Assange Might Die from Mistreatment in Captivity

By Stuart Littlewood

Source

 

Assange Might Die afcbd

I’ve received a reply from my MP Alister Jack (who is also Secretary of State for Scotland). I asked him to obtain an explanation from our Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland QC MP, on concerns about the proceedings to extradite Julian Assange to the US, since he is the person accountable. But Mr. Jack’s response doesn’t make clear whether the response is his and, if not, where it actually comes from.

I wanted to know…

  • Why Assange is held under the inhuman conditions reserved for terrorists when he’s a journalist.
  • How the Justice Department accounts for Assange’s poor physical and mental state.
  • Why the question whether political offenses are excluded from extradition under Article 4 of the UK/US Extradition Treaty hadn’t been addressed before these expensive proceedings began.
  • Why Assange’s defense team haven’t been given easier access and more time to prepare.
  • Why high-security Belmarsh is chosen for February’s hearing, where the opportunity for public scrutiny is minimal.
  • And whether District Judge Baraitser will preside in February when, according to Craig Murray, she has already failed to behave impartially?

In particular, I wanted to know why, according to witnesses, Assange’s physical and mental states have deteriorated so rapidly while in the UK justice system’s care.

There’s no attempt to answer most of these points. However, Mr. Jack reminds me that Assange was jailed for 50 weeks on 1 May for breaching bail and holing up in the Ecuador Embassy.

“The UK’s criminal justice system is one in which rights are protected and in which, contrary to what Mr. Assange and his supporters may claim, he and his interests will be protected,” writes Mr. Jack brimming with confidence.

But, he points out, the Home Secretary when signing an extradition warrant is limited in what he’s allowed to consider. For example, the Crime and Courts Act 2013 requires any judgment about human rights and health issues to be made in court.

The administrative hearing on 21 October ruled that Assange will face a 5-day extradition hearing starting 25 February and, Mr Jack says, that’s when his human rights and poor health will be considered. It is for the judge to determine whether or not extradition would be a human rights breach and whether it would be oppressive and unjust on account of his state of health.

In other words, nobody in the UK justice system could give a toss about Assange’s wellbeing for another 4 months – an awful long time when you’re already in bad shape and worried sick that you’ll wind up in Guantanamo Bay for….. for what, exactly?

Former ambassador Craig Murray, a friend of Assange, attended the October hearing and reported that he was distressed by how his appearance had deteriorated after long confinement, and by his rapid ageing and stumbling speech — “the most articulate man, the fastest thinker, I have ever known” reduced to a “shambling and incoherent wreck”.

Some have expressed concern that Assange may not live to the end of the extradition proceedings.

From tomorrow MPs will cease to exist and Parliament will cease to function until after the general election on 12 December. So nobody is representing anybody in the cesspit of Westminster for the next 5 or 6 weeks.

A Robust Message from Palestine’s Foreign Minister and an Attempt at Israeli Propaganda from BBC Israeli Hasbara Asset Raffi Berg

By Stuart Littlewood
Source

“Freedom not conditional liberty. Sovereignty not limited autonomy. Peace not subjugation:” Riad Malki sends plain message to Trump and Kushner in run-up to their “Deal of the century”

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Chatham House, the international affairs think-tank in London, recently invited Dr Riad Malki, Palestine’s minister of foreign affairs, to talk about the future of Palestine ahead of the “Deal of the century” dreamed up by the Trump administration. Malki is involved in shaping the Palestinian response to that initiative when it is finally revealed.

During questions Raffi Berg (pictured below), editor of the BBC News website’s Middle East section, said that while the official Palestine Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) position is for two states as the solution to the conflict, he mischievously suggested that the recent Israel election results showed that Israelis consider the Palestinians’ position to be “insincere”. He asked: “Can you make clear whether you fully accept the presence of Israel as a country in the Middle East within/outside [indistinct] the 1967 ceasefire line?”

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This sounded a little off-key from the BBC, which is supposed to maintain an air of utter impartiality. However, Malki dealt with the unfriendly prod quite firmly:

We have made it very clear that we are going to accept, and we have taken the decision to accept, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, to accept the historic compromise that the state of Palestine will be established on the 22 per cent of historic Palestine. It is not only the Palestinian position, it is the position of almost every country around the world.

He reminded the audience that there is international consensus about the two-state solution and that the Palestinian state should be established on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem the capital of Palestine and of Israel. He continued:

We have also agreed in principle that we are ready during negotiations to talk about territorial exchange but always to keep the 1967 border as the border of the state of Palestine. So, we are not going to accept anything less than that.

If anyone talks about the State of Palestine on less than the 1967 border, or the State of Israel beyond that line, this is not acceptable because it defies not only the negotiating position but international law and the international consensus.

I recently wrote about Hanan Ashrawi, a long-time member of the PLO executive and an all-round formidable lady, saying we should see and hear more of her in a front line spokes role. The same goes for Raid Malki who is well informed and articulate and came across well at Chatham House. That they remain invisible to the Western world is the fault of the PLO and Palestinian Authority who are simply not media savvy and stubbornly intend to remain that way. Their embassies (or missions) around the globe are the same.

Malki was a one-time leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and has a PhD in civil engineering from the American University. His impressive CV includes Head of the Civil Engineering Department at Birzeit University, the European Peace Prize in 2000 in Copenhagen and the Italian Peace Prize (Lombardi) in 2005. He is a visiting professor at several European universities.

In his Chatham House speech Malki pulls no punches: “I know that some may be uncomfortable to hear the words ‘colonialism’ and ‘apartheid’ associated with Israel. But they are what we experience on a daily basis and what is visible to the naked eye.”

As for America, “the US administration has shown nothing but disregard for Palestinian rights and Palestinian lives, for international law and the internationally recognised terms of reference, and for common sense and decency”.

