Last night, 2nd March 2017, I was in Brunel for yet another event during ‘Apartheid Week’. There is a difference between an argument shaped to reflect your perspective and delivering raw propaganda. Opposition to ‘Apartheid week’ is not about a difference of opinion. The endless distortion provided by speakers is supported by pillars of outright deceit. Those standing in front of the students on campus must *know* they are telling lies. They *know* they are purposefully omitting information. I have seen scores of speakers at dozens of events deliberately mislead students. This is fodder for the pulpit, not the campus.
This propaganda is designed to incite hatred towards the Jewish state. Logically, it has no other purpose. These events are created to sell an image of an Israel so twisted, so beyond ethical reach, that only mass global action will save the Palestinians from their fate. At the same time, the image has to be so terrifying, so inhumane, that someone walking onto a bus and killing civilians, becomes the understandable event born of lack of choice and frustration.
Only when both of these elements have been successfully delivered, is the true anti-Israel activist created. Therefore the movement has to take university students on a journey to accept horrific attacks against innocent Israeli civilians. A clear strategy of demonisation through propaganda. We have been here before.
The English bloke at Brunel
About thirty five people have gathered to hear the three speakers at Brunel. Ben White is ‘Mr statistic’ and the English face of the BDS. White’s strategy is always the same. He is literate and articulate, and he hides the distortion behind an endless stream of numbers. White’s sleight of hand in magicians language, is a classic misdirection.
White uses the term ‘Palestinian’ to absurdly describe *only* the Muslim or Christian residents of British Palestine prior to 1948. Jewish residents, regardless of how long they or their families have resided there, are discounted. If he was to try the same trick to differentiate between white Christian British people, placing them on a pedestal, separating them from non Christians and immigrants, we would call him a Nazi.
White begins and the distortions never stop. He starts by speaking of Israel, creating a ‘Jewish majority’ by “forcibly expelling the majority of the indigenous population”. Fantasy stuff.
He misquotes, he twists, he distorts. More often though, there is a fake point, followed by a near endless sentence that recounts town names, people, numbers, dates, and leaves people so inundated with irrelevant detail, they are left in little doubt they are listening to an expert. Nobody realises he dealt them a dummy card at the outset. His talk of ‘Apartheid’ within Israel brought to light two examples, that had absolutely nothing to do with apartheid at all.
He quickly shifts onto the West Bank and Gaza, mentioning that house demolitions in Jerusalem reached a ‘peak’ year in the ‘destruction of Palestinian structures’ in 2016. There was a total of 203 units demolished (123 were residential). Just to put this into perspective, 300 residential homes were demolished in the Anfield redevelopment, that saw authorities wielding the “legal threat of compulsory purchase”. Apartheid in Liverpool anyone?
Of course this is the strategy of demonisation, so Palestinian violence is *never mentioned*. At no point during the entire evening, did any of the three speakers make a single comment that would inform anyone listening that there was ever *any* violence whatsoever directed towards Israel or Israelis.
I am familiar with Ben’s routine though. Last night at Brunel was no different. He slips in the keywords, he is careful with his terminology, and he builds his arguments through carefully selective sound-bites and decontextualised information. I have heard him speak many times, and dressed as an anti-Israeli activist, had detailed conversations with him about BDS strategy. These days he recognises me on sight, with or without a Keffiyeh and free ‘Palestine badge’.
Arrests without cause, blockades for fun
Nick Kardahji is currently the ‘Coordinator of the Student Palestine Solidarity Project’. In English, it probably means he is attached to the BDS Central Committee, with the aim of getting students to hate Israel enough to forgive terror attacks against civilians. Kardahji’s job is pure propaganda. This from last nights talk:
“The context for the emergence of BDS, was very much the failure of the peace process. The process that began in the early 1990’s, often referred to as the Oslo Process. And that process was one, that at least in theory, was supposed to lead towards some kind of justice, some kind of solution to the conflict. But was in fact one in which we saw an intensification of the process of settler colonialism and apartheid in Palestine. We saw a massive expansion of settlements, we saw increasing blockades and restrictions on freedom of movement to the Palestinian population. We saw arrests, we saw detention of children, we saw brutal crackdowns of protests and demonstrations, we saw massacres, we saw the ongoing reality of racist and discriminatory laws being imposed on Palestinians. So during the so called ‘peace process’ we saw a situation that was only worsening for Palestinians”
This is the central logic of BDS laid bare. The failure of the peace process led to the emergence of BDS. In reality it was the failure of the intifada, but I do not want to distract from the distortion above. Arrests? Detentions? Let us put Kardahji’s statement back into context:
I lived the Oslo Process every day between 1993 and 2000 with a front row seat. Israelis, like Palestinians, were wary of the process. But you cannot tell the story of Oslo, without mentioning that Palestinian factions opposed it, violently. That buses started exploding in the Israeli street.
