Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Six clichés you are likely to hear constantly in the coming days, and why they’re false
Yigal Walt

1) “Israel’s response in Gaza is disproportionate”

Since when is war a mathematical equation? The basic objective of any warring party is to inflict maximal damage on the enemy while minimizing its own casualties. Was there anything proportional about the US war in Iraq? Or about Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait for that matter? Or about Russia’s recent war against Georgia? Israel is doing exactly what any other country has done in the past. This is how war works.

Would a British citizen complain that “too few” British soldiers are being killed in Iraq? Probably not.

And on a more elementary note: Palestinian military inferiority is not an indication of moral superiority. Palestinian insistence on resorting to violence despite this military weakness is an indication of poor judgment perhaps – yet it is by no means an indication of moral virtue. Being militarily weak does not make the Palestinians right.

2) “But Qassams don’t kill”

Actually, Qassams do kill. Not too often, perhaps, but dozens of Israelis were killed and wounded by rocket fire in recent years. Moreover, at this time the Palestinians are firing long-range Grad rockets with even greater explosive power. Such rockets killed 2 Israelis Monday.

Yet beyond the casualty figures, the psychological damage caused as result of living under an ongoing rocket threat is immeasurable. Would anyone in the West agree to have their family live under constant rocket attacks and be regularly woken up by sirens in the middle of the night? Would anyone living under such conditions appreciate being told that “these rockets don’t kill?” Probably not.

3) “It’s all because of Israel’s siege. Israel should allow aid into Gaza.”

Israel has allowed goods into Gaza regularly throughout the “siege”. Palestinians have been able to complement these deliveries with supplies smuggled through hundreds of tunnels (of course, they would likely be able to bring in even more food had they not used the tunnels to smuggle in missiles.).

The day before operation “Cast Lead” got underway, Israel allowed dozens of trucks carrying aid to enter the Strip. On Tuesday, another 100 trucks – double the normal number –are expected to enter Gaza after Defense Minister Barak approved the move.
In short, Israel is allowing aid into the Strip (but guess who has kept Gaza crossings mostly closed thus far? That’s right, Egypt.)

4) “Why didn’t Israel just agree to renew the Gaza truce?”

First, what truce? Terror groups continued to fire rockets throughout the lull, even if somewhat infrequently, and even if the world didn’t seem to care too much. Nonetheless, Israel clearly declared that it is interested in extending the truce. Our top officials made it clear time and again.

Yet Hamas leaders clearly declared that the truce has ended on December 19th, and proceeded to bombard southern Israeli communities with dozens of rockets daily. In short, it is no wonder that even the Egyptians are blaming Hamas this time.

5) “But Hamas was elected democratically – why can’t Israel accept it?”

Although Hamas won the Palestinian elections, it took Gaza by force, in the process hurling rival Fatah members down to their death from high-rises and shooting others in the knees with the declared aim of maiming them. Some democracy.

In any case, Israel in fact “recognizes,” de facto, Hamas’ rule in Gaza, which is precisely why it is justified in attacking the Hamas-ruled Strip, recognizing that it is indeed being governed by a terror entity. Israel did not launch the operation because Hamas is in power there – rather, it did so because Hamas is a terrorist organization that has deliberately targeted civilians with thousands of rockets over the past 8 years.

6) “Israel is targeting civilians”

You mean to say that “one of the most powerful armies in the world” has been bombing Gaza for days, deploying massive air power, dropping hundreds of bombs, and ultimately killing a grand total of 50 civilians or so in the “most crowded place on earth?”

There are two options here: A) The Israeli army is not targeting civilians, or B) Israeli pilots suck. We tend to go with option A.

Indeed, Israel goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties, by deploying precise ammunition and specialized techniques. In fact, nobody in the world does this better than the Jewish State.,7340,L-3647296,00.html

Monday, December 29, 2008


During the press conference broadcast on Egyptian television yesterday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Gheit harshly criticized Hamas, and placed responsibility for the current situation on it. Gheit also blamed Hamas for not allowing wounded persons from Gaza to seek treatment in Egypt, saying Hamas were more interested in having the injured serve as pawns in their propaganda war on Western TV networks rather than allowing them to be treated. "The wounded are barred from crossing" he said, blaming "those who control Gaza. We are waiting for the wounded to cross."

