October 18, 2008

We’re moving to Greens Engage

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:11 pm by Mira Vogel

When we first started this blog our priority was drawing attention to, and hopefully reversing, the detrimental effects on the British Green movement of the ill-principled boycott of Israel.

These days there’s more to do. There’s the boycott of Israel, which remains our policy. There’s the Green Party’s draft policy on Israel which wants to turn back the clock to 1948, the execution of which would effectively make Israel unworkable as a state for Jews. And there’s the antisemitism within the Green Party which is a familiar feature of boycott movements world wide. It has been documented here and unaddressed by a Green leadership which shares platforms with Hamas and urges us to boycott Israel.

So we’re changing our name to reflect these broadened concerns. Please remove this blog from your feed reader and subscribe instead to Greens Engage, which can be followed at http://www.greensengage.wordpress.com.

Thanks for reading.

September 5, 2008

Citing anti-Semitic comments, Greens remove candidate

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:36 am by raphavisses

Not in the UK, in Canada:

“Green party Leader Elizabeth May has removed one of the party’s candidates after he made what the party viewed as anti-Semitic comments in an online forum.”

Read more here

September 3, 2008

Green concerns (Eve Garrard on normblog)

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:39 am by raphavisses

Readers of my occasional postings at normblog might be forgiven for forming the view that the main locus of concern about liberal/left anti-Semitism in this country is the University and College Union (UCU). Sadly this is not the case: some other organizations are giving as much cause for concern, most notably at the moment the Green Party.

Read the rest here.

May 30, 2008

What is Racism? by Adrian Windisch

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:59 pm by raphavisses

Adrian Windisch is Chair of Reading Green Party, the original paper was published on Adrian’s blog, here.

Racism is Prejudice based on an individual’s race which can be expressed individually or through institutional policies or practices. Prejudice includes; race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, religion, social origin, age. Also anything that pretends to describe the characteristics or traits of a whole people might be racist even if unintentionally so.

Is it racist to say black people are good runners or women are good at multi tasking? Some of these things are generalisations, they are true for some people but not all, and I think it depends how they are used. Because many top runners are black doesn’t mean all black people are runners. To prejudge anyone is wrong, no matter how many other people of the same background you know, we all have the right to be judged for our own actions.

Prejudice is also behind antisemitism, another form of racism, and should not be tolerated. Antisemitism is hostility toward or prejudice against Jews or Judaism. Holocaust denial is anti-Antisemitism at its most extreme. Its true many things the government of Israel does is wrong, but to blame all Jews, or Israelis, is also wrong.

What causes racism? In my opinion its ignorance, the idea that one group is superior, or different, to another doesn’t survive knowledge of that other group. For centuries people in Eastern Europe and Russia defined Jews as inferior, caused them to live beyond the pale . Now this means ‘unacceptable; outside agreed standards of decency’, but it came from Catherine the Great who created a ‘Pale of Settlement’ in Russia in 1791. Some Jews were allowed to live, as a concession, beyond the pale.

So if segregation helps cause racism, what of different culture living together, or multiculturalism. ‘In this sense multiculturalism requires that all cultures should be open, self-critical, and interactive in their relations with other each other’ said Lord Parekh, professor of political philosophy Chair of the 2000 report for the Runnymede Trust , ‘The Future of Multi-ethnic Britain is and should remain a vibrant and democratic multicultural society that must combine respect for diversity with shared common values. Multiculturalism basically means that no culture is perfect or represents the best life and that it can therefore benefit from a critical dialogue with other cultures. ‘

Trevor Phillips, Labour politician and ex chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, called for multiculturalism to be scrapped. The Phillips debate about multiculturalism has been to shift the emphasis away from the real challenge, which is fighting social inequality, intolerance and racism, as well as the unprecedented demonising some people for what can only be described as not fiting in.

May 9, 2008

Caroline Lucas – a platform too far?

