Greens Engage

British Greens responding to the intersection of anti-Zionism and antisemitism

True Colours Shining Through?

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On the Green Party’s Palestine & Israel discussion list, Green Party members have been urging a bigger Green Party presence at UK pro-Hamas rallies. Jessica Goldfinch, Norwich Green Party, responds.

‘Green is the colour of Hamas; green is the colour of resistance’ – for some reason when I read this, the 80’s classic, by Cyndi Lauper, ‘True Colours’ popped into my head.

The last time I checked the Green Party of England & Wales has no affiliation to Hamas and yet to have gone unchallenged that we should have more green banners at Gaza protests because ‘Green is the colour of Hamas; green is the colour of resistance’, demonstrates at least a tolerance for the idea.

I was going to go into a potted history of Hamas, the meaning of its acronym, its election to power in Gaza, its documented treatment of Gazans and so on, but there is really no need. There is evidence and counter-evidence all over the web and we are all capable of doing that for ourselves and drawing our own conclusions. However, whichever opinion camp you find yourself in, the following issues are still up for dispute at the very least and questions remain unanswered:

  • The essence of the 1988 Hamas Charter still stands under articles 6, 7, 22, 31 & 32.A ‘temporary truce’ or hudna does not mean recognition vs. Hamas is prepared to recognise Israel along the 1967 lines – various western & eastern political commentators have views on this.
  • Hamas was not democratically elected, (seats won, Hamas 76 – 43 Fatah), in the way thatmost democratic countries would understand free and open elections vs. Hamas is the democratically elected government of Gazan-Palestinians.
  • Despite reform and change, Hamas is responsible for: the summary executions and torture of collaborators and Fatah members; incidences of persecution, torture and murder of men,women, Christians and LGBTIQ citizens; the deaths of 100s of children predominantly from tunnel building & training as combatants and using its citizens as human shields vs. not the case/ unproven.
  • Hamas is designated, (as a whole or as constituent parts); by some countries and the EU as a terrorist organisation vs. Hamas is not a terrorist organisation.

So, whichever opinion camp you fall into, should ‘we’ talk to terrorists? Clearly history shows us that eventually talks do happen. Slowly, agonisingly so, previous arch enemies sit & make uneasy peace. We know, from the Irish-British “Troubles”, that hundreds of years of animosity can be overcome.

However, there needs to be the ‘right’ conditions for talks to begin, even for so-called ‘unconditional’ talks. Who do you talk with? – my personal opinion here is that Jordan, (two thirds old Ottoman-Palestine), should not get-off for this and be part of the solution too. Who is most representative? High level training in diplomacy and peace negotiations? A ‘human’ touch maybe?

The current Israel-Palestine tragedy is embedded in, not just decades, 100s of years of ethnic-religious-geo-political conflict and whether we like it or not, the solutions lie with the politicians and citizens of the region, with conditions of trust enhanced and fear reduced. There may be help from outside, which enhances these conditions. The conditions which are not needed are ones in which venom, demonization and rabble-rousing, glamorous cause celebre sound bites.

Crass comments undermine the peace process, undermine the Green Party’s credibility and reputation and are dangerous.

Crass comments include: we should have more Green Party banners at Gaza protest because green is the colour of resistance, green is the colour of Hamas.

Is this unchallenged comment our ‘true colours’ shining through?

I hope not.

Written by Mira Vogel

September 3, 2014 at 12:13 am

Posted in british greens

Pro-Palestine activism still broken

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Written by Mira Vogel

July 22, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Friends of the Earth Middle East rehabilitate the River Jordan, without Palestinian involvement

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There are three major stakeholders in the Jordan Valley: Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel. As we have reported here, the pressures on water in the Jordan valley are acute. Israel, which shares responsibility for the problem with other countries along the Jordan, is also part of a solution. In cooperation with Jordan, Israel has re-established the Kinneret (known in the UK as the Sea of Galilee) as the Jordan’s source.

From the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, a piece circulated by Friends of the Earth Middle East:

“The Israel Water Authority will shortly begin, for the first time, to pump water regularly from Lake Kinneret into the southern Jordan River in an effort to ecologically rehabilitate the river, the authority announced Thursday.

This was part of the Friends of the Earth Middle East, Good Water Neighbours project.”

Israel is particularly responsible for the amount of water which flows to the Lower Jordan, and the amounts of water it has pledged fall drastically short of those required to replenish the length of the river. Nevertheless, this is a positive development which should be celebrated and reinforced. I’m sad to say that despite its keen interest in the region the Green Party of England and Wales played no part in this. In fact the Green Party is against cooperation with Israel, and would therefore be obliged by its own policy to boycott the Good Water Neighbours Project, despite the obvious lack of integrity this reveals about the environment. It is also a concern that Palestinians were not involved in this development and so will continue to pollute the river, as explained in the rest of the Ha’aretz piece:

