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A Hate Fest Dressed Up as a Political Rally
Last uploaded : Monday 11th Jun 2007 at 16:56
Contributed by : Jeremy Havardi


[ Editor's Note: Current Viewpoint attended the June 9 rally in London. We are grateful to Jeremy Havardi for permission to print his report here.]

A hate fest dressed up as a political rally
10 June, 2007

Yesterday thousands of people marched through the Strand towards Trafalgar Square to condemn Israel, Zionism and the occupation (see previous post). I was proud to have been part of a very small, but very significant, counter demonstration ('Dayenu') which was designed to support Israel, while also promoting the idea of peace without terror - 'a secure peace'. Had it not been for the march being on a Saturday, a much larger number of people would have attended.

According to the event's organizer, 'We wanted to tell the “Enough!” marchers the truth – how Israel gave back Gaza, only to be rewarded with Kassam rockets raining down on Sderot.' The counter demonstration was cross denominational, attracting members of a local church with strongly pro Israeli and pro Zionist leanings, as well as people from a variety of other backgrounds. A Holocaust survivor movingly joined us for the occasion. As if to underline the malevolent motives of some of the marchers, we were all treated to a Nazi salute from one protestor, who was then promptly grabbed by the surrounding police. Afterwards I ventured to Trafalgar Square, expecting to hear a series of prolonged and unfounded diatribes against the Jewish state. I was not to be disappointed.

The first speaker, Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian unity government, outlined many of the problems faced by ordinary Palestinians. They had unequal access to water, travel problems due to roadblocks and checkpoints as well as the grievance of settlements. Clearly these are pressing issues which require settlement in a future peace process, though they were presented to the crowd shorn of any military or political context. Next he demanded a boycott of Israel and the release of ‘political’ prisoners by the Israeli government. He was loudly cheered for accusing Israel of fascism and for proclaiming Israeli ‘apartheid’ to be worse than that of South Africa. Palestine, he said, was perhaps the number one moral issue of the century. He was followed by Ismail Haniyeh, the Palestinian Prime Minister, whose pre prepared video message was broadcast to people in Trafalgar Square.

After deceiving his audience into believing that he merely wanted to end the occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem, Haniyeh called for the right of return of Palestinian refugees to Israeli territory. Those who are adept in Middle East politics know that this is code for the end of Israel as a Jewish state which is certainly consistent with the anti semitism in the Hamas charter.

Next it was the turn of Lord Phillips of the Liberal Democrats. To be fair, his tone at the outset was moderate, acknowledging that Israel had a right to exist in secure and recognized borders next to a viable Palestinian state. He also paid tribute to the Jews and Israelis who were working for peace and who were opposing the occupation. But illusions of moderation were quickly shattered when he condemned Israel’s rampant ‘colonization’ and ‘state terrorism.’ Bruce Kent, veteran of CND campaigns, was no better. It was important, he argued, to strive for a settlement in the Middle East and all those working for peace in the Holy Land were to be applauded.

No cause for dissent there. But then he spoilt it all by adding that ‘the people he did not have time for’ were the ‘Zionists’ who dared (shock horror) to believe that there should be a national state for the Jews in the Middle East. His rather sickening display of affection for the ‘nuclear traitor’ Mordachai Vanunu rounded off an unhealthy display of moral blindness. But it got worse. A spokesman for UNISON decried the apparent double standards in targeting Iraq for WMD while doing nothing about Israel’s nuclear programme. For good measure he called for the pulling down of Israel’s ‘apartheid wall,’ as if the barrier that has prevented hundreds of suicide bombings was a political equivalent to the Berlin wall.

But nothing could quite prepare me for Azzam Tamimi’s hysterical rant. Screaming into the microphone in a frenzy of emotion, he decried Israel as a ‘racist entity’ which had attracted a colony of European Jews to displace native Palestinians, including his parents. Why, he asked, should Palestinians accept such a racist entity when its Jewish inhabitants regarded Palestinians as ‘subhumans’ and themselves as ‘superhumans’. As a variation on the notion that Jews are the ‘new Nazis’ this could not be beaten. Palestine, he assured his audience, would be liberated ‘from the river to the sea’ and from ‘north to south’ until the refugees returned. Anxious to deflect criticisms of anti semitism, he assured his audience that his ‘dearest friends’ were the Neturei Karta, the small ultra orthodox sect which asserts that Zionism is as unbiblical as sodomy. This is of course the very same sect that embraced President Ahmadinejad at a Holocaust denial conference in Iran last year. In a nutshell, Tamimi was happy to associate with Jews as long as their warped ideology allowed for the genocide of Israel’s Jews. Enough said.

Finally there were two veterans of pro Palestine campaigns who needed no introduction, George Galloway and Jenny Tonge. The former Liberal Democrat front bencher said she was sick of being accused of anti semitism when all she wanted to do was criticize Israel. Perhaps the crowd forgot that her ‘criticisms’ of Israel included the following statement: ‘The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips. I think they've probably got a grip on our party.’

The theme of Israel as an apartheid state was taken up by the Respect leader who added his voice to the many calls (all loudly cheered) for punitive sanctions and boycotts against Israel. He demanded the release of Marwan Barghouti and other political prisoners in Israeli jails who were not, he assured us, terrorists. For there could be no equation between the violence of the ‘aggressor’ and the violence of the ‘resister.’ The right of all Palestinians, he declared, was to live in a ‘free land’ between the Jordan and Mediterranean, code for anti Zionism and the end of the Jewish state.

Thus a rally which started with calls to end the occupation ended with a morally compromised demagogue screaming for the eradication of Israel. Who needs Ahmadinejad when you have Galloway and Tamimi? Not even the most moderate speaker mentioned Israel’s attempts to disengage from the territories after 1967, most notably in 2000-1, no mention that over 90% of the land occupied since 1967 was returned to Egypt and Jordan in peace treaties, no mention of the incessant rage directed daily at the Jews in Palestinian classrooms and media stations, no mention of the terrorist campaign that increased ‘after’ Israel pulled back from most of the population centres in the West Bank in the 1990s, no mention of the campaign for genocide that has characterized Iran’s relations with Israel since 1979 - and it could go on.

These inconvenient ‘facts’ were off the radar. It was hard for me to miss the moral blindness, (wilful) ignorance and double standards from many participants - a shocking but not surprising state of affairs given the current climate of hostility to Israel.

http://www.jeremyhavardi.com/ .


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