewish Chronicle published an article quoting the Board of Deputies as acknowledging “the efforts of the various communal groups, in particular the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), Board of Deputies, CST and Friends of Israel groups that have helped to ensure the safe passage of the bill.”

But “CST” was soon removed from the online version of the article, apparently after spokesman Mark Gardner intervened (see The Electronic Intifada’s correspondent Ben White’s screen capture).

Though Lerman’s relations with the CST have deteriorated, he thinks it unlikely that the CST would lobby for Israel in any way that would contravene its charitable status. “It would have undermined the role that they are trying to play on the issue of anti-Semitism,” he said. “Having said that, the very fact that they support the ‘new anti-Semitism’ kind of arguments … [means] they are doing the work of the Israel government, because it … is a very strong Israel government line.”

CST declines to comment


For its part, the CST has previously denied acting on behalf of Israel. Of its role in having Salah banned from the UK, the CST stated: “We did not do this on behalf of Israel or in pursuit of Israel’s policy objectives.” It said its only concern is anti-Semitism.

The Electronic Intifada wrote to the CST and asked the following questions: Why did the CST denounce Wimborne-Idrissi, Jews For Boycotting Israeli Goods and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network as “extreme”? Why did the CST do so privately not publicly? In light of Alderman’s “infiltration” comments, can you give assurances you are not involved with the infiltration or subversion of pro-Palestinian activist groups? In light of the allegation that the CST has received Mossad training, what is the current nature of the CST’s relations to the Israeli intelligence services? Did Israeli authorities help the CST with its case against Raed Salah?

The Electronic Intifada enclosed the part of the Salah report that denounced anti-Zionist Jews.
Despite having been given several days notice in advance of publication, the CST did not respond to multiple requests for comment. A phone call to the CST office three days after the original email request produced “no comment.”

Nevertheless, the CST will need to respond to these serious charges eventually. In court in September, UK Border Agency case worker Jonathan Rosenorn-Lanng referred to the CST as “the Jewish community” — yet it is clear the group does not represent the entire community. The British government should ask itself how appropriate it is to maintain such strong links to an organization so politically compromised.

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who writes about Palestine. His website is