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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

This is Apartheid - Thousands of Israel’s Bedouin citizens have had their citizenship revoked

Because Israel is a ‘Jewish’ state – this could not happen to Jews

Israel is engaging on a plan to ‘Judaify’ the Negev desert area in the south.  It is sparsely populated and most of its inhabitants are Bedouin.  Thousands of them were expelled into neighbouring countries from 1948 until the mid 1950’s and those who remain live in ‘unrecognised’ villages.  That means they have no mains water, electricity, state schools, sewerage etc.  It also means that they are liable to be demolished at a moments notice.

Al Araqib has been demolished over a hundred times and in January Umm al-Hiran was demolished.  One protestor, Yakub Abu al-Kiyana, school teacher, was murdered by the Police who also fired rubber bullets directly at the leader of the Joint Jewish-Arab list in the Knesset, Aymen Odeh, injuring him.

The reason to demolish Umm al-Hiran was to build a Jewish town, Hiran, in its place.  In other words naked Apartheid.
That is the context in which thousands of Bedouin are having their Israeli citizenship revoked at a stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen.  The reason given is that they were registered as citizens by mistake.  They have lived in what is now Israel all their lives.  They are the indigenous population, unlike the Jewish settlers who came mostly after them, but that doesn’t count.  It as all a mistake and so they are no longer citizens.  In fact they  never were citizens!

Of course this could never happen to a Jew because if you are Jewish you have the automatic right under the misnamed Law of Return to go to Israel and claim citizenship.  If I were to go to Israel and claim citizenship I would have to be granted it even though I have never lived there.  Arabs who have lived in Israel for hundreds of years can have their citizenship revoked immediately.  This is not accidental.  It is the product of a Jewish state where Arabs live in it by sufferance only.  In Jerusalem thousands of Arabs who had permanent residency cards are now having them revoked too.
What is surprising is that some people in the West still see Israel as a democratic state.

Tony Greenstein

By Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man   |Published August 26, 2017

Hundreds if not thousands of Bedouin are having their citizenship revoked seemingly for no reason, according to ‘Haaretz.’ Shocking as it may be, it’s not surprising. Citizenship has never provided non-Jewish Israelis with the same security it gives their Jewish compatriots.

Abu Gardud Salem from the village of Bir Hadaj of the Azzamah tribe on August 18 became a man without citizenship after a trip to Israeli immigration offices.
Imagine going to renew your passport or change your official address and after a few minutes of pattering on a keyboard without looking up to see the human being in front of him or her, a government clerk informs you that you are no longer a citizen of the only country you have ever known. The country of your birth.
And no, it’s not that your citizenship is being revoked, the clerk calmly explains. It’s not like that. You were never a citizen in the first place, you see, it was all a mistake — never mind the fact that you were born in Israel to parents who are Israeli citizens, and your siblings are Israeli citizens, and maybe you even served in the Israeli army.
Hundreds if not thousands of Bedouin citizens of Israel have undergone that exact terrifying experience in recent years, according to a report by Jack Khoury in Haaretz Friday.
The Kafqesque ordeal, to which Jewish Israelis are exempt, is part of a policy in which one’s citizenship is re-adjudicated, without a judge or judicial process of course, every time one comes into contact with an Interior Ministry clerk for the most routine reasons, according to the Haaretz investigation.

The gut-wrenching practice is shocking on the most basic levels. For those of us lucky enough to be citizens of a country, so much of our security in this world comes bundled up with it. Of course, Palestinians and other non-Jews have never had the same level of security attached to their citizenship in Israel as their Jewish compatriots do. Many of them, like the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from East Jerusalem, don’t even have citizenship to begin with.
As shocking as the Haaretz report is, nobody should be surprised. The Israeli prime minister has openly declared his belief that some, namely Arab, Israeli citizens should be stripped of their citizenship for making political statements not to his liking. A senior government minister recently threatened a “third Nakba,” referencing the largely forced displacement of 700,000 Palestinians in 1948. And then there was the landmark ruling earlier this month actually stripping a Palestinian-Arab man of his Israeli citizenship because of his familial lineage. Let us not forget the more-than 14,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem who have had their permanent residency status stripped of them over the years, sending them into exile.
Again, none of this should be news. Israel is not a state of all its citizens — any minister in the current Israeli government would be happy to tell you as much. Advocating turning Israel into a state with those types of liberal-democratic building blocks is considered nothing short of seditious. It is antithetical to Zionism as it has come to be defined in the contemporary Israeli zeitgeist.

It should also be no surprise that attempts to reduce the number of Arab citizens are taking place in the Negev desert, where every Israeli government has tirelessly worked to establish Jewish hegemony in the sprawling desert that comprises more than half of Israel’s land mass. The latest iteration of those plans, The Prawer Plan, which sought to displace some 40,000 Bedouin citizens living in dozens of “unrecognized” villages, was just one in 70 years of similar efforts. Currently, the Israeli government is finalizing the destruction of the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in order to build a new settlement in its place — for Jews only.
Imagine the feeling of living under a regime which views your very existence as a strategic threat; one out of every five Israeli citizens do.
A state that belongs less to some of its citizens than others, which sees some of its citizens as assets and others as liabilities, which bestows inalienable rights upon some and views others as expendable — is not a just state. After 70 years, the question is no longer whether Israel can balance its Jewish and democratic character. The question is which of them it has chosen.
Even that debate won’t be relevant for much long. The Israeli Knesset is scheduled to advance the “Jewish Nation-State” law in the coming weeks. The government-supported bill, which is the equivalent of a constitutional amendment in Israel’s system, would explicitly favor the country’s Jewish character over its democratic character.

