Monthly Archives: September 2010

On the end of the Israeli settlement freeze

Today Likud Minister Yisrael Katz indicated that the freeze on Israeli construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is over. During his announcement he alluded to a religious claim to the land. Settlers who refer to Barak Obama as ‘Hussein Obama’ and consider the freeze a sin promptly laid the cornerstone for a kindergarten.

As we know from Annapolis, the Road Map and the Mitchell Report into the origins of the Second Intifada on which the Road Map was based, the freeze on settlement activity is a precondition of a two state solution. As noted by writers in the August 10th edition of Bitter Lemons, there is no peaceful one state solution waiting in the wings if the two states solution fails – the alternative is tension, violence, extremism, hatred.

Some comment:

A small sample of the many Israelis who are fighting settlement expansion:

  • Peace Now documents and fights the Israeli settlers’ projects in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
  • Gershon Baskin of the Israeli Green Movement and the Israeli-Palestinian Centre for Research and Information sketches the the ongoing talks with more insight than many other English language commentators
  • Jessica Montell, Executive Director of B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre on Human Rights, writes in Foreign Policy on the role of settlements in resolving the conflict.
  • Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc.

A turning point for the worse in the conflict has been predicted, and this may well be it. It’s hard to see how Mahmoud Abbas will be able to continue the current peace talks under these circumstances.

And yet all political problems have solutions. Will the Green Party offer support for those Israelis who work for an end to the occupation, or is it hamstrung by its policy to ostracise all Israel without distinction?

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Passing over antisemitism

EU Commissioner Karel de Gucht made what he later called  “my personal point of view”:

There is indeed a belief – it’s difficult to describe it otherwise – among most Jews that they are right. And a belief is something that’s difficult to counter with rational arguments. And it’s not so much whether these are religious Jews or not. Lay Jews also share the same belief that they are right. So it is not easy to have, even with moderate Jews, a rational discussion about what is actually happening in the Middle East.”

Simple, obvious antisemitism. He then proceeded with the historical slander of Jewish power:

“Do not underestimate the Jewish lobby on Capitol Hill. That is the best organised lobby, you shouldn’t underestimate the grip it has on American politics – no matter whether it’s Republicans or Democrats.”

de Gucht then apologised like this:

“I gave an interview … I gave my personal point of view,” he said. “I regret that the comments that I made have been interpreted in a sense that I did not intend.

“I did not mean in any possible way to cause offence or stigmatise the Jewish community. I want to make clear that antisemitism has no place in today’s world.”

Here we have a man whose personal views – views which he will in future reserve for cosy EU dinners and private speaking engagements – are incompatible with being against antisemitism.

The EU says ““Our position on anti-Semitism is very clear…blah blah” and then does nothing.

Another lurch of insecurity for Jews in Europe.

Dave Rich comments on the Community Security Trust blog.

It will be nice to be able to proudly announce that my political party doesn’t tolerate anything like this. But at the current time I can’t say that.

Very cunning Nazis infiltrate the Green Party?

Until now this blog has not covered internal matters of the Green Party, but has limited itself to what is in the public domain. Serious cases of antisemitism occurred and we duly pursued the issue internally through the Green Party’s own democratic avenues. In the last few weeks, however, we have come to the conclusion that this approach has failed and that in the absence of open and free discussions and external scrutiny, the Green Party problem with antisemitism will not be resolved. In the interests of the Green Party, we have therefore decided to take a more direct action type of approach, namely to raise in this forum some of the serious incidents which have happened, along with the inappropriate response of the institution so far. We cannot any longer provide cover for these things, and until the Green Party acts on its own policies, we are obliged to take responsibility for making the climate less conducive to antisemitism.

The first post in this series deals with an incident that took place on an internal e-mail list of the Green Party in July. This list is a forum for general discussion and it has over 100 subscribers. The thread in which the incident took place was not about Israel or the Middle East. A member had circulated a racist BNP article under the subject line ‘FYI: Something from an anti-capitalist party’. Raphael and others challenged the circulation of this material without a commentary which counteracted its racist content.

At some point, the member in question became annoyed and sent the following, targeted at Raphael, under the subject line “Beware!!!”:

************

Thu, Jul 8, 2010 at 2:30 PM

I always do my best to be kind to those of different race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, social class, and species, but I am afraid I have sometimes forgotten to include a warning on my emails for those of well below average intelligence.

