Thursday 26 January 2012

Big White Lies

The Zionist Federation has written to Amnesty International, urging the organisation to ‘reconsider the appropriateness of promoting Ben White [above],’ whose book launch it is due to host tonight, the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day (get it?).

White's book, Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy, carries a Foreword by the extremist Israeli-Arab Knesset Member Haneen Zoabi who called for a third Intifada against Israel in 2010.

White’s criticisms of Israel, says the ZF, go well beyond the bounds of acceptable conduct. The letter points out that in 2002, White wrote ‘I have just provided a by no means comprehensive list of reasons why I can understand very well that some people are unpleasant towards Jews. I do not agree with them, but I can understand.’ The article is still available on the anti-Zionist Counterpunch website.

In 2007, White wrote in Palestine News, the magazine of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign: ‘Pity the Palestinians, who, in the name of a “social-democratic experiment,” had to endure massacres, death-marches, and ethnic cleansing.’

No Palestinians have been forced to endure death marches or ethnic cleansing. There has been one alleged massacre of Palestinians, which is disputed, as opposed to several documented Arab massacres of Jews.

White’s previous book, Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide, says the ZF letter is ‘full of untruths and inaccuracies. Among the worst of these was his misquoting of Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, as saying “We must expel Arabs and take their places” Ben Gurion had actually said the opposite: “We do not wish and do not need to expel Arabs and take their places.’

The letter claims that White is motivated ‘not by a true concern for the Palestinians but rather an irrational obsession with and hatred of Israel. If he were truly concerned with the rights of underprivileged people, why, in all the time that he spent living in Brazil, have we been unable to find any articles by him on the terrible discrimination and persecution suffered by those in the Favelas and by the native peoples in the Amazon region?’

White has also defended Sheikh Raed Salah, a racist and anti-Semite who claims that the Jews bake the blood of children into their holy bread, that 4,000 Jews were absent from work at the World Trade Centre on 9/11, taunted a Jewish teacher with a Swastika and wrote a poem referring to Jews as ‘monkeys and losers’ and being ‘the bacteria of all times.’

The ZF has urged Amnesty to reconsider their support for tonight’s event or to provide a genuine debate to take place with a speaker who holds a different view to that of White. It looks, however, as though the ZF’s plea has fallen on deaf ears.

Ben White is to be a speaker at the second ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ conference in March, cynically timed to coincide with the festival of Purim when Jews celebrate their divine deliverance at the time of Esther. Though the event is billed as a ‘Christian Conference of Hope and Reconciliation’, one wonders if, with White as a speaker, ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ is just another exercise in delegitimizing Israel and undermining Christian support for the only democracy in the Middle East.

Having said that, White may well put his audience to sleep. See him in action here.

And just in case you are planning to go to the launch of Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy, 'Amnesty International UK reserves the right to refuse entry to any person for any reason deemed appropriate by us, including (but not exclusively): capacity limitations, intoxication or any conduct that we consider would be disruptive or offensive...' That means you won't be able to ask any questions White can't answer.

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