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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘george galloway’

The Eloquent Chief Rabbi Who Would Not Fight Israel’s Enemies

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Jonathan Sacks delivered what may be his final address as Chief Rabbi at a dinner last month honoring his career of 22 years in office two months in advance of retirement. Lord Sacks warned world Jewry about the two threats to its continued existence. To the left, he cited the growing assimilation of the youth who no longer see any reason to raise Jewish families. To the right, the growing extremism and isolationism of the orthodox. “The two fastest growing elements in the Jewish world are those who embrace the world and reject Judaism, and those who embrace Judaism and reject the world.” He posed the following question to his audience: “If there is antisemitism or anti-Zionism in the future, who is going to fight it? The Jews who abandon Judaism? Or the Jews who abandon the world? Neither…”

The question was perplexing because amid the tremendous public triumphs of Sacks’ tenure which he achieved as a global spokesman for Judaism, the one goal that was not achieved was the combating of anti-Zionism and antisemitism in Britain and Europe. Not even when Stephen Hawking recently spoke out from Sacks’ alma mater, Cambridge University, endorsing the BDS movement against Israel – pulling out of a high profile academic conference in Jerusalem – did Sacks make any statement of disapproval. As an ambassador of Judaism Sacks’ has had few equals. But under his watch antisemitism in England has reached frightening heights.

When I served as rabbi at Oxford University from 1988 to 1999, there were serious challenges to Israel then, too, but there were rarely members of Parliament comparing the Israeli government to Nazi Germany like George Galloway. Jewish students were not afraid for their safety to wear a yarmulke on campus which has become the norm at some UK universities. Under Rabbi Sacks we have seen an arrest warrant issued against former Israeli Foreign Minister and current Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. Under Rabbi Sacks we have seen British governmental proposal for goods from Israel’s West Bank being labeled as having been grown by Jewish settlers. And of course there was the infamous vote at Oxford University in February to ban Israeli academics that thankfully failed. That it occurred at all is astonishing.

Lord Sacks was only nominally involved with many of these cases, refraining, for reasons best known to him, to defend Israel against vicious attack. Elsewhere I have written that part of this may stem from problems with the office itself. A Chief Rabbi is a member of the establishment and establishment figures tend not to make waves.

When I lived in the UK Rabbi Sacks was my hero. I was awed by his writings and remain so. But after I departed the UK and witnessed the growing tide of Israel-hatred in Britain I could no longer understand his unwillingness to combat the assault on the Jewish state.

Here lies the paradox of Sacks’ career as Chief Rabbi and how he will be remembered. On the one hand, he’s risen as one of the most respected apologists for Judaism in our time. A gifted communicator in both the written and spoken word, Sacks combines scholarship with a thoroughly modern understanding of current events and social currents. On the other hand, he will be remembered ultimately as having failed to defend his community against growing assault, especially in the two areas where he was most respected and successful: media and academia. That Sacks did not take to the BBC to say – definitively – that the portrayal of Israel in the British media is for the most part foul, inaccurate, and deeply biased will forever remain one of the great omissions of his Chief Rabbinate. That he did not speak out at his alma mater, Cambridge, and other leading British Universities, of Israel’s deep humanity, commitment to human rights, and condemn its neighbors who have constantly sought its destruction, will taint his legacy.

The central quality of leadership is not eloquence but moral courage, a preparedness to be hated in the pursuit what’s right. Moses was a stutterer who leaned on his brother Aaron as his spokesman. But what made him a leader was witnessing an Egyptian taskmaster savagely beating a Jew. Though Moses is a member of the Egyptian establishment, he speaks truth to power and allies himself with his people even though it means being rejected by the Egyptian hierarchy forever. Abraham Lincoln is said to have had a squeaky and high-pitched voice. His speeches were captivating in writing and remain among the most eloquent ever written. But the same was not true of the spoken word. But what made him a leader was the moral conviction that slavery was an absolute evil that had to be defeated and the Union was an unalloyed good that had to be defended. Winston Churchill was dismissed as a drunk and a crank by the British for sounding the alarm against Hitler. But his steadfastness in combating evil, amid being despised for it, is what saved Western civilization.

