In a Press Release published on 28 April, ACT MP David Seymour took our Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Paul Hunt, to task because he had “failed to condemn” what he asserted was “the anti-Semitism of UK Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.” Hate speech against Corbyn, fostered by the Israel Lobby, is spreading and now being openly expressed in New Zealand – but more on that later. David Seymour also commented: “Mr Hunt appears to believe that prejudice is acceptable when it is committed by people who share his political beliefs.”
At the extreme end of crudity, Lindsay Perigo on Sunday 28 April commented: “There is now apparently a police-compiled Enemies List circulating among New Zealand’s totalitarian Globalist elite, such as Comrade Ardern, Comrade Andrew Little, Comrade Winston Peters and new Human Wrongs Commissar Comrade Paul Hunt, a lackey of raving anti-Semite and hard-core socialist Comrade Jeremy Corbyn, all advancing the agenda of the most evil man on the planet, George Soros.” Perigo goes on to ask: “Why was this Islamo-Marxist fascist Paul Hunt brought over to destroy our Bill of Rights?! At whose expense?!”
Note that Hunt is actually a New Zealand and British national. He holds a Master of Jurisprudence from the University of Waikato, where he was a Senior Lecturer in Law from 1992-2000. In 1985, Paul Hunt began work as a human rights lawyer in Israel/Palestine working for Quaker Peace and Service. Between 1985 and 1987, he researched the Israeli Military Court system, living variously in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip. His humanitarian-oriented work for the UN has embraced civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and he has worked extensively for the UN World Health Organisation, supporting issues such as health and economic, social, and cultural rights. Our Chief Human Rights Commissioner has served on the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1999-2002) and as a Special Rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council (2002-2008).
Blaming Palestinians for a ‘cycle of violence’
On 4 May, The Guardian reported an Israeli air strike on a home in the al-Zaytoun neighbourhood of Gaza City that killed a 14-month-old girl, Sebba Mahmoud Abu Arar, and her pregnant mother, Falastin Saleh Abu Arar (37), who died along with her unborn child. A neighbour who witnessed the air strike on the home, Abu Nidal Abu Ararm, said: “They were sitting at the yard in their house with their mother. They were shocked by a missile landing on them”. However, on the Israel Institute of New Zealand’s website, David Cumin dismissed the deadly targeting of a home and tried to blame the Palestinians by repeating Israel’s assertion that “a Palestinian mother and child were killed by a rocket that fell short of the border.” Cumin went even further, claiming that the Israeli military “takes extraordinary measures to protect all civilian life” and going on to attack New Zealand with a headline that reads “The “Cycle of Violence” continues and “New Zealand remains silent.”
The ‘cycle of violence’ over Gaza is worth examining. On the very first day of May, there were two Israeli air strikes, at 3:15am and 3:35am. At 5:35am, the Palestinian Resistance retaliated, firing two missiles towards the Green Line. At 6:40am, the Israeli Navy opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats and, at 7:50am, the Israeli Navy again opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off al-Waha, hijacking one of them and wounding a crew member, Mohammad Bashir Abu Rayala. Two other crew members, Hazem Saleh Abu Riala and Khalid Khalid Rajab Abu Riala, were taken prisoner. Then, at 10:45am, Israeli gunboats once more opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off al-Sudaniya. At 9:15am, Israeli forces, positioned behind the Green Line, opened fire on people in east Khuza’a and, at 10:30am, the Israeli Army made an incursion onto Juhur al-Dik farmland, opening fire and bulldozing crops.
Over the whole of the preceding month of April, there were two Palestinian Gaza ceasefire violations. The first was on 19 April at 2:15pm, when Palestinian Resistance fighters opened fire towards Israeli military forces to the east of Rafah City. The second was at 4:15pm, when a number of missiles were fired towards the Green Line. Full details of 141 Gaza ceasefire violations for the month of April, perpetrated by Israel, are too numerous to report here but they resulted in two Palestinians being killed and 11 wounded.
As Shaun Lawson, the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, has put it:
Few figures in British public life have dedicated their whole careers to fighting against all forms of racism in the way Corbyn has. To the best of my knowledge, no other party has set up a full, comprehensive investigation into possible anti-Semitism within its ranks in the way Labour has either.
