UK

UK ex-Labour activist says Jewish group tried to shut down her show

An activist suspended by Britain’s Labour Party for, among other things, saying Jews led the slave trade, has accused the country’s top Jewish governing body of trying to shut down her one-woman show.

Jackie Walker, whose show “The Lynching” is to open Friday night as part of the Edinburgh Festival, accused the Board of Deputies of British Jews of attempting to have her show canceled, London’s Jewish Chronicle reported.

“The Board of Deputies attempts to have ‘The Lynching’ shut down,” Lynch wrote on her Facebook page Friday morning. “[I] thought traditionally Jews were against book burning.”

In an accompanying video she says: “This morning we were told that the British Board of Deputies have written to our venue to ask that they should close down the show.

“What I don’t get about these people is, if they are concerned, why don’t they just come and see the show? Why do they have to stop everyone else coming? You always have to ask why do organizations want people to be silenced?”

Board officials told the Jewish Chronicle that they had contacted the Edinburgh Council, which owns the venue where the performance will be held, to express its concern that “this performance [is] being held on publicly owned and funded premises.”

“We contacted the council to inform it that Jackie Walker had been suspended from the Labour Party and removed as vice-chair of Momentum because of her repeated offensive and false comments about Jews being ‘chief financiers of the slave trade’ – which they weren’t; Holocaust Memorial Day ignoring other genocides – which it doesn’t; and Jewish institutions exaggerating the security threat against them – which, given the deadly terrorist attacks against Jewish schools, synagogues and museums in Europe in recent years, is both patently false and staggeringly ignorant,” Marie van der Zyl, the Board of Deputies vice president, told the Chronicle.

Walker has served as vice chair of Momentum, a grassroots group supporting Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has been accused of tolerating a climate of anti-Semitic and harshly anti-Israel behavior among party activists.

Walker’s Facebook page is largely dedicated to attacks on Israel and support for its critics. Her show is expected to be about those themes. A poster advertising the show reads, “To oppose Israel is not to be antisemitic.”

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A Lesson from Cambridge University: “All white people are racist.”

A black student at Cambridge University has just said that “all white people are racist”. (This was in response to the riots in Dalston, east London.) His name is Jason Osamede Okundaye. He’s also the President of the Black and Minority Ethnic society at the University.
Okundaye wrote:
“All white people are racist. White middle class, white working class, white men, white women, white gays, white children they can ALL geddit.”
The other fantastically ironic thing is that he also claimed that “middle-class white people” have “colonised” Dalston. In full:
“Watching these middle-class white people despair over black people protesting in their colonised Dalton is absolutely delicious.”
Of course if white people claimed that Dalston was formerly colonised by black people, then they’d be classed as racist by Diane Abbott and many other anti-racists. Though since blacks can’t be racist (they don’t “have the power”), then Okundaye’s statement can’t be racist either. Nothing a black person says or does can be racist. That’s according to the standards of the various and many anti-racist theorists and academics who exist today; some of whom will teach at Okundaye’s Cambridge University.

