Weekend long read

1) At the Jewish Chronicle, Yiftah Curiel presents his analysis of the recent BBC programme ostensibly relating to the Jerusalem light rail system in an article titled “Why Panorama went off the rails“.Weekend Read

“When Wishart visits an East Jerusalem neighbourhood he witnesses a violent attack on an Israeli checkpoint; a young boy praises in Arabic those who are “attacking the soldiers, the Jews”, translated to BBC audiences as “attacking the soldiers”. In what has become a worrying trend recently at the BBC, rather than see these statements for what they are – symptoms of widespread institutional incitement within Palestinian society – editors make do with telling us that “when they say ‘Jews’, they mean ‘Israelis'”.”

2) Tablet magazine has an interesting interview with Israeli diplomat George Deek.

“He spoke slowly and softly, as someone who had given much thought to the issue. He said that his grandfather’s choice should be a model for the Arab minority in Israel as a whole: “Unfortunately, Arabs in Israel today are forced to choose between two bad options. One is assimilation—young Arabs look at their Jewish peers and decide they want to speak like them, walk like them, and behave like them. This attempt is a bit comic but also sad, since it is doomed to fail. In the end they are not Jews and will never be.

“On the other hand, and this is a far more common choice, there is an option of separatism, which is promoted by the Arab political and religious leaders. They say that we are not really Israelis, only Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, but this nuance creates dissociation. They speak about Arab cultural autonomy and about separation, which I think lead to extremism and animosity with the Jews. According to this version, a loyal Arab-Israeli must define himself first and foremost through being anti-Israeli.

“With the first choice, you lose who you are; with the second, you lose who you can become. But I believe that there’s a third way. We can be proud of our identity and at the same time live as a contributing minority in a country who has a different nationality, a different religion, and a different culture than ours. There is no better example in my view than the Jews in Europe, who kept their religion and identity for centuries but still managed to influence deeply, perhaps even to create, European modern thinking. Jews suffered from the same dissonance between their own identity and the surrounding society. Their success was not despite their distinctiveness, but because of it. I am talking about Marx, Freud, Einstein, Spinoza, Wittgenstein.”

3) Another very interesting interview took place when the President of the Technion sat down recently with Dr Qanta Ahmed to talk about Islamist extremism, BDS, the Lancet and more.

4) An epidemiological assessment of the casualties and missile attacks during last summer’s conflict between Israel and Hamas which was complied by the Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention and Hebrew University Hadassah Genocide Prevention Program and was submitted to the United Nations ‘Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict’ can be found here.

“Timelines for cumulative death tolls in Gaza and missile attacks from Gaza from the start of Operation Protective Edge steadily rose during the war. Both stopped when Hamas accepted a ceasefire under terms virtually the same as other previous ceasefires. Ninety one percent of the 2127 deaths in Gaza and one hundred percent of those in Israel would have been prevented had Hamas accepted the first ceasefire.”

The UN, the PRC and Hamas: a postscript with a twist

As was noted here last week, on June 1st the UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations approved the first stage of the application by the London-based Palestinian Return Centre for UN accreditation.

Reuters subsequently reported that:

“The British-based Palestinian Return Centre on Tuesday threatened Israel’s U.N. mission with legal action after the Jewish state accused it of having ties to the Palestinian militant group Hamas, an allegation the group said was false.

The Israeli accusations came after a United Nations committee that oversees non-governmental organizations voted to approve U.N accreditation for the PRC, which Israel’s mission said was not only linked to Hamas but promoted “anti-Israel propaganda in Europe.”

“We announce that PRC is considering legal action against the Israeli delegation at the U.N.,” the group said in a statement circulated to the 19-member U.N. Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations.

“We also hold them accountable for the safety and security of our members worldwide,” the group said. “Such allegations and defamation where we are described as terrorist and affiliated to Hamas are dangerous, baseless and will have negative ramifications on our work and members.”

The statement offered no details on the type of legal action the group might take against the Israeli mission.”

The PRC – which was outlawed in Israel in December 2010 due to its Hamas connections – also published its own histrionic statement on its website.

Click to enlarge. Photo credit: ITIC

Click to enlarge. Photo credit: ITIC

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center however informs us that Hamas claims that the head of the organization which denies being affiliated to Hamas received a congratulatory phone call… from Hamas.

“Hamas’s English-language and Arabic-language media announced on June 3, 2015, that Ismail Haniya, deputy chief of Hamas’s Political Bureau, congratulated Majed al-Zeer, the general director of the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), for having been granted a non-governmental observer status in the UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations. The congratulations were conveyed on a telephone call, apparently on June 2.”

The story then took a peculiar turn:

“AP (as well as other media outlets, including Reuters) reported that PRC’s spokesman Sameh Habeeb claimed that Majed al-Zeer had not received a telephone call from Ismail Haniya. According to AP, later on that day (June 2, 2015), Ismail Haniya’s spokesman sent a message to reporters asking them “‘not to deal’ with the earlier announcement about the phone call”.”

One does hope that the representatives of the 54 member states of ECOSOC tasked with deciding next month whether to approve the PRC’s application are managing to keep up with the plot.

Related Articles:

Flotilla ahoy! A refresher on the background to another anti-Israel publicity stunt




Hamas entryism at the UN

As readers may be aware, on June 1st the UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations approved the application of the London-based Palestinian Return Centre for UN accreditation.

