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The British Jews who claim primary loyalty to Israel

Pro-Israelis, who included several contingents of Christian Zionists, barrack those objecting, quietly, to the celebration. Photo by Dave Evans, Demotix

Wrapped in the Israeli flag

Watching Closer to Israel from the other side – the JfJfP vigil

By Diana Neslen
June 03, 2013

The publicity for the ‘Closer to Israel’ event stressed that they were celebrating the 65th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. It is therefore strange that it took place almost on the 46th anniversary of the occupation of East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank, a belligerent occupation that seems to have become permanent. This was ignored, as though it had played no part in Israel’s 65 year history.

They stated that they wanted to bring the British and the Jewish communities closer together and as a sign of closeness people had little badges in their lapels showing the British and the Israeli flags intertwined. Once upon a time, the anti-Semites used to say that Jews had dual loyalty, both to their homeland and to the Jewish people. I found it strange, therefore, that Jews were here being encouraged to stress their allegiance to a foreign flag and their divergence from their British background. The Israeli peace camp used to wear badges showing Israeli and Palestinian flags intertwined. Clearly peace in that sense was not on the agenda.

Jews for Justice had organised a silent vigil at particularly short notice under the banner of ‘What’s to celebrate?’ outside South Africa House. Our leaflet outlined our position. People from Inminds and Neturai Karta organised a noisy demonstration on the opposite side of the road, and attracted even more vitriol from the faithful than we did. Of course we were still targets for the propagandists, who seemed to wish to validate their commitment to another country, while living in prosperity in this one. The square was a sea of Israeli flags and many of those who came to complain about our presence or to argue the toss literally wrapped themselves in the flag. There were the usual expressions of hate like the CST man who came to tell me that Arabs had killed his cousin and I should be ashamed of myself.

Most people showed the limits of their knowledge, like the man who said that the International Court at The Hague had said the occupation was legal, or the young man who said he was in favour of the ending of the occupation but Israel would still have to keep troops in Palestinian territory once the Palestinians got their own state. Some men, who wore kippot, boasted of their service in the Israeli army and saw no contradiction between their rights to have two countries and the fact that the Palestinians had no country. Naturally it was all the fault of ‘Palestinian terror’, refusal to negotiate, Hamas rockets, etc. They all knew ‘Arabs’ who wanted to stay in Israel, rather than go to the Palestinian territories. It reminded me of the white South Africans who used to say: ‘If apartheid is so bad, why do all the ‘natives’ from Africa want to come here to work’.

Above all this was an example of how a barren nationalism has bankrupted the Jewish Soul, or the Yiddishe Neshumah, as once we called it. One of us has a fine line in argument when they come to button-hole us. He asks what they are. When they answer Jewish, he asks them both how they are Jewish and what being Jewish means. This usually exposes the nationalism behind their bravado and their lack of any awareness of Jewish culture and history. They find these questions unsettling.

But we had some very good conversations, including with American Jewish supporters, Muslim converts and even some of our antagonists decided to look into some of the points we made.

The best response I received was from a man who took my leaflet. ‘You are very brave’ he said ‘it’s wonderful you are here’. And then he approached me conspiratorially and whispered ‘And I am Jewish’. Made my afternoon, that did!


Engaging demonstrators in argument. JfJfP just visible in background. Photo by Dave Evans, Demotix.


Without Israel we would be homeless and defenceless

Speeches of Lord Sacks, his website
June 03, 2013

In July 1938 leaders of 32 nations gathered in the French spa town of Evian knowing that something terrible was going to happen to the Jews,

Knowing that unless they did something a tragedy would unfold that would exceed all the twenty centuries of antisemitism put together. *

And one by one, without exception**, the nations of the world closed their doors. At that moment the Jewish people knew that on all the vast surface of this planet there was not one square inch they could call home in the sense given by Robert Frost as the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in.

Today because of Israel the Jewish people has a home.

And when the war was over and one third of our people had been murdered, the Jewish people could have sat and wept and raged at the darkest night humanity has ever known.

But it didn’t.

It looked forward not back.

It chose life not death.

And when 65 years ago David Ben-Gurion stood and proclaimed the state it was as if the whole Jewish people had said lo amut ki ehyah, I will not die, I will live.

Because of Israel the Jewish people lives.

From the day the state was proclaimed until now, Israel has not had one day without the fear of war, or terror, or missiles, or worse. And throughout it all Israel has stood firm and brave and strong.

Because of Israel the Jewish people walks tall.

After the Holocaust the nations of the world said Never again. But antisemitism has returned to virtually every country in the Middle East, and even, unbelievably to Europe, from Greece in the south to Norway and Sweden in the north, from France and Spain in the west to Hungary in the east.

Whatever happened to Never again?

Today it looks more like ever again.

But one thing has changed.

Because of Israel the Jewish people has a place where it can defend itself.

And if Israel is criticized by people who should know better,

Then we would still rather have Israel and the criticism of the world

than be homeless and defenceless and have the sympathy of the world.

But the truth is that Israel is a blessing not just to us as Jews.

Today in a radicalised Middle East, Israel is the only country where Christians can live openly as Christians without fear. Is that an apartheid state?

Israel is where a British Muslim MP [we think he means person of Pakistani heritage, see Notes**] said he would choose to raise his family if forced to leave Britain, because there his children would feel “the warm embrace of freedom and liberty.” Is that an apartheid state?

