Jews in Scotland prepare to batten down the hatches

Special Report

“The International Shalom Festival is an initiative of COFIS, the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland, together with its partner organization StandWithUs.
The inspiration comes from Shalom Festival held in Belgium every year http://shalomfestival.be/index.html which believes that Shalom, or Peace, can only be achieved if it is based on democracy and Judeo-Christian principles of respect for co-existence. The International Shalom Festival seeks to promote peaceful co-existence by fostering cultural ties between diverse elements of Israeli society and other countries.”

-Nigel Goodrich
Chief Executive

Background:

Shalom Festival Edinburgh rev“The inaugural International Shalom Festival will take place in the prestigious 1000 seater Central Hall Edinburgh on Wednesday August 17 2016. It is probably the most significant pro-Israel advocacy event of the year in the United Kingdom, and is an integral part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

From the publisher of jewishinfoNews. The following article by David Collier was originally published by Beyond the Great Divide and republished with permission by jewishinfoNews on July 31, 2016.

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August is festival month in Edinburgh. A massive celebration, delivered through a collective of independent arts and cultural festivals. Just one of these, the ‘Edinburgh Festival Fringe’, is the largest arts festival in the world.

At the ‘Fringe’ event this year, scheduled for August 17, is the ‘International Shalom Festival’. Described as a one-day celebration bringing together Jews, Arabs, Christians and other minorities, that all co-exist together peacefully in Israel. Yet once again, as Israeli artists perform inside Scotland, demonstrations are being arranged in protest.

Edinburgh protests

As far back as 1997, during the Oslo peace talks, antizionists attacked Israeli performers at the festival. In 2008 the Jerusalem Quartet concert was disrupted, in 2012 it was the turn of the Batsheva Dance Troupe. In 2014, anti-Israel activists called on the venue to cancel a show with Israeli performers, and local police forced the venue to incur additional security costs. In turn, the venue demanded additional funds from the performers.

So in 2015, Haaretz reported that for the first time in years, Israeli performances were not hosted at the festival at all.  This silencing of the Israeli voice is celebrated as a victory by the anti-Israel activists. The voice that seeks dialogue and accommodation is being silenced.

The festival is not the only place in Scotland such opposition is seen, less than two years ago a worker at an Israeli cosmetics stall in Glasgow had a ‘burning liquid’ thrown at her. The university space is also rabid, with events being called off due to protests, and Jewish students at universities are “denying or hiding” their identity because of discrimination. These events, including the protests at Edinburgh, are all connected.

Yet here is a simple fact. Israel is by far the most diverse nation in the Middle East. Despite the accusations of the protesters, there is not a single nation in the region that is as free, as democratic, as liberal or as diverse as Israel. Not one. What else sets it apart from all of its neighbours though, is another simple fact. It is the only nation in the world that is Jewish.

According to the 2011 census, there are just under 6000 Jews currently living in Scotland and this year marks 200 years since the first Jewish congregation was founded, ironically in Edinburgh. But in reality, how welcome are the Jews in Scotland? When I use the word ‘welcome’, I don’t refer to the lack of a Hitlerite doctrine, or wish to gauge whether gangs of antisemites seek out symbols that adorn Jewish houses to begin targeting the inhabitants. I simply ask how free are Jewish people to celebrate their Jewish identity publicly?

Zionism

Which brings me back to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The protesters suggest that Israeli money is funding the Shalom Festival and then embark on a sickening exercise to follow ‘Jewish money’, from the organisers back to the embassy of the only democratic nation in the Middle East.

So what is this protest, anti-Israel or anti-Jewish? Well primarily, it is clear that the protest is anti-peace. The essence of the Shalom Festival is co-operation, the diverse and inclusive nature of Israel. And support for dialogue, the underpinnings of the international position over a two state solution. What the protesters are standing against isn’t a settlement or Israeli army action, but rather a core element of Jewish belief – Zionism. The very existence of Israel.

There are two connected elements to Zionism, the religious and the political. Zionism is on almost every page of the Jewish bible, the land of Israel, the national home of the Jews. Carried with them throughout centuries of persecution, the religious aspect became political reality as Israel was founded as a state in 1948.  A fundamental shift in Jewish history.

93% of UK Jews believe that Israel plays a part in their Jewish identity, 90% believe in Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Let me put this into perspective. Proportionally more UK Jews identify Israel as being part of their Jewish identity than UK Christians go to church, UK Muslims eat Halal or UK Jews who eat kosher. As a statistic, it would be hard to find any element of any religion that is as prevailing as the Jewish/Israel connection.