The Palestinian people, he insists, “want freedom not conditional liberty. They want sovereignty and not limited autonomy. They want peace and coexistence not domination and subjugation. He continued:

There are two ways to end the conflict: a peace accord or capitulation, meaning a surrender act. We continue to stand ready to negotiate the peace accords based on the internationally recognised terms of reference and the pre-1967 borders, under international monitoring holding accountable the parties and within a determined and binding timeframe. We will never be ready to sign a surrender act.

It is worth watching the video. Sparks are set to fly when Trump and Kushner eventually unveil their big deal.

I’m not a reader of the BBC News website. Long ago I came to distrust the BBC’s reporting of Middle East affairs, so I tend to ignore it. Berg’s line of questioning prompted me to look deeper and I found this piece from 2013 by Amena Saleem in Electronic Intifada titled “BBC editor urged colleagues to downplay Israel’s siege of Gaza”, in which she reports that Berg, during Israel’s eight-day assault on Gaza in November 2012 which killed nearly 200 Palestinians, emailed BBC staff to write more favourably about Israel. He urged them, allegedly, not to blame Israel for the prolonged onslaught but to promote the Israeli government line that the “offensive” was “aimed at ending rocket fire from Gaza”, despite the fact that it was Israel which broke the ceasefire.

In another email, he told them: “Please remember, Israel doesn’t maintain a blockade around Gaza. Egypt controls the southern border.” However, the United Nations regards Israel as the occupying power in Gaza and had called on Israel to end its siege, which is a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1860.

It is interesting to read that Berg’s boss until last year was James Harding, an ex-Murdoch editor and self-proclaimed Israel supporter – a strange choice for a supposedly non-partisan head of BBC News. Almost as strange as the appointment around the same time of ex-Labour minister and former Chairman of Labour Friends of Israel James Purnell as director of strategy at this beacon of impartiality. Purnell is still there.

How many British MPs are working for ‘israel’?

Israeli London embassy spy Shai Masot

By Jonathan Cook

Aljazeera is to be congratulated on an undercover investigation exposing something most of us could probably have guessed: that some Israeli embassy staff in the UK – let’s not pussy around, Mossad agents – are working with senior political activists and politicians in the Conservative and Labour parties to subvert their own parties from within, and skew British foreign policy so that it benefits Israeli, rather than British, interests.

One cannot really blame Israel for doing this. Most states promote their interests as best they can. But one can and should expose and shame the British politicians who are collaborating with Israel in further harming Britain’s representative democracy.

It is not as though these people cannot be easily identified. They even advertise what they are up to. They are members of the Conservative and Labour Friends of Israel (CFI and LFI respectively). They dominate both parliamentary parties, but especially the Conservatives. According to the CFI’s figures, fully 80 per cent of Tory MPs belong to the party’s Friends of Israel group.

Traitors?

Once, no one would have hesitated to call British politicians acting in the interests of a foreign power, and very possibly taking financial benefits for doing so, “traitors”. And yet, as Aljazeera’s secretly filmed footage shows, Israeli spies like Shai Masot can readily meet and conspire with a Tory minister’s much-trusted aide to discuss how best to “take down” the deputy foreign minister, Alan Duncan, over his criticisms of Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied territories. Maria Strizzolo, Education Minister Robert Halfon’s assistant, suggests engineering a “little scandal” to damage Duncan.

Once, no one would have hesitated to call British politicians acting in the interests of a foreign power, and very possibly taking financial benefits for doing so, “traitors”. 

Masot and Israel’s intelligence services cannot influence British foreign policy through the opposition Labour party, but that doesn’t prevent them from also taking a keen interest in Labour MPs. Masot is filmed talking to Labour Friends of Israel’s chair, Joan Ryan, about “lots of money” – more than GBP 1 million – he has received from the Israeli government to send yet another batch of Labour MPs on an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel, where they will be wined and dined, and primed by top officials to adopt even more extreme pro-Israel positions. LFI is known for sending the largest proportion of MPs to Israel on these kinds of trips.

Labour MP Joan Ryan with Israeli spy Shai Masot

Labour MP Joan Ryan was told by the Israeli spy Shai Masot at the meeting that she could go on an expenses paid trip to Israel

Does that have an effect on British domestic politics. You bet it does! Israel isn’t a charity.

A large number of those who have been making Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s life a misery belong to Labour Friends of Israel. They are the same MPs who have been talking up an “anti-Semitism crisis” in the Labour party – based on zero tangible evidence – since Corbyn became party leader. Were they following the dictates of their conscience? Did they really fear an anti-Semitism plague had suddenly beset their party? Or were they playing deeply cynical politics to oust a leader who supports justice for the Palestinian people and is considered by Israel’s right wing government, which has no interest in making peace with the Palestinians, to be bad news for Israel?

Al Jazeera’s investigation has not been shown yet, so we can rely only on the snippets released so far, either by Aljazeera itself or additional leaks of the investigation provided by the Mail on Sunday.

It is worth listening to a Tory minister in the government of recently departed David Cameron, who writes anonymously in the Mail on Sunday. S/he warns of a double whammy to British politics caused by Israel and its British partisans – one that is starting to approach the damage done to the US political system by Israel.

Agents of Israel

The British government skews its foreign policy to avoid upsetting Jewish donors, s/he says. MPs, meanwhile, act like agents of a foreign power – s/he generously assumes unwittingly – rather than representatives of the British people. Forget international law, these politicians are not even promoting British interests.

Here is what the minister writes:

British foreign policy is in hock to Israeli influence at the heart of our politics, and those in authority have ignored what is going on.

For years the CFI and Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) have worked with – even for – the Israeli government and their London embassy to promote Israeli policy and thwart UK government policy and the actions of ministers who try to defend Palestinian rights.

Lots of countries try to force their views on others, but what is scandalous in the UK is that instead of resisting it, successive governments have submitted to it, taken donors’ money, and allowed Israeli influence-peddling to shape policy and even determine the fate of ministers.