The UK Labour Party’s principles of conduct on antisemitism can be viewed here. Shaun has painful and enduring awareness of hatred towards Jews. He tells us:
My grandmother . . . was the one true hero of my life. Brought up in the village of Papa, Hungary, she, along with her parents and two sisters, was deported to Auschwitz in mid-1944. Her father — my great-grandfather, who she idolised — did not survive. Somehow, my grandmother, her mother and sisters all did: on a journey which took them to Frankfurt-am-Main, Zillerthal, Ravensbruck, and Mauthausen, encompassing unimaginable horror.
The IHRA (also EUMC) working definition of antisemitism, which UK Labour has endorsed, is actually being used to suppress proper criticism of Israel and the working definition’s author, US attorney Kenneth S. Stern, has himself set out to US Congress his concerns. In written evidence submitted to Congress last year, Stern complained that his original definition had been misused. The purpose had been an attempt to standardise evidence of hate crime across the world. There never was an intention that it be used as a legal or regulatory device to curb academic or political free speech. Stern specifically condemns the inappropriate use of the definition such as, in particular, the curbing of free speech in UK universities, and referencing Manchester and Bristol Universities as examples. Here is what he wrote:
The EUMC “working definition” was recently adopted in the United Kingdom, and applied to campus. An “Israel Apartheid Week” event was cancelled as violating the definition. A Holocaust survivor was required to change the title of a campus talk, and the university [Manchester] mandated it be recorded, after an Israeli diplomat [ambassador Regev] complained that the title violated the definition.[See here]. Perhaps most egregious, an off-campus group citing the definition called on a university to conduct an inquiry of a professor (who received her PhD from Columbia) for antisemitism, based on an article she had written years before. The university [Bristol] then conducted the inquiry. And while it ultimately found no basis to discipline the professor, the exercise itself was chilling and McCarthy-like. [square brackets added – George Wilmers]
Ideology and Propaganda in Israeli Education
A survey, written by an Israeli professor, Nurit Peled-Elhanan, entitled Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education has found not a single positive view of Palestinians, dismissing them as either terrorists or ignorant peasants. The introduction to the book notes that Israeli young men and women, drafted into the army immediately after graduating from high school, are sent to carry out Israeli policy in the militarily-occupied territories. The book examines how Israel’s education system prepares its young people for this experience. As the introduction puts it: “Peled-Elhanan . . . explores the presentation of images, maps, layouts, bullet points, narrative and use of language in History, Geography and Civic Studies school books, and reveals how the books are seen to marginalise Palestinians, legitimise Israeli military action and reinforce Jewish-Israeli territorial identity.”
The author is the daughter of Matti Peled, an Israeli Major-General, scholar of Arabic literature, Knesset member and peace activist. Her grandfather, Avraham Katsnelson, was a signatory to Israel’s Declaration of Independence. In 1979, Nurit’s 13-year-old daughter, Smadar, was killed in the Ben Yehuda Street Palestinian suicide attack in Jerusalem. That tragedy moved Nurit’s brother, Miko Peled, to personally research the reality of life for Palestinians under Israeli military Occupation. The experience resulted in his authorship of the book that reveals so much about Zionist ideology: The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.
A Professor at DePaul University in Chicago, Jason Hill, wrote a piece last month in The Federalist which Fox News described as an article that “defended Israel, criticised the Palestinian Authority and supported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s move to annex the West Bank”. Embarrassingly for many of Israel’s supporters, Hill’s article is unashamedly frank, expressing as it does, the racism that drives Zionism’s separatist ideology. There are those who would attempt to silence the professor but freedom of speech is invaluable. Without it, we would only ever hear the carefully manufactured news-speak of the amoral ruling elite. Hill has expressed the evil that otherwise would dare not speak its name. Here is apartheid:
Professor Hill tells us that Palestinians have no right to be in the West Bank
Under a different set of political sensibilities, the Palestinian people would have been militarily removed from the area [which Israel calls Judea and Samaria] because, morally speaking, after the 1967 war, they never belonged there.
Hill claims that
a strong argument can and ought to be made to strip Palestinians of their right to vote — period.
For Hill, Palestinians count for nothing because
Jewish civilisation is an international treasure trove that must be protected and not all cultures are indeed equal.