Israel Revokes Citizenship of Hundreds of Negev Bedouin, Leaving Them Stateless

Jack Khoury Aug 25, 2017 8:21 AM
Dozens of people – men and women, young and old – crowd into a big tent in the unrecognized village of Bir Hadaj. Some hold documents in plastic bags while others clutch tattered envelopes. What brought them to this village south of Be’er Sheva in Israel’s Negev desert was that the Population, Immigration and Border Authority had revoked their citizenship, claiming that it had been awarded to them in error.
Judging by the increasing number of complaints piling up in recent months, this appears to be a widespread phenomenon among the Negev’s Bedouin residents. Hundreds if not thousands of them are losing their citizenship due to “erroneous registration.” This is the reason they get from the Interior Ministry, with no further details or explanation.
Fifty-year-old Salim al-Dantiri from Bir Hadaj has been unsuccessfully trying to obtain Israeli citizenship for years. He doesn’t understand why Israel won’t grant it to him; his father served in the Israel Defense Forces. “Sometimes they say there was a mistake in my parents’ registration dozens of years ago. Is that our fault?” asks al-Dantiri. He’s not the only one, but many of those who came to the meeting were reluctant to identify themselves out of concern that it might hurt them in their interactions with the Population Authority. Others have already given up hope.
Salim al-Dantiri from Bir Hadaj Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Mahmoud al-Gharibi from the Al-Azazme tribe in the Be’er Sheva area is a carpenter who has been unemployed for a year following a road accident. He has 12 children from two wives. One is an Israeli citizen and the other comes from the West Bank. Seven of his children have Israeli citizenship but he has been stateless since 2000. “I went to the Interior Ministry to renew my identity card,” he relates. “There, without any warning, they told me they were rescinding my citizenship since there was some mistake. They didn’t tell me what it was or what this meant. Since then I’ve applied 10 times, getting 10 rejections, each time on a different pretext. I have two children who are over 18 and they too have no citizenship. That’s unacceptable. I’ve been living in this area for dozens of years and my father was here before me. If there was a mistake, they should fix it.”
Another person in the tent, who wished to remain anonymous, says that “many of these people, mainly ones who don’t speak Hebrew that well, don’t understand what happened to them. No one explains anything and all of a sudden your status changes. You go in as a citizen and come out deprived of citizenship, and then an endless process of foot-dragging begins.”
For years Yael Agmon from nearby Yeruham has been accompanying Bedouin to the Interior Ministry to help them apply for passports or update their identity cards. On many occasions, she has witnessed their citizenship being revoked. “You can clearly see how a clerk enters their details into a computer and then they instantly lose their citizenship. They then have to contend with an endless bureaucratic process. Sometimes it costs them tens of thousands of shekels in lawyers’ fees, and they don’t always get their citizenship in the end,” she says.
Salman al-Amrat came to the tent gathering because of his wife’s and oldest son’s status. The 56-year-old member of the Al-Azazme tribe is an Israeli citizen. His 62-year-old wife is stateless even though she was born here, he says. “Every time we try to get her citizenship we are met with refusal.” Al-Amrat’s oldest son, now 34, is also without citizenship even though his younger brothers ultimately received theirs. “We’ve been trying for years to obtain citizenship for him but to no avail. Every time they say some documents are missing. Now we’re trying through an attorney. It’s illogical that six of my children and I have citizenship and my oldest son doesn’t,” he says.
Salim al-Dantiri in Bir Hadaj. He too has lost his citizenship due to what Israel claims is a registration error. July 2017 Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Atalla Saghaira, a resident of the unrecognized village of Rahma, fought for 13 years to obtain his citizenship, even though his late father served in the IDF. He started the process in 2002, when he applied for a passport and the Interior Ministry refused to give him one. “They said that my parents had become citizens but weren’t ones to begin with,” he says. He finally obtained Israeli citizenship in 2015. “I insisted on my rights and waged a campaign against the bureaucracy by myself until I obtained citizenship, but I know there are some people who give up,” he says. Saghaira’s father was a tracker in the army for several years, and left after sustaining an injury. At the time, he had seven children (including Attala), but three of them still are still stateless.
Another resident of Bir Hadaj, Abu Garud Salame, works in the Ramat Hovav industrial zone. He says that all five of his children and three of his brothers received their Israeli citizenship but he has been refused each time he requested to have it reinstated. “We’ve been living here for dozens of years. My parents registered in the ‘50s and now I’ve been deprived of my citizenship. Even if there was some mistake in the registration process I don’t know why I have to pay for it,” he says. “Why are we to blame for things that happened decades ago?”
Automatic change in status
Abu Garud Salame from the village of Bir Hadaj also had is citizenship revoked Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Lawmaker Aida Touma-Suliman of the Joint List has received many appeals in recent months from people who have been stripped of their Israeli citizenship. Attorney Sausan Zahar from the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel recently appealed to Interior Minister Arye Dery and to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, asking them to cancel this policy.
According to her petition, these sweeping citizenship cancellations has been going on at least since 2010. When Bedouin citizens come to Interior Ministry offices in Be’er Sheva to take care of routine matters such as changing their address, obtaining a birth certificate or registering names, the Population Authority examines their status, as well as that of their parents and grandparents, going back to the early days of the state.
In many cases, the clerk tells them that their Israeli citizenship had been granted in error. On the spot, he changes their status from citizen to resident and issues them a new document. People who lose their citizenship are given no explanation and no opportunity to appeal. Instead, the clerk suggests that they submit a request and start the process of obtaining citizenship from scratch, as if they were newcomers to Israel.
Many, caught by surprise and without legal advice, don’t know what to do. Some submit a request for citizenship while others simply give up in despair. Zahar says that many requests are denied due to missing documents, a criminal record (not a valid reason for denying citizenship) or even the applicant’s inability to speak Hebrew. Many Bedouin women who have been stripped of citizenship fall into the latter category. One such woman filed an appeal over the cancellation of her citizenship due to an alleged error. When it turned out that her Hebrew was lacking, her appeal was rejected. She remains stateless.
