Last night I went to see a debate at Kings College London between Miko Peled and Raphi Bloom. It has been arranged by the Libertarian Society. I had been in two minds as to whether or not the decision by Raphi Bloom of North West Friends of Israel to debate Miko Peled was the correct one. Sometimes you give legitimacy to the illegitimate simply through recognition or sharing a platform. However, the debate provided recorded evidence of why it should have gone ahead. To *anybody* in that room not already sold to one side, there was one clear winner. And it wasn’t Miko Peled. The full video of the event is available on the Sussex Friends of Israel page.
There is a reason that people like Miko Peled avoid debates. At no point during the ninety minutes last night did Peled respond to a question with the truth. His style works in a room where challenge is shouted down. In a place where if someone dares to contradict him, his thugs in the room will scream in defence. Outside of that bubble, Miko Peled is vulnerable and deflated.
Miko Peled opened by saying ‘there was not going to be a dialogue’ and it took him about a minute before he threw in the accusation of a ‘Genocide’ that was being carried out by a ‘vicious Apartheid regime’. A sentence later he declared Zionism a racist ideology that uses ‘extreme means of violence’ against ‘innocent civilians‘. He went on to state Zionism should not be tolerated any more than the KKK should be.
These are Miko Peled’s opening remarks. This is no different to the string of abuse he pushes everywhere he speaks. If you look at Miko Peled video’s, you’ll see the same messaging repeated. This is ordinary stuff. However, it wasn’t going to be an ordinary evening.
Miko Peled accuses Jews of interfering in British democracy
Peled probably had no idea things were going to go so badly for him. He had set up the evening well. He arranged for a member of Neturei Karta to be there. Ghada Karmi was also. This is not a coincidence. These people are props. Peled presents himself as the Israeli, Karmi the Palestinian and a member of the NK as Jewish orthodoxy. This deceptive triad allows for Peled to portray anyone opposing him (the Zionist) as the extremist. In a room of a hundred believers it works every time. Together, the secular anti-Zionist Jew and the Ultra Orthodox Neturei Karta make up less than 7% of global Jewry, but to someone not aware of this fact, Peled makes 93% of Jews look like a minority.
Miko Peled continued:
‘why you should care in the UK has become very very clear in the last few years, with the vicious attacks by Zionists on Jeremy Corbyn….. and the Zionists here in this country are terrified and the Zionists in Tel Aviv are terrified all the way to Binyamin Netanyahu who has been spreading lies about Jeremy Corbyn as well. Because they know Jeremy Corbyn will stop selling weapons to Israel and Jeremy Corbyn will demand that Israel is held accountable for its crime against the Palestinians. So you should care because this is an intervention in British democracy. This is a severe, not quite violent, but a severe and perhaps unprecedented interference in the democracy here in the UK.’
Needless to say this is an outrageous statement. It places British Jewish opinion outside of British democracy. If we disagree with someone in the UK, if we oppose them, then we are interfering in British political life. Peled paints us as enemy aliens.
Miko Peled – not the only voice in the room
However, things were not going to go Miko Peled’s way. Firstly there were no anti-Israel activist disrupters present. So Raphi Bloom could present his case and be heard. Raphi also stayed calm, so the event did not deteriorate into an exchange of verbal abuse. It was a debate between two sides where everyone could be heard and each speaker was given time. The playing field had been made even, and in this environment, the anti-Israel narrative collapses.
Kudos do go to Raphi Bloom for the way he presented himself. He was on point, he had clearly done his research and his argument was peppered with factual information. But as good as Bloom was, Miko Peled was awful.
The two speakers were both given some time before the Chair began to ask questions. When Raphi spoke for the first time, Peled interrupted. It was over Blooms (accurate) appraisal that BDS seeks Israel’s destruction. Peled became aggressive, pointed fingers and told Bloom not to ‘put words‘ in his mouth and to ‘watch what he says‘. It was a cheap and rehearsed attempt to intimidate the opposing speaker and to unsettle him. It didn’t work. None of Miko Peled’s tricks worked last night. Whenever he resorted to finger pointing and faux outrage, he came across as aggressive and slightly deranged.
