Share this page

Small ads

Protesting in the Square

From Michael Prior

Saturday, 15 July 2017

The efforts being made by the rather absurdly named Head of Neighbourhoods, Mr. A. Pitts, to resurrect the efforts to move Chris Drake from her protest in St. George’s Square are obviously outrageous. I would like to use the HebWeb to challenge the three public officers involved in the altercations on Wednesday and Thursday this week on a number of matters.

I would ask Neighbourhood Pitts just why the two-year old efforts to evict Chris Drake have been resurrected? Have you received any complaints about her and, if so, what was the basis of any such complaint? Why did you simply cut-and-paste a previous letter sent in August, 2015 by another Council officer, the equally wonderfully titled Director—Economy and Environment, without bothering to check if the allegations in that letter referring to a “seat” and plural lamp-posts were true? Are you not aware that your pompous references to taking legal action against Chris would undoubtedly collapse if for no other reason than the initial letter contained false allegations? Have you or any of your officers actually visited the Square to check what Chris has been doing? Do you think it is appropriate to continue to use Mr. M. Smith to deliver your letters when a formal allegation of assault, true or not, has been made against him?

I would like to ask Highways Enforcement Officer M. Smith if he is aware that taking away material belonging to another constitutes theft and that it is not sanctioned by any Highways Act? I would also like to ask him whether his belligerent attitude towards Chris Drake, based upon my personal observation, is appropriate for a Council worker towards a local tax-payer.

I would like to ask an unidentified Community police Officer whether it is normal police procedure when a woman makes a formal complaint of assault against a named man in the immediate vicinity to take no action other than to have a long, private conversation with this man? Is it not normal at least to take down the name and address of the complainant?

Chris takes up a very small footprint in the Square for nine of twelve hours a week. The three cafés in the Square use up far more by paying the small sum of £242 annually whilst there are numerous pieces of unlicensed signs taking up much the same space as Chris. we need to offer her all support as she is adamant that she will not give way to intimidation by the boorish Council worker who tries to steal her posters.

And perhaps our local councillors can ask Neighbourhood Pitts just what lies behind his renewed efforts, two years after Economy Thompson gave up?

From Vikki Uttley

Sunday, 16 July 2017

We need people like Chris. We need free speech. This is how change starts, be it apartheid,  gay rights,  fights for equality for us all, the list could be endless.

One man in front of a tank, one woman stood in a town square. It's a start its important.

From Amanda Pumo

Sunday, 16 July 2017

In my opinion Chris should be applauded for her vidgilance and sheer Yorkshire grit. 

The council are just pathetic bullies. One single person who pauses to look in a shop window takes up more space than Chris does. 

I've witnessed Chris diplomaticlly putting up with abuse from fanatical Christain groups, who just don't get it!

Leave her alone. Shes a good woman with a social conscience who is prepared to stand by her beliefs, on behalf of people who have no voice.
Well done Chris. 

From Andrew B

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Unlike those above, I actually disagree with the fact that one person can take over part of the town square- if this were a group of youths there would be cries of ASB and intimidation.

This woman rams her views down our throats and I for one, along with others I have spoken to have had enough. Perhaps she could visit other towns, maybe spread her word wider and give us a break?

From Vikki Uttley

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Mr Andrew B states, "The lone lady has taken over the square!!" What, all of it?

"Group of youths" etc. It is not, and anyway youths are a mixed bunch like us 'grown ups'.

"This woman" -  that would be Chris - "rams views down throats" - as you are doing on Hebweb Mr B.

Fed up with it (read 'it' as protest) as others are I have spoken to..... everyone is entitled to their opinion on this subject for or against and that opinion is to be respected.

And finally, "give us a break and go to another town", or as I translate that statement, shift it out of sight because I do not agree with what is being said/ done.

But we can say/write about this issue because we have a voice. It's called free speech. 

From Graham Barker

Sunday, 16 July 2017

I’ve just reread the lengthy September 2015 thread on Christine’s protest and not much seems to have changed. She still divides opinion and I’m on the side that sees her activities as more of a vanity project than one that tells us anything we didn’t already know about Palestine. Like Andrew, I suspect that if she were really committed she’d tour her protest and not confine it to nice, safe, relatively comfortable George Square.  

From Jonny Gale

Monday, 17 July 2017

The message of the protest in the square is one of hate. We are being asked to hate the state of Israel, hate western governments for their support of Israel, and by extension, hate anybody who appears to side with Israel. We are confronted with hateful images of dead children. We are told that Israel operates a system of Apartheid, and that if we are neutral, we side with the oppressor. 

Hebden Bridge is a town where people care. There is injustice all over the world and it is right that we should care about this. The Kurds have been oppressed for years by Iraq, Syria and by our ally, Turkey. They are now in the front line against Saudi and Qatar backed ISIS, who are in turn massacring non-Muslims, and Shia Muslims. Tibet has been annexed by China, who oppress falun-gong. The President of Zimbabwe has engaged in brutal long-running suppression of his opposition. In Chechnya at the moment, there appear to be concentration camps for homosexuals, who are treated scarcely better in Russia, where the leader of the opposition is in prison. Black individuals are killed by US police on an almost monthly basis. Our own war machine, and those of our allies periodically rain down destruction on poorer countries, and causes deaths of innocent non-combatants, albeit unintentionally and we cannot pretend there is no injustice in our own country. While Israel was the subject of this protest, only a short distance away, Assad's and bombs utterly and indiscriminately destroyed his own great Syrian city of Aleppo, and its inhabitants, killing more people in 2 weeks than in several years of the Israel-Palestine conflict. We should be conscious of all of this, and all of these things have an equal right to impinge on our lives as we walk across our town square. 

But we are daily exhorted to hate the State of Israel and those who give it support. Alongside the photographs of dead children, accompanied by home-made captions (we must take their provenance on trust) is a poster informing us that "Zionists" are responsible for the world banking crash, 9/11, owning the US government, and aggressive espionage. That particular poster is headed "Rothschild" and features a satanic looking figure sporting a swastika and a star of David. I photographed that poster on a lamp-post outside the tea rooms in April 2017.  The word "Genocide" features large on another poster often affixed to a public litter bin. To most people, genocide is a deliberate attempt to wipe out an entire race. And yet there are many Palestinians living in Israel, who are afforded full constitutional rights (one of the many facets of "the other side of the argument" from that put forward by the protest). Such a strong military power, if it made a deliberate attempt to wipe out the Palestinian people, would have taken much less than 70 years to do it. Surely the fact that there is a Palestinian State, is testament to the fact that, at the very least, there is no deliberate attempt to wipe out the Palestinian People.  Most people, including the UN, which is critical of Israel accept, though I cannot prove it here, that the Israeli government does not deliberately target children. The word Genocide is wholly inappropriate, and, like much of what is said in the context of this protest, misleading, not to mention offensive to anyone truly affected by genocide, such as Rwandans, Armenians and Jews.

Israel is not beyond criticism, but the singling out of Israel, and alleged equivalences with Nazi Germany or Apartheid South Africa, combined with the accusations against "Zionists" set out in the recent poster make it hard to avoid the conclusion that, despite the protestations otherwise, there is an element within the anti-zionist movement which is motivated to some degree by anti-semitism.  

I would finish this section by asking those who hate Israel, before giving a list of all respects in which you say Israel is an oppressive state, and before giving chapter and verse on all Israel's sins, genuinely because I do not have the answer to this, "what would you do?" And I mean positively. I know what you would not do. You would disband the settlements. OK. Even that is not so simple, mechanically, to attempt to prevent Jews from settling on land which was intended for a Palestinian State under the Oslo Accords, and over some of which Israel has no jurisdiction. OK, But then what? If you were in charge of Israel now. What would you do? Then consider and really think through the short, medium and long-term consequences of whatever it is you decide, for the current population of Israel. Most of us would favour a 2-state co-existence between Israel and Palestine. But the difficulty is how you get there, and telling people to hate one side or another is probably not helpful.

Finally, we have freedom of speech and, as a price for that, we have to tolerate public statements which we may find to be offensive, and which in many cases we think are downright misleading. But as a matter of fact, the Council is clearly not trying to stop the protest. Nor is anyone trying to prevent Mrs Drake from saying the things she says. Reading the letter in the article, it is clear that they are concerned only with the use of council property (which is public property belonging to us all) to put forward views which are clearly not those of the Council, but of Mrs Drake. It is obviously unacceptable for posters similar to the "Zionist" poster, referred to above, which clearly has its antecedents in Nazi propaganda and earlier antisemitism, to be allowed to be fixed to council property. 

From Adrian Crowther

Monday, 17 July 2017

On the Wednesday when this kicked off, we were on the square watching - and in a moment of supreme irony, several people people were stood around a lady who usually stands quietly holding a sign whilst at the same time, an amped up busker began to strum loudly and tunelessly!

From J Swift

Monday, 17 July 2017

I would consider myself a supporter of the Palestinian cause, but think that in many ways Ms Drake's protest is misguided and counter-productive.  However, the fact is that when the organs of the state are used to prevent a peaceful protest on spurious grounds, anyone who believes in the values of a liberal democracy should be concerned.

Calderdale's actions in this matter feel far too much like those of a repressive regime for comfort.

From Karen Wilson

Monday, 17 July 2017

I work in the square. I see Chris in the square on a regular basis. It's absolute rubbish that she has posters everywhere and takes up a lot of space. It's one lampost, and a small amount of floor space. 

I believe that the real issue is people don't like the truth. The message she conveys is about oppression and injustice., and sadly there are those in our community who simply wish to sweep this issue away along with Chris. 

Keep it up Chris. 

From Amanda Lindsey

Monday, 17 July 2017

I've just read Jonny Gale's comments. Well, it seems to me Mr Gale has his own agenda. He clearly is devoid of understanding over the vigil that Ms Drake undertakes, with dedication and compassion for the people of Palestine. 

She is not anti-semetic . 

Everything that happened in the Warsaw Ghetto is happening in Gaza right now. 

If people can't tolerate looking at genuine authentic pictures of Israeli abuse, then don't look. Turn away and pretend it's not happening. Happy la la land.

From Michael Prior

Monday, 17 July 2017

Hebweb readers may be interested in the following email which I have sent to Neighbourhood Czar Pitts.

Dear Mr Blake
I am writing in connection with the recently publicised efforts (see HebWeb News 14 July) to remove the posters place by Ms. C. Drake on the surface of St. George's Square in Hebden Bridge. I have three questions:

1) Did you write to Ms. Drake on 7 July solely "further to correspondence and contact with you" or have you or any Council officer received any complaint about her activity? I note that the correspondence you refer to appears to refer to a letter sent in September, 2015 by another Council officer. In this context, can you explain how you can "remain very concerned about the use...of items of street furniture"

2) Are you aware that the letter you have sent refers erroneously to the use by Ms. Drake of a "seat" and "lamp posts". Did you try to obtain from any Council officer up-to-date information about Ms. Drake's actual usage? Do you think it was appropriate to simply cut-and-paste a letter sent by someone else two years ago rather than find out the true situation?

3) Are you aware that Ms. Drake has made an official complaint of assault against Highway Enforcement Officer M. Smith? Do you think it is appropriate to continue to use Mr. Smith as your on-ther-ground messenger in view of this allegation? Are you aware that if Mr. Smith takes items which belong to Ms. Drake and keeps them then this, in the view of the police, constitutes theft?

Michael Prior
40, Spring Grove
Hebden Bridge

Mr Pitts email is andrew.pitts@calderdale.gov.uk. I will post any reply in full though I am not holding my breath 

From Jonny Gale

Monday, 17 July 2017

Dear Amanda Lindsey,

I would very much like to hear what you think my agenda is.

Do you really mean that everything that happened in the Warsaw ghetto is happening in Gaza right now?

The Warsaw Ghetto was established in order for the Nazis to "purify" the district by transporting all Jews there from the surrounding areas where they lived until 1943. In the end it was liquidated by the Nazis, who destroyed it systematically and killed everyone in it.

When the State of Israel was established in 1948, many Palestinians opted to stay and become Israeli citizens. They and their descendants are still Israeli citizens and can live anywhere in Israel. They have rights to benefits, health and education as Israeli citizens. They can vote in elections and have political parties which are represented in the Israeli Parliament. 

Others chose to live outside the new state. They went to Jordan and to Egypt. They were not welcomed. Instead, they were housed, by Jordan and Egypt, in Gaza and the West Bank, which had been taken over by those countries during the War of Independence. Israel took those territories in 1967 but has not annexed them to Israel. Instead they were occupied. In 1995 Israel withdrew from most of the territories and handed them over to Palestinian control, though there are some areas which are still occupied. Those territories are intended under the Oslo Accords to form the basis of an independent, free, Palestinian State.

In 1943, the Nazis entered the Warsaw Ghetto and systematically destroyed every part of it. They killed or deported every person living there to the network of extermination camps which they had built in order to carry out their "final solution" which was to try to exterminate all the Jews.

Every half dozen or so years, the Israeli government has launched a campaign where it attempts to prevent gradually increasingly resourced rocket attacks, where some of the occupants of Gaza, with the full and open support of the elected Gazan government, controlled by Hamas, are pursuing their openly stated policy of war against what it openly and publicly calls "the Zionist Entity". Bombing raids are carried out with the object of destroying stockpiles of weapons and killing those it considers to be militants who are planning to use those weapons, the last of these raids being in 2014. The Gazan Government chooses locations such as schools and hospitals in order to make it harder for the Israeli's to target the weapons and fighters. During these campaigns, there are almost certainly civilian casualties. However, it is very hard to ascertain the nature and extent of these, owing to the tight control of information by Hamas, and the fact that, on every occasion, the death toll is found, on independent investigation by the UN, to be less than that stated initially by the Palestinian Authorities in control. However, it is admitted and accepted that these attacks cause tragic and unacceptable civilian deaths including the deaths of children. None of the people  who are targeted in these raids are children, and Israel would never deliberately target people who are not thought to be planning to attack Israel.

If Israel wanted to carry out a liquidation of Gaza, in the manner carried out by the Nazis in 1943, this would be much much easier than what Israel is trying to do, which is to destroy the weapons and militants who openly, not in secret, prepare attacks on Israelis, with the full support of their own government. Gaza is a police state, where the information is tightly controlled (as western journalists who were embedded there will attest), and where civilians are threatened and coerced by their own government into cooperating, for fear of being executed for "collaboration", and where hatred of Israel is taught to children in schools.

I have to say that by and large I do not agree with the policies of the Israeli government on this, though I understand the reasoning behind it as it is far more logical and cogent than the reasoning behind, for example, our decision to attack Afghanistan in 2001, or to kill Osama Bin Laden in 2013 which did not seem to me to serve any practical purpose. Members of the ruling Israeli Likud Party would say that such raids have prevented attacks on Israeli civilians. I am not sure that the evidence is sufficient to justify that conclusion, and I would very much like to see a different policy pursued there. To that extent, I share an "agenda" with Mrs Drake, though I have not heard anything about what her policy would be, and I, along with the Israeli opposition, am struggling to come up with a practical alternative.

But whatever your views on the bombing raids, it is nothing like what happened in the Warsaw Ghetto. There are no gas chambers. There is no death penalty. There are no apparatus, legal, conceptual or practical, for anything resembling the mass murder perpetrated by the Nazis. Such a suggestion compounds layers of hurt on a bloody and nightmarish situation for all concerned.

As for the extent of Mrs Drake's protest, I have a photograph of a poster which was placed, along with others, on a lamppost across the square from the place by the litter bin occupied by Mrs Drake. It is one of many posters which have at various times adorn lampposts and other items all over the square. This one is notable by, among other things, the fact that it is headed "Rothschild". Beneath the heading is a sketched figure of a demonic skull with a swastika embossed star of David on its forehead. In large letters below the skull is the word "Zionist". It contains the following text: "False Flag Experts, Attack on USS Liberty, 911, Hijacked Judaism, Print Money out of thin air, Zionism is not Judaism, Genocidal Tendancies, Possesses Illegal weapons of mass destruction including chemical, biological and nuclear, Aggressive Spying on the United States, Israeli Lobby own the US Government, Propaganda experts, commit war crimes daily. Judaism is a religion of peace, Below it in large letters it reads: Zionism =racism; Israel= Apartheid. I would like to show it but cannot seem to post a picture to this forum. 

