The first story to tell is that I had trouble getting in to an event and was eventually evicted. As someone who does nothing but *REPORT* on events, I find this truly disturbing. It is something that needs to be addressed urgently by both the PSC and the National Union of Teachers (NUT). I was a Jew who was simply thrown of the NUT HQ.
As anyone who attends functions on the Israel / Arab conflict knows, security measures are required in only one direction. Any event run by a pro-Israeli group needs to be concerned about safety, and the larger and more publicised the event, the more of a problem this becomes. Just as Jewish schools are patrolled and synagogues have heavy security details, taking pride in your Jewish identity places you at risk.
The same is not true the other way around. I have been to scores of anti-Israeli events and have never seen a single policeman, never been checked at the door and never seen any violence. It is worth remembering this fact when trying to understand the source of the violence in the conflict itself.
I made it until after lunch, when two of the PSC organisers asked me to leave. I did protest, as I couldn’t fathom why my presence was such an issue. I never cause trouble and they know it. I was told it was a private party. I was told I was not welcome. I reminded them it was a publicly advertised event that placed no condition on entry. I told them I had already paid and was accepted into the event. I asked what they want to hide, what is it that I am not allowed to see? It made no difference. My day at the event was done.
The event itself was organised by PSC, but according to the website, it was ‘supported by the NUT’ and the venue was Hamilton House, the Headquarters of the National Union of Teachers, near Euston in London.
The program involved a couple of panels, a few individual speakers and 4 workshops, on BDS, media, education and refugees. The workshop on education was my choice, given a clear PSC / NUT strategy to ‘poison the well’, and infest our curriculum with the antisemitic venom. The poison which remains the central pillar of the false Arab narrative. I was never to get to see that particular workshop, by the time it started I had been evicted.
The first to speak at the event was the new chair of the PSC Sarah Apps, who spoke for just a few minutes. She mentioned house demolitions of Arabs inside Israel. Context once again lost in the wind. It is worth remembering when listening to this type of distortion that more people inside the London borough of Barnet have lost their homes to compulsory purchase orders, than Israel’s Arabs have to the same type of governmental planning. You can make anything seem sinister and racist if you work at it long enough.
The NUT, insulting children in need
Sarah then spent time thanking the NUT for their support of the Palestinian cause, before introducing the next speaker, ex NUT president, Philippa Harvey, who was there to speak ‘on behalf’ of the teacher’s union.
Philippa spoke of NUT delegations that had been sent to ‘the Occupied West Bank’. On the NUT’s list of international campaigns, there is just one nation that is targeted in such a fashion, Israel. Philippa is a driving force behind the NUT focus on Israel, and having swallowed a false narrative herself, she is now eager to pass it on to everyone else. She described to the audience a new project called “beyond the wall”.
The project intends to engage schools in the UK, their teachers, pupils and parents in learning about schooling in conflict zones. The main vehicles for the project are the films, which illustrate the daily struggles experienced by Palestinian children as they try to gain an education.
Or in other words, inject raw Palestinian propaganda into our education system. Philippa went on to explain how UK children need to be introduced to the testimony of a child in Hebron whose right to education is ‘severely impaired’. She wants his ‘fear’ to be understood inside our school system. Except of course we know it isn’t true. Palestinian NGO’s in Hebron have clearly stated that there is no danger and media reports are deliberately exaggerated as part of the propaganda exercise. Education is not at risk, as this report clarifies.
“Palestine’s enrollment rate was comparable with those of highly developed countries, such as the United States, which had a 96% primary school enrollment rate over the span of 2008-2011…The UN’s education index, taken from the UN’s mean years of schooling index and expected years of schooling index, also reflected Palestine’s achievement with an index of 0.88, ranking it best in the Arab world. Palestine’s education rank even bested the 0.87 index of Qatar, a country that the UN considers to be the most highly developed in the Arab world.”