Predictably, once the news spread beyond the Students’ Union and the University itself, a spokesperson from the University said: “The College is looking into this matter and will respond appropriately.”
However, if blacks can be racist, then what can Cambridge University do about this? Jason Osamede Okundaye has done nothing wrong. That is, according to many theorists and academics at Cambridge University, he’s done nothing wrong. He’s black and therefore he can’t be a racist. He’s only a victim. Not a suspect or even a free agent. He’s a black man. A man infantilised by anti-racist theory and activists.
**************************************
According to Trinity College [Cambridge] Students’ Unionwebsite:
“BME, Black and Minority Ethnic, is a term used in the UK to describe people of non-white descent.”
Thus the Black and Minority Ethnic society seems to think that all people who aren’t white have something in common. That’s from middle-class African blacks (likeJason Osamede Okundaye?) to deprived Indians who’ve been given a scholarship. Thus this institution is racist for the simple reason that it places an absolute emphasis on race and colour. What better definition of racism can there be? After all, racism can be both positive and negative. Presumably, the BME sees itself as practicing and promoting positive racism; though it won’t use the word “racism” about itself.
Indeed at Cambridge University there are academic courses which teach that “all white people are racist”. They won’t, of course, use the same inflammatory “discourse” which Jason Osamede Okundaye uses. Nonetheless, he’s the logical and political conclusion of such theoretical and academic anti-white racism.
For example, there has been a series of seminars on Critical Race Theory in July this year at Cambridge University. The University also featured “research” under the headline: ‘Racism in the US runs far deeper than Trump’s white supremacist fanbase’. (It was written by Nicholas Guyatt, a Cambridge University lecturer.) More relevantly, the University of Cambridge published a piece which states that it’s wrong to single out or “demonize” the “white working class for racism”; when, as a matter of fact, all white people are racist. (This, I presume, is class prejudice.)
So I wonder if Jason Osamede Okundaye will win one of the award categories Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU) has announced as part of its “anti-racism campaign”. After all, what better way is there of being anti-racist than being racist against all whites?
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Jason Osamede Okundaye is digging his own grave anyway; even if he is a student at Cambridge University. If “all white people are racist”, then that must be some kind of racial fact. A fact about white DNA, perhaps. And if that’s the case, there’s nothing white people can do about it. Therefore condemning white racism is pointless. It’s racial. It’s genetic. It’s a given. So why the political and moral outrage? Changing white racism would be like changing the colour of one’s skin or how many fingers one has.
It’s also ironic that this black racist is a member of a Cambridge University “equality group”. Although only black and brown people can be members, many white middle-class Trotskyists, communists and progressives will support it to the hilt. And these are the very people aiming Jason Osamede Okundaye is aiming his racist words at.
This is a variation on the more polite and theoretical anti-white racism of people like Diane Abbott; who, rather predictably, has also stuck her own nose into the Dalston riots. From her previous statements, she believes more or less the same things as Jason Osamede Okundaye. For example, in 2012 she wrote:
“White people love playing ‘divide and rule’ We should not play their game.”
In 1988, when, at a black studies conference in Philadelphia, she claimed that “the British invented racism”. She also made a racist comment about Finnish nurses.
Jason Osamede Okundaye is the logical/political conclusion of academic “anti-racism”. So reap the harvest!

UK Is Sending Its Police to Train in Israel: Here’s Why It Should Bother You

http://www.renegadetribune.com/uk-sending-police-train-israel-heres-bother/
By 

(ANTIMEDIA Op-ed)  According to the Independent, government sources say a British team is set to travel to Israel in the near future to learn Israeli counterterrorism enforcement strategies. The proposed move comes amid a spate of terrorist activity in the United Kingdom, as well as concerns about the British authorities’ response time and ability to counter terrorist attacks.

However, as the Independent notes:

There are, of course, significant differences between political violence in the UK and Israel. The murders and maiming in the streets of Britain are in pursuit of a murderous Islamist jihad with a variety of justifications offered including retaliation for the war against Isis in Iraq and Syria. In Israel and the occupied territories it is justified as part of the struggle for Palestinian nationhood against Israel.”

The Jerusalem Post cites police involvement as being integral when it comes to “turning the tide” in Jerusalem’s battle against terrorist activity. More than 3,500 police officers are reportedly involved in multiple units, constantly patrolling and on guard with undercover officers on site at all times.

Considering this, it is curious that the United Kingdom would want to learn police tactics from an occupying force that suppresses its local population. Why would the United Kingdom want to create a similar environment and heavily arm its police force? And to what end?

As Amnesty International reported last year:

Amnesty International, other human rights organizations and even the U.S. Department of State have cited Israeli police for carrying out extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, using ill treatment and torture (even against children), suppression of freedom of expression/association including through government surveillance, and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.”

Why should anyone take the United Kingdom’s commitment to genuinely counter extremism seriously considering its current prime minister gave free passage to the Manchester-based Libyan Islamic Fighting Group to Libya in 2011 to battle Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi? The recent Manchester attacker was affiliated with this group, meaning the U.K. government actively cultivated the conditions for the Manchester terrorist attack to take place.

In 2005, the then-chief of police of Washington DC, Terrance W. Gainer, told the Washington Post that “Israel is the Harvard of antiterrorism.” The Post also reports that Israeli security experts were traveling across the United States to teach their counterterrorism tactics with not only “big-city cops” but also county sheriffs and police chiefs from diverse locations, too.

