London rejects Palestinian anti-Israel ad campaign

Palestinian delegation in London attempts to launch campaign claiming the Balfour Declaration brought about disaster for the Palestinian people in the form of the Jewish state, but the campaign is rejected by TfL.

The Balfour Declaration was a document signed in November 2, 1917, by then-British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour, which declared Britain would “view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

In preparation for the 100th anniversary of the historic declaration, the Palestinian delegation in London launched an accusatory campaign according to which “the declaration helped establish the State of Israel and led to the Palestinian disaster.”

The campaign includes posters with photographs of what is described as “the peaceful life of the Arab population in Palestine” before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, alongside photographs taken after the establishment of Israel that purport to show the “destruction and bereavement among the Palestinian people.”

The Palestinians planned to hang the posters at London Underground stations, where hundreds of thousands of people pass every day.

But Transport for London (TfL), the authority responsible for the transport system in Greater London, refused to allow the hanging of the posters on the grounds that the ads “did not comply fully with our guidelines.”

These guidelines bar “images or messages which relate to matters of public controversy or sensitivity.”

  “Palestinian history is a censored history,” Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, claimed. “There has been a 100-year-long cover-up of the British government’s broken promise, in the Balfour declaration, to safeguard the rights of the Palestinians when it gave away their country to another people. TfL’s decision is not surprising as it is, at best, susceptible to or, at worst, complicit with, all the institutional forces and active lobby groups which continuously work to silence the Palestinian narrative. There may be free speech in Britain on every issue under the sun but not on Palestine.”

The British Foreign Office denied Palestinian claims it was involved in the decision to disqualify the campaign.

The article was published on Ynet

European Commission to suspend all payments to Muslim Aid, OLAF examining issue

The European Commission intends to suspend all payments to Muslim Aid. The revelation comes after New Europe’s uncovering of over 14 million Euro of Humanitarian Aid financing to Muslim Aid, a UK-based charity that has among other things, been banned in Israel for fundraising for Hamas, an organisation recognised as a terrorist organisation by the European Union.

Responding to New Europe, a European Commission spokesperson confirmed that “the Commission has already notified Muslim Aid of its intention to suspend all pending payments and in line with contractual obligations is currently waiting for Muslim Aid’s reply to the suspension”.

Despite the fact that Israel considers Muslim Aid a fundraiser for Hamas, the European Commission clarified that, “The concerns regarding Muslim Aid of which the Commission has been informed of are not in any way related to allegations of financing terrorism.”

This suggests that the grounds on which the Commission has called for the suspension of funding to Muslim Aid is on different grounds. The Commission was vague – but told New Europe that “The Commission has taken measures to prevent EU taxpayers’ monies from being unduly spent or diverted.”

In a letter dated 22 September to New Europe, after our initial publications, the CEO of  Muslim Aid wrote that, “Our Charity is categorically not being investigated for terror ties or any misappropriation of funds.  It is therefore incumbent on you to remove your article from your website with immediate effect as it is wholly untrue.”

Muslim Aid has even more problems, as the European Antifraud Office, OLAF, told New Europe that they “are aware of reports regarding possible irregularities involving European Commission Humanitarian Aid managed by Muslim Aid.” As a result, OLAF is currently conducting a preliminary assessment as to whether or not to launch an in-depth investigation into Muslim Aid’s use of EU funding. The OLAF press office told New Europe that “OLAF fully respects the presumption of innocence.” If OLAF opens an investigation that concludes that there was mismanagement of EU funding by an organization, they could be called upon to return some or all of the funding previously received.

 

The Article was published on New Europe


UK prime minister delivers staunchly pro-Israel speech

Speaking at a Conservative Friends of Israel lunch, Theresa May lauds Israel’s ‘thriving democracy,’ pledges to support Israel, oppose boycotts, expunge anti-Semitism from British society: ‘No British taxpayers’ money will be used to make payments to terrorists or their families.’

LONDON – British Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a staunchly pro-Israel speech Monday during which she declared her government’s unwavering support for Israel, proclaimed her unequivocal opposition to boycotts and reiterated her commitment to expunging anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial from British society.

Speaking at the annual Conservative Friends of Israel lunch, May announced her intention to make her country one of the first in the world to adopt an international definition of anti-Semitism and to clamp down on hate crime after an increase in the number of reported incidents targeting Jews.

Speaking to more than 800 guests, May described the 1917 Balfour Declaration—Britain’s pledge to create a Jewish state in Palestine—as “one of the most important letters in history” before stating her believe that the two-state solution, for two peoples brought about by direct negotiations, “without preconditions” offered the only plausible blueprint for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.

