This open letter, signed by Craig Berman, Sarah Glynn, Abe Hayeem, Rosamine Hayeem, Yael Kahn, Michael Kalmanovitz, Roisin Kalmanovitz, Agnes Kory, Selma James, Les Levidow. Moshe Machover, Helen Marks, Sam Weinstein and Karl Weiss, was first issued on 10 June 2018.
We are appalled that the Board of Deputies (BoD) which claims to be “the voice of British Jews,” has once again attempted to justify the massacre of unarmed Palestinian people by the Israeli military.
You issued a throw-away tweet on 31 March and a full statement on 15 May, followed by a comment opposing the World Health Organisation fact-finding mission into the health needs of the occupied territories on 24 May.
As you know, on 30 March, when Israel began its latest attack, Palestinians were commemorating Land Day. It was the launch of their Great March of Return demanding the right to go back to their homeland and an end to the blockade of Gaza. The March continued until 15 May, the seventieth anniversary of the Nakba, when three-quarters of a million Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their land: hundreds of towns and villages were depopulated and destroyed to make way for the state of Israel.
Since 30 March, 123 Palestinians have been killed, including children, women and medics, and journalists wearing vests marked PRESS, many shot in the back, and 13,600 have been maimed or injured by live ammunition, tear gas and firebombs. For six weeks the killings continued, day after day, and on 14 May, when the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem, despite overwhelming global opposition, another massacre: 60 people killed, and 2,771 maimed and wounded. The Israeli use of illegal “dumdum” bullets which expand after entering the body was clearly intended to cause not only greater pain but permanent disabilities.
Your statement justifying this massacre prompted over 500 Jewish Zionists to write to outgoing president Arkush and president-elect Marie van der Zyl protesting that BoD had “deeply misrepresented” their views by relieving Israel of all responsibility for the deaths caused by their snipers.
BoD is doing its best to hide that Jews are divided over Israel’s ongoing repression and slaughter of the Palestinian people, which many of us, like most people everywhere in the world, including a number of Zionists, are outraged by. So much for BoD “speaking for all Jews”! You are so determined to defend Israel that you have even accused Jewish organisations and individuals of “antisemitism” because they support Palestinian rights, and campaigned for their expulsion from the Labour Party.
This is not the first time the BoD has condoned murder, claiming to speak on behalf of Jewish people in the UK. The BoD publicly supported pro-Israel rallies during the bombing of Gaza in 2008/9 and 2014 that killed thousands of Palestinian women, children and men. It has consistently supported a regime that is widely considered guilty of war crimes and the racist crime of apartheid. You are now saying that opposition to Israel’s actions is antisemitic, thus demanding that Israel should be the only government in the world exempt from criticism.
The BoD in recent years has been uncritical of Israel and pro-Tory, contrary to the great Jewish working-class tradition of struggling for social justice in every situation. Arkush declared his political allegiance when (on 9 June 2017) he mourned the Tory prime minister’s failure to win an outright majority at the general election as a “loss” for the Jewish community, and described the Tory alliance with the extreme right-wing, homophobic, anti-abortion Democratic Unionist Party in the North of Ireland as “positive news” and the DUP as “exceptionally warm and friendly”. The Tories that Arkush supports are aligned in Europe with right-wing political parties that honour Nazi collaborators and Islamophobes. Arkush also celebrated the election of Trump undeterred by his racist, Islamophobic, and antisemitic campaign.
Your identification with the Israeli government could prove even more frightening. Governments and people around the world fear that the wrecking of the agreement with Iran by Netanyahu and Trump (the heads of two nuclear powers) may start yet another war, repeating the horrors of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. You may find yourself not only supporting the destruction of Iran, but urging the risk of nuclear war.
As Jewish people we are distraught that the Nazi holocaust has been, and continues to be, used to justify the brutal occupation of another people who played no part in our historic persecution, and to indulge in warmongering.
We reclaim our tradition of struggling for social justice for all by echoing the call by Jamal Juma, coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign and the Land Defence Coalition:
“It is time for the world to stop standing in implicit or explicit complicity with Israeli apartheid and to join us in nonviolent action by taking up the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions until Israel respects international law and human rights.”
Now thrive the armourers: unrepentant ‘special friends’, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United States
Though cluster bombs were banned under international law in 2008, Amnesty International has found a UK-manufactured cluster bomb in Yemen and, according to Defense News, the United States has sold Riyadh cluster bombs and millions of dollars’ worth of training, information gathering, weapons and aerial refuelling support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.
