Jeremy Corbyn and British Labour Friends of Israel

Shlomo Anker from Britain says about this video he made:

Jeremy Corbyn speech at pro-Israel event

29 September 2015

The event was by Labour Friends of Israel. The organizers invited Palestinians and their supporters too. The atmosphere was wonderful and pro-Palestinians and pro-Israel people were chatting.

One heckler got attention from the media, but he was drunk as red wine was served.

Many Jews like myself voted for Corbyn and many more who did not vote for him now fully support him as leader.

By Shlomo Anker in Britain:

Labour Friends of Israel warm to Corbyn

Friday 9th October 2015

The new party leader and his pro-Palestinian views both had a surprisingly friendly reception from the group, found SHLOMO ANKER

BEFORE Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour Party leader, there was talk of tension within the party — especially from the right-wing media. People suggested that some in the party would even leave and form a SDP style split.

So the reaction of the pro-Israel lobby group Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) is interesting, especially with so much discussion of Corbyn’s views on the Middle East and his record of being very sympathetic to the Palestinians.

At the Labour Party conference, LFI had two main events and its reaction to Corbyn was surprising. Instead of fostering tension and paranoia towards him, the atmosphere was positive and Jewish Labour members both in and outside of LFI are really starting to warm to him. Or to put it another way: Jewish Labour members realise that what the media has said about Corbyn is not true.

One LFI event was a broad discussion about a two-state solution. The speakers in general only spoke in defence of Israel, which included the usual exaggeration of the threat from Iran. It was disappointing that the oppression of the Palestinians was hardly mentioned.

In the discussion afterwards I decided to commment on the suffering of those in Gaza. The reaction I received was unexpected. Instead of people being upset with me, the Chair of LFI, Joan Ryan MP, very much liked my question and the organisers even came to shake my hand.

Pro-Palestinian activists later asked challenging questions and the organisers and pro-Israel members of the audience enjoyed the discussion — although one woman with a Free Palestine badge did get upset with the replies and walked out of the meeting.

The second event for LFI was their annual reception where high-level members of the Labour Party come to drink, eat and discuss the Middle East.

LFI invited plenty of people involved in Labour Friends of Palestine, as well as Corbyn and Hilary Benn. They both spoke alongside Errel Margalit (an Israeli Knesset member) and the deputy ambassdor of Israel. In his speech, Corbyn called for the end of the siege of Gaza but also praised the Jewish community for its work in defending refugees.

The Telegraph and the Times reported on this event but only mentioned a heckler who shouted “Oi oi, say the word Israel!” after Corbyn’s speech. The newspapers forgot to mention that the heckler had partaken heavily in the wine served at the event and is well known as a bit of an “eccentric” who gets so agitated that even the Daily Mail had an article on his bad behaviour.

The improvement of relations between Corbyn and LFI is partly down to the most pro-Israel of all the Labour MPs, Luciana Berger, being appointed to the shadow cabinet. Luciana was formerly the chair of LFI and unlike other pro-Israel voices in the parliamentary party, she is actually Jewish.

But I should not exaggerate. LFI still has strong disagreements with Corbyn and in my opinion LFI’s work needs reform.

Their priority seems to be mainly about Israel’s national security and they do not do enough to stand up for Palestinians.

The rank and file people in LFI are often peace activists but the speakers they invite at events tend to not be as left-wing.

Although while LFI are not supporters of Netanyahu and do formally oppose the occupation, the brutal reality of the occupation is generally not talked about at their events.

I wish that LFI could reform and be focused on peace activism and not on defending the actions of the Israeli military and sometimes its government.

Yet I must also criticise Labour Friends of Palestine too. I spoke with Graeme Morris MP who is the chair of the group and he seemed pessimistic about working with LFI. While he may be right about politics and is a charming fellow, Labour Friends of Palestine need to reach out more to LFI and begin to organise more joint events which will improve relations.

If we are going to have peace and justice in the Middle East, let us at least start with friendship between these two sides within the Labour Party.

Demonstration against occupation and violence in Israel, tomorrow

This video from the USA says about itself:

Israeli Peace Activist Uri Avnery on The Nicole Sandler Show

25 July 2014

Nicole Sandler speaks with the founder of the Israeli peace movement Gush Shalom, Uri Avnery.