Even now, if I were to reveal who I am, I would be subjected to a relentless barrage of abuse and character assassination…

It now seems clear people in the Conservative and Labour parties have been working with the Israeli embassy, which has used them to demonise and trash MPs who criticise Israel; an army of Israel’s useful idiots in Parliament.

This is politically corrupt, and diplomatically indefensible. The conduct of certain MPs needs to be exposed as the poisonous and deceitful infiltration of our politics by the unwitting agents of another country …

We need a full inquiry into the Israeli embassy, the links, access and funding of the CFI and LFI.

It is rare that I agree with a Tory government minister, but such an inquiry cannot come too soon.

An indictment of the UK media

Note too that it is an indictment of the UK media that Aljazeera, rather than the British fourth estate, has exposed Israel’s moves to subvert the British political system. It is not as though reporters from the BBC, the Guardian, the Timesand the Mail haven’t had ministers like the one above complaining to them for years about interference from Israel. So, why did they not long ago send in undercover teams to expose this collusion between Israel and British MPs?

Here we have documented evidence of the Israeli government secretly plotting with “friendly” British MPs to oust a British government minister. Will we… have weeks of coverage of this story in the UK media, or will it be quickly filed away and forgotten?

We have had weeks of stories about the supposed efforts of Russia and Putin to subvert the US election, without a hint yet of any evidence, and based on a central allegation against the Russians that they compromised the election result by releasing truthful information about wrongdoing in the Democratic Party. Russian diplomats have been expelled based on these evidence-free claims, and President Obama has vowed to take other, covert action against Russia.

Here we have documented evidence of the Israeli government secretly plotting with “friendly” British MPs to oust a British government minister. If that isn’t interference in the British political system, I don’t know what is. Will we similarly have weeks of coverage of this story in the UK media, or will it be quickly filed away and forgotten?

And will any action beyond the removal of Masot be demanded by the British government? It seems unlikely. The Foreign Office has already issued a statement saying that, following Masot’s dismissal, it considers the matter closed.

Israel’s Military Bombed His Family to Death. Now He’s Taking the Bastards to Court

By Stuart Littlewood
Source

Ziada family 77463

At long last someone is making a move to bring two of the most wanted Israeli war criminals to book. Will you help?

The Ziada family from Gaza was all but wiped out by Israel’s murderous bombardment during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge when a bomb buried them under three storeys of rubble. Among the dead lay Ismail Ziada’s mother, three brothers, his sister-in-law, a 12-year-old nephew and a visiting friend. Ismail himself happens to be a Dutch citizen resident in the Netherlands, so he wasn’t in Gaza at the time.

And fortunately the Netherlands, unlike the spineless UK, still upholds a system of universal jurisdiction in civil proceedings for its citizens who are unable to gain access to justice elsewhere.

According to an informed source [1], Ziada hired a lawyer specializing in support for victims of war crimes and human rights violations, and papers were served on the Israeli military’s Chief of General Staff at the time of the bombing, Benny Gantz, and the Commander of the Israeli Air Force, Amir Eshel. It was assumed that neither would respond and court proceedings would be conducted in absentia. Surprisingly Gantz and Eshel both submitted a response claiming immunity and alleging that the Dutch court had no jurisdiction. They argue that Ziada can access justice in Israel. But the recent Israeli court ruling against Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, who filed for compensation against the Israeli state over the killing of three of his daughters in IDF shelling in 2009, nails that lie.

The Ziada writ focuses on the fact that the bombing of the family homewas illegal and a war crime under international law. Next month, we’retold, there will be a court hearing – the first of its kind. If itworks out well for Ziada it is anticipated that Gantz and Eshel willpush the matter up to the Dutch Supreme Court, which could take yearsand incur significant expense.

So far Ziada has used his own funds and contributions from friends and supporters to pursue the case on behalf of all the victims of Israeli war crimes. But to achieve justice he’ll need wider moral and financial support. The target is 50,000 euros.

The good news is that the circumstances are such that this case has the potential to blow a hole in the Zionist regime’s arrogant belief that it is exceptional and above the law. Pressed home with enough determination and cash it could be the game-changer that creates the legal precedent decent folk around the world have prayed for. The word is that any compensation received will go into a fund for Palestinian war crime victims in general and children in particular. If you wish to contribute, go to GoFundMe.Roger Waters will match you.

Gantz and Eshel are military thugs of a particularly loathsome kind. Both waged war on Lebanon and played leading parts in the series of genocidal assaults on Gaza, the worst being Operation Protective Edge which, according to Israel’s B’Tselem, killed over 2,200 Palestinians, including 547 infants and children.

Gantz is a wannabee political leader challenging Netanyahu in the coming Israeli elections. Heading his new Israel Resilience Party he pledges to strengthen illegal Israeli settlement blocs and says that Israel will never leave the Golan Heights stolen from Syria. How nice is that?

israel (apartheid state) Stooges Freak Out over Baroness Jenny Tonge’s Remarks – Again

They plot to get her removed from the House of Lords

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“Absolutely appalling and a criminal act, but does it ever occur to Bibi and the present Israeli government that its actions against Palestinians may be reigniting anti-Semitism? I suppose someone will say that it is anti-Semitic to say so?”

What’s wrong with that?

Everything, according to the ‘usual suspects’ among the Inquisitors that makes up the Israel lobby.

Lord Pickles, in the House of Lords on 29 October responding to a Private Notice Question, said: “My Lords, will the Minister join me, along with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, in condemning the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Tonge, in suggesting that the murders in Pittsburgh were caused by the actions of the Israeli Government? That suggestion will clearly cause great pain in Pittsburgh, and falls foul of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.”

Jenny Tonge, a tireless champion of Palestinians’ rights, has fought long and hard in the struggle for their freedom. So what came as a surprise (for some) was the knife in the back from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), who issued this statement on 30 October: “In the aftermath of the massacre of 11 Jewish worshipers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Baroness Tonge posted a comment on Facebook that suggested Israel’s policies and its treatment of the Palestinians could be contributing to a rise in anti-Semitism generally. Baroness Tonge subsequently removed the post.

