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The Academic Friends of Israel

The Academic Friends of Israel

 Vol 8 No 2                                                                    22 January 2009  

 

AFI Digest: Israel’s Gaza campaign, the view from Britain  

 

“Israel sends Gaza back to the dark ages” screamed the headline in the Daily Telegraph. Bias in the British press and media especially by the Guardian, the Independent and on the BBC is well known and documented. The purpose of this digest is to show how Britain has reacted to the Gaza campaign.  It is not a detailed listing of every word that was written and every event that took place but a snapshot of the last three weeks which is intended to show how the British reacted. 

 1. Antisemitsm and the Gaza  

2. Antisemitic incitement on anti-Israel demonstrations 

 3. Equating Israel with Nazi Germany  

4. The UK Government response 

5. The Israel Government response antisemitic attacks 

6. British Muslims sign letter denouncing anti-Semitic attacks 

7. 15,000 turn out to support pro-Israel at rally in London

 8. Gaza debate in UK Parliament 

9. Britain's Surrender: London's reaction to the Gaza war shows it is giving up against jihad 

10. Why the silence over attacks on Israeli campuses? 

11. SOAS academics and students join forces try to ban lectures by Israeli academics 

12. Protests over Gaza spread to eight English universities 

13. London School of Economics being held hostage over Gaza 

14. Starbucks, Whitechapel firebombed  

15. Companies that trade with Israel are targeted for action

16. Gaza protesters raid arms factory 

17. The NGO Front in the Gaza War: Exploitation of International Law 

 

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1. Antisemitsm and the Gaza 

 Since the beginning of the fighting in Gaza the number of antisemitic incidents reported to Community Security Trust [CST] has now exceeded 200 incidents, which is an unprecedented total in such a timeframe.   The vast majority of the incidents consist of abusive or threatening behaviour, either verbal (face to face, or by telephone) or written (emails, letters and graffiti daubed on Jewish premises). In most instances, the victims have been Jewish communal institutions, ranging from representative bodies to local synagogues.

This is a higher rate of antisemitic incidents than during any other period since the CST began recording antisemitic incidents in 1984. For a comparison, during the same period last year, CST recorded 19 incidents. The antisemitic incidents reported to CST include:  

 For more information see the Jewish Chronicle, “Worst wave of hate for quarter of a century” www.thejc.com/articles/worst-wave-hate-quarter-a-century  

2. Antisemitic incitement on anti-Israel demonstrations  

There have been at least fifty anti-Israel demonstrations around the UK since the start of the Gaza crisis. While most of the demonstrators voiced their protests in entirely legitimate ways, there have been several examples of antisemitic chanting on anti-Israel demonstrations and the use of Jewish, rather than specifically Israeli, symbols on placards. Antisemitic chants include:  

 3. Equating Israel with Nazi Germany  

A common theme of the anti-Israel rhetoric has been to equate Israel with Nazi Germany and Gaza with the Warsaw Ghetto. This comparison has no factual basis and is grossly offensive to Jews. It has been encouraged by leaders of the anti-Israel protests, including George Galloway MP and the pro-Hamas speaker Azzam Tamimi. The British Muslim Initiative, one of the main organisers of the demonstrations, has used “Stop the Holocaust in Gaza” as its campaigning slogan. 

 4. The UK Government response 

The Minister for Communities and Local Government Hazel Blears met with the leaders of the Jewish community to discuss the issue of the increase in incidents. Following the meeting she wrote to the community saying: "The Government strongly condemns the increase in anti-Semitic incidents and understands the fears and concerns of the Jewish community in Britain. British Jews, like all communities must be able to live their lives free from fear of verbal or physical attack. The Government will continue to offer whatever support we can. There have already been a series of meetings with Jewish community representatives and these will continue. We stand ready to offer our advice to all those committed to tackling the scourge of anti-Semitism and hate crime in all its forms." To read the letter by David Milliband, the Foreign Secretary to the Board of Deputies go to: www.boardofdeputies.org.uk/file/ForeignSecretary.pdf  

5. The Israel Government response antisemitic attacks   

Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tzipi Livni expressed Israel's concern about the wave of in various parts of the world. To read her statement in full:

www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/About+the+Ministry/MFA+Spokesman/2009/Spokesman+statements/Israel-expresses-concern-about-Antisemitism-12-Jan-2008.htm    

6. British Muslims sign letter denouncing anti-Semitic attacks 

More than 20 prominent British Muslims have signed a joint letter denouncing recent anti-Semitic attacks in Britain and calling on Muslims to help prevent attacks on Jews on the UK. The letter is being circulated widely and sent to all British mosques… 