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:55 pm by Mira Vogel

UPDATE (28th May 2008): It appears that on that day, Caroline did not only share a platform with Hamas rep in the UK, but also with Hamas leader in Gaza. A video message from Ismail Haniyeh was shown to the public. Here is a quote from Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar “After we defeat the Zionists we will persecute them… we will persecute them to eternity, and the sun of the freedom and independence of the Palestinians will burn all of the Zionists,”.

Green Party Principal Speaker isn’t celebrating Israel’s 60 year survival and its successes in any shape or form. She’s going for the haggard old 60 Years of Disaster line.

On May 10th she will speak at an event co-organised by the British Muslim Initiative, aligned with the sexist, homophobic, racist and pan-Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, and headed up by Hamas envoy, suicide bombing supporter and (in case it wasn’t already clear) Israel negationist Azzam Al-Tamimi (if you follow that link you’ll be wondering about this rumoured new antisemitism-free Hamas charter. Well two years later there’s no sign of it). As well as organising terror campaigns against Israel and carrying out putsches in Gaza, Hamas is an organisation which inspires children to become martyrs, peddles an official line that Jews abused holocaust memory to hold onto Israel, and calls for Jews to be killed.

Another organiser is the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), one of the organisations leading the Boycott Israel Into Oblivion campaign. The PSC is involved in a hideous faction fight in which the anti-Zionists who want to get rid of its entrenched antisemitism are fighting the anti-Zionists who think that antisemitism is integral to the struggle for Palestinian rights. Now is not a good time to be sitting on the fence – the defenders of antisemitism are winning.

Caroline Lucas staunchly threw her weight behind the campaign against the BNP in the run-up to this month’s elections. The BNPs racism is easy to recognise. They say things like “We’re going to repeal all Britain’s anti-racism legislation and ban any non-British languages in schools”. Caroline even pointed out in a press release that “The BNP has a long history of anti-semitism”. Well yes. And so do Hamas and Hesbollah. And the Socialist Worker Party. It’s obvious we’d be against the BNP. But what about the kind of racism that creeps around on tiptoe calling itself other things?

According to the Green Party policy (RR803), the Green Party of England Wales and Northern Ireland will not mount joint campaigns or policy initiatives on any issues with groups who endorse racial, ethnic or national hatred.

And yet its Spring conference decided to join a global campaign to boycott Israel – a campaign based on double standards and half-truths, and advanced with racist politics. A campaign that doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

And yet its principal speaker, Caroline Lucas, will be speaking tomorrow at an event organized by the British Muslim Initiative and the PSC.

Of course, as important as the people and organizations she will be with, is what she is going to say.

According to Green Party policy, Speakers and Officers of The Green Party of England, Wales and Northern Ireland will only share platforms with groups who endorse racial, ethnic or national hatred at a public or private meeting where that offers an opportunity to confront and oppose racism.

We hope that Caroline will confront and oppose racism tomorrow.

You can contact Caroline via her website www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk

Raphaël Lévy and Mira Vogel, editors of Greens against the Boycott of Israel

April 8, 2008

Is the Green Party leadership taking anti-Semitism seriously?

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:13 pm by raphavisses

On Harry’s Place, here:

http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/2008/04/08/is_the_green_party_leadership_taking_antisemitism_seriously.php

Somehow, the post disappeared on HP during its site move, I repost it here for reference:

Is the Green Party leadership taking anti-Semitism seriously?
In October last year, I made a complaint to the Green Party executive and Green Party Regional Council co-chairs, because of what I perceived as anti-Semitic abuse in one of the internal lists of the Green Party, namely the International list.

The thrust of the complaint was the absolute refusal by some members of this list to consider me as an ordinary Green Party member, and, instead, persisting calling me “an Israeli academic speaking on behalf of Israel”, this, being repeated over and over, in a climate of demonization of Israel, and even after I had made clear that I was not an Israeli nor an agent of the Israeli government (the latter had been explicitly suggested).

After deep thoughts, the Chair of the Party and GPRC co-chair concluded that “We do not agree with the complainant that comments made on this list were anti-Semitic, but we do agree that there is absolutely no place for racism, homophobia or anti-Semitism here.”

