Monday, July 25, 2011

Norwegian hypocrisy

My sympathy at the terrible loss of life in Norway does not extend to their left-wing politicians who dominate the country's political narrative. I have just heard one of their senior government members on the BBC news claim that, with the 'possible exception of the Beslan massacre', the Norway attack was 'unprecedented because it was the only terrorist attack in history in which children were specifically targeted'.

Of course, according to most Norwegians, when Palestinians massacre Israeli children in their dozens in schools (as they did in Maalot in 1974) in their hundreds on buses (as they did during the second intifada and numerous previous occasions) at a disco, and even when they decapitate Israeli toddlers and babies as they did this year in Itamar, none of that counts as terrorism. The Norwegians are usually the first to 'explain' that the attackers had 'justified grievances'.

And let's also demolish the myth that our media and the Norwegians have been pushing, that the victims at Utoya Island were schoolchildren at a summer holiday camp. They were, in fact, mostly young adults who were all part of the Young Socialist League at a political indoctrination event. None of these people deserved to be harmed in any way, but take a look at the photo above (courtesy of the Blaze, where you can read the full story) to see the kind of 'harmless' activity they were involved with the very day before the attack. The Israeli kids who were killed in real schools, buses and discos, certainly weren't calling for the boycott and even destruction of a democratic state that they knew nothing about.

In a Europe where countries fight with themselves to be seen as the leaders in anti-Israel activism Norway reigns supreme by a long distance. And, for all its supposed tolerance of minorities, it also leads the way in classic anti-Semitism.

My thoughts go out to the Norwegian victims and their families and friends. But the Norwegian politicians can take a running jump (even more so when you see this from the Norwegian Ambassador to Israel).

NOTE: Have a look at the above story presented with a slightly different twist on my "Free Palestine Now" blog. Thanks to some timely comments on left-wing blogs my postings there have received some incredible hit statistics.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Something new

One of the problems with a blog like this is that, because of its name and description, it is inevitably going to be restricted to readers who are already pre-disposed to its narrative, i.e. it is 'preaching to the converted'.

So I am trying out something different. I have created a new blog called "Free Palestine Now" where I plan to put some of my key postings, but under a different title and description.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Responses from Lush about its Death to Israel campaign

Updated 20 July: Below is the correspondence with Lush about their Death to Israel campaign that I previously reported on their website.   Interestingly, as Richard Millett points out, Lush have now opened a shop in Brent Cross (a shopping centre in a Jewish area of London). Hopefully shoppers will get informed about what Lush stands for.  What I am sure of is that shoppers who object to Lush's promotion of terrorism will not behave in the same appalling way as anti-Israel activists have behaved against another London cosmetics shop -  Ahava - for no reason other than that it sells Israeli products.
Dear Edgar,

Thank you for your email. I'm sorry to hear you're disappointed with Lush's support for the OneWorld project.

The history between Israel and Palestine is long, complicated and often under dispute. However, what is very clear is the level of suffering occurring today, in part due to the construction of the wall which is cutting Palestinian people off from vital health services and has dramatically increased poverty in the area. History does not excuse such suffering. It will take both sides to come to a solution, but what is also clear is that this is not a conflict of two equal sides and thus the onus must be on the dominating force, Israel. The OneWorld project is supported by both Palestinian and Israeli organisations and aims to help create peace for both sides.

We support organisations fighting for human rights all around the world on a variety of issues, from the freedom of West Papua and Tibet to labour rights of workers in India, women's rights in Africa and environmental rights of indigenous people in Latin America. Whilst there are many other issues we have not supported, there are sadly limitations as to how much we can do.
Throughout the course of the year we support many humanitarian, animal and environmental causes, many of which are nominated by our own customers. We welcome and value all feedback, so thank you for getting in touch with us. I will be sure to pass your comments on to our Campaigns team for future consideration.

Kind regards,

Vicky Jansson
Customer Care Manager
Lush Ltd.
 And here is my response to this letter:


Dear Vicky,

Thank you for taking the trouble to reply. 
I am obliged to respond to the following points you made:
The history between Israel and Palestine is long, complicated and often under dispute.
Yes and it is clear that the people at Lush have absolutely no understanding about it, because they have accepted the narrative of political activists whose objective is nothing less than the destruction of the Jewish State. Have you ever thought about the possibility that almost every piece of information being promoted by those people is a lie? Have you, or any of your Lush colleagues ever been to Israel (and I don’t include trips to the ‘West Bank’ under the protection of anti-Israel groups) and spent time with Israelis? Clearly not,  because if any of them had they will know that the narrative presented on the Lush website is a total lie.
However, what is very clear is the level of suffering occurring today, in part due to the construction of the wall which is cutting Palestinian people off from vital health services and has dramatically increased poverty in the area.