The International Business Times reports that for over a year, Human Rights Watch has recorded attacks on Yemen by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, killing civilians and destroying homes, schools and hospitals. They have used cluster bombs, which scatter explosive ‘bomblets’ across a wide area and eject a stream of molten metal designed to pierce metal armour as they detonate. After this, they explode into thousands of fragments killing and maiming all in the vicinity. If they don’t explode on impact, they become a danger to civilians on the ground. More on the technology here.
Amnesty International calls on the British government, which has rejected claims that the Saudi Arabian-led coalition has violated the laws of war during its conflict in Yemen:
- to stop the UK selling arms to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition that could be used in the Yemen conflict;
- to launch an immediate inquiry into how UK cluster bombs ended up in Yemen and
- to ensure the Saudi Arabia-led coalition destroys all remaining stocks of UK cluster munitions.
Has the Obama administration blocked sales of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia?
A few days later, Defense News and many other media outlets reported that the Obama administration has moved to block sales of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen, amid reports of mounting civilian casualties there. However no link was given and a search for the report in the named journal Foreign Policy found no reference on its site.
(Update, reader Felicity Arbuthnot found a link in another sticle: http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/05/27/exclusive-white-house-blocks-transfer-of-cluster-bombs-to-saudi-arabia – subscription only).
This move is said to follow rising criticism by U.S. lawmakers of America’s support for Saudi Arabia’s role in the year-long Yemeni conflict – not because of concern about the civilian casualties and infrastructure damage inflicted, but, it is alleged, due to increasing disappointment at the Saudis’ failure to do more to fight the militants of the Islamic State group in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.
What is the legal basis in international law for the present actions of HMG in the sovereign republic of Syria?
To Mel Stride MP
Dear Mr Stride,
This citizen, constituent and tax payer wishes you to answer the question at the foot. I have just read a transcript of Mr Hague’s speech at the UN. It is fair to say that every sentence is a lie or a distortion. A few examples of many:
“We have not turned the desire for peace …” – Nothing could be further from the truth. HMG has provided funds, communication equipment and political support to a ragtag of armed bands. To that they have added sanctions, which are of dubious legality. The FCO knew the massive assault on Iraq by the ‘coalition of the willing’ would lead people to flee. That there were 4 million refugees did not seem to concern the invaders. That 2 million fled to Syria, which took them in with typical Arab hospitality, is passed over in the black propaganda, especially that spewed from the BBC and C4. ‘These accounts/videos cannot be verified’ – the statement we hear at the end of almost every ‘Syrian segment’ (Jim Muir, Jonathan Miller, etc etc)
“… and the risk of extremism.” – The FCO speech writers are having us on. We know that Syria is a secular society with good relationships between the different confessions (20% Christian) and none. Iraq was the same with equal numbers of women in university for instance and little or no account taken as to whether one was Shia or Sunni in adherence. The ‘risk of extremism’ attaches in large part to the ragtag the US/UK/Israel/NATO axis is supporting by every means.
“Second, this Council should express its commitment to supporting justice and accountability for the Syrian people.” – There are many contradictions here. The most powerful SC member the US, supported the Mubarak dictatorship for 28 years. This involved an annual bribe of $2 billion. The US and UK have supported the Al Khalifa mob for years. Mercenary and political motives have supported killings and terrible suffering. The US has no interest whatsoever in ‘democracy’.
“… to protect civilians inside Syria” – HMG did not express such concern in its illegal invasion of Iraq, and nor did it recently in Libya. There were 13,000 NATO ‘missions’ ie dropping/launching of ordnance. There were independent assessments that up to 50,000 civilians were killed. For the black Libyans, that continues. Fuel-air weapons were used. If you wish to be briefed on their action upon the human body I am ready. I can also brief you about the effects of U238 used to ballast or point some of these weapons.
“… encouraging them to develop their vision for a stable, democratic Syria where all communities are respected and secure.” – Which of the nine or more ‘armies’ are expressing such desires? I am aware the Syrian National Council has made some sort of declaration.
” All members of this Council should demand that Syria adheres to its obligations to secure and account for these stocks, …..” – Mr Hague, along with our broadcasters, avoids stating that the most cataclysmic weapon stocks are held by Israel. As I write several Dolfin class submarines are on station in the Persian Gulf. There are credible reports that their torpedo tubes have been enlarged to take nuclear tipped cruise missiles. Israel is the only nuclear power in the ME but its stocks have never been inspected. Furthermore it is not a signatory to the IAEA or the NNPT. Its various mouthpieces are daily threatening a pre-emptive attack on Iran. We are always searching for a word with more power than ‘hypocrisy’.
What international law is the legal basis for the present actions of HMG in the sovereign republic of Syria? You will need to involve the FCO of course.
For truth, reason and justice