May lauded Israel as “a thriving democracy, a beacon of tolerance, an engine of enterprise and an example to the rest of the world for overcoming adversity and defying disadvantages.”

Recalling her experiences during a 2014 visit to Israel, the prime minister added that “it is only when you walk through Jerusalem or Tel Aviv that you see a country where people of all religions and sexualities are free and equal in the eyes of the law.”

May also acknowledged Israel’s disproportionate impact on the world: “It is only when you travel across the country that you realise it is only the size of Wales—and appreciate even more the impact it has on the world.”

Citing the kidnapping and murder of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah in 2014, she said “it is only when you witness Israel’s vulnerability that you see the constant danger Israelis face, as I did during my visit.”

After heaping praise on Israel’s life-saving work around the world, from Nepal to Haiti, and paying homage to Israel’s late former President Shimon Peres, May assured her listeners that “no British taxpayers’ money will be used to make payments to terrorists or their families.”

May then addressed anti-Semitism in British society and announced her much anticipated promise to adopt an international definition. “That means there will be one definition of anti-Semitism – in essence, language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews – and anyone guilty of that will be called out on it.”

In a similar vein, she also pledged to continue her predecessor’s (David Cameron) vision to build a National Memorial to the Holocaust next to Parliament.

May then turned her focus to British Labour Party, expressing her disgust with anti-Semitic elements within it and what she described as its hard-left allies. Furthermore, she ridiculed the UK Labour Party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson who broke out singing Am Yisrael Chai (“The people of Israel live”) at a recent annual Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) lunch.

“No amount of karaoke can make up for turning a blind eye to anti-Semitism, May insisted. “No matter what Labour say—or sing—they cannot ignore what has been happening in their party.”

 May’s government already began backing up her stated commitment to countering anti-Semitism with the announcement on the same day that a British neo-Nazi group would become the first of its kind to be banned under the country’s new anti-terror laws, with Interior Minister Amber Rudd branding it Monday as “racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic.”
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The article was published on Ynet on the 13th of December 2016

MEP of the month: Geoffrey Van Orden (ECR Group, UK. Conservative Party)

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Brexit means that we at EIPA lose the measured and rational voice that is the United Kingdom when it comes to discussing Israel in the EU. It also means that we lose prodigious talent like our MEP of the month Geoffrey Van Orden.

A former senior British army officer, who did a stint at NATO headquarters, Geoffrey is a consummate professional who understands international diplomacy and politics better than most.

With a clear eye for detail and the political minutae, the Conservative Party MEP and key founder of the ECR group in the European Parliament gets Israel, but won’t hesitate to wrap us over the knuckles if he disagrees with a government position.

As one of our go to experts on Foreign Affairs, and a frequent attender of our Ambassadorial briefings, EIPA is proud to regard Mr Van Orden as a friend and trusted confidante. Mazel Tov Geoffrey!

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Anti-Semitism in Britain directly hurts our efforts towards peace in the Middle East

yairTwo events took place last week in two places as far apart as you can imagine, but they had something in common.

The first took place in the House of Lords where Jenny Tonge from the Liberal Democrats hosted a meeting calling on the government to apologise to the Palestinians for the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which Her Majesty’s government recognised the right of the Jewish people to a national home in the land of Israel.

During the event it was argued that Jews were to blame for the Holocaust, Jews suggested the Final Solution to Hitler (the fact that the Jews were the victims was strangely omitted), the State of Israel was compared to Isil and one of those who spoke claimed that “the Jews are the real anti-Semites.” To my knowledge none of those present bothered to tell him that his statement was absurd at worst, and actually still absurd at best.

The second event took place a few days prior, far away from the House of Lords, in the settlement of Efrat near Bethlehem. A group of dozens of Palestinians came to the “Tent of Peace” which was built by the Mayor of the local authority in honour of the Jewish holy day of Sukkot. They sat there together, Jews and Muslims, Sheiks and heads of Palestinian villages with Jewish settlers, enemies on paper but also just human beings, who live in the same battered and bruised land, and know that not everything in life is politics.

The conversation also wasn’t political. They drank coffee which was far too sweet (another Middle Eastern sin of which we are all guilty), talked about the rain that wasn’t yet coming, a bit about Judaism and Islam. The Mayor spoke about the fact that relationships between people are the key to a life together rather than pieces of paper signed by politicians.

Among the Palestinians was the family of a girl who had been killed in a road accident by a settler. As a result of the dialogue between the two sides, speed bumps were put in place on the road leading to their village and the people of Efrat came to pay their respects to the family. Another flare up was averted.

Two days later four of the Palestinians who had visited the “Tent of Peace” were arrested by the Palestinian Authority for “contact with the enemy.”