The “Wall” is actually a security fence that was constructed as a last resort  measure to stop the almost daily suicide bombings that claimed the lives of some 2,000 Israeli civilians between 2000-2004.  The security fence has drastically reduced the number of terrorist attacks from the West Bank and means, for example,  that some parents no longer have to insist on their children travelling on different buses to school (during 2000-2004 most Israeli parents had to take this decision on the assumption that if one bus was attacked at least one child would survive).  Many Palestinians are very upset that their right to kill Jews at will has been restricted by the security fence, and other Palestinians have no doubt been inconvenienced by the additional security measures when travelling into Israel, but wouldn’t you think that is a price worth paying to stop your child being blown to bits on a bus or in a cafĂ© (and please note, that the various Palestinian terrorist groups who are supported directly by the War on Want Charity you are promoting are very open about their desire to target Israeli children). 

As for health and poverty of the Palestinians: are you not aware that the life expectancy in the Palestinian territories is the highest in the entire Arab world?  Indeed, the life expectancy in Gaza is significantly higher than in Glasgow, so perhaps you should be redirecting you charitable attention there.  As for poverty, why not take a look at the Palestinians own pictures of Gaza here

You say
The OneWorld project is supported by both Palestinian and Israeli organisations and aims to help create peace for both sides.
Well there are certainly Israelis and Israeli organisations who campaign ferociously for the destruction of the State of Israel as a Jewish State, but they are no more representative of Israeli society than George Galloway or Abu Hamza are of the UK.  Can you point to a single reputable Israeli organisation that supports the statement on your website (as opposed to the benign aims of OneWorld)?

The more I read the website article the more ludicrous are the claims. For example, in addition to the nonsense about 'sub-Saharan poverty levels we have this:
 “life for most Palestinians living under the illegal Israeli occupation is at least as bad as that endured by black South Africans in the bad old days of apartheid.” 
The West Bank is officially “disputed territory” not “illegally occupied” and the “apartheid” analogy is bizarre in this context. It would be just as meaningful to say that poverty levels in Glasgow are at apartheid levels.  Clearly the statement was intended to promote, indirectly, the false notion of Israel as an apartheid state.  There are certainly several apartheid states in the area but Israel is not one of them. The Apartheid states are all Arab: a total of 0 Jews live in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority areas, 0 Jews live in Jordan and Saudi Arabia (where in both countries it is illegal to be a citizen if you are a Jew) and less than a handful of Jews live in all of the other Arab countries combined. Less than 60 years ago those Arab countries had thriving communities of Jews totally some 1,000,000.  They have all been driven out. But, of course you never heard their narrative did you?

We also have the nonsense about 'Israeli crimes' and the claim that "the US, UK and other governments have consistently rewarded Israeli aggression with economic benefits and closer political ties." Can you provide a single example of any country in the world who would not commit the 'crime' of defending its people from continued terrorist and rocket attacks from neighbours dedicated to its destruction (in this case those 'peace loving' Palestinians you refer to). I think Israel has more of a right to defend itslef against Hamas agrression than the British have in bombing Libyan cities, but I don't see anything on your website about the 'crime' of the British bombing campaign. As for the 'rewards', please provide a single example of that also.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, exactly why does a parochial UK cosmetics shop feel it is its duty is to deligitimize the only free democracy in the entire Middle East?


Edgar Davidson


Response from Vicky Jansson on 14 June:


Dear Edgar,

Thank you for getting back to us, though we are sorry that we have not been able to assure you of the intentions of our campaign.

Our products are fun and effective, we have a great time making them and hope that our customers feel the same when they are using them. We are also lucky enough to be in a position to donate proceeds and profits from many of our products to causes that are important to us, though we can understand how disappointing it is when a company you buy from does not share all your views.

We will carry on making fresh and effective cosmetics which will continue to benefit people, animals and the environment, and we'll always be glad to serve you as a customer should you choose to come into any of our shops.

Thank you for contacting us again and we appreciate your feedback.