“PSC regards the original post to be deeply troubling. Whilst the post acknowledged that the killings were appalling and a criminal act, it risked being read as implying that anti-Semitism can only be understood in the context of a response to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Such a view risks justifying or minimising antisemitism.”

The PSC told Jewish News it had “contacted Jenny Tonge to express our deep concerns at her post and is in the process of considering any further steps.”

Jewish News also reported that Conservative Friends of Israel Parliamentary Chairman Lord Pickles and Conservative Friends of Israel Honorary President Lord Polak had condemned her “callous inflammatory” remarks. They said the post “is in clear violation of the IHRA definition of Anti-Semitism adopted by the UK Government. For a Member of the House of Lords to publish such hateful thoughts brings Parliament into disrepute.”

Never mind that Jenny’s remark was accurate. The Israeli regime strains every sinew to ensure its behaviour is so appalling as to invite detestation and loathing, not because they are Jews but because they are the ‘amoral thugs’ that the late Jewish MP Sir Gerald Kaufman once called them.

Remember the warning from one of their own, former Israeli Director of Military Intelligence Yehoshafat Harkabi, who wrote: “Israelis must be aware that the price of their misconduct is paid not only by them but also Jews throughout the world.”

Bibi and his adoring supporters, not Jenny Tonge, need to think about that. It remains to be seen what motivated the atrocity at Pittsburgh. But whatever the IHRA definition says, the European Convention on Human Rights  and our Human Rights Act provide for freedom of expression which applies not only to information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also to those that “offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population”. Unless, of course, they call for violence, hatred or intolerance, which is not the case here.

Nothing to apologise for

Of course the Zionists, even within her own party, have been gunning for Jenny for a very long time. A doctor by training and profession, she is used to being stabbed in the back by scaredy-cat leaders. In 2012 she was sacked after suggesting that Israel would not last for ever. She rejected an ultimatum from party leader Nick Clegg to apologise and said she stood by her remarks.

The row blew up when Jenny allegedly told a meeting at Middlesex University: “Beware Israel. Israel is not going to be there for ever in its present form… Israel will lose support and then they will reap what they have sown.”   She said America would one day get sick of funding what she called America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East. “One day, the American people are going to say to the Israel lobby in the USA: Enough is enough.”

Israel’s admirers were soon queuing up to spit their venom. The Board of Deputies of British Jews condemned Tonge’s remarks as “sinister and abhorrent”. Chief executive Jon Benjamin said: “There is no place for someone like Jenny Tonge in mainstream political parties in this country.”

The then chief rabbi, Lord Sacks, said: “I am appalled at Baroness Tonge’s remarks. They are dangerous, inflammatory and unacceptable… Views such as those expressed by Baroness Tonge have no place in civil public discourse.”

The Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel applauded Clegg’s “decisive action” and hoped the sacking would “draw a line under the continual smearing of Lib Dem party policy on Israel and the Middle East”. And according to The Guardian an unnamed Lib Dem spokesman said: “Jenny Tonge does not speak for the party on Israel and Palestine. Her presence and comments at this event were extremely ill-advised and ill-judged… The Liberal Democrats are wholehearted supporters of a peaceful two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine issue.”

Clegg, who was also Deputy Prime Minister in the coalition government at the time, said: “These remarks were wrong and offensive and do not reflect the values of the Liberal Democrats. I asked Baroness Tonge to withdraw her remarks and apologise for the offence she has caused. She has refused to do so and will now be leaving the party. The Liberal Democrats have a proud record of campaigning for the rights of Palestinians, and that will continue, but we are crystal clear in our support for a two-state solution.”

And a fat lot of good adopting that position has done. Even in 2012 it was obvious the two-state solution was stone dead.

However John McHugo, chair of the LibDem Friends of Palestine, said: “Jenny’s motivation in speaking up for the rights of the oppressed is anger at injustice when others, who have the duty to speak out, pass by silently on the other side of the street.”

In 2004 she said about Palestinian suicide bombers: “If I had to live in that situation – and I say that advisedly – I might just consider becoming one myself.” Everyone went mad. A senior Conservative said her comments would “sicken those across the world who have lost loved ones to suicide bombers”. The ignoramus didn’t mention the thousands of Palestinian families who had lost loved ones, their homes and their livelihoods – everything – to Israeli terrorists and occupation forces.

Charles Kennedy, the then LibDem party leader, dismissed Jenny as children’s spokesperson, saying: “Her recent remarks… are completely unacceptable. They are not compatible with Liberal Democrat party policies and principles. There can be no justification, under any circumstances, for taking innocent lives through terrorism.”

But Kennedy too couldn’t bring himself to mention the casualties inflicted by Israel’s acts of terror and frequent high-tech military strikes on an occupied and defenceless civilian population.

Then, in 2006, Jenny told a fringe meeting at her party’s conference: “The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips. I think they have probably got a certain grip on our party.” As if to prove her point the LibDem Friends of Israel immediately issued a press release saying: “In the coming days and weeks we will work closely with colleagues inside the Party to ensure every avenue is explored towards removing Baroness Tonge from the Liberal Democrat benches in the House of Lords.”

The party’s leader at the time, Menzies Campbell, dissociated himself from her “offensive remarks” and “their clear anti-Semitic connotations”. Offensive? The pro-Israel lobby’s infiltration of Parliament and public life was there for all to see. That’s what was offensive. And the threat to national security was blazingly obvious. For example, our most important security bodies – the Intelligence & Security Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee and Defence Committee – were all headed by senior Friends of Israel. How could that be in our national interest?

Clegg and Co would do well to re-read the Preamble to their own party’s Constitution, a very fine document indeed especially where it says: “We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience… We reject all prejudice and discrimination… Our responsibility for justice and liberty cannot be confined by national boundaries; we are committed to fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur and to promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services.”

