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Ongoing one person Palestine protest

From David Gordon

Sunday 9 June 2024

I am inviting discussion on something with causes me deep and lasting pain when in Hebden. I live locally so often have cause to shop and visit friends.

I don't believe in political correctness or cancelling and encourage free speech and debate so I am not calling for this to end. I would however like to defend my race and my heritage and consider, with your help, if it is fair for one person to continue such a one/sided and I would consider to some extent, vicious campaign unchecked.

Now I'm sure this person is known to many of you and has good intent in their heart, but I have tried on a number of occasions to engage and put forward my views on this subject. Unfortunately not only will they not engage, but last time in a very busy part of town I was sworn at, threatened and indeed someone else decided to step in and make me out as an aggressor. Possibly because of pre-existing bias against my gender and background.

The signage used in this protest material currently accuses Israel of holocaust. How can this be considered acceptable for me to see accusations of holocaust against Jewish people. And I'm not even allowed to speak to this person and explain how I believe this would actually be considered antisemitic hate speech.

I am so far from a defender of the state of Israel's military policy. I abhor military violence in all its form, wherever it's sadly taking place. I am not alone and thankfully we can see protests inside Israel calling for this horror to stop. I just think people don't take the time to think of the reality for the tiny Jewish population that exists today. It was international decision making that formed Israel in 1948 and without it, there is no home for the Jews. And yet to live there means you must live a life surrounded on all sides by those who mainly are hostile and wish to eradicate you from existence.

So I would ask you to consider if maybe as a town, I could ask for a little more compassion and, to borrow from Tod, 'Kindness'. I would never want to prevent this person from campaigning for what they believe in, but does it need to be so hurtful in the process. 

Antisemitism is and always has been very real. Diane Abbott discredited it and then, graciously and correctly she apologised and this made me extremely happy as I have always believed in her. I would like to add that the Labour Party response was slow and confused, but that's Labour! Even as a Jew I'm constantly learning about this and changing my mind. I would encourage anyone interested to seek out David Baddiel and Miriam Margolyes' contributions, they are both smart, relevant and have done much good work to try and put across the Jewish side. Also Rob Rinder has produced some excellent films available to stream.

From Andrew Beck

Tuesday 18 June 2024

David, I am sorry the protest has been uncomfortable. It can be the case that some protests against the violence inflicted on the people of Palestine can have clear Anti-Semitic tones, though of course the majority does not. 

I would urge you to report anything to the police who have a clear responsibility to prevent the public expression of racism, including Anti-Semitism.

From Allen Keep

Tuesday 18 June 2024

David Gordon, I welcome your proposal for discussion, always good, but I think you will be somewhat disappointed. One reason is that there has been lengthy discussion on this forum about Chris Drake's protest in the square which has been going on for at least 10 years. I suggest you follow the link provided (towards the bottom of this page) to view those discussions. You might learn something.  

Another reason is that, in my opinion, there has been a huge decline in political discourse in this town and that is reflected, sadly, in the limited engagement on Hebweb on important issues such as this. People it seems, prefer the soundbite world of Facebook where a detailed and informed debate is almost impossible (I know, I've tried) or to simply abstain. In this situation, where there is clearly a genocide taking place against the Palestinian people, I find that profoundly depressing.  It seems that Black Lives matter and Ukrainian lives matter, quite rightly, but not so much when it comes to Palestinians who have been marginalised and dehumanised since the creation of Israel (and before of course).

Chris understands this more than most so I am not surprised you got short shrift. I know Chris visited Palestine quite recently and I know too that she is shocked and traumatised about what is happening to the Palestinian people, as very many people are. I don't think your experience of "deep and lasting pain" really compares does it? I imagine you didn't return to your home after your lovely journey to a nearby town to meet friends and go shopping (something unthinkable to Gazans) ended with you returning to your home to find it no longer exists and your entire family blown to pieces or buried under rubble. You were, of course, sworn at in a busy part of town and a diminutive, elderly woman didn't want to speak to you and might have been prejudiced against you because of your gender but I hope you have recovered.

You argue you are defending your "race". Jewish people do not constitute a race (although it is correctly accepted that Anti-Semitism is a form of racism). As far as I can think, I can only recall the Nazis consistently describing Jews as a race, an inferior one of course, so you might want to avoid that characterisation of Jewish people. 