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday that Hamas could have avoided the Israeli attacks on Gaza. "We talked to Hamas and we told them 'please, we ask you, do not end the truce. Let the truce continue and not stop' so that we could have avoided what happened," he said. Reuters reported these statements widely and yet certain international media such as the BBC have not reported them.

Egypt and other Arab leaders understand that Hamas, like Hizbullah, is increasingly allied with Iran and aims to foment regional instability and Islamic revolution. The harder Hamas is hit the greater the chances for Israeli-Palestinian peace. If the rockets don't stop from Gaza, almost no one in Israel will be prepared to relinquish territory from the West Bank that would merely then become rocket launching sites to fire at Israel.

Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah said yesterday that they were prepared to assume control over the Gaza Strip if Israel succeeds in overthrowing the Hamas government. A top PA official said: "We believe the people there are fed up with Hamas and want to see a new government."

Thursday, December 25, 2008


This is a follow-up to the item about Canada and Israel pulling out of next
year's charade of a UN anti-racism conference in the dispatch "Jimmy Carter
pleads with Hizbullah to meet him, but Hizbullah refuse" (Dec. 12, 2008)

The Netherlands became the latest country to say that it will boycott the
conference if anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements are not scrapped from
draft texts currently being circulated.

Dutch foreign minister Maxime Verhagen told Dutch radio he would not "be
involved in anti-Semitism" at the meeting planned for April in Geneva. Israel
and Canada have already withdrawn from the forum, which is a follow-up to the
2001 UN anti-racism conference in Durban, South Africa, which degenerated into
an anti-Semitic debacle. The United States has protested against the
conference, but has not yet decided if it will attend.

In 2001, then Secretary of State Colin Powell withdrew the U.S. delegation,
telling the UN organizers that you don't combat racism by singling out "only
one country in the world - Israel - for endless censure and abuse."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


The FCO is reportedly adding to the ‘travel advice’ section of its website a warning to prospective purchasers of property in the ‘Occupied Territories’ that a future peace deal could have consequences for the property.
1. The UK government has no legal basis for its oft-repeated assertion that the settlements are “illegal under international law”. The Geneva Convention cannot apply to most of the ‘Occupied Territories’ because they have never been recognised as sovereign territory. For example as part of Mandatory Palestine, Judea and Samaria never belonged to any sovereign state but were occupied and administered illegally by Jordan and Egypt between 1948 and 1967, after the Arab war of aggression against Israel in 1948. And East Jerusalem was captured by Jordan in the War of 1948.
Further, the Geneva Convention was designed to prohibit the forcible transfer of population into occupied territories, such as was practised by the Nazis and USSR before and during World War Two.  But the Israeli settlers in the West Bank went there voluntarily. And as a country that was attacked, Israel is entirely within its legal rights to retain territory that continues to be used as a base for attacks against it.
As the late Eugene Rostow (the former US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs who played a leading role in drafting Resolution 242) repeatedly said, far from being illegally settled in the disputed territories, the Jews have every right to be there under international law.
2. The FCO’s reported new advice is also very surprising after the recent close co-operation with the UK government shown by President Peres (here a few weeks ago) and Prime Minister Olmert (here last week), for example in negotiations about new investment in Judea and Samaria, which also involved Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (also here last week).
3. The ZF is concerned that by raising unrealistic expectations, much of the current rhetoric from the UK government (for example, about “illegality” and the reported warning to prospective purchasers of property) can only encourage terrorism.  Indeed in other respects the government’s language is much more careful. For example, it always refers to “withdrawal from settlements” rather than “withdrawal from all settlements” or “withdrawal from the settlements”. This is a correct reflection of the position adopted by most moderate Palestinians who accept that land swaps will be part of any final negotiations.
4. Israel has proved that it wants peace, by negotiating peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan. It has proved that it is prepared to give up land, by withdrawing from Gaza.  In the middle of the Annapolis peace process, the ZF believes that it is crucial that the UK government supports the voices of moderation - and not those of extremism.
Queries to:
Jonathan Hoffman
(Vice Chairman ZF)
07947 828 292

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


The ZF organized a three-day outdoor Israeli Market which operated on the High Road of Temple Fortune.  The Market hosted 40 exhibitors displaying unique and interesting Israeli products and thousands of people attended from both the jewish and wider community  

This type of outdoor fair has been operated successfully many times in this location but none of the markets have ever hosted Israeli exhibitors.

