Nobel laureate cancels UK trip over Israel boycott (& a tale of two terror groups called Fatah)

May 28, 2007

* Nobel physics laureate Steven Weinberg: “Given the history of the attacks on Israel and the oppressiveness and aggressiveness of other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere, boycotting Israel indicated a moral blindness for which it is hard to find any explanation other than anti-Semitism.”
* Palestinians killed: If Israel isn’t involved, no accusations of “a massacre”
* Rolling Stones, Oprah Winfrey buck trend to boycott Israel

This dispatch concerns the increasing calls to single out Israel for boycott, and the double standards of the international media, none more so than in Britain, which seems to have lost its sense of fair play.

 

CONTENTS

1. The Associated Press: A tale of two terror groups called Fatah
2. Several? The BBC continues to distort reality
3. The British press don’t care if there are British victims in Israel
4. Silence by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaigns.
5. What massacre?
6. Nobel laureate cancels visit to London
7. UK architects condemn Israel
8. “I see in the British press and the BBC signs of a very strong anti-Israel bias”
9. Rolling Stones told not to play in Israel
10. Oprah Winfrey to make Israel solidarity visit
11. “Nobel laureate cancels UK trip over Israel boycott” (Guardian, May 24, 2007)
12. “Physicist who refused to lecture in U.K.: I’m not calling for boycott” (Ha’aretz, May 25, 2007)



[Note by Tom Gross]

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: A TALE OF TWO TERROR GROUPS CALLED FATAH

The Associated Press, which along with Reuters stubbornly refuses to use the word “terror” when Palestinian terror groups (including Fatah) deliberately murder Israeli civilians, has been frequently using the word “terror” in its reports in recent days on the group also named Fatah in Lebanon. This is despite the fact that the Lebanon-based Fatah group has not indiscriminately murdered civilians in a wave of terror attacks on schools, buses, shopping malls, fast food restaurants, and so on, as has been the case by Fatah in Israel.

For example, this report by the AP’s Chief of Middle East News, Sally Buzbee, is titled “Lebanon: A haven for terror,” and contains phrases like “terrorists training to attack the west” and “a new front to the war on terror”. The article can be read on many news sites, for example here and in a slightly different version here at the New York Times-owned International Herald Tribune.

** Please see this telling photo and caption for how the AP does not use the word terror when writing about the other, more murderous wing, of Fatah.

SEVERAL? THE BBC CONTINUES TO DISTORT REALITY

The BBC’s twisting of events concerning Israel is relentless. Stephen Pollard (who is a longtime subscriber to this email list), points to the BBC online article of May 19 as typical of the way the BBC distorts events. The BBC says that Israel has carried out air strikes on Gaza after “several rocket attacks on Israel.”

“Several rocket attacks” is completely unrepresentative of the real nature of the attacks. On that day, 24 rockets hit Israel and wounded 30 Israelis (all civilians), some seriously. In the three days preceding the Israeli strike the BBC wrote about, the Israeli town of Sderot had been hit more than twenty times daily.

As Melanie Phillips, another longtime subscriber to this email list, points out: “Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Palestinian terrorists have fired more than 1,300 rockets into Israel. No other country would have experienced such sustained rocket attack for so long and do virtually nothing in response. No other country in the world is expected in such circumstances to respond to such acts of war by turning the other cheek. Only the Jewish state.”

According to Reuters, since May 15, more than 245 rockets have been launched toward Israel. Following deaths and injuries, several thousand residents of the town of Sderot, with a population of 24,000, have left.

Meanwhile the BBC continued to say that Israel “alleges” that rockets are being fired at it from Gaza. For example, the announcer on BBC Radio 4’s prestigious “Today” program said that “Israeli forces were attacking the Palestinians in Gaza in response to alleged rocket attacks.” As another subscriber to this email list points out: “Like the alleged Islamist attack on the USA on 9/11? Or the alleged attacks in London on 7/7? Why do the British continue to allow their money to go to the BBC to put up with this nonsense?”

The BBC have also used phrases like “which Israel says is aimed at stopping rocket attacks on its territory by militants,” as though this is only what Israel says when in reality it is a fact. The BBC does not use phrases like this when reporting on what the Palestinians are doing or saying.

