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Protests plague Lieberman JNF visit
23 May 2012
Israel's racist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was greeted by protests when he attended to speak at the Jewish National Fund (JNF) event in London on 22nd May 2012. Despite the venue being kept secret until the day before the talk, around 70 Palestinian rights protesters turned up at last minutes notice to picket The Pillar Hotel in Hendon where the JNF were hosting Lieberman.
A great turnout at short notice.
Note how close the police allowed the Zionist pen to be set.
Opposite the Pillar Hotel
With the event being held in the London borough of Barnet which has one of the largest concentrations of Jewish population in the UK it wasn't surprising that Zionist groups like the British Israel Coalition mustered up a counter-demonstration, even though it was tiny considering the area is home to 50,000 Jews many of which consider themselves supporters of Israel.
The Pillar Hotel was flying the Israeli flag over its entrance. Looking at old photos from its website it appears that the hoisting of the Zionist flag was not for Lieberman's benefit but rather a reflection of the ideological stance of the hotel.
The Pillar Hotel flying the Israeli flag
Outside the Pillar Hotel
Entrance of the Pillar Hotel
Lieberman's visit was drowned in controversy even before it started with many Zionists opposing his invitation to speak at the JNF, worried that his openly fascist credentials would not sit well with the carefully nurtured image of the JNF as a 'humanitarian charity' (that is, it might help unmask it as a front for ethnic cleansing). Even seasoned Zionists cringe with embarrassment at Lieberman's overt racism. Its not that they oppose his views, they are founded in pure Zionism after all - that's how he got elected. The problem for these so called 'respectable' Zionists is that Lieberman openly utters what they only whisper in private.
Avigdor Lieberman, who himself lives in an illegal Israeli colonist settlement of Nokdim in the West Bank, has called for the forced expulsion of Israel's 20% Arab population and the execution of Arab members of the Knesset as 'collaborators'. As transport minister he proposed providing buses to take thousands of Palestinian prisoners to the Dead Sea where they should be drowned in 'the lowest point on earth'. Lieberman’s party Yisrael Beiteinu heads the call to institutionalise Nakba denial in to law with up to three year prison sentences for anyone seen commemorating the anniversary of the Nakba, the catastrophe which left the Palestinians robbed of their homeland by a European colonialists, resulting in the largest refugee crisis in the world.
"Israeli Apartheid - Leave the stage" (preview for Habima demo)
The two reasons for the demo - the racist JNF and the racist Lieberman
Whilst we have encountered many Zionist demonstrations and counter-demonstrations over the years this is the first where children as young as 10 were present. It was shocking to witness the blind hatred and racism they showed and use of crude language. A couple of very young children wearing kippah's called me a bastard and for me to go back to my own country whilst standing next to their 'proud' parents. It was a very sad sight. I felt for those children, what brainwashing they must have suffered to spew such racism at such a tender age.
Its this same 'education' of hatred that produces the Israeli children that we see captured on film: young Jewish girls kicking an elderly Palestinian woman, ripping her hijab off; and Jewish teens throwing rocks at 6 year old Palestinian children as they try to make it to school.
BIC - British Israel Coalition banner
'you could hear clearly a protester shouting “go home to Pakistan you Paki, this is not your country”'
Even a local resident Zionist, Adam Langelben, was shocked with what he saw. He writes in his blog (*):
What shocked me was the behaviour of many in the Pro-Israel pen. You had chants fairly regularly proclaiming that “There is no such thing as Palestine”, you could hear clearly a protester shouting at a young Pakistani man filming the protest “go home to Pakistan you Paki, this is not your country” you had more chants calling the PSC “Islamist Fascists” and the people with megaphones were evoking anti-fascist language. Claiming that we (the Jews) should “Drive these fascists out of Hendon”. The language was emotive, aggressive and embarrassing for me as a Jew and as a Zionist.
The person shouting racist abuse at the young Pakistani man was standing right next to Jonathan Hoffman. Jonathan Hoffman is the leading light of this coalition of nutters. He is also the Co-Vice Chair of the Zionist Federation. At no point did Jonathan Hoffman intervene or try to tone down the protester standing next to him. He stood by, waving his Israeli flag, shouting other stuff, which although not racist, I do not find particularly inspiring. It is fair to say that he is one of the leaders of the UK Zionist right, one of the figureheads of the staunch Zionist Israel can do no wrong crowd, but he showed a complete lack of leadership by not intervening. I am not sure what is worse, someone shouting such abuse or no one intervening.