The Zionist Federation organized the first ever Israeli fair and we called it “ A  TASTE OF ISRAEL”.
The aim was to bring Israeli products to the British public. The Exhibitors had stands to display their goods and sell them to the public. 

The Zionist Federation is always keen to help Israeli trade - we also encouraged the stallholders to set up meetings with local shops and establish trace for the future.
Alan Aziz, Director of the Zionist Federation stated: “this was a very positive step to showcase the best of Israeli products in time for Chankukah and Christmas – we are delighted with the results. To have the British public buying their Xmas presents from Israel and chatting to the exhibitors about what life in Israel is really like was a great thing to see and I think that the best response to the idiots who call for boycotts of Israel is to celebrate Israeli art and culture at every available opportunity and the ZF is always proud to do our bit”.

Additionally, this was an ideal opportunity for the general public to experience some of Israel’s unique and interesting artwork, wines, jewellery and food that they may not have otherwise been able to experience.  

Some of the things that were on sale at the Street Market:
Ahava Dead Sea products
Elsa's Story - Gourmet Biscuits, beautifullly presented, based on a secret recipe.
Gabrieli - Manufacturers of the top selling hand woven prayer shawls in Israel.
Judaica, including beautifully handmade menorahs and innovatively designed mezuzas
Hats - one off designs, stiched by hand.
Various Jewellery stands selling glass, silver and jewellery made out of buttons.
Authentic Bedouin Tent with Baklava and Turkish coffee.
Beautiful dolls made out of beads 
Photos of Israeli sights and landmarks.
Hot Falafel
Hand painted wooden tea and coffee boxes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Gil Hoffman spoke about the four elections which are important to
Israel: the US Presidential election, the Israel election (10 February),
the Iranian election in June 2009 and the Palestinian Authority
elections (January 9, though they will almost certainly be
cancelled). Opinion in Israel about Obama had swung round from
opposition to support, helped by the great efforts he had made to reach out to Israelis - he even had a blog in Ivrit. Now the candidates for the Israeli Premiership are each trying to convince the electorate that they are best placed to work with Obama. The polls suggest Netanyahu will win by 5-10 seats (of 120) but they are irrelevant. What matters is what’s in the news in the two weeks before the vote. Political scandal will help Tsipi Livni, seen as a clean pair of hands; security concerns will help Netanyahu; so will economic concerns as he is seen as experienced even though his economic policies when in office were very divisive. Little will help Ehud Barak’s Labour Party which is trailing.Hoffman said that he has been called on TV “the greatest optimist in Israel”. Finally he said he had been asked what we could do here to help Israel. He said it’s ‘EASY’ - “Education, Advocacy, Solidarity and Your Prayers.”


The Ambassador, HE Giancarlo Aragona, welcomed us to the Residence. He said how delighted he was that relations between
Italy and Israel are now so good, epitomised by the excellent meetings that the Italian President Giorgio Napolitano had had on
his three day visit to Israel this week. (Note also the wonderful speech made by Fraco Frattini, the Italian Commissionerand
Vice-President of the European Commission, at the Herzliya Conference in January:

Friday, December 5, 2008


Run by the Zionist Federation
Supported by Department for Zionist Activities and Hagshama Department
Also Supported by The Jewish Agency

This weekend saw an extremely successful Israel Connect European Young Leadership Conference take place in Amsterdam.  Over 50 participants, from fifteen different countries came together to network, learn and take different ideas back to their communities. 

We had three key note speakers – all excellent.  Hagai, a UK-based academic, consultant / analysis and commentator, specializing in the Middle East and related affairs, geo-strategic issues, terrorism and the modern Far-right, gave a detailed Israel Analysis focusing on what the important American Elections are going to mean for Israel.  In his second session he then focused on the Israeli Elections, and what each possibility would mean for Israel.  His third and final session was an extremely interesting skills session, advising how best to deal with the media, and how to in fact position yourself to get acknowledged, and thus influence, the media.  

Efraim Zuroff, an Israeli historian of American origin, who has played an important role in the efforts to bring Nazi war criminals to justice during the past 28 years, kept everyone on the edge of their seats with fascinating stories about important topics.  More importantly he emphasized the need for such actions which gave us all something to think about.

