IHRA and free speech
Both Zionists and the British far right want to make criticism of Israel unacceptable, reports Tony Greenstein
The Zionist movement in Britain today is a threat to free speech. It is also a danger to Jews, since every atrocity it defends is in the name of Jews, not Zionists. For example, the Board of Deputies of British Jews - a tame establishment body that has repeatedly advised Jews not to mobilise against anti-Semitism when it comes from the far right - actively supports Israeli war crimes, whilst claiming to represent all Jewish people.1
The Board of Deputies took great exception to a recent post by me concerning a North-West Friends of Israel demonstration against anti-Zionism (which they call ‘anti-Semitism’).2 The BoD claimed it was untrue that fascists were present. However, my understanding is that there were supporters of Tommy Robinson present, not least from amongst the ranks of the Zionists themselves.
My post featured solicitor Robert Festenstein starring in a promotional video with Tommy Robinson. Festenstein is the founder and sole member of the misnamed Jewish Human Rights Watch, whose purpose is to ensure that Palestinians do not gain full democratic rights in Israel. Festenstein is also a member of the Board of Deputies. There was also a video showing the NW Friends of Israel openly cooperating and organising with the EDL in opposition to a picket of a shop selling Israeli products. There is a long history, as I have repeatedly posted, of cooperation and joint work between Zionists and fascists.3
The Board of Deputies moved quickly. Not to ensure that fascists were barred from its demonstration against ‘anti-Semitism’, but to get my story taken down. The result was that my blog on Medium was closed down. The Zionist press even boasted of its achievements.4 What kind of gutter press is it that takes delight in closing down free speech?
Jewish News reported that, “following a complaint from the Board of Deputies”, my posts were removed after I had “alleged that the anti-Semitism rally in Manchester last month was supported by the far right”.5 The truth clearly hurts when it comes to the close cooperation that exists between the Zionist movement and its activists in this country and the fascists.6
A BoD spokesperson is quoted as saying of my allegations: “This is a complete lie with no factual basis … There was absolutely no involvement of the EDL and Tommy Robinson. Indeed the organisations involved have denounced Tommy Robinson multiple times.” This is totally untrue. The board has members like Festenstein who support Robinson, who is an avid supporter of the Israeli state. People like Robinson hold that Israel is the ideal ethno-nationalist state.
The Jewish Chronicle also led with a full-page report, which stated that “An article by a Jewish anti-Israel blogger was removed from the Medium website after he alleged that a demonstration against anti-Semitism in Manchester was orchestrated by far-right figures.” This was after “the Board of Deputies lodged a complaint”.7
It would appear that the Board of Deputies, which has been in the forefront of the false ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left, has become hypersensitive to charges that the people working with anti-Semites are primarily to be found within their own ranks. It is an open fact that large sections of the Zionist movement support white nationalists for similar reasons to the support that the Zionist Organisation of America openly gives to pro-Zionist anti-Semites like Steve Bannon and Donald Trump.8Bannon was accused by his own wife, during divorce proceedings, of having objected to his children going to school with Jewish children. According to Mary Louise-Picard, “He said he doesn’t like Jews and that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiny brats’.”9
Piccard said, according to the court papers, “That doesn’t, however, stop American Zionists working with him, as he is an ardent Christian Zionist.”
In the past week, the Zionist campaign against me has been extended to Twitter. A complaint was made by Jack Mendel, who, according to his own description,10 is a “‘so-called’ journalist at Jewish News UK”. It is not a description I would disagree with.
When Zionist mouthpiece Mendel defended Israel’s murder of over 200 unarmed demonstrators at the Gaza fence, I compared the siege of Gaza to the siege of the Warsaw Ghetto and condemned his defence of the bombing of Gaza by the Israeli military. At this point he complained to Twitter. Clearly my remarks so infuriated this Zionist lapdog that, instead of attempting to rebut my comparisons, he demanded that Twitter censor me.
In doing this Mendel was pushing at an open door - Twitter closed down my account for “hateful conduct”. This is how the language of equalities is used and abused to protect the powerful against the powerless. By putting everything under the rubric of ‘hate speech’, racism and sexism is depoliticised. In other words, if you criticise Zionism, that is ‘hate speech’ - anything they do not like is defined in that way.
If you criticise a society which makes the few wealthy at the expense of the many, then that too is “hate speech” apparently. So it is the racists and the imperialists who can turn round and complain that they are hated, because hate - or what is called ‘hate’ - works two ways. And, yes, people have every right to hate Zionism and racism.
Ironically two years ago I complained when a Zionist, George Yousef, sent me a delightful message, wishing that my family and I had ended up in a concentration camp. When I complained to Twitter, I was told there was no breach of the rules! When this year another - particularly stupid - Zionist, Mark Haringman (aka ‘Newsdude’), called me a variety of names, including “child abuser” and “criminal”, I made another complaint. This too was rejected.
We therefore have the crazy situation that responding to racist Jack Mendel’s vilification of the Palestinians is a breach of Twitter rules, but telling someone who is Jewish that they should have died in a concentration camp is all right!
This comes on top of the recent suspension of Paul Jonson, an anti-social behaviour worker with Dudley council, for daring to state that Israel is a racist state.11 Since Israel is a racist state - the neo-Nazi founder of America’s alt-Right, Richard Spencer, describes himself as a “white Zionist”, for example12 - it means that the truth has been outlawed. What is equally disturbing is that the GMB union, which is notoriously rightwing and corrupt, has suspended Edinburgh shop steward Peter Gregson, who has put up on the web a petition stating that Israel is a racist state.13
Although you would not know it, Liberty (formerly the National Council for Civil Liberties) overwhelmingly rejected the IHRA at its last conference. However, its rightwing executive has sat on the successful motion, as its majority does not agree with it.14
All this means that it is now essential to make opposition to the Zionist attack on free speech a priority.
1. See, for example, https://5pillarsuk.com/2018/04/01/board-of-deputies-of-britishjews-criticised-for-supporting-israel-over-gazamassacre.
2. See https://azvsas.blogspot.com/2018/09/nwfriends-of-israel-tommy-robinson-and.html.
4. See https://azvsas.blogspot.com/2018/10/medium-censors-remove-my-blog-outing.html.
6. See, for example, https://azvsas.blogspot.com/2018/08/exclusive-more-revelations-about.html.
8. See https://zoa.org/2017/09/10374485-zoasklein-steve-bannon-loves-israel-and-the-jewsreally.
11. See https://azvsas.blogspot.com/2018/11/the-ihra-definition-of-anti-semitism.html.
13. See the statement from Labour Against the Witchhunt: www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/suspensions-and-expulsions/law-statement-liftsuspension-of-peter-gregson-from-labour-partyand-gmb.