September 11, 2008

Reporting the Green Conference resolution on antisemitism

Posted in british greens, israel at 11:11 am by Mira Vogel

There are some things to clear up about Anshel Pfeffer’s Jewish Chronicle piece.

“The original motion said that antisemitism also included elements of anti-Zionism and called for the Greens to adopt the European Union’s definition of antisemitism.”

The original motion C15 can be found on the Agenda (PDF – see p22). C15 was more qualified and pragmatic than the article suggests. The signs were that it would have been futile to call for the Greens to “adopt” the EUMC definition of antisemitism – instead C15 required that it be “considered”. And C15 did not claim that antisemitism includes anti-Zionism, because this is not always the case and because giving the impression that it was always the case would have jeopardised the motion.

Despite our efforts to raise awareness of a phenomenon without trying to bolt down either the phenomenon or conversation about it, the motion proved too controversial and was pared away to something toothless – well-meaning but not equal to the job.

The article also missed out the very important requirement that Green representatives should condemn antisemitism in the event of unavoidable platform-sharing with antisemitic organisations. Platform-sharing is sometimes inevitable but the Green Party has policy to put clear political distance between us and, say, the BNP. Nevertheless Caroline Lucas has a record of sharing-platforms with Hamas speakers, and of supposing concerns about antisemitism to really have a pro-Israeli purpose.

Lastly, the dreadful fringe on anti-Zionism was off-programme – the conference organising committee had attempted to merge it with another fringe raising awareness about antisemitism but both fringe organisers objected. As a result official status wasn’t offered to either.

September 10, 2008

Palestinians reject Israel boycott campaign

Posted in boycott, israel, palestinians tagged at 11:53 pm by Mira Vogel

Last month the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions and the Israeli equivalent Histadrut signed an agreement calling for “fraternity and coexistence between the two peoples.”

And yet the Green Party conference was awash with leaflets urging us to boycott Israel. We have a pro-boycott leader and a futile and simplistic resolution to impose total boycott, divestment and sanctions stands.

Now the PGFTU has indicated again that it does not support general BDS.

“We did consider the option, if it could pressure the Israeli government to obey United Nations resolutions and respect human rights”, said Mr Nasser “but we do not see it as effective. Instead we think there should be boycotts only of companies directly involved in building settlements and the apartheid wall.”

This makes much more sense (stupid apartheid comparison notwithstanding) because it is specific, bounded, related to its aims, and targeted at the occupation.

Trade Union Friends of Israel said of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign of Conference delegates:

“Three years ago they stripped our stand of all the leaflets,” said volunteer Ian Sternberg, “this year the stand is opposite that of the PSC and things are quite friendly.”

James Caspell hasn’t quite achieved the required u-turn.

June 20, 2008

The German left is rethinking its relation to Israel

Posted in antisemitism, israel at 8:44 pm by raphavisses

From the European forum on antisemitism

By Alan Posener

“Within the Green Party, the issue of Israel remained and remains unresolved. The case of Jamal Karsli is fairly typical. Syrian-born Karsli was a member of the Greens from 1993 to 2002. For most of this period, he represented the Greens in the Parliament of Northrhine-Westphalia. In April 2002, he left the party after accusing Israel of using “Nazi methods” against the Palestinians and the “international Israel lobby” of silencing criticism. Karsli then tried to join the Free Democrat Party, where Jürgen Möllemann was running on an explicitly antisemitic ticket. The point is that Karsli didn’t suddenly become an antisemite in 2002, but apparently the Greens accepted his anti-Zionist stance as legitimate “anti-imperialism”. As with Ströbele, the Karsli affair led to no internal discussion and clarification.”

More here.

May 17, 2008

Caroline Lucas defends the Boycott in Jewish Socialist magazine

Posted in boycott, british greens, israel tagged at 9:49 pm by raphavisses

Quote:

Financial and moral support from the United States means that Israel has been able to act with relative immunity, hiding behind its incendiary claim that all who criticise its policies are anti Semitic. This does a great disservice to the many Jewish people who support the principle of universal human rights, and who oppose the current policies of the Israeli state.”

Full text of her article entitled: No green light for occupiers, here.

David Hirsh discusses Caroline’s use of the Livingstone Formulation, here.