Dr. Emanuele Ottolenghi, Director of the American Jewish Committee's Transatlantic Institute in Brussels, a frequent commentator on Israeli domestic politics, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and Europe’s Middle East policy, discussed the topic of Irans Nuclear File, along with sharing with us what it means for our countries, and what our counties can do to influence the situation.  

Yoav Magid, a professional debating trainer, led an exciting and worthwhile session on how to put your arguments across effectively – giving everyone a skill they can use in their every day lives, as well as for Israel Advocacy.

During Saturday we had an extremely interested interactive networking session. Here everyone went round and gave a brief introduction about themselves: Name, where they are from, their professional job, what they do in the community for Israel, what skills they have and that they can offer to people, and what they need help with from others. It was amazing to see how well matched peoples needs and skills were, and immediately people were discussing ideas for their communities. Additionally, it was interesting watching the heads of UJS in three different countries talking about how they all operate and what advice they can offer each other.

Saturday night showed a new initiative work very well. We invited local Jewish Young Professionals from Amsterdam to join the conference for one of Hagai’s sessions (about the Israeli elections), and then join us for dinner and going out. This created the opportunity for those that may not otherwise have the opportunity to hear such speakers interact within the session. This saw over 70 people at the lecture for Saturday night, after which we all had dinner and a few drinks where lots of email addresses and numbers where exchanged.

Feedback showed it was a very successful weekend, with everyone taking from each session.  Many phone numbers and email addresses were swapped at the weekend, with promises of further contact to be made to help each other with individual projects. 

We look forward to the next conferences:
27th February – 1st March 2009: Copenhagen
8th – 10th May: Budapest
3rd – 7th June: Israel
4th – 6th September: London