Why the references to banking? Why the conspiracy theories about 911? Why the reference to Rothschild? I would like your thoughts on this please.

The square belongs to all of us. These are messages of hate, whether or not you happen to believe that hate is justified. It is true that nobody can attach a poster to private property without the owner's consent, I would certainly not place an anti-zionist poster on my own wall, though you are free to do so. But nobody asked the consent of the people  whether we agree for our square to be co-opted to air these views.

We can criticise Israel. I have no problem with that, (nor, clearly, does Calderdale Council who expressly allow protest to continue against Israel, and, on occasion as I recall, against China.)

But I repeat: If you were Israel today, what would you do?

From Andrew B

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Vikki Utley, you evidently changed my post to something that you wanted to respond to, I stated "I actually disagree with the fact that one person can take over part of the town square"

Not quite "The lone lady has taken over the square!!" What, all of it?

Quite far apart if we're entirely honest, don't you think?

In my opinion the photo's are not something any adult or child should be forced to look at because quite frankly they do get stuck to lamposts, propped up on the backrests of benches and laid out across the floor. Why not display them privately where anyone interested can go and view them?

I'm not sure what one would hope to achieve by laying out a gallery of graphic images in the Square.

From Phil M

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

I love to see protest and causes promoted in such paces as the square, making people think and encouraging discussion. As long as they are well thought out, use only images and wording which are proven and well balanced and they are well targeted (i.e. they do not expect a continuous audience for years on end).

I do not think Ms Drake's activities are any of these things and as a resident of Hebden Bridge I ask her to rethink her approach. 

From Vikki Uttley

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

I would like to apologise for misquoting Andrew B I misread his contribution. I should, as Andrew pointed out have said 'part of the square' and not taken over 'the

From Paul Clarke

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Aside from the unrelenting tattiness of Chris Drake's posters, the really astonishing thing is that after three years this pointless 'protest' has failed to persuade Mahmoud Abbas, Yahya Sinwar and Netanyahu to put aside centuries of conflict to make peace.

Who needs a lasting negotiated  two states solution when you all you really need is a few dodgy posters in a West Yorkshire town square to secure peace.

From Dave R

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Perhaps the fact that the same arguments pro and anti Ms Drake's protest, sum it up. People are not being given opportunity to get both sides of the story. They are instead constantly bombarded by Ms Drake's propaganda. She isn't reaching 'new audiences' nor 'educating' anyone. She is quite simply using one public space relentlessly for her own vanity project. 

The images have been seen so often that we have become unaffected by them. The home made signs relentless strung across lampposts (yes often 2) benches, bins, and the floor are merely tatty and irritating. 

We can all see images of war; of atrocities in real time daily. 

Ms Drake needs to pack her protest in her rucksack and move on. I have never seen her in any other position than in the Square. I feel that speaks volumes about her passion and need to spread the word.

From Allen Keep

Thursday, 20 July 2017

As usual, a sneering,sectarian and belittling attitude emerges to Chris's stoic efforts from the "left". Rather than criticising the usual apologists and defenders of Zionism and the reality of the apartheid Israeli state we are offered the two states "solution". Unfortunately this simply ignores, and therefore implicitly justifies, the illegitimate and immoral creation of Israel in the first place and presents us with a defeatist and essentially racist argument that rests on the assumption that Palestinians and Jewish people are incapable of living side by side together in peace.

From Jewel C

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Seems to me Chris Drake must be doing something really right to expose this extent of narrow-minded vitriol from certain local residents, all apparently men offended by a woman publically visible and supported by other women. 

As so clearly identified, the only possible cases are against the council in disallowing legitimate freedom of expression and police for assault and failed duties – so why isn't such anger directed against an aggressively weak and incompetent state? 

But of course the real issue is whether we want our pretty little square sullied by reminders of the real world of oppressive violence, where whole nations of millions are still being removed and silenced, losing their lives, homes and livelihoods alongside any faith in a better future. I wonder how many of these gallant defenders of our glorious peace have actually been themselves to find out what happened to Palestine and Palestinians? 

It's just 100 years since imperialist Brits cracked our old chestnut of defending the Holy Land by imposing their Jewish problem on ancient Islamic Palestine, double-dealing the Arabs. Balfour asserted in 1917 that 'nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.' 

Is it not important that in this and many deals since, we appreciate our responsibility for harm caused to those impacted? Whichever way you look at it, there's lots of people suffering and needing human support. Isn't it worth finding out the facts before attacking? Or facing up to our real demons?

From Will Kaufman

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Sorry, Allan Keep, but you and I are on opposing sides of this, Old Friend. There's nothing "stoic" about planting yourself in the cushy little square of cushy little Hebden Bridge on sunny days for a few hours a day, drinking tea and intimidating the town's children (Jewish and otherwise) with disgusting images that we all know about, strategically placed at a child's eye level. There's nothing "stoic" about lecturing us with the pompous phrase, "Turning away won't make it go away." (Thanks, Christine, I wouldn't have known that, had you not pointed it out.)

Most importantly, there is nothing "stoic" about circulating the same old anti-Semitic tropes in the name of anti-Israeli commentary - tropes already enumerated by Johnny Gale, tropes that would not be at all out of place in Henry Ford's "The International Jew" and the Tsarist forgery, "Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

If Christine truly wants to be a warrior, let her take her take it into the belly of the beast, like Rachel Corrie did.

From Michael Prior

Thursday, 20 July 2017

First, I suggest to Messrs Gale and Kaufmann that if they see posters displayed by Ms. Drake that they consider an offence to public order or decency then they should report this to the police. We have serious laws in this country banning such things which include material frightening to children. Mr. Kaufmann has made these complaints before but not sought the appropriate remedy. It is the responsibility of the police not the Council to make such judgements.

Second, I think it is deeply offensive to use the name of brave Rachel Corrie as part of an attack on Chris. I was in Palestine in 2003 working with the International Solidarity Movement when Rachel was slaughtered by an Israeli army bulldozer whilst also working with ISM. I can testify to the extreme non-violence of ISM activity and the violence used by the Israeli army. I believe that if Rachel were to be here here today then she would be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Chris. 

From Will Kaufman

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Michael Prior - I'm sure neither of us are equipped to speak for Rachel Corrie, one way or the other. She might well join Christine in the Square. She might also advise her to rethink her imagery. 

You ask in an earlier post whether or not the Council is acting on complaints from the public. Rest assured they are.

From Jonny Gale

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Dear Allen Keep, 3 points. 

Your choice to place “left” in inverted commas is apt. I shall not go into the question of how “left” are the men (for they are all men) who are in charge of Gaza. I would disagree that Mrs Drake is really on the “left" here. The Square belongs to the people. It does not seem very “left” to treat a public square as private property in the way that Mrs Drake has done, however “stoical” her insistence on the rightness of her cause.

Secondly; your position seems a little self-contradictory. Jews and Palestinians can indeed live together in peace. And they do. In the State of Israel, which you refer to as an “illegitimate and immoral creation”. I was not present at its founding back in 1948, and I cannot comment on whether its creation was any more immoral than that of any other nation state in the world, but it is here now and has a sizeable population of Jews and Arabs, including Muslim, Christian, gay, straight, men, women, all of whom have full citizenship and democratic rights that would be associated with any liberal democracy. One can only imagine the logical conclusion of the idea that the state of Israel is an illegitimate, immoral creation.

Thirdly: I asked Amanda Lindsey some questions. I was not sneering, nor am I now. Those questions are still hanging in the air: 

a. Why the references on Mrs Drake's material to Rothschild and printing money, 911 and USS Liberty (is that representative of the “left” as you see it? and 

b. If you were in charge of the State of Israel today (and I do not want an answer couched in the negative, nor do I request a tirade against what Israel is doing that it should not be doing) What Would You Do?

From Allen Keep

Thursday, 20 July 2017

 I suspect we are far from diametrically opposed Will - I'd hope not. I do however think there's plenty to be admired when someone shows courage and perseverance to further a just cause even if it's in a cushy square. 

I'm unashamedly anti -Zionist and support the Palestinian cause and there is therefore common ground so I will defend Chris against those who support the Israeli state as I will against those whose arguments are essentially small minded or are simply unduly personalised (I don't mean you Will!). 

I have been an anti-racist all my life and taken to the streets to defend Jewish people under attack. Anti-semitism disgusts me. However, I've been called an anti-Semite many times before for simply opposing Isreal. It's really important not to conflate the two. 

Of course, being overtly anti - Zionist does not mean one is somehow immune from being anti-semitic. I haven't seen the posters Will and Jonny refer to but they sound wholly inappropriate to say the least, I agree. I would certainly not defend Chris if she is displaying anti-semitic material and as a father I certainly don't support the intimidation of children by anyone.

Jonny - I didn't identify Chris as on the left although I would have thought she is. I was referring to others on the left who take an unfortunate sectarian position towards her and anyone else they don't agree with. And I certainly believe Palestinians and Jewish people can live side by side which is why I reject the two states theory. However, you continue to defend Israel and to see that state as an exemplar of liberal democracy and equality which is quite bizarre. It's not good enough to say you weren't around when the state was created - I wasn't around when we had slavery, I wasn't around when we had Nazism and the holocaust -but I know it was wrong. 

By the way, Jonny what do you see as the "logical conclusion" of describing the state of Isreal as illegitimate and immoral (something a great many anti-zionist Jewish people agree with)?...are you suggesting that view is somehow anti-semitic? 

And as for asking what would you do if you were Isreal?.... it's as pointless as asking what would you do if you were Trump. 

The question is what you should do if you are an anti-racist who opposes anti-Semitism wherever it arises and who believes in freedom, equality and justice for the Palestinian people. Whatever you can would be my thought, even if you are a man.

From Vivienne H

Saturday, 22 July 2017

 I thought some people might be interested in this  Arab-Israeli point of view:

An Arab-Christian Diplomat and Attorney Speaks about Arabs, Jews and Peace

From Will Kaufman

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Vivienne - thank you for posting the link to this uplifting and even-handed article. I hope that Christine and her defenders will read it.

From Irene K

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Jewel C asserts that Christine Drake’s detractors are “all apparently men offended by a woman publically visible and supported by other women.” I beg to disagree. I have taken extreme exception to her language and imagery over the past two years. I know that a number of women have signed their names to the latest complaint to the Council, and I know of still others who object to Christine’s protest but who do not want to face the onslaught of her aggression. (Oh yes - Christine is quick to cry “assault”, but there is such a thing as verbal assault, and I have witnessed Christine delivering that in spades to anyone who dares to challenge or question her position. I’ve also seen her sending children fleeing from the Square in tears because they, too, have taken exception to her words and pictures.)

Reading back through this thread, I can see that only one of Christine’s defenders has engaged with the charge of her anti-Semitic imagery - that is Amanda Lindsey, who declares flatly: “She is not anti-semetic [sic].” Christine may think that about herself, but her recent posters have suggested otherwise. Rothschild behind it all - really? No Rockefellers, J. P. Morgans, Credit Suisses or any other bastions of international capitalism who happen not to be Jewish? No, let’s exclusively raise the spectre of the “International Jew” with his hook nose and grasping, vampiric fingers, straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. (Hell, even on The Simpsons, they were even-handed enough to give their caricature of Rothschild a decidedly patrician, WASP-sounding name: Montgomery Burns.) 

September 11 - really? The “International Jews” were behind that? What’s that even doing on a poster about the Israel-Palestine conflict? The Star of David with a Nazi swastika superimposed upon it? Christine apparently doesn’t know this (or maybe she does, and that’s the point), but the Star of David is NOT the emblem of Israel: it is the emblem of the Jewish people. True, the founders of Israel appropriated it for their flag – they would do that, wouldn’t they? When Christine chooses - ignorantly - to superimpose the swastika on the emblem of an an entire people – when she chooses to equate Jews, as a group, with Nazis, well then, why should anyone suspect that she is not an anti-Semite?

And there’s the huge red button Christine knowingly pushes when she invokes the “genocide” inflicted on the “Palestinian children.” Why can’t she simply say “Stop the killing of Palestinian children” and leave “genocide” in the ownership of those who have truly been its intended victims - Rwandans, Native Americans (North and South), Armenians — and yes — Jews?

Finally, Jewel C mentions the “imperialist Brits” who imposed “their Jewish problem on ancient Islamic Palestine.” I’ll leave the historians to engage with the historical claims of Islam in what is now Palestine - Islam, a religion dating from the seventh century A.D. - and that of the Jews of thousands of years previously. I’m not suggesting that Muslims have no claim at all to what is called “Palestine”; but neither am I suggesting that the Jews have no claim there either. No, my immediate concern is the “Jewish problem” that some people appear to be having right here in Hebden Bridge. Recently, on a day when Christine was drawing renewed attention and numbers of people around her in the Square, there was a racist lunatic on the Bridge just around the corner, raging about the need to “get rid of all the Jews.” This was right here in Hebden Bridge. We need to ask ourselves to what extent Christine - knowingly or otherwise - is an enabler of such rubbish. 

In a town that embraces the LGBT community and, I would like to think, other minorities and people of all religious affiliations or none, it distresses me deeply to see one woman acting so disruptively and selfishly in a small square which should be a neutral public space and a reflection of Hebden’s warm spirit.

From Paul D

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Israel is a relatively new expansionary state. It faces very real existential threats. It occupies territory illegally and has and still does violently suppressed dissent. Israel to me is ultimately a post-war/Cold War construct. It exists like Kuwait in some weird settlement that ignores social, cultural and historical reality. It's imperialist and exists only through violent imperialism.

Merely stating that makes me (an avowed anti-racist) a fascist in warped Zionist logic. They truck no dissent. That's all you need to know. They will not accept free speech - ever. Not in Israel, not here. Not in the square. Their square. Because they like to expand their interests, power and control to territory where they really should just let peaceful people live in peace - and argue with each other. Democracy - they despise it.

From Michael Prior

Sunday, 23 July 2017

This thread is drifting into areas which, whilst interesting, are not relevant to the original and urgent issue: should Calderdale Council stop Chris using one side of a waste bin, a lamppost and a square metre of the Square to display posters.

As the inept letter from the Head of Neighbourhoods Pitts emphasises, their intervention is, allegedly, not based on any political motive. Presumably, they would make the same intervention against anyone taking up the same space with posters saying Vote Labour/ Conservative/ Raving Loony. Yet do we believe that?

It needs repeating that public displays of anti-Semitism are criminal offences as are some of actions described concerning public order. The appropriate authority for complaints about these allegations is the police. There is ample CCTV coverage of the Square and the police would be obliged to follow up such a complaint. Why has this  not been done by one or more of those who make these allegations here?

It now appears that a letter of complaint signed by a number of people has been sent to the Council. Could this be made public? Is it concerned simply with the problem of access to a waste bin or the use of a lamppost? Does it contain the kind of inaccurate information about the extent of Chris' use of the Square which led Pitts to make false allegations in his letter? 

Like it or not, and clearly there are some who want to avoid the issue, this is a question of free speech and the defence of anyone wishing to express opinions so long as they do not offend laws on racism or public order.

From Paul Clarke

Sunday, 23 July 2017

I think we are missing a trick as we need to use Ms Drake's undoubted skills as an international peacemaker to heal the divisions in our community.

Putting aside the irony that is her pointless protest that has caused these divisions we need to use her warm interpersonal skills, proven diplomatic talents when she engages with people and obvious ability to see both sides of an argument to bring us back together.

Maybe she can create a tatty poster calling for peace in Hebden Bridge?

From Will Kaufman

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Paul D - a serious, respectful question: What is your definition of a Zionist?

From Graham Barker

Sunday, 23 July 2017

This is all getting absurdly out of hand. Let’s face it, Chris’ protest is and always has been superfluous and more self indulgent than altruistic. It’s not as though Palestine is some dirty little secret known to only a select few.