UK’s Zionist Jewry Rejects British J Street Clone

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

The Zionist Federation, the official representative body of Jewish organizations in England, this week rejected the membership application of Yachad UK, the leftist J Street-esque organization which was formed in England in 2011.

The vote took place on Monday, February 25, and was conducted as required by the ZF’s constitution: member organizations vote to decide whether an applicant organization’s mission and actions are consistent with the mission of the ZF.

According to a statement by the ZF, every constituent organization was given the opportunity to consider Yachad’s application, and representatives of those organizations consulted with their members in order to make a decision.  This process began ten months ago.  When the ZF met on Monday, the organization representatives voted on and rejected Yachad UK’s application.

Although ZF leadership members were unwilling to respond to media inquiries about the decision, they pointed to the deliberative process in which the ZF had engaged, which was consistent with prior membership decisions.

In response to the vote, Yachad, which is Hebrew for “together,” went on the offensive.  It instituted an email campaign informing contacts that they are being discriminated against, along with a twitter attack with the hashtag “whatswrongwithmyzionism.”

Yachad’s first line of offense was to present themselves as innocent Zionist victims of overbearingly aggressive, right-wing Zionist Jews.  They claimed at the top of their website that, “78% of Anglo Jewry favour a two state solution. Is their Zionism not good enough for the Zionist Federation?”

The Zionist Federation issued a public statement in response.  “It is important to note that despite claims by Yachad’s statement, the ZF strongly supports peace in the Middle East and the two state solution.  To say that we do not is factually incorrect.”

WHAT IS YACHAD UK?

Yachad UK is quite similar in orientation and mission to J Street in the U.S.  The tagline for Yachad is “together for peace, together for Israel,” and it describes itself as “the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement for British Jews,” exactly the same claim J Street makes for U.S. Jews.  About the only difference between the two organizations, as Hannah Weisfeld, Yachad’s director, said at its launch, is that Yachad will not engage in political lobbying.

And just as is the case with J Street, there are many Zionists who do not believe Yachad’s self-description is accurate.  They instead claim that Yachad’s relentless criticism of Israel and refusal to make any demands on the Arab Palestinians reveals the true nature of Yachad, one that they believe is instead an anti-Zionist orientation.

DOES YACHAD PRESENT ITSELF AS A ZIONIST ORGANIZATION?

The pingpong match of public statements declaring either that Yachad is a Zionist organization that should be welcomed into the UK’s Zionist Federation, or that it is an anti-Zionist organization which has no place in the ZF is not especially helpful in determining the truth.

Rather than look at the public rhetoric, The Jewish Press decided it is most useful to see what Yachad really does and where Yachad really goes. The best way to do this is to peruse the activities posted on Yachad UK’s Facebook page.

This is what you will find there:

• November 11 and February 10, Yachad showed the movie “The Law in These Parts,” a movie that is “a compelling indictment of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza,” another shows a Yachad trip to Israel in which the participants join up with an Israeli leftist activist group, Ir Amim, to rally against Jews living in parts of Jerusalem.

• February 11th and 12th meetings with former Haaretz editor David Landau, who famously told U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice that the U.S. should “rape Israel,” and that it has always been a secret erotic dream of his to discuss this with her.”

• July 29, June 21, June 18, June 17 meetings with Nadav Greenberg of “Just Vision,” who recently completed a documentary, “Budrus and Home Front: Portraits from Sheikh Jarrah,”  that presents four people, all of whom oppose the Israeli efforts to allow Jews to live in the Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood of Jerusalem, known to pro-Arab Palestinian activists as the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Most of the more than 100 photos on Yachad’s page are of Yachad trips to Israel.

Oxford Students Resoundingly Reject BDS Movement

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Oxford University, the oldest university in the English-speaking world, is an exemplar of academic elite institutions.  Tonight,  February 27, the student leadership there voted to reject the motion to join in and promote the economic and political warfare anti-Israel effort known as the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement.