Kind regards

Vicky Jansson
Customer Care
Lush Retail Ltd.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Sun website now addresses my complaints

My letter about the Sun's anti-Israel coverage of recent stories now also appears in bold immediately underneath their web versions of the articles. You can see it under the 16 May article here and under the 6 June article here (on that one you need to scroll to the second story). A summary of the case will shortly appear on the Press Complaints Commission website.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Deligitimization of Israel: widespread academic ignorance?

The anti-Israel obsession throughout academia has been tackled widely elsewhere. What intrigues me is how much of this is due to pure anti-semitism and how much is due to just latent anti-semitism mixed with  ignorant  'group think', driven by the relentless anti-Israel narrative in the main stream media. A very interesting example of the latter casual anti-Israel demonisation is reported at the end of the full report found here from a recent academic legal conference (which actually featured Lord Justice Leveson who is the judge appointed to head the phone tapping enquiry). The Professor reports:

On a less positive note, there was one part of the conference that I found uncomfortable.The last thing I would expect to have to contend with at a conference like this is ignorant deligitimisation of Israel (as a Jew with family ties to Israel I am particular sensitive to this and attuned to the extent to which it is perpetrated). Yet this is what happened during a session on “Picturing the truth? Drawing, seeing evidence”. Jill Gibbon (Open University) gave a talk entitled “Unveiling the arms trade: satire, seeing and evidence” in which she described her experiences of making drawings at arms fairs. I was not exactly sure how the talk fitted into the conference theme, but that was not what concerned me. What concerned and upset me was that Dr Gibbon took the opportunity to make political statements condemning Israel that were not only completely out of context from her own talk, but were completely false. Specifically, following on from comments and drawings ridiculing Israeli representatives at the Paris arms fair (which at least fell within the context of the talk) Dr Gibbon stated that “only 6 months after this fair Israel attacked Gaza and killed over 1000 civilians on the pretext of stopping arms smuggling tunnels”.I was forced to point out, at the end of her talk that a) Israel’s actions in Gaza were not as stated, but in response to over 5000 rockets fired at civilian targets in Israel; and b) it has now been definitively proven that over 800 of the people killed in Gaza were Hamas members – with the proportion of civilians killed far less than in any other comparable war in history, showing the extraordinary lengths Israel went to avoid civilian deaths. To be fair, Dr Gibb did apologise afterwards and said that she should have checked the facts better. What we both agreed on was that she was simply repeating the kind of standard anti-Israel narrative that dominates the British media.
 Note how, even though the speaker admitted to having no real knowledge or understanding of the conflict, she felt entirely comfortable and natural in selecting Israel as the country to demonise. It is inconceivable that she would have singled out any other country in the world without thinking more carefully about the facts and who she might possibly offend.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Letter in the Sun, Friday 1 July 2011

As you can see here, finally as result of my battle with the Sun a letter by me appeared in today's issue (and they even made it look like I'm George Clooney!). There will also be some kind of apology/statement added to the Sun's web pages of the orginal articles in question. I have found the 16 May article online (this was the least offensive of the two) but not the other and as yet can see no kind of statement (although they have possibly changed some of the text). But I can still see plenty of hate-filled comments posted there. Anyway, here is the text of my letter:

Two items (16 May, 6 June) stating Israel had killed dozens of Palestinian Arab demonstrators were based on false claims provided by Arab terrorist organisations and the tyrannical regime of Syria. The Sun failed to state the source of the claims or present Israel’s version of events, which proved to be true.  Israel was defending its borders from attack; no deaths were corroborated. Israel is a tiny state smaller than Wales surrounded by terrorist enemies sworn to its destruction. These enemies launch constant rocket and terrorist attacks (normally unreported) targeted at  Israeli civilians. Occasionally, after overwhelming provocation (such as above) Israel defends itself. The media should not automatically accept the false narrative of Arabs as victims and Israel as the villain. Israel is the only democracy in the region.
As I have said many times before: People concerned about Israel worry too much about the anti-Israel agenda of the Guardian. Their tiny readership is going to be (mostly) obsessively anti-Israel no matter how the paper covers the Middle East. But the Sun - with its massive readership (25 times more than the Guardian) - has far more influence on the average Brit. Sun readers, like most Brits, are not inherently political. False negative reporting in the Sun has the potential to cause far more damage against Israel than anything in the Guardian. Conversely simply telling the truth about Israel in the Sun has the potential to do more good than any number of other pro-Israel activities.

Now for the BBC......