April 18, 2008

Green candidate: no to boycott

Posted in boycott, british greens, israel tagged , at 2:52 pm by raphavisses

UPDATE 1 (April 19, 4pm): It seems that Sian and Jenny do not confirm the JC information. We are waiting for a full statement from them; it will be published as soon as…

UPDATE 2 (April 24, 10am): No public statement from Sian or Jenny; I copy below the full press release from London Jewish Forum which was issued after the meeting (the JC article was based on this press release).

From the Jewish Chronicle

Green candidate: no to boycott
17/04/2008 12:01:00

Sian Berry, the Green candidate for mayor of London, has disavowed the party’s policy of support for boycotting Israel. She and London Assembly Green member Jenny Jones told the London Jewish Forum on Tuesday they looked forward to the policy being changed, according to the forum. Adrian Cohen, LJF chairman, said it was “a first step towards links between the London Jewish community and the Green Party”.

http://www.thejc.com

PRESS RELEASE (issued by London Jewish Forum):

London Jewish Forum meeting with Green Party candidates

17th April 2008

Embargo: Immediate

On Tuesday evening, Adrian Cohen and other members of London Jewish Forum met with Green Mayoral candidate Sian Berry and Assembly Member Jenny Jones to discuss the London elections and to foster mutual understanding between the Green Party and London’s Jewish community.

The meeting saw a discussion of the priorities of Jewish Londoners, as well as those of the Green Party. Community safety and the threat of political extremism, cultural provision and the need for increased social housing to accommodate the growing Charedi community in Stamford Hill were all discussed. The Green candidates highlighted their commitment to increase the proportion of affordable housing in new developments to 60%.

There was a frank discussion surrounding the Green Party’s support for the boycott of Israel. Both Sian Berry and Jenny Jones confirmed that they did not support the current policy and looked forward to this being changed at their next conference.

The London Jewish Forum was invited to organise a speaker for a meeting at the next Green Conference, in London in September, to speak on the issue of Jewish community interests.

Sian Berry expressed serious concerns about the threat of BNP gains in the assembly election. LJF outlined the communal ‘Your Voice or theirs Campaign’, aimed at increasing Jewish turnout.

Adrian Cohen, Chair of London Jewish Forum, said “This was very successful meeting, with a frank discussion on a wide range of issues. It was a first step towards building links between the London Jewish community and the Green Party, and I look forward to that relationship developing further.”

Over the past months, London Jewish Forum has held meetings with the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat mayoral candidates.

END OF PRESS RELEASE

April 13, 2008

Boycott-induced introversion – not environmentally friendly

Posted in boycott, british greens, israel tagged , , at 11:32 pm by Mira Vogel

As well as not working very well (especially when they’re vague and don’t have realistic aims, as in the case of our embarrassing and hate-inspiring Motion C05), boycotting a country causes that country to turn in on itself. It’s worth noting, since there’s a tendency to mis-compare Israel with South Africa, that the end of apartheid was achieved through popular uprising and the political acumen of anti-apartheid activists like Nelson Mandela, and the role of the boycott, which had the side-effect of making apartheid-supporting South Africans – the holders of power – defiantly hunker down, is contested.

Israelis understand that the intention of their boycotters is to cancel Israel – by referring to it as an ‘apartheid state’ as if Israel and Palestine were a single country, by proposing to starve it of weapons despite the avowed obliterationist intentions of powerful regional factions like Hesbollah and Hamas, or by claiming that all Palestinians have the right to live in Israel. Understandable if they feel a tiny bit alienated and insecure.

After all, Israel has been boycotted and under attack since its inception, a circumstance which, in the consciousness of many Jews, is merely a continuation of age-old attacks on, boycotts of, discrimination against, and explusion of Jews. British Greens should care more.

This Jerusalem Post article on an Israeli bill to introduce a 1NIS charge for each plastic bag used in supermarkets, makes a few points that Green Boycotters should note. One is to do with the fact that states who feel under attack relegate environmentalism down their list of priorities. Another is the impact of Israelis who have travelled and return with stories about how other countries are handling their environmental problems. I doubt if many Israelis are looking to Boycotting Britannia right now. Greens Stop the Boycott would like to change that.

Yehuda Olander, manager of the Sharon District Regional Division for the Quality of the Environment, attributes Israel’s lack of progress on environment preservation to its constant occupation with survival. “Survival here is not only talking about the environment, it’s talking about security,” he explains. “Ten to 20 years ago, when the rest of the world began caring for the environment, Israel was focused on surviving as a country.

