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Israeli embassy embraces extremists to save flagging brand

Screen capture from a Campaign4Truth video [C4T Campaign4Truth / Youtube]
Screen capture from a Campaign4Truth video [C4T Campaign4Truth / Youtube]

An Israeli parliamentarian has vowed there will never be a Palestinian state and rejected Palestinian identity itself, speaking to an audience in London alongside a senior official from the Israeli embassy.

Member of the Knesset Amir Ohana, of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, was joined at 29 September event by Rony Yedidia-Clein, a veteran Israeli diplomat and currently the London embassy’s director of public affairs.

A video recording of proceedings, posted on YouTube and posted below, sheds new light on moves by the Israeli embassy to work with extremists, as part of efforts to stem a growing Palestine solidarity campaign, and in particular, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The event, called “Debunking the Libels”, was organised by Campaign4Truth (C4T) and UK Likud Supporters. C4T describes itself as “a grassroots NGO whose mission is to analyse and promote understanding of major issues in the Jewish diaspora, Israel & the Middle East.”

MK Ohana was cheered as he insisted there will be no Palestinian state, describing the two-state solution as “no solution for anything”. Acknowledging widespread support for Palestinian statehood among “politicians around the world”, Ohana said: “now we have to change that.”

Israel has a “right to exist in its homeland,” Ohana declared, “which means the Galilee, the Negev, Judea, Samaria [the West Bank] and the entire land of Israel.”

The Israeli embassy would have known Ohana’s views prior to the event, as he is a well-known opponent of the two-state solution. Earlier this year, speaking of the Palestinians, he said “let them have their other 22 states” (a reference to Arab League members).

Just three months ago, Ohana called for the killing of Palestinian “inciters”, speaking to a rally of West Bank settlers. At the same gathering, he backed settlement construction, declaring: “from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] River, the land of Israel will be free.”

Going even further, Ohana said he tries “not to talk about Palestinians but about the Arabs”, adding: “They came only for the last 200 years, we have yearned to come back home for 2,000 years.”

Elaborating, Ohana referenced a notorious travelogue by Mark Twain, actually written in 1867, where – in Ohana’s words – the American described Palestine as “empty, really a desert, nothing.” Ohana added that “almost every” Palestinian family has their origins in Syria or Egypt.

Ohana – who has a close relationship with Temple Mount activist and Likud colleague Yehuda Glick – also told the London audience he has “no doubt” that “one day in the future…there will be a change” in the status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Embassy official Rony Yedidia-Clein, who said she was “delighted” to be at the event, introduced Ohana with remarks of her own, and spent the rest of the event contributing answers and comments in response to audience questions.

Yedidia-Clein gave the impression of an embassy that has its work cut out, bemoaning the fact that “today it’s become almost a badge of honour for someone to call themselves an anti-Zionist, and a term of shame for someone to call themselves a Zionist.”

According to the diplomat, the embassy has been working to establish local “friends of Israel” groups, and she praised the work of “people in the room” who have “helped…us at the embassy” to set up 40 such organisations in the past two years, citing Inverness (see here) and Jersey (see here).

That figure was offered by someone off-camera called “Steven”, likely a reference to Steven Jaffe, a “Grassroots and Advocacy Consultant” for the Board of Deputies.

Ohana urged attendees to email him ideas for how to fight BDS. During his visit to London, he met with students at University College London, where – the MK said – it was suggested that the Israeli government could send a dozen “Israeli-Arabs” to speak on campuses during Israeli Apartheid Week.

One particularly noteworthy audience contribution during the evening came from Jonathan Metliss, who sits on the executive of Westminster lobby group Conservative Friends of Israel.

Campaign4Truth co-founders Sharon Klaff and Ambrosine Shitrit, pictured with Eric Pickles during a Conservative Friends of Israel parliamentary reception in January 2016. (Source: Facebook)

Campaign4Truth co-founders Sharon Klaff and Ambrosine Shitrit, pictured with Eric Pickles during a Conservative Friends of Israel parliamentary reception in January 2016. (Source: Facebook)

Suggesting British Jews would flee the country if Jeremy Corbyn became prime minister, Metliss said: “Look what’s happening in France! Don’t think it’s not going to happen here. I live in the West End, in Marylebone, let me tell you something, it’s Dubai high street down there.”

Campaign4Truth was founded, and is led by, Sharon Klaff and Ambrosine Shitrit. Klaff has previously (sarcastically) described Islam as a “Religion of peace”, that “calls for death of Jews”, and retweeted descriptions of Syrian refugees arriving in Europe as part of an Islamic wave of conquest.

Shitrit, meanwhile, was the subject of an article by Islamophobia monitoring group Tell MAMA, who highlighted tweets many deemed to be “anti-Muslim in nature”.

None of which, however, seems to have dissuaded the Israeli embassy from embracing these activists, a sure sign that apologising for apartheid is fast becoming the preserve of an extremist few.

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  • Blake

    Unhinged sociopaths

  • Helen4Yemen

    True?