“During the first stage, 1,000 cubic meters an hour will be pumped from the lake into the river. At a later stage, the plan is to pump 30 million cubic meters a year into the river.
The plan to shore up the southern Jordan was presented Thursday at a conference organized by the Southern Jordan Streams and Drainage Authority, and it is a comprehensive plan that includes enhancing the water quality and developing projects to encourage tourism in the area.
In recent decades the water level of the southern Jordan River has dropped dramatically, because the flow of water into in from the Kinneret and the Yarmuk River has been almost totally blocked by dams. The quality of the water has seriously deteriorated, because the sewage of all the communities along the river has been flowing into it. Water from the Kinneret now only reaches the southern Jordan River if the lake’s level rises above the upper red line, at which point, to prevent flooding, the dams are opened to let water flow into the river. One of the major components of this rehabilitation plan is stopping the flow of sewage into the river and pumping clean Kinneret water into the river instead. Water Authority head Alex Kushnir told the conference that by the end of this month thousands of cubic meters of water would be flowing from the Kinneret every day.
“Within two years we will increase the quantity and it will reach 30 million cubic meters a year,” said Kushnir. “I know that’s not enough, but that’s what we can manage now. We won’t be able to restore the river to its historic flow levels of the past.
”The improvement will be primarily in the quality of the water. According to Kushnir, by the end of this year a waste treatment plant will be treating the sewage that now flows into the river. Next year, the plant will be upgraded and the treated wastewater will be suitable for agricultural use.
In addition, small desalination installations will be built to desalinate the saline water from the Kinneret springs that now flow into the Jordan, and some of the water will be allowed to continue into the river after treatment. Thus, the salinity level of the lower Jordan’s water will also be reduced.
All these activities are being conducted with the agreement in coordination with the Kingdom of Jordan. Sa’ad Abu Hamour, the Jordanian representative to the joint Israeli-Jordanian Water Committee, attended Thursday’s conference. He said that his country also wants the river’s water quality to improve, but that at this stage this was a solely Israeli-funded project.
The Palestinians are currently not involved. Gideon Bromberg, the Israeli director of the Friends of the Earth-Middle East environmental group criticized the officials promoting this plan for not soliciting Palestinian cooperation.  “We can’t deal with the political issues right now,” responded Kushnir.  “If we do, it will delay the efforts we are already making.” Abu Hamour noted, however, that because the Palestinians aren’t being included, the river will be cleaner in the area closer to the Kinneret but will remain polluted in its southernmost section, near the Dead Sea.
According to the Southern Jordan Streams and Drainage Authority, during the coming summer the National Mine-Clearance Authority will start removing mines and the fence along a 30-kilometer stretch of the river. This will eventually allow public access to parts of the river that are currently closed off.”
A Jerusalem Post piece reports that Jordan has undertaken to clear landmines (banned under the 1997 Land Mine Treaty).
It is not clear why Palestinians were not involved. However, boycotters must accept that it would be nonsensical to expect Israelis to solicit Palestinian cooperation while simultaneously urging Palestinians to boycott them.
It falls to those of us who do not support the boycott to ask why Palestinians involved, not to mention why any of these countries are growing some of the most thirsty crops you can grow, namely citrus.

Written by Mira Vogel

May 19, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Posted in water

Women of the world were watching and waiting

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In an excerpt from his book Gil Troy describes Betty Friedan’s confrontations with and overcoming of anti-zionism in the women’s movement of the 70s and 80s.

‘Most Third World delegates decided that sexism was a Western problem because only Western women complained about it.’

Via Engage.

Written by Mira Vogel

March 10, 2013 at 5:05 pm


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This, from A. Jay Adler via bobfrombrockley, is a well explained and particularly dispiriting example of what people who dislike Israel are prepared to say, think and do. Seemingly trustworthy sources are not what they seem, all that is said about Israel these days must be tested for truth and untruth by fact-checkers like Adler.

Written by Mira Vogel

March 3, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Posted in anti-Zionism

Israeli elections 2013

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Israeli elections are taking place on 22nd January. Likud has merged with the further-right nationalist party Israel Beteinu to form Likud Beteinu, a party with a solid support base, if dwindling chances. Likud, who used to be firmly on the right of Israeli politics, have become much more like the centre ground. With all the new alignments and parties there is a lot of confusion – except for the religious right which is looking dangerously stable.

OneVoice Israel has produced an election campaign video, below. Unlike the several featuring Israeli soldiers (can you imagine how troubled this country would have to become before Farage and Cameron started using squad imagery to win elections?) it hasn’t been banned. The urgency of its message is striking – if the far right come to power, the EU and US will withdraw their moral and material support from Israel. The consequences are obvious and left unsaid: Israel will be impotent to withstand the religious and nationalist menaces in the region. OneVoice isn’t an organisation given to provocations – it must feel that desperate times call for desperate measures.

It’s helpful for moderate Israelis to be able to predict a loss of goodwill from concerned international supporters. In these affairs supporters have more influence than detractors.

Unfortunately the Green Party, which has been treating Israel as an untouchable state for years, won’t be making any contribution to this election campaign in this country and region which they and many others – on paper at least – hold crucial to world peace. The Green Party won’t be of help to Israeli moderates – not even its comrades Yeruka, the Israeli Greens. In fact, the Green Party turns its back and officially boycotts Israel as if Israelis were politically alike.

The Green politicians who understand these things aren’t able to prevent the Greens who don’t from indulging their disturbing prejudices as Party policy. Along with the worry and concern it’s caused British Jews, it’s a badge of Green politics.

And during the period of the Green Party boycott campaign against Israel, what has happened with Israeli public opinion? Israeli public opinion has moved toward the political right – Bob From Brockley points to some differing commentary on this. And although it’s probably far-fetched to claim that Green policy has any effect on Israeli policy, it’s important to note and learn from this Green mistake.

Here’s OneVoice’s Israel’s election video. It makes me sad but I think this negative, defencist, scare campaigning will work – because it’s correctly to the point.

Written by Mira Vogel

January 18, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Posted in british greens, israel

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The Palestine Solidarity Campaign can only mean one thing

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Eric Lee writes:

From the river to the sea?

Sorry, but there’s no way to be polite about this. That chant, and the PSC’s own logo of a map of Palestine from the river to the sea, and the subsequent chanting of “Israel out of Palestine” really could mean only one thing.

The demonstrators, or at least the people leading the chanting and making up the slogans, were supporting a one-state agenda, a solution to the century-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians by demanding that one side pack up and leave.

This is clearly nothing to do with supporting the Palestinian.

Written by Mira Vogel

November 21, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Posted in anti-Zionism


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