There are probably over 100 countries worldwide where children do not have the access to education that the children in Hebron do, this despite the conflict. The entire exercise therefore is about demonisation. These stories are based on distortion and are created *specifically* to mislead our children. This, like most attempts at installing the Palestinian narrative into everyday discourse, is a disgraceful abuse of resources and a direct and vile insult to many children of the world who truly suffer life threatening oppression from which they have little chance of escape. Every penny wasted on supporting Palestinian rejectionism is a penny taken out of the mouths of the truly needy children worldwide. The children in these videos are the human shields of Palestinian violent resistance. And the NUT is ‘really proud’ of this work, of the ‘many testimonials’ that have been collected! Disgraceful. This resource and all other educational tools produced by the Palestinian propaganda machine need to be removed from our schools.
The next speaker was Nur Masalha. He was born inside Israel, the only nation in the entire Middle East that would give him a vote. He left school and went to study for a BA at the Hebrew university in Jerusalem. After completion of his first degree at the Israeli university, he studied for a MA on the same campus. Upon completion he left Israel to study in the UK. Some hardship.
Masalha delivered a tale of a ‘Naqba’ that was, like most, imagined, out of context, poppycock. There was apparently no civil conflict at all. There was according to the academic, a deliberate plan, already solidified by the Zionists by the mid 1930’s, to simply expel the Arabs. This conspiratorial argument, pushed also by the master distortionist Illan Pappe, takes carefully selected quotes from the pre-partition world vision, and places them on top of the post-partition civil war. As far as the conflict history goes, the speaker had left most of the factual information in the taxi. Yet this historical revisionism was not the most sickening element of his delivery. This was reserved for what he called the ‘vertical colonialism’ and his acceptance of ‘all forms of resistance’.
The SOAS professor accused the Jews of appropriating Palestinian history. It is one thing to take issue with Israeli policy, quite another to deny or belittle the Jewish historical presence because it has become politically expedient for him to do so.
Masalha claimed Palestinian history dates back 10,000 years. He suggested that the Zionists had ‘colonised our history’ and were appropriating ‘our artefacts’. He claimed the Israelis were making statements of religious finds related to their temples, that were in truth just remnants of historical sites of Muslim palaces. He then seemed to suggest that Zionists had also ‘appropriated’ Jewish history as if they are not actually Jews themselves. When answering questions, Masalha also suggested ‘Jesus was from Palestine’, forcing home the propaganda narrative by stating there are no academic books that refer to the ‘land of Israel’. He spoke of Palestine existing as a ‘country’ for millennia.
Masalha’s book ‘the Bible and Zionism’ (have you caught on to this man’s obsession yet?) is a sad tale of someone with extreme bias, desperately trying to rearrange the historical underpinnings of modern Zionism. This is not about what did or did not happen in the British mandate of Palestine at all, this is all about striking at the heart of Jewish belief, in an attempt to shake the roots of Zionism.
“Indeed the struggle is about ideology, not about facts. Who knows what facts are? We try to convince as many people as we can that our interpretation of the facts is the correct one, and we do it because of ideological reasons, not because we are truthseekers.”
The turning of Zionism from a national liberation movement to a colonial settler movement is dependent on revising Jewish history. Therefore it is incumbent on those who seek Israel’s destruction to remove Jewish history from the area and/or suggest the Jews of today are simply a group of religious converts. Both of these deny the Jews, not the Zionists, the very basis of their identity as a people. As such both are not only historically bogus but deeply antisemitic. Antisemitic historical revisionism inside the HQ of the UK teachers union.
Condoning the massacre of children
Masalha then turned his attention to ‘resistance’. He spoke several times on the subject, maintaining there was no need to worry as the Palestinians ‘knew how to resist’, he said Palestinians are ‘expert at it’. He continued by referencing one specific struggle, the uprising of the 1930’s, and suggested that the Arabs had a right to ‘fight back’.
That he chose the 1936-1939 revolt is instructive. Firstly, it precedes Israel, so is nothing to do with any ‘Naqba’. Secondly, they were not fighting back against violence but were spurred into action because of rising immigration. Specifically, Jews fleeing the Nazis.
It is true that the Palestinians have hidden themselves behind the left wing peace movements. This they have been able to do since 1967. Yet their narrative of total rejection has never changed. As you strip away the excuses, the ‘occupation’, the ‘settlements’, the ‘Naqba’, the less their argument seems one of peace and equality. By 1936, the entire situation is on its head.
