This Sunday 3rd October, CST and the PCAA Foundation will be holding the third in a series of party conference fringe meetings, at Conservative party conference in Birmingham at 12.30pm. The fringe will again look at how the mainstream parties can prevent the BNP from gaining votes and will feature contributions from Andrew Rosindell MP, James Bethell of the Nothing British about the BNP campaign and Mark Gardner of CST. The meeting will be chaired by Paul Goodman of Conservative Home.
CST and the PCAA Foundation will be holding a fringe meeting at Labour party conference next Tuesday (28th September, at 12.30pm). Titled “Can Labour Stop the BNP? How to Prevent the BNP stealing your votes“, The meeting will feature contributions from John Mann MP, Margaret Hodge MP, Nick Lowles from Hope Not Hate/Searchlight as well as from CST, and will be chaired by Ellie Reeves of the Labour NEC.
This follows a successful fringe event by CST and the PCAA Foundation at Liberal Democrat conference in Liverpool yesterday, at which the panel discussed the next steps in campaigning against the British National Party, as well as discussing the threat to community cohesion posed by the the English Defence League.
The ‘Dual Loyalty’ charge is one of the oldest antisemitic canards: the allegation that Jews will always hold a greater loyalty towards other Jews, or towards the collectivity of Jews, than to the country in which they live and of which they are a citizen, and therefore can never truly be trusted with that country’s interests. It is a charge that has a very long pedigree, predating Israel and Zionism by centuries, and it is one that many minorities, not just Jews, have to face. I would not normally quote Wikipedia, but I cannot do better than this description from their entry on Dual Loyalty:
As opposed to ethical dual loyalty, which is often a self-described situation, political dual loyalty typically appears as an attack or a pejorative accusation designed to target and discredit a particular person or group, and to call into question the loyalty of that group to the country where they reside. As such, the accusation of “dual loyalty” is often used or co-opted by racist or xenophobic groups within a country, regardless of the original intent of the accusation.
The impact of this particular accusation has diminished in recent years, due to the increasing acceptance of multiple identities in modern diverse societies such as Britain. However, it is a prejudice that is still widely held: a 2009 opinion poll by the Anti-Defamation League (pdf) found that 37% of people in the U.K. thought it was “probably true” that “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country.” (This was the lowest figure of the seven European countries polled by the ADL: the highest level of agreement with the statement was 64%, in Spain).
You would expect think tanks or media organisations to avoid such an obviously prejudiced notion, especially an organisation which claims, in the words of Middle East Monitor (director: Daud Abdullah), to provide “carefully reasoned commentaries rooted in factual evidence.” So it would be interesting to see the “factual evidence” on which MEMO based this commentary about the appointment of Matthew Gould as Britain’s next ambassador to Israel:
Can a Jewish ambassador to Israel ever be truly objective when advising his home government on relations with the Jewish state? That is going to be the big question for Britain’s new ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, who has just taken up residence in Tel Aviv. Under normal circumstances, the faith or ethnic background of Britain’s ambassadors should be totally irrelevant to their ability to represent HM Government in capitals across the world. But Israel is not a normal state in that it ignores international laws and conventions on a routine basis, and does so with apparent impunity. David Cameron’s description of Gaza under Israel’s siege as “a prison camp” was welcome but it did not disguise the fact that the British Prime Minister, like his predecessors, is a declared supporter of the state established on Palestinian land in 1948. Despite Matthew Gould’s claim to be “a career diplomat”, his previous service as the principal private secretary to Labour’s David Miliband (also a member of North London’s increasingly influential Jewish community) when he was Foreign Secretary suggests that Conservative Mr. Cameron is indeed playing the Jewish card with this appointment. But for whose benefit: Britain’s or Israel’s?
Diplomats are supposed to act in the best interests of their own state, not those of the country in which they are based. As a Jew, however, under Israel’s ethnically biased – some would say racist – 1950 Law of Return, Mr. Gould is entitled to migrate to Israel, settle there and obtain “automatic citizenship” of the Jewish state. He is, in all but name, a person with dual citizenship rights, albeit with one set of rights pending until his retirement from British government service. Nevertheless, how can he serve what are to all intents and purposes two masters at the same time?
Bret Stephens, in the Wall Street Journal, asks why there has been no action taken against EU Commissioner Karel de Gucht for his comments about Jewish power and irrationality:
Mr. De Gucht’s target was Jews, the objects of his opprobrium their malign political influence and crippled mental reflexes. If this isn’t anti-Semitism, the term has no meaning.