According to Amnesty International, Israeli police have trained law enforcement officials from Baltimore, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Arizona, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Georgia, and Washington state, to name but a few.

Israeli tactics have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians, including a host of children. Even at the time of this article’s publication, Israel’s latest crackdown has killed at least three Palestinians and injured hundreds more.

In this context, America’s rampantly violent police culture should make a lot more sense. One U.S. police officer, notoriously infamous for violently taking down a 15-year-old girl in McKinney, was even trained in Israeli martial arts.

If you’re an American citizen, your tax dollars actively pay for this violent militarism.

People who refuse to condemn or criticize Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people are completely unaware that they, too, will be on the receiving end of such barbaric treatment in the near future.

Do a handful of lone terror attacks in the United Kingdom warrant such militarized tactics? Who will these tactics be directed toward? Surely, it is not a stretch to assume these initiatives will be heavily felt by Britain’s Muslim community, the same Muslim community that tried to warn authorities about potential terrorists multiple times. [Renegade Editor’s Note: Actually, let’s note how the indigenous population of Britain has been heavily persecuted by the police state for standing up against the invasion and calling out the jewish overlords.]

The authorities turn a blind eye to these dangerously violent people and enlist their help when it is time to overthrow an unfriendly government in the Middle East. This same government wants to then restrict citizens’ basic freedoms while using their tax revenue to train and transform their police forces into a quasi-occupation military force.

Rather than studying how to oppress people even further, perhaps the U.K. could learn the lessons from its heavily misguided interventionist policies and focus on improving the state of the world, not deteriorating it.

We might not care about this issue now when it seems only Palestinian people are the ones being oppressed by such tactics (not to mention the innocent civilians of the countless number of despotic regimes and human rights abusers, which Israel sells its weaponry to). But it would be wise to wake up and see the situation for what it is before it manifests itself in the inevitably ugly way some people are predicting.

Consider that Saudi Arabia is about to execute 14 non-violent protesters — and that British police have been accused of directly aiding their capture — and you might be able to picture a small taste of what’s to come. (One of these prisoners is disabled and was arrested at the age of 17).

As forewarned by Eitay Mack, a Jerusalem-based human rights lawyer and activist:

In honor of the Palestinians in the occupied territories, whose land, property, and persons have been transformed into a giant laboratory for experimentation in new technologies and types of warfare so that the Israeli security and arms industries can produce glossy brochures and stamp their products with the words ‘successfully tested’ and market them abroad. Men and women in countries around the world where the technology of occupation has been purchased from Israel [will] wake up one morning to discover that their local police forces have turned into an army and their neighborhoods into a war zone.” [emphasis added]


This article originally appeared on The Anti-Media.

Anti-Semitic attacks in UK rose 44% since 2014 , watchdog finds

http://www.timesofisrael.com/anti-semitic-attacks-in-uk-reach-record-levels-in-2016-report/

 

report published Sunday from the UK’s Campaign Against Antisemitism NGO found that hate crimes against Jews in 2016 have risen by 44% since 2014.

One in 10 of an overall 1,078 anti-Semitic crimes were violent, but only one such attack was prosecuted in the past year.

In addition, police prosecuted just 15 cases — 1.4% — of overall anti-Semitic crime during that period, according to the the group’s 2016 National Antisemitic Crime Audit.

Using crime data gathered from UK police forces through Freedom of Information requests, the group found that the total rate of hate crimes against Jews rose roughly 15% in the past year and nearly three times that since 2014.

The group emphasized that the numbers depicted the “worst year on record,” though the NGO only started collecting data in 2014.

The report highlighted an enforcement failure of UK authorities, calling police conduct a “betrayal” against the country’s Jews.

“There is a very real danger of Jewish citizens emigrating, as has happened elsewhere in Europe unless there is radical change,” the group’s chairman Gideon Falter wrote.

The report made the same recommendations to law enforcement as it did last year, saying their proposals had not been implemented despite promises from UK authorities.

The NGO operates as part of the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism, an international monitor linked to an Israeli government effort to fight anti-Semitism.