“Some 12 countries voted in favour, including Iran, Pakistan, Sudan, Turkey, Venezuela, China and Cuba, while three voted against – the United States, Uruguay and Israel. India, Russia and Greece abstained, and Burundi was absent. […]

Official U.N. status as an NGO gives groups access to U.N. premises and opportunities to attend or observe many events and conferences at United Nations sites around the world.”

This vote, however, is only the first stage in the process.

“The 54-nation ECOSOC, which meets in July, has the power to approve or reject the committee’s recommendations and to make the final decision.”

The Palestinian Return Centre has been an illegal organization in Israel since 2010 because of its connections to Hamas. PRC activists and staff regularly crop up in connection with assorted delegitimisation projects and are active in other organisations too – as anyone monitoring and documenting anti-Israel activity well knows. Below, for example, is a photograph from a 2011 visit by British parliamentarians to Lebanon which was jointly organised by the Palestinian Return Centre and the Council for European Palestinian Relations and which included in its itinerary a meeting with Osama Hamdan of Hamas. 

PRC & Hamdan

Among the PRC’s current projects is a campaign to have Britain apologise for the Balfour Declaration.  Previous initiatives have included a public relations campaign on behalf of Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israel which was launched at a conference organized by the PRC in 2012.  As was noted on our sister site UK Media Watch at the time:

“The conference’s president was Majed al Zeer of the PRC and also of the Hamas-linked European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG) which was set up by the Muslim Brotherhood’s European arm in 2007 and takes part in organizing the various flotillas, including the fatal one of 2010. […]

PRC spokesman and chair of trustees Zaher al Birawi recently acted as spokesman for the ‘Global March to Jerusalem’. He has also functioned as spokesman for George Galloway’s ‘Viva Palestina’ convoys, is an official of the Palestinian Forum in Britain and trustee of a UK charity named ‘Education Aid for Palestinians’ which is a member of the Hamas-supporting ‘Union of Good‘

The PRC’s operational director, Arafat Madi Shoukri, is also connected to the ECESG as well as director of the Brussels-based European parliament lobbying group called the ‘Council for European Palestinian Relations‘. Ghassan Faour – a trustee of the PRC – is also linked to the UK charity ‘Interpal’ which is a member of the ‘Union of Good’. Another PRC trustee Majdi Akeel – a known Hamas activist and also connected to ‘Interpal’– was mentioned in the Holy Land Foundation trial in the US. The PRC’s senior researcher and editor, Daoud Abdallah, is also the director of MEMO and well-known as a signatory of the Istanbul Declaration.” 

According to the UN’s own criteria for establishing relations with non-governmental organizations:

“The aims and purposes of the organization shall be in conformity with the spirit, purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

The same document states:

“57. The consultative status of non-governmental organizations with the Economic and Social Council and the listing of those on the Roster shall be suspended up to three years or withdrawn in the following cases:

(a) If an organization, either directly or through its affiliates or representatives acting on its behalf, clearly abuses its status by engaging in a pattern of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations including unsubstantiated or politically motivated acts against Member States of the United Nations incompatible with those purposes and principles;”

Such activities are of course the entire raison d’etre behind the PRC’s existence and this current exercise in entryism is highly unlikely to be fuelled by different motivations. That such an organisation’s application – whilst not yet finalised – has proceeded so far speaks volumes.  

Related Articles:

BBC’s ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ does fashionable post-colonial guilt

Sameh Habeeb and Labour   (Harry’s Place)

Jenny Tonge & the Hamas Lobby 



Remembering Professor Robert Wistrich

The news of Professor Robert S. Wistrich’s sudden death was all the more difficult to absorb given that just last Thursday, those of us participating in the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism had the pleasure of hearing him speak – as eloquently and powerfully as ever. There can be no better account of that address than Professor Wistrich’s own – published in the Jerusalem Post as he requested, but not in time for him to see.

Many tributes have already been written in honour of Professor Wistrich’s life and work and as Ben Cohen observes:

“Robert’s death is an incalculable loss on many levels. At just the time that anti-Semitism has again become socially acceptable in Europe and elsewhere, we have been robbed of one of the few individuals whose voice on this topic underlined urgency, but not hysteria. Robert, moreover, was someone who intimately understood the historical provenance of today’s anti-Semitism, particularly in its insidious “anti-Zionist” guise.”

As readers may recall, Professor Wistrich gave the keynote address at CAMERA’s event examining the effects of UK media coverage of Israel on European antisemitism earlier this year.

May his memory be a blessing.

Related Articles:

In memoriam: Professor Robert S. Wistrich  UK Media Watch

Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism 2015

As noted previously, last week we attended the biennial Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism held in Jerusalem and participated in the working group on the issue of Antisemitism on the Internet and in the Media.GFCA logo

Once again the conference presented an excellent opportunity to hear first-hand from delegates from many countries around the world in both the panel discussions and informal conversations. As was to be expected, the attacks in Paris and in Copenhagen earlier this year were at the forefront of discussion.

Readers can view videos of the four panel sessions held on May 13th here and shorter videos of individual speakers can be found on Youtube. Of particular relevance to the working group in which BBC Watch took part was Panel 2 which included representatives from Google and Facebook who were presented with questions from the audience regarding their policies concerning the spread of hate speech and racism via social media.