Antisemitism

If a nation boycotted all Easter celebrations it would be considered religious persecution, so too banning or restricting the sale of Halal meat. Thus, although the theoretical opposition to the existence of a Jewish state may not cross the line, in actually boycotting the state of Israel and calling for its destruction, we are witnessing clear antisemitism in our midst. No surprise then, that the Jews become intimidated, frightened and unable to display their identity in public.

To counter this, the antizionists create a smokescreen around Zionism. Turning it from the realisation of national identity, into a description of some of Israel’s actions beyond the 1967 lines. They then use the small minority, the 7%, wherever they find them, to deflect all accusations they are being antisemitic. Illan Pappe, Ronnie Barkan, Max Blumenthal, can be no more legitimately used to strike against Israel, than you would find support for using a strange Christian sub group who deny the existence of Jesus. Their very use is an antisemitic act. Only with the Jews, only with Israel, do the 7% get given a microphone, a stage and finance.

To be an antizionist is to reject not just the religious and national elements of Zionism, but to reject international law, denounce democracy and side with the misogynistic, anti-liberal, anti-democratic, antisemitic neighbours that even today, seek to remove Israel from the map. Israel is the only nation in the region where all religions practice freely, the only one with a growing Christian population.

You can oppose Israeli political actions, you can support the Palestinian right to a state, and you can support Israel’s right to live in peace. This isn’t an either/or. Even terror groups such as the IRA in seeking an united Ireland, did not seek to destroy England. When it comes to pushing radical extremism, these protesters are off the map. They should not be allowed the unchallenged air of the mainstream. They have to be opposed.

Stand up and be counted


These people need support, this peace festival needs support. If we are ever to see real peace between Israel and all its neighbours, then we have to start supporting those movements that seek accommodation, negotiation, peace. The International Shalom festival is such an event.

We are a free society and we cannot stop a public protest in Edinburgh. What we can do is marginalise it, by highlighting the side that stands up for our values, those of peace, freedom, democracy. We need to stand by those who offer the promise of peace and reject those who beat the drums of perpetual war.

This Shalom Festival in Edinburgh needs your support. It promises to be an invigorating, fascinating insight into the life of Israelis and the vibrant diverse democracy that exists there. If you cannot make it, or will not be at the festival at all, it needs your vocal support, pass on the event details to your friends, bring it to the attention of others.

And if you are a politician, if you are the leader of the Scottish National Party, you need to choose what type of Scotland you wish to represent. So to Nicola Sturgeon I say this: You clearly want Scotland to be an independent Nation. So you need to stand up and publicly state that this festival, this inclusive celebration of diverse culture, is open to everyone. You need to give the International Shalom Festival your support. Don’t you think you need to show us just what type of independent Scotland the Jews can expect? Or are Scotland’s Jews only protected by Westminster?

So Nicola, are Jews welcome at the Edinburgh festival? Not shadows of Jews, scared to express their identity, looking over their shoulder, worried about what they can and cannot say for fear of persecution. But real Jews, proud, Zionist, Israeli flag waving Jews. Jews that are free to walk in the light. Are they welcome?

Do Jews in Scotland really have to hide every time they wish to celebrate the vibrant democracy that is Israel? Will you really accept the denial of such a fundamental part of their Jewish identity?

Your move.

(Text and Photo credits: StandWithUS; Just Giving; eurojewcong.com; Shalom Festival)

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER -

OVER SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”

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“Who Do Bigots Blame for Police Shootings in America? Israel, of Course!”

Special Report

From the publisher of jewishinfoNews. The following article was originally published by Gatestone Institute and republished with permission by jewishinfoNews on July 13, 2016.

by Alan Dershowitz

Alan Dershowitz credit jewishbusinessnews JIN July 13 2016In response to the tragic deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling at the hands of police officers in Minnesota and Louisiana, the New York University chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) posted the following on its Facebook page:

“In the past 48 hours another two black men have been lynched by the police…. We must remember that many US police departments train with #IsraeliDefenceForces. The same forces behind the genocide of black people in America are behind the genocide of Palestinians. What this means is that Palestinians must stand with our black comrades. We must struggle for their liberation. It is as important as our own. #AltonSterling is as important as #AliDawabsheh. Palestinian liberation and black liberation go together. We must recognize this and commit to building for it.”

Even in moments of national mourning such as these, SJP bigots cannot help but exploit the deaths of innocent Americans to further their own anti-Semitic political agenda, namely to delegitimize and demonize the nation state of the Jewish people.

By implicating Israel in these killings, SJP is engaging in the old trope of blaming Jews for systemic and far-reaching societal problems. This practice was anti-Semitic when some Christian communities used it to blame Jews for plagues, poisonings, and murders; it was anti-Semitic when the Nazis used it to blame Jews for the failing German economy; and it is still anti-Semitic today. There is no more evidence that any of the police who killed Mr. Castile and Mr. Sterling were in fact trained in Israel than there was that Jews were responsible for any of the other crimes that formed the basis for traditional blood libels.