THE BRITISH PRESS DON’T CARE IF THERE ARE BRITISH VICTIMS IN ISRAEL

Meanwhile, as far as I can tell from a thorough check, not a single British news outlet today mentions that Susanna Oz, the wife of Oshri Oz, who was killed yesterday by a Kassam rocket fired by Hamas into Israel, is a British expat. Susanna, who is a mother of a 2-year-old and is six months pregnant with their second child, realized her husband was the unidentified victim while reading a report on the Internet. Oz, 36, was killed after a rocket hit his car. At the same time as not mentioning this, the British media continue to belittle the deadly Palestinian-manufactured devices of the kind that killed him by referring to them as “homemade” rockets.

For another example (among many) of the British press not caring if there are British victims in Israel, please see: “The Forgotten Rachels”.

A machine gun attack in Jerusalem on Saturday night, claimed by Fatah, which injured Israelis (before the Fatah gunmen were shot dead as they were continuing to fire on Israelis) has also been barely mentioned in the British or international media.

SILENCE BY THE PALESTINIAN SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGNS

There are dozens of “Palestinian Solidarity Campaigns” in Britain. Yet with more than 150 Palestinians killed in “internal violence” in Gaza since the beginning of the year, and over 50 others killed in the past week alone in “clashes” at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian Refugee camp in Lebanon, there has been complete silence from these pro-Palestinian groups.

As the popular blog Harry’s Place notes:

* The International Solidarity Movement,
* The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign,
* The Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign,
* The Exeter Palestinian Solidarity Campaign,
* The York Palestinian Solidarity Campaign,
* The Brighton Palestinian Solidarity Campaign,
* The Stop the War Coalition,
* George Galloway’s “Respect” political party,

and many other pro-Palestinian groups “have nothing to say about these deaths at all.”

All these groups tirelessly protest Palestinian deaths (including those of terrorists) if Israel is to blame.

One can only conclude that these so-called Palestinian Solidarity Campaigns are in fact merely groups that wish to single out Israel for attack. Given the fact that Israel’s human rights record is far better than dozens of other states throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world, it is hard not to reach the conclusion that anti-Semitism, rather than concern about Palestinian civilians, is a strong motivating factor for these groups.

WHAT MASSACRE?

As HonestReporting points out, can anyone imagine the LA Times writing an editorial like this during the height of Jeningrad? (Editorial of May 26, 2007, headlined “Lebanon’s latest war: It’s unacceptable to shell a refugee camp, but terrorist havens have no claim to sovereignty either.”)

Just to remind readers, Israel didn’t mount its April 2002 operation in Jenin in a vacuum. It did so after sustaining seven deadly suicide bombings in a two-week period, emanating from Jenin, and culminating in the bombing of a Passover meal, which killed 30 civilians, including two elderly Auschwitz survivors. For more, see Jeningrad.

Yet the ongoing assault at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian Refugee camp in Lebanon, which has already witnessed more deaths than in Jenin in April 2002, began not after a wave of suicide bombings on civilian targets, but after a bank robbery was carried out by Fatah al-Islam gunmen.

However, the accusations by the media, the UN, and human rights organizations that a “massacre” or “genocide” is being carried out by the Lebanese Army are now remarkably absent.

So are claims of “disproportionately” of the kind leveled against Israel by just about everyone during last summer’s Hizbullah-Israel war. (In Israel’s case it sustained and was trying to prevent 4000 Katyusha rockets; yet Fatah al-Islam haven’t launched Katyushas at anyone.)

NOBEL LAUREATE CANCELS VISIT TO LONDON

Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg has cancelled a visit to Imperial College (a part of London university) due to “widespread anti-Israel and anti-Semitic current in British opinion”.

Weinberg, who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1979, was invited to deliver a talk at a conference on particle physics.

In a letter to Michael Duff, his host at Imperial College, Weinberg wrote: “I know that some will say that these boycotts are directed only against Israel, rather than generally against Jews... But given the history of the attacks on Israel and the oppressiveness and aggressiveness of other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere, boycotting Israel indicated a moral blindness for which it is hard to find any explanation other than anti-Semitism.”

In his letter, Weinberg also cited the new boycott on Israeli goods by Britain’s National Union of Journalists. For more on the NUJ boycott, see For first time, British journalists officially vote to boycott Israeli goods (April 14, 2007).