From the peace movement Gush Shalom in Israel:

Protest Vigil against the Occupation and Escalation – Tel Aviv, Friday, October 9

Tomorrow, Friday, October 9, at 13:00 there will be held at the corner of Ben-Zion Boulevard and King George Street in Tel Aviv a Protest Vigil against the Occupation and Escalation.

Military operations and settlement construction are not the solution – they are the problem. Only a peace agreement can end the violence.

In between wars and military operations, right-wing governments construct more settlements. In between one round of futile negotiations and the next one, the government is creating facts on the ground which prevent the attainment of peace and security and which lay the ground for the next war. In between one peak of escalation and the next, the government repeatedly turns a blind eye to the violence of the nationalist settler gangs which rampage, burn and kill throughout the Territories. And in between one round of violence and the next, Netanyahu is convinced he has found the magic formula which will allow him to manage the conflict and to maintain the occupation forever.

Reality is now exploding in our faces. Moment by moment, the occupation becomes ever more violent and dangerous. This right-wing government is a grave danger to all who live here. We all, on both sides, pay the price – and it becomes ever higher, with every passing day.

The right-wingers assert that the answer to the escalation and the wave of violence is ever more use of brute force: more detentions, more killing, more shooting at minors and more construction of settlements. That is totally false. There is only one way to end the escalation and break the cycle of violence and death: a political agreement: ending the occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, side by side with the State of Israel in its internationally recognized 1967 borders.

Demo: Friday, October 9, at 13:00 – corner of Ben-Zion and King George, Tel Aviv.

Facebook event here.

Contact: Noa Levy +972-(0)52-3872231

Pro-peace Israelis persecuted

Francisco Goya, Execution of defenders of Madrid by the French army, 3 May 1808

By Uri Avnery in Israel:

The new face of Israel

Saturday 12th September 2015

Israel’s savage occupation and McCarthyite persecution of citizens who want peace have ruined its reputation, perhaps forever, says URI AVNERY

THE MISDEEDS of Napoleon’s occupation army in Spain were not photographed. Photography had not yet been invented. The valiant fighters against the occupation had to rely on Francisco Goya for the immortal painting of the resistance.

The partisans and underground fighters against the German occupation of their countries in World War II had no time to take pictures. Even the heroic uprising of the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw was not filmed by the participants. The Germans themselves filmed their atrocities, and, being Germans, they catalogued and filed them in an orderly way.

In the meantime, photography has become common commonplace. The Israeli occupation in the Palestinian occupied territories is being filmed all the time. Everybody now has mobile phones that take pictures. Also, Israeli peace organisations have distributed cameras to many Arab inhabitants.

Soldiers shoot with guns. The Palestinians shoot pictures.

It is not yet clear which are more effective in the long run: the bullets or the photos.

A test case is a short clip taken recently in a remote West Bank village called al-Nabi Saleh.

This is the 28 August 2015 video from al-Nabi Saleh village.

Every Israeli has seen this footage many times by now. It has been shown again and again by all Israeli TV stations. Many millions around the world have seen it on their local TV. It is making the rounds in the social media.

The clip shows an incident that occurred near the village on Friday two weeks ago. Nothing very special. Nothing terrible. Just a routine event. But the pictures are unforgettable.

The village al-Nabi Saleh is located not far from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. It is named in honour of a prophet who lived before the time of Mohammed and is said to be buried there. His extensive tomb is the pride of the 550 inhabitants.

Al-Nabi Saleh is build on the remains of a crusader outpost, which in its turn was built on the remains of a Byzantine village.

Its history probably goes back to ancient Canaanite times. They were in turn Canaanites, Judaeans, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and finally Arabs.

The latest occupation (until now) is Israeli. These new occupiers have no interest in converting the locals.

They just want to take their land, and, if possible, induce them to go away. On part of the lands of al-Nabi Saleh an Israeli settlement called Halamish (“flint”) was set up.

The conflict between the village and its new “neighbours” started immediately. Between them is an ancient well, which the settlers have renovated and claim as their own. The village is not ready to give it up.