Those principles are as good as any for guiding a person through political life. But where are they reflected in our political elite’s dealings with the scandalous injustice in the Holy Land?

And just how principled was Clegg’s sacking of one of the country’s most committed campaigners for human rights, Jenny Tonge?

Jenny’s goodbye to the Liberal Democrat party and its sanctimonious hypocrites was a long time coming. She’s well rid of them.

PSC too timid to put down a marker for upholding international law?

And what of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign? I had suspicions in 2007 that the PSC was infiltrated at headquarters level when they refused to review or give any space at all to my book “Radio Free Palestine” (Foreword by Jeff Halper) even after I’d sent them two complimentary copies which they claimed had gone astray. They refused again when the book was published on the web for all to read. How’s that for “Solidarity”? Although I have every admiration for the hardworking campaigners in PSC’s local branches the leadership has done nothing to inspire or give me confidence. Of course, it is to be expected that such a high-profile campaign group would be targeted.

At its Annual General Meeting in 2016 the PSC even threw out a proposal to seek Israel’s expulsion from the United Nations. Chairman Hugh Lanning was reported to have started proceedings on a positive note saying: “Let us recommit to Palestine to make sure that we make a difference in the coming year.”

But a motion put for the PSC’s Executive Committee to “request the Government of the United Kingdom, enforced by a petition and lobbying, to submit a motion to the Security Council recommending that the General Assembly expel Israel from the UN in compliance with the UN Charter, Article 6” failed — 76 for, 116 against. A statement by its main sponsor, Blake Alcott, said that an identical motion to the AGM a year previously was likewise opposed by the PSC leadership who felt “the time is not yet right”. He said: “Pro-Palestinians must wonder how much worse Israel’s crimes must be before the international community takes disciplinary action.”

There is ample reason to call for Israel’s expulsion from the UN. That racist endeavour clearly isn’t the ‘peace-loving state’ required by the UN Charter’s Article 4. Nor has it fulfilled the four conditions to its acceptance as a member back in May 1949. As the record shows, Israel has wilfully breached conditions of membership for decades. Many have argued it automatically disqualifies itself by failing to fulfill membership requirements in the first place. Furthermore it continues to show contempt for numerous UN resolution despite frequent reminders.

When considering what sort of response civil society should make, suspension sounds ‘softer’ than expulsion as membership can be speedily restored if and when Israel satisfies the other member states that it now conforms. And in the circumstances suspension would surely be more difficult to veto. But under the rules expulsion is also an option. This is what the relevant part of the UN Charter says:

(Article 5) A Member of the United Nations against which preventive or enforcement action has been taken by the Security Council may be suspended from the exercise of the rights and privileges of membership by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. The exercise of these rights and privileges may be restored by the Security Council.

(Article 6) A Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.

It might be argued that the passing of numerous UN Security Council resolutions amounts to ‘preventive action’ (although still awaiting enforcement). But Article 6, which stipulates expulsion, is more clear-cut. Israel has certainly violated every norm, every rule of decency, every principle of humanity. And it continues to do so without showing a shred of remorse.

Of course Mr Alcott’s motion, if passed, would have been brushed aside by the British Government which is pledged by successive prime ministers to protect and reward Israel right or wrong. But that is not the point. The aim of the motion was to put down a marker and provide a focus around which other campaign groups across the world could mobilise, bringing similar pressure to bear on their own governments and creating an irresistible swell of global opinion to ensure international law is eventually upheld.

The PSC failed that simple test. So how will it ever “make a difference” on behalf of the long-suffering Palestinians?

This week Jenny wrote on her Facebook page: “PSC are very worried about the furore surrounding my remarks following Pittsburgh and I have resigned to save them embarrassment!!! Sad day.”

She was a patron and had been a member for 10 years. I’d say she’s well shot of them and the LibDems, both.

*( Baroness Jenny Tonge, Stop the War Coalition Rally outside the Iraq Inquiry, London, Blair inside. Image credit: Chris Beckett/ flickr)

After 70 Years of Abuse, A Definition of Anti-Palestinian Racism

BY Stuart Littlewood
Source

photo_2018-10-08_13-18-04_6aafa.jpgIs this where the fight-back begins?

What is the matter with the Palestine solidarity movement? Since 1948 (and before that, even) the Palestinians have been viciously abused and dispossessed while the perpetrators and their supporters, including unprincipled politicians of the Western Powers, have continually played the anti-Semitism card.

Lately, bemused spectators were bored witless by the long and ludicrous propaganda campaign to vilify Jeremy Corbyn, bully the Labour Party into making the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism a cornerstone of their code of conduct and stifle discussion of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. The expected riposte never came.

Jewish Voice For Labour, of all people, have now stepped in and struck back with a useful looking definition of Anti-Palestinian Racism which they decribe as “hatred towards or prejudice against Palestinians as Palestinians”. In a document faintly mocking the pronouncements on anti-Semitism they suggest that manifestations of anti-Palestinian racism might include the denial of Palestinian rights to a state of Palestine as recognised by over 130 member countries of the United Nations and blaming Palestinians themselves for their plight under brutal military occupation and lock-down. Here’s how they put it:

Contemporary examples of anti-Palestinian racism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

1. Denying the Palestinian people their right to self-determination and nationhood, or actively conspiring to prevent the exercise of this right.

2. Denial that Israel is in breach of international law in its continued occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

3. Denial that Israel is an apartheid state according to the definition of the International Convention on Apartheid.

4. Denial of the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians during the 1948 Nakba and of their right, and the right of their descendants, to return to their homeland.

5. Denial that Palestinians have lived in what is now the land of Israel for hundreds of years and have their own distinctive national identity and culture.

6. Denial that the laws and policies which discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel (such as the recently passed Nation State Law) are inherently racist.

7. Denial that there is widespread discrimination against Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Territories in matters of employment, housing, justice, education, water supply, etc, etc.

