Yesterday was a distressing day. When I go to these events, I usually promise myself that I will not fall prey to the obvious bait set out in front of me. Sometimes, it is difficult to remain completely calm in the face of the spiteful and twisted message that is put across. This ICAHD event was one of those.
Reverend Rosemary Fletcher and ICAHD
I am almost of the mind to simply direct this blog towards Reverend Rosemary Fletcher. Rosemary is the Minister at the Marlborough Road Methodist Church in St Albans. I was there, 1 February 2018, for a talk by Tim and Mayonne Coldicott titled ‘Saving Israel – What next for the Palestinians?’ A ‘fine event’ in a Church, that clearly seeks to save the Israelis from themselves. The Coldicott’s represent a group called the ‘Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions’ (ICAHD).
ICAHD suffered ‘financial collapse‘ in 2012 due to a lack of reliable donors. They changed their method of operations to seek sources of additional funding. Who better to fleece than good-hearted Christians in Europe? Thus, ICAHD activists these days look for churches with Ministers naive enough to allow them to spew their poison onto the innocent people in the audience. They have been described by NGO Monitor as an NGO that ‘does nothing to advance coexistence and instead promotes extreme views which fuel the conflict‘.
The ICAHD event
Reverend Rosemary Fletcher and I have never met before. Nor have I been inside her church. When I arrived yesterday, about 50 people sat waiting for the event to begin. Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) literature was spread over two tables near the entrance. The PSC have no interest in truth or peace whatsoever. They still have 9/11 truthers and Holocaust Deniers turning up at their AGM. When you see PSC literature inside a church then you know you are inside enemy territory.
The talk was delivered by Tim Coldicott and lasted about 45 minutes. Tim is a perfect presenter for a church audience. He is well presented, well-spoken and looks like a caring and learned man. Presentation counts, especially if you need people to buy heavily into the content.
From the moment that Coldicott began to speak, to the moment he finished, he fed the audience an unforgivable and disgraceful demonisation of Israelis and Zionist history. I am used to distortion, I am also used to a heavy bias, or someone overcooking the Palestinian perspective of things. But this was more than that. Coldicott dehumanised the Israeli Jews, he ripped history apart, he scrubbed clean the streets of all Jewish blood and placed lie on-top of lie in an attempt to convince the audience, that to save Israelis from themselves, they simply had to destroy the Jewish state.
Lies at the Marlborough Road Methodist Church
Within seconds Coldicott had spread lies about the state of the Israeli education system, how Arab Israelis are treated and suggested Israel didn’t actually have any real enemies. He needed to lay the groundwork for what was to come. He seems to think it is bad that Israel teaches Jewish children, Jewish history, and clearly believes it is a problem that from a very young age, they are taught about the Holocaust. Coldicott goes on to say ‘and the message they absorb is, that it could happen again. Unless we are vigilant and strong.‘ Er, yes Tim. This is the central message from the Holocaust that we must teach ourselves and our children. After all, even today in Churches across the UK, ICAHD are being allowed to tell awful lies about Jews. In reality Tim Coldicott is using Jews studying the Holocaust to press home how paranoid Jews are. All part of the way he thinks Israelis need to be saved from themselves.
The background formed an important part of the ICAHD message. This is how he explained the history of the conflict:
“And the problem is that though Jews owned only seven percent of the land and represented a third of the population of Palestine at that time, they were allocated 55% of the territory. And even before the mandate came to an end in May 1948, Jewish military forces, began to implement a long-standing plan called Plan Dalet (Plan D), of attacking Palestinian villages and terrorising the population so that they fled. The Palestinians lacked the resources to fight back as these had been destroyed by the British in putting down the revolt of 1937/1938.
So, by the end of 1948, the Jews had added a further 23% of the land area to what the UN had proposed as the Jewish state. And had taken 60% of what had been proposed for the Palestinians. This is what the Arabs call the Nakba, the catastrophe. But to this day it is not recognised by Israeli Jews as equivalent in any way to the Holocaust. So there is a flaw right at the start of Israel’s story. It was not an empty land. It was not Jews who faced being pushed into the sea, it was Palestinians.”
Yes, you read that right. Even the Holocaust bit. So there is no argument over this text, here is the footage:
That demonising history
In 45 minutes of discussion, there was no mention by ICAHD of any violence against Jews at all. Not by the Arab armies, not by the Palestinians, not during the civil conflict, not during the Intifada. In fact the only post-1949 violence that was ever mentioned, was the horrific actions of one Jew, Baruch Goldstein. The memories of tens of thousands of dead Jews, wiped from existence inside a Methodist Church.