Adalah’s petition to the interior minister shows that individuals who have been citizens for 20, 30 or even 40 years, some of whom served in the army, who voted and paid their taxes, had clerks cancel their status with a keystroke. As permanent residents, they can vote in local elections but cannot run for office, vote in national elections or run for the Knesset. They receive social benefits such as medical insurance and national insurance payments, but cannot receive Israeli passports. If they are out of the country for prolonged periods of time, they can also lose their permanent residency, and unlike citizens, they cannot automatically transfer their status to their children.
Among those who remain without Israeli citizenship are people born in Israel to parents who are Israeli citizens. There are families in which one child is a citizen while another is a permanent resident. Some of those affected were stripped of their citizenship when they tried to renew their passports to go on the pilgrimage to Mecca, a mandatory tenet of Islam and something they now cannot do.
Registration during British Mandate
The Knesset’s Interior and Environment Committee held a discussion on the issue last year, following an accumulation of requests to reinstate citizenship. During it, Interior Ministry officials confirmed that such a policy exists: When Bedouin citizens come to the ministry’s offices, clerks check the population registry for records of their parents and grandparents between 1948 and 1952.
Perhaps these years were not chosen by chance. Between the founding of the state in 1948 and the passage of the Citizenship Law in 1952, many Arabs could not register with the population authority since their communities were governed by a military administration. This included areas in the Negev which had a high concentration of Bedouin residents after 1948. In many cases, checking the records of an individual's grandparents entails looking at their citizenship during the British Mandate – a time when Israeli citizenship did not even exist.
After last year's Knesset discussion, the Interior Ministry was asked to check the extent of the phenomenon and its legality and to then update the Interior Committee. The head of the ministry's citizenship department, Ronen Yerushalmi, submitted the findings to the committee's chairman, David Amsalem (Likud), in September 2016. Entitled “Erroneous Registration of Negev Residents,” the report said that “the extent of the problem could involve up to 2,600 people with Israeli citizenship, who could lose it due to erroneous registration by the Interior Ministry.” It added that since individual cases had not been examined, the data was not precise and the numbers could even be higher.
During an earlier meeting of the committee in December 2015, the committee's legal counsel, Gilad Keren, expressed doubts regarding the legality of this process: “The citizenship law refers to cases in which citizenship was obtained based on false details, namely under more serious circumstances, not when the state has made a mistake. It refers to people giving false information before obtaining their citizenship. The law allows the interior minister to revoke citizenship only if less than three years have passed since it was granted. After that a court needs to intervene in order to revoke it. I therefore don’t understand how, when a person has been a citizen for 20 years and the state makes a mistake, that person’s status is changed.”
Adalah’s appeal to the interior minister and the attorney general demands an immediate halt to the citizenship cancellation policy. Zahar argued that the people affected by it don’t even have the right to a hearing before their Israeli citizenship is taken away from them. In addition to infringing on their right to citizenship, she wrote, the policy blatantly infringes on their right to equality. It is discriminatory based on nationality, since no Jewish citizen has had his citizenship revoked due to a mistake in his parents' or grandparents' registration under the Law of Return.
 “I’m afraid that what has been exposed is only the tip of the iceberg and what hasn’t been revealed yet is even more serious,” says Touma-Suliman. She says that if Dery and Mendelblit do not resolve the issue soon, it will go to the High Court of Justice. “There is no justification for this policy,” she says. “The ministry is blatantly violating the law. It’s unacceptable that in one family living under one roof, half the children are citizens while the other half are residents or people with indeterminate status.”
Haaretz approached several former senior officials at the Interior Ministry and the Population Authority, including the agency's head until 2010, Yaakov Ganot, and Amnon Ben-Ami, its director until recently. Former Interior Minister Eli Ben-Yishai, who held the post most recently in 2013, said that if a decision had been made to revoke the citizenship of Negev Bedouin, “I don’t know about it and don’t remember holding discussions regarding this issue during my tenure.”
The Population Authority said in response that the cases mentioned above were not instances of revoked citizenship but ones of past registration mistakes, in which people had been registered as citizens but were not. It said now was the time to fix the problem, adding that the ministry held a discussion on the issue, the minister had taken a decision and the Knesset's Interior Committee had been informed. It said that “attempts are being made to address this problem legally in a manner that won’t affect these individuals' status in Israel.” The Population Authority also said the attorney general would be handling the appeal filed by Adalah.
Dery’s office insisted that the cases were absolutely not instances of citizenship being revoked but were instead situations of arranging legal status. “The minister has directed officials at the Population and Immigration Authority to handle the process involving this group of people in the easiest and simplest way possible. Minister Dery asked them to find any way possible to shorten the procedure in an attempt to avoid imposing any hardship on them,” said the office.
The attorney general's office told Adalah that the Population Authority is conducting an examination of thousands of people who have been erroneously registered as citizens instead of permanent residents. Those who are found to have been registered as such by mistake will be allowed to obtain citizenship through an accelerated process, should they meet the legal criteria, the response said.
According to the response, no one has been denied citizenship so far, and residents' rights are being maintained. Therefore the attorney general sees no reason to intervene in the Population Authority's decision, the response said.
Hundreds of Arab-Israeli Bedouins in the southern Negev region have their citizenship purportedly revoked by the Interior Ministry, using a law usually reserved for people convicted of 'terrorist activities.'
Dima Abumaria/The Media Line|Published:  02.09.17 , 09:38
The Interior Ministry has purportedly revoked the citizenship of hundreds, if not thousands, of Arab-Israeli Bedouins in the southern Negev region, instead granting them "resident" status.

