Amirah Ali overviews how the intimidation of
anti-Zionist campaigners has taken a new turn
Rabbi Grohman is an elderly gentleman. His appearance is humble
and unthreatening. He works late to teach his co-religionists the
essentials of their faith form his home in north London and at his
local synagogue both of which have been violently targeted, as has
Rabbi Grohman himself in the last month in the wake of the violence
in the Middle East.
I was witness to one such attack at a demonstration he was addressing.
Standing boldly at the front of the crowd of Muslims, Jews and those
of other or no faiths he spoke of his opposition passionately about
his opposition to an ideology that oppresses, kills and destroys
all in its path, even ultimately he contended those who espouse
it. As he spoke of his grief at the massacres in Palestine not just
now but since 1948, he was punched in the face, not as popular legend
and demonisation would have us believe by a fanatical and rabidly
anti-Semitic 'extremist' of the Muslim ilk - but another Jew.
This man is just one of many Jews and gentiles who have seen fit
to commit acts of violence, harassment, threatening behaviour and
campaigns of intolerance against those who would take a stand against
Zionism. This form of pseudo-Mafioso behaviour has surfaced in the
UK in more obvious form since the end of last year.
The endless cry of 'anti-Semite' against anyone - even Jews - who
have criticised Israel or Zionism is a long - standing phenomenon
that continues. Notable targets of this type of intimidation by
derogatory labelling include Professor Tom Paulin the poet and Oxford
academic who is currently the subject of a letter writing campaign
by pro-Zionist students for comments he allegedly made to the Arabic
journal Al-Ahram. He is no stranger to this form of attack having
been a long standing opponent of Zionism. His poem entitled 'Killed
in Crossfire' published in the Guardian in February 2001 brought
down the wrath of Telegraph columnist / Zionist Barbara Amiel and
her co-fascist commentators.
Similarly anti-Zionist campaigners from the secular Jewish Uri
Davis, the orthodox rabbis of Neturei Karta, the activists of Islamic
Human Rights Commission and the many thousands of anti-apartheid
campaigners protesting for Palestinian rights in Durban, South Africa
last August as part of the Fourth World Conference Against Racism
were labelled anti-Semites by the likes of Linda Grant in the Guardian.
The all encompassing cry is made without contradiction against even
Jews by a Zionist lobby that knows no shame in its exploitation
of the language of anti-racism to pursue a racist agenda. When one
of the IHRC officers, some months previously had been asked to address
the NUS conference, the Union of Jewish Students protested on the
basis that material on the IHRC website was anti-Semitic. When challenged
as to what material this was, the article 'Quest for Justice' by
Judith Stone was cited. The article states:
"I am a Jew. I was a participant in the Rally for the Right
of Return to Palestine. It was the right thing to do
are the Jews of conscience? No righteous malice can be held against
the survivors of Hitler's holocaust. These fragments of humanity
were in no position to make choices beyond that of personal survival.
We must not forget that being a survivor or a co-religionist of
the victims of the European Holocaust does not grant dispensation
from abiding by the rules of humanity. "Never again"
as a motto, rings hollow when it means "never again to us
The offending quote from the article came not even from her but
from another Jew, "University professor Moshe Zimmerman reported
in the Jerusalem Post (April 30,1995), "The [Jewish] children
of Hebron are just like Hitler's youth.""
Kumar Murshid, the Chair of the London Muslim Coalition and an
advisor to London's mayor Ken Livingstone, is currently the subject
of an intense letter writing campaign of vilification after the
LMC issued a press release condemning the pro-Israel rally as insensitive
in the wake of the Jenin and other massacres then being perpetrated
by the Israeli forces. The campaign, launched by the Board of Deputies
of British Jews, calls for the London mayor to distance himself
from Mr. Murshid, just as Oxford university is being asked to remove
This is now not the only tactic employed. I was first alerted to
the possibility of violence and aggression whilst at the Racism
Conference in Durban last year. Whilst reporting on a cross-cultural
protest outside the Israeli press conference, the chief of police
on site requested I find a chaperone to escort me back to my hotel
at the end of the evening, as he was concerned that I would be attacked
by 'those guys.' Back in the UK at the counter-rally I was witness
to the type of violence he was alluding to. The level of intimidation
faced by the anti-Zionist rabbis is mirrored by the death threats
made against the families of those involved with Innovative Minds,
an educational software company just outside London. They started
receiving hate telephone calls and the police were called in when
a mother was threatened over the telephone with "I know this
is your address and that you are alone at home with a child..".
This and the string of hate emails they have received started after
their website started to promote the Boycott Israeli Goods campaign.
Their website's hosting company eventually were forced to terminate
their contract with them, not because if their site's content -
that had been vetted by Netwatch and passed - but because the company
had received threats that it would be hacked and its infrastructure
brought down if they continued to host the site. Innovative Minds
however have remained defiant. In their last newsletter they state:
"Our message to the zionist thugs out there is that your tactics
of terror will not succeed either in Palestine or in cyberspace
will not submit to your oppression, to do so would be to deny our
faith and our belief in Allah."
Amirah Ali is a researcher at the Islamic Human Rights Commission,