It isn’t distortion that Coldicott was selling, it was a lie. Upon which he placed a sickening Holocaust reference. During the Q&A I tried to question him on his lack of historicity, but as soon as Rosemary had realised my question was hostile, she became uncomfortable and tried to take the microphone back.
You see (directly speaking to Rosemary Fletcher), it is all about explaining motivation. When you seek to dehumanise people, you need to make their actions seem callous, unnaturally violent, illogical and inhumane. If you do this successfully, by taking away all truth and context, then presenting a distorted case on top is relatively easy.
The conflict disappears
Coldicott didn’t mention Arab violence at all. In the 1948 conflict, he failed to state that the Arabs had rejected partition. He didn’t tell anyone that Arab violence broke out a day later. Forgot to mention that the neighbouring states declared war, promising that when the British left, the Jews will be swept into the sea. He didn’t mention that in May 1948, those nations invaded.
For the short period of time I was allowed the microphone, I brought up the irregular forces that had begun to enter British Palestine from Syria and Lebanon in January 1948. Forces that extracted a high price from Jewish attempts to reach Jewish towns and break Arab blockades. Tim shook his head, as if I was the problem.
This from a general outline of this period of the 1948 conflict on Wiki:
‘From January onwards, operations became increasingly militarized, with the intervention of a number of Arab Liberation Army regiments inside Palestine, each active in a variety of distinct sectors around the different coastal towns. They consolidated their presence in Galilee and Samaria. Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni came from Egypt with several hundred men of the Army of the Holy War. Having recruited a few thousand volunteers, al-Husayni organized the blockade of the 100,000 Jewish residents of Jerusalem To counter this, the Yishuv authorities tried to supply the city with convoys of up to 100 armoured vehicles, but the operation became more and more impractical as the number of casualties in the relief convoys surged. By March, Al-Hussayni’s tactic had paid off. Almost all of Haganah’s armoured vehicles had been destroyed, the blockade was in full operation, and hundreds of Haganah members who had tried to bring supplies into the city were killed. The situation for those who dwelt in the Jewish settlements in the highly isolated Negev and North of Galilee was even more critical.’
Coldicott had failed to mention the Irregular forces, failed to mention the civil war, failed to mention Jewish casualties. So Rosemary, when I wanted that microphone, it was to reset the balance. To let all those who had been lied to, know that Jews weren’t actually violent aggressors, but rather engaged in a civil conflict started by an Arab population that sought to destroy them. Thanks for stopping me.
The fall of Sepphoris (Saffuriya)
It wasn’t one lie or distortion. The ICAHD stream was endless. I do not have the luxury of being like Ben White or Asa Winstanley. In response to these lies, I cannot just make things up, build a few juicy conspiracy tales, throw fake statistics in return, or libel a few activists. At times like this I am envious of them. I need to work through every statement, check every source, research every statistic given. Just detailing five minutes of a 45 minute speech took hours. I have a notepad list of over 60 distortions given out last night still not mentioned. More distortions and lies than minutes in the ICAHD speech.
Coldicott pulls nonsense from anti-Israel propaganda sites time after time. He showed a 1945 image of the Arab village of Saffuriya. The village is no longer there. He didn’t mention that Saffuriya had aligned with the Arab irregular forces during the civil conflict. That it was hostile, and had joined those trying to destroy the Jewish state. That foreign Arab troops were inside and attacking the Jews. In return it was bombed in July 1948 and the people fled. Victims of a war that set out to destroy the Jewish presence. He neglected to inform those listening, that the core populations of some other local Arab towns, that were not hostile, remained in place.
Every fake picture, every fake clip
He uses a few carefully selected clips. We know these clips, we see them on social media all the time. Out of context, short clips that still need Coldicott to explain to us what it is we are seeing. He tells us stories. Oral history is then added as reinforcement. One had a small boy climb through a barbed wire fence to get ‘herbs’, only to be shot in the legs by the Israelis who had ‘ambushed him’. As he tried to crawl away, he was killed. Coldicott tells us that he knows this happened because he ‘met the boy’s uncle’.