Like in many other villages in the area, such as Bil’in, on every Friday, right after the prayers in the mosque, a demonstration against the occupation and the settlers takes place.

A few Israeli peace activists and international volunteers take part in them. The demonstrators are generally non-violent, but on the fringes teenagers and children often throw stones. The soldiers shoot rubber-covered steel bullets, tear gas and stun grenades, and sometime live bullets.

As in many small Arab villages, most inhabitants belong to one extended family, in this case the Tamimis. One Tamimi boy was shot dead in one of the demonstrations, a girl was shot in the foot. It is a Tamimi boy who features in the recent event.

The clip that rocked the world starts with one lone soldier, who was obviously sent to arrest a boy who had (or had not) thrown a stone.

The soldier jumps across the rocky terrain, looks for the boy who is hiding behind a rock and catches him. It is 12-year-old Muhammad Tamimi, with one arm in a plaster cast.

The soldier puts his arm around the neck of the boy, who cries in terror.

Soon his 14-year-old sister appears, and soon after that his mother and other women.

They all tear at the soldier, who tries to push them away with his other arm. During the wild struggle, the sister bites the arm of the soldier, the one which holds his gun.

The soldier is masked. This is a new thing. Why are they masked? What are they hiding? After all, they are not Russian policemen who fear the revenge of the gangsters. When I was a soldier, long ago, masks were unknown.

During the melee, one of the women succeeds in ripping the soldier’s mask off. We see his face — just an ordinary young man, recently out of high school, who is obviously at a loss of what to do. There seem to be photographers all around. One sees their feet.

Would the soldier have used his gun if the photographers had not been there?

Hard to say. Recently a brigade commander shot and killed a boy who had thrown a stone at his car. The army condones and even lauds such acts of “self-defence.”

For some minutes the scene goes on — the boy crying and pleading, the women pushing and hitting, the soldier pushing back, everybody shouting. Then another soldier approaches and tells the first soldier to release the child, who is seen running away.

We don’t know who the soldier is. It is hard to guess his background. Just a soldier, one of many who enforce the occupation, who face the demonstrations every week.

Another angle to the event is provided by one of the protesters off camera, so to speak, who was caught for a fleeting moment. He was recognised.

He is a teacher who bears the names of two illustrious persons, the zionist founder Theodor Herzl and the composer Franz Schubert. Herzl Schubert is a veteran left-wing peace activist. I have met him on many demonstrations.

On the morrow of the showing of the footage on all Israeli television stations, the cry went up to dismiss him. What, a leftist peace demonstrator in the schoolroom?

Schubert was not accused of preaching his opinions in class. His peace activities did not take place during working hours. The very fact that he took part in a demonstration in his own free time was enough. His case is now “being considered” by the Education Ministry.

This, by the way, is no exceptional case.

A respected female educator who was chosen as headmistress of an art school was blocked by the discovery that many years ago she had signed a petition calling on the army to allow soldiers to refuse service in the occupied territories.

The petition did not call for refusal but only respect for the moral decision of the refusers.

That was enough. The ministry, now led by nationalist-religious demagogue Naftali Bennett, promised “to consider the matter.”

These cases of a new McCarthyism concern, of course, only leftists.

No-one demands the dismissal of the rabbi who prohibits the selling or renting of apartments to Arabs. Or the rabbi who wrote that under certain conditions it is permissible to kill non-Jews, including children. Their salaries are paid by the state.

Many millions around the world must by now have seen the al-Nabi Saleh footage. It is impossible to assess the extent of the damage.

It is not that this clip is especially revolting. Nothing terrible happens. It is the face of the occupation, the present face of Israel, that imprints itself on the minds of the viewers.

For many years now, almost all news footage coming out of Israel has concerned the deeds and misdeeds of the occupation.

Gone and forgotten is the face of Israel as the progressive state created by the victims of the most hideous mass crime in modern history.

The state of pioneers who “made the desert bloom.” The bastion of freedom and democracy in a turbulent region.