8. Tolerating the killing or harming of Palestinians by violent settlers in the name of an extremist view of religion.

9. Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Palestinians — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth of a Palestinian conspiracy to wipe Israel off the map.

10. Justifying the collective punishment of Palestinians (prohibited under the Geneva Convention) in response to the acts of individuals or groups.

11. Accusing the Palestinians as a people, of encouraging the Holocaust.

I am not sure how Palestinians, as genuine Semites living there for thousands of years, will react to No.5 which claims their homeland is “now the land of Israel”. Despite being illegally occupied by an apartheid entity most of whose members have no ancestral links to the ancient “land of Israel” it is still Palestine.

For decades activists have been telling the Israel lobby to look in the mirror and address their own racial hatred towards the Palestinians. You must truly hate people to deny them their freedom and even their right to return to their homes and livelihoods. Why has it taken so long for such a simple and obvious weapon to be produced? Doesn’t it make you wonder about the true agenda of those in charge of Palestine solidarity? And why is it left to a group of Jews (bless ’em) to do it?

The question now is how best to deliver this somewhat delayed riposte. It might have been most effective while the iron was hot, at the height of the anti-Semitism witch-hunt and media onslaught. Many activists wanted Corbyn to turn on his tormentors and tell them to mend their own vile attitude towards Palestinian Arabs before daring to smear others with accusations of anti-Semitism.

On the other hand it will benefit from careful honing, cool planning and the massing of pro-Palestinian support to make the hit really count.

For reasons we know only too well our politicians won’t adopt it as eagerly as they embraced the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism. But it is at least a starting point in the fight-back especially if deployed by a coalition of genuine pro-Palestine groups and the BDS movement as the centrepiece of a new, high-octane strategy.

Lies, damned lies….

Meanwhile I hope all those who allowed themselves to be suckered by the Israel lobby will hang their heads in shame when they read this report by the Media Reform Coalition: Labour, Antisemitism and the News – A disinformation paradigm. The Executive summary says that an analysis of over 250 articles and news segments from the largest UK news providers (online and television) showed:

• 29 examples of false statements or claims, several of them made by anchors or correspondents themselves, six of them surfacing on BBC television news programmes, and eight on TheGuardian.com

• A further 66 clear instances of misleading or distorted coverage including misquotations, reliance on single source accounts, omission of essential facts or right of reply, and repeated assumptions made by broadcasters without evidence or qualification. In total, a quarter of the sample contained at least one documented inaccuracy or distortion.

• Overwhelming source imbalance, especially on television news where voices critical of Labour’s code of conduct were regularly given an unchallenged and exclusive platform, outnumbering those defending Labour by nearly 4 to 1.

In all, there were 95 clear-cut examples of misleading or inaccurate reporting on mainstream television and online news platforms, with a quarter of the total sample containing at least one such example. On TV two thirds of the news segments contained at least one reporting error or substantive distortion.

The report points to “a persistent subversion of conventional news values”. Furthermore, coverage of Labour’s revised code of conduct during the summer of 2018 often omitted critical discussion of the ‘working definition’ of anti-Semitism promoted by the IHRA and wrongly described it as universally adopted. “We established through background case research that although the IHRA is an international body with representatives from 31 countries, only six of those countries have, to date, formally adopted the definition themselves.

• In spite of a call for local authorities to adopt the definition by the UK’s central government in early 2017, less than a third of councils have responded and several of those have chosen not to include any of the controversial examples contained within the working definition.

• Several high-profile bodies have rejected or distanced themselves from the working definition, including the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (a successor to the body that drafted the original wording on which the definition is based) and academic institutions including the London School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies.

• Mainstream academic and legal opinion has been overwhelmingly critical of the IHRA definition, including formal opinions produced by three senior UK barristers and one former appeals court judge. Virtually none of this essential context found its way into news reports of the controversy. Instead, the Labour Party was routinely portrayed by both sources and correspondents as beyond the pale of conventional thinking on the IHRA definition.”

Which all goes to show that Britain’s mainstream media has a hill to climb to get back its self-respect.

Miko Peled: The State of Israel Will Crumble and We Will See A Free Democratic Palestine from the River to the Sea Sooner than Most People Think

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Miko Peled, an Israeli general’s son and himself a former Israeli soldier, is nowadays a noted peace activist and a tireless worker for justice in the Holy Land. He is considered to be one of the clearest voices calling for support of BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) against the Zionist regime and for the creation of a single democracy with equal rights on all of historic Palestine.

He will be at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool on 23-26 September. I was lucky enough to have the chance to interview him beforehand. In a week that marks the 70th anniversary of the assassination of Folke Bernadotte and the 36th anniversary of the genocidal massacre at Sabra and Shatila refugee camp, atrocities committed in pursuit of Zionist ambition, what Miko says may give those who take dictation from the Israel lobby cause to reflect.

Stuart Littlewood:  Miko, you were raised in a Zionist family on a Zionist diet. What happened to cause you to break out from there?

Miko Peled:  As the title of my memoir The General’s Son suggests, I was born to a father who was a general in the IDF and then, as the sub-title points out, I embarked on a “Journey of an Israeli in Palestine”. The journey defined for me, and through me will hopefully define for the reader, what is “Israel” and what is “Palestine”. It is a journey from the sphere of the privileged oppressor and occupier (Israel) to that of the oppressed (Palestine) and the people who are native to Palestine. I discovered that it is, in fact, the same country, that Israel is Palestine occupied. But without the journey, I would not have figured that out. This for me was the key. It allowed me to see the injustice, the deprivation, the lack of water and rights and so on. The further I allowed, and continue to allow myself to venture into this journey the more I was able to see what Zionism really is, what Israel is, and who I am within that.

Many months ago you warned that Israel was going to “pull all the stops, they are going to smear, they are going to try anything they can to stop Corbyn”, and the reason anti-Semitism is used is that they have no other argument. This has come true with Jeremy Corbyn under vicious, sustained attack even from former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks. How should Corbyn deal with it and what counter-measures would you suggest he takes?