His reliance on these groups is absolute. He tells the audience about (and quotes) an Israeli soldier threatening to ‘make all the youth of the camp disabled’. Yet when you follow up, you realise that this is just a claim, made by some youth. It was then published by Badil. How is this being presented as a truth? As something that happened? And after every clip, every twisted story, we are told, ‘this sort of thing goes on all the time’. We are in classic revisionist propaganda territory now. Everything, every sentence contained either distortion, lie or demonisation. Every clip, a segment designed to mislead. There was not an element of truth visible. Other lies and distortions that were delivered can be read in the recent post by Jonathan Hoffman.
Those insatiable murdering Jews
Just before he ends, Coldicott revisits the question of the talk. What can be done? He tells us that Jews ‘want Israel to be a state for Jews only‘. He then embarked on a vile, and deeply antisemitic position that turned Jews defending their right to exist, into animals with an over-riding desire to control. That need to be violent, to kill. He spoke about the idea that if it were not for the occupation, Israelis would be killing each other in civil war, ‘tearing themselves apart’. And then he said this:
‘Ending the occupation, would challenge to the core, the way the Israelis think about themselves. And equally, what would Israeli society look like without the occupation. Lording over Palestinians daily life is deeply rooted in Israeli’s day to day experience. Peace frightens many Jewish Israelis because it means losing privilege. So, the occupation must be maintained. But quietly. Because ending it would undo, Israeli identity. So equally, it is for us British people, to ask ourselves what we are prepared to allow, what we are prepared to do.’
Coldicott’s message is this: Jews hold on to the occupation, because if they don’t they will turn on themselves and kill each other. They have a ‘sickness’ (he used the term). So bloodthirsty are these Israelis, so integral is violence into their identity, that the occupation must remain in place. They kill Palestinian children, because clearly, they have to kill someone, and better Palestinian children than themselves. They scare their children with tales of the Holocaust, to make them paranoid, they show them weapons to make them violent. There is no enemy out there. The only enemy is the one in the Jewish mind.
Having removed all reasons for Israel’s actions, having swept away all Arab violence, he had Jews plan to go in just to uproot a passive population. He then had their greed, ‘lord over’ another people. He had them shoot innocent children because of their sickness, and suggested that they do it all because their violence is uncontrollable. They need to maintain this situation so they don’t kill each other.
This is the message that was delivered in that church. Sickening and unforgivable.
I get frustrated because I simply cannot undo the damage. I am there, I am a witness, I can speak, but I cannot undo what is being done. If I am lucky, I will be given time to ask a single question. I can become the angry Zionist, reinforcing the false image of ‘aggression’ being delivered in the speech. But I don’t want to play into their hands. Or I can remain quiet, just like the Jewish people know we must not do. I don’t really want to play that role either.
Rosemary, via ICAHD you brought vile antisemitism into your church, just how am I meant to respond? What is acceptable for you in a circumstance such as this? Last week you held a Holocaust Memorial day. You urge people not to remain silent in front of antisemitism, why then do you silence those that oppose it? How should Jews react when Christians bring antisemitism into the church?
Why inside a Church?
Rosemary Fletcher seemed taken aback that the Jewish people and Christian Zionists in the audience seemed so hurt by what they had heard. I expect she is truly oblivious to the history of the conflict or the lies that she had brought into the church. To her it just seemed like an old man, telling the truth. Our opposition comes across as Jewish extremists not wanting that truth to be heard. Our voices actually reinforce the very image Coldicott is trying to create.
This wasn’t just historical distortion. It was a true demonisation process. It is unsettling to hear this anywhere. Truly chilling to hear it inside a church. As I was leaving, I was spoken to by a few church-goers. I want to show just one of these, which were more ‘positive’ exchanges.
What now Rosemary? How many lies does a man have to tell inside your church about Israel, before you begin to realise that the entire ICAHD message was unacceptable? What do you call it when someone deliberately tries to demonise Jews in Israel? To specifically try to brainwash those listening into believing that those Jews in Israel are monsters that need to be saved from themselves? At what point when he compares his false rendition of history to the Holocaust are you willing to call it antisemitic? How do you repair the damage that you have done?
Help support my research
I fight antisemitism and the revisionist narrative that demonises Israel. I was recently named as one of the J100 (‘top 100 people positively influencing Jewish life’) by The Algemeiner. My work is fully independent, and your support makes much of what I do possible. This research can and does make a difference. In the last two or three years, several key stories on antisemitism that received global coverage were uncovered by this research and originally broken on this site.
If you can, please consider making a donation. Either a single amount or a small monthly contribution. Research such as this is intensive. We need to be there to expose the hatred and the lies. We have to shine a light into the shadows and show people what is happening. Every contribution is greatly appreciated.