Students had been discussing the motion and voted in their own colleges in advance of tonight’s vote. “This boycott goes against everything the university stands for.  The idea that we are not going to read your books or articles or hear your arguments on the basis of your nationality is ridiculous,” Henry Watson, a student at Magdalen College, a constituent college of Oxford, said.  Magdalen College voted to defeat the motion 39-3, earlier this week.

The representatives of the affiliated Oxford colleges, who comprise the Oxford Student Union Organization, met in St. Edmund Hall tonight where the motion was put immediately to a vote.  The motion was defeated, 69 – 10.  There were 15 abstentions.

Had the motion passed, Oxford would have been required to recommend to Britain’s National Union of Students that they join the global BDS movement against Israel.

A representative of Brasenose College, Eylon Aslan-Levy, said, “Tonight Oxford students showed that their commitment to intellectual freedom is unshakeable.  In rejecting calls for a boycott against Israel by a seven-to-one margin, we demonstrated resoundingly that we want Oxford to continue to cooperate with Israeli academics, trade with Israeli businesses and – yes – debate with Israelis in debating societies.”

Aslan-Levy was in the news earlier this week.  He was slated to present the opposing side in a debate the topic of which was, “Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank.” When he began his response, his opponent, British member of parliament George Galloway, stormed out of the room upon learning Aslan-Levy is Israeli.

“I hope that other British universities will follow Oxford’s lead in standing up against divisive attempts to hinder academic cooperation and progress,” Aslan-Levy said.

British MP: Yes, I Really Hate and Will Boycott Every Zionist

Monday, February 25th, 2013

George Galloway, a member of the British government from the Respect Party, has made it clear that his abrupt departure from a debate at Oxford University last Wednesday, when he learned the person he was debating was Israeli, was not an impetuous move.  Instead, Galloway’s bolt was based upon his firmly-held belief in boycotting anything and everything about Israel except anti-Israel Israelis.

Galloway posted a message on his Facebook page Monday, February 25, because he felt it necessary to clarify certain questions that arose after his departure from Christ Church College last week.

He made several points.

First: that no one is going to tell him what the parameters of BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) against Israel are; he will boycott anyone and everyone who supports the “racist Apartheid creed of Zionism,” which he described as a “cancer at the heart of the middle-east.”

Here, Galloway was responding to a public statement issued the day after Galloway’s widely-publicized exit by the “Palestinian BDS National Committee” clarifying that the official position of the movement is to boycott Israel and anything that supports the “Occupation,” but it does not boycott individuals, whether Israeli or Zionist.  Galloway’s supporters, such as Israeli Israel-hater Gilad Atzmon, turned on the BDS Movement for trying to distance itself from Galloway’s action by calling them suck-ups to their Evil Zionist Paylords, including “liberal Zionist George Soros.”

Second: What he will and does embrace are any Israelis or Jews who despise the state of Israel for the same reasons that he does.  He provided an example: Israeli ex-pat now British prof. Ilan Pappe, whom he calls his comrade.

Pappe is well-known for his belief that Israel is guilty of the ethnic cleansing of Arabs in the 1948 war of independence, and his ardent support of their “right” of return. “What turned me into a great lover of the Palestinians is the will of many among them to share the land with us,” he explained in 2008, even people in Hamas.”

The third point Galloway made was to attack and ridicule the organizer of the Oxford debate, Mahmood Naji, a fourth year medical student at Oxford.

When Galloway walked out of the debate and in subsequent discussions about the incident, he repeatedly claimed Naji had “deceived” him because his debate opponent’s Israeli heritage was not made known to Galloway before the debate.  Naji finally had enough of the slander and published an open letter to Galloway, calling him to task for his ridiculous claims.

In his letter, Naji wrote that Galloway never asked about his opponent’s nationality when the debate was set up. “As the organiser, am I to know about every one of your views? Should I let you know if your opponent is a vegetarian in case you have a policy of not debating vegetarians? Am I misleading you if I do not tell you your opponent’s shoe size?” Naji suggests that it would be at least highly irregular for someone to inquire about, and make a decision about whether to engage in a debate dependent upon an opponent’s nationality.