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Last week in Mumbai we witnessed as clear a case of carefully planned mass
terrorism as we are ever likely to see.
The seven-venue atrocity was coordinated in a highly sophisticated way.
The terrorists used BlackBerrys to stay in touch with each other during
their three-and-half-day rampage, outwitting the authorities by monitoring
international reaction to the attacks on British, Urdu and Arabic Web
sites. It was a meticulously organized operation aimed exclusively at
civilian targets: two hospitals, a train station, two hotels, a leading
tourist restaurant and a Jewish center.
Murder in Mumbai: The work of 'practitioners.'
There was nothing remotely random about it. This was no hostage standoff.
The terrorists didn't want to negotiate. They wanted to murder as many
Hindus, Christians, Jews, atheists and other "infidels" as they could, and
in as spectacular a manner as possible. In the Jewish center, some of the
female victims even appear to have been tortured before being killed.
So why are so many prominent Western media reluctant to call the
perpetrators terrorists? Why did Jon Snow, one of Britain's most respected
TV journalists, use the word "practitioners" when referring to the Mumbai
terrorists? Was he perhaps confusing them with doctors?
Why did Britain's highly regarded Channel 4 News state that the
"militants" showed a "wanton disregard for race or creed" when exactly the
opposite was true: Targets and victims were very carefully selected. Why
did the "experts" invited to discuss the Mumbai attacks in one show on the
state-funded Radio France Internationale, the voice of France around the
world, harp on about Baruch Goldstein (who carried out the Hebron
shootings in 1994), virtually the sole case of a Jewish terrorist in
living memory?
Unfortunately in recent years we have become used to leftist media burying
their heads in the sand about the threat that Islamic fundamentalism
poses, in much the same way as they once refused to report accurately on
communist atrocities. But now even conservative media may be doing it too.
What is the motivation of journalists in trying to mangle language -- such
as going out of their way to refer to terrorists as "militants," as one
Mumbai story on yesterday's Times of London Web site seemed to do? Do they
somehow wish to express sympathy for these murderers, or perhaps make
their crimes seem almost acceptable? How are we going to effectively
confront terrorists when we can't even identify them as such?
But then the terrorists in Mumbai didn't need to make any public
announcements. They knew that many deluded Western journalists and
academics will do that job for them, explaining that the West is to blame,
especially the Zionists.
We have started seeing this already on the BBC -- the world's largest TV
and radio network, which broadcasts in dozens of different languages
around the world and is lavishly funded by the British taxpayer.
You would be hard pressed to find any talk of radical Islam on the BBC in
recent days, or mention of the fact that Islamists think India should be a
Muslim country. Instead the BBC continues to try to persuade its massive
global audience that "it is a local Indian problem," that "the
subcontinent has a history of unrest," and so on.
Even the Pakistani angle has been presented as some kind of local
Pakistan-India dispute rather than as a problem with radical Islam -- this
despite the fact that according to numerous reports the Mumbai terrorists
themselves were screaming "Allah Akbar" (Allah is the Greatest) as they
murdered "the Jews and the infidels" in line with bin Ladenist ideology.
For some time, many have argued that an element of anti-Semitism has
distorted the way the BBC covers the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But
now, following the Mumbai events, we can perhaps see that anti-Semitism
may even be at work in the way the BBC covers foreign news in general. For
much of the Mumbai siege, the BBC went out of its way to avoid reporting
that the Jewish community center was one of the seven targets. At one
point viewers were told that "an office building" had been targeted
(referring to the Jewish center as such).
Then on Friday morning, TV pictures of Indian commandos storming the
besieged Jewish center were broadcast by networks around the world.
Heavily armed commandos, their faces covered by balaclavas, rappelled from
helicopters onto the roof while Indian sharpshooters in buildings opposite
opened fire and a helicopter circled overhead. Huge crowds of onlookers
could be seen looking aghast as they watched from nearby streets. While
Sky News and other channels were gripped by these dramatic pictures, BBC
World was not, almost pretending there was no siege at the Jewish center
-- even though by then it was one of only two sites that remained under
attack in Mumbai. Had the terrorists chosen to besiege a church or mosque
instead, can you imagine the BBC ignoring it this way?
Meanwhile -- perhaps even more disgracefully -- a New York Times report on
the last day of the siege stated: "It is not known if the Jewish center
was strategically chosen, or if it was an accidental hostage scene."
Has the New York Times learned anything since the Holocaust, when, even
after the war ended in the spring of 1945, the paper infamously refused to
report that the Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Germans and so on killed in
the camps had been Jews, and killed as Jews?
Dozens of eyewitness accounts by local Indians said the gunmen shouted
"Allah Akbar" from the Jewish center. It is housed in a nondescript block
and is not obviously marked from the outside as a Jewish center. It is the
one Jewish building in a densely crowded city of millions. And the Times,
the self-proclaimed paper of record, wants to let readers think it might
have been an accidental target?
Even the Times's British equivalent, the Guardian, began its news story:
"The inclusion of the headquarters of an ultra-orthodox Jewish group was
obviously intended to send its own message." Does the New York Times think
that the seeking out and murder by Muslim terrorists of the only New York
rabbi in Mumbai and his wife was "an accidental target"?
There was nothing accidental about any of the seven sites that the
terrorists attacked. And it was no accident that Mumbai was hit. It is the
most multireligious city in India -- with Hindus, Muslims, Christians,
Parsees and Jews living in relative harmony.
Mr. Gross is a former Middle East correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Relayed to the world by Steven Plaut 

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

My heartfelt sympathies to you and the Indian people for the Bombay/Mumbai 
unrest and protests against occupation this week.

But we must really speak about how to deal with these forms of activism in 
India, perpetrated by these misunderstood Islamic militants.

Mister Prime Minister, I have a great deal of experience in dealing 
successfully with terrorism and violence, and this is why I wish to come 
to your rescue.

The first thing you must realize is that one can only make peace with 
one's enemies. With one's friends there is no need to make peace.  There 
is no military solution to the problems of terrorism, and this is why you 
must seek a diplomatic solution. "No Justice, No Peace?" as they say. You 
must invite the leaders of this Islamic organization responsible for the 
bloodshed in Mumbai to New Delhi to meet with you and perhaps tour the Taj 
Mahal together. You must learn to feel their pain and understand their 

But most importantly, you must end the illegal occupation of territory 
that does not belong to you!  First, you must withdraw from Kashmir and 
Jammu and remove all the Hindu settlers there.  But that is just a 
beginning.  Large sections of West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, 
Bihar, Gujarat and Hyderabad contain local Moslem majorities. Lakshadweep 
is 95% Moslem.  You cannot continue to coerce these people into living as 
demographic minorities.  The solution is to create two states for two 
peoples, inside India itself.  Indian Moslems are entitled to 
self-determination and national sovereignty!