The report’s authors called for specific training on anti-Semitic hate crime for police and prosecutors, in addition to the existing training in overall hate crime. The CAA suggested appointing a senior officer in each police unit to ensure that proper responses to hate crimes against Jews are carried out.

Responding to the findings, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said “we will consider the report’s recommendations carefully as we develop new ways to rid the country of this sickening crime.”

Nearly two-thirds of reported incidents took place in London and Manchester, which are home to the UK’s two largest Jewish populations.

Last month, arsonists targeted two Kosher restaurants in what police referred to as “anti-Semitic hate crimes. “The attacks, which authorities said were linked, took place in the north Manchester neighborhood of Prestwich within five days of each other, the London-based Jewish Chronicle reported.

On June 2, a firebomb was thrown at the Taam restaurant in an attack caught on surveillance cameras. The firebomb failed to ignite, leading one of the attackers to throw a stone through the establishment’s front window.

On June 6, unknown attackers forced open a window at the JS restaurant and poured in flammable liquid, which they ignited. The fire was put out after over an hour, causing no serious damage.

SYNAGOGUE MEMBERSHIP IN UK DROPS TO ALL-TIME LOW, SURVEY FINDS

 

The UK is now home to the largest number of synagogues ever recorded in the country, but membership has dropped to the lowest number on record, according to a report released Wednesday by the Institute of Jewish Policy Research and the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

The report, titled Synagogue membership in the United Kingdom in 2016, found that despite the 454 synagogues that now exist in the UK, the number of household memberships to them have dropped below 80,000.

 

The survey found that 79,597 Jewish households across the United Kingdom held synagogue membership in 2016, down from 99,763 in 1990; this amounts to a 20% decline over a quarter of a century.

The institute stated that the rate of decline has fluctuated over time, but membership has dropped by 4% since its last synagogue membership report was published in 2010.

The authors of the report say that these findings are almost certainly a continuation of a downward trend in synagogue affiliation dating back to the 1950s. They also note that the drop in memberships correlates with a drop in Jewish households, which according to the UK census declined by 4.2% between 2001 and 2011.

“Strikingly, the synagogue membership counts recorded for 2001 and 2010 declined as well over that period (-5.2%), suggesting that a considerable proportion of the attrition observed in recent years may be due to demographic forces, as well as to a drop in levels of synagogue engagement,” the report states.

The largest denominational group remains “Central Orthodox” – an amalgamation of synagogues affiliated to the United Synagogue, the Federation of Synagogues and other independent Modern Orthodox synagogues around the country – yet their share of total membership has dropped to 53%, down from 66% in 1990.

The Reform and Liberal streams, at 19% and 8% respectively in 2016, are at the lowest levels seen since 1990. Membership of Reform synagogues has declined by 8% since 1990, while the Liberal strand ha seen a 16% drop.

The fastest growing group is the strictly Orthodox, which has grown by 139% since 1990, and today constitutes 13.5% of all synagogue membership households, compared to just 4.5% a generation ago.

Masorti is also growing fast, albeit from a much lower base, more than doubling its membership since 1990, and now representing over 3% of the total, compared to 1% in 1990.

“The affiliated British Jewish community is changing,” remarked Executive Director of the Institute Dr Jonathan Boyd, highlighting that while the mainstream Orthodox center is in numerical decline, stricter forms of Orthodoxy are in the ascendancy.

“Because the more progressive wing is largely stable, representing just under a third of the total, the trends point to a future in which stricter forms of Orthodoxy will hold an increasingly prominent position, not only in synagogue membership, but in how Judaism is practiced and how Judaism is seen and understood by others,” Boyd reflected.

This report is the latest in a series of synagogue membership studies conducted in the United Kingdom since the 1960s.

The Board of Deputies and the Institute consider synagogue membership statistics to be among the most important data that exist about Jews in the United Kingdom. They state that while in other countries people connect to their Jewish identity through other communal institutions, in the UK synagogues have long been the main way in which Jews affiliate to the Jewish community.

“That is not to suggest that Jews cannot express their identity by affiliation to other types of Jewish organisations – indeed, many do – but synagogue membership figures remain by far and away the best measure of Jewish communal affiliation that we have,” the authors add. “They provide the only consistent indicator of patterns of Jewish affiliation and belonging over time, and are thus of particular interest to community leaders and planners.”

