My speech to tonight's London Pro-Israel Rally

By Jonathan Hoffman
November 15, 2012


I want to welcome you all to this great show of support for our brothers and sisters in Israel who are yet again forced to confront those who deny their very right to exist. Throughout its 64 year history Israelis have had to defend the State from those who would deny it the right to exist. In 1948; in 1967; in 1973; in 2008 and 2009 in Operation Cast Lead; and now in Operation Pillar of Defence.

And just as before, our enemies will not succeed. Am Yisroel Chai.

We stand here representing the UK. We have among us Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, atheists and probably lot of others as well. We are the Zionist Federation, the JNF, Christians for Israel, Muslims for Israel, Britain Israel Coalition, Likud-Herut. Thanks to the ZF for organising so quickly.

We come from many different backgrounds but we are united in our devotion to Israel and in our conviction that Israel has the right to defend its citizens. We will never allow Israel to fall victim to the same murderous terrorists who killed 52 Londoners on 7 July 2005.

More than 900 rockets have been fired on Israelis living in the South of the country since the beginning of the 2012. Since last Saturday November 10th more than 120 rockets were fired before the launch of Operation Pillar of Defence yesterday. They even hit a children's petting zoo. More than 900 rockets have been fired at Israeli civilians in 2012, compared to a total of 653 for the whole of 2011, and 238 for all of 2010 - less than one third of the total so far this year.

Over 1 million Israelis live in the range of the rockets and their lives are threatened with every launch. Daily life in southern Israel has been totally disrupted.

On Saturday night an anti-tank missile was fired at an IDF jeep traveling on the Israeli side of the border fence. Four IDF soldiers were injured.

No government can tolerate such a level of threat to its population. Israel has shown unbelievable patience but at some point it had to act.

Of course Jeremy Bowen says that Operation Pillar of Defence is just an electoral stunt and nothing whatsoever to do with rocket threats. This is what he wrote on the BBC Website:

But there will be questions about the timing of Israel's action. The Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called an election in January. In the past, military strikes have been used to send messages about the toughness of Israeli leaders.

Jeremy Bowen is wrong – isn’t he?

He is about as wrong as the Newsnight Programme which led to the accusation of Lord McAlpine as a paedophile. He is as wrong as the Newsnight editor who dropped the investigation of Jimmy Saville. He is as wrong as the BBC Director General George Entwhistle who screwed up and walked away with £450,000, twice the amount to which he was contractually entitled.

I have news for Jeremy Bowen. Israel was around long before he was born and will be around long after he's gone - and long after the BBC is gone.

Israel’s leaders would NEVER sacrifice human life merely to win an election. My friends, Operation Pillar of Defence would have happened regardless of the timing of the next Israeli election.

Even the British Foreign Secretary William Hague has shown how wrong Jeremy Bowen is. He said today that the terrorist group Hamas bears "principal responsibility" for the military operation Israel is now conducting in Gaza. He said he "utterly condemned" the rocket attacks by Hamas on southern Israel.

This creates an intolerable situation for Israeli civilians in southern Israel, who have the right to live without fear of attack from Gaza," he said. "The rocket attacks also risk worsening the plight of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, which is already precarious.

Yesterday Israel targetted Ahmed Jabari, Hamas’ military chief in Gaza and an arch-terrorist. Jabri was directly responsible for financing and executing terror attacks against Israel. In 2006, Jabari masterminded the attack that led to the murder of Israeli soldiers and the capture of Gilad Shalit. As head of Hamas' negotiations team, Jabri prevented the release of Gilad Shalit for over five years. Jabri had close connections with Sheikh Yassin. From 1982 until January 1995 Jabri was arrested and imprisoned in Israel. During this time he joined Hamas, serving as the representative for all Hamas and Islamic Jihad members in his prison. Jabri regularly used antisemitic incitement to urge the destruction of Israel.

And those of you who have seen the footage of Jabri’s killing will have noted how careful the IDF was to minimise harm to civilians around the car. Israel is ALWAYS careful to minimise harm to civilians. Israel drops leaflets and even makes phone calls to watrn Gazan civilans to stay well away from Hamas terrorists. In Operation Cast Lead there was an unprecedentedly low civilian casualty rate. While males over age 15 make up approximately 25 percent of the Gaza population, they made up over 74 percent of the fatalities.

Israel has the most moral army in the world. Those words are not mine. They are those of Colonel Richard Kemp, the former British Commander in Afghanistan. In a recent speech to IDF soldiers in Tel Aviv, Richard Kemp cited a United Nations study. Yes United Nations. That study shows that the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in Gaza was by far the lowest in any asymmetric conflict in the history of warfare. The UN estimate that there has been an average three-to one ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in such conflicts worldwide. Three civilians for every combatant killed.