The only question for Hebden Bridge - and nowhere else, because Chris seems not to do inconvenience - is at what point, if at all, does a charmless eccentric become a public nuisance. That’s for the relevant authorities to sort out because it’s part of the job we pay them to do. We don’t have to like their decisions but there is no other civilised way of resolving some matters. Firing off pompous and arguably vexatious letters to Calderdale trying to escalate a very local matter into something it isn’t will not help.

There may be a straightforward remedy for all this. It’s a useful convention that when the messenger becomes the story, the messenger is a distraction and has to go. I’d guess we’re actually long past that point. Chris clearly has sympathisers, so perhaps it’s time for one or two of them to show their support by taking over from her for a trial couple of years with a less divisive approach. If Chris genuinely has the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, maybe she’ll see some merit in this.

From Jonny Gale

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Dear Allen Keep,

You turn my question back on me and ask why I think is the logical conclusion of your position. Forgive me, but why must you, and why must Mrs Drake, leave it to others to contemplate exactly what it is you and she are calling for? Why do you not come out and say it? Is it perhaps because you wish to leave yourselves room to row back from the position when it is shown to be untenable?

But by failing to follow this through yourselves, and by failing to answer the simple question implicit in which is the goal of your protest, ie  “what should Israel do?”, anti-zionists are either failing to engage fully with the issue an examine what they themselves are calling for, or are being intellectually dishonest about their intention. In the circumstances, and taking into account the actual material on display in the square, it is little wonder that they have to fall back on the person of the “Jewish anti-zionist” to defend themselves from the understandable charge of anti-semitism.

It does not matter what I think is the logical conclusion of your position, but let us look at what is available for all to see about the position which you have adopted.

You maintain that the State of Israel is an “illegitimate immoral creation”. You reject a 2-state solution. You say that it is pointless asking what you would do in Israel’s shoes, but instead say as anti racists you should “do whatever you can”.

Though you and Mrs Drake do not seem to show the candidness to spell it out, it appears that you and Mrs Drake hate the State of Israel simply for existing. “Whatever you can” appears, in the absence of any constructive criticism, to be to protest and boycott until the State of Israel no longer exists.  Such a position is reserved only for the Jewish State. No other state on earth has its very legitimacy questioned in this way after being in existence for so long. 

But let us imagine you succeeded. What would the disbanding of the State of Israel mean? What would happen to the 6.5 million Jews who live there? What would happen to the 1.5 million Arabs including Palestinians, and including the Palestinian Members of the Israeli Parliament and including the Palestinian judge who sits on the Supreme Court of Israel? Do you think they would be spared, or would they be condemned as “collaborators” by Hamas and all the people whipped up into hatred by those taking the same extreme position as you have chosen to take?

Would it help the Palestinian people, to disband Israel? Would it bring peace? There are wide conflicts in the Islamic world today, and Hizbollah and Hamas are on opposite sides of one of the most significant, that being between Shia and Sunni organisations.

If you think the disbanding of the State of Israel would make for a good humanitarian solution then read the material put out by the elected representatives of the Palestinian people. Look at what school children learn about in schools run by the Gazan government. Or perhaps you think the UN could step in and keep the peace, like some old colonial power.

Israel is the one country in the region where all, including Palestinians (who are, after 70 odd years, no longer refugees in that country, having been assimilated, and no matter what their religion), are treated with full citizenship rights. It is not surprising that  Israel is hated by theocratic fundamentalists and extreme nationalists. However, for that hatred to be adopted by some people on the “left” who call themselves anti-racists is very surprising. 

We should be working for freedom, equality and justice for all Palestinians, Including those whose parents chose Israeli citizenship. Including those who are Christian, female, gay. Hamas is not doing that. Hizbollah is not doing that. No boycott-supporting country, Saudi, Qatar, Iran, is doing that. The delegitimisation of and hatred towards Israel is not doing that.

The only way to achieve that is by having 2 states; a State of Israel and a State of Palestine, which can work together to pursue their common goals and act in the interests of all their citizens. Anti-zionists such as yourself are unclear about what are your goals, though destroying one of the states would be counter-productive and would lead clearly to war and more misery. Zionists such as myself are very clear that we aspire, though sometimes hopelessly, to the very distant far off goal of cooperation between all the nations, religions and races in the middle-east.

Either way, hatred should be doused and not fueled as it is being by the protest.

By the way, the article posted above by Vivienne H is interesting and it would seem that it is the disgraceful behaviour of the UN which should be the target of protests. Instead of caring for Palestinian refugees, as it does for refugees of other nationalities, the UN, supported by the majority of oil-rich Arab states, seems intent on keeping them destitute and full of hate for Israel so that it can turn their children into human bombs to use against Jewish children.

Since its inception, Israel has faced calls for its disbandment. I ask again. Be honest about your protest. What Should Israel Do to bring about peace?

From J Swift

Monday, 24 July 2017

All the well rehearsed arguments here from supporters of Israel are irrelevant. The question is whether a peaceful protest should be prevented by the state.  It wouldn't matter if it was about dog mess, Trident, or the fact that our rulers are lizards. 

Ms Drake is at worst a minor irritant.  Transforming her from harmless eccentric to martyr by heavy handed intervention by the powers that be is foolish and likely to be seen by the conspiracy minded as 'proof' of anti-Semitic tropes regarding cabals in high places.

From Jenny B

Monday, 24 July 2017

I have to say that I am not aware of all of the facts around the politics of this matter. I am however, aware of this lady's constant harassment of passers-by.

It has got so bad that I avoid the Square if I see she is there.

My children should not be subject to such images as we go to feed the ducks. And, before the 'take your blinkers off brigade' even start to tell me to raise my children in the real world, I would rather they kept their innocence as long as they could thank you.

That woman is a bit like the kiddy catcher in Chitty chitty bang bang - one that kids are scared off. 

There is free speech and there is harassment.

Fair play to the council for acting upon people's concerns. 

From Michael Prior

Monday, 24 July 2017

I have not received any response to the email to Mr Pitts I post a week go so I have just sent the following:

Dear Mr Pitts

One week ago I sent an email to you concerning the letter you sent to Ms. C.Drake about her use of Council street furniture. I append this in case you did not receive it.

You have made no response to this even to acknowledge receipt. I am disturbed by this failure as the email pointed out what seems to be a very serious failing on your part, that is that you threatened a member of the public living in Calderdale with legal action based upon allegations that were demonstrably false. The email spells out just what these false allegations were and points out other serious problems with your handling of this matter.

I feel that you are required to answer these things.

Since sending this email, postings in the Hebweb discussion of this matter that a letter of complaint signed by more than one person has indeed been sent to you. I think in view of the nature of the forum postings to ask you whether this letter complained solely about there use of Council furniture or whether it was concerned with the content of the material posted by Ms. Drake and with her personal conduct. I think it reasonable to ask you whether, if it was the latter, you informed the complainants that this was a matter outside your competence as you are concerned only with the use of street furniture. Did you inform them that matters concerning content and conduct were properly a matter for the police? I note that in the letter of 7 July, you make it clear that you are taking no "position" on the issues raised by Ms Drake nor constrain her rights of freedom of expression. Presumably this means that you are actively considering action against all the other persistent users of street furniture in and around St. George's Square.

I have copied the local Calder councillors into this as your failure to respond to legitimate concerns by a local tax-paying resident about actions taken over your signature and with no other obvious authority comes very close to a dereliction of your democratic duty.

Michael Prior

From Emily L

Monday, 24 July 2017

On Sunday I was in the square and saw a young religious Jewish boy in a yarlmulke walking past this so-called protest. What do all the wonderfully welcoming and right-on people of Hebden Bridge think he felt about the symbol of his religion and culture being covered by a swastika?

As a Jewish person myself I find Ms Drake's resort to the worst sort of anti-Semitic tropes to be offensive and disgusting. The association of the Jewish Star of David with the swastika is the equivalent of putting a pig's head in front of a mosque. You wouldn't call that the act of a harmless eccentric would you? 

And of course there is a world of difference between protesting the actions of the Israeli government and presenting Israel - and its people - as uniquely evil in the world.

I am very glad that some people in this town are taking a stand against this woman - where do I sign up? 

From Will Kaufman

Monday, 24 July 2017

Andrew Pitts is on leave and we're all waiting for him to get back. Meanwhile, rest assured that the division of powers is in operation: the Council is dealing exclusively with the issue of public space and furniture, and the Police are dealing with the issue of content.

From Eleanor Land

Monday, 24 July 2017

My late husband made a polite request to Mrs Drake to raise her posters above my young grandchildren's eye level, only to receive an aggressive tirade stating she would provide photos of children with their heads blown off if he wanted.  

I avoid her like the plague, because I would not lower myself to have a conversation with someone who is doing her own cause no good by her attitude.  

From Kez Armitage

Monday, 24 July 2017

Can I suggest to Michael Prior that, if he wants to guarantee a response, he sends a letter (yes - one of those old fashioned things on paper and posted in a letterbox!), and sends it recorded delivery.

Yes, it costs more, but in my experience it always gets a reply. Letters carry a certain gravitas that emails never can (simply because it's almost too easy, too shallow, to send an email, and the recipient has to sort out the proverbial wheat from the chaff).

If you care about a subject, a written letter shows you've made the effort and mean business.

From Vivienne H

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

I agree that Calderdale is being petty in harassing Christine Drake. Freedom of speech is precious, & to be protected. 

However, I also feel that it's very lazy to imagine that what Ms Drake says is the whole truth about a complex problem. 

Jonathan Gale makes some reasonable, factual  points. And here's what a Christian Israeli Arab has to say

Those people who uncritically support the Palestinians need to ask themselves, for  example, why they are so exercised about the expulsion of Arabs, but haven't a word to say about the ethnic cleansing of almost a million Jews from Arab countries around the same time? Do the Jews expelled from Arab countries have a right to compensation, or a Right of Return with restitution of their stolen properties?

Do Palestnian sympathisers protest the existence of Pakistan or Jordan, other countries invented/established at around the same time? The creation of Pakistan involved the displacement and killing of large numbers of Hindus, swiftly followed by the killing of many Muslims, but no one appears to mind the country's existence. Look at the Hindu population figures for Kashmir in the 1940s, and compare them with the figures now. That's a situation to which terms such as genocide or ethnic cleansing can meaningfully be applied: the Palestinian population in contrast has increased 8-fold since Israel was established. 

Jordan was invented when the British separated out some two thirds of the land they'd promised to the Jews, and gave it to the Arabs as a new kingdom (ruled by an imported Saudi). The sliver that was left, around the size of North Yorkshire, was allocated to the new state of Israel. Jordan was supposed to be the Palestinians' state in exchange for the much smaller Israel. (Jordan is 4 times Israel's size.)

In Israel, Arabs have worked as judges and joined the diplomatic service. How many Jews represent Arab countries, or make rulings on Muslim populations in Arab countries? 

Many of the Arabs who fled from what is now the State of Israel did not own land in the first place: they were tenant farmers on land owned by Ottoman Turk absentee landlords, who were happy to sell it to Jews. Some of the Arabs now in Israel/Palestine are the children of relatively recent immigrants, who moved there because the Israelis were investing money in the country and building it up. It's simply contra-factual to imagine that every Palestinian has ancient roots in the country.

As for Jerusalem, it had very little significance for Muslims even after they invaded and conquered what is now Israel. Their dynasties ruled from Baghdad, Damascus, and Istanbul, not from a provincial backwater. It only became the "3rd holiest site" once it was understood how important it was to Jews. That the area around the Temple Mount/Wailing Wall has now been re-named after Mohammed's magic flying horse would be a joke, except that erasing Jewish culture has all too often been a prelude to exterminating Jews. 

Nothing I've said detracts from the point that Arabs on the West Bank and in Gaza suffer hardship and injustice. ( I am not calling them "Palestinians", to make the point that this concept, too, is a recent invention. The revolts against Israel in the 1940s were based on specific, very local grievances, but these were subsumed into the cause of pan-Arab nationalism. The region historically had been part of Greater Syria, not a separate country, and the "Palestinians" wanted it to return to that.)

Do you want to stand   with this guy, & his colleagues at Al Azhar?

Or with the editor of the Arab newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat, who expresses the view of Arab progressives, & engages in reflection, responsibility and self criticism?

People who make decisions about this issue based on Christine Drake's images of dead children should be aware that they're choosing to adopt a very one-sided position.

From Ron Taylor

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

I should point out from the beginning that I am a fervent supporter of Palestinian rights, as some readers of Hebweb will know (See Postcards from Palestine), and have spent long periods in the West Bank of Palestine as a volunteer/activist, most notably with a group called Ta’ayush, the Arab-Jewish partnership - Israelis and Palestinians striving together to end the Israeli occupation and to achieve full civil equality through daily non-violent direct-action.  

Michael Prior is right to say that there is an issue concerning free speech. But as we know the right to free speech is not an absolute one and its exercise brings with it responsibilities. I agree with Allen Keep that, as described, the content of the posters is inappropriate and, I would add, its display anywhere wholly wrong. My opposition to anti-semitism is as strong as it is to any form of racism.

The use of such material, in my view, causes harm to the very cause it purports to support. It also serves strengthen the hands of those who wish to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-semitism in order to suppress legitimate criticism of the Israeli system’s treatment of the Palestinian population (incidentally, just to be clear, I do not accuse Jonny Gale or Will Kaufman of that).

With that in mind I paste below a piece that came to me few days ago written by a contact who is a Jewish Israeli now living in Europe. It expresses my views on Zionism far more eloquently than I could ever hope to do.


When 'Westerners' hear the word 'Zionist', most are inclined, via their indoctrination, to immediately associate it with Jews having been historically persecuted, seeking escape from that.Therefore, when people like US Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer or French PM Emmanuel Macron talk about anti-Zionism, they have a rather easy task equating it with anti-Semitism. They easily cement this idea.

But we should remember what Zionism means and has meant for Palestinians. It's often a whole other notion.For Palestinians, Zionism is the name for the motivation informing their dispossession. It is the ideology behind their expulsion, their demonisation, their disappearance as humans, their massacres, tortures, kidnappings, arbitrary arrests and daily oppression.

That's what Zionism means to so many of them.So when they hear 'anti-Zionism', there's often a positive notion to it, in that it suggests the liberation from this horror. It's a double-negative turning positive.So many Palestinians are highly aware of the distinction between Jew and Zionist, although to make that distinction when being so oppresed, when so many Jews support your oppression, requires some serious moral fortitude.

Yet when the Schumers and the Macrons of the world equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, they want to erase that distinction, to make Zionism synonymous with Jews.Equating Jews with Zionism would mean that Jews and Judaism will inevitably be known as synonymous with oppression and cruelty, amongst those who have experienced the fist of Zionism and the pressure of its boot, first-hand.This conflation is telling them to aim all of their grievances against Judaism and Jews. It is informing them to become 'anti-Semites'.

The only way for Jews to escape the anger and wrath that comes from those who suffer under the Zionist injustice, is to relinquish Zionism once and for all. Not because they are forced to by practical circumstances, not because they deem it useless, but because it is wrong. It is wrong to use the pretext of persecution to persecute others.

If this is done, then not only will Zionism's victims be liberated - also Jews may finally be saved from its cruel legacy. There may even be some forgiveness, a future may open up, one of peace.But if the gate is locked, if Zionism and Judaism are one, if anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism, then that future is barred. No liberal-Zionist sugar-coating will be able to open it, and we will together be consigned to a future of perpetual horror, oppressed and oppressor together.

It is a highly moral and caring thing to do, to fight the Israeli apologetic conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Those who do so are often regarded anti-Semites (or self-haters) simply due to their attempt. Amongst many Jews today, amongst nearly all of them in Israel, being anti-Zionist is one of the worst things you can be known for. It's often synonymous with treason. But it is for Jews to take this step. Those who pioneer it must for the time being live with the label of being societal outcasts, who bring but shame to their families and many of their old friends. But it's a small price to pay for what it can win for our future. Those people will be known as those who have fought against the gushing river of Zionist propaganda in order to actually forge a better and viable future. A future not only for those oppressed who have been deprived of one by the force of Zionism, but also for Jews and Judaism, so many of whom have deluded themselves, that Zionism would save them.

