Monday 25 January 2010

Sizer Shock

Speaking of freedom, it’s not only the government we have to fear.

Last November, the Christian blogger Seismic Shock, was visited at his home by West Yorkshire Police, in relation to posts he had written regarding the anti-Zionist writings of Rev Stephen Sizer, Vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water.

Following a call from Sizer, the police visited Seismic Shock for an "informal chat" but, as Seismic Shock explains in a guest post on Harry's Place, the visit still resulted in censorship because the blogger agreed to delete his original blog but maintain his current blog

The news has sent ripples round the blogosphere – can the police really intervene to solve disputes among bloggers? Stephen Sizer appears to think so as he has warned an Australian blogger:

Dear Vee,

You must take a little more care who you brand as anti-semitic otherwise you too will be receiving a caution from the police as the young former student of Leeds did recently. One more reference to me and you will be reported.



Today the story is all over the web, Harry's Place carried a guest blog on which Seismic Shock reveals how his collar was felt by the police, and Melanie Philips asks:

What has happened to the British police when they intimidate a writer for material which other people merely find objectionable?

What has happened to the Church of England when it tolerates such behaviour by one of its vicars?

What has happened to Britain when the Communities Minister John Denham hires as an adviser against Islamic extremism one Wakkas Khan who supports the jihadi Hizb ut Tahrir, has opposed government counter-terrorism policies and, as president of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, invited Hamas-promoting Azzam Tamimi to address a national conference of students; or when the University of Wales Institute and Birmingham University invite as a speaker Islamist Yahya Ibrahim, who has described Jews as ‘monkeys and pigs’, is accused of advocating conflict with the West and has been banned by countries such as the United States or Australia; while at the same time the British police put the thumbscrews on a blogger who defends decency?

Though Stephen Sizer does not like adverse publicity and has no qualms about using the long arm of the law to silence his critics, he is one of Israel's most unremitting critics. Moreover, he had no compunction about informing the world that I was on a par with Holocaust deniers after Evangelicals Now published my wholly negative review of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by the revisionist historian Ilan Pappe, and was sorry there was not a law against people like me.

I wrote the following to Stephen:

I was shocked to read your critique of my EN ‘review’ of Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine for a number of reasons.

After our conversation at Starbuck’s in Guildford High Street earlier in the year, I left feeling that your views on the Israel/Palestine issue had mellowed a little. I realise now it must just have been the excellent Starbucks coffee. That rich, dark roast always leaves me feeling that all is well with the world.

Knowing your strong convictions about Matthew 18:15ff, I wonder why you didn’t contact me before going public and suggesting to the entire world that Mike Moore is a virtual Holocaust denier. But don't worry, I'm not going to set the police on you. Thanks to your blog, I’m now nearly famous. A number of people have brought the blog to my attention.

Do you seriously believe that because I reject Ilan Pappe’s revised history of the tragedy that befell the Palestinian people as a result of the establishment of the state of Israel, I ought to be prosecuted and sent to prison? I do not deny that for the Palestinian people who lost their properties and livelihoods, the establishment of the state of Israel was indeed a nakba. I do deny, however, that the Nakba was the direct result of a deliberate policy on the part of the Ben Gurion government to ethnically cleanse the land. To equate the Nakba with the Holocaust is a gross insult to the memory of the six million European Jews who were systematically exterminated through starvation, hard labour and gassing.

There is plenty of documentary evidence from the time that Israel was established to prove that the Nakba was caused by the Arab leaders and not by the Zionists. Here are just a few quotes:

‘The fact that there are these refugees is the direct consequence of the act of the Arab states in opposing partition and the Jewish state. The Arab states agreed upon this policy unanimously and they must share in the solution of the problem.’ (Emile Ghoury, secretary of the Palestinian Arab Higher Committee in the London Telegraph, August 1948)

‘The most potent factor [in the flight of Palestinians] was the announcements made over the air by the Arab-Palestinian Higher Executive, urging all Haifa Arabs to quit... It was clearly intimated that Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades.’ (London Economist, 2 October 1948)

‘It must not be forgotten that the Arab Higher Committee encouraged the refugees' flight from their homes in Jaffa, Haifa, and Jerusalem.’ (Near East Arabic Broadcasting Station, 3 April 1949)

‘The mass evacuation, prompted partly by fear, partly by order of Arab leaders, left the Arab quarter of Haifa a ghost city... By withdrawing Arab workers their leaders hoped to paralyze Haifa.’ (Time, 3 May, 1948)

‘The Arab civilians panicked and fled ignominiously. Villages were frequently abandoned before they were threatened by the progress of war.’ (General John Bagott Glubb (Glubb Pasha), Daily Mail, 12 August 1948)

‘The Arabs of Haifa fled in spite of the fact that the Jewish authorities guaranteed their safety and rights as citizens of Israel.’ (Monsignor George Hakim, Greek Catholic Bishop of Galilee, New York Herald Tribune, 30 June 1949)

Many more of these types of quotes can be found at

You did not have to give EN the benefit of the doubt as to whether the review was commissioned or sent unsolicited (as you think likely). An e-mail to John Benton or me would have satisfied your curiosity. It seems that you and I are both bad at guessing the psychodynamics of the other.

Ilan Pappe, according to your blog, denies that he gave an interview with National-Zeitung but, rather, that he simply “gave a press conference that was published also in that newspaper”. Either Ilan Pappe is telling porkies or else National-Zeitung is, because National-Zeitung states in an introductory paragraph (pardon my poor German):

Original: Im Gespräch mit Erhard Düvel von der National-Zeitung meinte der Autor, dass der 14. Mai 1948 für die Völkergemeinschaft kein Grund zum Feiern sei.

My poor translation: In conversation with Erhard Düvel of the National-Zeitung, the author meant that 14th May 1948 should be no reason for the celebrations for the people partnership.