The ministry’s representatives explained in a parliamentary session that the decision was being taken because in these cases citizenship was granted by mistake or to those that registered "erroneously" between 1948 and 1951.

Bedouin woman confronts Israeli policemen during the demolition of homes in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, Jan. 2017 (Photo: AFP)

Aida Touma-Suleiman, an Arab-Israeli legislator, called for an urgent session last year to raise concern over the move, while giving voice to the residents of Naqab, whose statuses were changed without their knowledge.

"I will not relent, either the Ministry stops the new policy and returns citizenship to the Arabs, or I will file a case with the Supreme Court," Touma-Suleiman told The Media Line.

Adalah, a legal center that supports the rights of Israel’s Arab minority, sent a letter to Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit urging them to cancel the new policy and demanding equal status for the Bedouins in question.

According to the group, the citizenship cancellations have been going on at least since 2010.

"Many Arab citizens, who had survived in their land after Nakba (the 'catastrophe' of Israel’s creation), were unable to register for citizenship due to the military rule imposed on them by the government," Touma-Suleiman explained. "In some other cases, people were not aware of the need to register at all."

"What is happening now," she continued, "is that Arabs in the southern area of Israel are applying to the ministry to renew their IDs or passports, and then, they are being informed of the revocation decision."

The stripping of citizenship, in general, is based on Israel’s 2008 "Nationality Law," which gives the courts the right to revoke citizenship in cases where there is a "doubt in loyalty to the State of Israel;" including, for instance, in the event of terrorist attacks.

Touma-Suleiman confirmed that a few individuals from the northern Arab-Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm have lost their citizenship as a result of "terrorist activities," but that this is not a scenario that applies to the Bedouins in the Negev.

In comments on Monday, an Interior Ministry spokesperson claimed that the number of people affected was inflated and that measures were being taken to rectify the situation. "The group of citizens includes about 150 people, and not 2,600," she said. "No one means to harm them. Now the ministry is asking them to legally re-register so they will remain citizens."

Speaking to The Media Line, Israeli parliamentarian for The Joint List, Dov Khenin, nevertheless slammed the Ministry’s actions and said "it has no right to revoke citizenship, which is totally against the law."

"This can only be done in the event of terror acts, and even then this is done through the courts," he concluded.

Overall, there are some 1.7 million Arabs living in Israel, approximately 20% of the total population.

Brighton & Hove Labour Parties Reject Warren Morgan's Lies that Labour is Not Welcome in Brighton

Complaint against Warren Morgan as a Labour Council attacks its own workforce

Those of you who watched Question Time in the House of Commons last week will have noticed that Theresa May used allegations of anti-Semitism by Brighton and Hove Council leader, Warren Morgan, in order to attack the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn.  That was precisely Warren Morgan's intention when he issued his Facebook statement that Labour's conference was antiSemitic and would no longer be welcome in Brighton.

The Tories loved Warren Morgan's statement attacking the Labour Party and I made a formal complaint last week to Labour's crooked General Secretary, Iain McNicol, demanding that Morgan be suspended for bringing the Party into disrepute.  So far I have had no acknowledgment!