So, in the Green Party, it is OK to call a member who appear to have a Jewish name, “an Israeli academic speaking on behalf of Israel” and to accuse him (without the beginning of a proof) of being “part of the groups of Israeli academics who toured Britain in advance of the UCU vote to block it”. It does not even need clarification: the activists who made the comments above were not asked to post corrections.

When low level anti-Semitism is tolerated, it can be expected that more intense level of racist language will develop.

Indeed, in March of this year, one influential person in the party gave tacit support to the idea of “smashing” Jews who fail to denounce Israel (this conclusion can be drawn by putting together the content of a couple of postings from the individual concerned, see link at the end of this post). If this is not considered to constitute antisemitism, I would like to know what would. To take a not entirely dissimilar example, I hope nobody in the Green Party would find it acceptable for a Green Party member (senior or otherwise) to justify statements in support of “smashing” descendants of African slaves who fail to denounce Sierra Leone.

The casual acceptance of such serious abuse is a further cause of concern; these extraordinary statements did not cause an outrage but passed essentially unchallenged.

This matter has been raised again with the Chairman of the party by myself and others and is being considered further. If you are a Green Party voter, member or sympathizer, and would like to offer additional support, you can contact the Chair of the Green Party, Richard Mallender, chair@greenparty.org.uk

Like other organizations, the Green Party is not immune to anti-Semitism, but contrary to many other places, as shown by the publication of this letter, the Green Party is not afraid to deal with them in an open, transparent way.

Raphael Levy, Green Party member, rapha.visses@gmail.com

“Smashing the zionists”: not antisemitic

http://greensstoptheboycott.wordpress.com/2008/04/06/smashing-the-zionists-not-antisemitic/

April 6, 2008

“Smashing the zionists”: not antisemitic

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:27 am by raphavisses

The Green Party has a discussion list, open to all members, to discuss international issues. The Boycott of Israel and antisemitism have been at the centre of intense debate on this list in recent months. In the last few days, extraordinary messages have been published and these deserve scrutiny.

The discussion started with an antiracist contribution by XXX reproducing an article in Private Eye which highlighted antisemitic comments made by Redmond O’Neill, Livingstone’s chief of staff.[1] Private Eye’s piece, reproduced in XXX post included the following: “But O’Neill went on and on about the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He said they represented the ‘Zionist lobby’ and ‘we must smash the Zionists’…””

YYY thought this was not antisemitism but perfectly legitimate antizionism.[2] It is fine to use words such as “Zionist lobby” to describe the institution which represent the Jewish community in this country, and it is all right to incite to violence against them because, YYY writes: “we would not agree with organizations which support Zionism. I am open to correction here, but I think that would be a fair assessment of the Board of Deputies. I have never heard them condemn the Zionist project that is the state of Israel.”

Following a query by ZZZ [3], YYY refines a bit his definition of Zionism [4].
For YYY, “both [i.e. 1) Jewishness; 2) supporting the existence of a state of Israel] would be a necessary part of such a definition, but not sufficient. Zionism implies certain things _about_ a State of Israel, such as the infamous ‘Law of the Return’. In practice Zionism involves racial discrimination, in favour of Jews and against, for example, Palestinians ”

Summary:
i) YYY does not have any problem with “smashing the zionist”
ii) YYY thinks that any Jew who does not explicitly condemn the existence of Israel is a Zionist [a new version of the loyalty test [5], applicable to all Jews]

Incidentally, YYY is also revisionist: their definition of Zionism does not mention the historical cause of Jewish nationalism, also called Zionism, i.e. the widespread persecution of Jews in Europe in the 19th and 20th century, and YYY speaks of Israel, not as a state, but as a “project”.

The views of the Green Party activist YYY quoted below do not represent or engage the Green Party. The Green Party is an antiracist party; it cannot, and hopefully, will not, let open antisemitism, bordering with invitation to racist violence, unanswered. Such discourse has no place in an antiracist Party. The Green Party is antiracist, it is time for the Green Party executive to make sure that its policies are a reality within its own internal discussion lists.