But perhaps it no longer does, at least in Europe. “I regret that the comments that I made have been interpreted in a sense I did not intend,” Mr. De Gucht said, by way of non-apology. “I did not mean in any possible way to cause offense or stigmatize the Jewish community. I want to make clear that anti-Semitism has no place in today’s world.”
The comment admits of two interpretations: (1) that it is insincere, and therefore an act of political expediency; (2) that it is sincere, and Mr. De Gucht thinks that casually bad-mouthing Jews doesn’t quite reach the threshold of “anti-Semitism”—defined, as the saying has it, as hating Jews more than is strictly necessary.
I suspect the latter interpretation, which has an old European pedigree, is closer to the mark. But whatever Mr. De Gucht’s motives, the more interesting phenomenon has been the European non-reaction. “No comment,” says a spokesman for German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. “Our position on anti-Semitism is very clear but we have no comments on other people’s statements,” says a spokesman for Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini. “High Representative [Catherine] Ashton is confident [De Gucht] didn’t mean any offense, and that he apologized,” says a spokeswoman for the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. “He made personal comments for which he expressed his personal regret and there is no further comment to make,” says a spokesman for the European Commission.
Stephens goes on to explain this by arguing that Europe “is pervasively antisemitic”, which is not an assessment I share. But he is right to point out that this is just another example of antisemitism being glossed over or ignored.
We have written before on this blog about the inability of many commentators to recognise antisemitism as a relevant factor in analysing the behaviour of, say Hezbollah or Hamas. There was another example in the BBC’s coverage of the Taliban’s efforts to obstruct upcoming elections in Afghanistan. In their online report and video, a Taliban commander is reported as saying:
Elections aren’t possible here. Last year, during the presidential race, a few people came by helicopter and stuffed the ballot boxes. Today, the district is under the total control of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. No candidate, election worker or voter can enter.
But on Radio 4′s PM programme yesterday, the commander’s comments were broadcast in full:
Elections aren’t possible here. Last year, during the presidential race, a few people came by helicopter and stuffed the ballot boxes. Today, the district is under the total control of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. No candidate, election worker or voter can enter. We the mujihadeen of the Emirate will defend every step of Ghazni province. Jews and their slaves will not step, therefore, onto our land.
I don’t know why this last sentence, about the “Jews and their slaves”, was cut from the other two versions of the BBC report: perhaps it was just for reasons of space, or editorial flow. Whatever the reason, it gives the impression that this comment is rather trivial, a rhetorical flourish which can be discarded without losing anything from our understanding of the Taliban’s actions or motivations.
I hope this is not the case, because I think it is a comment that reveals a great deal. There is, famously, only one remaining Jew in Afghanistan, and there has not been a functioning Jewish community in the country during the entire time of the Taliban’s existence. The foreign forces in Afghanistan are part of a NATO operation fighting under UN authority, neither of which are bodies run or strongly influenced by Jews or by Israel. The idea that the opposition to the Taliban is actually controlled by Jews is absurd: the only way to understand the commander’s remark is through the idea of a global Jewish conspiracy, in which NATO, the UN, the American or even Afghan governments are “Jews”, and everyone working for them are “their slaves”. This would not be a surprise, because the Taliban is an Islamist extremist organisation, and Islamist organisations and individuals have a long record – both historical and contemporary – of antisemitism, including conspiracy theories. It is always tempting to omit absurd ideas from political analysis or reportage, precisely because they are so absurd, but sometimes the irrationality of a movement like the Taliban is the whole point.
The Innovative Minds website has posted an article titled “Al Quds Day – Is It For You?”, which aims to “cut through the hasbra (sic)” which it claims “Zionists” have been spreading to discourage people from attending. This includes an explanation of why, although Quds Day was created by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, Quds Day is “not an Iranian event”, but just to express support for the Palestinians; is not just for Muslims; and is certainly not an “an anti-Semitic ‘kill the Jews’ hate fest”. They finish by asking: “So will you stand with us in support of Palestine, or will you by your absence give your support to the Zionists?”