Warren Morgan - Lies & truth are simply a matter of expediency to him
Morgan's attack on Labour's Conference and his suggestion that it was unwelcome in Brighton has produced shockwaves in Brighton and Hove Labour Parties.  I understand that Queens Park Branch in Brighton Kemptown passed a motion calling on Morgan to resign.  At Central Hove Branch, Warren Morgan was so worried about a motion to be discussed that night that he invited himself to the meeting and after being given permission to speak , received almost no support.  A motion was passed calling on him to apologise for his remarks that the Labour Party Conference was antiSemitic and that it should not be invited back to Brighton again.

Pavilion Labour Party has also passed a motion saying that the Labour Conference will always be welcome in Brighton and Hove in a snub to Warren Morgan's declaration that it was not welcome.
I have sent a letter of complaint to Iain McNicol about both this and abusive comments on his Facebook page
Given the serious nature of this complaint, aiding the enemy, one would expect that there will soon be a vacancy for the leader of Brighton and Hove Council.

Apart from previous lies over Labour's AGM last year, when he made false allegations of spitting, in order to have the election results annulled, Morgan is also the man who has closed Adult Learning Disability Centres and tried to close Hove library.  The excuse was that the Council had no money.
Letter of Complaint Against Warren Morgan and Craig Turton
Brighton's Labour Council attacks its workforce by employing First Care to harass sick members of staff
How  does Morgan explain the Council’s proposal to employ over the next two years a private company, First Care, whose responsibility it will be to ‘manage’ sickness absence.  At the moment this is done by Managers to whom someone will report if they are sick.  In future they will have to report to a ‘health professional’ at First Care.  Since the Data Protection Act forbids the passing of confidential information on someone's medical record to an external third party, a position that the Council was forced to adopt after UNISON legal pressure, this £1/4m is a total waste of money.  It gives the lie to the argument that the Council has no money.

It is clear that the purpose of employing First Care will be to drive down sickness absence by putting pressure on employees to go to work or face dismissal.  In other words workers who are sick will be expected to go into work.  Given that a majority of sickness is on account of stress caused by pressure at work, the only effect of employing First Care, at a cost of some £260,000, will be to increase staff’s stress levels.  Having sick staff at work is a recipe for dangerous mistakes by for example social workers with vulnerable families and children.
Theresa May attacking Corbyn with the help of Warren Morgan
No socialist Labour council could even contemplate hiring these cowboys from the private sector.  Of course the problem with Brighton & Hove Council is that with one or two exceptions there are no socialists amongst its Labour members. 

Brighton & Hove Council intend to employ private sector cowboys to reduce sickness levels

Tony Greenstein

The time has come to Organise to Stop the Witch-hunt - Meeting Saturday October 21st 12.00-3.00 p.m - Calthorpe Arms, Gray's Inn Rd, London

We should turn the witch hunt onto Labour's real racists - the Right and the Zionists

After their defeat and demoralisation at Labour Party Conference, it is clear that the Jewish Labour Movement, the Blairite right-wing together with Labour’s civil service under Iain McNicol and his familiar, Sam Matthews, are determined to once again use the stick of ‘anti-Semitism’ as a means of attacking the Left in the Party.

Labour’s Conference was not a happy affair for the JLM and their Chair Jeremy Newmark, as it was clear that the sympathies of most conference delegates weren’t with Israel’s military police state and the apartheid regime.  The wearing of Palestinian lanyards by so many delegates must have seemed like rubbing salt into their wounds.  If you believe that Palestinians (or Arabs) are inherently anti-Semitic then you cannot but interpret this as anti-Semitism.
Freedland has led the Guardian's repetitive campaign about Labour Party 'anti-semitism'
However the Right are also stupid.  Their targeting of Moshe Machover, who is both a distinguished academic as well as a well-known Israeli Marxist and dissident was stupid and has backfired.  It has made it very clear to people that it is anti-Zionism that is under attack, not anti-Semitism.  Yet again one of the main targets of the anti-Semitism witch hunt is Jewish!

Moshe has submitted a most excellent defence against the charges against him, which you can see here

Even the most stupid right-winger (Luke Akehurst) should understand that an ‘anti-Semitism’ that sees Jewish anti-racists as the main enemy isn’t anti-Semitism.  It is using the label of ‘anti-Semitism’ for opportunistic purposes.  It is anti-Zionism in disguise.
The article which led to Moshe's expulsion
We now have a situation where left-wing groups like Labour Party Marxists and Socialist Appeal are effectively being proscribed  whereas Progress and Labour First are untouched.  That is why demands have to be made on Jeremy Corbyn and McDonnell.  Both in previous years opposed the witch hunt of Militant and other left groups.  It is incumbent upon both of them to come out against McNicol’s McCarthyist regime.

If Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell fail to oppose the witch hunt of the Left in the Labour Party today they will buckle at the first hint of pressure from the City tomorrow.  That is why it is long overdue for Corbyn, McDonnell and Dianne Abbot to condemn what is happening in no uncertain terms.

