Last week I attended a conference on ‘Palestine’ that was promoted by the Dean of Lichfield and held at Lichfield Cathedral. My feelings on what occurred were detailed in a piece that I wrote upon my return. That article was widely shared.
I received emails in response from both the Bishop of Lichfield and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The emails informed me they had forwarded the story of my experience to the Dean of Lichfield.
Two days after this, the Dean of Lichfield posted a public ‘non-statement’ that included this section:
“Our recent weekend conference ‘Holding Palestine in the Light – the context of the conflict’ was an attempt to help people understand the complexity of the situation and what roads to peace are available for all the people of the Holy Land, Israelis and Palestinians. There were some passionate exchanges and contributions from the floor representing very diverse views.”
This statement is entirely false. This conference was about ‘Palestine’ and on that particular topic there was no attempt to present diverse views. What was presented was a narrow part of the spectrum, ranging from ‘Israel is to blame’ to ‘Israel is entirely to blame’.
What he no doubt meant, is what I often encounter at Palestinian Society meetings on campus. The presentation of a list of Israeli crimes, followed by a range of possible punishments with a few different ‘red lines’ to add diversity and spice. 100 different reasons to hate Israel. For after all, this is what apparently the Dean had engineered for Lichfield. A Palestine solidarity meeting, replete with all the necessary requirements, BDS promotional material, Israeli hating Arabs, Israeli hating Jews, Ilan Pappe, an executive from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a couple of lame ‘two staters’, who pull the conference back from going completely over the edge. There were also deliberate attempts to silence the real pro-Israeli voice even being heard from the floor.
So we can discard his statement as worthless and suggest it highlights a blatant disregard for the truth. Rather than reflect the vision of a man who seeks understanding, the statement shines light on just another petty little anti-Israel activist. As the latest report released on Antisemitism in the UK shows, if you merely give lip service to the fight against Jew hatred whilst failing to appreciate the distinct nature of post-Second World War antisemitism, you’ll disregard the majority of antisemitic incidents. As it states: “Antisemites frequently use the word ‘Zionist’ when they are in fact referring to Jews”.
We now know that, as I had suspected and reported, late pressure was applied on the Dean to at least attempt a false veneer of moderation. This was confirmed in a risible piece penned by Professor Kamel Hawwash, (the speaker at the event who had suggested ‘Zionists’ need to get down on their knees and beg for forgiveness even before negotiations could begin) that was published yesterday in MEMO.
Amidst all the nonsense and distortion, Hawwash quoted the Dean of Lichfield saying that the organisers, the Cathedral and the Council for Christians and Jews (CCJ) had come under “a great deal of pressure from Jewish groups”. Note here the use of the term ‘Jewish groups’ rather than the more accurate and far less antisemitic ‘pro-Israel’ groups’. They mix and match these terms to suit and then scream that these are not the same when accusations of antisemitism occur. Shameful.
This pressure of course accounted for the late addition of Dr Irene Lancaster to the final panel and the inclusion of two Zionist Federation posters (one of which was on the floor when I saw it). It is also true that Arieh Miller, Director of the Zionist Federation, made his way up to observe events at Lichfield on the Sunday.
I have no desire to enter into a pointless discussion with Hawwash over the content of the conference. One only needs to look at the list of speakers, to see images of the books and leaflets on display, to be absolutely certain that the Dean, only ever intended to deliver one message. This even before listening to the audio below. What I witnessed and experienced inside Lichfield Cathedral was hatred of the Jew. It was unacceptable and I have no intention of letting this matter just rest.
So this article is split into four parts:
Firstly, given what I experienced at the event and the publicly stated purpose of the event, I am asking the Dean of Lichfield, Revd Adrian Dorber, ten questions.
Secondly, and in support of those questions, I have worked through *some* of the audio recording and have provided a transcript of those recordings adding my own commentary to discuss the message.
Thirdly, I have placed several small sections of this audio into a video below. I apologise that the record is not complete. My primary recording equipment ‘disappeared’ (and did not return) whilst I was inside the cathedral.
Finally, I will briefly discuss anti-Zionism and antisemitism.