“I SEE IN THE BRITISH PRESS AND THE BBC SIGNS OF A VERY STRONG ANTI-ISRAEL BIAS”

As noted in the first article below (from The Guardian), Weinberg’s “decision comes a week before members of the University and College Union are to call for an academic boycott of Israel at their inaugural annual conference.”

The second article below contains an interview with Steven Weinberg in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz. The American physicist says “I don’t want to say I’m cutting ties with the U.K. I love England. I just feel personally uncomfortable going with the atmosphere there at the moment. It’s increasingly hostile to Israel, especially in the intellectual world.”

He adds that “I see in the British press and the BBC signs of a very strong anti-Israel bias a kind of blind hostility that whatever Israel does, it is always in the wrong so this is not an isolated action of a small group of anti-Semitic conspirators. This represents a widespread feeling among British journalists.”

120,000 members of the British University and College Union will be asked tomorrow (Tuesday) to vote on a proposed boycott of Israeli universities at its annual congress in Bournemouth. As noted on this email list / website, in March 130 British doctors called for the Israeli Medical Association to be the only country in the world to be expelled form the World Medical Association (this despite the fact that Israeli doctors do more than any other country, per capita, to help patients in the developing world, including Palestinian patients.)

UK ARCHITECTS CONDEMN ISRAEL

The lies about Israel in the British media (see for example here in The Independent and in The Daily Telegraph) are continuing to have an effect as more and more British “professionals” single out Israel for special treatment.

The latest are British architects, who have launched a petition condemning Israeli “oppression of the Palestinians,” and called for a boycott of Israelis.

The petition was brought by a group calling itself Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP). “We ask the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) to meet their professional obligations to declare their opposition to this inhuman occupation,” a spokesman for the group told The Guardian.

Architect Will Alsop told Building Design magazine that he and his colleagues felt compelled to act. “This is not against Israel, it’s for Palestine,” he said. “I think the Palestinians are living in a prison. I’d like fellow colleagues in Israel to feel some responsibility about this.”

Other signatories include the architectural historian Charles Jencks and the president of the Institute of Royal British Architects Jack Pringle.

Jon Benjamin, the chief executive the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “What they are saying is that they have a certain view and that Israeli architects must publicly declare that to be their position as well.”

ROLLING STONES TOLD NOT TO PLAY IN ISRAEL

Anti-Israeli groups in Britain and elsewhere are pressuring the Rolling Stones to cancel their upcoming concert in Israel.

In a letter to the band’s managers one group claimed that “performing in Israel at this time is morally equivalent to performing in South Africa during the apartheid era.”

So far there has been no reaction from the Rolling Stones who are expected to play in Israel in the fall. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts will launch the Stones “Bigger Band 2007” European tour on June 5 in Belgium.

The Israeli media have also reported that Britney Spears is due to appear in Israel some time in the summer. Mother-of-two Spears recently emerged from another stay at a rehab clinic to perform in San Diego’s “House of Blues” her first appearance in three years and is shortly to embark on a tour which, according to reports, will include Israel.

OPRAH WINFREY TO MAKE ISRAEL SOLIDARITY VISIT

Oprah Winfrey has accepted a proposal from Elie Wiesel to come to Israel on a solidarity trip. The American talk show queen is expected to visit in the near future.

Wiesel asked Winfrey to visit Israel, where “the major war against terror is currently taking place.”

Winfrey was recently honored by the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity for her contribution to promoting humanitarian issues. In her acceptance speech Oprah said she sympathized with the suffering of the people of Israel, and that she intended to accept Wiesel’s invitation to accompany him to Israel.

Last year Oprah visited Auschwitz with Elie Wiesel. For more on that trip, see “War on Denmark! Death to Denmark!” (& Oprah visits Auschwitz) (Feb. 1, 2006).

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLES

“A MORAL BLINDNESS”

Nobel laureate cancels UK trip over Israel boycott
By Debbie Andalo
The Guardian
May 24, 2007

http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/news/story/0,,2087155,00.html

An academic and Nobel laureate has cancelled a planned visit to a London university because of what he perceives to be “a widespread anti-Israel and anti-semitic current in British opinion”.

Steven Weinberg, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, had been invited to Imperial College in July to speak in honour of a Pakistani physicist, Abdus Salam, and to deliver a talk at a conference on particle physics.

But today in a letter to his host at Imperial, Michael Duff, Prof Weinberg said he was withdrawing from the trip.

