Sunday 19 June 2011
"As well as recycling historical snake oil, Scottish Friends of Israel revealed a view of Glasgow as a science fiction world where Arabs and their allies manipulate Glaswegian automatons to do their bidding, possibly using a secret device: 'They have a marvellous machinery...I've been to the meetings here in Glasgow. I hear how you direct the Westerners here what to say, what to think.'"
The second half of this morning’s BBC1 live broadcast of The Big Questions programme addressed the question, ‘Is it time to free Palestine?’ It was a chaotic half hour, a bit of a zoo, despite the brave efforts of Janey Godley in the audience. I might have been able to help; I had been confirmed earlier in the week as a guest on the show to argue the case for Palestinian freedom, a case that the BBC considers still has to be argued in this country.
A very pleasant BBC researcher, Amanda, interviewed me at length on the phone before confirming the invitation to take part. ‘Shall I change the pencil entry to a pen?’ I asked. ‘Write in it your diary in a thick black pen,’ she replied on Friday afternoon. At 7.00pm last night, I received a call to say I was being dropped in the interests of ‘balance’.
During the broadcast pro-Zionist speakers were able to switch the focus of much of the programme to the alleged homicidal aims of the Palestinians, and a seriously weird Raymond Mann of Scottish Friends of Israel was able utter the timeless mantra of all colonial ideologists that, ‘You’re not ready for a state,’ then yell to the Palestinian in the audience, ‘You love it when you get killed!’ He also presented unchallenged the claim made by the more unhinged type of Zionist that the Palestinian people were recent immigrants drawn to a previously empty stretch of the Mediterranean coast by the employment opportunities opened up by Zionist enterprise.
Mann lifted the invention whole from Joan Peters From Time Immemorial, of which Chomsky wrote that, ‘The kindest word anybody said about the book was "ludicrous," or "preposterous."’
As well as recycling historical snake oil, Raymond Mann revealed a view of Glasgow as a science fiction world where Arabs and their allies manipulate Glaswegian automatons to do their bidding, possibly using a secret device: ‘They have a marvellous machinery…I’ve been to the meetings here in Glasgow. I hear how you direct the Westerners here what to say, what to think.’
Glaswegians under robotic control is the Zionist explanation as to why Israel is viewed with deep suspicion by decent people everywhere, and also makes it unnecessary to look at Israel’s behaviour. Mann follows up his innovative mind-control allegation with the hardy perennial that people who support the idea of freedom for Palestine are motivated by hatred of Jews. Mann, though, invents some detail.
Mann: ‘I was at a meeting, and it was anti-Semitic, in the Church of Scotland in Bath Street, talking about evil Jews and I stood up and complained…’
Nicky Campbell: ‘Who used that phrase? Who used that phrase?’
Mann: ‘I was at the meeting with Mick Napier, is it Deek…Ali…Deek Moss(?)…and they were all clapping…’
In response to Nicky Campbell’s repeated question, Mann implies that I either led, or joined in, or encouraged, or found unobjectionable, such ‘talking about evil Jews’. Now, this is not only a lie, and a conscious propaganda effort on behalf of Israel; given SPSC’s record of success in dealing with such libels and false allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’, it is unwise.
I have never knowingly met Mr. Mann of Scottish Friends of Israel and I would surely remember someone standing up and complaining of talk of ‘evil Jews’ at any meeting I addressed. Indeed, in many years of campaigning against Israel’s brutal crimes and for Palestinian freedom from Zionism’s colonising project I have never heard those two words publicly put together. Mr. Mann is telling a lie and he probably knows he is telling a lie. I say probably, for he states clearly on air that he has seen I and others exercising mind control over ‘Westerners’ in Glasgow. He has witnessed ‘how you direct the Westerners here what to say, what to think.’ (Now that would be a talent – being able to direct Glaswegians how to think!)
In 2008, for example, four Zionist leaders of SCoJeC (Scottish Council of Jewish Communities) published a book which contained, among other dishonest and malicious claims (see below), the libelous accusation that SPSC ‘demonised Jews’. Following legal action against SCoJeC, all 6,000 copies of their book were pulped, in a clear admission that their accusations of racism were entirely fabricated. Since then, these same Zionist leaders of SCoJeC have come under fire within the Scottish Jewish community for fabricating a wave of anti-Semitism in Scotland, a country with an honorable tradition as a very welcoming place for Jews. Such allegations of anti-Semitism have been vigorously repudiated by Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, as well as the pro-BDS Scottish TUC.