Part one: questions for the Dean of Lichfield:
Revd Adrian Dorber, given my experience at Lichfield last weekend, given the audio below, given your statement and given the publicly stated mission of the conference itself:
- During the main run of speakers on Saturday. Why was there not a single person who would push a Zionist line or counter the vile lies invited?
- How did a Jew suggesting that ‘Jews have a lot to be sorry for’, help expose the truth or assist in the search for peace; how did that help cohesion in our own society?
- Why was there not a single book, nor single leaflet at the entire event that was not urging people to blame or punish Israel?
- How did it help the cause for peace that someone suggested Palestinian reaction to Oslo was children throwing flowers (whilst not mentioning any of the brutal terror attacks)?
- How do you feel that suggesting Zionists made a deal over holocaust victims in exchange for European support helps expose the truth or assists in the search for peace?
- How do you feel that demonising Israel’s peace camp by suggesting there was no reason for them to ‘close the box’ in 2000, helps expose the truth or assists in the search for peace. Would you accept someone saying ‘attitudes in the US towards Afghanistan changed in 2001 but we cannot know why’?
- How do you think it exposes the truth or assists in the search for peace to suggest that Israel has committed the ‘same crimes’ as both regime and opposition in places such as Syria and Iraq? (Note to Dean, as a Christian, you are a dying breed everywhere in the Middle East EXCEPT Israel).
- How do you feel about the refusal to accept a second question from an attendee who had been identified as a Zionist?
- Do you think, given the history of the blood libel and classic antisemitic tropes, that suggesting Jewish Zionists are like vampires in any way helped to expose the truth or assist in the search for peace?
- Do you think belittling or even denying Jewish religious and historical ties to the land helps expose the truth or assists in the search for peace?
Part two: ILAN PAPPE quotes and commentary. Talk at Lichfield Cathedral 08/10/2016
These are some extracts from audio footage. I have provided a brief commentary. There is still further audio footage being analysed.
“We can see in the works of scholars and in the words of film makers as I tried to show in the book how for instance the European political and cultural elite after the Second World War which debated between themselves how to treat Germany or should we say Western Germany. How to treat Western Germany immediately after the Second World War. How could we re-legitimise a nation that brutalised Europe in the Second World War? And the answer was very clear. What you need is the ultimate victims of the Nazis, the Jewish people to re-legitimise Germany as a new nation.
It is not surprising that one of the first states that has full diplomatic relations with West Germany, that declared openly that Germany is a new Germany was Israel.” This was the deal. (!!) We in Europe do not have to deal with the Jewish question anymore. Because as we know it was not only the Nazis who slaughtered the Jews in the Second World War. Quite a lot of Europeans who gladly took part in the genocide of the Jews.
So we do not have to (???) unpleasant past. Because Zionism is now Judaism. And Zionism has international support and therefore the whole Jewish question has been closed. There is closure of the Jewish question by allowing the Jews to colonise Palestine.”
Firstly, this is built on an entirely false premise. Israel was simply not one of the first states to recognise Germany. Israel and W Germany only established full ties in 1965. The entire time line is out of sync here. It is an extraordinary accusation in that it is clearly mythical. Political infighting over Israel’s relationship with Germany continued in Israel for many years, long after the reparations agreement. The UN vote for partition was in 1947 and by 1949 the first Israel / Arab conflict was over. There was no need for any ‘deal’ over West Germany.
This is also part of the world vision that Jews are at the centre of the political universe. All of the Western nations could apparently not act independently of the Jews, they could not act in their own self interests. As the Soviet Union developed into a major global threat, the US could not act to protect itself until the Jews had ‘re-legitimised Germany’. It is nonsense of course. 10 years before Israel and W Germany opened full diplomatic relations, W Germany had become part of NATO.
Then there is the ‘deal itself’. Zionists, in order to get what they wanted, were prepared to take money and power, regardless of which particular devil they needed to do business with. The world would not touch Germany, but the Zionist Jews, these are the people who led the way.