Pappe claims that he did not say he was using 'oral histories' instead of military archives but he then tells you that, in the case of the alleged Tantura massacre, he researched ‘the archives and oral history’. Furthermore, he says on page xv of the book that he distrusts written Israeli military reports and prefers, instead, Arab sources and oral history. He has his doubts about the written reports of the IDF, ‘as one would and should have about them today’ (my emphasis). Why should one doubt reports written at the time but have no doubts about oral accounts sixty years after the purported events? I am of the conviction that, as a general principle, the faintest ink is more reliable than the best memory.

Pappe states, furthermore, that his allegations of expulsion in the first five chapters of the book are ‘based on the Israeli military archives not on a post modernist notions’. Then he should have made that plain in the book.

Although Pappe may not have declared himself to be a postmodernist and denies that he is ‘a postmodernist scholar’, he certainly speaks as a postmodernist. In February 2007, you recommended that I read The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, adding that it was ‘emotive but also accurate language’.

I responded by pointing out that your choice of Pappe was most unfortunate, as he was probably the very worst of the ‘new historians’. Most anti-Israel writers, I said, at least claimed to base their findings on documentary evidence but in the introduction to his A History of Modern Palestine, Pappe admitted to personal bias and political partisanship:

My bias is apparent despite the desire of my peers that I stick to facts and the ‘truth’ when reconstructing past realities. I view any such construction as vain and presumptuous. This book is written by one who admits compassion for the colonized not the colonizer; who sympathizes with the occupied not the occupiers. [My emphasis].

Furthermore, in the Spring 2001 issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies, Pappe published an article defending Teddy Katz’s Tantura thesis, insisting that Katz’s conclusions were correct, even if his facts were not, since historical research need not be based on facts!

If that is not a postmodernist speaking, I have never heard one.

Pappe told you that Katz’s thesis ‘is not the basis for the Tantura affair, which is only two pages in the book, but my own research into the archives and oral history.’

Really? First of all ‘The Massacre at Tantura’ takes up five pages of chapter 6, not two. Secondly, Pappe says the chapter is based on his ‘own research into the archives and oral history’. Which archives? Those Israeli archives he avowedly distrusts? However, as I pointed out in the EN review, the section features about a dozen quotes and citations, only three of which are sourced, one of them to a previous book by Pappe himself.

Professional Israeli historians may not ‘refute’ (sic) that the half of Palestine’s population was expelled’ but few of them share his ideas about the reason they were ‘expelled’.

I'm grateful to you for allowing readers of your blog to read my review and to judge for themselves whether it is ‘balanced’; I’d be most surprised, however, if any disagreed with you. But what do you mean by ‘balanced’? And what do you mean when you say Evangelicals Now is ‘highly regarded for its factual and balanced book reviews’? If by ‘balance’ you mean my review should have contained some praise for Pappe, then you fall short yourself because I’ve seen some very unbalanced reviews by your good self. In an EN review, you dismissed one of Julia Fisher’s books on Israel as ‘inflammatory’ because you interpreted her concern for the Palestinians as a statement that they should get off their backsides and do something to make a better life for themselves (or words to that effect). You have written off Paul Wilkinson’s For Zion’s Sake even though his research was based on primary documents, as well as summarising Barry Horner’s 400+-page Future Israel as a ‘nasty little book’ (my emphasis)?

Contrary to what you claim, Stephen Lendman’s review of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine is not ‘a much more balanced review’ than mine. His review is as totally positive as mine is almost totally negative. I say ‘almost totally negative’ because I at least acknowledge the possibility of barbarism on the part of the Israelis. Lendman, however, has nothing but praise for Pappe and nothing positive to say about Israel in his review.

Neither Lendman nor the website which hosts his review is ‘balanced’. The Global Research website speculates whether 9/11 was an inside job’ (which, incidentally runs counter to the theory to that the Israelis were responsible for the collapse of the twin towers, a theory that you brought to the attention of readers of CZ. Lendman has numerous articles on Ziopedia, a website whose raison d'être includes the following unbalanced statement:

We consider Israel to be the most racist and evil country on this planet, an illegal political entity, controlled and protected by a Mafia-like criminal network with a 19th century style colonialist and social-Darwinist agenda. We fight for Israel's replacement with a free, united, egalitarian and secular Palestine.

The 'Holocult'

We refuse to believe in self-evident truths and known facts, promoted by psychopathic liars like the Zionist masters of deception and enforced by criminal codes. We refuse to believe in dogmas that have become such a taboo that mentioning even the slightest doubt in some of their most non-sensical [sic] beliefs, leave alone in their three core dogmas - a plan to kill most, if not all European Jews, 6 Million Jewish victims, and the use of chemical slaughter houses - is treated like medieval heresy, punished by job loss, financial ruin, social shun, and - in thousands of cases - even prison.

In conclusion, Stephen, I’m very disappointed and dismayed that you chose to critique my review in this manner. I do not understand your almost pathological aversion to Israel nor your willingness to embrace anyone, however extreme and however anti-Christian, who shares your negative opinion of the only democracy in the Middle East.

After we met in Guilford earlier in the year, I shared with some interested friends that I thought you had become more reasonable. After reading your blog, I find myself regretting my naivety.

Stephen Sizer's response was as follows:

Dear Mike,

I did not accuse you of being a holocaust denier. Come on now… I have not knowingly changed my views since we last spoke. I do believe the Nakba and ethnic cleansing of over 500 villages listed in my pre-1948 Time Atlas and UN documents leading to over 5million displaced Palestinian refugees registered with the UN today is historical fact.

By the way – I am working closely with the police and Leeds university authorities identifying those associated with Seismic Shock and his/her campaign of harassment that is now putting lives at risk.

If Zionists are going to insist on the right of return for Jewish people worldwide then I equally identify with those who insist on the right of Palestinians to return to their homes or receive compensation.

I simply believe the Zionist cause is not served by rubbishing the integrity or credibility of academic research through this kind of book review.

I hope you have a good Summer.



Praise the Lords

No, I’m not blaspheming. The House of Lords does deserve praise for at about 7 o’clock this evening, the Government lost its attempt to change the Equality Bill to prevent churches and faith-based groups to employ only those whose lives conformed to the ethics of their organisations.