That picture has long been wiped out. The Israel that presents itself to the world now is a state of occupiers, of oppressors, of brutal colonisers, of soldiers armed to the teeth who arrest people in the middle of the night and persecute them during the day.

This face changes the perception of Israel throughout the world.

Every TV clip and news item adds imperceptibly to this change. The attitude of ordinary people around the world, also including Jews, is changed. The damage is lasting and probably irremediable.

The terrified face of young Muhammad Tamimi may well haunt us for a long time to come.

• Uri Avnery is a former Knesset member and founder of Gush Shalom ( For more of his writing visit

Israeli government abuses racist violence for attacking civil liberties

This video from Israel says about itself:

We are the majority – marching the streets

28 June 2012

Israeli social protest is taking a more assertive approach as a response to the latest homophobic remarks of MK Anastassia Michaeli, the refusal of the Tel-Aviv city hall to allow the re-opening of tents on Rothschild Boulevard, and the aggressive arrests of protesters that have become common lately.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Israelis will also be jailed without trial

Today, 10:36

The Israeli inner cabinet has made it possible for Israelis suspected of violence against Palestinians to be jailed without trial. The measure was announced following the arson last week in two houses of Palestinians in the West Bank, where a Palestinian child was killed.

Suspects can be held for months under the measure. This so-called ‘administrative detention’ was so far only for Palestinians. The measure has been criticized internationally because the suspects have no rights in those circumstances.

So, now ‘legal equality’ for Israeli citizens and Palestinians by, after first undermining civil liberties for one group, undermining them for another group as well. While there is a clear danger that this policy will not just be applied against ‘Israelis suspected of violence against Palestinians’, the only category of Israelis which the NOS report mentions. Might it not also be applied against ‘Israelis suspected of OPPOSITION TO violence against Palestinians‘? Against Israeli opponents of homophobia, including homophobia in Israeli political parties in the coalition government; against people like the recently murdered girl Shira Banki? Against some of the many Israeli opponents of the Netanyahu government’s ‘austerity’ economic policies? Etc.

Wouldn’t it be better to have ‘legal equality’ for Israeli citizens and Palestinians by not having arbitrary jailing for anyone? And by thorough investigation, which there has not been so far, of the violent extreme right in Israel, their anti-Palestinian crimes, their bigotry against African refugees, their homophobia, etc.? Including their relationships to some politicians in Israeli coalition government political parties?

Israel’s Netanyahu government widens use of anti-democratic detention orders: here.

Forbidding Asylum Seekers From Living in Tel Aviv or Eilat Reeks of Racism. Israel’s government continues to abuse African asylum seekers without offering any kind of solution: here.

Even with an imperfect knowledge of Dutch, it was not difficult to make out that the article, covering an entire page, was referring to the murderous attack on the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem and the immediately following arson of a Palestinian family home at the village of Duma near Nablus, where a father and his baby son died. From Jerusalem, correspondent Derk Walters informed the Dutch readers of the alarming increase of violent extreme right groups upholding a Nationalist-Religious Messianic ideology. He recounted the openly voiced explicit calls for attacking Arabs and homosexuals and for the torching of Christian churches, and quoted extensively the sharp denunciations made from all parts of the Israeli political spectrum. The article ended with a question: “Is the Netanyahu Government capable of taking serious measures against the settlers, when some of the cabinet ministers are themselves settlers?”. Quite a few Israelis are asking themselves the same question.
Read more: here.

16-year-old Israeli girl murdered by ultra-religious homophobe

Shira Banki, 16-year-old Israeli girl before she was murdered by an ultra-religious homophobe

From daily Haaretz in Israel:

16 Year Old Stabbed in Jerusalem Pride Parade Succumbs to Wounds

Shira Banki was critically wounded in an attack by an ultra-Orthodox man on Thursday; Netanyahu: She died for bravely supporting everyone’s right to live in dignity.

Also from Haaretz: Why the Israeli government’s condemnation of Jerusalem Gay Pride attack is hollow

See also here.

Yaniv Kubovich Aug 02, 2015 6:16 PM

Three days after being critically wounded by an ultra-Orthodox man that went on a stabbing rampage at Jerusalem’s Gay Pride Parade, Shira Banki, a 16-year-old Israeli teen succumbed to her wounds Sunday afternoon. Five other people were wounded in the attack.