“The most famous among them was the group that questioned the Israeli narrative of what happened in 1948 who became known as the new historians, but they were just part a whole movement of critical thinking, that appeared in Israel in the 1990’s. However, and we don’t have enough of a historical perspective to explain exactly why and therefore (ex?) in 2000, this movement petered out. It died. It is almost like Israeli scholars and film makers and so on opened the Pandora’s box and decided to close it.”
This is an outrageous statement. It is no different from suggesting that attitudes in America towards Afghanistan changed in 2001 but we cannot explain exactly why. If we relate a story of the US sending forces into Afghanistan whilst omitting the story of the Twin Towers, we deliberately demonise them and create an image of an irrational use of force.
The second Intifada exploded in 2000, we also saw viable peace deals rejected by Arafat. We know exactly why the peace camp collapsed. At this point Pappe is apparently shining a light on the huge gap between what he is, and the mindset of a true historian or academic.
It is difficult to overstate the willingness to cast fog over the truth and create the idea that Israelis are not humans. Zionist Jews are not rational, they do not react as other people do, even left wing Zionists simply ‘close the box’ on peace for no reason.
“The one that that really stands between full effective support in the world for the Palestinians, and the present situation, the one things that still stands is exceptionalism. Israel is treated exceptionally. It has an impact not just on the situation in Palestine. It has an impact on the middle east as a whole. You cannot have any genuine conversation about human rights and civil rights in the Arab world, a very urgent conversation if you don’t include Israel in it. And everybody who is involved in looking for a solution in Syria, a solution in Iraq (N?), everyone who laments what happened to the Arab spring does not include Israel in the conversation. Which means again the people in the Arab world would say, these people in the West, when they talk to us, about human rights, civil rights, ethnic cleansing, genocides, massacres, there is one state in the Middle East that never comes under any criticism when *it has committed the same crimes* that have been committed by regimes and opposition alike. “
Another quote that demonises Zionist Jews. It is hardly necessary to reach for statistics. The Middle East has seen some of the most brutal wars and military actions in recent decades. The comparison between Israel, the democratic state with an active judiciary and those despots that have used chemical weapons to commit genocide is sickening.
Further it shifts the blame for global events onto one tiny democratic state. If only it were not for Israeli crimes, then these people would not be needlessly dying elsewhere. Zionists and their stooges become responsible, not just for what occurs in Israel, but what occurs in Syria too.
“As for antisemitism and what Jewish students feel or don’t feel, I still think, that if you have no real issue with identifying, not just with the policy of Israel but with the very idea of Israel as (I recall?) in my book, you are exposed to people who will criticise you not for being a Jew, but with identifying with the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine. The confusion between Judaism and Zionism was not created by these people it was created by the State of Israel. And when Synagogues identify with Israel and when Jewish communities identify with Israel and every ceremony I have witnessed in the Jewish synagogue in Britain there is something to do with a prayer for Israel, it is a confused situation. Undoubtedly it is a confused situation. Now it seems as if the best way to eradicate antisemitism is to have a just democracy for all in Israel/Palestine”
So the idea that Jews must live with antisemitism, was the message relayed inside the church. The Jews must live with it, until they either reject ‘the very idea of Israel’, or we witness the end of Israel in the one state solution (Pappe’s project).
Further schools, synagogues, communities that identify even with ‘the very idea of Israel’, should what? Expect an attack? Pappe is being disingenuous because he only refers to ‘criticism’, when we all know that ‘criticism’ also appears in the form of violence.
This was a disgraceful message to be replayed in a church. That it came in response to a question that blamed Jewry as a whole (Goldberg stated in his preamble that ‘we Jews have much to apologise for’) only clouds the message even further.
Finally, it transfers the guilt back to Israel. If tomorrow someone attacks a synagogue in London, then Israel is to blame. Congratulations Dean, you must be proud.
“Then came the idea that Israel was the only country, that knows how to balance between a democracy and the war against terror. I don’t know if you know but the EU is now funding a huge project by which Israeli legal experts, terror experts are teaching the rest of Europe of how to deal with what they call home grown terrorism. It is really like inviting Dracula to help manage their blood bank.”