[1] On March 21, XXX posted a contribution entitled “Antisemitism on the Left ? – or not”. This contribution was inspired by a Private Eye article. Here is XXX contribution:

I reproduce here part of an article that appears in the current Private Eye, no 1206, p.9, under the heading ‘Mayor Culpa’, It deals with ‘devastating leaks about public money going astray’ under Ken Livingstone’s administration, but also details the ‘strange alliances’ that Livingstone has been pursuing.

Greens in Lonsdon are of course being urged to give their second
preference vote to Labour.

Now I am not Jewish, but the account I read here sounds very much like
antisemitism to me.

Can anyone explain to me why I should see it otherwise?
FROM PRIVATE EYE:
“...The most senior whistleblower is Atma Singh, a member of Socialist Action and Livingstone’s adviser on Asian affairs. In 2003, his comrades urged Livingstone to ally with the Arab Muslim brotherhood and Jamaat-i-Islami…

Singh was stunned. He tried to stop Livingstone embracing Yusuf al-Qadarawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s chief theologian, who…had said of the civilian victims of suicide bombings in Israel: ‘We cannot say that the casualties are innocent civilians. They are not civilians or
innocent’. Livingstone’s staff arranged for the sheikh to visit London…Singh confronted Redmond O’Neill, Livingstone’s chief of staff.

“I objected to Livingstone saying we must work with al-Qadarawi and
others who were soft on suicide attacks on Israelis’, Singh told the Eye. ‘I
said we had a good relationship with London’s Jews and the Board of Deputies of
British Jews worked with us in the National assembly against racism. But
O’Neill went on and on about the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He said
they represented the ‘Zionist lobby’ and ‘we must smash the Zionists’…

[2] YYY disagrees, when O’Neil rants about the Board of Deputies of British Jews and say they represent the ‘Zionist lobby’ and ‘we must smash the Zionists’, it is not antisemitism, it is just normal and justified anzionism:

You refer to “anti-semitism”, but actually quote only opposition to Zionism, which is quite different.

I don’t think the Green Party is at all anti-semitic. On the other hand, I am clear that we have long been opposed to Zionism. The latter is entirely incompatible with Green views on human rights and a sustainable future.
The infamous Israeli ‘law of the return’ is just the most obvious example.

It follows that we would not agree with organisations which support Zionism. I am open to correction here, but I think that would be a fair assessment of the Board of Deputies. I have never heard them condemn the Zionist project that is the state of Israel.

Some of Livingstone’s alliances and allies are not to my taste either, but I think one has to recognise that in the second round of the Mayoral election there will only be two choices – Ken Livingstone or Boris Johnson. If one wishes to express a preference, one has to take the rough with the smooth, either way. Are you seriously suggesting that Boris Johnson would be a better Mayor?

That is a choice for our members in the London Federation, but I doubt they would agree with your apparent preference, for all Livingstone’s faults and egoism.

XXX replies:

I don’t think you read my post very carefully. What I quoted was Redmond O’Neill’s claim that the Board of Deputies of British Jews ‘represented the Zionist lobby’.

Is it enough that someone claims that someone else is a member of the ‘Zionist lobby’ for that claim to be accepted as fact?

Because that seems to be what is happening here.”

Apparently, it is enough: YYY will not reply to this point.

[3] Then ZZZ stepped in and asked:

“Before we go any further into this bramble patch, can we agree on what is meant by Zionism please? I could find no reference to it in the MfSS, although it would have been there in the preamble to the Palestine & Israel motion was passed, which it was not.

I had a chat with an Israeli at the UNA-UK conference who defined a Zionist as any Jew who wants to see a State of Israel. A quick onliine definition for Zionism is given as “a policy for establishing and developing a national homeland for Jews in Palestine “.

[4] YYY is keen to provide an answer:

I think both would be a necessary part of such a definition, but not sufficient. Zionism implies certain things _about_a State of Israel, such as the infamous ‘Law of the Return’. In practice Zionism involves racial discrimination, in favour of Jews and against, for example, Palestinians.

Zionism is an ideology which the Green Party obviously does not share, believing in human rights for all now, rather than ancient theological fantasies.

[5] http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=444

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…