This from an Israeli government website in 1998:
“A total of 279 men, women and children have been killed in 92 lethal attacks by Palestinian terrorists since the signing of the Oslo Accords. This does not include victims of attacks launched by Lebanese-based terror organizations or incidents along Israel’s borders.“
That without the foresight of the more than 1000 Israelis that would be slaughtered during the ‘Second Intifada’. Telling students that Palestinians were arrested or blockades were increased as a way of teaching people to hate Israel, without telling them that the blockade increased because hundreds of dead Israelis lay in the street, is something that *simply should not be permitted in a place of education*.
Mr Slick at Brunel
Following the BDS recruitment speech at Brunel, came a speech from visiting Palestinian Abed Salayma. I had seen Abed just three days before at UCL and called him ‘Mr Slick’. Abed is the face of Palestine that European financial support has purchased. Rather than spend money on developing state infrastructure, building a future for their children, or investing in the economy, Palestinians have been taking the money they receive and using it to spin the Palestinian cause. That ’cause’ is pushing Europeans to hate Israel and lobby for its destruction.
Salayma has a job to do. Ben White placed a fictitious legal framework around the claim of Apartheid. Nick Kardahji spoke of how Israel can be punished. These events are carefully choreographed. What is needed now is the human interest story, to reel in the sympathy of those attending. That is Abed’s role. His description of the death of Hadil al-Hashlamun was disgraceful. He suggested she had no knife (Even B’Tselem acknowledges the knife), he then reinforced that assertion by pointing out a picture where no knife was visible on the ground. He began to describe the incident thus:
“she entered the checkpoint, and the soldier asked her to open her bag, that she wanted to search her and she said no but they can bring a female soldiers so she can check”
Except nobody can possibly have heard that conversation. It is simply made up. He wanted to suggest that Israel simply goes around shooting innocent students. And he used a girl with a knife at a checkpoint and purposefully removed the weapon from the story.
Most of his talk was simply untruth after untruth. When I heard him on Monday, . The 1929 Hebron massacre was delivered to students as a positive message about the Arab treatment of Jews. Last night, he mentioned a five year old, who was arrested, except the five year old wasn’t arrested, but rather detained. The child had been throwing stones at soldiers, and after questioning the father, the Israelis handed both over to the Palestinian police. I would imagine, if a five year old child threw stones at heavily armed British soldiers, exactly the same would happen.
The issue is not to dispute that the situation doesn’t result in awful and sometimes horrific events. Nor does it suggest we cannot argue over proportionate force, whether security measures are always necessary, the situation in Gaza and other debatable elements of any event connected to the Israel /Palestine argument. It is simply to suggest that honesty has to place the story within the context of a conflict. If you remove the conflict, then you cannot claim you are interested in the truth. What those like Abed do, is take every event and ponder how to twist it around, which details to mention and which to avoid, so they can use that story to best demonise Israel. Even if they need to remove the knife of a terrorist to do so. Palestinian violence against Israelis is simply erased from view.
I do not disrupt meetings, ever. My method is to listen and to report. As a witness to events, I see the way disruptions are used by the enemy to further bolster their cause. These people are propagandists. They will take whatever we give them and use it against us. Just as they removed the knife from Hadil’s hands at Brunel.
If we sit silently and politely, if we are fortunate, we will be given the opportunity for half a question, that will never receive a proper answer. If we do not turn up, then our silence would merely be taken as a sign we have no answer to the accusations. If I write on the events, then I am out merely to ‘smear the students’ (a ridiculous accusation thrown directly at me last night by Ben White). If we heckle, we are seeking to silence the truth. As Jews, how do we deal with this movement that is designed to nurture hatred against us?
To sit and home and do nothing, to believe that it will go away, is a tried and tested formula for total failure. We cannot act as if it is all going to be okay, as if we can trust others with our safety. No, no, Israel is not there because Jews can trust others with their safety. It is a fallacy, a falsehood without a single shred of supported evidence from all of history. To suggest ‘today’ is different from before is to speak without a single example to provide, to posit that tomorrow the sun will not rise. From an academic perspective that idea is baseless and without foundation.