You must bear in mind that India was conquered by the Moghuls and that 
makes all of India the homeland of Moslems.  The fact that India was 
partitioned with Pakistan and Bengladesh granted independence does not 
solve anything.  What about the right of return for Punjabi Moslem 
refugees and other Moslems?  These demand that they be allowed to exercise 
their sovereign rights inside India in the lands of their forefathers and 
have their one-time homes restored to them!

Then there is the matter of the status of New Delhi.  It was a Moslem city 
for centuries, and served as the Moghul capital.  Your selfish insistence 
that New Delhi remain Indian is racist.  You must end the apartheid regime 
inside Delhi and turn it into the shared capital of two states, or maybe 
three.  I have no doubt Pakistan will applaud your efforts.

You must meet all the demands of the militants in Mumbai in full.  In 
addition, you must offer them Internet web services and five-star tourist 
hotels in exchange for their promising to abandon violence. After all, 
that is how we turned Yasser Arafat into a peace partner. You see, 
military force serves no role any more in the post-modern universe. It is 
passe.  It is archaic.  Today, consumer interests dominate the world, and 
the Islamist activists of the earth will surely make peace in exchange for 
some profits from participating in global trade.

The attacks on Mumbai came because you have been insufficiently sensitive 
to the needs of the Moslem Other. You took their rhetoric at face value, 
whereas we in Israel know that all this rhetoric is empty and in fact 
these people truly want peace. Sure, they praise Hitler and celebrate 
genocidal atrocities, but what is it that they really want?

You must negotiate with them even while under attack.  Conditioning 
negotiations on an end to violence is a no-win situation.  It will simply 
extend the bloodshed!  You must put your own house in order, and eliminate 
inequality and injustice inside India, and then the terrorists will no 
longer target you.

The key is to build a New Middle Asia, one in which everyone is so busy 
with the important matters of developing tourism, infrastructure 
investments and high-technology that they will have no time to pursue 

Moreover, if you strike at the perpetrators of the Mumbai protests and 
their supporters, you will simply expand and enlarge the cycle of 
violence. Your retaliation bombs will no doubt injure some innocent 
children and civilians alongside any terrorist activists you strike.  That 
will enrage the rest of the world and make the victims seek revenge. Your 
violence against these militants and activists will cause them to hate the 
Hindus and it will drive the separatists to embrace terrorism. Moreover, 
if you refuse to negotiate with the Moslem separatists, then their leaders 
will be toppled and a really violent extremist group will take charge. In 
that case, you will have lost the window of opportunity to make peace.

Begin by declaring a unilateral ceasefire!  Mister Prime Minister, blessed 
is the peacemaker. Remember Mahatma Gandhi (but not Rehavam "Gandhi" 
Zeevi). The entire world will support you and congratulate you if you 
respond to these horrific attacks by disarming India and opening serious 
dialogue with the terror activists.

All we are saying is give peace a chance. Yitzhak Rabin would have 
approved. Yes, chaver, what you need is shalom, salaam, peace. You will be 
awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in recognition. Do not allow yourself to be 
drawn down into the gutter of retaliation. Violence never achieves 
anything.  History has no lessons. History is the dead past.

Follow my example! Provide the Bombay bombers with anti-aircraft and 
anti-tank missiles so that they can battle against the true radicals and 
extremists. And they will do so with no ACLU or Supreme Court to restrain 

Demonstrate your humanity by paying pensions to any widows and orphans of 
the terrorists who blew up the hotels.

Mister Prime Minister, my own peace policies have eliminated war, 
bloodshed and terror from the Middle East. We now have only peace 
partners. If you follow in my footsteps, you can achieve the same lofty 

Peacefully yours,

Shimon Peres, Peacemaker-at-Large


The row over the 'alternative lessons and carols' at St James' Piccadilly last Wednesday is escalating as the implications begin to sink in of a part of the established Church of England allowing itself to be used for such abhorrent anti-Zionist propaganda. In one of the most important posts she has done for a while, Irene Lancaster draws together today some of the threads of why this was both significant and a shameful disgrace to Sir Christopher Wren's beautiful church and the wider Christian community, most of which must surely share her dismay. Jonathan Hoffman, vice-chairman of the Zionist Federation, and who demonstrated outside the event, said: 'These things are a lightning rod for anti-Semites. This was an event which offended 99.9 per cent of Jews and about 95 per cent of Christians, an event which should never have taken place. To take carols and doctor them in order to vilify Israel is really unacceptable.' He claimed the event was being touted outside St James' as a normal carol service. 'We were able to disabuse people and dissuaded about 10 people from going in.'