When twelve become forty-thousand
As Peled picked up the microphone in response to Raphi Bloom. he referenced the ‘Zionist trumpets’ in the crowd and then suggested that ‘there are so many lies coming from the other side, that it is hard to pinpoint anything to argue with‘. It was a poppycock cop-out. He had nothing to respond to Bloom’s points with, so in the end the only thing he did was try to overstate the power of anti-Zionist orthodoxy. Astonishingly he said this about the Neturei Karta:
“laugh all you want, they make up close to 40,000 of 260,000 UK Jews’
Except of course they don’t. This is Peled lying to the audience. He actually gets away with this sort of ridiculous distortion inside his own bubble. Neturei Karta are one single shul in the UK. The vast majority of UK Orthodoxy won’t go near them and no more than a dozen are involved in anti-Israel activity. He somehow stretches about 12 people to 40,000. It would be funny if people didn’t actually buy into the total garbage that comes out of his mouth.
When people in the audience protest the gross distortion, Peled uses the moderator to silence them. Even though the noise of the protest was no more than a laugh and a ‘no way’, Peled actually seeks to see if he can have these people removed.
It was at this point I realised how uncomfortable he was with us in the room. Peled knew he was in trouble and he was simply trying anything from his box of tricks to save himself. When that failed he returned to spouting nonsense. Peled suggested Jewish law prohibits the use of arms (has he read the old testament) and said that to be a Jew you had to be a ‘practicing Jew’. All of this is hogwash. If you are born to a Jewish mother – you are Jewish. When every sentence contains a lie, it is difficult to keep up and I have no intention of writing a book tonight, so I will stick to some of the more important distortions.
Empty smears of Apartheid
Miko Peled pushed the usual nonsense about BDS coming from Palestinian Civil Society, which even Norman Finkelstein acknowledges does not exist. Then it was question time. The first question delivered to Miko Peled from the Chair, dealt with the Israeli Arabs. It was pointed out to him that seventeen Israeli Arabs sit in the Israeli Parliament. Miko Peled interrupts him ‘twelve‘ he says, the host stands corrected and accepts this. Except Peled was wrong. But more on that shortly.
Peled’s response was typical. He refers to a definition of Apartheid, and reads a list of items so vague and subjective, it could almost be applied to any nation. And here is the thing. Anti-Israel activists know that the ‘crime of Apartheid’ has everyone imagining another South Africa. So if they can have the word endlessly associated with Israel, they can try to bring about Israel’s ostracisation, even if it is no more guilty than any other nation. We all know the Apartheid label is an empty smear.
Peled goes through the motions, he attacks the term ‘Israeli Arab’ used by the Chair, calling them Palestinians. This is an interesting case of ‘appropriation’ and ‘misrepresentation’ that anti-Israel activists always engage in. Bedouin become Palestinian, Druse become Palestinian and Israeli Arabs who want to be called Israeli Arabs become Palestinian. Their right to self-determination are squashed because it is politically uncomfortable for anti-Israel activists. But here is an interesting fact;
The proportion of Arab Israelis who wish to identify as Arab Israelis *FAR EXCEEDS* the proportion of Jewish people who are anti-Zionists. If Israeli Arabs who seek to be identified as Israeli Arabs should be ignored, why shouldn’t anti-Zionist Jews?
Miko Peled lies about Israeli Arabs
But he hadn’t finished. Peled accepts that the Arab Israelis ‘do have a right to vote‘, but he seeks to negate this. He first tries to suggest that the fact Palestinians don’t vote in Israeli elections is the problem (they vote in Palestinian elections when the Palestinian can be bothered to hold them), but this clearly isn’t enough. So he lies again. He says this:
The Israeli Arab vote ‘counts for about 10% of Israeli Knesset‘. About ‘twelve or thirteen from one-hundred-and-twenty’. ‘They do not make any important decisions and no Israeli government will ever rely on them to pass a law‘. ‘There are twelve of them and everybody knows their vote is completely irrelevant‘. So ‘this is how Israel creates the false impression that somehow it is a democracy‘.