It is true that participation in Quds Day is certainly not limited to Iranians and that the purpose of the day is not to express support for Iran, but the Iranian influence over the day is still strong, so it is worth knowing what the current Iranian regime think it is all about. Quds Day is held in Iran on the last Friday of Ramadan, which is today (the march in London is tomorrow), and Press TV already has reports of some of today’s events. Here, for example, is a report of President Ahmadinejad’s speech at Tehran’s Quds Day rally earlier today, in which he is reported to have said that Israel “is on the brink of collapse”. However, the collapse of Israel alone is not enough for Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, the deputy head of Iran’s Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said yesterday that Quds Day “appears to pave the way for the collapse of Israel and its allies, namely the US and Britain”. Iran’s Association for Liberation of the Holy al-Quds, which organises the Quds Day events in Iran, promoted their rally with a statement claiming that there is an “international resolve to annihilate Israel”.
Here in the United Kingdom, the organisers of London’s Quds Day march, the Islamic Human Rights Commission, have published a lengthy set of articles on their website to promote the day, and these, too, can be taken as a guide as to whether this is an event that is worthy of support.
The first five links are to quotes and writings of Ayatollah Khomeini, in a further clue to the Iranian origins of Quds Day (most of these links take you to the website of the Iranian state broadcaster IRIB). They make for interesting reading. In short, he believed that Israel and Zionism were plotting to occupy the entire Muslim world and destroy Islam completely, and he was not averse to employing antisemitic tropes in making his argument. For example, on “Israel the enemy of Islam and the Muslims” (all emphases added, as they are throughout this blogpost):
[...] For nearly twenty years now, I have been informing people of the danger of international Zionism. Today, I feel the danger for all the freedom-bestowing revolutions of the world, including the recent Islamic revolution in Iran, is no less than it was in the past, for at the present time these world-devouring bloodsuckers using various techniques to defeat the oppressed and weak of the earth have risen up and are active. Our nation and the free nations of the world should bravely and vigilantly resist these dangerous plots.
Imam’s message, 11 February 1981 (22 Bahman 1359 AHS). Sahifa-yi Nur, Vol. 14, p. 63.
The agents of imperialism are busy in every corner of the Islamic world drawing our youth away from us with their evil propaganda. They are not converting them into Jews and Christians, rather they are corrupting them, making them irreligious and indifferent, which is sufficient for their purposes. In our own city of Tehran now there are centres of evil propaganda run by the churches, the Zionists and the Baha’is in order to lead our people astray and make them abandon the ordinances and teachings of Islam.
Islamic Government,p. 176.
[...] Brothers and sisters, both sects must be vigilant and realise that these sightless, stipend-receivers, in the name of Islam, the sacred Qur’an and the customary practice (sunna) of the Prophet, want to pluck Islam, the Qur’an and the sunna out of the midst of the Muslims, or at the very least to lead the Muslims astray. The brothers and sisters should realise that America and Israel bear malice towards the very basis of Islam, because Islam, its book and the sunna are a thorn in their side and an obstacle to their plundering and because it was by following this book and this sunna that Iran rose up to confront them, embarked on a revolution and was victorious.
Imam’s message on the occasion of the hajj pilgrimage and the auspicious `Id al-Qurban, 29 August 1983 (7 Shahrivar 1363 AHS). Sahifa-yi Nur, Vol. 19, p. 46.
(As an aside, it is striking that an organisation which claims to work for human rights should link to an article which accuses the Baha’is of conducting “evil propaganda” in Iran, given the ongoing persecution of Baha’is in that country).
The heads of the Islamic countries should be aware that this germ of corruption which has been planted in the heart of the Islamic countries has not been put there merely to suppress the Arab nation, rather it is dangerous and harmful to the Middle East region as a whole. The plan is for the domination and supremacy of Zionism over the Islamic world and the further colonisation of the rich lands and abundant resources of the Islamic countries…
Imam’s message to the Muslim governments, 7 November 1973 (16 Aban 1352 AHS). Sahifa-yi Nur, Vol. 1, p. 201.
With your union you should pluck this germ of corruption out from amongst you. If you do not, then this cancerous growth will spread to other places. For it will not be content merely with the Golan Heights, for they (the Zionists) are of the opinion that the Jews are superior to all other races and the land from the Euphrates to the Nile belongs to Israel and should be returned to it…
Imam’s speech dated 24 January 1982 (4 Bahman 1360 AHS). Sahifa-yi Nur, Vol. 16, p. 21.
What could be better for all the governments of the region to muster all the power at their disposal to wipe Israel off the map? This maleficent Israel which has put the innocent Palestinians in the state they are now in, which has committed all these outrages against brave Lebanon, has encroached upon the countries of the region and has transgressed their borders. What could be better for regional governments to take hold of one another’s hands and free the region from the iniquity of Israel and its supporter America? As I have reminded you time and again, Israel considers the area from the Nile to the Euphrates to be its own and it sees you as usurpers of its lands [...]