To read the letter in full: www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/2691 To read the Board of Deputies press release:http://www.boardofdeputies.org.uk/page.php/BRITISH_JEWRY_WELCOMES_MUSLIM_STATEMENT_OF_SUPPORT/259/103/3  

7. 15,000 turn out to support pro-Israel at rally in London 

 Over 15,000 people gathered in Trafalgar Square on 10/01/09 for the “Peace for Israel, Peace for Gaza” rally, to show their solidarity with the State of Israel and demand an end to Hamas terror. A further 2,000 turned out in Manchester’s Albert Square. The rally, which was organised by the Jewish community but was attended by supporters of Israel from a variety of communities, was a peaceful display of the desire of those present for a lasting resolution of the problems in the region…… 

To read the Board of Deputies press release in full:

http://www.boardofdeputies.org.uk/page.php/17,000_TURN_OUT_TO_SUPPORT_ISRAEL/258/103/3

8. Gaza debate in UK Parliament  

Of the 41 speakers in the parliamentary debate on Gaza on 15 January, 9 were pro-Israel, 27 spoke against Israel and 5 were neutrals. Veteran Jewish MP Gerald Kaufman sharply criticized Israel arguing that the Jewish state has exploited guilt that much of the world feels for having ignored the slaughter of six million of Jews during World War II. 

Read the Haaretz report: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1055922.html

The Hansard report: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090115/debtext/90115-0013.htm
  

9. Britain's Surrender: London's reaction to the Gaza war shows it is giving up against jihad 

By Melanie Phillips 

In Britain, the war in Gaza has revealed the extent to which the media, intelligentsia and political class have simply crumbled in the face of the global jihad. The U.K. is a major player in European and world politics and is America's most significant strategic ally. Until now, it has been considered one of Israel's firm supporters and a linchpin of the Western defense against the world-wide Islamist onslaught. With the reaction to Gaza, however, that reputation is no longer sustainable. Years of demonizing Israel and appeasing Islamist extremism within Britain have now coalesced, as a result of the media misrepresentation of the Gaza war as an atrocity against civilians, in an unprecedented wave of hatred against Israel and a sharp rise in attacks on British Jews…. 

To read the article in full: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123240733254895655.html?mod=sphere_ts&mod=sphere_wd  

10. Why the silence over attacks on Israeli campuses?

By Colin Shindler

A few days before Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), spoke at the demonstration for Palestine earlier this month, my colleagues and I - the Israeli and Jewish studies staff at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) - put out a statement that expressed our shock at the attack on the Islamic University of Gaza and mourned the terrible loss of life. But, unlike Hunt, we asked another question: "Why has the union been silent for many years about the assault on Sapir College in Sderot, inside Israel, whose campus has become a firing range for Hamas units in Gaza?"…… 

To read the article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/jan/13/israel-palestinian-territories-colin-shindler

11. SOAS academics and students join forces try to ban lectures by Israeli academics 

SOAS UCU and the SOAS students union are trying to ban lectures by Israeli academics. Both are mounting pickets to prevent the Israelis from giving lectures. The Centre of Jewish Studies at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), has hosted since October a bimonthly special lecture series entitled "100 Years of Tel Aviv." This week, the academic union at the university and a Palestinian pressure group called for the lectures to be cancelled. "A pro-Israeli propaganda exercise masquerading as an academic conference has no place in SOAS at the best of times, but to hold a celebration of Tel Aviv as the Israeli war machine wreaks death and destruction on the Gaza ghetto is nothing short of sick," said Graham Dyer, chair of the branch of the University and College Union at SOAS……

 Read the report in the Jerusalem Post here:http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1231950850072&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull  

David Hirsch has written about the Soas campaign to boycott Israel academics here: 

http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/01/16/the-campaign-to-boycott-israel-is-now-fighting-for-a-concrete-exclusion-of-israeli-scholars/ 

Here:http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/01/14/tel-aviv-is-not-allowed-to-celebrate-picket-the-tel-avivian-academics/ 

And here:http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/01/15/soas-ucu-and-soas-students-union-are-trying-to-ban-lectures-from-israelis/ 

12. Protests over Gaza spread to eight English universities 

Student occupations have occurred at SOAS, London School of Economics, King's College, Essex, Sussex and Birmingham Oxford and Warwick Universities  

The Guardian reported on 22 January As student protests over the bombing of Gaza spread to eight universities across England today, the director of the London School of Economics, Sir Howard Davies, issued a joint statement with student protesters saying he understood their concerns and backing a fundraising drive for scholarships for Palestinians.LSE protesters ended their week-long occupation of the institution's Old Theatre peacefully last night, after Davies, former chairman of the Financial Services Authority, agreed to meet some of their demandsBut he refused to issue an official university statement condemning the Israeli bombardment of Gaza or to publish regular financial statements spelling out LSE's investment in companies involved in supplying arms to Palestine and Israel.