That is the estimated ratio in Afghanistan: three to one.

In Iraq, and in Kosovo, it was worse: the ratio is believed to be four-to-one.

Anecdotal evidence suggests the ratios were very much higher in Chechnya and Serbia.

In Gaza, it was less than one-to-one.

Hamas targets civilians. Israel targets terrorists. That is the difference.

My friends the days ahead do not promise to be easy. But we will be steadfast in our love and support fro the people of Israel.

There is a lot you can do in the days ahead. You can speak out at injustices in the media – especially the BBC. Last night the BBC – to its credit – interviewed our friend the wonderful Jonathan Sacerdoti of the Institute for Middle East Democracy. But during his interview they showed scenes of the attacks in Gaza. But they were not careful enough. We saw a great example of what has become known as “Pallywood” – or acting for the cameras. It’s on You-Tube. You see a guy in a black sweatshirt writhing on a stretcher at 2.12 in the clip. Then by 2:43 – miracle of miracles – he is walking – he has made an incredible recovery!

Chaverim -- In the days to come there will be two conflicts – the one in Gaza and Israel and the one in the media.

You can put Israel’s case on social media. Don’t leave Twitter to the Forces of Darkness. Search for hashtags #Gaza and #Israel and stay up to date by following @IDFspokesperson.

In mainstream media you can write to make Israel’s case. You can phone in, eg to LBC, BBC World Service and Any Answers on the BBC. The Forces of Darkness will be doing it, we must too.

You can write to your MPs and to the Foreign Office - Please emphasize how Israel’s targeted attacks are in response to the rocket attacks that have come from Gaza over the last few days. The Forces of Darkness will be doing it, we must too.

You can come to see the Batsheva Dance company at Sadlers Wells next week. The dancers have families in the IDF and in the south of Israel - Come and support them!

We wish the IDF every success, we pray for the safety of all Israelis and we hope that as few as possible civilians in Gaza are harmed. As for the media conflict – that’s up to us to win. We will not let Israel down .. we will not let Israel down …. will we?

Am Yisroel Chai …


Here's the JC's report on the 250-strong pro-Israel demo:

And Richard Millett's:



Tue, 11/20/2012 - 15:30

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joemillis1959 I take your point, but unfortunately we are using 19th/20th century to describe a 21st-century problem.
If we break it down, then "No Irish" would be discriminatory and liable for prosecution under the Equality Act (2010). "No Blacks" would be liable for prosecution under the Race Relations Acts, the latest being 2010. "No Dogs" I suppose would be doggist. ;-)

like many critics of israel and jews, you refuse to use the word "racist"!

in fact, your whole rather long legalistic post (purportedly answering my very clear questions about racism) doesn't use the words "racist" or "racism" even once

i'll ask again:

you regard a landlord's notice "no dogs, no jews" as not racist?

(and what about the palestinians? do you regard it as possible to be an anti-palestinian racist?

do we live in a wonderful world where israelis and palestinians find it impossible to be racist to each other?)

joemillis1959 No, it would be discriminatory under the Equality Act (2010) and I hope Professor Moty Cristal and Ronnie Fraser win their cases and sue the arsenal off those who allegedly (I have to write that for legal reasons) discriminated against them.
Just as a footnote, Jews in this country are protected under the Race Relations Act, and that was the reason the Chief Rabbinate failed in its fight over the JFS admissions case.

drop the law lecture, i'm talking about a familiar word in common usage … most people know when to use the ordinary english word "racist" without having to examine uk acts of parliament

joe, this started because jonathan drew attention to the words of bbc middle east editor jeremy bowen (later described by you as "indefensible"), and i remarked that they were a racist slur that people have died because that is what wins israeli votes

and you then objected to my reference to racism

when i hear racism, i call it

when you hear racism, you call it something else, and object to anyone who does call it racism

if it isn't against uk law (and most racism against israelis isn't, since uk law doesn't protect those outside the uk), you're not interested

you and your friends criticise people who mention racism, or who monitor racist meetings

a lot of anti-israeli protesters are quite blatant racists, but you automatically acquit them of this by your claim that, no matter how anti-israeli (or anti-jewish) someone is, they can't be accused of racism because there's no such thing as anti-israeli (or anti-jewish) racism


Tue, 11/20/2012 - 16:24

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, you refuse to use the word "racist"!

I used racist with regard to the anti-black part of your question because that would be racist under the Race Relations Act (2010) and previous iterations.

you regard a landlord's notice "no dogs, no jews" as not racist?

Indeed because it's not racist, it's discrimination on the basis of religious (and canine) identity. It's disgraceful and it would be treated as as bad as racism, but legally, it isn't racism.