As for your "heritage" it is difficult to understand what you mean. Jewish heritage would seem to me to be as broad and diverse as the Jewish population worldwide as a whole. Even the religion of Judaism has a myriad of interpretations and practices as I am sure you are aware. Do you mean the heritage of Jews the world over who oppose genocide in Gaza, who form Jewish blocs on national demonstrations, or those who link arms to stop Zionist Jews blockading aid trucks. Do you mean the heritage of Israeli Jews who demonstrate against Netanyahu and are accused of being a branch of Hamas, or those Jews from the incredible Jewish tradition of socialism who are disproportionally expelled from the Labour party for being anti-Semitic?

Have you heard of Marionne Ingram? She is even older than Chris at 88 and is a Jewish holocaust survivor. Like Chris, she has been mounting a one woman protest outside the White House since October 7th.  She refers to the similarity of her childhood to that of Gazan children. She talks about the inhumanity of Israel, the dehumanisation of Palestinians, the way in which Palestinian people are rounded up and displaced and then killed en-masse. She demands a ceasefire and the end of Israel's war and occupation of the Palestinian territories. She stands with a home-made placard saying the war against Gaza is not in her name. 

The placard has the word "holocaust" written on it. Would you challenge her? Are you deeply hurt by her actions? Is she attacking your race and heritage? You may not care for the comparison and it's probably not one I would use. The holocaust has come to represent a very specific genocide in a very different historical time and place. Of course, it has a special meaning and impact on Jewish people. It is however a genocide and genocide is not defined by being against Jewish people only and nor does it rely on size and scale or particular methods which the genocide convention is very clear about. 

Israel is guilty of ethnic cleansing and genocide. A comparison which is appropriate is to refer to Gaza currently as a concentration camp. It is a term used by another Jewish person whose parents survived the holocaust and is recognised as the world's leading authority on the social history of Gaza, Norman Finklestein.

I would suggest you listen to Finklestein speak. You Tube is your friend. I also suggest you look to Jewish historians and commentators who may know a thing or two more than David Baddiel and Rob Rinder. Miriam Margoyles is a strange choice for you as someone who "puts the Jewish side". She is completely opposed to Israel's actions in Gaza. 

In any case, what is the "Jewish side"? You need to understand the fundamental distinction between Judaism and Zionism. One is a religion and the other is a settler-colonial, racist political movement which some Jews support. I would suggest very strongly that you look at the work of Ilan Pappe. An Israeli Jew and academic, currently Professor at Exeter University he has written many books on Israel/Palestine including a superb little book called "ten Myths of Zionism". You can see numerous interviews and talks by him on You Tube. 

Pappe's work will also help you understand why your conception of the state of Israel as something borne out of agreement is an utter nonsense. The Israeli state, the Zenith of the Zionist project, is a state born out of terror and maintained by oppression, occupation, apartheid and now ethnic cleansing and genocide. That conclusion may not be one you come to share but it is not anti-Semitic and it isn't contrary to Jewish heritage. In fact, it amplifies, celebrates and embraces everything that is incredible about Jewish tradition and culture.

Good luck.

From Andrew Beck

Thursday 20 June 2024

Allen you say, Miriam Margoyles is a strange choice for you as someone who "puts the Jewish side". She is completely opposed to Israel's actions in Gaza. 

Making the common mistake of conflating being Jewish with being Israeli and supporting the IDF viollence. It is quite possible to be critical of Israel and be a Jew, and many Jews in the UK and Israel are critical of the IDF, so Miriam is quite capable of putting a Jewish perspective on the tragedy unfolding there.

From Allen Keep

Friday 21 June 2024

Andrew Beck, I completely agree with you. I would call it the mistake of conflating Jewish with being Zionist, not Israeli.

I referred to Pappe, Finklestein and Marionne Ingram, all Jewish people totally opposed to the Israeli state. I could have cited many, many more plus the unknown but clearly vast numbers of ordinary Jewish people opposed and indeed often leading the struggle against Zionism as we have seen in Israel istelf and all around the world. 

Given the understandable passions which surround this topic, would contributors please read the Forum guidelines before posting? Thanks - Ed

Previously

Council again attempt to move Chris Drake from the Square - HebWeb News, July 2017

Protesting in the Square - HebWeb Forum,July 2017 - Jan 2018

Vigil in the square: posters and banners banned - HebWeb News, September 2015

Christine Drake's protest - HebWeb Forum, Sept-Dec 2015