uploaded : Tuesday 5th Nov 2002 at 23:44
by : Sarah Factor
JewishComment did not attend this event but we were interested to hear ( and to read in 'The Jewish Chronicle') that a small group of Palestinians chose to disrupt the event and cause a scene in my local synagogue. How would these Palestinians have reacted if I had been welcomed as a geust in their mosque in London and then loudly disrupted a peace meeting?
The IDF speaker was Shimon Shamilla,
and the refusenik's name was Rami Kaplan. The British Friends of Peace Now
organised the meeting and the refuseniks' group name is Ometz le Sarev
( Courage to Refuse )
Sarah Factor writes:
I attended the meeting with my husband. There were about 200 present, approximately 75% pro BFPN and 25% against, based on the applause.
We arrived late and the Israeli refusnik Rami, from Ometz le Sarev was already speaking, he spoke well and expressed himself coherently even though in faltering English.
He was listened to in silence and was loudly applauded when he had finished. Shimon Shamila, speaking on behalf of 'our side' was not such a good speaker.
He explained about himself, about the duties of an Israeli soldier and described Rami as a
traitor. This caused uproar, especially from a small woman who started shouting up and down the aisle that she wanted her money back. She was
eventually removed and could be heard from way within the building shouting and screaming. (Whilst she was in the hall a young woman took the stage and tried to speak through one of the mikes but was politeley asked to wait until question time)
As I said Shimon was not such a good speaker but he made some good points such as it being the duty of a soldier in a democratic country to follow orders regardless.
The speakers finished and the audience were invited to ask questions to be answered all together. Most were anti Shimon and pro Rami. There were several political statements, and a few pro-Shimon questions most of which were greeted with heckling and derision.
The vociferous woman had been allowed back in the hall. She was sitting with the young woman from the stage and another very noisy woman. It turned out they were Palestinians. She was allowed time to speak and make a politcal statement about how sad her life was because she had been on the move for 50 years and how can you
blame the Human bombers for strapping bombs to themselves. She also called the Israelis Nazis, with no apparent outcry from the Peace movements, who were heard to shout out "Lies" most loudly when the subject of Arafat's fortune was brought up by one of the audience.
One comment from the room was on the lines of where in the Arab world would Jews be allowed to speak, in a manner that was given to the Palestinian contingent at this meeting. Another comment was that soldiers such as Rami would have been far more effective remaining in the Army and trying to improve matters from within, rather than trying to destroy from without.
It ended with a short answer session from each speaker, where they both coped well in answering the questions they wanted.
Never in the discussions were there any suggestions for a way forward for peace, and surprisingly Rami voiced his surprise at the animosity within the room.
My husband and I were left wondering if the BFPN knew about the presence of the Palestinian women prior to the meeting.
I don't mean the following questions to be inflammatory, just for people to think about and improve our understanding !Why do the groups such as BFPN and JFJFP believe Palestinian propaganda over and above Israeli propaganda ?
Do Arabs tell fewer lies than Jews ?
Below is a statement I have tried to send to Ometz le Sarev.
I attended the debate on the 27th0ct 2002, in London organised by British Friends of Peace Now and listened carefully to what was said. The audience were mainly supporters of your cause. Your spokesman was heard in silence and received loud applause at the end of his address. When the opposing spokesman spoke he was continually heckled and was interupted most vociferously by a woman who turned out to be a Palestinian. She was ejected and was then allowed to return and was even given time to make a political statement. There were no pointers as to how a peaceful conclusion can be acheived from any one at that debate.
The point I would like to make is this. A tour such as you are arranging is devisive, it is causing as much animosity between Jews, as between Jews and Arabs.
There may be many truths in what your speakers are saying, but there are also many ommissions, which would give a true and balanced picture. There must be other ways to help peace to progress. What you are doing is fuelling Jew-hatred even amongst Jews.
Your speaker announced at the end of his session how surprised he was by the emotions within that room. Ask him.
In these times when Anti-semitism ( Jew hatred ) is on such a terrible increase please consider the effect you are having in the Diaspora and if
your actions are benefitting any one other than terrorist regimes.
They must all be laughing into their beards seeing how the Jews are tearing
each other to pieces.