Israel is where Jews and Muslims work together in its hospitals to treat all people of all faiths alike,

Where universities teach students of every race, religion and ethnicity,

Where a Christian Arab was the presiding judge at the trial of the former President Moshe Katzav,

Where a former commodore of the Saudi Arabian navy said in The Times last October that Palestinians enjoy greater political and social rights than their Arab brothers elsewhere in the Middle East.

Is that an apartheid state?

Israel is a blessing not just to its citizens but to the world.

Because while its enemies have been holding whole populations captive to the pursuit of arms and missiles and terror, Israel has been …

Developing agriculture to grow food where no food was ever grown before.

Developing medicine to heal sicknesses that were not healed before.

Developing technology to create human possibilities that did not exist before.

As I go around Israel I see a country that has taken every curse thrown against it and turned it into a blessing,

by leading the fight against terror,

by becoming world experts in treating post-traumatic stress disorder,

by bringing disaster relief wherever it’s needed.

I see a country and a people that have shown the world what it is to choose life.

In Israel the language of the Bible speaks again

In Israel Jewish history lives again

In Israel the Jewish people has come home again.

So let us say loud and clear

We are close to Israel.

We love Israel.

We are proud of Israel.

And may God bless Israel

And all its citizens of every faith

With hope, with life, with peace.


Thousands gather in London to mark Closer to Israel celebration

By Marcus Dysch and Zoe Winograd, Jewish Chronicle
June 2, 2013

Thousands of Israel supporters filled London’s Trafalgar Square today to celebrate the country’s 65th birthday.
Sun-drenched revellers heard speakers including Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, Israeli Ambassador to Britain Daniel Taub and Education Secretary Michael Gove praise Israel’s achievements.

The Closer to Israel event also saw hundreds of people march from Hyde Park through Piccadilly and into the square.
A fleet of open-top buses, floats depicting scenes of Israel and the band of the Jewish Lads and Girls Brigade led the way, with street entertainers performing along the route.

In a rousing address at the subsequent party in Trafalgar Square, the Chief Rabbi told the crowds: “Israel has not had one day without the fear of war, or terror, or missiles, or worse. Israel has stood firm and brave and strong. Because of Israel the Jewish people walk tall.”

He addressed claims that Israel is guilty of apartheid policies, asking the crowd: “Israel is where Jews and Muslims work together in hospitals to treat people of all faiths. It is where universities teach students of every race and religion. Is that an apartheid state?”

Mr Taub listed a variety of Israeli achievements and said Jews around the world could be proud that in Israel “even the parking tickets are written in the language of the bible,” and that “Israeli cows produce more milk than any other cows in the world”.

“We see a country in which every day exceeds the wildest dreams of our great-grandparents,” he said. “There are some people trying to drive a wedge between Britain and Israel – the best response is to strengthen our relationship.”
Representing the British government, Mr Gove said: “It’s a pleasure to be here among friends and to say to this crowd I’m proud to be a friend of Israel and proud to be a Zionist.

“Over the last 65 years the Jewish people have built a home and it has been a light among the nations.”

He said Israel had thrived “against formidable odds” to become a “safe haven for democracy”.

The celebration drew to a close with stirring renditions of the national anthems of both Israel and Britain.
Douglas Krikler, spokesman for the cross-communal committee which planned the event, said: “We are absolutely delighted. It was really exhilarating to see over 50 organisations come together with such joy and enthusiasm.”

Two counter-protests, led by the strictly Orthodox anti-Zionist group Neturei Karta and Jews for Justice for Palestinians, drew around 20 supporters.


Notes and links
There are videos of the demonstration and vigil available here and here

The Evian conference, 1938, was convened by President Roosevelt to discuss the Jewish refugee crisis. Despite recognising the plight of the Jews in Germany and Austria, few of the countries attending were willing to lift their immigration quotas, citing the high unemployment of the depression, and popular antisemitic feeling.

* “In 1938 the leaders of 32 nations knew the tragedy  would enfold”…Nobody in 1938 knew ‘a tragedy would unfold that would exceed all the twenty centuries of antisemitism put together’. The plan for the Final Solution – the actual extermination of all Jews under Nazi rule – was put into action at the Wannsee conference, January 1942.

** The Dominican Republic offered to take 100,000 Jews. The countries of Central and South America and of Asia (barring the Soviet Union) remained open to Jewish immigration.

** The MP was former banker Sajid Javid, MP for Bromsgrove, Kent since 2010. Although brought up a Muslim he says “I do not practise any religion. My wife is a practising Christian and the only religion practised in my house is Christianity.” As the son of a Pakistani bus-driver he would have to ensure his parents have British passports in order to visit their grandchildren in Israel as Pakistan and Israel have no diplomatic relations and if people with Pakistani passports can get a visa, it will only allow them a maximum 96 hour stay.

Mr. Javid made his claim at a Conservative Friends of Israel jamboree.

The article by the former Saudi commodore is by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, Arab Spring and the Israeli enemy, first published in Gulf News. It is primarily an attack on corrupt and incompetent Arab dictators, presumably excluding the Saudi royal family, for wasting money and lives on, amongst other things, fighting Israel.

Ruling of International Court of Justice, The Hague: Construction of Wall is contrary to international law

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