Anti-Zionism is not Anti-Semitism. It is the opposite. It is a separation of Jews from being oppressors. And you cannot escape oppression by being an oppressor. You can only fight oppression. It's a one thing, and it has to include all.”

Jonny Gale has made a number of points that I take issue with but there is not enough space here to do that (I would though willingly meet Jonny somewhere, some time to discuss all those points should he wish to do so).

However, I must challenge him here over his saying that  “there is a Palestinian State”. Whilst it is true that over 130 countries have recognised the state of Palestine, which is now a "non-member observer state” of the UN, it is largely a symbolic gesture which expresses the right of the Palestinian people to their own state. It has though enabled the Palestine Authority to join a number of international organisations including UNESCO and the International Criminal Court, which is currently considering an allegation that Israel has committed war crimes against the Palestinians through its building of settlements on occupied territory. What exists on the ground is a limited from of self-government in a part of the West Bank the majority of which is under full Israeli military control.

Finally, (and I do apologise for the length of this post) in response to Jonny’s question, “If you were Israel today, what would you do?”, I suggest the following. Firstly, as a prerequisite to any progress towards a just settlement, I would publicly acknowledge that the creation of the Israeli state came about through the dispossession of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948. Secondly, I would begin to talk to Hamas. After all, as someone once said, "You don't make peace with your friends. You make peace with your enemies." 

From Will Kaufman

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

The Council are not arbitrarily "harassing" Christine Drake. They are responding to, and acting upon, received complaints - as it is their job to do.

From Allen Keep

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Jonny, this is a forum -not a dialogue between you and me. I'm not sure why you have singled me out to respond to by name. It's almost impossible to reply to your "open letter" to me not least because, forgive me, I struggle to make a great deal of sense of it, and partly because it would take great lengths to do so which I suspect would be of no great interest or help to others here - which is the point of a forum really. 
However, you have called me out in public so I'll make a few points:

I turned your question back on you because I felt there was a sense from you (that I am all too familiar with) that anyone opposing the Israeli state is somehow a closet anti-Semite and wants to see Israeli men, women and children driven into the sea. I was exploring and challenging that notion with you because, as I have said a number of times, it is a very dangerous notion indeed to assume that those who are against the state of Israel are essentially anti -Jewish or that somehow Isreal is off-limits to criticism, severe criticism, because those that who do are “targeting” Israel exclusively - which emerges as your belief and which I reject entirely. 

I imagine you think I have no problem with any other state in the world – would you like a list?! I took to the streets against the Apartheid regime in South Africa and against the British occupation of my own country and I identify with many struggles, thank you.

Of course this argument is not new and has picked up very recently in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement in the USA (people who know a bit about racism) who have taken a position (argued by a Jewish American I believe) that Israel is practising apartheid against the Palestinians, something I recall Naomi Wolfe echoing a while back. I also recall an advert in the New York Times a few years ago by Holocaust survivors and their descendants (people who know a bit about persecution) claiming that Israel was practising a genocide (their words) and arguing that Israel was pursuing the “racist de-humanization of Palestinians”(sic). Would you accuse these people of anti-Semitism as you effectively do me?  They too have no reason to criticize Israel have they… apart for the fact they simply hate the state? I’m not hiding behind the fantastic tradition of Jewish anti-Zionism.  I’m inspired by it and in order to illustrate that your attempt to de-legitimise opposition is entirely erroneous. To you, opposition of Israel is not about justice, equality, freedom – it’s not about politics, campaigning or demonstrating – it’s about hate, the hatred of Jews. Sorry Jonny, not guilty. Never.

You could of course counter the allegations of Apartheid and Genocide as part of the DNA of Israel as many do very well but your defence of Israel appears to amount to not much more than you can’t really comment on its history, which is fundamental to understanding the nature of the state, because you weren’t there. Not good enough I’m afraid. Let me ask you about something I’m sure you are very aware of - what is your view on the Nabka? 

Where do you stand?  Let’s turn the question around – what does make Israel a legitimate and progressive state?

You will have to do better than your claim that some Palestinians chose to leave the new state (which you say has been there a long time, as it that makes any difference, but is in fact younger than my sister) and some chose to stay as an explanation - and you’ll have to explain your position on the Palestinian right to return. You’ll also have to improve on the frankly absurd claim that the Palestinians who chose to stay have equal rights in Israel.  I suppose they have equal opportunities, life chances, outcomes and they have the same voice in the “only democracy in the middle east” do they?  Just as black and white people have in the USA I suppose – the “most advanced democracy in the world” and Israel’s biggest ally.

I object to you simply bracketing Chris Drake and I together as indeed others have done here. There's quite a range of individual people, strains of political thought and organisations that essentially defend the legitimacy of the Israeli state, some of whom are active protagonists and supporters and some who are extremely critical - the article that was posted here and Will recommends illustrates that very well.  I happen to disagree with the author on a number of issues but I don't lump him (or those that do happen to agree with him) or indeed yourself in with the Zionist racist zealots within the state of Israel that perpetrate the xenophobic hatred of Arabs.

Why then do you lump me in with not only Chris but “theocratic fundamentalists and extreme nationalists”? Perhaps all opponents of Israel are essentially the same?

It reminds me of a time, not long ago, and not far away, when if you dared to question the state of Northern Ireland, the “consensus” on its legitimacy, the role of the British in creating it and its perpetuation (by occupation no less) of inequality and discrimination of its minority population - or supported a march or a protest or waved a few placards around (which I did) you were obviously a paid up member of the IRA who advocated the killing of British civilians.

As for two states?....it's a "solution" advocated by many including much of the mainstream left, Zionists like yourself, sections of the Palestinian elite and, until Trump decided that "what the hell, one state, two states whatever you guys over there want" so did the USA. You'd think that with that degree of consensus it would be a done deal. However it rests, in my opinion, on an essentially racist assumption that ordinary Arabs and Jews in the region have differences that can never be resolved and which can only be managed by keeping them away from each other, apart from each other. In other words, institutionalised division – I don’t accept that, I’ve fought against it all my life.

I won’t change anything much but I will do what I can. I will support boycotts and demonstrations and campaigns against the oppression of Palestinians and against anti -Semitism, as I always have. I do take sides - I’m against both. 

It will however be the  mass of ordinary people of the region, Jews and Arabs together,  that will ultimately shape the future there which I hope will be a united, secular, democratic state. 

Finally Jonny, thanks for pointing out that anti -Zionists like me are totally unclear about our goals which are counter- productive anyway while Zionists like yourself are completely clear about your sometimes hopeless aspirations and distant goals (your words). That really helps.

From Jonny Gale

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Ron, thank you for engaging with my question. If Israel did both of those things which you suggest, I wonder how many anti-zionists would then stop calling for an end to the State of Israel. Would Hamas stop its calls for the killing of Israelis? I rather think it would make no difference to that position.

Clearly, there is a distinction between opposition to the actions of the State of Israel and opposition to its very existence. The former is not anti-semitic, nor is it necessarily anti-zionist.  From what I see of Ta’ayush it appears to fall in the former category. As to the latter position, which (correct me if I’m wrong) must be the anti-zionist position, it needs explaining in terms of the reason and the mechanics of how that would be done. Countless countries, including our own, and including the USA, were made out of dispossession, oppression and war. Why must Israel pay the ultimate price on that account? Why must Israel alone have to prove that it is legitimate? Anti-zionism cannot dissociate itself from anti-semitism, when it is only the Jewish State which is constantly on trial for its life. My view on the Nabka? Of course it was a tragedy that people were driven from their homes. Many Palestinians were not driven from their homes, but stayed, and their children are very much part of Israeli life. They are not massacred, disappeared or kidnapped. Had it gone the other way in 1948 there would probably have been another Jewish Nabka. But all those people could have had their own state back then, and their children still can. Trust needs to be built. The obstacle is hate.

I agree that not all anti-zionism is necessarily motivated by anti-semitism (though some clearly is), but even where it is not, how can hate end hate? Surely the better answer would be for Israelis and Palestinians to develop a peaceful relationship going forward as equals enjoying self determination as full citizens of their respective states, or wherever they choose to live. Calling for the destruction of one state cannot be constructive in this regard. The leadership too often sees it as a zero-sum game, and I’m afraid that is true of Hamas, and true of anti-zionists (whom I do not “lump together” with Hamas (whatever that means) merely draw the parallel that they seem to share a proximate goal).

Allen, I have not accused you of being an anti-semite. I just do not understand your position. Do you think that if the State of Israel were no more, something could organically replace it which would be better which you hope could be united, secular and democratic? This seems unlikely, given the tension between those three adjectives in a region where differences in religion divide and the majority is unlikely to favour a secular regime. Israel with all its faults is probably the nearest thing to that at the moment.

I do not mean to single people out and the reason I use names is to identify the comment. Now you mention it, my use of the letter format is clumsy and I take your point. I do not make any judgment about a person just because of their opinion on this issue. I merely engage with the subject and the comments. Similarly, I do not hold any view beyond criticism merely because it is expressed by a person whom I might respect.

From Michael Wray

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Given that freedom of speech is important, perhaps the best thing to do would be for the council to create a rota for the spot which Chris occupies then any interested parties could put their names down and have a go provided they followed reasonable guidelines - I'd suggest don't take up too much space, no graphic images and be polite at all times.

From Phil M

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Spot on Michael!!

It would be fantastic if the council actually encouraged an area for causes promoted within boundaries of common sense! 

Freedom of speech has never been a question, but non aggressive, non graphic are things which unfortunately Chris has proven not to be!

From Will Kaufman

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Michael Wray - sort of a managed Speaker's Corner? I'd go for that - if not in the Square then in some other designated spot like Bridge Gate or the edge of Calder Holmes Park.

From David Jackson

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Allen Keep, you cite some examples of Jews taking anti-Zionist positions; you could have given many more. You then go on to draw a conclusion from those examples. Although it contains a false assumption, I can see nothing wrong with the form of your argument. Indeed, you might be interested to know that this type of argument has been used by Talmudic scholars since ancient times to interpret and analyse texts. The technique is known in Hebrew as ‘kal vachomer’ and in Latin as ‘argumentum a fortiori’. If I can paraphrase it and make explicit the assumption on which it depends, your argument goes like this: if even a Jew (who, one would presume, would be well-disposed towards Israel) hates Israel, then a non-Jew who also hates Israel can do so with confidence. Implicit in this argument is a certain presumption about Jews as a group, namely that they are inclined to support Israel. That is unwarranted. Generalisations about Jews as a group are often construed as antisemitism.

Jonny Gale, you consider whether opposition to Israel’s existence is antisemitic and conclude that “it needs explaining in terms of the reason and the mechanics of how that would be done”. This is where it’s useful to have a definition of antisemitism. The definition that was adopted earlier this year by the government - and approved by Labour - is a bit vague, perhaps intentionally so. But it does list several examples of antisemitism, one of which is “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour”. That would seem to cover your case.

From Allen Keep

Sunday, 30 July 2017

David, I think if you look carefully at what I have said you will see I have made no assumptions whatsoever about all Jewish people as a group.

The examples I gave illustrate that many Jewish people oppose the state of Israel on the grounds not of "hate" but because they are opposed to what they identify, correctly in my view, as the racist nature of the  Israeli state. The point I am making is that Jewish people, simply by virtue of their religion are not "pre-disposed" to identifying with Israel - quite the opposite of what you are suggesting is my implicit assumption.

I suppose an assumption I am making is that those Jewish people who oppose Isreal are not doing so because they are anti-Semitic, which doesn't seem an unreasonable position to take and highlights the stupidity of the assertion that those that do denounce Isreal for these reasons somehow are, implicitly or otherwise. My argument, and the examples I chose to illustrate it, whether referring to Jewish or non-Jewish opposition, were in the context of making the important point that opposition to Isreal is entirely legitimate and not de-facto rooted in anti-Semitism while acknowledging that some who oppose Israel may be motivated by such beliefs.

Labour's definition of anti-Semitism as you have quoted it seems to suggest that opposing Isreal on the grounds that is a racist endeavour that somehow attacks all Jewish people. By your logic it would seem that this policy, not I, makes presumptions and generalisations about all Jewish people? Perhaps you should be labelling this policy as anti-Semitic in which case I am surprised you are recommending it to Jonny?

You can say what you like about a fortiori arguments and insidiously assign to me implicit assumptions I am not making David but if you, or anyone else wants to publically and explicitly accuse me of being an anti-Semite on a published forum why don't you just do so and we can take it further?

From Michael Prior

Monday, 31 July 2017

I once asked a leading member of Hamas, the elected leadership party of Gaza, whether they would recognise the State of Israel. "Of course" he replied "But which State do you mean. The 1948 borders, the borders after the '67 war, the line of the separation fence or the land occupied by settlements in the West Bank"

This, of course, is the heart of the matter. In May, this year, The Guardian reported that Hamas had published a new charter. "...the new document states that Hamas “considers the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital along the lines of 4 June 1967, with the return of the refugees and the displaced to their homes from which they were expelled, to be a formula of national consensus”.

In other words, they would recognise a State of Israel based upon the 1967 borders. The present Israeli government will not accept this, however. It wishes to retain state control over land outside these borders including much of the Jordan Valley, now used for intensive agriculture by Israeli agri-business, land inside the separation wall but outside the '67 border and, perhaps most important, land occupied by the West Bank settlements which have been universally condemned as illegal under international law. It is worth emphasising that the political existence of the current Israeli government depends upon support from MPs elected by these settlers.

Much of this discussion has entered rather elusive theoretical areas concerned with definitions of anti-semitism and whether anti-Zionism is equivalent to opposing the state of Israel on racist grounds. The practical issue is, of course, nothing to with this. It is concerned with the practical political issue of whether Israel is prepared to accept that its borders are those of 1967 and that the West Bank settlements are illegal. No one, except possibly some very fundamentalist Orthodox Jews, disputes the right of a State of Israel to exist. But, as the Hamas representative accurately responded, which State do you mean?

It is this issue which concerns Chris Drake in the Square. I have, incidentally, still received no reply from Neighbourhoods supremo Pitts. I will shortly be asking our councillors to give their responses to actions by a man who threatens a local resident with immedaiate legal action based upon spurious information then takes what it seems is a very long holiday.

From Paul Clarke

Monday, 31 July 2017

I thought it might be helpful for people to have a look at the new Hamas charter issued this year which unlike some local armchair diplomats pragmatically accepts that Israel will continue to exist if negotiations on borders can be concluded.

I suspect it is a document that Ms Drake - and some of her cheerleaders - have not bothered to read.

From Allen Keep

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

It would be nice Paul, if just for once you posted without having a swipe at someone - I think you'd make an excellent diplomat yourself.
Thanks for the link though - it's good when people put informative stuff on threads. I wasn't fully aware of the Hamas charter although that's not quite the same as not being bothered is it? I'll settle back into the armchair I spend so much time in and give it a read. 

Meanwhile, on a break from turning cartwheels and waving pompoms around for Chris Drake, I was thinking about David's "definition" of anti-Semitism as, unlike Michael, I think it has very much to do with this. 
Firstly, and pardon my ignorance, is that definition one that has indeed been adopted by Labour? Paul, I'm sure you will know? 

I was also interested in the notion of "Jewish self-determination" contained within it which some may, or may not, find relevant to the issue of the "existence" of Israel. A friend sent me this link to an article I found interesting and others might too.  Check out the discussion following - makes this one look rather tame!

From Jonny Gale

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Thank you Paul Clarke. 

Out of interest, here is the Hamas Covenant pre 2017: 

(If someone could tell me how to insert a hyperlink I would be grateful)

I'm not sure there's much to chose between "Old Hamas" and "New Hamas".

From Ron Taylor

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Jonny writes, “Surely the better answer would be for Israelis and Palestinians to develop a peaceful relationship going forward as equals enjoying self determination as full citizens of their respective states, or wherever they choose to live.” Fine sentiments but let’s look at what happened to perhaps the only real attempt to resolve the conflict - Oslo.

Following years of negotiations. the Israel government and the PLO signed the Oslo Accords in 1993.Two years later the Interim Agreement, also known as Oslo II, came into being whereby the West Bank would be transformed, so it was thought, into an independent Palestinian state.