“But it works to Israel’s advantage,” Olander continues. Through other countries’ successes and failures, Israel can learn how to be more environmentally responsible.

“[Israelis] come back from Europe and [other parts of the world] and say ‘Wow, look what they have done – how they recycle and how they avoid traveling too much in their cars.'”

March 20, 2008

On Israel’s separation barrier

Posted in conflict, israel at 3:27 pm by greensstoptheboycott

One of the reasons cited by Green would-be boycotters is what they like to refer to as the ‘apartheid wall’.

‘Apartheid wall’ is a misnomer calculated to associate Israel with apartheid South Africa. For an examination of the difference between Israel and apartheid South Africa, there is a very cogent piece by John Strawson on Engage and a Z-Word essay on franchising apartheid by Rhoda Kadalie and Julia Bertelsmann about how the apartheid analogy has evolved and been contested in South Africa.

See also Mohammad Darawshe who reviews the good and improving state of Israeli law – and it is law which is important if you want to make an apartheid analogy – while criticising Israeli civil society for its lagging vision. Mohammad’s organisation, The Abraham Fund Initiatives (TAFI), has brought about real, strongly-felt changes in Israeli society including changes in policing policy, partnerships between Jewish and Arab local government officials, and a vast increase in uptake of Arabic on the Israeli school curriculum. This doesn’t look much like apartheid to me. TAFI recently set up a UK office.

For a short critical assessment of the separation barrier which doesn’t insult its readers by serving up Israel as a cartoon villain read Israel’s separation barrier: the best of the worst by Haim Watzman.

March 2, 2008

The country the Greens voted to boycott

Posted in agriculture, boycott, dedesertification, energy, israel, letter, solar, Uncategorized, water at 10:56 pm by greensstoptheboycott

A letter from Andrew White of www.beyondimages.info, some of Israel’s high-level contributions to meeting the global environmental challenge.

Israel and the global environmental challenge

Last week, the UK Green Party passed a resolution calling for a wide-ranging boycott of Israel. The Greens campaign on environmental issues generally, chiefly global warming.

The Green’s move is absurd for the same reason that any boycott motion against Israel is absurd:

  • it reflects a totally one-sided view of a complex conflict;
  • it does nothing to promote coexistence and dialogue;
  • it emboldens the [fundamentalist] Islamist mindset and rejectionism;
  • it reflects double-standards, and is completely counter-productive.

(See Beyond Images Briefing 30, on the proposed academic boycott of Israel, in which we summarised these and several other arguments).

But there’s a strong additional reason why the Green Party’s move is absurd.

Israel is contributing significantly to worldwide efforts to counter climate change:

  • Israel’s solar energy sector is pioneering, and having an increasing international impact
  • Israel is at the forefront of the international drive to combat so-called ‘desertification’ – the steady spread of deserts and the destruction of farmland and forests
  • The UN General Assembly recently adopted a milestone resolution on agricultural development which was sponsored by Israel, and which promotes environmentally friendly agricultural practices internationally, including many devised in Israel
  • Israel’s university research labs are leading the way in clean energy research and innovation
  • Israeli companies are deeply involved in introducing energy-efficient technologies for powering vehicles, factories and other infrastructure
  • Israeli start-up companies such as Water Sheer as well as the national water carrier Mekorot are championing new methods of recycling waste water. They are helping to spread the know how to provide clean drinking water for the world’s poor and vulnerable, again with major environmental and human benefits
  • There are many grass-roots, citizens’ initiatives in Israel (including joint Israeli-Palestinian projects) which promote environmental awareness and changes of lifestyle

There’s plenty more which Israel is doing to help the green revolution on its way.

That’s the country which the Greens have just voted to boycott…

March 1, 2008

Greens protest the boycott

Posted in boycott, israel, letter at 10:40 pm by greensstoptheboycott

Further to the news that the Green Party passed resolution C05, see Engage for links to a piece and letters in the Jewish Chronicle and other criticism.

February 17, 2008

Green Party of England and Wales calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel

Posted in boycott, israel at 10:32 pm by greensstoptheboycott

The Greens have passed Resolutions C05 See Engage for a report and comment by Raphael Levy.