No one except the most lunatic Zionist pretends that Moshe Machover is anti-Semitic.  Nothing he has said evinces hatred or hostility towards Jews.  What he has been accused of by McNicol’s pet poodle, Sam Matthews, is of having written an ‘apparently anti-Semitic article.’ And what was the offence?  Quoting Reinhard Heydrich, the Deputy Chief of the SS, as saying how much he supported the German Zionist movement.  This is a fact.  The full quote can be found in the book Zionism and Anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany by Francis Nicosia, the Raul Hilberg Professor of Holocaust Studies at Vermont University and himself a Zionist.
Zionism has never had any problems when it came to working with anti-Semites 
Telling the truth is anti-Semitic!  The Zionists say that we should not quote a Nazi.  In that case virtually every historian of the Nazi period is guilty!  So is the Israeli state which quoted Adolf Eichmann against himself at the 1961 trial.  The real question is why Heydrich and not just Heydrich is on record as praising Zionism in the period 1933-1939.  The answer is an uncomfortable one for the Zionists.

The Labour Right is being aided in its attacks by the Press, the Guardian in particular.  Jonathan Freedland, who I have already criticised in an Open Letter wrote, even by his abysmal standards, a poisonously dishonest article Labour’s denial of antisemitism in its ranks leaves the party in a dark place
Ken Loach was refused a right of reply when the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland suggested he was supportive of holocaust denial
It is time for us to fight back.  The Alliance for Workers Liberty have set up a Stop the Purge group, but this is a group which studiously avoids the small matter of those suspended or expelled because of the anti-Semitism witch hunt.  Indeed the AWL actually support the expulsion of Ken Livingstone and they were responsible for removing Jackie Walker from her position as Vice Chair of Momentum.  This is not surprising since the AWL subscribes to the nonsense notion of ‘left anti-Semitism’.

The proposal is to set up Labour Against the Witchhunt and there is an event page here.
Hope to see you on Saturday.

Tony Greenstein

Monday, 16 October 2017

How the Guardian became the flagship for the false ‘anti-Semitism’ Smear Campaign of Labour’s Zionist Right

Jonathan Freedland’s contemptible attack on Ken Loach and his refusal of a right of reply 
Corbyn criticises the 'subliminally nasty' Jonathan Freedland
Dear Jonathan,

For over 2 years, the Guardian has run a campaign whose aim has been to paint the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn as anti-Semitic. You have personally insinuated that Corbyn worked with a holocaust denier, as have other contributors.
Some of us would say that Labour has a Zionist problem
The Guardian’s hostility to Corbyn has surpassed even that of the tabloids. It is little wonder that in the past 8 years the Guardian’s sales have declined from over 400,000 to just over 150,000 today. It is no longer seen as a paper of the Left.

The Guardian used to be the only British paper to have an informed coverage of the Middle East. Correspondents such as Michael Adams and David Hirst were renowned the world over. Today their role has been filled by Robert Fisk and Patrick Cockburn at The Independent.

Ken Loach and Jeremy Corbyn - Even when Corbyn tries to appease the Zionists he has the problem of all those people on the Left that he worked with for forty years.
When Comment is Free was established 10 years ago under the late Georgina Henry, I was one of a number of contributors.  My first article for CIF was The seamy side of solidarity, a coruscating attack on the anti-Semitic Jazzman Gilad Atzmon.  It was a call for the Palestine solidarity movement to dissociate themselves from Atzmon and his supporters. 

My article began with the observation: ‘Like the boy who cried wolf, the charge of "anti-semitism" has been made so often against critics of Zionism and the Israeli state that people now have difficulty recognising the genuine article.’  That observation is particularly relevant since you have repeatedly made false allegations of anti-Semitism against people like Ken Loach. 

The Zionist lobby was not happy with Jewish anti-Zionists writing under the banner of The Guardian.  They therefore formed ‘CIF Watch’ In January 2002 in ‘A new anti-Semitism?’ the Guardian quoted Lord Greville Janner, a leading Zionist and a notorious child abuser, as saying that the Guardian was ‘viciously and notoriously anti-Israel’.

The Guardian succumbed to the pressure and I and others were banned from contributing. CIF Watch even changed its name to UK Media Watch because, as they boasted, their work was complete.

As a senior editor at the Guardian you led the anti-Corbyn campaign with your article Labour and the left have an antisemitism problem.  The strap line was:  Under Jeremy Corbyn the party has attracted many activists with views hostile to Jews.’  You provided not an iota of evidence to substantiate this. 
Alex Chalmers, Chair of Oxford University Labour Club, resigned because of the Club's support of Israel Apartheid Week.  It had nothing to do with 'anti-Semitism'
You cited Vicki Kirby’s quote that Jews have ‘big noses’ but failed to correct this when David Baddiel, the Jewish author of Infidels, pointed out that this was a direct quote from his play.  
You also cited the bogus allegations of anti-Semitism at Oxford University Labour Club by its Chair Alex Chalmers who resigned when the Labour Club decided to give its backing to Oxford’s Israel Apartheid Week.  It was later revealed that Chalmers had been a paid intern at Bicom, an Israeli propaganda organisation.