Under the terms of Oslo II the Israeli military would gradually withdraw, first from the cities and larger towns ( known under Oslo as Area A), then later the rural areas surrounding them (Area B) and finally the 60 percent of the West Bank, Area C. These arrangements were only ever partially implemented. Area C remains firmly in the grip of the Israeli military.

The number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank – not counting occupied Jerusalem – has risen from 110,000 in 1993 to an estimated 400,000 today, all of whom live in Area C in contravention of international law. During the same period Israel has demolished over 15,000 Palestinian structures including homes, water systems, agricultural buildings and other vital property. Today there are 4,500 outstanding demolition orders on Palestinian structures. The effect has been a de facto annexation of Area C  where the Israeli system can largely do as it pleases and thereby ensuring no viable Palestinian state can come into being.

Israel has been able to do this because it has in place in Area C what can only be described as an apartheid system. This does not mean that Israel is just like South Africa once was; it is not. Rather its regime of domination and discrimination in Area C fits the bill in terms of the Crime of Apartheid as defined by the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. It describes this crime as inhumane acts of a character similar to other crimes against humanity "committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime."

Some of the features of this regime are as follows:

A dual system of law operates in Area C. Palestinians are subject to Israeli military law - the conviction rate in military courts is 99.7%.Israeli civilian law applies to settlers. A settler and a Palestinian charged with the same offence will be tried in different courts with the settler enjoying rights and legal guarantees denied to the other. Allied to this is the increasing phenomenon of settler violence towards both persons and property. In 2013, there were 93 recorded settler-violence incidents resulting in 146 Palestinian injuries as well as 306 incidents resulting in damage to Palestinian private property. The seriousness of the situation is compounded by the fact that, according to the Israeli legal rights group Yesh Din, the Israeli police are less than effective in bringing the culprits to justice. Between 2005 and 2014 just 7.4 percent of investigation files ended in the indictment of Israelis suspected of harming Palestinians and their property. In the vast majority of cases, the investigators failed to locate the offenders or to collect sufficient evidence for prosecution.

Land:Israel has control of all land-related civil matters, including land allocation, planning and construction, and infrastructure. It is virtually impossible for Palestinians to develop their land. Seventy per cent of Area C is off limits for any kind of Palestinian development. In theory, Palestinians can build in 29 percent but Israel operates a permit system and 94 percent of applications are unsuccessful. In only 1 percent is development allowed. Meanwhile settlements - built-up areas, municipal and regional councils - now cover 63 percent of Area C amounting to 37 percent of the entire West Bank.  Palestinians have no representation in the planning process, settlers do. 

One of the effects of this was highlighted in a report published in 2013 by the World Bank entitled “Area C and the Future of the Palestinian Economy”. The report shows that more than half the land in the West Bank, much of it agricultural and resource rich, is inaccessible to Palestinians. The result, according to the Bank, is a disastrous loss to the Palestinian economy of about US$3.4 billion. The report goes on to say that if businesses and farms were permitted to develop in Area C, this would add as much as 35 percent to the Palestinian GDP.

Israel, as the occupying power, is subject under international humanitarian law to important obligations towards the Palestinian population. These obligations reflect the fact that international law regards occupation as being in essence a temporary phenomenon, so that the occupying power may not bring about irreversible changes to the occupied country’s physical and legal structure, whereas it has the duty to protect the civilian population against undue hardship.

Israel has failed in its obligations. In fact it does the exact opposite. One particularly grotesque aspect of its abuse of power is its treatment of projects to provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians living under the harsh conditions prevailing in Area C. Across the West Bank the European Union, as well as some of its member states, funds projects relating to such necessities as water and electricity supplies, and shelter which Palestinians themselves are forbidden to build. Israel objects to such projects and has embarked on a policy of destruction. 

Here is an extract from a recent EU statement on the matter. “.....The number of structures demolished by Israel in Area C during 2016 (is) 866. 5,704 Palestinians have been affected, of whom 1,221 have been rendered homeless (including 586 children), and humanitarian structures provided by the EU and EU Member States worth approximately EUR 536,000 have been either destroyed or confiscated. EU humanitarian activities are carried out in full accordance with International Humanitarian Law, with the sole aim of providing humanitarian support to the most vulnerable population. In line with its long standing position on this issue, the EU calls upon the Israeli authorities to halt demolitions of Palestinian houses and property, in accordance with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law, and to cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of designating land for exclusive Israeli use and of denying Palestinian development.”

Jonny, the above just part of Israel’s contribution to peace over the last 20 years and more. It would be harder to dream up a situation more guaranteed to incite hate. And yes, Palestinians do hate - they hate the demolition orders, they hate the bulldozers that destroy their property, they hate the violence by settlers,they hate the destruction of their olive groves, they hate the injustice of unequal treatment and so on.But in my experience, they are quite clear that not all Jews are responsible. Rather it is those who represent Zionism. That is why I am an anti-Zionist. 

Oh, and by the way Jonny and Paul, have you read the Likud Party’s charter ? No Palestinian state, ever.

From Paul Clarke

Friday, 4 August 2017

I have a huge amount of respect for Ron Taylor and I'm grateful he points out that Likud are unreasonable. But no-one on the left would look to Likud for an answer any more than any serious leftist would look to a bunch of homophobic fascists like Hamas for a solution.

I would look to Labour in Israel and the Israeli peace movement for a steer.

I may be missing it but could Ron point me in direction of the policies of the opposition parties in Gaza or what the leaders of the peace movement in Gaza are saying?

From Michael Prior

Friday, 4 August 2017

On Tuesday, I sent the following email to the three Calder Ward Councillors.

You will be aware that it is 3 weeks since Head Of Neighbourhoods A.Pitts sent a letter to Ms C.Drake dated the 7 July and delivered by Highway Enforcement Officer M.Smith on 12 July. This letter was almost  copy a letter sent by Director - Economy and Environment M.Thompson almost two years previously dated 27 August, 2015 and contained identical allegations that were factually incorrect about Ms. Drake's use of street furniture in St George's Square Hebden Bridge. On 13 July, Mr. Pitts then had a letter dated 13 July and delivered by Mr.Smith which threatened Ms.Drake with "legal action and further direct action" if she did not stop using street furniture.

I have sent two emails, the first two weeks ago, to Mr.Pitts as a concerned resident and taxpayer in Calder Ward as to his lazy and incompetent action in this matter; that is copying an old letter which contained incorrect allegations and his failure to remedy this. I have received no reply. You have been copied into these emails but have also sent me no comment.

I would like ask you directly some questions regarding this matter:

1) Were any of you ever consulted or advised by Mr.Pitts as to the action which he proposed to take in the ward which you represent? Asa he contacted you since with any explanation of his action?

2) What is your view of a Council officer using an out-of-date letter sent by another Council officer and not bothering to check if the accusations in this old letter were valid? Does it not strike you as both lazy and incompetent?

3) What is you view about the use of street furniture made by commercial and non-commercial users of St. George's Square.

4) Will you support the use of Council resources if, as Mr. Pitts threatens, legal action is taken against Ms.Drake under Sec132(1) of the Highways Act, 1980 which could result in a fine not exceeding £100?

Thank you for your attention.
Michael Prior

Their responses will be interesting, if forthcoming.

In relation to the side topic of this thread, this article written in an Israeli newspaper may be of interest.

From Jonny Gale

Friday, 4 August 2017

Ron. I am not even going to begin to attempt to defend the Likud. They and Hamas show how easy it is for extremists to win support when hatred becomes is entrenched.

Zionism and Israel have been around a lot longer than the Likud and that party certainly does not have a monopoly on zionism, any more than the USSR had a monopoly on socialism. If the Likud were truly zionist they would act in Israel’s best interest, and that has to be for peace with a free and democratic Palestinian State, and all the other countries in the region, with whom eventually Israel could trade and share its technology.

By the way. Thank you for acknowledging that Israel is not just like South Africa. You are quite right to focus on Area C.

The situation in Area C is deplorable and unacceptable for everyone especially the Palestinians living there. But in terms of law, imagine the outcry if Israel tried to impose Israeli civilian law on Palestinians in the West Bank. I think it would be fairer to impose military law on settlers as well. (Btw what is the legal system like in Gaza? Is it humane and fair?)

Other unfairnesses are motivated, rightly or wrongly, by a fear that, provided with resources and left to their own devices, Palestinians in receipt of assistance will devote their resources to belligerent aims, against Israel, even at the expense of their own people. There is evidence, in Gaza, which is not under occupation, in the form of tunnels and rocket attacks, that this occurs.

In terms of housing and planning policy, I agree that this seems to be part of a wrongheaded and misconceived plan by the ruling Likud. it is a strategy with which I, and many zionists, profoundly disagree on the basis that it goes in the opposite direction of what I think has to be the goal, which is the existence of a Palestinian State at peace with Israel. It is perfectly obvious to me that, long term, Israel needs a free and democratic Palestine as an ally, The establishment of such a Palestinian State is not only right and compatible with Zionism. It is essential for the long term prosperity and flourishing of the State of Israel. There is no alternative to it.

The Oslo accords cannot really be relied upon in an argument against Israel.  The Oslo Accords, detailed though they were, did not proscribe settlements, nor did they compel full unilateral withdrawal with no strings attached. They were not meant to be the ultimate goal. Further agreements were envisaged under which full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank was to be achieved, and there were territorial disputes and sticking points which were parked temporarily. The Oslo agreements were meant to be the start of a much longer process on a road map towards the establishment of a full Palestinian State, combined with peace in the region, and, like all contracts, there were obligations on both sides.

Israel largely complied with the letter of most of its specific obligations under those accords, and I think if one examined each side’s performance against its obligations under those agreements, one would find that the PLO failed to comply with more obligations, including revision of the Palestinian National Charter, termination of Palestinian activities outside PA controlled areas, confiscation or licensing of all weapons, incarceration of terrorist suspects, imposing agreed imitations on the security force and their weaponry. In the end, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas publicly repudiated the accords. Whatever you think of the Oslo Agreements, you cannot just base an argument on only Israel’s alleged failure to comply. 

This non-compliance by the PLO was a very real problem because in the years following the agreements, as Israel was withdrawing from the territory that it had agreed to withdraw from, a record number of Israeli civilians were being killed by Palestinian paramilitary activity, in particular and notably by Hamas, later to become the elected government of de-occupied Gaza. It does not take much imagination to think how unpopular this made the Oslo agreements in Israel and this resulted, inevitably, in the rise of Netanyahu and the resurgence of the Likud.

It seems obvious to me that. in order for there to be peace, both sides have to be prepared to make territorial concessions, and that must mean, on the Palestinian side, accepting that Israel will exist on some of the territory that the Palestinians, including Hamas, currently claim as their own. Settlement means settling for less than you originally wanted.I don’t think Arafat was prepared to do that when he was given that opportunity by the Barak government. Even since then, the Likud have not always been in power. Sharon's Kadima tried to negotiate just before he went into a coma, (on his way to meet . whoever(?!))… But how can people be expected to negotiate with someone whom they have been convinced is the Devil incarnate?

The beneficiaries of hate are Hamas and the Likud. There are people everywhere who have built their political career on conflict so much that, when faced with a path to peace, they refuse to take it because it will deprive their lives of meaning. I think Arafat was one. I think Netanyahu is another. And as for Hamas. I cannot imagine trying to negotiate a deal when the other side do not recognise your legitimacy, and whose stated aim is to annihilate you. And where every concession you make to them could result in the deaths of your citizens’ children. The wall is a tragedy, but the fact remains that, after the wall went up, Israeli deaths went down. Try telling an Israeli mother that the wall should go.

Which brings me back to my original comment, with which perhaps you do not disagree, which is that hatred and delegitimisation of either side is contributing to the desperately awful situation there, and getting us further away from peace.

From Michael Prior

Friday, 4 August 2017

I have received a response from Councillor Young to the email which I posted above' It reads:

Hi Mike,
Thanks for your e mail regarding Christine Drake.
As a Local Calderdale Councillor I have to represent all members of our community.
Over the past 3 years I have received several e mail from upset constituents regarding the ongoing 3 year protest by Christine in the square.
Regarding your questions:-
1)   Several meetings have taken place with Calderdale Council Officers, Calder Ward Councillors & Constituents and we were fully aware of the proposed action that has now been taken.
2)   The Letter delivered to Christine was drawn up by Calderdale Council Legal Department.
3)   Nobody is allowed to decorate Street Furniture in Calderdale with Posters and images
4)   Obviously I support the action being taken by Calderdale Council.
I assume you will not like my reply on this but as I stated I have to represent all members of our community in such matters.
Cllr Dave Young
Labour Councillor
Calder Ward

I have responded with the following:

Hi Dave

Thank you  for your prompt response. Perhaps Mr. Pitts will get the bug.
You suggest that I will not like your letter. I think it does provide some useful information about this sorry affair. The problem is that you do not answer my questions. Let's start at there beginning:

1) You explain that "Several meetings have taken place with Calderdale Council Officers, Calder Ward Councillors & Constituents and we were fully aware of the proposed action that has now been taken."  I think it fair to ask why Ms Drake was never invited to any of these as it might have resolved things. However with regard to the meetings:

How many meetings were there and what were their dates?

Was the issue of the content of Ms Drake's posters raised by the complainants and, if so, was it pointed to out them that the Council's sole responsibility is to issues relating to amenity and maintenance and that issues relating to public order or anti-semitism were properly a matter for the police?

Were the meetings minuted and, if so, can the minutes be published?

Was there any correspondence with the complainants resulting from these meetings and, if so, can this be published if necessary with the complainant's identity redacted?

You state that you "were fully aware of the proposed action that has now been taken."  Does that mean that you saw a draft of the letter of 7 July? You note that "The Letter delivered to Christine was drawn up by Calderdale Council Legal Department."  Do you mean this letter of the one dated 13 July?

2) When did you become aware that the letter of 7 July is essentially a cut-and-past job of a letter sent out in August, 2015 and that it contains false allegations?

Have you communicated any concerns about this apparent laziness, not to say negligence, to the officers concerned?

3) You state that "Nobody is allowed to decorate Street Furniture in Calderdale with Posters and images". Presumably you are aware that there are numerous examples of street furniture being used in St. George's Square for commercial use. (Street furniture as you probably know includes the surface of the road) Just in case you have not been through it in the past few months I attach an image of one such.

[This image will not paste here but consists of the advertisement for Workshop fastened round a bollard and the Country Coffee board]

Why is it that alone of all the multiple examples of this use, it is Ms Drake who has been singled out? 

Despite Mr.Pitts disclaimer in his cut-and-paste effort, it does look as if Calderdale Council is discriminating against Ms. Drake on the basis of her political position against her Article 10 rights. For those unsure of what this means: Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights states "1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers."  I think we can judge where you stand on this.

From Gary W

Saturday, 5 August 2017

I am pleased to see our local councillor (Dave Young) responding to this issue in the way he has. To insinuate that he isn't in favour of free speech is ridiculous. This lady has been a long standing nuisance in the eyes of very many local residents. Forcing graphic images of dead children on anyone who wants to use the square is not on. 

I won't repeat any of the well worn arguments that have already been made in this thread, other than to say it's time for this lady to move on and I welcome the councils efforts to deal with this. 

From Eleanor Land

Saturday, 5 August 2017

I totally agree with Gary W.  Freedom of Speech an essential part of the way our society is run. I wish the person protesting was willing to listen to other people's points of view about their protest, but she is not.  She was unnecessarily rude when my husband approached her about her photographs. I am glad to hear that the Council are taking action on this. I do not want my grandchildren to have to see these photographs when I walk through the square with them.

From Allen Keep

Saturday, 5 August 2017

I have done Mr Clarke’s homework and I’ve read the Hamas charter.

Interesting that Jonny’s immediate reaction is essentially “same old Hamas” which precisely mirrors the view of Israel to the document. 

However, on face value there are some marked differences between the old and the new (it’s readable for a start) in terms of the language used - which I’m surprised Jonny didn’t acknowledge despite Paul’s recommendation. The new charter carefully avoids the blatantly anti-Semitic tone of the original document which is not only entirely unacceptable but totally counter-productive to the Palestinian cause as Ron has already pointed out in the context of Chris’s protest.