Had the government succeeded, churches could have been obliged by law to employ people whose lifestyles were anti-Christian but peers voted 216 to 178 in favour of Lady O’Cathain’s (see picture) amendment to keep the current law unchanged.

In an extraordinary move, the Government then broke with House of Lords convention in a bid to damage Lady O’Cathain’s victory but in two further votes Lady O’Cathain won by 195 votes to 174 and by 177 votes to 172.

In the debate before the votes, the Government had claimed its plans would simply ‘clarify’ the law but churches could see the plans would narrow important safeguards designed to help religious employers defend their ethos.

The Government’s defeat means there will be no change to the current law, which permits churches and other faith-based employers to protect their ethos by insisting staff live consistently with the religion’s doctrine on sexual behaviour.

At this stage it is not known whether the Government will try to overturn the defeat in the Commons but we should praise the Lord for this victory.

If you signed the online petition against the government’s proposed changes (see The Chimes of Freedom, 7 January), thank you. Had the government succeeded in its aim, Christian Witness to Israel might one day have been a victim of the bill.

Tragically, very few Christians did anything to protest the government’s plan. Is that because they simply assumed the bill would fail? Or was it because they just didn’t care?

There was a time when Christians in this country were prepared to be imprisoned or to die for their convictions. Today, it seems conviction is in short supply.

Keith Green’s lyrics to the song Asleep in the Light seem more relevant than ever:

The world is sleeping in the dark,
But the church can't fight, cause it's asleep in the light.
How can you be so dead, when you've been so well fed?
Jesus rose from the grave, and you can't even get out of bed!

Read the full story at the Christian Institute website.

Thursday 21 January 2010

Smoke and Mirrors

Did you see Panorama last Monday evening? As I watched Sarah Corbin’s documentary, I was disturbed and shocked as I saw what appeared to be Israeli brutality and inhumanity towards Arab residents in East Jerusalem. But I have learned over the years that more often than not, there is another side to the story and, sure enough, Honest Reporting issued a damning rebuttal of Corbin’s report.

The BBC's flagship documentary, says Honest Reporting, distorts Jewish history and Jewish rights to Jerusalem while promoting a one-sided and biased agenda.

Any pretence at balance was thrown out of the window as reporter Jane Corbin made it clear that, under the BBC's own interpretation of international law, anything Israel does in East Jerusalem is illegal. Israelis were presented as usurpers of Palestinian rights and property in eastern Jerusalem in a one-sided piece of agitprop.

Analyst Robin Shepherd commented:

Rarely will you get a clearer insight into the flagrant institutional bias inside the world's most powerful media outlet than this. The slipperiness of the tactics employed, the unabashed censorship of vital historical context, and the blatant pursuit of a political agenda constituted a lesson in the techniques of modern day propaganda. It was something to behold.

Honest Reporting examines some of the assumptions, claims and biases that underpinned Monday’s Panorama.

Denying Jewish Rights to Jerusalem

The BBC's institutional anti-Israel bias often manifests itself not in what is broadcast but what is left out. It reports events as though Jewish history in Jerusalem began in 1948, omitting to mention that the only time East Jerusalem was exclusively Arab was between 1949 and 1967, and that was because Jordan occupied the area and forcibly expelled all the Jews.

Before 1865, the entire population of Jerusalem lived in what is now East Jerusalem Later, the city began to expand beyond the walls because of population growth and both Jews and Arabs began to build in new areas of the city.

By the time of partition, a thriving Jewish community lived in the eastern part of Jerusalem, an area that included the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. This area of the Jerusalem contains many sites of importance to the Jewish religion, including the City of David, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. In addition, major institutions such as the Hebrew University and the original Hadassah Hospital are on Mount Scopus in East Jerusalem.

Palestinian House Demolitions

The programme gave the distinct impression that house demolitions by Israel are almost a daily occurrence. Jane Corbin disingenuously pulled a supposed list of dozens more demolitions scheduled to take place and we were treated to emotive scenes and Palestinian claims that such demolitions are driven by "racism" and "ethnic cleansing".

We were not told that illegal constructions by Jews typically take the form of additions to existing legal structures, such as closing a balcony or hollowing out an extra room under an existing building. In the Arab sector, however, illegal constructions often takes the form of multi-floor buildings with 4 to 25 living units, built with the financial assistance of the Palestinian Authority on land that is not owned by the builder.

The Hanoun Family Eviction

It was distressing to see the Hanoun family camped in the street outside their previous home. Their eviction has become something of a cause celebre and Jane Corbin did her best to portray the Hanouns as victims of Israeli malice.
The Hanoun family case, it turns out, is not quite as simple as the BBC would have us believe. After 1948, the neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Shimon HaTzadik came under Jordanian control and in the mid-1950s Jordan settled Arabs there who took over the homes of the Jews and paid rent to the Jordanian Custodian.

After the 1967 Six Day War, after Israel gained control of East Jerusalem in a defensive war, the Jewish-owned property that had been seized by Arabs was liberated and transferred back to Israel. In 1998, Jews entered deserted houses while at the same time, a slow process of evicting Arab families who apparently refused to pay rent to the two Jewish organizations began. The Hanouns were evicted because they had refused to pay rent for years.

Shooting in Silwan

Panorama made much of the fact that some Jews living in eastern Jerusalem are armed. As if to illustrate the apparent threat this poses to the Arab residents of the area, she interviewed the victim of a shooting incident that took place in September 2009. We were treated to scenes of crying children and a story of suffering. There was no interview with any Israeli spokespeople regarding the incident. While it is not in dispute that the Palestinian was shot, the BBC relied solely on his testimony without any Israeli response.

Israel’s Police Foreign Press Spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld says that following the incident, the Israeli police immediately detained a Jewish suspect for questioning who told them he had been surrounded by six Arabs inside the neighbourhood and was attacked by them. After being surrounded, he used his weapon in an act of self defence. This was an isolated incident that could have taken place in any of the neighbourhoods in Jerusalem.