There have been numerous articles in The Guardian’s Comment or Opinion sections, on the false anti-Semitism theme.  Nothing contradicting this narrative has appeared.  Submissions from Professor Avi Shlaim, myself and others were rejected. Far from Comment being Free, when it comes to Zionism it has been tied down and silenced as surely as Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver.
The furore around Vicky Kirby's reference to Jews' 'big noses' was in fact based on a quote from a play by a Jewish author, David Baddiel
As you are well aware it is Zionism and anti-Semitism which go hand in hand. Have you forgotten the time when David Miliband attacked the Tories for their alliance with anti-Semites such as Michal Kaminski and Robert Zile in the European Parliament?  You even wrote an article Once no self-respecting politician would have gone near people such as Kaminski.  This of course was before the election of Jeremy Corbyn.

Kaminski fronted the Committee to Defend the Good Name of Jedwabne, a village in Poland that burnt alive up to 1,600 of its Jewish inhabitants in 1941.  Robert Zile distinguished himself by marching every March with veterans of Latvia’s Waffen SS in Riga.  

Prominent Zionists were ‘incandescent’ when the Board's Vivian Wineman raised the issue with David Cameron.  Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle wrote about how Poland's Kaminski is not an antisemite: he's a friend to Jews.
Trump's former anti-Semitic adviser, Steve Bannon, is invited as the guest of honour to Zionist Organisation of America's gala dinner  - he might be an anti-Semite but 'He's so pro-Israel!'

The alliance of Zionists with the anti-Semitic Right is a world wide phenomenon, with the Israeli government supporting the anti-Semitic attacks of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban on George Soros. Soros’s offence being to help fund Israeli human rights groups. And there is the little matter of the invitation by the Zionist Organisation of America to Steve Bannon of Breitbart and the Alt-Right to speak to its annual gala dinner.

Despite this your most recent article Labour’s Denial of Antisemitism in its Ranks Leaves The Party in a Dark Place repeats the lie that there were ‘loud calls for the expulsion of Jewish groups at Labour Party Conference.  What there were was calls for the disaffiliation of the Jewish Labour Movement, a Zionist not Jewish group.  The JLM is the ‘sister party’ of the Israeli Labour Party, a party of segregation and ethnic cleansing.
Freedland's attack on Ken Loach - a right of reply was refused.
Your suggestion that Ken Loach was ‘echoing ... the language of Holocaust denial’ is contemptible.  Unlike you, Loach has spent a lifetime confronting and opposing racism and supporting the poor and dispossessed.  You have spent your career defending Apartheid when it comes in Jewish clothes.

You argued that Ken Loach, Len McCluskey and Ken Livingstone, not being Jewish, are unqualified to comment on anti-Semitism.  Racism is not subjective.  Non-Jews are perfectly capable of expressing an opinion. Many Jews in the Labour Party also deny your claims so it depends on which Jews you speak to or for.  You also compared Jews to Black, Women's and other oppressed groups.  Jews in Britain are not oppressed as Jews. 

Ironically it is anti-Zionist Jews who are the primary victims of the fake anti-Semitism witch hunt. Moshe Machover, Jackie Walker and myself have been suspended or expelled.  It is as if the Labour Party during the era of South African Apartheid had ostracised White South Africans opposed to Apartheid at the behest of Labour Friends of South Africa!

Jews have been the loudest critics of the attempt to equate anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. To pretend that all Jews have one opinion, that they are homogenous, is not only fundamentally dishonest but also anti-Semitic.  I expect better of you Jonathan.  

People like Archbishop Desmond Tutu have described Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as similar to what happened in South Africa.  Ha’aretz quotes him as saying that:

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

You seem to find it difficult to accept that a Jewish settler colonial state is inherently racist.  You have made turning a blind eye to Israel’s crimes into an art form. How can a state which demolished in January a Bedouin village, Umm al-Hiran, in Israel’s Negev, in order to make way for an exclusively Jewish town be considered a normal democratic state?  Or why is it that a plurality, 48% of Israeli Jews want to see the expulsion of Israeli Arabs?

Your suggestion that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism is based on your argument that 93% of British Jews identify with Israel.  In fact just 59% identify as Zionists.  But even were you correct so what?  If a majority of Hindus supported Suttee would it be racist to oppose it?  Jews who support Israel are identifying with the world’s only apartheid state.  That is wrong whoever they are.
Ken Loach is forced to reply to Freedland on the site of Jewish Voice for Labour as Freedland and the Guardian refuse a right of reply
What I really find remarkable is that having launched an abusive and dishonest attack on Ken Loach you didn’t even have the courage to print his reply, Comment is Free - Guardian’s One-Eyed View of Labour Politics Ignores the Palestinians.  That really is cowardly. 

Ken Loach is a living legend.  His films have borne eloquent testimony to the evils of racism and imperialism, as well as being a devastating indictment of the way the poor and dispossessed are treated – from Cathy Come Home to I Daniel Blake.  What will you leave to the world other than a few instantly forgettable tirades against anti-Zionists plus a few thrillers?

You are living proof Jonathan that even the most ‘liberal’ of Zionists ends up in Netanyahu’s choir singing the same songs of ‘anti-Semitism’.  As Israeli society moves further and further to the racist Right you find it impossible to change the tune.