Imam’s message on the occasion of the great religio-politico gathering of hajj and the auspicious feast of `Id al-Qurban, dated 29 August 1984 (7 Shahrivar 1363 AHS). Sahifa-yi Nur, Vol. 19, p. 48.
And some general statements by Khomeini about Quds Day itself:
• The Quds Day is a day in which Islam is to be revived.
• The Quds Day is a day in which the destinies of the oppressed nations must to determine.
• The Quds Day is a universal day. It is not an exclusive day for Quds itself. It is a day for the oppressed to rise and stand up against the arrogant.
• The Quds Day is Islam”s Live Day!
• The Quds Day is the Day of Islam.
• The Quds Day which fall on the last days of the God”s Great Month (Ramadhan) is a proper day on which all Muslims be freed from the bondage of the Big Satan (Great Devil, USA) and other superpowers and join the Infinite Might of God.
• The Quds Day which is coincidental with the Night of Destiny (Laylatul-Qadr) must be revived among the Muslims and be the starting point of their awakening and awareness.
It is a sign of the successful growth of Iranian influence in anti-Israel campaigning, that an event which was described by its founder in such terms now attracts widespread support from secular (including Jewish) anti-Zionists.
The IHRC website links to another article, titled “Zionism – the Greatest Danger“, taken from the website of Tebyan, an Iranian organisation. The article describes Zionism in terms which come directly from the antisemitic view of Jews: there is no other way to describe it. It begins:
The greatest evil facing the Muslim community (Ummah)and mankind today is not AIDS, Pollution, or Nuclear War. It is international Zionism. It is the Zionist greed for wealth, lust for perverted sex, greed for power, domination, and economic exploitation that is causing AIDS, POLLUTION as well as threatening NUCLEAR WAR.
Zionist (sic) are behind every evil and conflict in the world today. Whether it is political, economical, social or moral.
The Holy Quran, says:
“And you will most certainly find them the greediest of mankind for life (greedier) and of those who are polytheists; every one of them loves that he should be granted a life of a thousand years, and his being granted a long life will in no way remove him further off from the chastisement, and Allah sees what they do.”(2:96)
“You will find the most violent of people in enmity for those who believe (to be) the Jews and those who are polytheists…”(5:82)
“… whenever there came to them an apostle with what that their souls didn’t desire, some (of them) did they call liars and some they slew.(5:70)
This same Yahud (i.e. Jews) tried to destroy the Holy Prophet (SAW) and his followers in Medina.
The same Yahud that killed Prophet Yahya (AS), that defied Prophet Musa (AS), that crucified Prophet Isa (AS).
Today this Zionist are doing their utmost to destroy`Masjidu’l-Aqsa’ (Muslim’s first Qibla). Their aim is to conquer all Muslim lands and grab the oil resources and destroy Islam completely. Because Islam is a challenge to their evil schemes and exposes them.
The rest is in a similar vein. The IHRC website includes the standard disclaimer that “The opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of IHRC”; but then you have to ask, what is it about this article that the IHRC thought was worth bringing to their readers, to promote Quds Day?
There is another question that springs to mind. This year, Quds Day takes place against a backdrop of renewed peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, hosted by America. Hamas have responded with a series of shootings in the West Bank, killing four Israelis (so far), and have announced a working alliance with twelve other violent organisations in Gaza to coordinate terrorist attacks against Israel. What, I wonder, will the speakers at tomorrow’s Quds Day march have to say about these two contrasting developments?
CST, together with the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism (PCAA) Foundation, will be hosting fringe events at all three party conferences, looking at the role that the mainstream parties can play in combating the British National Party.
The BNP’s failures in the May 2010 general and local elections should be seen as a one positive step in a much longer journey. We now have a great opportunity to work together and ensure that the BNP is sent back to the political margins where it belongs.
The first fringe event will be at the Liberal Democrat conference in Liverpool on Monday 20th September at 1pm, with a panel including Mark Gardner from CST, Nick Lowles from HOPE Not Hate, Tom Brake MP and chaired by Nick Cohen.
Similar fringe events will follow at the Labour Party conference in Manchester on Tuesday 28th September at 12.30pm, and at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, on Sunday 3rd October at 12.30pm.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend any of these events.