The Palestinian Authority people made clear that they knew that there was no “political dialogue” in the “Tent of Peace”. From their perspective, any attempt to conduct normal dialogue between people was a crime, and the punishment was jail. For them, so long as there is no Palestinian state, Jews and Arabs should only see one another through the sight of a gun.

As one who supports an agreement with the Palestinians and two states for two peoples, these two separate events sadden me to the same extent. An agreement, any agreement, will be dependent not only on maps and security arrangements but also on trust. If the Palestinians believe any dialogue with a Jew is a crime, and if supporters of the Palestinians think that the Jews are the ones who killed themselves in the Holocaust and they don’t deserve a state, who exactly are we supposed to talk with?

The blatant anti-Semitism on display at Jenny Tonge’s event doesn’t bother me. Lord Balfour supported the creation of a home for the Jewish people because he understood that there would always be people like that. The creation of the State of Israel doesn’t prevent modern anti-Semitism, it just allows us to tell the anti-Semites that they can shove it.

What does bother me though is that meetings like the one in the House of Lords strengthen the conviction of the Palestinians, time and again, that they have no reason to try and reach a reasonable compromise. If that’s the way Jews are talked about in the House of Lords, then even the Palestinian Authority can drop the façade of being moderate and start to lock up anyone who dares talk about peace and coexistence.

The piece was written by Yair Lapid,a member of Knesset, Chairperson of the Yesh Atid Party, is a former Finance Minister and a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee of the Knesset. It was published in The Telegraph on the 1st of November 2016


MEP of the Month: Jim Nicholson (ECR UK)

A Northern Irish politician renowned as an expert on Agricultural policy is maybe not who you would think of as a champion of Israel, but then Jim Nicholson MEP is not your ordinary politician.

He has been a member of the British Parliament during the height of the IRA’s terror attacks in Northern Ireland, and was targeted for assassination many times, even having his car sprayed with bullets. Remarkably he survived and went on to become Northern Ireland’s longest serving MEP.

He has been to Israel and marveled at its hi-tech approach to agriculture, advocating that the EU takes a leaf out of the State’s book. He also defends Israel in the chamber and outside of it too and this week he took the time to come to our exhibition and listen to the artist, Mr Bob.

Jim, the whole team at EIPA thanks you and wishes you continued success. Mazal Tov!

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The EU-ISRAEL Relationship Post-Brexit

13516479_1561127274184206_2728719172270976182_nIt’s a sad day. We say goodbye to Britain from the EU Playground. But there are many others for pro-Israel people to make friends and continue to play with.

Words are cheap these days. Everyone is a ‘star’, ‘breaking news’ can last all day, and ‘legend’ status is bandied about freely.

But what we woke up to this morning is truly unprecedented.

Britain has voted to leave the European union. And they may not be the last country to do so. They weren’t the first – that honour/calamitous decision depending on how you see the news this morning – goes to Greenland. They left what was then called the EEC in 1985.

But with all respect to Greenland, Britain is a much bigger fish, economically and politically. It was a major and important member of the European Union. There are questions this morning whether the UK can even survive when Scotland voted massively to stay in the EU. The Prime Minister David Cameron has resigned, prompting a period of uncertainty as to whom will take up the reins and negotiate the terms of departure.

These are the deep questions that the UK has to answer.

But we are a Pro-Israel advocacy group operating at the heart of the EU Institutions, and we are busy looking at the current lay of the political land and what it will all mean for the EU Israel relationship.

Our offices sit opposite the European Council and the European Commission. And some of us sat outside the office this morning taking it all in. Eurocrats walked past in groups, the most common words we picked up were “I don’t know’, ‘slap in the face’, most looked ashen faced with smartphones in hand reading the news. And to be honest we are not far behind. This truly is uncharted territory.

Let us be honest again, the UK- Israel relationship was a rollercoaster ride with as many highs as lows: From the British Mandate to good relations during the Suez Crisis. In the 60’s Britain was seen as pro-Arab. The 80’s were not much better, with Britain imposing an arms embargo on Israel during the 1982 Lebanon war. But since then, things were on the up again. Relations were strong, a majority of British parliamentarians are pro-Israel and only last year the British government began efforts to outlaw BDS activities in the UK.

So we have lost a good, solid and largely dependable pro-Israel voice in the European Institutions. We have lost not only a great number of MEPs who were our friends and allies, but also many more British staffers and policy wonks – those who actually prepare the briefing notes, do the research and advise their political and bureaucratic masters on lines and positions to take on Israel. So from that perspective it’s sad and you could allow yourself to worry.