Put aside the fact he seems to be suggesting a minority of 20% should have the same power as the 80% (that’s not democracy, Miko). He has lied, and it is here his earlier correction of seventeen Arabs is exposed. Miko Peled is ignoring all those Arab MK’s who are not in the Arab Party.
- Hamad Amar is a member of Yisrael Beitenu
- Issawi Frej is a member of Meretz
- Akram Hasson is a member of Kulunu
- Ayoob Kara is a member of Likud
- Saleh Saad is a member of the Zionist Union
So when Peled corrected the Chair, he was wrong. He had discounted five Arab Israelis who do not fit his narrative. And when he suggested that no Israeli government would ever rely on them ‘to pass a law‘, he discounted all those that do – including the current Minister of Communications. There are seventeen Arab Israelis inside the Knesset include a Minister in the current Government.
The evening progresses as Peled sinks
As the evening progressed it became clear that Peled simply does not know the difference between what is true and what is not. When Raphi Bloom prodded him for answers, Peled was left scrambling and deflecting. It was illuminating. Raphi realised the strategy worked and tried it several times. He asked Peled for specifics and received an empty silence in response. Not only is Peled full of empty sound-bites, he has nothing beyond it. Once you prick his balloon, it just deflates.
Peled mixes and mashes the conflict, the pre 67 borders, the PA and Gaza whenever he wants. So it is never clear about whom he is talking. He talks of the de-Arabisation of West Jerusalem, without of course mentioning the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the Eastern side. There is no attempt at all to tell the truth or to inform the audience. Everything Peled does is designed to mislead. Miko Peled just wants to destroy Israel and as Raphi Bloom correctly pointed out during the debate, Peled was getting more irate as the evening progressed.
iPhone, citizenship and water
There were a couple of funny moments. One when Raphi pointed out Miko Peled was using an iPhone whilst wearing a BDS badge. The other when he asked Peled why he refused to give up his own citizenship. But these were sideshows in what was turning out to be a devastating take-down. Bloom didn’t need these to do the work, he was landing these blows freely because Peled was no longer putting up a solid defence. At the half-way point in the evening, Peled was no longer taking every opportunity to respond when offered.
There was never anything specific from Miko Peled. In fact he chose to avoid it. He spoke of racist laws, but instead of offering examples for rebuttal, simply said ‘there wasn’t enough time’ to give examples. Miko Peled was blindly throwing nonsense at the audience. He says that ‘Israeli Arabs’ ‘have their water supply, limited to certain hours of the day‘; He goes on to claim the Arabs ‘only have been allocated 3% of the water supply’. At this point it is clear that not only is Peled making it up as he goes along, but he keeps changing the target. It is just one convoluted nonsensical stream of disinformation.
Peled claims that Arabs cannot live on 97% of the land, said that Israeli ‘created’ the Gaza Strip, suggests Israel dropped millions of tonnes of bombs on innocent civilians, it is just one nonsense after another. And it is relentless. Peled says Israel was ‘proud it had killed 500 people in Gaza in the first five minutes’ in the 2008 conflict (about 225 died in the first day, including many Hamas terrorists). There is just little correlation between what comes out of his mouth and the truth. He says at the end of the 2008 conflict, ‘tens of thousands’ were injured. The record lists that number as 5303.
It is not about how bad numbers are – it is about truth and accuracy. Peled has no compass at all for the truth. He suggests Israel 100% controls the Gaza Strip. At this point his words are just competing with themselves for the title of the most absurd.
Good old Hamas
Miko Peled calls Hamas ‘a legitimate Palestinian resistance organisation‘. That’s the same Hamas that is proscribed as a terror group throughout the west and still contains genocidal antisemitic statements in its charter. At this point he starts to paint Hamas as the good guys who want peace and Israel as the bad boys who don’t. Outside of his bubble, it is difficult to believe anyone would buy this nonsense. Hamas are the organisation that throw gays and political opposition off the roof without blinking.
