Greenbelt: British Christians, Syria And Assad

A yearly Christian festival has come in for criticism to the extent that Greenbelt felt compelled to put out a Statement on Israel/Palestine programming by Greenbelt. Whilst there is the broader question of, whether or not Westerners should be interfering in the Middle East, there should be no circumscription on criticising the human-rights record of any governments. Any.

cross1 There is much to criticise in the Middle East and the Israeli government is not immune from it. The continued occupation in the West Bank. The treatment of immigrants to Israel and the rise of right-wing racist ideas. However, we must not forget that it has been Israelis at the very forefront of these issues and opposing their own government.  That opposition takes various forms from the human-rights organisations, such as B’Tselem to Rabbis For Human Rights and beyond.

Where is it, Syria?

Except that Israel is not the only country in the Middle East.

Nor is it the only one connected to the Christian faith and therefore of interest to many Westerners or festival-goers at Greenbelt.

I could not help but notice a strange omission from the festival programme, any mention of Syria. Whilst it has slid down the news agenda, the 2½ year conflict involves many millions, with probably over 120,000 dead, millions of refugees flooding into neighbouring countries and it should deserve at least one word of commentary. I thought it was a peculiar oversight, but then, is it?

I wondered, could it be that those fixated with Israeli misdemeanours give the rulers of Syria an easy time? There is one whole article on the Greenbelt site relating to Syria, whereas the search result on “Israel” amount to 7 pages of searches, 63 entries.

A Hypothesis.

The  hypothesis, that strident and negative views on Israel would lead to a bias in reporting of the Middle East needed testing, the question was how?

Well, I supposed that choosing the most strident Christian critics of the Israelis I could think of might prove illuminating. Surely, I reasoned, they could not fail to indict Bashar Assad for instigating the conflict in Syria? Or using tank shells and aircraft on unarmed civilians?

All of this did not happen overnight. The conflict started in March 2011 when the Syrian government decided to shoot peaceful demonstrators. The Western media begun to document the abuse by the Assad regime, including disappearances and regular use of torture.

I thought that even the harshest adversary of the Israelis would not be so lopsided as to moderate their acerbic attitudes when it came to the quasi-dictatorship in Syria.
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Jeremy Moodey and The PSC Set Me Thinking

[Warning: by necessity this post contains links to racist web sites, as evidence. Apologies. ]

After my brief exchange with Jeremy Moodey I decided to test a theory.

I wondered how long it would take me to find something really unsavory in the posts of a pro-Palestinian activist? A day? A week? Or even longer?

As I knew Jeremy said he doesn’t “have an anti-Semitic bone in my body”, and I believe him, he seemed a good candidate.

If Jeremy was right it would take ages or be an impossible task.

Sadly, it was shockingly easy.

Exhibit no. 1,
Jeremy Moodey’s Twitter account is following the unusually named wikizionism. They seem to be a neo-Nazi creation as suggested by their publishing of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and a piece by William Pierce. He was the brains behind the National Alliance, the American neo-Nazis and the author of the Turner Diaries. There’s a lot more racist filth there, but that enough.

That took about 30 seconds, allowing for a slow Twitter.

Next, I wondered if Jeremy had pushed any links to antisemitic sites in his tweets, by mistake of course.

That I thought would be harder and take forever, as Jeremy wasn’t some crank.

In fact, Jeremy was a potential Tory candidate and is an ex-Banker. Obviously he’s very smart, not a hothead or flake material, so presumably would see through any disguised racism.

Exhibit no. 2, Jeremy approvingly links to a Palestinian Telegraph article:

“Article on how the Board of Deputies stifles free speech in the UK through unfounded accusations of anti-semitism dld.bz/a88Qb

Readers will remember how the Palestine Telegraph published a David Duke video and wrote revolting articles accusing Jews of organ theft. I could go on, but a quick scan of their articles reveals that same disgusting conspiratorial racist tone. Yuck.