Jeremy Corbyn made it clear during last year’s Labour conference that he will not allow the anti-Semitic accusations to interfere with his work as leader of the Labour Party and as a man dedicated to creating a just society in the UK and a just world. In that speech, he said something that no Western leader would dare to say: “We must end the oppression of the Palestinian people.” He has been right on the money the whole time and his support is growing. I believe he is doing the right thing. I expect he will continue to do so.

And what do you make of Sacks’ outburst?

Not surprising that a racist who supports Israel would come out like this – he represents no one.

The Labour Party’s ruling body, the NEC, has adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism lock, stock, and barrel despite warnings from legal experts and a recommendation to include caveats by the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee. This decision is seen as caving in to outside pressure and obviously impacts on free speech which is enshrined in British law and guaranteed by international convention. How will it affect Labour’s credibility?

Accepting the IHRA definition was a mistake and I am sure they will live to feel the sting of shame this has placed on those who voted to adopt it. There are at least two notices out already by the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, which makes up at least 25% to 30% of UK Jews, that they reject the notion that JC is anti-Semitic, they reject Zionism and they reject the IHRA definition.

Turning to the Occupation, you have said that Israel achieved its aim to make the conquest of the West Bank irreversible 25 years ago. Why do you think the Western Powers still cling to the idea of a Two State Solution?  How do you expect the situation to play out?

The US, and particularly the current administration, accepts that Israel has swallowed all of Mandatory Palestine and there is no room for non-Jews in that country. They make no claims otherwise. The Europeans are in a different situation. The politicians in Europe want to appease Israel and accept it as it is. Their constituents, however, demand justice for the Palestinians so, as an act of cowardly compromise, the EU countries in true post-colonial fashion treat the Palestinian Authority as though it was a Palestinian state. That is why, I believe, the Europeans are going ahead and “recognizing” the so-called State of Palestine, even though there is no such state. They do it in order to appease their constituents without actually doing anything to further the cause of justice in Palestine. These recognitions have helped not one Palestinian, they have not freed a single prisoner from an Israeli prison, they have not saved a single child from bombings in Gaza, they have not alleviated the suffering and deprivation of Palestinians in the Naqab desert or in the refugee camps. It is an empty, cowardly gesture.

What the Europeans ought to do is adopt BDS. They should recognize that Palestine is occupied, that Palestinians are living under an apartheid regime in their own land, they are victims of ethnic cleansing and genocide and that this must stop, and the Zionist occupation must end completely and without conditions.

I believe the State of Israel will crumble and that we will see a free democratic Palestine from the River to the Sea sooner than most people think. The current reality is unsustainable, two million people in Gaza are not going away, Israel has just announced – again – that two million of its non-Jewish citizens are not welcome to be part of that state, and BDS is hard at work.

The IDF calls itself the most moral army in the world. You served in the IDF. How credible is its claim?

It is a lie. There is no such thing as a moral army and the IDF has been engaged in ethnic cleansing, genocide and enforcing an apartheid regime for seven decades. In fact the IDF is one of the best equipped, best trained, best financed and best fed terrorist forces in the world. Even though they have generals and nice uniforms and the most advanced weapons, they are no more than armed gangs of thugs and its main purpose is to terrorize and kill Palestinians. Its officers and soldiers execute with enthusiasm the policies of brutality and ruthlessness which are cruelly inflicted on Palestinians’ everyday life.

Breaking the Silence is an organization of IDF veterans committed to exposing the truth about a foreign military trying to control an oppressed civilian population under illegal occupation. They say their aim is to eventually end the occupation. How do you rate their chances of success?

They and other NGOs like them could make a huge difference. Unfortunately, they do not go far enough, they do not call on young Israelis to refuse to serve in the IDF, and they do not reject Zionism. Without these two elements, I feel their work is superficial and will make little difference.
Israelis often accuse the Palestinian education system of turning out future terrorists. How does Israel’s education compare?

The Palestinian education system goes through a thorough vetting process so all claims of it teaching hate are baseless. Israel, however, does a fine job in teaching Palestinians that they are occupied and oppressed and have no choice but to resist. They do it using the military, the secret police, the apartheid bureaucracy, the countless permits and prohibitions and restrictions on their lives.

The Israeli courts teach Palestinians that there is no justice for them under the Israeli system and that they are counted as nothing. I have not met Palestinians who express hate, but if some do it is because of the education that Israel is providing, not because of any Palestinian textbook.

Israelis go through a thorough racist education that is well documented in a book by my sister, Prof. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, titled Palestine in Israeli Textbooks.

Christian communities in the Holy Land have been dwindling fast. The Israelis claim the Muslims are pushing them out but Christians say it’s the cruelty of the occupation that has caused so many to leave. What is your take on this? Are the Israelis trying to drive a wedge between Christians and Muslims? Is there a religious war going on to drive the Christians out?

Christians used to make up 12% of the population in Palestine, now they are barely 2%. There is no one to blame for this other than Israel. Israel destroyed Palestinian Christian communities and churches just like they destroyed Muslims. To Israel Arabs are Arabs and they have no place in the Land of Israel. I strongly recommend the late Bob Simon’s excellent report on CBS 60 Minutes from 2012 titled Christians in the Holy Land. At the end, he confronts the former Ambassador of Israel to Washington DC who wanted the show canceled.

Would you call yourself a religious person these days? 

I never was.

You know Gaza. How do you rate Hamas on their potential to govern?  And could honest brokers work with them towards peace?

I have no way to rate Hamas one way or another. I did speak to people who worked in Gaza for many years, both Palestinians and foreigners, and their assessment was that as far as governing goes, and taking into consideration the severe conditions under which they live, they are to be commended.

Some people say that the Israeli public is largely unaware of the horrors of the occupation and shielded from the truth. If true, is it beginning to change?