So, somewhat belatedly, here is a warning

– some people are NAZIS, and they are very cunning,  and sometimes they even manage to infiltrate Green Party email lists.

You can recognise NAZIS by the following behaviour

1) Using terrorism to steal someone else’s land

2) Killing innocent women and children as a collective punishment when they don’t like the leaders of the group of people whose land they stole

3) Mounting an illegal blockade (well, illegal according to those busybodies in the UN)

4) Murdering peace activists in international waters when they try to break the blockade

5) Calling others NAZIS to throw people off the scent

Now let’s all chill out and listen to this http://www.seizetheday.org/music.cfm?albumID=4&trackID=52

Love and Peace

XXX

***************

Raphael made a formal complaint to the GPRC (Green Party Regional Committee) co-chairs. The first page of the complaint is copied below. The other pages of the complaint detailed the legal background, as well as the internal Green Party background (anti-racist policies, internal reports, etc) and further analyzed the meaning of the offending e-mail:

This complaint relates specifically to the e-mail sent by XXX on the discussion list of the Green Party (discussion@lists.greenparty.org.uk) on Thursday, Jul 8, 2010 at 2:30 PM. This will be referred to below as the offending e-mail.

I consider that:

1) The offending email constitutes harassment under the provision of the Race Relations Act;
2) The offending email constitutes defamation under the Defamation Act 1996;
3) The offending email is in direct contradiction with the fundamental principles and policies of the party.

The object of this complaint is to ensure that an appropriate strong institutional response is finally given to this serious abuse. Such a response is necessary to protect me as an individual, to protect the reputation of the Green Party as a tolerant and anti-racist organization, to reduce the probability of future abuse, and to ensure that, in case of further similar abuse, a prompt and adequate response will be given.

An institutional response should include at the very least the two elements below

1. A full withdrawal of the offending email and an unreserved apology concerning the offending email. In case of refusal from XXX, disciplinary action should be sought.

2. A clear statement issued by the GPEx [Green Party Executive Committee] Chair, or moderator of the list, or GPRC co-chair condemning the offending e-mail, and making it clear that such abuse will not be tolerated.

Here is the official response of the Green Party Regional Council co-chairs Nicola Watson and Tim Dawes.

———- Forwarded message ———-

Date: Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 2:34 PM
Subject: Complaint from RL about XXX
To: Raphael Levy

Raphael,

The Co-chairs of Regional Council have carefully considered your formal
complaint concerning the XXX’s recent postings on the General
Discussion List.

We have decided that the complaint has no sound basis and that there
being no case to answer, it will not be considered further.  This
decision, which is taken by the Co-Chairs in accordance with the current
complaints and disciplinary procedures will be referred to the next GPRC
meeting for noting.

In taking this decision we are taking into account that:

1.  The moderator of the list took the appropriate action at the time.

2.  XXX’s tone and actions were clearly intended to be satirical in
nature and the last posting, which you saw as a personal attack, was in
fact prompted by a suggestion from A N Other person that XXX was
himself a Nazi infiltrator who was deliberately trying to promulgate BNP
ideas, a suggestion we find completely ludicrous.

3.  At the time of the incident, one of the Co-Chairs did in fact speak
to XXX about the posting of BNP text and advised him that, even for
illustrative and/or provocative purposes, this had been an unwelcome
action and was considered wrong.  He accepted that the way he had drawn
attention to the issues was inappropriate, had been a lapse of judgement
and undertook to be more circumspect in future.  An apology from him was
posted to the list.

Kind regards,

Tim Dawes and Nicola Watson
Co-Chairs of GPRC
———- End of forwarded message ———-

In fact, and as noted in the complaint, the moderator closed the thread without comment – hardly an appropriate action. The apology was not about the offending email above, but about the circulation of the BNP article. Here is the text of the said apology.

9/7/2010:

Sorry if my posting of something from the BNP caused so much upset on the
list. Of course my aim wasn’t to recruit for them, merely to alert people to
the danger

XXX

_____________

You can write to Nicola Watson and Time Dawes (http://www.hustings.com/tim-dawes) with your comments (please make your criticism constructive and avoid abuse).

See too the following people (none of whom have any political hostility to Greens, at least one of whom is a Green):

Mira Vogel
Raphael Levy
Gordon Hodgson
Toby Green
Alan Howe