The oppression of black Americans long predates the founding of the state of Israel; contrary to the claims of SJP and like-minded groups, Zionism did not beget racism, nor is Zionism a reflection of racism. It is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. But the twisted logic on the part of SJP should come as no surprise, given that the same organization blamed Zionism for rising tuition costs in the City University of New York college system. The essence of anti-Semitism is the bigoted claim that if there is a problem, then Jews — and now Zionists — must be its cause.

Addressing the structural causes of racism in the United States will take more than scapegoating Israel — it will require the type of far-reaching legislative action of which our current Congress seems incapable. By morphing the discussion about criminal justice reform and systemic racism in the United States into a polemic against Israel, SJP makes progress even more difficult.

That said, the reaction by SJP is reflective of a broader trend in hard left politics. Increasingly, groups such as Black Lives Matter (BLM), MoveOn, Code Pink, and Occupy Wall Street have embraced intersectionality — a radical academic theory, which holds that all forms of social oppression are inexorably linked.

This radical concept has led to the linking of disparate left-wing causes, no matter how tenuous their connections. Some intersectional feminist activists, for example, insist that feminists must oppose drone strikes (and by extension, Hillary Clinton), because they negatively impact women in the developing world. Even more absurdly, Jill Stein — the Green Party candidate for president — has come out in favor of the bigoted Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, partly on the grounds that support for Israel furthers the interests of the military-industrial complex, and by extension the fossil fuel industry.

Those activists that do not sufficiently embrace the new intersectional orthodoxy, meanwhile, have been targeted by protests: the 2016 Gay Pride parade in Toronto, for example, was broken up by Black Lives Matter for including a police float, and for not sufficiently prioritizing the concerns of black trans women. Similarly, a gay rights event in Chicago was broken up by activists, who insisted on the exclusion of an Israeli organization, which they claimed was co-opting the gay rights agenda and “pinkwashing” Israeli crimes against Palestinians.

Intersectionality seems to be driving hard left activists towards a “No True Scotsman” worldview: increasingly, they insist on a package of unrelated left-wing causes that must be embraced by anyone claiming the label of progressive — including the demonization of Israel as a racist, apartheid state.

Perhaps more worryingly, intersectionality tends towards the conclusion that the existing social, political, and economic system is flawed in so many profound ways, that any attempt at remaking it through democratic means is unacceptable. Activists have become increasingly obsessed with “Shut it Down” protest tactics, and a proud politics of “disrespectability,” that prioritizes resistance to a “corrupt,” “rigged” socio-economic system over respectful discourse and political compromise.

This helps to explain the sympathetic attitude of Black Lives Matter activists towards groups like Hamas, which embrace terror as a mode of “resistance” (in their view) against Israel. Indeed, Black Lives Matter activists have visited Gaza to express solidarity with Palestinians oppressed by so-called racist Israeli self-defense measures. While Black Lives Matter claims to disavow violence in securing its political objectives, many of its most prominent members are far more eager to criticize the “Israeli genocide of Palestinians” than to criticize Hamas for using rockets to target Israeli civilians. Black Lives Matter and other hard left groups have been notably silent about other oppressed ethnic groups such as Tibetans, Chechens, and Kurds. The only alleged “oppressors” they single out for condemnation are the Jews. This double standard raises legitimate questions about their real motivations.

Black Lives Matter activists have a sympathetic attitude towards groups like Hamas, which embrace terror as a mode of resistance against Israel. Indeed, BLM activists have visited Gaza to express solidarity with Palestinians oppressed by so-called racist Israeli self-defense measures.

Moreover, the conflation of police actions in American cities with Israeli military actions in Gaza raises a disturbing question: if the so-called oppression of Palestinians in Gaza and the oppression of people of color in the United States are two sides of the same coin — as the SJP implied in its tweet — are the violent tactics employed by Hamas, and perversely supported by many on the hard left, an appropriate model to emulate in the United States? One hopes that the answer is no, and that the intersectionalist radicals will make that clear to their followers.

Professor Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus and author of Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law.

(Photo credit of Alan Dershowitz- Jewish Business News)

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER -

OVER SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”

“When Hate is Promoted by Religious Leaders, Why Blame the Followers?”

Special Report

From the publisher of jewishinfoNews. The following article was originally published by Gatestone Institute and republished with permission by jewishinfoNews on June 27, 2016.