At Manchester on Wednesday and last night at Brunel, there were protests, disruption. Last night at Brunel I saw Jonathan Hoffman begin to call out Abed Salayma for his lies. He was told to stop and he didn’t. As Abed Salayma spun a web of deceit, Hoffman responded. They quickly decided to evict him. He refused. Stand off, security, forcible eviction.
The irredeemably naive professor
Do I believe actions such as Jonathan took last night look pretty on camera? No I do not. But Jonathan has gone to four events this week. Four. That means he has sat through hour after hour of speakers, listening to people condone terror against civilian Israelis. Lie after lie. Those who sit at home should stand in his shoes before suggesting he should have acted differently. The game is set up to make us fail. This is an email response from Brunel regarding Jonathan’s eviction:
The first paragraph from the professor at Brunel says everything we need to know about the inability of the ‘powers that be’ to protect us from the oncoming storm. Either Professor Leahy is stupid (and his academic qualifications suggest otherwise) or his irredeemable naivety will undermine any good intention he may have. This event took place during Apartheid week, it is advertised on the ‘Apartheid week’ website. This was the very first sentence out of the first speaker:
“Good evening everybody, thank you for coming out to this event, and congratulations to the society for organising this event and for being part of “Israeli Apartheid Week”
As for the suggestion opposition speakers were invited to Brunel, this is at best distortion and at worst a lie. BDS, and anyone connected to the central BDS cause *will not normalise the occupation*. They don’t do debates such as this. Look around at the campus. You’d have to be blind not to see the lack of discussion. This is a deliberate tactic. Who could they possibly invite that these three speakers would agree to stand opposite? How many ‘opposites’ were invited, 1,2,3? It is a nonsense. The university has been challenged to bring forward the names. I will not hold my breath.
Throwing Jonathan out, is what they wanted to do. In my mind, even if I do not accept the disruption, once he suggested they could continue and he would remain quiet the ‘last resort’ cannot have been to forcibly remove him. That was an action of people who had already made up their minds that this is what they wanted to do. A statement.
We are sitting in a room populated mainly by people who do not like Jews. The audience at Brunel was 70%+ Muslim. The Middle East is tearing itself apart in sectarian violence. Many of the students have backgrounds that connect them to nations that are witnessing horrific bloodshed or oppression. They do not protest that. Israel is just too different for them. Israel is Jewish. That’s the problem. If Israel was a Muslim country behaving this way to other Muslims, it would be held up by these students as a nation of virtue. Instead, just as sectarianism, the lack of tolerance for anything different, tears up the Middle East, these students are bringing it onto the campus as well.
I do not respond the same way Jonathan does but I am no less angry. This blog is my way of releasing the frustration that I felt last night at Brunel. These are people who want to spread lies, and deliberately provoke. To incite enough hatred against a people, a nation, so that others will join forces to seek its destruction. This has no place on campus.
The rules are being bent to allow these hate fests to go ahead. Student Tamara Berens pointed out in an informative piece yesterday, that her university (Kings) “has created a ‘safe space’ for every single student apart from Jews and Israelis.” This section from her post highlights the clear discrimination:
For our Israel society, there are extensive rules which are applied scrupulously. We must have an impartial academic chair, a safe space policy, safe space marshalls and other extensive measures for our ‘controversial speakers’.
The Palestinian society, KCL Action Palestine, however, is allowed to bring in speakers who promote terrorism and have been previously banned from other institutions without an academic chair or any provisions for ensuring freedom of speech for others.
Which of course is felt at every event we go to. Including last night at Brunel. When we ask a question, it is moderated by a Chair who boycotts Israel, before being answered by someone who cannot even speak ‘Israel’s’ name. As Jews inside the room, our identification as ‘bad Jews’ is because we sit in opposition to such hatred.
It has been a long week and despite one or two cancellations, the government, the university, and elements of our own leadership are letting us down. Our Jewish students *DO NOT FEEL SAFE*, and it is our duty to stand by them and make sure that changes. Even if every now and again, the photos don’t look pretty.
The law is being abused to persecute Jews, attack Jewish identity, deny them their rights and intimidate them. Why treat it as strange? Jewish history suggests it isn’t strange at all.
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