He embarks on the standard historical revision of 1947:
‘In 1947 the United Nations passed a partition law, which was supposed to create two states, Israel ignored it completely, went on a rampage and took 80% in violation of international law’.
It isn’t even worth pointing out the errors here. Israel didn’t exist when it was passed. The Arabs, not the Jews rejected it, and Arab irregular forces were crossing into British Palestine within weeks in preparation for the great Arab invasion. Peled seems to be upset the Jews didn’t just roll over and die in the face of Arab aggression.
Jews Expelled from Arabia are white?
Peled hasn’t finished praising Hamas though:
‘Palestinians have been engaged in resistance is sanctified by international law’
Raphi Bloom interrupts by pointing out attacks against civilians are not sanctified by anyone. Peled repeats his comment, so did Raphi. Then Miko Peled lost it again. He said this:
‘You cannot take it out of context. You cannot live the life of a privileged white person, settler coloniser, in a country, take away their rights and expect to sit around with no consequences’
Privileged white person? The Jews? The refugees from the Pogroms, the Holocaust and the expulsion from the Arab lands? The vast majority of Israelis are indigenous to the region. Just what kind of total racist balderdash was Peled trying to con people into buying. Israel is more diverse than every nation in Europe. He uses this as an excuse for pregnant mothers being shot in the street?
‘Days and days of carpet bombing, millions of tonnes of bombs’.
This is more distortion. It doesn’t matter how strong Israel is militarily. Everyone knows what happens when a military superpower carpet bombs highly populated regions. This has never happened in the West Bank or Gaza. The numbers simply do not support it. Miko Peled is lying again.
BDS as part of an umbrella of resistance
Absurdly Miko Peled then seems to suggest that Hamas build tunnels into Israel to feed the population. When Raphi Bloom interrupts and Peled realises what he is suggesting is even too nonsensical for him, he says this
‘I am saying the Palestinian resistance, be it BDS, be it the military resistance, be it the protests on the ground, is according to international law legitimate and sanctified’.
This is important. It is confirmation of everything people like myself say about BDS. Miko Peled wears a BDS badge and is a major front-line face of the movement. Is he therefore a peace activist? No, he supports the military resistance. He states openly that BDS is just a part of it, one strategy amongst several. Logically then, if you weaken Israel through BDS then you strengthen the arm which conducts military attacks against it. It becomes impossible to disassociate BDS from the wider violent resistance. You cannot say ‘I support BDS but not violence’. One holds the hand of the other. BDS is an arm of the terror group. Don’t believe me – listen to Miko Peled.
Questions and Jews as ‘sleazy thieves’
Then the Chair turns to the audience for questions. The first referenced a 2016 Tweet by Miko Peled:
When asked to respond to why he spoke of the reputation for Jews of being ‘sleazy thieves’ he said this:
‘Zionists, their greedy, their thievery, their underhanded techniques to get that money, is the reason for that reputation’
This is simply replacing the word ‘Jew’ with ‘Zionist’ and then pushing classic antisemitic tropes. It is at the end of the evening and Miko Peled had hit rock bottom. He is blaming 93% of Jews for antisemitic tropes that were around long before that 93% existed. This is clearly a racist statement and antisemitic.
If you strip away the lies, Miko Peled had nothing of substance to offer. He relies on some utopian poppycock. He speaks of one secular nation where everyone has equal rights. This position is beyond disingenuous. Palestinians want to wave a Palestinian flag in a Palestinian state. Nobody in the region wants some hybrid. Even if we choose not to point out that Jews becoming a minority group in a Middle Eastern state would inevitably lead to massacre, Peled is pushing a solution nobody supports. Just where on earth in the Middle East can he point to where this fanciful balderdash exists? The only people who support this position are fools.
The final ‘question’ came from Ghada Karmi, another of Miko Peled’s props. It is pointless rhetoric. And then the evening was done. This was the first time I have seen Miko Peled outside of his comfort zone. He was a deflated buffoon. A bigoted peddler of hate. I could now go home, where unfortunately I would have to watch the whole thing again.
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