Israelis are fully aware of the atrocities and they approve. Israelis vote, and they vote in high numbers and for seven decades they keep voting for people who send them and their children to commit these atrocities. The atrocities are committed not by foreign mercenaries but by Israeli boys and girls who for the most part serve proudly. The only thing that changed is the discourse. In the past, there was a facade of a civilized discourse within Israel, and today that no longer exists. Saying that Israel must kill more and more Palestinians is a perfectly acceptably statement today. In the past, people were somewhat embarrassed to admit they thought that way.

Israel has carried out a succession of armed assaults in international waters on humanitarian aid boats taking urgent medical and other non-military supplies to the beleaguered people of Gaza. Crew and passengers are routinely beaten up and thrown in jail, and some killed. Should the organizers now give up, or re-double their efforts using different tactics?

The Gaza flotillas are certainly commendable but if the goal is to reach the shores of Gaza they are doomed to fail. Their value is only in the fact that they are an expression of solidarity and one has to wonder if the time and effort and risk and expense justify the result. Israel will make sure no one gets through and the world pays them little attention. In my opinion, the flotillas are not the best form of action. No single issue in the ongoing tragedy in Palestine can be resolved on its own. Not the siege on Gaza, not the political prisoners, not the water issue and not the racist laws, etc. Only a focused and well-coordinated strategy to delegitimize and bring down the Zionist regime can bring justice to Palestine. BDS has the best potential for that but it is not being utilized enough and too much time is wasted on arguing its merits.

Certainly one of the weaknesses on the part of those who care to see justice in Palestine is that anyone with an idea just “goes for it.” There is little co-ordination and hardly any strategy to the very crucial question of how to free Palestine. Israel has succeeded in creating a sense of helplessness on this side and in legitimizing itself and Zionism in general, and that is a serious challenge.

This week was the 70th anniversary of the murder of Swedish diplomat Count Folke Bernadotte by a Zionist hit-squad while serving as UN Security Council mediator in the Arab–Israeli conflict. Everyone is keeping strangely quiet about this, even the Swedes.

This was one in a series of many political assassinations perpetrated by Zionist terrorist gangs in which no-one was held accountable. The first was in 1924 when they assassinated Yaakov Dehan. Then in 1933, they assassinated Chaim Arlozorov. The 1946 massacre at the King David Hotel was of course politically motivated and caused close to one hundred deaths, most of them innocent people who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Then in September 1948 the assassination in Jerusalem of UN intermediary and member of the Swedish royal family, Folke Bernadotte, who apparently came with plans to end the violence in Palestine, plans that the Zionist establishment did not find acceptable. Bernadotte is buried in a humble family grave in Stockholm, there are no memorial services planned that I know of or any mention of this anniversary by any official Swedish organization. My grandfather was Israel’s first ambassador to Sweden. This was shortly after the assassination and he did a fine job making sure that the Swedish government would keep the issue quiet.

There were many, many more assassinations and massacres – the attack on the USS Liberty comes to mind as well as the part played by the brutality of the Zionist apparatus that sees killing as a legitimate tool for accomplishing its political goals. Little is known or recalled about these brutal killings. Countless Palestinian leaders, writers, poets, etc., were assassinated by Israel.

A lot of hope is pinned on BDS by Palestine solidarity. How effective is BDS and how best can civil society turn up the pressure?

BDS is a very effective but slow process. It won’t work through magic or Divine intervention. People need to embrace it fully, work hard, demand the expulsion of all Israeli diplomats and total isolation of Israel. There is too much tolerance for those who promote Zionism and promote Israel and the Israeli army and that needs to change. Elected officials need to be forced to accept BDS entirely. The Palestine solidarity groups need to move from solidarity to full resistance, and BDS is the perfect form of resistance available.

Are there any other key issues that you’re confronting right now?

Moving from solidarity to resistance is, in my opinion, key at this point. Using the tools we have, like BDS is crucial. The passing of the Israeli Nation-State Law is an opportunity to unite the Palestinian citizens of Israel back with the rest of the Palestinians. We should all strive to bring total unity between the refugees, the West Bank, Gaza and 1948, and demand complete equal rights and the replacing of the Zionist regime that has been terrorizing Palestine for seven decades with a free and democratic Palestine. This opportunity will hopefully be seized.

Finally, Miko, how are your two books doing – ‘The General’s Son’ and ‘Injustice: The Story of The Holy Land Foundation Five’? It seems to me that the latter, which tells how the justice system in the US has been undermined to benefit pro-Israel interests, ought to be a must-read here in the UK where the same thing is happening in our political and parliamentary institutions and could spread to the courts.

Well, they are doing fine, though neither one is a best seller yet, and as we are on the less popular side of the issue it is a tough sell. TGS is out in the second edition so that is good, and I would certainly like to see it and Injustice in the hands of more people. Sadly though, not enough people realize how the occupation in Palestine is affecting the lives people in the West because of the work of Zionist watchdog groups like the Board of Deputies in the UK, and AIPAC and the ADL in the US.

In this case alone, five innocent men are serving long sentences in federal prison in the US only because they are Palestinians.

Many thanks, Miko, I appreciate your taking the time to share your views.

 

Chief among the many positive ideas I get from this encounter with Miko is the need for activists to shift up a gear and accelerate from solidarity to full-on resistance. This will mean wider involvement, better coordination, revised targeting, and a sharper strategy. In effect a BDS Mk2, supercharged and on high octane fuel. Secondly, we ought to treat Zionism and those who promote or support it with far less tolerance. As Miko said on another occasion, “If opposing Israel is anti-Semitism then what do you call supporting a state that has been engaged in brutal ethnic cleansing for seven decades?”

As for Jeremy Corbyn – if he reads this – yes, he’d better come down hard on hatemongers including the real foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Semites, but he must also purge the Labour Party of its equally contemptible ‘Zionist Tendency’. And that goes for all our political parties.

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