Like inviting Dracula to help manage their blood bank. Really? There is no need to begin to recite the age old connection between antisemitism, Jews and blood libels. Notice too, this is personal. He doesn’t even talk about Israeli policy in the abstract, he is talking about Israeli legal experts, Israeli security experts, these people, these Jews, they are vampires with blood lust.
Needless to say, for all this and more, Pappe received loud applause.
Part three: Audio capture
Part four: Antisemitism or anti-Zionism. Why the confusion?
Anti-Zionism, theoretical opposition to the Jewish home, does not equate to antisemitism. If someone opposes all nations, they will oppose Zionism too. Practical opposition to Israel is not the same as theoretical anti-Zionism, but even then, you are allowed to criticise government policy.
So then why the current uproar of antisemitism? You’ve seen some of the comments about Israel, even agree with some and you simply do not understand what all the fuss is about.
Imagine an artist with a brush. As they begin to master their craft, each stroke sits innocently on the page and when viewed can stir little more than puzzlement. Imagine now that each stroke of the brush is a comment or belief about Israel.
Some of the individual strokes can be identified as antisemitic themselves, such as a comment about Zionists being like Dracula, but they do not need to be. It can be an exaggeration, a myth, a suggestion of the absence of ethics or morals, the accusation of disproportional power, the story of the global conspiracy.
Each of these brush strokes, each strum on the guitar, when analysed alone and out of context, seem benign and meaningless. What after all is antisemitic about merely inflating numbers or even a false accusation of genocide?
This allows those who contribute to this image, to deny all singular accusations thrown against them. Some are true antisemites, walking up to the line of acceptability and dancing on the very edge of what society will allow. But many others are innocents. Anti-racists, unaware they are caught up in a cause full of myths, oblivious to the insidious, institutionalised picture they have helped create.
For it is only when the picture is analysed as a whole, does the entire message come across.
Genocidal, ethnic cleansing, fascist, media controlling, money controlling, heartless, child killing, unethical, irrational and heartless Zionists. Remember, just two years ago our mainstream media was full of these accusations, Zionists deliberately target hospitals and kill children for no reason.
The *only* way these myths, these falsehoods can live together as a singular ‘truth’ is in the creation of the demonic Jew, the resurrection of the ‘Elder of Zion’, the existence of a bloodsucking, money grabbing, all controlling, evil, brutal Jewish identity.
The striking change from the classic antisemitism of the past is that some Jews are allowed to be good Jews for recognising these ‘facts’, this evil among us. Thus the target becomes the Zionist Jew or ‘Zio’.
This image attracts traditional antisemites from the right, and *creates* a new breed on the left.
To further show that this is true hardcore antisemitism, we can highlight the difference between the Jewish Zionist and the non-Jewish Zionist. The Christian or non-Jewish-Zionist is not demonic himself. His assistance in protecting Zionism is either manipulated through the muscle flexing of Jewish power or is bought and paid for. He is the Jews servant. Only the Jewish Zionist is the devil himself. Thus only the Jew can have the ‘pure’ disease. This clearly is antisemitism.
This antisemitism has infested Labour; it is infesting the church too. Those institutions infected will not be rid of it until they cleanse the anti-Zionist myths from within.
It isn’t about suspending individuals, it is about destroying the image of the devil. Every *blatant* lie propagated about Zionism and Israel has to be removed from the page. Something, currently, they all seem unable or unwilling to do. For as long as these speakers can simply stand up and recite myth after myth to ever increasing thunderous applause, the Jews will have an ever growing problem living in the UK.
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6 thoughts on “Antisemitism or anti-Zionism, ten questions for the Dean of Lichfield”
David you are, of course, right to highlight the repugnant behaviour of these people. No matter how precisely and meticulously we argue Israel’s case, it is ultimately, a waste of time if you hoped by making Israel’s case the haters will see the truth in your articles and change their ways. The haters, like the Dean of Lichfield, Pappe and the rest of the Jew hating mob in politics, the media and in academia don’t want the truth! That is why they bend the truth and ‘revise’ history, to fit their antisemitic narrative and if they cannot do that, they make it up, just like UNESCO did with the regard to denying Jewish association with the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Do you REALLY think these people are interested in the truth, reality and evidence. No! They are Jew haters and that is the end of the story. I think their behaviour is a hate crime, inflames tensions between communities in the UK and shows all of the organisers and speakers in the most dreadful light. However, sadly, if a group of antisemites want to go into a church, lock the doors and hold an antisemitic hate fest, the law, as it stands permits such behaviour. And nothing any of us will say can stop them.