In fact, Jewish residents of Jerusalem have far more to fear from their Arab neighbours. While the incident described above is remarkably rare, not so rare were the suicide bombings, stabbings and even bulldozer attacks that have been carried out by Palestinian terrorists residing in eastern Jerusalem. The armed guards and security in the area is necessary to protect not only Jews but also Jewish holy sites from potential Arab extremists.

Read the full HR report here.

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Arab aid to Haiti. Can you see it?

The following perceptive comment by Kevin Myers appeared yesterday in the Irish Independent.

One of the first aid-planes to arrive in Haiti was Israeli. If the people of Haiti were gazing up, looking for aid from Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, or anywhere in the Arab world, they're still looking up, still gazing. This is the same Arab world that has refused to integrate the Palestinians exiled from their homeland in 1948, so obviously it has no difficulty looking away when people in another hemisphere need help.

Meanwhile, the Israelis will naturally get no kudos for their goodness. They are perhaps the only people in the world for whom extenuating circumstances are routinely cited in explanation of their charitable deeds. Extenuating circumstances usually occur in mitigation for criminal acts: but for the Jews of Israel they are used instead to explain away corporal works of mercy. That is the underlying and unspoken anti-Semitism of the anti-Israeli lobby: it cannot accept that Jews, as a group, have unselfish, charitable motives.

It is five years since the Asian tsunami killed hundreds of thousands of people. The aid-planes to Indonesia arrived in remarkably similar order to those in Haiti, with Israeli and American being amongst the first. Saudi aid arrived weeks later, and went only to Muslim communities. No doubt this is why the Irish government is allowing a Saudi school to be established in Ireland, in order to promulgate Saudi values (you know, just as Irish schools are flourishing everywhere in Saudi Arabia).

And at this point in our history, it is simply impossible to parody or lampoon the abjectness that allows a special place in our educational system for the culture which gave the world Wahhabism, the 9/11 bombers, stoning to death for adulteresses, and judicially-authorised beheadings and amputations. But instead of erecting barriers to the intellectual barbarism of Wahhabism, we are actually inviting it in to spread its toxins amongst our rapidly growing Muslim communities. How they'll laugh when they talk about it all in Dublinistan in 2111.

Read the entire article.

Friday 15 January 2010

Liars, damned liars and Israel bashers

Let me stress here that I do not regard Andrew Sibley as an 'Israel-basher'. I just think he has been misled by the Israel bashers. This piece is intended to disabuse people like Andrew Sibley of the notion that Israel is an apartheid state. In fairness, it should be said that Andrew states in his response to my review of Zion’s New Name (see Christian Zionism’s New Name)that the term is 'unhelpful'.

In my review I stated that Andrew ‘categorises Israel as … an apartheid state'. In response (see his Comment), he says, ‘Apartheid? I have said that use of such language is unhelpful do [sic] your claim is factually wrong here.’

What Andrew actually says on page 11 of the book is:

Even someone of the stature of Jimmy Carter has suggested that the Zionist policies of the State of Israel are in effect a form of apartheid because they seek exclude Palestinians from the land.

His footote reads: ‘Carter, J, [sic] Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. New York, Simon and Schuster, 2006, reported in Sizer, S., Zion’s Christian Soldiers? IVP, 2007, p,15 [sic (page 16)]. Perhaps Andrew can help me here but I find no statement to the effect that the apartheid analogy is ‘unhelpful’. Why does Andrew list Jimmy Carter’s Palestine: Peace not Apartheid in his Selected Bibliography, yet not quote directly from it in on page 11? Even then, he fails to cite the correct page of Sizer's book. This suggests to me that Andrew had not read Carter’s book, even though he included it in his bibliography. It indicates sloppy research.

So, until Andrew points me to the page where he says the apartheid analogy is ‘unhelpful’, let’s look at the charge. It is an accusation raised with monotonous regularity against Israel. Uri Davis, Jimmy Carter. and Ben White have all written about it and in an Open Letter to Bono, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) accuses Israel of practicing the ‘most pernicious form of colonialism and apartheid.'

Apartheid in South Africa was an official policy of discrimination against blacks enforced through police violence, based on minority control over a majority population who were not permitted to vote. Because Israel is a majority-rule democracy with equal rights for all citizens including Arabs who may and do vote freely, its critics have to radically redefine the term ‘apartheid’ in order to make it stick. Even Uri Davis recognises this:

A classic apartheid construction when it refers to the essential attributes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is essentially a conflict between a settler-colonial state and an indigenous population dispossessed by the colonial project.

But the situation in Israel is significantly different when compared to South Africa in one or more important senses. First, visitors to South Africa would have been hit in the face by apartheid immediately: benches for whites, benches for non-whites; toilets for whites, toilets for non-whites; parks for whites, parks for non-whites; transport for whites and transport for non-whites.

However, the first impression of Israel to a lay-visitor would possibly be the impression of a standard liberal Western democracy: there are no buses for Jews, buses for non-Jews; parks for Jews and parks for non-Jews; beaches for Jews and beaches for non-Jews. The core apartheid is veiled, and the Jewish National Fund plays an important part in the construction of this veil. (My emphasis)
Consider the following contrasts between Apartheid South Africa and Israel.

Under the Apartheid regime in South Africa, whites were the minority; blacks were the majority. In Israel, Jews are the majority, Arabs the minority.

In Apartheid South Africa, there were laws that discriminated against black citizens; in Israel there are no laws that discriminate against Arab citizens or separate them from Jews.

South Africa had a job reservation policy for white people but Israel has adopted pro-Arab affirmative action measures in some sectors. Israeli schools, universities and hospitals make no distinction between Jews and Arabs.

Black South Africans could not vote until 1994; in Israel Arab citizens of Israel can vote, and also serve in the Knesset.

An Arab citizen who brings a case before an Israeli court will have that case decided on the basis of merit, not ethnicity. This was never the case for blacks under apartheid.