Exhibit no. 3,

“#PSC is under pressure from allegations of a Marxist takeover and (wrongly) anti-Semitism. Should be an interesting AGM bit.ly/z8yIHY

I was going to stop there, but it occurred to me that Jeremy had, conceivably, a dark sense of humour when he linked to the racist Uprooted Palestinians blog. Or perhaps I am being charitable?

It is a Gilad Atzmon fan site and run by the cranks, Stephen Lendman and Stuart Littlewood. If you ever want to see naked racism and 9/11 truthers then such a blog is made for you.

That took about 3 minutes.

So in the space of about 4-5 minutes it was trivial to find how a PSC supporter (and I assume Jeremy is one) used racist material, linked to it or at the very least read it.

I imagine the defence would be something like “these were mistakes, trivia, not of consequence” or something similar. The problem with that excuse is, I should not have been able to find any racist material in the first place, connected to a PSC supporter but I did.

As I said, I believe him when he says “I do not have an anti-Semitic bone in my body “.

But then again maybe we define antisemitism differently?

I am sure that Jeremy is one of that 81% of PSCers that reject Holocaust denial.

I can only guess what would have happened had I looked into the PSC’s 17%. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

[But enough of the humour, just in case people misunderstand me. Having read Jeremy Moodey’s tweets with some care, I do not believe he is an antisemite, or anything close to that. He strikes me as having a genuine concern for Christians in Israel/West Bank.

Yet it is disturbing to find racist material so nearby. Not 100% sure what to make of it.]

Palestine Solidarity Campaign and The Question Of Racism.

I am indebted to Jeremy Moodey and Anthony Cooper for pointing me towards the controversy around the UK’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Surprisingly, at the weekend their annual general meeting upheld the decision to expel a rather nasty racist.

However, there was opposition to the expulsion, some 81% of delegates voted for it, about 19% were against it or abstained.

Cynics may suggest that means that the PSC has about 17% racists in its ranks, but I am sure that is not the case. How could it be?

Still, Jeremy Moodey and Anthony Cooper set me thinking. Jeremy argues that “Zionists” (whoever they might be) shut down debate, but he can’t really see the other side of the story.

That is when ‘anti-Zionists’ shout and scream about “Hasbara”, “Zionist propaganda” and “Media control” instead of looking at the occurrences of anti-Jewish racism found close to home.

That ultimately leads to a shouting match, which doesn’t actually answer why anti-Jewish racism is so often found close to, or accidentally pushed by Western supporters of the Palestinians’ cause.

[And let me say here and now, I think it’s perfectly possible to criticise the government of Israel for its actions, as one could do with any government, as long as one avoids racist imagery, demagogic language and double standards.

Further, I think it does the Palestinians cause no good to be associated with racists, the Far Right and extremists in the West.]

The problem in many of these discussions is bad faith.

The assumption that naturally the other side in these debates are evil, wicked or mendacious. I think that’s a fairly pointless exercise, even if it were true.

Moreover, it doesn’t provide any meaningful answer to the questions, why do racists become drawn to these campaigns in the West, and why aren’t they ferreted out sooner?

In my experience, you don’t have to look very hard or long to find racism around these campaigns or the activists. I don’t mean that everyone is a racist or anywhere close, but as they wade knee deep in vitriol and invective against “Zionists” that racism pops out.

One of many examples is the case of Jenna Delich, Bob From Brockley explains:

“If you haven’t already read about British academic and trade union member Jenna Delich, who cites David Duke’s website in support of a boycott of Israel, and about the UCU activists who have threatened action against Harry’s Place for publicising the scandal, then below are some places you can read about it.

It is worth noting that the article to which Jenna Delich linked is not by David Duke. It is by one Joe Quinn and originally appeared on a 9/11 Truth Cult site called sott.net. It would not have reflected well on Jenna D if she had found the article there, but she didn’t; she found it on a Ku Klux Klan site, which reflects on her rather worse.”

Rather than admit her mistake, Ms. Delich sought to shut down the web site that first covered it and in the process brought more attention to her actions.

It would be far better if these “activists” made a serious effort to understand anti-Jewish racism, the Far Right and tread more carefully, lest people assume the worst.