Incidentally, Galloway referred to Naji as an “Iraqi Muslim,” but, as Naji told The Jewish Press, “I find it somewhat ironic that he assumed from my name that I am a Muslim (I am in fact atheist) but was not able to use these same powers of inference to suspect Eylon [Aslan-Levy] may be Israeli.”  Naji was born in Iraq but has lived in England for more than 15 years and is a permanent resident.

Naji’s responses to Galloway have all been logical, but he could have gone even a step farther: exactly whom did Galloway think was going to be taking the opposite position in a debate the topic for which was, “Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank”?

Here is Galloway, in his own words:

Me and the Palestinian cause: A number of questions have recently arisen I need to deal with. Firstly if people want to talk to the Palestinians they need to contact the Palestine Liberation Organisation. This is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and has been for many decades. Secondly, an organisation calling itself “BDS” does not own the words or the concept of boycott, divestment or sanctions. They are entitled to their own interpretation of these words but they don’t own or control me. I will make my own interpretation. And it is this – no purchase of Israeli goods or services, no normal contacts with individuals or organisations in Israel who support the existence of the racist Apartheid creed of Zionism. That’s what I mean by boycott. That’s what I do. Israelis who are outside of and against the system of Zionism are comrades of mine – like Prof Ilan Pappe. My opponent at Oxford University did not meet this test. The organiser of the event momentarily lionised by the liberal as well as the conservative establishment needs to know this, especially as he is a medical student. To compare Israeli Zionism to “Vegetarianism” is like a doctor not knowing the difference between a pimple and a tumor. Apartheid Israel is a cancer at the heart of the middle-east. Only it’s replacement by a bi-national democratic state from the Jordan River to the sea will cure this. That is what I am fighting for. George Galloway MP House of Commons London

After one of Galloway’s supporters insisted that Mahmood Naji must be a “secret Zionist,” Naji weighed in.

No ‘Respect’ for Racist Demagogue

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

I’m going to devote today’s post to one of my least favorite humans, George Galloway.

My U.K. readers already know probably more than they want to about him, but it occurred to me that others, Americans in particular, don’t know who or what he is. So I’ll do my best to remedy that.

Galloway, 58, is a member of the British Parliament for Bradford West, located in Yorkshire in north-central England. He was elected in 2012 by a landslide, receiving 56% of the vote; his nearest competitor got only 25%. Galloway, formerly a garden-variety leftist, was kicked out of the Labour party in 2003 because of his aggressive attacks on Tony Blair over British participation in the Iraq war.

In 2004, he joined a new left-wing party called “Respect,” which he and his faction shortly came to dominate. Galloway was the first M.P. elected by Respect, whose official ideology seems to be a sort of leftish populism.

Galloway has made it more than that, adding elements to appeal to Muslims (Bradford West was 38% Muslim in 2001, and is probably much more than that now). The party began to downplay some of the traditional left-wing causes like women’s and gay rights, while emphasizing opposition to the wars in Iraq an Afghanistan. Galloway himself may have converted to Islam (he is coy about this, perhaps to keep the few non-Muslim working-class votes that he receives). But he makes no pretense about appealing to Muslim interests — and prejudices.

What distinguishes Galloway from other many other demagogues — even in the U.K. — is his particularly vicious hatred of Israel, which extends to support for the Jew-hating Hamas. In 2009, he played a leading role in the “Viva Palestina” convoy to bring ‘aid’ to Gaza, which resulted in his being deported from Egypt. He often speaks against Zionism and Israel on his several radio/T.V. programs — in the U.K., on a satellite channel linked to Iran and Syria in Lebanon and the U.S. (on Pacifica station WBAI New York).

Hizballah, too, meets with his approval. “Hizballah is not and has never been a terrorist organisation. It is the legitimate national resistance movement of Lebanon,” he tells us. Ideology isn’t important as long as someone wants to kill Jews.

Galloway is always good for a rousing stump speech on the evils of Zionism and that “little Hitler state on the Mediterranean.” Just search for him on YouTube.