In response to increasing inequality between the Jewish and Arab populations, the Israeli government established a committee to consider, among other issues, policies of affirmative action for housing Arab citizens.

Jerusalem provides free professional advice to assist Arab residents with the house permit process and structural regulations, advice which is not available to Jewish residents on the same terms.

Consider the following quotes from people who actually know something about apartheid.

Former South African President F W deKlerk, who played a key role with Nelson Mandela in ending apartheid, describe the comparisons between Apartheid South Afridca and Israel as are ‘odious’, ‘dangerous’ and ‘not a direct parallel’.
In 2003, South Africa's minister for home affairs Chief Mangosuthu Butjelezi said, 'The Israeli regime is not apartheid. It is a unique case of democracy'.

Fred Taub, the President of Boycott Watch says, ‘[t]he assertion ... that Israel is practicing apartheid is not only false, but may be considered libelous.’
Malcolm Hedding, a South African minister who worked against South African apartheid, says:

Calling Israel an 'apartheid state' is absolute nonsense. You might have structures that look like apartheid, but they're not. The barrier fence has nothing to do with apartheid and everything to do with Israel's self-defense. There was no such barrier until the second intifada, when people were being murdered on the highways. And the country does not dehumanize its minority in the sense of apartheid. The issues are totally different.

Benny Morris, who is often critical of Israel writes:

"Israel is not an apartheid state — rather the opposite, it is easily the most democratic and politically egalitarian state in the Middle East, in which Arabs Israelis enjoy far more freedom, better social services, etc. than in all the Arab states surrounding it. Indeed, Arab representatives in the Knesset, who continuously call for dismantling the Jewish state, support the Hezbollah, etc., enjoy more freedom than many Western democracies give their internal Oppositions. (The U.S. would prosecute and jail Congressmen calling for the overthrow of the U.S. Govt. or the demise of the U.S.) The best comparison would be the treatment of Japanese Americans by the US Govt ... and the British Govt. [incarceration] of German émigrés in Britain WWII ... Israel's Arabs by and large identify with Israel's enemies, the Palestinians. But Israel hasn't jailed or curtailed their freedoms en masse (since 1966 [when Israel lifted its state of martial law]).

I am indebted to the following sites for the information in this blog: Wikipedia, Camera and Zionism on the Web.

Thursday 14 January 2010

Is Israel expansionist?

Andrew Sibley has graciously responded to my review of his book Zion's New Name (see Comment on 'Replacement Theology's New Name') and raises a number of issues that deserve a response. Over the next few days I will deal with Andrew's points. Today, I examine his charge, set out in his book, that Israel is an expansionist state. Andrew Sibley is not the first to level this accusation at Israel. This is his comment on my review:

Is Israel expansionist? In making this claim I am simply looking at how the State of Israel has expanded its borders since 1948 with Palestinian areas reducing in size as Jewish settlements are established and expanded. That I think is factually correct.

In response to Andrew, let’s examine the background to the founding of Israel in 1948. The Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate had in mind that what is now Israel and Jordan should be a 'Jewish National Home'. In 1920, the San Remo Conference assigned to Britain a mandate to establish a 'Jewish national home' in what is now Israel, Jordan and the Golan Heights.

Article 6 of the Preamble to the Mandate specified that Britain was 'to facilitate Jewish immigration to Palestine and encourage close settlement of the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes'.

The Mandate made no mention of Arab national or political rights in the land. It stated only that civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion, must be safeguarded. Arab riots in Palestine resulted in Winston Churchill issuing a White Paper in 1922, which handed almost 80% of the land promised to the Jews to the Hashemi family. What should have been the Jewish homeland east of the Jordan, by a stroke of the pen became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The UN Partition Resolution of November 29, 1947 (General Assembly Resolution 181 (II)) attempted to diminish still further the Jewish homeland by proposing a partition of Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state. The Jews agreed to the proposal but the Arabs rejected it and immediately proceeded to attack Jewish settlements.

When Israel declared its independence in May 1948, the fledgling state was immediately attacked by the surrounding Arab countries with the express intention of driving the Jews into the sea. The Palestinians had rejected the opportunity to have their own homeland and opted instead to destroy the newly-founded Jewish state. It was the Arabs who were expansionist, not the Jews.

Israel 'expanded' its borders in June 1967, by fighting a defensive war against Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, armed by Russia and assisted by Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Egyptian President Nasser declared that his objective was the 'destruction of Israel', and other Arab leaders expressed similar sentiments. Israel pleaded with Jordan not to enter the conflict but Jordan ignored Israel’s pleas and entered the conflict along with Syria and Iraq. The war ended with Israel’s victory; the Sinai, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria (AKA 'the West Bank'), and the Old City of Jerusalem came under Israeli control.

When Egypt made peace with Israel, Israel handed back the Sinai peninsula. When Jordan made peace with Israel, Israel relinquished control of territories claimed by Jordan. Israel returned to parts of the West Bank in 2001 only in response to Arab terror. Syria has never made peace with Israel, therefore Israel retains the Golan Heights.

In 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak met Yasser Arafat at the Camp David summit. At that summit Barak offered to withdraw from 97 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip. He agreed to dismantle 63 isolated settlements. Barak also agreed that Arab neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem would become the capital of the new Palestinian state and that the Palestinians would maintain control over their holy places and have 'religious sovereignty' over Israel's most holy site, the Temple Mount.

Barak's proposal addressed the refugee issue, guaranteeing them the right of return to the Palestinian state and reparations from a $30 billion international fund. He also agreed to give the Palestinians access to water desalinated in its territory.

Israel offered generous concessions but Arafat rejected them and walked away from the table. Instead of putting forward a counter proposal, he rewarded Israel's generosity with the second Intafada.

Four years ago, Israel pulled all its people out of Gaza and Hamas expressed its gratitude by launching a lethal rain of missiles on southern Israel.

How, in the light of these facts, can anyone accuse Israel of being an expansionist power?