In another legal clash, I was one of five SPSC members who had the privilege in 2009, of confronting charges of racism in an Edinburgh court. Although absurd, the charges were politically driven and arose out of activities in support of the Palestinian appeal for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions). The Sheriff dismissed all charges eloquently, observing that, 'It seemed to me that the procurator fiscal's attempts to squeeze malice and ill will were rather strained'. We had been initally charged, it is relevant to point out in this case, with shouting against 'Jews' until a BBC recording of the entire event proved the allegation to be fabricated.
This morning’s The Big Questions programmed produced an intriguing coincidence, since Ewan Aitken was one of the panel who heard the allegation that SPSC was involved in discussing ‘evil Jews’.
Ewan was the leader of the Edinburgh City Council Labour Group and a member of the Church of Scotland Church and Nation Committee that deals with wider social issues, and often takes a progressive stance on, for example, the barbarity of nuclear weapons. SPSC was happy to work with the Edinburgh City Council Labour Group, and the Greens, in pushing for a boycott of the Israeli water-cooler company and human rights violator, Eden Springs. Ewan made a good speech to the Council in support of that boycott initiative, and did so again during the campaign to punish Veolia for its human rights violations by adding Edinburgh to the list of authorities refusing it contracts. There is, however, an outstanding issue which needs to be resolved.
Mann is no more original with smears of ‘evil Jews’ than he is with fantasy history. The ‘evil Jews’ smear goes back to 2005, the year after SPSC initiated and successfully led a campaign to elect Mordechai Vanunu as Rector of Glasgow University, and the same year the Herald newspaper launched a campaign for his release from oppressive Israeli detention.
The 2005 General Assembly report on anti-semitism in Europe published the accusation that‘during the campaign to elect Mordechai Vanunu as Rector of Glasgow University, some of his supporters announced that “Israelis are evil; Jews are evil”.’ This unattributed statement was without foundation. Three years later, the Church of Scotland’s unattributed allegation was still being recycled: ‘Supporters of the Israeli dissident Mordechai Vanunu were reported to have chanted “Israelis are evil. Jews are evil.”’(2)
I wrote to Ewan (27.05.09) noting that 'This allegation has entered the public domain and been propagated widely, based on anonymous testimony. The source has not come forward.' I described how promiscuously the Zionists throw around their allegations of anti-Semitism, and requested information on time, place and other details of the supposed offence, especially since the anonymous allegations were inconsistent, contradictory, sometimes speaking of a single offender, at other times of an unspecified number, unclear as to whether the ‘evidence’ was second- or third-hand, and suspiciously lacking in any detail whatsoever. I pointed out the previous form of SCoJeC, for example, in retreating from unsubstantiated allegations of anti-Semitism when challenged vigorously.
I asked Ewan to use his good offices to arrange a meeting between with the person(s) who raised the allegations and some of us who were involved in Vanunu’s election effort.
I received the rather high-handed response that ‘it is a matter for the Church to decide on whom it should rely for information’ and that ‘those who compile reports exercise judgment as to what is reliable information and which sources are credible’.
This is surely not good enough. Mr. Mann and his colleagues from Scottish Friends of Israel are surely to be pitied as delusional – after all, it is an axiom of Zionism that the whole world hates Jews, despite all the evidence. The Church of Scotland is another matter, however. It contains many fine people and we at SPSC welcome, for example, the Iona Community standing up for justice for the Palestinian people, opposing the work of the racist JNF (Jewish National Fund) in dispossessing Palestinians of their homes and homeland.
In refusing, however, to call back this politically-driven, anonymous allegation, or even to subject it to independent evaluation, the Church of Scotland is guilty of a grave injustice, providing ammunition for those who work to libel the Palestinian struggle for freedom as inspired by racist motives rather than a desire for justice. Reserving to itself the right to circulate such anonymous accusations also violates basic canons of natural justice.
While the British Government supplies the parts for the F16s, the Church of Scotland should not be supplying the anonymous smears, from a malicious and possibly delusional source, to be used against the struggle for Palestinian freedom.
Edinburgh, 19 June 2011
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(1) Olson, R. (1985) From Time Immemorial (Book Review), American Historical Review 90, no. 2
(2) Collins, K.E. (2008) Scotland’s Jews, Glasgow, SCoJeC(Second edition of Scotland’s Jews - First Edition is a collector’s item since every copy was supposed to have been pulped.)