(and what about the palestinians? do you regard it as possible to be an anti-palestinian racist?

No, because like the Israelis - and Irish - they are not a race, either. And as with the case of the Israelis, Irish, Americans, Polish, Chinese and every other nationality you could think of, it would be discriminatory under the Equalities Act (2010).

If it isn't against uk law (and most racism against israelis isn't, since uk law doesn't protect those outside the uk), you're not interested

Ah but it is against UK law to discriminate on the basis of nationality and/or religion. So that covers Israelis in the Uk, and that's what I'm talking about.

no matter how anti-israeli (or anti-jewish) someone is, they can't be accused of racism because there's no such thing as anti-israeli (or anti-jewish) racism

Because, quite simply under British law Jews and Israelis aren't a race. I'd fight against discrimination against Israelis and Jews - of all races, creeds, colours, sexual orientation and levels of religious observance, but it's not racism. It's a very ugly form of discrimination, and I hope that Ronnie Fraser and Moty Cristal win big.

And, to be honest, as we don't self-describe as a race, it's very hard to claim that being anti-Jewish is racist.

I hope that this satisfies you - and no doubt we will not agree. But since this is becoming quite circular, life's too short and I don't think I can contribute any more to this debate - and one of us will end up getting angry - I'm bowing out of it. Leapfrogging posts, included ;-)

Have a great day in the bowl, Happy.


Tue, 11/20/2012 - 17:27

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2 points

Well I for one am hugely cheered by Joe's posting here and I am pleased that he can see that there are many including Jonathan, Harvey and myself who disagree with him fundamentally on most things can unite on others. I am pleased that your mother is being cared for, I am not a lot younger than she is and I too have lived through being bombed and know what it is like being a terrified child sleeping in shelters.

I have also spent a great deal of time in Sderot, Ofakim, Kyriat Gat, Kibbutz Alumin and Beer Sheva lately and I must tell you that you are indeed being naive to believe that the government has abandoned them. The infrastructure is there the railway will be going as far as Beer Sheva very soon. Every apartment block has recently had reinforced safe rooms added and shelters in every park and bus stop. So please before coming out with "the Negev deserves better" make sure of your facts. As for better education - the region has some of the worst performing schools in Israel - what the hell did you think? The kids can study living under constant rocket bombardment? They have never known a night of uninterrupted sleep they are anxious, depressed, bed wetting, insecure their parents at their wits end. They think that this strike on Gaza was too late coming in fact think about this said to me by a grandfather. "We do not bomb our enemy because they fire from schools and hospitals on our children in their schools and our patients in our hospitals. Do you think that this is right?"

Well do you?


Tue, 11/20/2012 - 17:40

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Tue, 11/20/2012 - 19:04

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J.Clifford Children at play in Sderot.

very sympathetic though i am with the children of sderot who are anxious, depressed, bed wetting, and insecure with their parents at their wits end, surely this video is unconvincing?

first, it's not filmed in sderot, it's filmed "in safety", "away from the bombed south"

second, we have no way of knowing whether they've been told how to play (nor how many "takes" there were)

let's not try to compete with pallywood


Wed, 11/21/2012 - 14:15

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Hi happy

Have you had much experience of kids of that age playing? I have and I really don't think that I could coach 3-4 year olds to that degree. I added the video to my remarks about visiting Sderot because it moved me very much and I didn't ever consider the possibility that it might be pallywood. I talked to toddlers and bought a little book written by one of the mothers who live in Kibbutz Alumin about the colour red because they were frightened of the colour. Yes actually frightened of the colour red.

Sorry you were unconvinced I having been there (and going back again next week) am utterly convinced.


Wed, 11/21/2012 - 17:26

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i agree it's realistic, but that doesn't mean it's convincing

one thing is obvious … we've missed the beginning

the 71-second clip starts with a boy on the stairs (to the wooden house whose other exit is a slide) shouting "come, come to our house" (in hebrew), and then the 5 other boys and girls come down the stairs, and they all go in to the "shelter" under the house

i] one of the children has previously shouted "siren!" (or made a siren noise) … otherwise how would the camerawoman know to start filming? or
ii] the camerawoman had already started filming, and so the previous few seconds have been deliberately cut … perhaps because the soundtrack has the director's voice?

we don't know


Wed, 11/21/2012 - 17:37

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Wed, 11/21/2012 - 18:03

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well, that's obviously not staged …

it's a film of dozens of children in a sderot park having to run for shelter from an incoming rocket in 2008, and the aftermath of the rocket

but it shows only the immediate effect of the rocket, not the persistent effects on children that cause, for example, the worst-performing schools in israel, anxiety, depression, bedwetting, insecurity, and sleeplessness


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