Police confirmed that the suspected stabber is Yishai Schlissel, a Haredi man from Modiin Ilit who stabbed three participants in the 2005 Gay Pride march. He was recently released from prison after serving a 10-year sentence.

Banki was a high-school student from Jerusalem, studying at the Hebrew University High School. She took part in Thursday’s parade to show solidarity with her LGBT friends. She is survived by her parents and three siblings; her family decided to donate her organs.

In a statement issued Sunday, her family said: “Our magical Shira was murdered because she was a happy 16-year-old – full of life and love – who came to express her support for her friends’ rights to live as they choose. For no good reason and because of evil, stupidity and negligence, the life of our beautiful flower was cut short. Bad things happen to good people, and a very bad thing happened to our amazing girl. The family expresses hope for a less hatred and more tolerance.” The family requests the public respect their privacy as they grieve.

As of Sunday afternoon two of those wounded in the attack alongside Banki were still in serious condition and remained hospitalized, though medical officials said their condition was improving. Three of the other people wounded in the attack were released home after suffering lighter injuries.

Opposition Chairman Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) also issued a statement, saying Banki was a victim of “Jewish terror”. “I cry for Shira… she is the age of my children. We will not tolerate violence, racism or LGBT-phobia of any kind,” he said, reiterating his demand that the prime minister outlaw extreme right-wing groups which he said “incite hatred” in Israel.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) said in a statement: “It’s a dark day for Israel… in which a high school girl is murdered for her opinions and positions.” “There is no principle in the world worth the life of a young girl,” said Bennett, who was supposed to address an LGBT rally Saturday evening, but canceled after refusing to sign a commitment to act on behalf of the gay community. This is “a day in which we became darkness unto the nations instead of a being light unto the nations,” he added.

On Saturday, thousands of Israelis took to the streets to protest the stabbing as well as a deadly arson attack in the West Bank that saw a Palestinian infant killed.  “Flames have engulfed our country,” President Reuven Rivlin said at the rally in Jerusalem’s Zion Square. “Flames of violence, flames of hatred, flames of false, distorted and twisted beliefs.”

An estimated 10,000 people turned up for a rally in Tel Aviv’s Gan Meir, which was already planned to mark six years since two people were killed in a shooting at Barnoar, a Tel Aviv gay youth center. …

The attacker, Schlissel, was sentenced for 12 years in prison for the 2005 attack after his conviction on charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault. However, in 2007, following an appeal, the Supreme Court mitigated his sentence to 10 years. He was deemed sane and fit to face trial on Friday.

After his release, Schlissel returned to his hometown, where residents said that he distributed hand-written pamphlets in which he called on “all Jews faithful to God” to risk “beatings and imprisonment” for the sake of preventing the parade.

Right-wing MK: Jerusalem pride parade is an ‘abomination’. Habayit Hayehudi lawmaker Betzalel Smotrich calls anti-violence protest held in wake of stabbing a ‘witch hunt’ against those opposing LGBT rights: here.

Israel Police to probe failure to monitor Jerusalem gay pride parade assailant. Yishai Schlissel, who served 10 years for 2005 parade stabbing attack, urged self-sacrifice against ‘abomination parade’ following his recent release: here.

Gay people in Ramallah, West Bank: here.

Druze angry about Israeli government help for jihadists

This 16 June 2015 video shows a demonstration by Druze in the Israeli occupied Golan heights, against the al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda in Syria). The demonstrators carry colourful Druze flags and Syrian flags.

By Daniella Cheslow:

Israeli Druze angered by their country’s medical assistance to Syrian rebels

June 24, 2015 Updated 2 hours ago

MAJDAL SHAMS, Golan Heights — Mira Amer, 50, was sleeping Tuesday before dawn in the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights when police raided her home and arrested her son on suspicion of lynching a wounded Syrian who was on his way to an Israeli hospital.

