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The G-dfathers

Amirah Ali
May-June 2002

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… Where 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 alone.""

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 Professor Paulin.

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…We 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,