Although I totally agree with you that the chances are absolute ZERO to changing the hatred of Israel by Pappe et al , I still find great use in David’s and similar articles. For convinced pro-Israelis they help to see sides and DETAILS of the anti-Zionist activities which we never have seen before(his reports are from “behind the enemy lines”). That often helps and directs (at least my personal ) efforts to counter this ugly propaganda. But more than that – out there there is a “silent majority” whose opinions and views is important to feed with FACTS and TRUTH as opposed the LIES of anti-Semites. In my opinion David’s reports are among the best in achieving this (at least for people driven by logic like myself) .
I absolutely agree with you Shimon. I do find David’s website very valuable for the reasons you state.
Even the title of the event says what it is. It is fallacious, “Holding Palestine in the Light”, meaning that Palestine is de facto in some kind of “dark”/darkness and as Israel doesn’t even figure in the event title, Israel is to blame for holding Palestine in the dark. Any “darkness” is Israel’s fault.
The irony is that most of the “dark” is inflicted by Hamas, Hezbollah and ilk, on their own citizens.
That’s not the basis of a debate, certainly not any cogent debate. I seem to recognise the names of the ‘anti-‘ Israel speakers, but see none of the people who are ‘pro-‘ Israel and/or for a proper and equitable peaceful solution, namely Alan Johnson, David Hirsch, Lesley Klaff et al.
You can’t base a so-called “attempt to help people understand the complexity of the situation and what roads to peace are available for all the people of the Holy Land, Israelis and Palestinians”, on a casual fallacy.
“Holding Israel-Palestine in the Light”, would have been a start!
Compare and contrast the cool, supposedly ‘objective’ tone of this
‘Reflections of a diaspora Palestinian Professor Kamel Hawwash’
and this, the Professor’s mini profile
‘Professor Kamel Hawwash: a British/Palestinian and a long standing campaigner for justice for Palestinians’
both to be found on Lichfield Cathedral’s Website page on the recent conference on Israeli-Palestinian issues – he was one of the main speakers –
and the article he wrote with this headline
‘Lichfield Cathedral stands strong in the face of bullying by the pro-Israel Lobby’
which angrily refuses to consider any possibility of reasoned dissent, dissent based on arguments and evidence, published in that well-known purveyor of ideological claptrap the ‘Middle East Monitor’
and also published on the evasive, abysmal Website
of the Professor, who may have every reason to be taken seriously as an academic civil engineer but has no reason to be taken seriously as a commenter on such issues as the politics and military conflicts of this particular area of the Middle East and the ethical issues arising from them.
Lichfield Cathedral too has abandoned the basic principles of fair-mindedness and has become a purveyor of ideological claptrap and grotesque evasion, at least in this hideous fall from grace. If Kamel Hawwash is very happy about Lichfield Cathedral’s response, defenders of Israel have every reason to feel the exact opposite. The Dean, and the Cathedral, have blundered.
Instead of letting the issue be forgotten, David Collier has increased the pressure on the Dean and the Professor with this new article. Excellent!
To remove the shroud that these anti-Israel ‘activists’ have erected around their activities, it is articles like this that are constantly needed.
These articles expose the duplicitous language and tactics employed by these anti-Israel ‘activists, that distort and manipulate facts to suit the circumstances.
Knowing they are being observed and their activities being made public can only , in the long term, serve to educate the non-aligned public to the mistruths they are being fed.
It is a long term process undertaken by a small number of dedicated individuals in often extremely unpleasant circumstances. It is often demoralising, and yet if it is not done, who will ever know the truth about the distortions that are aired by these ‘activists’ at every anti-Israel event.
Your articles/blogs are appreciated
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