    Maurce Samuel: Wherever the Jew is found he is a problem, a source of unhappiness to himself and to those around him

    Maurce Samuel: Years of observation and thought have given increasing strength to the belief that we Jews stand apart from you gentiles, that a primal duality breaks the humanity I know into two distinct parts; that this duality is a fundamental, and that all differences among you gentiles are trivialities compared with that which divides all of you from us.

    Maurce Samuel: I do not believe that this primal difference between gentile and Jew is reconciliable. You and we may come to an understanding, never to a reconciliation. There will be irritation between us as long as we are in intimate contact. For nature and constitution and vision divide us from all of you forever

  • Helen4Yemen

    True? Maurice Samuel: You Gentiles

    __ A Jew is a Jew in everything, not merely in prayers and in synagogue. In the eyes of a pietist, a Jew who does not follow the rules and regulations of the synagogue, who even denies all dogma is not a non-Jew: he is a bad Jew, a sinful and rebellious Jew.

    __ But in the Jew, nation and people and faculties and culture and God are all one. We do not say: “I am a Jew,” meaning, “I am a member of this nationality”: the feeling in the Jew, even in the free-thinking Jew like myself, is that to be one with his people is to be thereby admitted to the power of enjoying the infinite. I might say, of ourselves: “We and God grew up together.”

    __ In the heart of any pious Jew, God is a Jew. Is your God an Englishman or an American? There is no real contradiction between this confessed anthropomorphism and my claim that we Jews alone understand and feel the universality of God.

    __ I might say that there is no Jew who does not believe in God . The free-thinking Jews, the agnostic or atheistic Jew like myself, simply does not anthropomorphize him. In his religious emotions the atheist Jew is as different from the atheist gentile as the confessing Jew from the confessing gentile-Christian.

    __ But as in morality you are freer, sporting and variegated, so your gods are many, varied and manly. And our gloomy and merciless monotheism, intolerant in abstraction and in personification, is the eternal enemy of your gods.

    __ There does not seem to be a single country with a history which has not been anti-Semitic at one time or another. There is no country today of which the Jew can say, “In this country anti-Semitism will never become triumphant.”

    __ Your dislike of us finds uneven and unequal expression, is lulled into rest for a time, at times is overborne by generous impulses, but it is a quality inherent in the nature of things, nor is it conceivable to me that, as long as there are Jews and gentiles, it should ever disappear.

  • Helen4Yemen

    True? Maurice Samuel: You Gentiles:

    __ As for you gentiles and us Jews, we have both acted on the assumption that the mass must be treated by a general law. The instinct of the gentile is to distrust the Jew, of the Jew to distrust the gentile. We only make exceptions. There is nothing inconsistent in the anti-Semite who says: “Some of my best friends are Jews.”

    __ I say, therefore, that in the conflict between us you have fought us physically, while our attack on your world has been in the spiritual field. It is the nature of the gentile to fight for his honor, in the nature of the Jew to suffer for his. Whether because we are so inclined by first nature, or whether because we have so become through lack of land and government and army-this is true : you revel in force, we despise it, even where we can and do exert it.

  • Mike Abramov

    I first saw Ben White at a book promotion in 2009. His first book’s rather patronising title of Israeli Apartheid…A Beginners Guide was being presented to an audience of like-minded people and a small handful of Zionists in attendance.

    The presentation ended with a plea for BDS. No constructive way forward, no suggestion of dialogue, no understanding of two peoples differences. The Palestine issue was all the fault of The Jewish State in other words. Now he writes about how gobsmacked he is that an MK member is suggesting that there will never be a two-state solution.

    Well Mr. White if you are going to prattle on about right and wrong or left-wing and right-wing and NOT understand that this is not about political differences you can then understand that a young Israeli will dismiss the notion of a two-state solution outright.

    I am amazed that after 7 years Mr. White has learnt…..nothing.

  • Mike Abramov

    ‘Elaborating, Ohana referenced a notorious travelogue by Mark Twain, actually written in 1867, where – in Ohana’s words – the American described Palestine as “empty, really a desert, nothing.” Ohana added that “almost every” Palestinian family has their origins in Syria or Egypt’.

    I have picked up this quote, having re-read this report, because Mark Twain was after all a Christian and the one main feature of Israel is it’s pluralism. My guess is that this will disappear under an Arab government.

    I refer the reader to pre-1967 borders when, on liberating East Jerusalem, the Israeli soldiers came to the Western Wall to find another much more modern wall maybe 100 years old) that created an enclave for Jews to pray that was no wider than nine feet running parallel to the Western Wall. Is this indicative of pluralism…or not?

    • Helen4Yemen

      {“almost every” Palestinian family has their origins in Syria or Egypt’}
      ___
      Therefore, the land was totally vacant, waiting for Ashkenazi Khazars to arrive to make it bloom with his very soft hands. Right?

      Mark Twain : __ ” Still, almost bereft of employments, he found ways to make money, even ways to get rich. Also ways to invest his takings well, for usury was not denied him. In the hard conditions suggested, the Jew without brains could not survive, and the Jew with brains had to keep them in good training and well sharpened up, or starve. Ages of restriction to the one tool which the law was not able to take from him – his brain – have made that tool singularly competent; ages of compulsory disuse of his hands have atrophied them, and he never uses them now. “