Another Terrorist Attack Strikes the Heart of London

LONDON — Another night of terrorism unfolded in Britain on Saturday with two attacks that killed six civilians in the center of the capital, London police said.

At least one of the dead was killed when a van careered onto the sidewalk along London Bridge, mowing down pedestrians.

The London Ambulance Service said it had brought 48 injured to five hospitals.

The police said they killed three attackers, which they believed to be the total number of assailants.

Witnesses reported that at least one man jumped out of the van wielding a large knife and ran into the nearby Borough Market, a popular spot for pubs and restaurants on the southern side of the Thames.

Heavily armed police responded to the bridge attack, which took place just after 10 p.m., and more officers rushed to investigate reports of stabbings at the market. The police shot and killed three attackers there, within eight minutes of receiving the first emergency call, they said.

Though no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, they hit a nation still reeling from the shock of the bombing in Manchester almost two weeks ago when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the doors of an Ariana Grande concert. Twenty-two people were killed, including many children.

Saturday’s attack was reminiscent of another on Westminster Bridge on March 22, when Khalid Masood, 52, drove a car into pedestrians, killing four people. He then stabbed a police officer to death before being shot and killed near Parliament. The police treated that attack, in which 50 were injured, as “Islamist-related terrorism.”

And now, as Britain prepares for national elections in less than a week, it must cope with more attacks in the most ordinary of places, London Bridge on a Saturday night, as people walked about enjoying the spring evening.

The mood in London was shock and anger, with the center of the city saturated all night with the sound of sirens. People were told to run, or hide and silence their cellphones as the police searched for assailants.

There was panic that a third stabbing in the Vauxhall area at about the same time as the assaults near the bridge might have been part of a coordinated attack, but the police later declared that incident unrelated.

The attacks came a few days before a snap election that has major implications for the country’s future outside the European Union. Across London, and Britain, there was a sense of fear that a way of life was under attack, but also a determination to carry on.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, called it a “deliberate and cowardly attack on innocent Londoners,” and it was also condemned by the leader of the main opposition party, Jeremy Corbyn.

The office of Theresa May, the prime minister, announced that she will chair a meeting of the government emergency response committee, known as Cobra, on Sunday.

A White House spokesman said President Trump was briefed by his national security aides on the unfolding events in London.

He spoke with Mrs. May, offering his condolences for the attacks and praising the response of the police, White House officials said. He offered the full support of the United States government in investigating the attacks.

No motive has been ascribed to the attackers, but on the messaging app Telegram, members and supporters of the Islamic State shared a poster that calls for supporters to attack people with guns, knives and trucks during the month of Ramadan, which began last weekend.

On Saturday night ambulances rushed to the scene, people fled in panic, restaurants and hotels were evacuated, and helicopters flew overhead.

Witnesses described horrible scenes.

Holly Jones, a BBC reporter who was on the bridge when the van crashed, said it was driven by a man and was “probably traveling at about 50 miles an hour.” She said that at least five people were being treated for injuries after the vehicle drove on the sidewalk and hit them.

“He swerved right round me and then hit about five or six people,” Ms. Jones said. “He hit about two people in front of me and then three behind.”

A witness, who identified himself as Andrew, said he was in the area at a bar, heard “a massive bang” and saw a van hitting the rail of the road.

A police officer standing on Borough High Street in London on Saturday.CreditDominic Lipinski/Press Association, via Associated Press

“Next 10 seconds later, there was a guy with a big knife, I mean, a big knife,” he told LBC Radio.

Andrew said he jumped over a fence, got to a footpath and there was “a dead guy lying on the floor.” He hid for a few seconds in bushes nearby, then, he said, “I ran for my life.”

At the market, Ben, who did not give his last name, told the BBC that he and his wife, Natalie, saw someone being stabbed.

“I saw a man in red with quite a large blade — I don’t know the measurement, I guess maybe 10 inches,” Ben said. “He was stabbing a man. He stabbed him about three times fairly calmly.”

Ben added, “He was being stabbed quite coldly and he slumped to the ground.”