Of one thing I am certain. If Jews in Britain experienced even a tenth of what Palestinians in Israel had to put up with then your references to anti-Semitism would carry some weight.

There is only one thing I don't understand.  When Jeremy Corbyn accused you of “utterly disgusting subliminal nastiness” why he thought it was subliminal?  It seems all too clear.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Greenstein

Ken Loach’s Reply to Jonathan Freedland that the Guardian refused to print
Ken Loach, 5 October 2017

On 27th September 2017 the Guardian published an article by Jonathan Freedland called Labour’s denial of antisemitism in its ranks leaves the party in a dark place. Ken Loach wrote a response for Comment is Free beginning “The taint of antisemitism is toxic. Yet, with hints and innuendos, your columnist, Jonathan Freedland, tries to link me, Len McCluskey and Ken Livingstone to Labour’s ‘dark place’, for which it seems we are in part responsible. This is cynical journalism.”

The Guardian has refused to carry Loach’s article. We are pleased to do so here.

The taint of antisemitism is toxic. Yet, with hints and innuendos, your columnist, Jonathan Freedland, tries to link me, Len McCluskey and Ken Livingstone to Labour’s ‘dark place’, for which it seems we are in part responsible. This is cynical journalism.

What is his evidence? Len and I were welcomed at the packed first meeting of ‘Jewish Voice for Labour’. Strangely, Freedland ignored this progressive new group, which has published its own response to his attacks on us. The founding document says: ‘we stand for rights and justice for Jewish people everywhere and against wrongs and injustices to Palestinians and other oppressed people anywhere’. We support that.

But Freedland disputes our right to contribute. We are ‘not Jewish – a fact that might limit their authority to speak on the matter’. The matter in question is antisemitism in the Labour Party.
Many Jewish comrades say that they know the Labour Party to be a welcoming environment and have not experienced hostility as Jews. This chimes with my fifty years of involvement with the labour movement. But, for Freedland, this is a discussion to which only one group – Jews who share his political perspective – can contribute. It is exclusive – no place for solidarity or collective support. This goes against all traditions of the left where we stand alongside each other to oppose injustice.
People join left organisations to fight racism and fascism, intolerance and colonial oppression. Throughout history, it is the left that has led this fight. Racism including antisemitism is real enough and will emerge in all political parties. The Jewish Socialists’ Group (JSG) acknowledges this in relation to allegations about the Labour Party: ‘a very small number of cases seem to be real instances of antisemitism’. I trust their judgement.

This present campaign about antisemitism surfaced when Jeremy Corbyn became leader and drew on a number of cases that pre-dated his leadership. It has been led by his political opponents inside and outside the Labour Party, seeming in part to be aimed at undermining Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters and therefore his leadership. JSG wrote ‘accusations of antisemitism are being weaponised to attack the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party’.

Corbyn has always opposed racism and defended human rights wherever they have been attacked, which includes the plight of the Palestinians. This will alarm apologists for Israeli occupation and expansion. Further, he stands on a socialist programme which has disturbed the right of the party.
There is a further, more serious allegation, that I gave ‘spurious legitimacy’ to Holocaust denial. In a BBC interview I was asked about a speech I had not heard and of which I knew nothing. My reply has been twisted to suggest that I think it is acceptable to question the reality of the Holocaust. I do not. The Holocaust is as real a historical event as the World War itself and not to be challenged. In Primo Levi’s words: ‘Those who deny Auschwitz would be ready to remake it.’ The first terrible pictures I saw as a nine-year old are ingrained on my memory as they are for all my generation.
Like readers of this paper, I know the history of Holocaust denial, its place in far right politics and the role of people like David Irving. To imply that I would have anything in common with them is contemptible. The consequences of such a smear are obvious to all: let the poison escape and it will be picked up on social media and reputations may be tarnished for ever. A brief phone call would have clarified my position.

One thing Freedland has got right – the ages of Len McCluskey, Ken Livingstone and me (he wittily makes a rhyme of our names). Freedland is happy to embrace one prejudice – ageism.

Exaggerated or false claims of antisemitism can create a climate of fear in which legitimate discussion about the state of Israel and its actions are stifled. Antisemitism and debate about Israel should be separate issues. Once again it is the Palestinians who are marginalised or ignored. Freedland writes frequently about Israel, yet his concern for the Palestinians takes second place. So while we are clarifying our position, could he make clear whether, for example, he accepts:
  • that land stolen from the Palestinians should be returned to them and all illegal settlements removed, as UN Resolutions demand.
  • that Israel is breaking the Fourth Geneva Convention by transporting Palestinian children to Israeli prisons without access to lawyers or their families.
  • and that the deliberate destruction of civilian life, hospitals and medical facilities in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge were war crimes.
And will he endorse the distinguished Israeli historian Ilan Pappe when he writes about the founding of Israel: ‘The ethnic cleansing of Palestine (is) a crime against humanity that Israel has wanted to deny and cause the world to forget’?

So many questions, so many injustices. Labour has much to do in developing an ethical foreign policy and social and economic justice at home. It now has principled leaders and a growing, enthusiastic membership. Let the party not throw away this great opportunity. We have a world to win.