I am old enough to remember that within days of the end of the Six Day War, Israel made overtures to its enemies regarding a negotiated settlement and withdrawal from the captured territories, overtures that were firmly rejected by the Arab nations at the Khartoum Conference of August/September 1967. The Arab slogan coined at that conference was: 'No peace with Israel. No negotiations with Israel. No recognition of Israel'. This is still the position of Syria and various Palestinian terror groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.

Expansionist? Israel is fighting just to retain the little territory it already possesses!

Monday 11 January 2010

Replacement Theology's New Name

Andrew Sibley’s latest book Zion's New Name is a true curate’s egg: excellent in parts.

First, the good bits. Sibley is anxious to repudiate a theology that claims the church has replaced Israel and which denies the hope of any future blessing for national Israel. He also reminds us that God loves both Jews and Palestinians, that both Jews and Palestinians are in need of the gospel and that ‘Christians should support the work of evangelism to the Jews’ (p.125). He exposes the errors of some extreme Christian Zionists, notably John Hagee who, in his most recent book, argues that ‘Jesus only intended to be the saviour of the world, and refused to be the Jewish Messiah’ (p.115).

Sibley’s most helpful material is found in chapter 4, ‘Israel in the Old Testament Prophets’, in which he analyzes the promises of the reunification of Israel and Judah found in prophets such as Hosea, Micah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah. He draws a distinction between ‘Israel’ and ‘Judah’, the former being the northern tribes, sometimes referred to in the prophets as ‘Ephraim’. He demonstrates that the northern tribes of Israel, which were conquered and exiled by the Assyrians in the seventh century BC, were not ‘lost’, as is commonly supposed, but remained scattered in the lands to the east of Israel’s homeland. The prophesied reunification of the house of Israel with the house of Judah was to take place under a new David and under a new covenant and therefore the apostles, aware of these promises, concentrated their evangelistic efforts on the scattered Jews and Israelites.

Having said that, the book is marred by numerous errors of spelling, grammar, syntax and punctuation. But those errors are merely irritating compared to Sibley’s factual inaccuracies. Even though he claims he is not opposed to the state of Israel, Sibley appears to be ignorant about some facts about the modern state of Israel. He categorises Israel as ‘expansionist’ (even though the Israeli government forcibly ejected its own people from Gaza over years ago), nationalistic (what nation is not ‘nationalistic’ to some degree?) and an apartheid state (even though Israeli Arabs enjoy the same democratic rights as Israeli Jews). He imagines that there are ‘very severe laws against the evangelism of Jews in Israel’ (p. 15) when, in fact, there are no anti-evangelism laws, severe or otherwise. And in spite of the fact that the numbers of Messianic Jews in Israel is now estimated to be 15,000 and growing, Sibley believes ‘the State of Israel … shows no outward sign of repentance and conversion to Christ’ (p.14).

Last but not least, the book is confusing. Although Sibley’s avowed intent is to reject ‘Replacement Theology’ – the view that the church has ‘superseded or replaced Judaism’ – his main argument is that ‘most prophecies relating to Israel were fulfilled in and through Christ and in his church' and that ‘the church is spiritually, ethnically and legally Israel'. What is this if not Replacement Theology?

Zion’s New Name would have been a far better book if Sibley had concentrated his efforts on developing chapter 4. He has some good things to say but read it with care.

Former Swedish neo-Nazi confirms involvement in Auschwitz sign robbery

A former Swedish neo-Nazi suspected of involvement in the theft of the infamous Nazi German "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign from Auschwitz said he had acted as a middleman. "My role was to go get the sign in Poland. I was the middleman and was supposed to take care of the sale," Anders Högström, 34, told the Swedish daily Expressen. In 1994, he had founded the National Socialist Front, a Swedish neo-Nazi movement that he headed for five years before quitting and joining an association called Exit which helps youths quit extreme-right movements.

Polish prosecutors said last Wednesday they wanted to question three Swedish residents over the 18 December theft of the sign. Five Poles have already been arrested and charged with theft and damage. They face up to ten years in prison.

According to Expressen, Högström claimed the sign was to be sold for several million kronor which was to be used to finance terror attacks against the Swedish parliament and government. "But that was not something I wanted to be involved in or carry out, in any way," he told the paper. "I contacted the police immediately, as soon as the sign was stolen, and gave them all the information I had. I haven't committed any crime. I was the one who saw to it that the sign was found."

The sign above Auschwitz's entry gate has long symbolized the horror of the Nazi death camp in occupied Poland, which was in operation until Soviet troops liberated it on 27 January 1945.

World Jewish Congress

Saturday 9 January 2010

Motive behind stolen Auschwitz sign revealed

When I first learned of the theft of the ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign from the entrance to Auschwitz concentration camp, I wondered what the motive behind the theft could have been.

To remove evidence for the Holocaust? Hardly.

To protest against the Holocaust 'hoax'? Possibly.

To insult the memory of all those who perished in the camps just prior to the 65th anniversary of the liberation? Quite possibly.

To sell it as scrap metal? A bit of a risk.

The infamous sign which spanned the entrance to the death camp was wrenched from the gate on December 18 but was recovered three days later from a nearby forest. The robbery prompted Poland to declare a state of emergency and camp survivors to appeal for its return. Polish police described the five men they arrested as common criminals who had acted for financial gain. According to the Swedish daily Aftonbladet, the men were contracted by a neo-Nazi group which planned to sell it to a third party, a foreign right-wing extremist and collector of Nazi memorabilia, with the aim of using the funds to finance bombings in Sweden.

Polish state television TVP1 quoted officials as saying that Swedish neo-Nazis were behind the theft. The Swedish justice ministry has stated that it is helping the Polish police with the investigation. The Swedish security service Sapo confirmed that it was investigating a neo-Nazi plot to blow up the parliament building in Stockholm, as well as the foreign ministry and the home of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. Sapo said that the plot aimed to disrupt the parliamentary elections.
The five suspected robbers, aged between 25 and 39, have criminal records but none is suspected of having a neo-Nazi background, according to The Guardian. They were to receive for the sign a total of 20,000 Zlotys (about £3,000).