In short, Galloway is a man who has built a political persona and a career on hating Israel. Since explicit racial or ethnic hatred for groups of people is unfashionable — at least, in some parts of the West, although it is making a comeback — he must focus on abstract objects of hatred, like Zionism and Israel. His supporters aren’t deceived, and neither am I.

Galloway’s latest thuggish expression of hatred came with very little provocation. In response to an Oxford student who called for a peaceful, mutually agreed upon two-state solution, he suddenly asked “are you Israeli?” When the student answered in the affirmative, Galloway announced that he doesn’t debate Israelis, he doesn’t recognize the state of Israel, and stomped off — followed at a respectful few paces by his wife.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

George Galloway, Purim and the Legacy of Amalek

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

It’s all over my Facebook news feed and has invaded YouTube like a plague. People posting the same one minute video over and over again. Unabashed and unrepentant anti-Semite, lover of all anti-American and anti-Israel tyrants, in George Galloway walking out of what was supposed to be a debate at Oxford University with a Jewish student who was originally from Israel. Galloway was not informed that the student, who had an unmistakably British accent, was originally from Israel but he did know that the student was Jewish. The fact that Galloway agreed to debate a Jew to begin with should have been the shocking part.

Throughout his career as a British MP, Galloway has gone out of his way, whether intentionally or not, to further the case that anti-Zionism is just a thinly veiled formed of anti-Semitism. That the old and tired line of “I’m not against Jews…I’m against Zionism and the apartheid state of Israel” just doesn’t fly. It’s either the sentiment of a complete ignoramus at best or a Jew-hater at worst. More often than not, it ends up being the latter.

Since were on the topic of his ‘outlandish behavior’, Galloway has done everything from: praising Hezbollah and Hamas—even requesting Palestinian citizenship from Hamas—to openly supporting Saddam Hussein during both Gulf Wars. From suggesting that Tony Blair be put in front of the International Criminal Court at the Hague and being especially supportive when Saddam was lobbing rockets at Tel Aviv, to being an ardent supporter of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran and the Assad regime in Syria.

But he has never uttered these words…at least not with a video camera present: “I will not debate an Israeli”.

So while George Galloway’s sentiments shouldn’t come as a surprise to us, one thing we as Jews should be taking note of is that this happened right before the holiday of Purim. Purim is the story of how a man by the name of Haman wanted nothing more than to wipe out the Jewish people from existence, and yet was undone by the very plot he was attempting to hatch. This Haman was a direct descendant of Amalek.

Amalek is the eternal and perpetual enemy of the Jewish people. He hates us for no other reason than our very being. And it’s not merely on this planet. If all 14 million of us got on a spaceship and moved to the Moon, he’d follow us there and accuse us of occupying the moon, right before he attempts to wipe us out. We exist; therefore he hates us. We have survived; therefore he still plots against us. We have fought him at various points on the space-time continuum; therefore his mere essence continues to haunt us. While one of the Ten Commandments instructs us not to kill another human being…there is also a strict and direct commandment, out of our 613, to remember and wipe-out Amalek wherever and whenever we come across him.

Unfortunately, these days it’s hard to identify who Amalek is. For example, many great rabbis of the 20th century identified the Nazis to be Amalek. Stalin, who actually died on Purim, was thought to be Amalek. But besides being a group of people or one man, it can be an idea, an abstract entity, a movement, all of the above…and lastly, ourselves—the Jewish people—can be Amalek. We can be our own worst enemy. We can hate ourselves for no rational or logical reason. In this case, we have an example of something that has in fact become an abstract entity.

Over the past two decades, we have witnessed the undue courtship and subsequent marriage of the international leftist movement and fundamentalist Islam. Two groups, who couldn’t be more different in terms of their values, yet who have been united by a common enemy. “Western capitalism and Imperialism”. And since both of these groups have a virulent hatred of America, in their eyes, Israel is nothing more than America’s bidder in the Middle East. The former claims that it wants nothing more than “freedom” for people of all persuasions and socio-economic backgrounds…especially freedom from colonization and oppression. The latter wants nothing more than to colonize and convert the entire world to its ideology, this time more so via silent cultural usurpation and less by the sword. Whether they realize it or not, the majority of the left serve as ‘useful idiots’ of the Islamist movement.

