By Jonathan Hoffman
January 31, 2010
Yesterday there was a conference organised by a group called ‘Progressive London”. This was initiated by Ken Livingstone in 2008. Livingstone was the former Mayor of London who told me three times that Israel should not have been created and the man who, on the third occasion, told me with a perfectly straight face that the previous Chief Rabbi, Lord Jacobovits, had said the same thing- obviously wrong and indeed unthinkable [nb the link may not work, the JP is in the throes of changing its technology].
The only ‘progression’ of this Conference is towards a new government.
Harrys Place has already noted the weirdness of the speakers at this event:
· unrepentant Stalinists, like Milne and Hudson
· former USSR ”agents of influence” like Gott
· fans of Al Qaeda clerics, like Ali
· assorted members of the small Trot clique, Socialist Action (in their various guises and front groups)
Of course no far left “progressive” conference worth its salt is complete these days without an Israel-bashing session and this one saw 75 minutes including the following:
Hugh Lanning: He is Chair of the PSC which - we are reliably assured by an insider – is now a front for Socialist Action/the Communist League:
Avi Shlaim: The Oxford Professor who believes that “Zionism today is the real enemy of the Jews.” Benny Morris commented on the Balfour Declaration section of Shlaim’s new book (Israel and Palestine:Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations): “Yet it exudes an unscholarly myopia, a selectivity in the use of documents, which hints at anti-Zionist prejudice.”
Anas Altikriti: Recently wrote an apologia for Hamas in The Guardian.
And look at the people who shared a platform with this lot. A brace of Labour members of the London Assembly, LibDems and MPs, including Harriet Harman and Ed Miliband and Edie Friedman of the Council for Jewish Racial Equality (JCORE). It seems that JCORE does not care about sharing a platform with those who demonise and delegitimise Israel. This is the organisation that disgracefully invited Yasmin Alibhai Brown to speak at a Reform synagogue in November.
By contrast Brian Coleman – the Mayor of Barnet and London Assembly member – sees this ‘progressive’ conference for what it is. Here is what he said:
This conference has clear anti Israel connotations. How debating the issue of Gaza could have anything to do with London is beyond me.
I urge politicians from the across the political divide to withdraw their support from it. Mike Tuffrey AM, Jenny Jones AM, Darren Johnson AM, Val Shawcross AM, Nicky Gavron AM and Len Duvall AM should hang their heads in shame. The fact that they are sharing a platform with very suspect speakers – who have a history of attacking the state of Israel - makes it even worse. I am amazed mainstream politicians would want to appear on such a platform. How ‘progressive’ can it be to launch public attacks against the only democracy in the Middle East as opposed to debating the real issues that matter to London ? Those who attend the conference show they have learned nothing from Ken Livingstone’s defeat of 2008 – he was like this as Mayor and continues to spread his hate today.
So Labour continues on its lurch to the far left, with the trade unions in the driving seat. A credible Israel-bashing record is now de rigeur for anyone who wants to climb on board. We read in this week’s JC that Gordon Brown, that great friend of Israel , cannot quite bring himself to commit to changing the law which allows Israelis to be arrested at Heathrow on the initiative of one private individual, lawyer Daniel Machover.
In less than 100 days there will be an election. Candidates should be asked three questions. One, do you agree with the legitimacy of Israel’s action in Gaza ? Two, do you agree that the UK should have vetoed the Goldstone Report at the UN Human Rights Commission? And three, will you support a change in the law to stop individuals being able to obtain arrest warrants under Universal Jurisdiction? (It was this which resulted in the arrest warrant for Tsipi Livni). There is only one Party which responds ‘Yes/Yes/Yes’. This is underlined by EDM 502, signed by 64 Labour MPs, 29 LibDems and just 1 Conservative.
Please also sign my petition to Gordon Brown urging a change in the Universal Jurisdiction law. It already has over 500 signatures, which means he will respond to every signatory.