The LSE will waive scholarship application fees for students affected by the conflict, help students organise a fundraising day, and donate surplus computers and books to institutions in Gaza……

To read the full article http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/jan/22/studentpolitics-londonschoolofeconomics 

o read a report of the Oxford demonstration:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/oxfordshire/7844890.stm  

13. London School of Economics being held hostage over Gaza 

 A group of students has been occupying the stage of the Old Theatre since the 16 January. They asked the School to respond to a list of demands regarding the situation in Gaza which it did on Friday. A further exchange of letters took place  and the LSE responses can be seen here: 

 www.lse.ac.uk/collections/meetthedirector/articlesReviewsAndLectures.htm

here: www.lse.ac.uk/collections/meetthedirector/pdf/Gaza%20Correspondence.pdf and here: www.lse.ac.uk/collections/meetthedirector/pdf/occupiers16Jan09.pdf  

14. Starbucks, Whitechapel firebombed  

A branch of Starbucks in East London has been smashed and firebombed in what appears to be an anti-Israeli protest. Police are investigating the series of attacks in Whitechapel. First rocks were thrown through the store's window at 11.25pm on Monday night. Later, after midnight, a petrol bomb or similar was tossed into the premises starting a fire which damaged the interior. No one was injured in the incident.  

See: http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/01/17/kristallwoche-continues/ 

15. Companies that trade with Israel are targeted for action 

Under the heading “SMASH THE WAR MACHINE”  readers of  Indymedia are encouraged to “Boycott, shut-down, graffiti” companies that are “supporting & profiting from Israel’s murderous actions in Palestine.”
Their targets are IDF suppliers such as Caterpillar, BAE systems and EDO.
Other companies on the list include Carmel Agrexco, Ahava , Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsburys and Marks and Spencers. 
 

See: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/01/418831.html  

16. Gaza protesters raid arms factory 

Saturday, 17 January 2009 EDO MBM Technology in Moulsecoombe near Brighton was broken into overnight by the Smash EDO group in response to the action by the Israeli military in Gaza. Protesters say weapons components made at the site are used by Israeli aircraft on bombing missions. Sussex Police said extensive damage was caused to the building, computer equipment and precision machinery. 

Det Ch Insp Graham Pratt said: "Windows had been smashed and offices turned over in what I would describe as wanton vandalism, but with machinery and equipment so targeted that it could have been done with a view of bringing business to a standstill. "The damage is significant and the value substantial."  Smash EDO said its activists had thrown computers and filing cabinets from the top floor and had staged a "citizen's decommissioning" of the arms factory "in direct response to the killings of Palestinians". 

EDO designs, develops and manufactures weapon carriage and release systems and is an approved supplier to the Ministry of Defence and governments worldwide.  Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/sussex/7835082.stm 

 

17. The NGO Front in the Gaza War: Exploitation of        International Law 

NGO Monitor January 21, 2009 

The exploitation of international legal rhetoric is a major weapon in the political war to delegitimise Israeli anti-terror operations.  Under this strategy, crystallized at the NGO Forum of the UN's 2001 Durban Conference, the terminology of international humanitarian (IHL) and human rights law is selectively applied to charge Israel with "violations of law," "crimes against humanity," "war crimes," "disproportionate force" and "indiscriminate attacks." In contrast, the violation of Gilad Shalit's human rights and Hamas' use of human shields are ignored.   NGOs use the legal language to increase the credibility and seriousness of the charges, and in the Gaza conflict, many are already calling for international "investigations" and "lawfare" (i.e. filing lawsuits against Israeli officials in different countries) based on these accusations.  Hamas, Hezbollah, and the PLO have reaped significant political benefits from this strategy in their conflicts with Israel.  This NGO Monitor report analyzes common NGO legal claims……….. 

To read the full article:http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/the_ngo_front_exploitation_of_international_law 

Patron: The Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks 

Advisory Board: 

Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld - Chairman of the Board of Fellows, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Henry Grunwald Q.C. - President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews

Amir Lev

John D A Levy - Director of the Academic Study Group on Israel and the Middle East

Andrew R. Marks, M.D. - Columbia University, USA

Dr Robin Stamler

Professor Leslie Wagner CBE

Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham 

The Academic Friends of Israel Ltd is limited by guarantee and registered in England No 5297417.