Hamas also now distance themselves from the Muslim Brotherhood and move away from a narrative that explains the conflict as essentially a religious one between Muslims and Jews and, further still, making clear a position that the Palestinian struggle is not against Judaism and Jewish people but against Zionism, occupation and displacement which, interestingly, brings Hamas much closer to the historic position of the PLO. 

To my mind, that can only be welcomed. 

The headline point seems to me to be the assertion that Hamas would accept a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli state with pre-June 1967 borders without formally recognising or accepting the latter (which obviously creates its own internal tension).That, in itself, is an incredibly difficult pill for Palestinians and anyone who supports their cause to swallow. Again, parallels with the peace process in Ireland and the developing position of Sinn Fein and the IRA come to mind.

But Israel/Palestine is not Northern Ireland. Advocates of a two states solution may be well-meaning (although it is also an enduring smokescreen for those who choose to be apologists for the Israeli state) but at best, the theory is spectacularly naïve. An agreement to the Hamas proposal would almost certainly precipitate civil war in Israel and the International Community, whatever that means, is completely incapable of enforcing such a proposal even if it had the will to do so (just look at the sheer volume of resolutions Israel has ignored with impunity).

That’s just my speculation of course - but the reality, surely, is that in any case is the Israeli state has no intention, never has had any intention and never will have any intention of allowing any kind of Palestinian state on the basis of reverting back to the 1967 borders. It’s not going to happen, ever.  

Ron illustrates why brilliantly well – the direction of travel of the Israel state is in entirely the opposite direction.  

Any kind of Palestinian “state” within the post June 67 borders would simply create a Palestinian Bantustan and increase the rate and intensity of oppression even beyond what we are currently seeing in area C and therefore increase the level of conflict further. Hamas could never sign up to that and retain any credibility whatsoever with the Palestinian masses.

Two States is dead in the water and no amount of “diplomacy” can make it work. It’s actually not “pragmatic” at all but a complete dead end and a diversion from real opposition, struggle and resistance - an armchair theory if you like (and a bad one at that) - as whatever guise it takes it can only rest  (and I repeat)on  the essentially racist assumption that Palestinians and Jewish people must be institutionally kept apart. 

I see Paul now suggests we look to the Israeli Labor party rather than the “pragmatic” but also “fascist” Hamas as a source of hope. 

The Labor party of Israel has a new leader who is a multi-millionaire and apparently only joined the party a matter of months ago having previously served in Bibi’s cabinet albeit briefly (all of which bodes well) He is against a return to pre- June67 borders.  

A pause.  Jonny, Paul, tell me – do you support Israel retuning to these borders? Simple enough question really – interesting to see a Zionist and a Labour “Leftist” response to it.Back to Avi Gabbay.  He claims to be in the tradition of Yitzhak Rabin who many will remember as a peace maker for his role in the Oslo agreements (vehemently opposed by Netanyahu at the time) and who, of course, was famously assassinated. Big shoes to fill one might think. But did even Rabin, the darling of the Israeli Labour Left, support an independent Palestinian state?  Has the Labor Party of Israel ever seriously challenged the nature and legitimacy of the Israeli state itself?

While Paul or anyone else is thinking about that they might want to invest in finding out about the Jewish Labour Bund. An interesting story and an organisation, not surprisingly perhaps, with many contradictions- but essentially a working class, Jewish organisation based on trade union principles which was also completely opposed to Zionism (a long time before the creation of Israel).

From Vivienne Crawford

Sunday, 6 August 2017

I'm heartened by the thoughtful nature of people's lengthy comments in this forum on the painful issue of Israel/Palestine.

We're wrestling with the issue of how it might be possible to help, in some small way, to create even if only in imagination  a peaceful and just solution to an agonising conflict with deep historical roots: for me, a large part of the answer is for the West to throw as many resources as possible into developing clean, sustainable energy, so that the toxic influence of Wahhabi Islam's petrodollars  is lessened, and Palestinian children are not brought up with the idea that it's their duty to provide for their families by earning the " martyrs' pension" for them. Israel, less threatened, would be less rigid in its perceived self defence: not all Israelis are right-wing supporters of Netanyahu and settlers. 

I have attempted to speak with Christine Drake in the Square, but been rudely dismissed. She explicitly said that she was not there for discussion, only to express her beliefs. 

I find the assertion of identity between Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto morally abhorrent. I asked Ms Drake how many Jews survived in Warsaw after the Nazis transported most of the population to extermination camps and the few who resisted were burned to death in their homes, & whether she was aware that the Palestinians of Gaza are currently having in excess of 4 children per family - it's a strange kind of genocide which results in an overflowing population, don't you think?

I'm also curious about why she is so passionate in denouncing the temporary installation of metal detectors at Al Aqsa, following the incident when Israeli soldiers were shot in the back by people who then ran back into the compound, as  a violation of Muslim rights over the " 3rd holiest site in Islam", when she doesn't in the least mind that Jews have not been able to pray at their "1st holiest site" since the Jordanian invasion of east Jerusalam in 1948.  

The increasing religiosity of the Palestinian struggle is a cause for rational people to be concerned, not something to be supported. The chants last week outside the mosque taunted the Israelis with a reference to " Khaybar" and a promise that Mohammed would return - 

reminding Jews that after they'd given shelter to the prophet of Islam, they were attacked and their community reduced from one of the longest-established and largest in Arabia, to a wretched surviving fragment who thenceforth were required to hand over half their annual wealth to their Muslim masters. Subsequently, the Jews were expelled entirely. Those of us who support BDS and other actions against the Israeli state surely have a responsibility to take thought for what will happen to Israeli Jews if Israel is weakened and collapses: is Khaybar really a model for the progressive Left? 

I do believe in freedom of speech, but for Ms Drake to assert her domination over public space in order to purvey a very partial narrative, while allowing dissenters no right of reply, is sheer bullying. I agree that setting aside a speaker's corner would be an excellent idea, especially if it were to be used by people who aren't interested in shouting one another down, but in putting our assorted knowledge and experience in the service of collaborative assistance to a region persistently troubled by internal strife, rendered infinitely worse by British imperialism and our addiction to oil. No solution is possible if the needs of only one side in this conflict are considered. 

From Sharlene Ayres

Monday, 7 August 2017

I was shopping in Hebden Bridge.  I met Christine protesting.  I didnt think she was causing a obstruction. You don't have a Speakers' Corner like Burnley, so where else has this lady got to protest? She's a quiet lady, not like some. I hope they can find somewhere for people to speak up. She doesn't put me of shopping in Hebden Bridge. I hope to see Chris again down Hebden Bridge./ She has her rights in the world. I don't know people in Hebden Bridge or understand Palestine.

From David Morby

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

May I start by saying I do have some knowledge of the the Middle East in terms of Israel and Palestine. I have studied the area in an academic sense from the first Intifada whilst at University and have kept an interest in developments ever since. I also fully understand the history in terms of the Balfour Agreement which, in reality led to this situation, respecting that that analysis is somewhat simplistic. I have also visited the area, albeit a little while ago. 

I must also say that I fully respect Christines right to free expression on this subject, and can see some of her points, however I believe there is a little imbalance in her presentation. As for the Council's position, without knowing all the facts I can't comment. However I am sure there is a pressure being applied by some who wish them to enforce the law as it stands in order to remove Christine.

I suppose my point is that protesting time after time in Hebden Bridge is really pointless and borders on self indulgent. If serious debate is what Christine is after and that is normally the desired outcome of protest. Then maybe a similar approach in say, Golders Green, parts of Salford and Leeds would give that result.

From Ron Taylor

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Jonny, I concentrated on Area C for a number of reasons

1. Because I know parts of it intimately and have witnessed many of the breaches of international law and international humanitarian law which occur there on a routine basis.

2.  To illustrate that Israel's policies and practices in Area C are clearly designed to ensure that life for the 300,000 Palestinians still living there is made as difficult as possible thereby ‘encouraging’ them to leave.

3. To demonstrate that Area C is really the graveyard of the two-state solution, killed with great deliberation by successive Israeli governments (of both the Likud and Labour kind) by its programme of intensive settlement construction.

For brevity's sake I didn't go into much detail about the Oslo agreements (for the same reason I didn't mention that in illegally-annexed East Jerusalem, where there are now an estimated 200,000 settlers, Israel's actions are very similar to those carried out in Area C ). 

You are correct, of course, to say that settlement building was not specifically proscribed under Oslo although Israel is well aware that all settlements on occupied land are illegal under international law. Most serious commentators on Israel/Palestine agree that the foremost reason for the failure of Oslo is Israel's continuing programme of colonisation.

As you say, Jonny, Likud does not have a monopoly on Zionism; indeed there are many political parties in Israel which are Zionist, including the Labour Party. The problem is with Zionism itself and that the creation, in a part of the world where there was already a significant non-Jewish population, of a Jewish state with a large Jewish majority, would necessitate a major displacement of the Palestinian population . In other words, population transfer was inevitable and inbuilt in Zionism and everything that results from this logic is an extension of it, including Israel's policy and practices in Area C. No attempt at any kind of resolution of the conflict can hope to succeed if it does not recognise this and address the issue of the rights of refugees. 

In respect of the references to Hamas, an organisation I do not like and do not support, there needs to be some understanding of the context in which it prospered. Two aspects of this context in particular need to be understood. Firstly, Israel encouraged the development of Hamas in the late 1970s, seeing it as a counterbalance to the secular Fatah - a classic colonial strategy. Secondly, Israel’s policies following Oslo, particularly its settlement building, drove many Palestinians into supporting Hamas to the extent that it won the Palestinian national elections in 2006.

(Paul, I can’t answer your question with any great accuracy, but I suspect that it is difficult for other parties to operate in Gaza).

Both Allen and myself, plus many others, are clear that the two-state solution (TSS) is dead (either in the water or in Area C). A journey round the West Bank would convince anyone of that. So my question to Jonny is this, “Now that Israel has killed off the TSS what should Israel do?”

From Helen B

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Chris Drake's protest in the square is important for me because her presence and political stance encourage debate. Hebden Bridge is  more than an eating, shopping, drinking mecca. The town is in danger of becoming a bubble as it wholeheartedly embraces the perceived needs of tourists and attempts to silence anyone who is a challenge to that image. 

From DB Cooper

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Helen, with the greatest of respect, I fail to see how the presence of a single-issue campaigner such as Ms Drake can encourage any kind of 'debate', nevermind act as any kind of counterbalance to the ongoing twee touristification of this town.

From Michael Prior

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The actions of Calderdale Council in attempting to stop Chris Drake's pro-Palestinian demonstration in St. George's Square has now reached new and scandalous heights.

First, they attempted to stop her protest on the basis of a letter citing the Highways Act. This letter was a cut-and-paste of a letter sent to Ms. Drake in August, 2015 and contained allegations about her use of the Square which were clearly and demonstrably false. It is becoming clear that this action was based upon the content of Ms. Drake's posters rather than any problem concerning the amenity or maintenance of street furniture and thus exceeded the legal limits of the Council's authority.

This conclusion is based upon the total silence of the Head of Neighbourhoods A. Pitts, who signed the letter, and of all the local Calder councillors who were, as Cllr. Young  has stated, involved in the process, to respond to repeated questions about this matter.

Second, having proceeded on a path unjustified by its legal power, Calderdale Council has responded to criticism in this forum discussion by banning access to it in the public computers under its control in Hebden Bridge Library and, possibly, beyond.

To do this, they have used software installed, presumably, to prevent accessing porn sites and the like. This is clearly an act of political censorship.

The allegations made in this thread can be summarised as follows:

Laziness in that rather than drafting a new letter based upon the current situation, a cut-and-paste of an out-of-date letter was used.

Negligence in that this cut-and-paste letter contained allegations about Ms. Drake's use of street furniture which were not true. This negligence means that the prosecution, threatened in a second letter to Ms. Drake and based upon this letter, would almost certainly fail.

Criminality. In threatening Ms. Drake in this way, the Council has breached her human rights under Article 30 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This Convention has since 1998 been incorporated in domestic UK law. Consequently, the Council and individuals acting for the council are guilty of a criminal offence.

Censorship by blocking access in a public forum to material contained in a well-respected local internet site.

Barminess. Although not susceptible to the same kind of documentary proof as the first 4 allegations, there is some reason to believe that the Council officers concerned and the 3 local councillors have succumbed to some kind of midsummer madness.

As they will know very well, this discussion is open to any of the Council officers and, particularly, the local councillors to respond and, if they can, to refute these allegations. 

Calderdale Council have confirmed to the HebWeb that all its pages are once again available to library users - Ed

From Jonny Gale

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Ron, I will tackle your question by saying at the outset that I do not agree with its premise, as it consists of a lazy metaphor. The Two State Solution (TSS) is an idea and cannot be dead any more than it can be alive. You, Hamas, and the far right of the Likud have all pronounced the TSS “dead” but that does not make it a bad or impossible idea. The majority of Israelis, and the majority of the world, see the self-evident, almost tortological truism, that the TSS is the only solution that does not involve annihilation for one side or the other, and most likely both. It is only “dead” insofar as the extremists have pronounced it so. I believe my more moderate views are more in step with the majority of sane people on this planet. and although it seems the tide of history seems to be flowing against us at the moment, that is why it is more important than ever to stick to our position.

As to your argument about Zionism, I fully understand the narrative that the injustice of the administration of Area C is part of a plan to expand Israel, so as to obliterate any chance of Palestinian state., and that that plan is an integral part of zionism. Again, Hamas and the right of the Likud agree on that point and peddle that narrative. I do not accept it and neither do the majority of Zionists or Israelis. 

The real quarrel here is not between Jews and Muslims or between Israelis and Palestinians, but between moderates who are willing to compromise, and extremists, who live for conflict. Sadly it seems the latter are winning globally at the moment, but their success is on course to destroy us all.

You point out rightly that the establishment of the state of Israel involved the displacement of a large number of people. If you agree that is a bad thing, then why advocate the destruction of the State of Israel, which would result in much much more displacement and worse?  I am hard-pressed to think of the formation of any state which did not involve population displacement and yet nobody questions the legitimacy of, for example, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, whose formation around the same time as that of Israel involved the largest displacement in human history, and countless unimaginable atrocities which are only now being revealed. It displaced several times the number of people as those displaced at the formation of Israel. 

In Palestine had the 1948 “War of Independence” gone the other way, there would likely have been displacement, or worse, of the Jewish population there.

Modern Turkey, to take another example, was formed over the dead bodies of hundreds of thousands of Armenians, and the eradication of Ottoman, or Arab, culture from the nation, and there was ethnic cleansing between Greece and Turkey at around that time. No-one questions Turkey’s legitimacy though its human rights record is far worse than that of Israel. Incidentally, the term ethnic cleansing was coined during the formation of the fully legitimate states comprising the former Yugoslavia.

Going further back, I know of a country whose original inhabitants were hunted and sacrificed and confined to the fringes and whose beliefs and language and culture were all but eradicated, and which country built up a very real and widespread empire, subjugating and starving the population of the neighbouring island and shipping slaves across oceans, and towards it dying days, committing massacres and using concentration camps. No-one ever suggested that country was illegitimate on that account, and such a suggestion would be absurd.

As for the United States of America, where is the anti-US movement for a native American state? Why is there no boycott of the USA? Obviously the reason is that, whether you like it or not, those countries exist, and it would be of no benefit to turn back the clock to an arbitrary time in history when the Britons enjoyed full power over the land (but we do not know who they got it from). 

What about the refugees. How is it that of all refugees in history, including periodic generations of Jews, the Palestinians are the only ones who are refugees to the third and fourth generation?  In the case of Greece, Turkey, Croatia and India / Pakistan, the Christian. Muslim and Hindu refugees have been absorbed into their host nations, and integrated so that they can contribute to that society, just as generations of Jews have done over the centuries of their displacement eastward and westward across Europe thoughout the last millennium. The real crime here against the Palestinian people was not the formation of the state of Israel, but the deliberate coralling of them, and grooming of the population, with the complicity of the UNRWA, to store up resentment and hatred, so that their children could be taught hate, and so that they could be used as expendable and bloody human bombs. Imagine if all the displaced Hindus from Pakistan were kept in one Indian Province, and not given full rights as Indians, but instead kept in destitution.