Jonathan Hoffman, Co-Vice Chair of the Zionist Federation, is the one standing with the flag.
Whilst the police were generally very sympathetic, they couldn't control the Zionists who broke out of their area and kettled us on three sides unchallenged. The police did intervene quickly when zionist youngsters at one point started throwing lit cigarettes (and matches ?) at us.
All the provocations and attacks went to strengthen the resolve of the Palestinian rights activists and the picket was extended till after 8:30pm. Our ranks included many Jewish anti-zionist groups such as the Neturei Karta and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.
The Zionist side had very few banners, just lots of Israeli flags. Only a couple of placards were spotted. A rude Zionist rabbi who kept on clashing with the police held a placard targeting the Neturei Karta, referring to them as 'partners with Amalek'. The Amalek is a reference to a tribe in the bible who were the enemies of the Jewish people and as a result were exterminated. In modern times Zionist's often refer to the Palestinians as Amalek - as a coded threat of imminent extermination. The only other placard declared that God had given the land to the Jews and called for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians referring to them as 'Arab/Palestinian terror'.
At the end of the two and half hour demonstration with the zionist kettle tightening around us, the police had to escort us all the way back to Hendon Central underground station, a distance of half a mile, with zionist gangs on either side trying to attack and intimidate us. The police had to use a line of police vans and two lines of police men and women to keep the zionists at bay. Those who had come by car where more vulnerable, I witnessed at least one car being attacked by a mob of Zionists just because the driver was visibly Muslim.
Police escort to the underground station
A line of police vans and police men and women kept the Zionist gangs at bay.
The Palestinian flag wins, it has truth behind it
We made the most of the walk back to the station by turning it in to a demonstration, chanting Palestinian slogans and waving Palestinian flags through a particularly hostile neighbourhood. When we reached the underground station we thanked the police, who despite their failings, had made a sterling effort to stay impartial and objective. It was a refreshing change which everyone seemed to have noticed.
A Rabbi from the Neturei Karta explains to the policewoman that as a Jew he sides with the Palestinians and opposes Zionism
Media Release: Protests at charity invitation to Israeli Foreign Minister
Protests are expected this evening at a Jewish National Fund (JNF) event that has controversial Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as guest speaker. The JNF failed in its efforts to keep the venue secret. Terry Gallogly, of the UK Stop the JNF Campaign, said that the secrecy “shows clearly they understand that support for Israel, and the continuing role of the JNF in the dispossession of Palestinians is making them a toxic brand, that the JNF has lost its cover of being an ‘environmental charity’, and is now increasingly associated with a racist apartheid Israel”.
The JNF is also facing criticism from organisations such as the Movement for Reform Judaism who are “surprised and dismayed” at the decision to host Lieberman. A Liberal Judaism spokesperson has already stated that “it cannot support the invitation”. Lieberman, a member of a far right political party, has publicly stated that "it would be better to drown these [Palestinian] prisoners in the Dead Sea” and added that he would willingly supply buses to take them there. Israeli journalist Neve Gordon, says that “Lieberman's message and style are not only violent, but have clear proto-fascist elements; and, as Israeli commentators have already intimated, he is extremely dangerous”.
The past year has seen an increase in uneasiness about the JNF and its role in Israeli government policy of discrimination against non-Jews, particularly in the destruction of Palestinian Bedouin villages in the Negev, the forced removal of the villagers to what campaigners refer to as a process of concentration and their replacement with Jewish-only settlements.
Michael Kalmanovitz of International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network said that “the JNF's constitution is explicitly racist – it states that land and property will never be rented, leased or sold to people who are not Jewish”. Campaigners have called this process ‘ethnic cleansing’ and point to the effective subsidy of the JNF’s activities through its charitable, tax-exempt status here in the UK.
The Scottish Trades Union Congress is the latest organisation to support the campaign against the JNF and call for an investigation into its charity status. Organisations that have taken similar positions include the Green Party of England and Wales, the Scottish Green Party and Friends of the Earth Scotland.
Following David Cameron’s resignation last year as honorary patron of the JNF, the first time in the history of the JNF that a British Prime Minister has not held this position, sixty-eight MPs signed an Early Day Motion stating that “there is just cause to consider revocation of the JNF's charitable status in the UK”.
NOTE TO EDITORS
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