“Abdullah Hakim Quick, a Toronto imam, makes a speech where he gives his answer to the position of Islam on homosexuality: ‘The position is death.'” 

           by Raheel Raza

– Imam Abdullah Hakim Quick then goes on to connect being gay with Zionism — his anti-Semitic sentiments at their best. All this while standing at a pulpit. If this is not a crime of hate, then what is? Does this imam have nothing positive to speak about in his sermon, besides spreading the Islamist agenda of hate and bigotry?
– For years we have warned of the messages of hate emanating from the pulpit. We have spoken of the two different messages being given — one to the public and one in private.
– Why then do we act surprised when the Omar Mateens of the world take up arms and ruthlessly gun down an entire group of gays? This is what they are being taught by the likes of Imam Quick. They are acting out the hate that has been instilled in their minds and hearts.

In the aftermath of the bloodbath created by Omar Mateen at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, a plethora of opinions, ideas and causes have been spoken about. At the same time, a very disturbing picture about a specific aspect of this hateful ideology of Islamists has emerged. In my opinion, there is no doubt that Mateen was an Islamist influenced by the jihadist agenda of fanatic hate for the gay communities.

For those of us reform-minded Muslims who have been battling the rise in radical Islamist agendas for the past decade, this development is no surprise. In our declaration, we say right at the top:

“We reject bigotry, oppression and violence against all people based on any prejudice, including ethnicity, gender, language, belief, religion, sexual orientation and gender expression.”

Why did we include this line in our message? Because we know of the hate that is directed towards the LGBTQ communities in Muslim lands. In Iran, thousands of gays have been executed; in Afghanistan, the Taliban bury them alive; in Saudi Arabia they are liable for death, and in other Muslim countries they are persecuted and abused if they admit to the preference.

One can always say that this is happening out there someplace else. We in North American pride ourselves on freedom of expression and tolerance towards those following a different lifestyle. We would never expect hate against others to be promoted in a liberal democracy.

However, not everyone in Canada thinks as we do. In our own hometown of pluralistic Toronto, hate against the LQBTQ community is alive and well.

Abdullah Hakim Quick is a Toronto imam who writes on his website:

“I have always stood against racism and ethnocentrism. I have been a lifelong advocate of women’s rights and for decades have encouraged the empowerment of young people. I pioneered the first social service agency for Muslims in Toronto, Canada (I.S.S.R.A.) whose doors were open to all — rich and poor, Muslim and non-Muslim, gay or straight. As a counselor I learned first-hand of the terrible violence inflicted upon gay people by bullies and I publicly spoke out against it….”

Yet in a YouTube video, the same Imam Quick says:

“… they said ‘What is the position of Islam on homosexuality?’ — they asked me this. This is a newspaper, right. So I said ‘Put my name in the paper. The position is death.’ And we cannot change Islam.”

Furthermore, Quick goes on openly to ridicule the Toronto gay community known as Salaam Canada. Many of them are my friends and I respect them. They have suffered at the hands of Islamists and felt they were safe in a city like Toronto. Not so anymore, and my heart goes out to them.

Abdullah Hakim Quick, a Toronto imam, makes a speech where he gives his answer to the position of Islam on homosexuality: “The position is death.” (Image source: TIFRIB video screenshot)

Mr. Quick then goes on to connect being gay with Zionism — his anti-Semitic sentiments at their best. All this while standing at a pulpit. If this is not a crime of hate, then what is? Does this imam have nothing positive to speak about in his sermon?

The point is that not only is he lying on his website, but he is spreading the Islamist agenda of hate and bigotry. He is also spouting an opinion that is not in the Quran. While the Quran (like other Abrahamic scriptures) does not condone homosexuality, there is no injunction to kill gays. However, because he is an imam and an imam is supposed to be knowledgeable, no one challenges him. Therefore, his opinion on gays (derived from sharia and concocted hadeethperhaps) is that death is the solution for gays.

He’s not the only one. Not long ago, Florida religious scholar Shaykh Farrokh said gently but with conviction in a speech “death is the sentence. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Death is the sentence.” He goes on to explain that killing gays is an act of compassion.

Why then do we act surprised when the Omar Mateens of the world take up arms and ruthlessly gun down an entire group of gays? This is what they are being taught by the likes of Imam Abdullah Hakim Quick. They are acting out the hate that has been instilled in their minds and hearts.

For years, we have warned of the messages of hate emanating from the pulpit. We have spoken of the two different messages being given — one to the public and one in private. Well, we live in a world where the two are meshed and the culprits need to be exposed. It is time Muslims knew what their religious leaders are saying and promoting from the pulpit.

Is this what we want our youth to hear? If not, what are we doing about it?

Raheel Raza is President of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement. She is recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for service to Canada and is  a Distinguished Senior Fellow with The Gatestone Institute. She also sits on the Advisory Board of The Mosaic Institute and The ACTV Foundation (The Alliance of Canadian Terror Victims).

(Feature Image Credit: bghelsinki)

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER -

OVER SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”