Nur Masalha inside the NUT headquarters condoned people violently resisting a refugee immigration. He effectively said the Arabs of 1936-1939 had the right to kill innocent refugees fleeing the Nazis. This is the voice that suggests foreign immigrants steal our jobs and our homes, this is the face of fascism.
And then to qualify, he said this
“I am not ruling out any form of struggle for Palestine, this way or another. It is for the people to decide’
That comment includes them all. The bus bombs, the attack on Seder night, the Purim attacks, the attacks in the pubs and the clubs, the attacks against the schools. Any death, any terror attack, however horrific is not to be ruled out. It is for ‘the people to decide’.
Is it okay for British people to kill the children of refugees in schools because they fear the impact of immigration? Is deliberately targeting children who are out having fun, carrying out ‘an acceptable’ act of resistance?
We need a public statement from the NUT distancing themselves from these remarks. This came from an event they supported, this happened inside their HQ.
The Naqba itself is an invention. This is not to say they didn’t suffer losses, that bad things didn’t happen, but merely to reaffirm the historical fact this was a fight they chose and lost. The entire narrative built around the conspiratorial minds of those like Illan Pappe and supported by ‘oral history’. All cause and effect is removed.
Take Ben Jamal, another of the speakers at the event. Jamal recently wrote a piece called ‘What the Nakba meant for me’. Ben Jamal is also a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s executive committee. Part of Ben’s family apparently were ‘expelled’ from Talbieh.
Talbieh was an affluent mixed Arab Christian / Jewish town that had developed amidst West Jerusalem’s new neighbourhoods. An entire area feeling the benefit of Jewish immigration. The land was purchased as late as 1920 as part of a project by a Lebanese Christian. This makes Tel Aviv older than the town Ben Jamal yearns for. Except you learn that Ben’s father wasn’t there, he was in Nazareth. So he too was inside Israel. If his grandparents fled to Nazareth, they did not become refugees, but rather part of the only community of Arabs in the Middle East that know freedom. Eventually, Ben’s father married an English woman and they came to live in the UK. Some hardship.
It is so important to recognise that so much of the poison in this conflict enters via Arabs on the outside who themselves are not suffering. People like Ben Jamal and Nur Masalha lead a fight that only brings further bloodshed, that can only result in additional Palestinian misery. As they themselves sit in comfort in the UK, they demand from the Palestinians that there should be no compromise. Who pays the price? This is the way it has been for 100 years, Arabs on the outside, historically in Beirut, Cairo, Amman and Damascus, but now in London, New York and Paris, dictating the terms for the Arabs of Ramallah.
The true Palestinian Naqba is not the civil war of 1948, it isn’t even the land Israel is on. The Palestinian ‘catastrophe’ is what the Jews have managed to do with Israel. Who wouldn’t want a piece? And like any gambler who refuses to walk away from the table, they can only seek out ever higher odds as a way of theoretically making up lost ground. It is why the screams about the non-existent Naqba increase with each passing year.
As the new Israeli Ambassador to the UK said recently at an event at the Board of Deputies, they (the Arabs) rejected independence and played for all or nothing and lost.
This needs an official NUT response
Richard Millett asked a question in 2012. What is a union like the NUT doing hosting what amounted to an evening of anti-Israel propaganda?
Today I do not just echo it, I raise it further. I ask what is a union like the NUT doing promoting, sponsoring and hosting an event that demonised Jews, removed Jewish history from the equation, converted Jesus from a Jew into, well into anything else and gave a platform to those that condone brutal acts of despicable violence?
This Jew hatred, this historical revisionism, this support for terrorism, has no place in our school system. We need to ensure that the NUT distances itself not just from these remarks, but from this insidious poison that underscores the PSC movement.
On Saturday, a Jew was evicted from the NUT headquarters because he is proud of his Jewish heritage and refuses to bow down before this revisionist propaganda. I reject entirely the lies that are being disseminated by the PSC movement. It is a movement with its roots in fabrication, denying Jewish history and supporting terrorism. Is all this now acceptable in London in 2016? Well the National Union of Teachers seems to think so.
So I say to the NUT directly. On Saturday 14th May, I was thrown out of your HQ. I was thrown out shortly after hearing antisemitic, terrorist supporting garbage loudly applauded inside your headquarters. I deserve both a response and an apology.
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