One thing I will say in favour of the original Hamas Covenant, (which appears, incidentally, not to have been expressly superseded by the new charter) at least it has the honesty to acknowledge the fact that Palestine was won to Islam through military conquest. It is patently obvious that all sovereignty originates in such a way, if you go back far enough. Before the Islamic conquest, Palestine was Christian Byzantine. Before that it was Roman. Before that it was Judea. Before that, probably, it was inhabited by a tribe who worshiped an unusual black meteorite - the Rock from which the Dome takes its name. Instead of being so attached to one epoch, we should be looking forward to see how the people there now can achieve self-determination, with minimal bloodshed. 

As for your lumping together of Likud and Labour, it is an extension of the disingenuous logic which says all politicians are the same, so there is no point in voting, and that all politicians are corrupt, so we might as well have Trump.. There was a marked difference in policy between the Likud and Labour. The latter, which was last in power in 2001, had a wholly different attitude to investment in the Palestinian territories. I believe that, ultimately, must be part of the solution. Israel is going to have to pour money and resources into building up Palestinian infrastructure.

Labour had an investment programme which Netanyahu stopped, arguing that much of the money was going to fund terror. And while the horrific terror attacks continued, as they did following Oslo, and before the wall was built, it was not difficult for Netanyahu to persuade the Israeli people of that. Sadly Obama looked as if he was going to hold Israel’s feet to the fire on this, but he was prevented from doing so probably because he lacked any support from the extremists on both sides. I noticed that whenever his administration tried to to anything on Israel, it would get attacked as not extreme enough by both sides. And we wonder why we now have Trump, Netanyahu and Hamas.

As for dismantling the settlements, that was done comprehensively in Gaza. Is life any better there? Is that country less or more of a threat to Israeli children? The answer may tell you why the Israelis are not that keen to disband the settlements in West Bank, though I do not believe Likud and Labour currently have the same policy on this either. Back when Labour was last in government, there was so much on the table, including the dismantling of most settlements, but it was the PLO which would not play. Historically, settlements have made no difference to prospects of peace. Because of PLO intransigence before 2001, Israeli moderates had the rug pulled from under their feet.

Demonisation - terror - mistrust - extremism - oppression - demonisation. The cycle is fed by hate. The only route forward is the TSS. And demonisation and delegitimization of one side by the other is the way to stay o the cycle.

From Simon Z

Friday, 25 August 2017

Like others here I have tried discussion with Mrs Drake but it did not go down well; for example, I asked if she could provide verifiable evidence of the sources of her images - this was during the period when many images from "Gaza" were found to have been faked or lifted from other countries, including many found in the general media - but she made a number of personal assumptions about me and refused to explain who she obtained the images and statistics from.

I am also disturbed at the use of "street furniture" and the aiming of these images at child's eye level (yes, I would say the same if the protest were pro-Israel.)   

I have been worried by the increasingly virulent singling out of Israel in the area, often by people who admit that they have never been, nor seem to take an interest in any other world issue with quite the same vehemence, or to consider the complexity of this matter (as per much of what Jonny has said) and for this reason I cannot for the life of me understand why Chris Drake, or anyone else, would object to the earlier suggestion of a public board in which all who wished to could air their views in a fair and honest way (providing ample opportunity for right of reply and contrasting views), or a "Speakers' Corner" where those inclined could proclaim or debate to their heart's content.  My only fear, especially with the latter, is that there is such vitriol bubbling up at present, that such a facility could see eruptions of violence (yes, even in Hebden Bridge...)

From Allen Keep

Monday, 28 August 2017

I'd be interested in Simon providing some verification of his own to support his claim that images of Gaza including those in the general media were lifted. Perhaps it was "fake news" that children were killed during operation Protective Edge in 2014 including those sheltering in a school under UN protection in Jabalia causing international outrage at the time and with Bank Ki-Moon suggesting "nothing could be more shameful" than the Israeli shelling of sleeping children. 11,000 homes were destroyed and over 2000 Palestinians killed of which 25% were children, nearly 200 of whom were under the age of 6.

That's verifiable.

But it's not really news is it now the bombs have stopped? But amongst the many other issues of injustice and in humanity in the world we must continue to draw attention to the on-going and now critical humanitarian crisis in Gaza and Israel's responsibility for it. The UN now suggest there is a "crisis of human dignity" in Gaza and that it will be "unliveable" in within 3 years with already endemic unemployment, an electricity crisis and over 90% of water undrinkable.

It is quite right therefore, that people should be totally outraged by what is happening in Gaza and that they should protest and speak out. For some reason however, Simon chooses to equate this with "singling out" Israel - going so far as to claim this is "virulent in the area" and is carried out by those who apparently don't take such a "vehement" interest in other world issues. That's quite a claim and made entirely without verification - unless he can provide it?

Jonny makes much the same point, at some considerable length, in his response to Ron's excellent piece about why the two-state solution (TSS) is dead in the water, focusing as he does on Israeli activity in area C as the key illustration as to why this is the case. Yes, of course there are many other states guilty of the most heinous crimes but that doesn't absolve the state of Israel in any way does it? So what Jonny and Simon do is to attempt to deflect legitimate criticism of Israel and Zionism or obscure the nature of the state, it's very DNA, which is that it is based on the institutionalised oppression of the Palestinian people. And indeed they must do as Jonny at least believes that the creation of a Jewish state by force where there was none and its perpetuation and continued expansion is somehow legitimate and that, in any case, Arabs and Jews cannot live together in a common, democratic state.

Clinging to the TSS is simply a part of this charade and while Jonny complains about lazy metaphors he utilises a tautological argument of his own i.e. that TSS is "self-evidently" the "only" solution to the conflict. That's handy. But there's more. Apparently, only "extremists" oppose the TSS (I wasn't aware Ron was an extremist) - while not just some but "the majority" of the planet's sane people, like Jonny, support the theory.

I never knew that.

As for Ron's points about Area C - Jonny acknowledges his understanding of Ron's "narrative" in relation to Israel's actions and motivations, which is good to know, but simply doesn't accept it -which sounds like a very lazy argument to me and, despite references to compromise and moderation, he  conveniently  fails to address the issue of the post 1967 borders which may at least be a starting point if TSS had any hope of succeeding and the ongoing expansionism and the continuing terrorising of Palestinians in Area C which he simply sidesteps.
Unfortunately,what happens in Area C cannot be ignored so it would be good to hear Jonny and Simon's response to the news last week that Israel razed a junior school near Bethlehem the day before the start of term for its children (this is far from an isolated occurrence, also verifiable).

The school had been built, partly funded by EU money, so the village children didn't have to walk miles to other schools and for it to be a community asset.

A reminder here, that while the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank have responsibility for health and education the Israeli state has responsibility for "security control" (occupation) and land use and infrastructure (under Oslo). The building was denied planning permission as so many Palestinian developments are (while illegal Jewish settlements are allowed of course).

Now, there are ways to resolve planning permission issues that we are all familiar with here but the Israel state prefers to use the military and bulldozers as the enforcement methods of choice. Shocking isn't it? But of course the "narrative" of Israel trying to depopulate illegally occupied Area C of its people is not accepted by some. 

The EU, in response, issued a statement part of which read as follows:

"Every child has the right to safe access to education and States have an obligation to protect, respect and fulfil this right, by ensuring that schools are inviolable safe spaces for children," 

"In line with its long-standing position on this issue, the EU calls upon the Israeli authorities to halt demolitions and confiscations of Palestinian houses and property in accordance with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law, and to cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of designating land for exclusive Israeli use and of denying Palestinian development."

Does anyone think Israel will listen?

From Ron Taylor

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Jonny, the Two-State Solution (TSS) was not just an idea, it was a plan to bring to some sort of resolution to the Israel/Palestine conflict. Whether it was ever likely to be successful is debatable. Nevertheless for two decades and more it has formed the basis of the policies of most countries towards the issue, including,of course, the UK. That the plan has not come to fruition is largely, in my view and that of many others,due to the policies of successive Israeli governments’ to continue the colonisation of the West Bank. Perhaps, as you say, the idea is still around but plainly the plan isn’t. As I wrote in my previous post it is not just myself and Allen (oh, of course, Hamas and Likud too) saying this but most serious commentators. As Allen rightly says the peace process supposedly leading to the TSS has been a charade and has provided perfect cover for Israel’s colonisation programme. It is also a way of avoiding the question of what comes next. A single apartheid state ? A single democratic state ?

Incidentally, Jonny, I would much rather be bracketed with the great, fearless Israeli journalist Gideon Levy who wrote, not so long ago, that, “supporters of a two-state solution respond aggressively to anyone who tries to undermine their magical faith in a miracle that what is dead will somehow be resurrected.” I detect some aggression in your comment that I must be an extremist because of my views on this matter. Another example is where you state that I “advocate the destruction of the State of Israel”. This is just not true. I have never said this and do not advocate it. What I do advocate for is equal rights for everyone currently living in under some form of Israeli control. It would be a long and difficult process and would mean, of course, that Israel would have to change from being a democracy for Jews, (despite what you say, Jonny, Palestinians living in Israel do not have equal rights - there are dozens of laws, regulations and practices which privilege Jews over non-Jews), the dismantling of the military dictatorship in the West Bank and talking to Hamas. South Africa ditched apartheid and is still there. Israel should ditch Zionism.

I am pleased that Allen (thanks for your kind words, by the way) mentioned the demolition of a school in Area C, yet another example of Israel’s cruel and illegal policies, and like him would be interested to know Jonny’s and Simon’s response to the news. It happened in the village of Jubbet al Dhib, a place I know well thus the events of a few days ago have particularly angered me. But it is not the first time it has received unwanted attention. Just two months ago the Israeli forces of occupation dismantled and confiscated 96 newly erected solar panels providing electricity for the whole village and largely paid for by the Dutch goverment. And in 2009 the military confiscated a solar-powered public lighting system. The village has been asking for a permit to link to the grid since 1988.On top of that villagers have had diffculities accessing their farm land because of miltary restrictions. Meanwhile, about 400 metres away is the illegal Israeli setllement of Sde Bar which enjoys mains electricity, street lighting and, oh, a school.

From Simon Z

Thursday, 31 August 2017

The first casualty of war is truth.  The examples are too numerous to list here. Even the BBC had to withdraw thousands of images initially said to have been from Gaza.  Many destructive and tragic things have happened in the region.

I asked Chris if she was condemning Hamas in her protest, including their abuse of gay people, or the victims of ISIS who are being slaughtered within a relatively close proximity to the areas we are discussing. She made it clear that she had no intention to do so.  

Although I live some miles from Hebden, I am often there and have encountered many similar examples of this singling out.  Look, I think it is a fairly safe bet that Allen, Ron and others are never, ever going to agree with my position on this matter, no matter how many facts, figures or emotions we each exchange here.

All the more reason for a permanent facility in which the subject(s) can be explored and discussed, so that rather than people displaying placards on street furniture - aimed at child's eye level and without verifiable sources - any materials displayed could be properly vetted for accuracy and not risk of being seen by children or the vulnerable.  A public notice board would also provide a platform for those wanting a right-of-reply, and could serve a great purpose of furthering public and community discourse, without the one-sidedness or antagonism which is sometimes perceived from the sort of demo we are discussing.

This is not an attempt to stifle free speech - part of my job relates to facilitating exhibitions and performances, and there is a big responsibility to ensure these are done in ways which protect the right of the individual to free expression, while also respecting the rights of those who do not wish to encounter them, especially as I say those who are too young to make the decision.  

In case you think I am only attacking the protest due to disagreeing with its theme, as a thought experiment I have imagined that I agree wholly with Chris, but even from that angle I honestly cannot see why she or anyone else would persist with such a protest, knowing it can and will cause distress to children, when other ways of doing it would reduce the risks of this.

There are many things people feel strongly about, for example I think it is very important to portray the true horrors of various conflicts and injustices in the media and in education so that they are not swept under the carpet, but would never dream of doing this in a public square, in the sight of children, in broad daylight.  

So even if Chris suddenly started putting on a demo highlighting, for example, the barbarity of Hamas and their treatment of gays, or the persecutions enacted by the Iranian regime, I would still oppose her doing so in the current way.  

I have racked my brains over this day and night, and honestly cannot understand why the current set up would be morally preferable to anyone, over a properly regulated system along the lines some have suggested on this forum, unless the actual intention of the demo is, in fact, to shock and disturb the vulnerable.

From Will Kaufman

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Simon Z - I agree. Is anyone in the Council listening?

From Allen Keep

Friday, 1 September 2017

Simon, there is no need to list the too numerous to mention examples - just one verified example would do- perhaps the claim that the BBC withdrew thousands of images said to have been from Gaza? It's something I have never heard of and can find no reference to whatsoever. 

Also, I'd be grateful to learn of any of the "many" examples of "singling out" you are aware of in our town? 

Chris's protest is against the Israeli state -does she, or anyone else who opposes Israel, need to account for whether they are, or not, against Hamas, or ISIS? 

I'm happy to state that I am completely opposed to both for what it's worth - why might you assume otherwise?

From Simon Z

Friday, 1 September 2017

Hi Allen, simply Google Gaza Images Fake etc and you will find examples - though no doubt you will still say it is not true. I should clarify though that I ought to have to said the BBC reported thousands of images during the 2014 conflict were found to have been faked, including some in their own news reports, not that they themselves had unwittingly released thousands of fake images. This is an important distinction and I am sorry for my error in communicating this the first time round. 
Nor am I going to list any local examples of this singling out, because doing so could compromise my safety and those of others, and I'm not going to get into anything which implies details of specific venues or locations. 

I am sorry that you have decided to oppose an entire country, regardless of the fact that like all other countries it contains a multitude of people with many different beliefs. When I was helping out with the flood relief I was heartened to find a group from Israel had volunteered, and that others from that country had sent money.  Presumably those who boycott Israel would not want that money or help to have been accepted? It's very sad that such attitudes as Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) persist, but then again by using computers, mobiles and the internet we're all using Israeli technology so I suppose the BDS movement only has  a limited effect!

I don't believe I made any assumptions about your view of Hamas or ISIS, other than Israel I have absolutely no idea what your beliefs are on any subject. What I was trying to say was that when I asked those enacting this particular demo whether their opposition also extended to those groups, they told me flatly that they were not interested.  If their demo was in response to ISIS atrocities, and included graphic images, I would urge just as readily that they take them down, for the reasons previously stated.

All I wish to say now re the rights and wrongs of the conflict its self - I said before that I doubted anyone here would be dissuaded of their position in a forum of this sort, and I've no-one but myself to blame for letting myself get drawn into the debate! I am therefore going to ignore any further questions directed at me personally in relation to the issue, and focus instead on what I believe to be the intended subject of this discussion: the actual demo in St George's Square  and whether it should be permitted, or removed.

Let's forget for a moment that the subject is Israel, and imagine it is the persecution of the Kurds, attacks on Yazidis, the cruelty of the fur industry or anything else from which graphic or violent images could be produced. Let's assume there is 100% verification of the images' authenticity.  Should such images be allowed in a public square, in full view of young children, in broad daylight? That for me is the question here; I know what my answer is, and I'm depressed to think that anyone would prefer such a demo to continue in public view (especially when we know that it has been causing some people to stay away from the town) when the alternative is surely a properly regulated notice board with right-of-reply, and/or a speaker's corner style space, if security concerns are met.  I can't see the problem with this idea, which I believe has been suggested to the Council at public meetings, by people both in agreement and disagreement with Chris Drake's protest.

From Will Kaufman

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Once again, I concur with Simon Z's post. As one of the signatories to the complaint against Christine Drake, let me say that I have no objection to the point of her protest. As a musician I have myself played many benefits for Palestinian causes. Christine would find me an ally standing right beside her (not that she'd necessarily want me) if she would only moderate her imagery and her language.