Amer said her son, a 32-year-old musician, is not guilty – but that in any case the killing on Monday was not a murder. Druze in Israel are outraged that Israel may be giving medical care to Islamic militants fighting in Syria who’ve been accused of killing Druze in that country’s brutal conflict. Over the past two years, Israel has treated more than 1,600 wounded Syrian rebels in its hospitals.

“We don’t want the government to bring those terrorists here,” Amer said.

Amer – whose name has been changed because of an Israeli gag order on the case – has relatives in the Druze town of Hader on the Syrian side of the border, a town so close she can see it across the border. Islamist rebels from al Qaida’s Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, had surrounded Hader last week, just days after members of the movement had slaughtered 20 Druze in the Syrian province of Idlib.

“We all have relatives in Hader and they are getting hurt,” Amer said. …

The Druze sect is a 10th century offshoot of Shiite Islam whose members live in Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan. In each nation, the Druze swear allegiance to the government and serve in its army. Nearly all of the men among the 110,000 Druze citizens of Israel do military service.

An additional 20,000 Druze live in the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967; Druze in the Golan largely maintain Syrian citizenship in protest of Israeli rule and feel an umbilical connection to those who remain on the other side.

The crumbling of President Bashar Assad’s government has left the Druze in Syria vulnerable to attacks from Islamists, who see Druze as both heretics and enemy soldiers.

That’s galvanized the Druze inside Israel.

In Majdal Shams, residents poured into the streets last week flying the rainbow Druze flag and the red, white and green standard of Syria, along with banners bearing Assad’s face. Druze citizens of Israel raised $2.6 million, which they hoped would fund weapons for their Syrian counterparts. Ayoob Kara, a Druze legislator with Netanyahu’s Likud party, visited Jordan and Turkey to negotiate safe passage for Druze in Syria and made a personal appeal to the Israeli premier to help his people.

“The Druze in Israel who fought for Israel expect their state to help their brothers,” Kara told McClatchy.

Israel has sworn it will not allow a Druze genocide, but it has provided few specifics on how it will help.

After banning long skirts, shorts banned for girls

Israeli girls protest in shorts at a school. Photo  Facebook / mafsikot

After banning women for not wearing high heels … after banning women from wearing miniskirts, and banning women from wearing maxiskirts, and banning women from wearing any type of skirts, and banning women from wearing trousers … now banning women from wearing shorts.

Long or short, repressive authorities will always find stupid ways to punish women for their clothes.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Girls of Israel want bare legs in the classroom

Today, 14:23

Schoolgirls in Israel think they should be allowed to sit in shorts in the classroom. Now in many schools only boys are allowed to wear shorts, but for the girls that is not accepted, write Israeli media.

In Israel it is around 30 degrees centigrade and therefore also the girls would prefer to wear shorts. Most schools prohibit it because they say that girls in shorts will supposedly be more often victims of sexual harassment or even of rape.

Many girls think that is nonsense and in recent days they went to school still wearing shorts. They tell Israeli newspapers they are sent home for that reason.

Call on minister

On social media similar messages appear from students from different cities in the country. The debate has also been noticed by members of the Knesset – Israel’s parliament.

Naftali Bennett, the Minister of Education, was asked to put an end to the discrimination. His ministry has only responded by saying that students and teachers should dress appropriately for school and that schools are allowed to have dress codes in collaboration with parents and students.

Israeli school students protest against repressive dress codes, photo Haaretz

High school girls defy school ban on shorts. Teachers tell the girls that the discriminatory dress code protects them, but the girls believe this is a ‘blame the victim’ approach: here.

According to Dutch daily De Volkskrant, temperature has risen to forty degrees centigrade in Israel. The girls have called for a big demonstration on 16 June, at the Knesset building in Jerusalem.

Israeli journalist Allison Kaplan Sommer writes in Haaretz that if the girls would give in on this, then the next steps of the Israeli government, which includes ultra-orthodox politicians, might be mandatory covering of arms and hair for women.

As temperatures heat up, teenage girls across Canada are being kicked out of school for their summer attire. Between 20 and 30 girls in the Newfoundland and Labrador province were sent home at the end of last week for wearing sleeveless shirts that exposed their bra straps — leading some of them to complain that administrators are unfairly targeting girls who just want to dress comfortably: here.