Irene wrote to Lambeth Palace about the service, and was told this by a member of the Archbishop of Canterbury's staff: 'This is not a matter for the Archbishop or the C of E nationally to comment as it so obviously is a piece of rather unpleasant publicity seeking by a collection of small groups who should not be encouraged by being given attention. My mother used to say of us when we were misbehaving: 'Don't take any notice, it only encourages them' . St James' is in the diocese of London and has a long idiosyncratic history. It is no more reflective of the views of the Church of England than Jews for boycotting Israel is reflective of the Jewish community.'

One fact used in defence of this event, as the organisers insist on describing it, even though calling it 'nine lessons and carols' is a direct mirror of the style of a carol service, is that it was organised by members of the Jewish community. Harry's Place has an interesting comment on the service, and on some of those members of Britain's Jewish community who are also anti-Zionist.

This is what Michael Gove says in The Times today:

'One thing that has sent me ballistic this week is the decision by St James's Piccadilly to host a special service in which the words of traditional carols have been rewritten to convey an anti-Israeli message. The service is part of a broader campaign to encourage the boycott of goods from Israel, much as we once boycotted goods from South Africa.

'Apart from pointing out that declining to buy things on the ground that they're made by Jewish people is not, historically, a good road to go down, I am staggered that people should equate a democracy struggling to preserve human rights in the face of terrorist assault with the apartheid regime. And I am speechless at a church's collaboration with this festival of anti-Semitism. So I shall use another's words and ask that they be forgiven, for clearly, they cannot know the enormity of what they do.'

Just a minor point of interest. The Rector of St James' has been inundated with complaints and is wisely thinking twice about whether he should hold the service again. Perhaps he should have thought it through better in the first place. But with this in mind, I called the organisers and asked them if they had any regrets. They called back to say no, but also posted on a Yahoo message group about it, which is a first for me, to have not even an article but a mere telephone conversation discussed in this way! In this discussion group, Michael's excellent article is described by them as 'stupid'.

They then email me separately, suggesting Michael's piece is 'potentially libellous', and warning me not to fall into the same 'traps' in the article I'm writing for tomorrow.

I mention that, folks, just so you know what you're up against. But then, you probably did already.


Please read the article below, particularly the part highlighted in yellow. Please feel free to leave your comments on ‘The Times Online’ website (link below)
When I was younger no Citroën Deux Cheveux or Volvo Estate parked on the streets I grew up in was complete without its smiling sunny sticker proclaiming “Nuclear Power? Nein Danke!” As emblems of radical chic went it may not have ranked with a scar inflicted during the Battle of Cable Street or a shrapnel wound from the Spanish Civil War but for Aberdeen University revolutionaries it was a necessary identifying mark - the equivalent of an MCC tie - signalling membership of a club that lived by certain unvarying rules.
Nuclear power was no more acceptable than Chilean wine (do you know what happened to Allende?), an account with Barclays (accomplices in apartheid) or a soft spot for Ronald Reagan (don't you know he's undermining the Sandinistas with his absurd demands for Yankee-style elections).

Times may change and the object of PC anathemas may subtly alter too.

Different countries may have their goods boycotted, different companies are accused of having blood on their hands, different US presidents get it in the neck for their curious belief in the absurd doctrine that people should vote for their rulers. But the basic rules stayed the same - there was a need for a left-wing demonology and nuclear power was always there in the grimoire of villainy.

Until this week. For a curious alteration has taken place. And nukes are now fashionable. Indeed, not just fashionable but thoroughly directional. The last word in chic. Irradiated isotopes have never been so on trend.

It's not an environmental thing, even though nuclear power, with its total absence of carbon emissions, ticks all the right climate change boxes.

It's not even a security thing, though the location of so much oil and gas in countries run by former KGB men or Holocaust deniers does give one pause for thought. It's actually an authenticity thing. Nuclear power has been fêted by a team of our nation's leading intellectuals for displaying contemporary Britain's most desired virtue - keeping it real.