Last week The Sunday Mirror reported that the impetus for the theft came from a wealthy British Nazi sympathizer. The collector, whose name was withheld, allegedly let it be known through the neo-Nazi network that he would pay a lot of money for the sign he wanted as a trophy.

Isn’t it weird that although many neo-Nazis deny the Holocaust, they still want trophies to commemorate the ‘hoax of the twentieth century’.

Thursday 7 January 2010

Pick of the Decade

Honest Reporting has picked ten significant articles, blog posts, cartoons and videos about Israel from the Noughties that reveal the state of the western media.

1) Retraction Required
After 9/11, Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz obtained a copy of a now-famous Reuters memo. News chief Stephen Jukes told his staff not to use the word "terror”:

“We all know that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter and that Reuters upholds the principle that we do not use the word terrorist…"

2) My Beating By Refugees is a Symbol of the Hatred and Fury of This Filthy War
After narrowly escaping a lynching by Afghan refugees, veteran journalist Robert Fisk – who stated on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in October 2006 that the most important element in journalism is “passion” (NB: not “accuracy” or “integrity”) – took moral confusion to dizzying heights:

“If I was an Afghan refugee in Kila Abdullah, I would have done just what they did. I would have attacked Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find.”

According to Fisk, Afghans, Iraqis and Palestinians are so victimized by Israel and the West that they may be permitted to get away with murder – literally – including his own.

3)Three Bullets and a Dead Child
France 2's horrifying footage of Mohammed Dura and his father caught in Israeli and Palestinian crossfire inflamed the entire Arab world and provided a pretext for further Islamic terror. Esther Schapira, in her film Three Bullets and a Dead Child produced for German TV, became the first Western journalist to seriously question whether Israel killed Mohammed Dura.

4)How Two Lives Met In Death
Newsweek drew a repellent moral equivalence between suicide bomber Ayat al-Akhras and her victim Rachel Levy.

5)Even Journalists Have to Admit They're Wrong Sometimes
Phil Reeves of The Independent had to come to terms with his flawed coverage of the battle of Jenin. The veteran journalist lamented that the baseless charges of a "massacre" let Israel off the hook for other "atrocities" when he wrote:

"Only a few brave Israelis on the left – notably, Uri Avnery – continued to challenge the legitimacy and purpose of the army's conduct in the West Bank irrespective of the fact that the massacre allegations were false.

"It is to this issue – as the killing of nine Palestinian children in an Israeli air strike proved so horribly last week – still remains unresolved. It – and not false charges of massacres – is what the international community should be address its attentions."

6) Ariel Sharon Eats Babies
Independent cartoonist Dave Brown’s cartoon, based on Goya's Saturn Devouring His Children, was named political cartoon of the year.

7) I Was a Naive Fool to Be a Human Shield for Saddam
Daniel Pepper was shocked by the reaction of ordinary Iraqis when he told them why he had come.

"Of course I had read reports that Iraqis hated Saddam Hussein, but this was the real thing. Someone had explained it to me face to face. I told a few journalists who I knew. They said that this sort of thing often happened – spontaneous, emotional, and secretive outbursts imploring visitors to free them from Saddam's tyrannical Iraq…

"We just sat, listening, our mouths open wide. Jake, one of the others, just kept saying, 'Oh my God' as the driver described the horrors of the regime. Jake was so shocked at how naive he had been. We all were. It hadn't occurred to anyone that the Iraqis might actually be pro-war."

8) The News We Kept to Ourselves
CNN executive Eason Jordan admitted that the network sat on stories to preserve access to government officials and save lives:

"Then there were the events that were not unreported but that nonetheless still haunt me. A 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman, Asrar Qabandi, was captured by Iraqi secret police occupying her country in 1990 for ''crimes,'' one of which included speaking with CNN on the phone. They beat her daily for two months, forcing her father to watch. In January 1991, on the eve of the American-led offensive, they smashed her skull and tore her body apart limb by limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on the doorstep of her family's home.

"I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now that Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely."

CNN and Saddam Hussein benefited from the games they played with each other. CNN got great ratings and Saddam's sins were whitewashed; it's a shame the network didn't have the guts to pull out and say, "We have no freedom to operate in Iraq, we won't be complicit in covering up the bloodshed."

9) Photo Op
Associated Press photographer Eric Marti captured the story behind this picture.

10) Reuters Doctoring Photos From Beirut?
Little Green Footballs blew the lid on "fauxtography" during the Second War in Lebanon. Here's the post that started it all.

The Chimes of Freedom

Next Thursday, 14 January, Amendments to the Equality Bill are to be voted on in the House of Lords. These amendments have the potential to remove the right of every citizen to live according to their religious faith and conscience, especially with regard to employment and the way their places of worship operate. The Equality Bill will strike out all exemptions on the basis of religion which will mean that all will have to conform to secularist values and ideology, whether in places of worship, the workplace and even the home.

Sign the on-line petition to the Prime minister here, asking for the removal of Schedule 9, Paragraph 2, subsection 8 of the Equality Bill.

Although Christians will be most affected by this legislation, people of all faiths and none who value the freedom to live according to conscience. At least a million signatures are needed by the 14 January but the petition will remain open until the election, in three months time, so as to send a strong message to the contesting parties. At the moment there are less than 1,500 signatures. It will take you less than two minutes to sign. Do it here.

The Equality Bill's employment provisions reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of faith and the religious life. To commit oneself to a faith or follow a religion means much more than simply giving intellectual assent to a particular set of doctrinal propositions or expressing a desire to worship in a particular way. In its truest form, the life of faith is a way of living in which people manifest the values and beliefs about God and humankind. These values and beliefs are incorporated into the lifestyle of those who follow a religion; so to attempt to separate behaviour, ethics and way of life from 'doctrine' or 'formal worship' is to strike at the heart of what constitutes faith. To insist on such a distinction in law, as the Equality Bill's current proposal does, is actually to deny people the fundamental right to freedom of worship and religion.

