Monday 3 September 2018

We Must Speak Out Now

As members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, representing our fellow Palestinian Arab citizens of the state of Israel and Jewish supporters of peace and democracy, we are writing to express our solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party in the United Kingdom.

Palestinian Arabs constitute about a fifth of Israel’s citizenry. As such, we have a deep understanding of the vulnerability that many minority communities feel, in the UK and around the world. 

We respect the vigilance with which minority groups monitor the actions and statements of their local leaders, to ensure that their rights are not infringed upon, and to defend their members from unwarranted attacks on the basis of their group identity.

Palestinian citizens of Israel have yet to experience a single day of equality, de jure or de facto – to say nothing of the millions of Palestinians under military occupation in the West Bank, under siege in the Gaza Strip, and the 6 million in exile abroad, prevented from returning to their homeland simply because they are not Jews. 

As part of the Palestinian people, this has been our lived experience of the Zionist movement since day one. In the Knesset, in the streets, and on the world stage, we Palestinian parliamentarians have always argued that it is not possible for any ethno-state, Jewish or otherwise, to also be a state that guarantees equality to all its citizens; for the state of Israel to be both Jewish and democratic. 

Now Benjamin Netanyahu has proved that we were right all along, by passing the constitutional nation-state law, which explicitly raises the rights of Jewish people to paramount status, downgrades the Arabic language and eclipses any mention of equal rights, regardless of race or religion. 

Emboldened by the rise of far-right forces in the US and other parts of the world, the Netanyahu government has made it abundantly clear that Palestinians will never have a state of their own, and that they will never be allowed equality inside Israel. 

Emboldened by Netanyahu’s ultra-nationalism, Israeli racists are stepping up their violent vigilante attacks on Palestinian people, putting the spirit of the nation-state law into practice. 

Incredibly, instead of taking that government to task for its unadulterated racism, the British political class ignores the Palestinian historical plight, and attacks and abuses the British and European leader who vocally supports the Palestinian cause of peace and equality. 

With the Netanyahu government ramping up the racism, our struggle for survival is more precarious than ever. 

But while we focus locally, defending what’s left of our ever-diminishing rights, we feel that we must speak out now and register our repugnance at these recent attempts to complete our erasure, by forbidding within the UK Labour party any mention by name of the forces allayed against the Palestinian cause. 

As long as efforts to curb anti-Jewish sentiment in the UK are focused on combating the disparagement of Jews merely for their membership in a minority group, they have our full support. But when some try to force the Labour party into using as its litmus test a definition of antisemitism that goes far beyond anti-Jewish animus to include anti-Zionism, we must raise our voices and decry these efforts. 

We commend Jeremy Corbyn for his decades of public service to the British people, and for his longstanding solidarity with all oppressed peoples around the world, including his unflinching support for the Palestinian people. 

We stand in solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn and we recognise him as a principled leftist leader who aspires for peace and justice and is opposed to all forms of racism, whether directed at Jews, Palestinians, or any other group.

Ahmad Tibi MP Deputy speaker of parliament, Joint List/Arab Movement for Change
Masud Ganaim MP Joint List/United Arab List 
Yousef Jabareen MP Joint List/Democratic Front for Peace and Equality
Jamal Zahalka MP Joint List/National Democratic Assembly 
On behalf of all 13 members of the Knesset who are part of the Joint List

Jonathan Sacks began his much-hyped radio series on morality this morning. The very first person that he interviewed was Jordan Peterson. Why on earth should anyone care what someone that far to the right thought of Jeremy Corbyn?

Even as "Chief Rabbi", Sacks had no authority over, for example, the huge yeshiva in Gateshead, which is the largest in Europe and one of the most prestigious in the world. That does not even have a perimeter fence, which does give some context to the hysteria about Jewish security. Corbyn ought to identify an anti-Zionist, or at least a non-Zionist, Haredi rabbi and then nominate him to the House of Lords. How would that be for English irony?

Donald Trump's own family demonstrates that anyone may convert to Judaism, thereby acquiring the right of "return" to Israel. Trump says that he will require something of the Israelis. That needs to include the repeal of the Law of Return, a repeal that would establish Israel as a settled, rather than a settler, state. That would quieten most or all of the calls for a corresponding Palestinian right, calls that have so enraged Trump against the UNRWA.

Some will say that there are figures on the Joint List who keep some very colourful company, or indeed who are themselves such company. Well, a few days ago, Bill Clinton shared a dais with Louis Farrakhan. Hillary Clinton was also in attendance.

The Clintons seem to have joined the ranks of those old people who only get out for funerals, and who therefore attend the funerals of everyone that they have ever met, because the next day they were among the very public mourners for John McCain, for whom the Stars and Stripes may not necessarily have been lowered over the White House, but for whom the Black Flag was lowered over Idlib, as surely as the Swastika was lowered for him over Kiev.

In that context, too, examine the claim that Corbyn once called for the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Haiti. Look at those whom Corbyn's enemies have cheered on in word and deed, up to and including the present moment. By comparison, Aristide, for all his faults, was very small beer indeed.

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