A conclave of the bien pensants was convened this week to decide on Britain's most “authentic” place to visit. And top of the list, eclipsing Hoxton and Harlesden, Liverpool or Leeds, as the place where they kept things most real was - Dungeness. And all because of its nuclear power station. The presence of this magnificent temple to the glory of the sundered atom conferred on Dungeness a quality beyond mere charm. It became, in the eyes of the judging panel, a sort of modern Eden - a place unspoilt by pretensions or the need to look better in the eyes of others. And thus it was judged truly, authentically, beautiful. That's why they elevated it to be their top tourist destination for those who want to see authentic England.

To my horror.

Because this exposed and marshy settlement at the bottom extremity of England - with views as bleak as a building firm's balance sheet - is dear to me. I love all of East Kent, and love it indeed for its defiant unfashionability. From Dungeness to Deal, from the old mining country round Betteshanger to the Thanet towns, I feel a special fondness for this slice of overlooked England.

So, I can well understand why others would wish to celebrate its particular, stark, beauty. But I can't help fearing the fêting of Dungeness by metropolitan opinion is a prelude to a wider, “ironic” appropriation of a part of the country that is genuinely unspoilt where it counts - free of tricksy tweeness and Cotswoldian cuddliness.

So visit Dungeness please, and the rest of East Kent too. But please, no shops selling Marie Curie scented candles, Enrico Fermi pasta sauce or velvet cushions with E=mc2 embroidered in tasteful silver thread.

Otherwise I really will go nuclear.

Forgive them - I can't

One thing that has sent me ballistic this week is the decision by St James's Piccadilly to host a special service in which the words of traditional carols have been rewritten to convey an anti-Israeli message. The service is part of a broader campaign to encourage the boycott of goods from Israel, much as we once boycotted goods from South Africa.

Apart from pointing out that declining to buy things on the ground that they're made by Jewish people is not, historically, a good road to go down, I am staggered that people should equate a democracy struggling to preserve human rights in the face of terrorist assault with the apartheid regime. And I am speechless at a church's collaboration with this festival of anti-Semitism. So I shall use another's words and ask that they be forgiven, for clearly, they cannot know the enormity of what they do.

More hidden treasures

East Kent isn't the only neglected jewel I have come to love, having been drawn to it initially because it had so few other visitors. I feel the same about BBC Four.

I sat rapt the other night as it screened vintage footage from the late Forties showing how we viewed train travel in the golden infancy of British Rail. I was struck dumb by the sequence that had been shot in the buffet car. There were people puffing away on cigarettes without a second thought while the poor waiter stood by, pouring the milk into their tea and coffee. How dramatically things have changed, I reflected. Imagine a train where they give you fresh milk.


Sunday night saw Ran Gidor (Political Counselor, Israeli Embassy) speak about the current situation in the Middle East. According to the latest IAEA report, Iran has made significant progress in its efforts to enrich uranium and is continuing to disregard the relevant Security Council resolutions. Israel is opposed to a nuclear Iran and is supporting the diplomatic efforts in this respect. But with the fall in the oil price, unrest is increasing in Iran. Syria has recently been trying to gain support in Europe. However, the UN Inquiry Tribunal into Rafiq Hariri's death in Lebanon will soon be set up, and is likely to complicate matters for Damascus.


The Ambassador, HE Giancarlo Aragona, welcomed us to the Residence. He said
how delighted he was that relations between Italy and Israel are now so
good, epitomised by the excellent meetings that the Italian President
Giorgio Napolitano had had on his three day visit to Israel this week. (Note
also the wonderful speech made by Fraco Frattini, the Italian Commissioner
and Vice-President of the European Commission, at the Herzliya Conference in

Monday, December 1, 2008


On Wednesday night a sham carol service was held at St James Piccadilly with the words of the carols changed to demonise Israel. The event was organised by a coalition of anti-Israel groups including one that includes "Jews" in its title. ZF members, calling themselves JBIG (Jews for Buying Israeli Goods) staged a demo at the entrance to the church in Piccadilly before the event. They had Israeli flags and gave out leaflets for the Israeli Street Market (14-16 Dec, 10.30-5, outside Waitrose, London NW11). Not many of the audience to the sham carol service were interested but plenty of passers-by were. The church was reportedly only half full with no more than 100 people. The ZF counter demonstrators deterred at least five people from buying tickets and going in, by persuading them that it was far from a normal carol service.