But there are opportunities too. The emerging markets as we call them: Balkan States, the Visegrad group of countries, and not forgetting the Baltic States, will undoubtedly feel emboldened after Brexit. They will feel their voices have become louder in the Council and Parliament, they will also feel that that Britain’s unprecedented – there’s that word again – departure shows cracks in the old established power blocks, and that they can be the cement.

As these countries enjoy a by and large excellent relationship with Israel, their cement can only be good news for us, and we anticipate a deeper and more co-operative relationship with them at Permanent Representative and EU institutional level.

But the real question is can the EU, as presently constituted, even survive? This morning it feels like a game of Jenga. The UK have removed their brick from the tower, and the edifice looks shaky and could potentially collapse.

So we say goodbye to Britain in the EU playground with a heavy heart. But just like all playgrounds, there are always plenty of others to make friends and continue to play with. This is EIPA’s task in the months and years ahead.

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The piece was written by EIPA director, Alex Benjamin and was published on the Huffington Post and The Times of Israel 


How UK labour moderates played the Jewish card, and why they used us to do it.

0.41%. I want you to keep that number in mind. It’s important in the context of the current UK Labour Party woes over Anti-semitism.

That’s the percentage that British Jews make of the entire UK population. Or for those of you who prefer real numbers, we Jews are 263,000 people out of 64.1 million in the UK as a whole.

Let’s put that into an even bigger context, there are more members of the labour party (388,000), than there are Jews.

So anyone looking at these numbers is probably thinking the exact same thing I am. How on earth has such a tiny minority managed to exert such a strong influence on British politics? And how on earth have such a tiny minority managed to effectively bring about one of biggest crises in the opposition labour party since the early 1980’s?

Well the short answer is that we haven’t and we don’t. We have simply been used as the latest pawn in the game of thrones by moderates in the parliamentary Labour Party who desperately want to unseat the radical head of Labour, Mr Jeremy Corbyn and his far left leaning acolytes.

Of course, we are quite right to feel indignant at the recent comments from some in the Labour Party about Israel, Hitler and Zionism. But they came from people that we shouldn’t be in the least bit surprised about.

‘Red Ken’ Livingstone has a history longer than my arm on being rabidly hostile to Israel and being supportive of the Palestinians. Jeremy Corbyn regards the IRA, Hamas and the PLO as legitimate friends and people to be negotiated with, and Naz Shah – who was suspended from the Labour Party last week – is the MP who dethroned George Galloway, the Saddam loving anti-semite, in Bradford: a town with the largest Muslim population in the UK, where race riots took place and where anti-Israel hostility is commonplace.

The only difference between these people from the last election is that they were marginalised, on the periphery, and not representative of the party as a whole. Like the embarrassing drunk uncle at the dinner table they were tolerated and derided in equal measure.

Now they sit at the top table, advising Corbyn and able to articulate their wacko views with impunity. Or so it seemed until last week.

You see, up until the moderates pulled out the Jew/Anti-semite card and put it on the table, they were out of options to get rid of Corbyn. They had tried throwing everything at him: Trident (the UK’s nuclear deterrent that Corbyn opposes), his desire to get rid of the Army, his poor performances at Prime Minister’s question time, his views on minimum wage and taxing the rich to the hilt, etc, etc, etc…

None of it worked, none of it stuck. For the moderates it was like one of those nightmares where you are trying to fight someone off and the punches you land, seemingly with all your force, feel soft and have no effect.

So somewhere, in a corner office in the House of Commons, a researcher was put to work on the Jewish/anti-semitism card. They sifted through tweets, facebook posts, old statements, speeches, you name it, to find the necessary dirt on the wacko faction. They didn’t have to look too hard.

They then picked the two weeks before the London Mayoral, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish Assembly elections, not to say regional elections to launch their attack.

The idea was to create such a furore that the effect on Corbyn would be shattering. As it stands, Labour look set for their worst regional council elections since 1982.

Their Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has already said the row was costing him electorally.

The outworking of all this is that post-elections, the moderates can legitimately start sharpening their knives and inflict their badly wanted death blow on Corbyn and reclaim labour, putting it back on the centre ground.

And we helped them do it. We responded exactly as we were supposed to. Ambassador Mark Regev, Israeli politicians, Rabbis from every denomination, all appeared on TV. We, this tiny minority, got huge airtime and acres of newspaper coverage.

Ask any British Jew what they want most, and most will tell you to live peacefully, quietly, and to live a Jewish life without fuss and attention.

That’s why it sits so badly with me that we have been manipulated like this. Used and I would say, abused in this inter-Labour warfare.

We have been used in the past as pawns across the Political spectrum. We need to be more careful in future before falling into the same trap again.

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The piece was written by EIPA executive director, Alex Benjamin.