British MP Storming Out: ‘I Don’t Debate with Israelis’ (Video)

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

George Galloway, the British member of Parliament who represents the district of West Bradford in Northern England, stormed out of the room at Oxford University last night in the middle of a debate when he learned that his opponent – a student who had just begun speaking – was Israeli.

The topic being debated at Oxford’s Christ Church College was: “Israel Should Withdraw Immediately From the West Bank.”

Galloway had already spoken in favor of the motion when the student who opposed the motion, Eylon Aslan-Levy, began to speak.  Aslan-Levy made it clear that his disagreement with the motion was not the question of withdrawal, as he favors an “end to the Occupation.”

But what Aslan-Levy pointed out was the critical word in the debate topic, “whether Israel should withdraw immediately. Overnight. Unilaterally. Without any guarantees from the Palestinians to match such dramatic concessions by calling an end to this century-old conflict.”

The student went on to explain how everyone should have learned a lesson from the Disengagement – the unilateral withdrawal of all Israelis, living and dead, from Gaza in 2005 – which Aslan-Levy said he supported at the time.  He explained why:

An immediate withdrawal denies Israelis and Palestinians the two essential goods that a peace treaty would secure: firstly, a framework for safety, security and cooperation; secondly, binding promises by each party to irrevocably terminate all claims or states of belligerency against the other. To forego the one chance to sign for peace on the dotted line would leave the region vulnerable, insecure, and in a perpetual state of war.

This is the lesson from the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, which I supported – out of the same misguided faith that the cards were in Israel’s hands. Israel uprooted over 8,000 settlers and evacuated the military – but without a pledge from the Palestinians not to fire rockets at Israeli towns over the very border to which Israel had just withdrawn. We wanted peace: we got war. We mustn’t make the same mistake again.

As the student uttered those words, Galloway shouted out: “You said we!  Are you Israeli?”

When Aslan-Levy said he was, Galloway responded, “I’ve been misled, sorry. I don’t recognize Israel and I don’t debate with Israelis,” and then flounced out of the room, followed by his wife.

The video of the end of the exchange shows a mixed reaction by students who were in the audience – some laughing, some clapping – it is unclear if they were clapping because Galloway stuck to his “principles” or because Aslan-Levy maintained his composure.

Galloway defended his actions in a Facebook posting: “I refused this evening at Oxford University to debate with an Israeli, a supporter of the Apartheid state of Israel.  The reason is simple: no recognition, no normalisation. Just boycott, divestment and sanctions, until the apartheid state is defeated. I never debate with Israelis nor speak to their media. If they want to speak about Palestine – the address is the PLO.” More than 3500 “liked” his post and over 1500 posted comments, many of them vilely anti-Semitic.

Galloway later added on his Twitter feed, “Christ Church never informed us the debate would be with an Israeli. Simple.”

Yes, simple.  A member of the British government refused to appear with someone because of their nationality.  Aslan-Levy called Galloway’s action racist and unacceptable.

In an interview with The Daily Mail, the Israeli-British student said Galloway should be barred from the House of Commons. “He clearly had a problem not because I am Israeli – I’m sure he would have talked to an Israeli Arab, he didn’t want to talk to me because I am an Israeli Jew,” Aslan-Levy said.

Galloway has long been a rabid opponent of the Jewish State.  He claims Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization and has publicly met with Hamas leaders.  He also was an organizer of the “Viva Palestina” “aid convey” to Gaza in 2009.

The head of the Oxford Debating Society, in his understated British way, expressed disappointment that Galloway stormed out of the debate.

Galloway had been a member of the British Labour Party, but was expelled in 2003 when he was found guilty of “bringing the party into disrepute” for, among other things, referring to the Labour Party as “Tony Blair’s Lie Machine.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/british-mp-storms-out-i-dont-recognise-israel-and-i-dont-debate-with-israelis/2013/02/22/

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