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 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 23, 2008

What’s in a name?

Posted in antisemitism, reflections at 4:43 pm by greensstoptheboycott

If you look at the “About Us” section of this web site you will find my name listed. There are more of us but some have chosen not to have their name splashed on the Internet.

Let’s have a look at those names. Levy. It’s a fair bet that he is Jewish. Vogel, not so sure, but Mira, there’s a clue. Toby Green, maybe Jewish? A “stein” on the end would be more of a giveaway. Burns, shades of Scotland there. And Howe, potentially Scottish too. I do have ginger hair and there is the caricature of the “mad ginger Scotsman”. But hold on. How many Scots do you know who are ginger?

Recently, Mira asked me a question. She said “Has anybody asked you if you’re Jewish yet?” She pointed to the experience of John Mann MP in relation to the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism.

‘When I commissioned this inquiry, one MP commented with surprise: “I didn’t realise you were Jewish.” Neither did I.’

My reply was “Not only have I not been asked if I am Jewish, as far as I can recall I have never ever been asked about my religion, except on census forms and when I got married.” How about you?

Nobody, at least not overtly or to my knowledge, has made assumptions or connections between my expressed views and my religion or my background. But it has happened to John Mann, Jon Pike and other anti-boycotters. Perhaps it has happened to me because of my stance on this boycott, but without my knowledge? If it has, should I be surprised?

Alright, Jews can be sensitive, especially when it comes to the subject of the history of their people. But can we blame them when their views are so often automatically associated with their Jewishness rather than being derived from independent and reasoned thought. Are Jews not capable of the same independence of mind as anybody else?

Alan Howe

May 21, 2008

Fair cooperation and water needs-based approach to solve the water crisis in Middle East

Posted in cooperation, water at 4:45 pm by Mira Vogel

It’s been a while since I posted news of Israeli and Palestinian collaboration on solving a shared environmental problem – here’s news of high level work amongst international water experts on one of the critical outstanding issues for Israelis and Palestinians – a joint redefinition of water needs. (The ‘Peres’ in the ‘Peres Centre for Peace‘ is the Israeli President, Shimon Peres). The consensus is:

  • There is a basic human need for water resources of approximately 60 m3 per capita per year for human health, hygiene and running a water efficient economy that permits sufficient social and economic development to allow progress towards providing all people with a high quality of life.
  • After this basic human need has been met, priority must be given to providing water for base flows in rivers and streams to prevent ecosystem collapse, and water for livelihoods for vulnerable groups that lack any alternative economic opportunities.
  • Water surplus to these basic needs must be allocated between nations on an equitable basis, and subsequently allocated to economic uses relating to such production activities as those nations choose through their own internal processes, while taking into consideration principles of economic efficiency, social equity, environmental sustainability and international water law.

More work is needed on the principles of allocation, and this is related to the still-awaited final status agreement:

Oren Blonder from The Peres Center for Peace summarized:“ The purpose of the Water Needs in Middle East Initiative is to identify and agree upon possible definitions of water needs. Once these definitions will be elucidated, they will be used by Israeli and Palestinian experts, assembled by Green Cross and the Peres Center for Peace, together with the Jerusalem Institute and Palestinian Hydrology Group, to formulate water need scenarios for Israel/Palestine“. Upon completion of the research, a final conference will be held in Paris and the potential outcomes resulting from the project will be examined, as will the potential effects of the project on the revival of the Palestinian and Israeli water sectors. The results of this research will play an instrumental role in the final status negotiations.

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


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.

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 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”.


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.


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.'”

April 10, 2008

Ken apologises (sort of)

Posted in british greens at 8:44 am by raphavisses

Peter Tatchell, Green Party’s parliamentary candidate for Oxford East, on CIF

Adrian Windisch, Reading Green Party, adds

The post is aimed at Ken Livingstone, who accuses Green Party Candidate for Oxford East, Peter Tachell of ‘Islamaphobia’. Its telling that his experience has been similar to others here over Israel.

He says ‘because I criticised Ken on one issue (Qaradawi), he has slurred me as an Islamophobe. It all began when Ken invited the right-wing Muslim cleric to City Hall in 2004 and saluted him as an “honoured guest”. I found his embrace of Qaradawi very odd and quite appalling, given that the sheikh is indisputably antisemitic, homophobic and sexist.’

Just as many on here have been, Peter found himself accused. ‘The mayor condemned me as anti-Muslim, and even suggested I was a pawn of the Israeli secret service and US neocons.’ Now before the Mayoral elections Ken is slightly changing his tune.

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:


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


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