In the letter, the professor said his decision was triggered by an agreement by the National Union of Journalists at its national conference to boycott Israeli products.

He wrote: “I know that some will say that these boycotts are directed only against Israel, rather than generally against Jews.

“But given the history of the attacks on Israel and the oppressiveness and aggressiveness of other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere, boycotting Israel indicated a moral blindness for which it is hard to find any explanation other than anti-semitism.”

A spokeswoman for Imperial said it was “very sad” about the professor’s decision.

Prof Weinberg said the only other reason he could imagine for the boycott was the NUJ’s “desire to pander to the growing Muslim minority in Britain”.

This is the second time Prof Weinberg, who won the Nobel prize for physics in 1979, has cancelled a visit to a UK university because of Israeli boycotts.

In 2006 he called off a trip to a conference at the University of Durham following what he saw as a boycott of Israeli academics by the then lecturers’ union Natfhe.

His decision comes a week before members of the University and College Union are to call for an academic boycott of Israel at their inaugural annual conference.

Academics are also expected to debate whether anti-semitism has become acceptable on UK campuses and whether members should be balloted before any decisions are taken on academic freedom.

The motion calling for an Israeli boycott has been laid down jointly by the University of Brighton and the University of East London. It condemns the “complicity of Israeli academia in the [Palestinian] occupation, which has provoked a call from the Palestinian trade unions for a comprehensive and consistent international boycott of all Israeli academic institutions”.

The union is being urged to agree that “passivity or neutrality is unacceptable and criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-semitic”.

The motion calls on members to consider the “moral implications of existing proposed links with Israeli academic institutions”.

The issue of boycotting Israeli academics and institutions has been a standing feature of the annual conferences of the two former lecturers’ unions the Association of University Teachers and Natfhe before they merged to form the UCU last year.

An AUT motion was passed in 2005, but it caused such controversy that it had to hold another special meeting at which it was rejected.

Natfhe has supported boycotts in the past. Last year members agreed to continue the boycott, but the policy was dissolved when the union merged to form the UCU only hours later.

Since Natfhe’s motion was dissolved, UCU has no policy on the Israeli academic boycott.

 

“TO BOYCOTT ISRAEL TODAY WOULD BE LIKE BOYCOTTING CZECHOSLOVAKIA IN 1938”

Physicist who refused to lecture in U.K.: I’m not calling for boycott
By Charlotte Halle,
Ha’aretz
May 25, 2007

http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/863233.html

An American physicist and Nobel Prize laureate who withdrew from a speaking engagement at a London university, citing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment in the U.K., says he is not calling for a boycott of Britain.

“I’m not calling on anyone else not to go to Britain,” Prof. Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1979, told Haaretz on Thursday night. “I don’t want to say I’m cutting ties with the U.K. I love England. I just feel personally uncomfortable going with the atmosphere there at the moment. It’s increasingly hostile to Israel, especially in the intellectual world.”

Weinberg told the Imperial College in London, where he had been invited to speak in July in honor of Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam, that his decision was motivated by a move by Britain’s National Union of Journalists to boycott Israeli products.

“I just felt this was too disgusting and I didn’t want to go there this summer,” Weinberg said. “I see in the British press and the BBC signs of a very strong anti-Israel bias a kind of blind hostility that whatever Israel does, it is always in the wrong so this is not an isolated action of a small group of anti-Semitic conspirators. This represents a widespread feeling among British journalists.”

Weinberg said he sent the letter before learning that 120,000 members of the University and College Union were asked to vote on a proposed boycott of Israeli universities at its annual congress in Bournemouth on Tuesday and before he knew about the call in March by 130 British doctors to boycott the Israeli Medical Association.

Weinberg said he is against boycotts, and specifically boycotts of Israel: “To boycott Israel today would be like boycotting Czechoslovakia in 1938 when Hilter was complaining the Czechs were being unpleasant to the Germans in the Sudetenland.”

Weinberg also pulled out of a 2006 conference at Durham University due to a boycott of Israeli academics imposed by the British National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education.

The International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom at Bar-Ilan University, which coordinates Israeli efforts against boycotts, said it respects but does not endorse Weinberg’s position.

“Although we respect Prof. Weinberg’s decision and sympathize with his feelings, we do not believe counter-boycotts are an effective way of dealing with the situation,” the board said in a statement.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.