I cannot countenance a situation where children in Hebden Bridge are afraid to walk through their town square - which they have every right to do - because they are afraid of the scary lady who makes them look at the pictures of open-eyed dead children with flies crawling over their faces. Christine or anyone else may say that that's nothing compared to what the Palestinian children are facing at the hands of Israeli aggression. That may be true, but it is also beside the point. She is intimidating little children in this town, Jewish and gentile, and this cannot be right. 

From Michael Prior

Monday, 4 September 2017

It is probably about time to draw this now rather circular discussion to a close.

The Council have made their epic move by installing a new waste bin away from Chris' location and Chris has responded by using a clothes' rack to display her posters. She tells me that the police have inspected it and have made no comment.

The Council will make no further move after their stupid and incompetent initial response as they know that any attempt to prosecute  Chris will fail partly because of their faulty initial letter and partly because they know that any such effort would actually be a crime under Article 10 of the Human Rights Act given that the complaint was made on the basis of content not illegitimate use of street furniture, the only factor the Council has any legitimate interest in. 

The police have apparently already investigated whether she is guilty of any kind of hate crime or offence of public order (which would include Mr Kaufmann's alleged frightening of children) and have dismissed it. (Given that the same claims about frightening his children appeared in a similar thread to this one over two years ago, I do begin to doubt their veracity).
I have seen the photograph which appears too have formed the basis of the initial complaint by amongst other Mr Kaufman and it is entirely within limits of legitimate political discourse. It does make allegations about Zionism but its also states. correctly, that "Zionism is not Judaism" and that "Judaism is a religion of peace" sentiments with which I am sure all participants in this thread will concur.

Chris will continue with her protest for some 9 hours a week and I doubt that it will make any difference either to the numbers visiting Hebden or to the dreams of children.

From Jeremy Godden

Monday, 4 September 2017

Michael Prior 'doubts the veracity', of Will Kaufman's statement that children (apparently including his) were frightened of pictures in the square. What exactly is he claiming? Would he like to speculate why he thinks Will Kaufman is making this up, if that is what he is implying. Perhaps such a provocative statement does not belong on this thread and it would be better if he met him privately to discuss this if he does think Will Kaufman made this up. It leaves an unpleasant after-taste.

From Louis O

Monday, 4 September 2017

Mr Prior, I do feel you're selective in your references to the law.

Yes, Article 10 states 'Everyone has the right to freedom of expression', however it also states 'The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society...'

Indeed, Article 14 quite rightly explains these issues further; 'The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.'

In addition, the UK also have laws relating to 'hate crime'. Citizens Advice

These guidelines include a description of a 'hate incident' as 'displaying or circulating discriminatory literature or posters.'

These laws also place a sense of perspective on the freedoms we have to express ourselves. As you can see, if an individual believes they are being discriminated against, then they are.

Whilst I applaud your defence of Christine, I ask, would you be happy for the Klu Klux Klan to have a presence in the square, exercising their right to 'freedom of expression'? Or perhaps the English Defence League sharing, displaying and promoting their propaganda?

I moved from Hebden Bridge a few years ago but do remember Christine's presence. I found her and her material offensive, and would avoid the square whilst she was 'resident' especially when with my young son.

From Jonny Gale

Monday, 4 September 2017

Demolishing those schools was the worst thing Israel could have done. Apart from being barbaric. For its own sake. It is in everybody's interest for people to be educated and for there to be jobs and places for teachers wherever they are. And not to create more terrorists. It is an important part of the Two State Solution, which is why I say the current Israeli regime is in agreement with the extremists on "the other side". It's not a "bracket" it's what they have in common. 

I make no excuse for it. There is no defence as far as I can see. 

But I really don't follow you Ron about the Two State Sollution (TSS). If you don't want 2 states and you don't want Israel to be destroyed but you just want it to renounce Zionism (and I don't know what you really mean by that), what about the Palestinians? Do you think they ought to give up their dreams of self determination? If not then surely you envisage a "de Zionised" Israel (whatever that is) alongside an independent Palestinian State. How is that not a 2 state solution? I am really confused as to how you see the ideal ending to this. Should both Jews and Palestinians simply give up their aspirations? A sort of imposed experiment with an end to the nation state to suit the sensibilities of liberal Europeans?

Or are you actually saying that you support a Palestinian State but not a Jewish one. If so, why? 

I am genuinely asking the question because it is really a mystery to me what you would like to see if not a state for Palestinians and a state for Jews at peace with one another. And I agree that we can start by not demolishing one another's schools. It does seem to me that some on the Palestinian side have more of a problem with the building of settlements than with the destruction of schools. They don't have to be part of the same thing. It is sad that people measure their success by others' misery. 

From Will Kaufman

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

This issue is far from at its close.

"Judaism is not Zionism" - true enough. Christine is on shakier ground when she says that "Judaism is a religion of peace," if the Old Testament is anything to go by. I doubt there's any religion on this planet that has proved itself to be a "religion of peace."

But all this is beside the point. Christine's lame throwaways do not serve to counter the anti-Semitism that is truly inscribed into her poster. Since you've elected yourself to be her spokesman, I'd be interested in seeing you engage directly and specifically with her choice of superimposing the Nazi swastika on the Star of David, which is not the symbol of Israel, but rather the symbol of Jews all around the world.

You question the "veracity" of my statements about children's distress. First of all, I never said they were my children, either two years ago or now. I can assure you that children have indeed submitted their complaints to the council. 

From Eleanor Land

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The reason why we have a 9 o'clock watershed is because the media are supposed to exercise a duty of care with regards to content to protect young children.

Unfortunately we have one person who displays such content in our main public square with absolutely no concern about children being subjected to it.  In fact, when challenged by my late husband she positively revelled in telling him she could provide even more ghastly photographs of children with their heads blown off if he preferred.

There is no reasoning with this person. She seems to thrive on upsetting people.  I avoid the square when I am with my grandchildren; it is the only way I can protect them.  Now they wouldn't even have to crane their necks to see these awful images. They have the convenience of them being draped over a clothes airer.  Great!

From Michael Prior

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Perhaps I might respond specifically to the two points raised about my last posting.

Yes, of course, the Article 10 right which reads "Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority..." is limited by laws which relate to the display "in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary." In this country this includes what are loosely called 'hate crimes'. 

However, the point is that all such laws are matters solely for the police and are absolutely no concern of the Council. The police have investigated claims made to them and have dismissed them. The Council, if it proceeds with actions to remove Chris' material, will be doing this on the basis of complaints about content and will be acting unlawfully. They know this and have, so far, in my lengthy correspondence with both officer and councillors have failed to refute this claim.

With regard to Mr. Kaufmann's allegations, all I did was observe that the same allegations formed the basis of his contribution to a similar thread two years ago and the continuing theme does seem a bit odd. The only physical evidence so far provided is a photo that is no more frightening than many film posters. A picture of a child killed by Israeli action may be disturbing to a child or indeed an adult brought up to believe Israel is all good but I am afraid there is a lot of difference between disturbing and frightening. Again, this is a police matter, not a matter for the Council and the police have never intervened in her displays.

From Will Kaufman

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Michael Prior - you haven't dealt with the issue of the anti-Semitic imagery (the Nazi swastika superimposed on the star of David). I can also assure you that one needn't be brought up to believe that "Israel is all good" in order to be offended and disgusted by Christine's images. Anyway, you say that Christine will continue her protest for 9 hours a week. Given that you apparently have access to her schedule, can you perhaps do the neighbourly thing and let us know precisely which hours and days she'll be there, that those of us who wish to avoid her offensive words and images can stay away?

From Michael Prior

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The photograph to which Mr Kaufmann refers shows a swastika on an Israeli flag on a skull. If Mr. Kaufmann has problems with Israel appropriating the Star of David for its flag then he should raise the matter with the appropriate Israeli agency. Meanwhile, I am afraid a national flag is fair game for political protest.

I should also make it clear that the poster explicitly states that it is anti-Zionist and that Zionism has hijacked Judaism. There has been a constant effort by supporters of of the Zionist project to equate anti-Zionism with anti-semitism which it is not. Zionism is a political project and can be attacked as such without incurring any blemish of anti-semitism

From Will Kaufman

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Meanwhile, she's losing allies or potential allies - all over her choice of imagery, which could so easily be modified with no harm done to her protest. 

From Graham Barker

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Six things I’ve learned so far:

1  Chris lacks PR skills.

2  She has a few supporters.

3  Her (and their) clinging like grim death to the principle of free speech isn’t doing the principle of free speech any favours.

4  Even if what she’s doing may not be strictly illegal, it’s sailing pretty close to the wind.

5  We’re stuck with her but this is Hebden Bridge so we’ll grit our teeth and say that’s just about OK.

6  There is not one iota of evidence that she’s advancing the Palestinian cause, and quite possibly several iotas of evidence that she’s achieving the opposite.

Have I missed anything?

From Ron Taylor

Monday, 11 September 2017

Jonny, I first visited Israel-Palestine in 1993. It was a time for optimism. The Oslo agreement was about to be signed and it seemed that a solution to the conflict was on the horizon. Central to this would be two states living side by side. I didn't go there again until 2007 naively thinking that the creation of a Palestinian state was still possible.I was wrong. The more I saw, the more I heard, the more I read made it clear that there was no intention on the part of Israel to ever allow a truly viable, sovereign Palestinian to come into being. My experiences since then have only served to confirm this. Only when it is acknowledged that this is the case can the future of the region be discussed and imagined in an honest way.

There are alternatives to the two-state solution - a single democratic state with equal rights for everyone, a binational state (a political system in which the two groups, Jews and Palestinians, would retain their legal and political character as separate nations or nationalities), a confederation ( two sovereign states, with an open border between them, freedom of movement and residency, and some limited shared governance). These and other possibilities need to be examined by all parties as a matter urgency. None of them are ideal but they are all better than what lies in the future if nothing changes and the status quo is maintained which, in my view and that of many others, is both immoral and unsustainable.

As for the demolished school near Bethlehem, I agree it is a barbaric act but just another aspect of the persecution of Palestinians in the West Bank which mirrors actions against some of the Bedouin communities within Israel itself. But to be clear the whole of the Israeli state is involved in these activities - the demolition of the school and the building of the settlements are all part of the same thing. With that in mind I am at a loss to understand your comment that, "some on the Palestinian side have more of a problem with the building of settlements than with the destruction of schools".

From Allen Keep

Monday, 18 September 2017

Not for the first time, I can’t understand Jonny’s statement either - which seems to criticise Palestinians for making more of a fuss about settlements than the destruction of schools. I can’t envisage a more spectacular example of missing the blatantly obvious point that the two go hand in hand –they are inextricably linked as part and parcel of the continued systematic oppression of Palestinians by Israel. But then there are none so blind as those who will not see and serves as another example of how Zionism entraps not just those it oppresses but those who support it.

I also don’t understand Jonny’s reference to “Jewish aspirations”. What are they?  Whatever they are, are they the aspirations of all Jews? I seem to remember being criticised (incorrectly) for grouping all Jewish people together as if they were all the same. I am also totally mystified by the claim that some people judge their success by other’s misery. What on earth does that mean? I suppose however, that if it was a measure of success Israel would be a world-leading state indeed.

I haven’t and don’t agree with everything those who oppose Chris have been saying (although I think I’ve made it clear that any anti-Semitic material is completely unacceptable) but Will does make a very valid point when he argues that Chris could change the imagery of her protest without compromising her message and be far more effective - and this seems to be the view of a number of people I have discussed this with. 
There is a lot of controversy about using terms like genocide and ethnic cleansing and so forth in relation to Israel and its treatment of the Palestinian people. There is none it seems in using such terms to describe the persecution of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar which has, quite rightly, brought universal condemnation. The US and the EU have an arms embargo on Myanmar but one country alone has defiantly continued to do likewise and stop selling arms to the regime - Israel.  If I were Chris, I would be drawing attention to this on her posters and asking what does it tell us about the Israeli state? Or would that be unfairly singling Israel out?

Some of the Israeli  civil rights campaigners and lawyers who oppose what Israel is doing have made the argument that that Israel  is field testing its weapons and the tactics it advises Myanmar military on for use against the Palestinians. Maybe, maybe not – hard to understand though isn’t it? Even harder to defend.

From Michael Prior

Thursday, 21 September 2017

In view of the various views expressed about the support for Chris, it may be of interest that,  since mid-July, she has been collecting signatures supporting her presence and protesting the Council's action. It has, so far, over 400 signatures which is rather over 5 an hour given that she stands in the Square for around 9 hours a week. Not sure where this stands in the scale of popular protest but it seems pretty good.

From Simon Z

Saturday, 23 September 2017

The number of signatures does not make an issue any more or less right, but even assuming that it did - no-one has ever disputed that many people in Hebden support the protest.  The only question so far as I can see is, should it be permitted in a public square in broad daylight.

1. Unless you can be certain that the images are verified, it is irresponsible to broadcast anything in public. I asked Chris if she could provide verification but she didn't want to discuss the matter. I know from my own experience in film and photography how frighteningly easy it is to produce images which are manipulated, or to say that a photo is of somewhere or something when in reality it is of somewhere or something else. 

2. The free speech argument is hollow. No-one is stopping people from expressing views, just trying to establish where and when this is best done. How many of those clinging to this argument also support the silencing of Israeli speakers, the no-platforming of academics, and try to stop Israeli artists (or those who have performed in Israel) from appearing in Hebden?

3. I know you don't care about this, but the protest is causing some folk to stay away.  My work takes me to different towns and cities, and Hebden is quite well known. I have met some people who say they prefer not to bother going. This in the long term will affect local trade. 

4. On helping with the clear up after the floods, I was heartened to find a group from Israel had flown over to assist. How do you think they would have felt to see this protest renouncing their entire country?  Is this how we welcome our friends from overseas?

5. There will be people who have themselves come from warzones who will see these images. Have you considered the effect that this may have?

6. No one has explained why they think it acceptable to show the imagery in public, viewable by all. The reason we have a watershed, 18 certificates etc, is to protect the vulnerable - including children, who cannot make informed decisions about which images they access.  I note the protest is now largely made up of written statements, but its advocates here have defended the images and presumably still do. None have addressed this fundamental issue.  Do you agree that such a protest should be made up of legally verifiable images, and aimed at adults, or do you believe it is ok to expose the imagery to children and the vulnerable?

From Jeremy Godden

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Michael Prior seems to think he has the right to judge what people feel. He dismisses upset over a swastika on the religious symbol of Judaism as fair game because the Israelis have coopted that symbol onto their flag. What the Israelis have done with this symbol is irrelevant to this point. He has no right to dismiss what a minority group feel about swastikas in the square. It is  upsetting to Jewish people. It is using these symbols to conflate two separate issues -nazis and zionism. It is counterproductive because very few Jewish people would take part in a protest that uses nazi symbols in this way.

He seems to be implying that criticism of swastikas in the square is done in bad faith purely to defend Zionism. This may be true and it may not be true. He doesn't know.

If a follower of Islam objected to someone defacing the Shahada (the Islamic Creed) would Michael dismiss this as it had been used by the Saudi Arabia on their flag and was therefore fair game. I think as a general rule using swastikas and nazi symbols is not a very productive or effective idea in protest.

I also don't think it is up to Michael Prior to judge whether children are upset by pictures or whether people have a right to complain about nazi symbolism in the square.

I can only conclude from his remarks that he feels people aren't genuinely upset but are stating these concerns in bad faith merely to defend Zionism. I repeat this may be true it may not be true. He is not the judge of this. 

From David Tut

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

I have never spoken to Miss Drake before, the Palestinian lady as she's known in the square, but today I asked her politely had she permission to stick posters on and all around the Xmas tree. To my surprise, she turned round and very nastily made it very clear it was none of my business, to which I said "I live here" and decided to walk away from this person, whose political views are her choice and I respect but that doesn't give her some right to do what she wants in the square. Respect works both ways not one.

This discussion is moderated. Several contributions haven't been posted because they do not follow forum guidelines. Please keep the discussion to the issues. Thanks. - Ed.

See also

HebWeb News: Council again attempt to move Chris Drake from the Square (14 July 2017)

HebWeb Forum: Christine Drake's protest (Sept-Dec 2015)

HebWeb News: Vigil in the square: posters and banners banned (Sept 2015)