The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 provide exceptions relating to sexual orientation where the employment is for the purposes of organized religion but bishops in the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church have warned that, if enacted, the current bill will restrict the 2003 regulations substantially so that they only apply to employment where it concerns formal worship activities (liturgy) or the promotion or explanation of doctrine.

There is a range of posts, paid or voluntary, where it is essential that a religious organisation should have the right to prefer a candidate whose life is in accordance with its ethos (with particular reference to its requirements for sexual conduct). For example, the guidance notes of the Equality Bill specifically states that youth workers will not be covered by the narrowed exemption. Leading worship and teaching doctrine is in most cases not the main task of youth workers. The proposed legislation could leave organizations in the unacceptable position of having a person leading worship services or teaching doctrine among young people who does not comply with the sexual ethos they are required to teach.

The Bill could result in the legal obligation to employ individuals whose sexual practice or beliefs are directly opposed to the teaching which the organization professes and follows. The Bill, as drafted, would deny to religious organizations the freedoms afforded to, for example, political parties, to employ only those who comply with their beliefs and values.

The petition reads as follows:

Remove the current employment provisions set out in Schedule 9, Paragraph 2, subsection 8 of the Equality Bill (the occupational requirements relating to sex, marriage and sexual orientation for the purposes of organised religion). These restrict the rights of religious bodies to employ personnel who conform to their teachings only if their duties are confined to worship activities or the explanation of doctrine.

As people from all walks of life, political parties, professions and religious faiths, we the undersigned have joined together to commit ourselves to reaffirm the value and necessity of religious and civil liberty and the rights of conscience across the UK today.

We believe that religion and civil liberty must include the right to live and speak according to one's conscience privately and in the public sphere, both individually and collectively, without harassment or the fear of civil or criminal penalty.
The proposed employment provisions set out in Schedule 9, Paragraph 2, subsection 8 of the Equality Bill (the occupational requirements relating to sex, marriage and sexual orientation for the purposes of organised religion) mistakenly seeks to deny integrity and authentic practical religion by separating religious belief and observance from behaviour and denies to religious groups rights that are extended to all other organisations, to employ only those who conform to their beliefs, practices and ethos.

Please sign the petition. By not doing so, you invite your own oppression.

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Iranian soccer official forgot to remember to forget Israel

An Iranian soccer federation official has reportedly resigned after his office sent a New Year greeting to Israel.

Mohammad-Manour Azimzadeh, who heads the Iran Football Federation's foreign relations office, quit over the gaffe and the federation's president apologized. The foreign relations office sent New Year's greetings to all members of FIFA, soccer's global federation, but forgot to omit Israel from its list.

Israel's soccer federation replied positively to the message, according to reports but Iranian athletes do not compete against Israeli athletes, including in the Olympics.

Is Yossi Benayoun a victim of anti-Semitism?

I’m not a football fan but my attention was caught by an email I just received from Sirajin M. Rollings-Kamara, who styles himself Goodwill Ambassador for the Sierra Leone Israel Friendship Society. It concerns the Israeli-born Liverpool player Yossi Benayoun, who is also captain of the Israeli national team.

Benayoun, says Rollings-Kamara, is rated by Liverpool fans all over the world as the game-maker for his team. He is the perfect player and does everything needed and necessary but Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez does not seem to like him. Benayoun plays reserve, says Rollings-Kamara, but when he comes on field he turns the match around and when he does not play, Liverpool is in trouble. Why then is the Liverpool manager reluctant to play Yossi.

Yossi is rated one of the best players in England and the answer could be that the Liverpool manager is an anti-Semite.

Help me all you Liverpool fans. Is Benayoun as good as Sirajin M. Rollings-Kamara says? Is he constantly sidelined by his manager? Is the Liverpool manager anti-Semitic? Is Rollings-Kamara seeing anti-Semitism where it does not exist? Let me know what you think.

Monday 4 January 2010

Watching the defectives

While the United States and other countries beef up airport searches for terrorists, an Israeli expert advises that eying passenger behaviour is critical for preventing attacks.
Rafi Sela, a security consultant at Ben Gurion International Airport, explained to the Canadian news agency Canwest, “If you have a suicide bomber or somebody who wants to make an impact, he doesn’t have to bring down a plane. He can just explode in the middle of this huge crowd that is waiting for security.”
Sela’s advice was given shortly after the United States announced stricter inspections following last month’s failed bombing of an Amsterdam-Detroit flight. Passengers overcame the terrorist, who had put together an explosive device on board. Following the incident, Amsterdam officials hastily installed expensive scanning equipment.
Airlines and other companies around the world have frequently studied Israel’s airport and airline security to learn how to combat terrorists. The United States often has been charged by minority groups with “profiling,” but Sela criticized security procedures that check everyone equally, regardless of whether he is a potential threat or a tourist who is among the majority of harmless travellers.
“You have to actually look for the things that are dangerous, and not just scan everybody,” he advises. “This calls for a total change in approach to the transportation security issue.”
Sela said that direct eye contact by security officials can help them spot abnormal behaviour. Using such procedures probably would have stopped last month’s bomb maker if he had tried to board the plane in Israel – although no system is failsafe, Sela added.
He also noted that the security warnings that the U.S. State Department received on the terrorist would have red-flagged him at Ben Gurion Airport.
The United States has announced it is increasing body scans and physical inspections for all passengers from 14 countries that are considered prone to terror. They are Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.
The Transportation Security Administration said that the “majority” of all other passengers, including American citizens, will undergo stricter security searches.
From Arutz Sheva

Israeli soldier rescues Palestinian child

It is increasingly common to hear on the radio, TV and even in respcted newspapers that Israeli soldiers are trained to kill Palestinian children.

This video from Aish tells the remarkable story of an Israeli soldier saving a Palestinian child from stoning by other Palestinians.

Make sure you've got a few tissues handy before you watch this beautiful story!