Professor Hill believes
There can be no such thing as legitimate Palestinian Territory . . .
The losers of the war cannot make demands on the victors . . .
Jason Hill’s contemptuous opinion goes further —
The decline of the Palestinian people is narrated by their willful ideological malfeasance. They have never come into their own as a people largely because they have never explicitly held a philosophy that can support freedom, the basic liberal principles of individual rights, and a free market economy.
Such views of ‘the other’ are long established; as long ago as 1916 a German publication stated “we Germanic people build up — create — the Slav broods and dreams — like his earth.” Finally, here perhaps is the most telling statement of all by Hill because it embodies Zionist apartheid or what Christian fundamentalists refer to as the ‘Chosen People’:
Jewish exceptionalism and the exceptionalist nature of Jewish civilisation require an unconditional space for the continued evolution of their civilisation. What’s good for Jewish civilisation is good for humanity at large.
Hill’s statements are much closer to their true purpose than the mealy-mouthed, obfuscating pretence of belief in a ‘two state solution’ put out by Israel and its allies. Miko Peled, his sister, Nurit Peled-Elhanan and many, many more Jews across the world reject the inhumanities committed in their name by Israel.
US to review relations with countries deemed anti-Israel
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in March that anti-Zionism was a form of anti-Semitism and on 5 May, a US envoy, Elan Carr, introduced a shift in US policy towards equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Carr went further, saying “The United States is willing to review its relationship with any country, and certainly anti-Semitism on the part of a country with whom we have relations is a deep concern.” Just how this policy may affect New Zealand/US relations is not yet clear. Carr said, “Each country is a different diplomatic challenge, a different situation, number one. And number two, if I started disclosing what we might do it would be less effective.”
On 9 May it was reported that Craig Hawke, New Zealand’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, had reaffirmed our commitment to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), saying it “continues to play a unique and vital role ensuring that the humanitarian, development and protection needs of Palestinian refugees are met in the absence of a lasting political solution to their situation.” Pledging a three-year, $2million contribution to the UNRWA Palestinian refugee lifeline, Hawke said: “New Zealand is proud to continue our long-standing commitment to UNRWA and to Palestinian refugees.” This will not go down well with the Israel Lobby or its allies in the US ruling circles.
The Trump Administration has decided to end funding for the UN agency. According to CNN the decision was made at a meeting between Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a White House senior adviser, and Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. The US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, had also been pushing for the move. The Trump Administration is even calling for a large reduction in the number of Palestinians allowed to be considered refugees. A Foreign Policy report last year revealed leaked emails in which Kushner pressed fellow officials to engage in “an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA”.
Earlier this year, The Israel Institute of New Zealand published a malevolent article entitled Shame, shame, shame on New Zealand, which described this country’s voting at the UN General Assembly as that of “a stand-for-nothing bystander” The article accused this country of choosing not to “follow the moral imperative to unequivocally condemn terrorism.” This from an institute that unconditionally supports every act of Israeli state terrorism and human rights violations! The pressure is mounting. On 14 May, a full-page propaganda advertisement for Israel appeared in the New Zealand Herald and we can surely expect a rise in well-funded Israel Lobby efforts aimed at changing New Zealand Government policy.
The latest move that would allow the Israel Lobby disproportionate influence on New Zealand politics appeared in an article by Barry Soper in The New Zealand Herald on 17 May. According to Soper, the self-proclaimed Zionist, Alfred Ngaro, is planning to leave the National Party and set up a “Christian party” intended to be “a coalition lifeline” in Auckland’s Botany electorate “that National will need if it’s to have a chance at the next election”. According to Soper, “there’s a lot of Christian money in the electorate”. Soper includes the Catholics in his review of churches in the electorate expected to ally themselves with the Zionist candidate. Whether the Catholics would join remains to be seen — but the Catholic Church in Jerusalem has slammed Israel’s nation-state law, urging Christians to protest against it.
In 2012, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, noted that, since the Second World War, “other genocides have occurred” and that the history of genocide “concerns us all, regardless of our background, culture, or religion.” She then asked the question: “How can we draw better lessons from the past?” The short answer to that must surely be, to challenge separatist propaganda and militaristic state-sponsored terrorism. Speak truth to power and call out all human rights violations.