He then said someone threw a table and a bottle at the man with the knife, but “then we heard three gunshots and we ran.”

A man named Gerard told the BBC that he saw men stabbing everyone they could and shouting “this is for Allah.”

He saw three men with knives “and they stabbed a girl,” he said. “So I follow them, toward Borough Market, they were running into the pubs and bars and stabbing everyone. They were running up, saying this is for Allah, and they run up and stabbed this girl 10, maybe 15 times.”

Gabriele Sciotto, a photographer returning from a bar, saw the police confronting three men outside the Wheatsheaf bar on Stoney Street and ordering them to get down. Two of the men were shot by police, he said. “They looked like they had some explosive belts,” Mr. Sciotto said. The police said the devices were later found to be hoaxes. CreditGabrielle Sciotto

Lorna Murray, 44, said she was about to drive over London Bridge when traffic stopped and people ran toward her car. “We ducked down in our car, assuming there was a stabbing,” she said. “Then this young couple started banging on the doors trying to get into our car for safety. We took them in but couldn’t let anyone else in because we had a baby in the back.”

The police told everyone to leave their cars and get away. “When I got out the car everything was a blur, but I saw a woman with blood all over her face,” she said.

Tim Hodge, 37, a security officer at a nearby office building on the south side of the bridge, described “huge crowds” running and screaming. “There was so much panic and so many of the people were drunk, which made them more hysterical,” he said.

Alex Shellum was in the Mudlark pub, underneath London Bridge, with his girlfriend. He told the BBC about an injured woman who came into the pub: “She was bleeding heavily from the neck. It appeared that her throat had been cut.”

Gabriele Sciotto, a photographer returning from a bar, saw the police confronting three men outside the Wheatsheaf bar on Stoney Street and ordering them to get down. Two of the men were shot by police, he said.

“They looked like they had some explosive belts,” Mr. Sciotto said. “The police didn’t know what was going on honestly. They shouted at them to go down, to stop moving. It was very chaotic.”

The police said the suspects were wearing what looked like explosive vests but they were later established to be hoaxes.

Mr. Sciotto took a photograph, which he later posted to Instagram, that appeared to show at least two men on the ground.

“At the moment these people were shot it was just me, the men and the police,” Mr. Sciotto said.

We won’t apologize for Balfour Declaration, UK tells Palestinians

The British government has emphatically refused to apologize for the publication, a century ago, of a document that legitimized the creation of a future Jewish state, saying instead that it is proud of the role Britain played in establishing Israel.

In February, the Balfour Apology Campaign, run by the Palestinian Return Center rights group, launched a petition on the British parliament website calling on Britain to “openly apologise to the Palestinian people for issuing the Balfour Declaration. The colonial policy of Britain between 1917-1948 led to mass displacement of the Palestinian nation.”

Last week the UK Foreign Office posted a response to the petition, which has so far gained some 13,400 online signatures. If the petition passes 100,000 signatures by May 3 it will debated in parliament.

“The Balfour Declaration is an historic statement for which HMG (her Majesty’s Government) does not intend to apologise,” the response began. “We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel. The task now is to encourage moves towards peace.”

Signed on November 2, 1917 by the UK’s then foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour, the declaration announced his government’s intention to establish “a national home for the Jewish people” in the Land of Israel.

It was seen as giving the Zionist movement official recognition and backing on the part of a major power, on the eve of the British conquest of the then-Ottoman territory of Palestine.

Former Israeli Foreign Ministry director general Dore Gold, Israeli Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev, and other speakers at a Houses of Parliament event to mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, November 29, 2016 (Courtesy)

“The Declaration was written in a world of competing imperial powers, in the midst of the First World War and in the twilight of the Ottoman Empire,” the statement continued. “In that context, establishing a homeland for the Jewish people in the land to which they had such strong historical and religious ties was the right and moral thing to do, particularly against the background of centuries of persecution.

“Much has happened since 1917. We recognise that the Declaration should have called for the protection of political rights of the non-Jewish communities in Palestine, particularly their right to self-determination. However, the important thing now is to look forward and establish security and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians through a lasting peace.”

The response reaffirmed Britain’s support for a two-state solution with Jerusalem “as the shared capital of both states, and a just, fair, agreed and realistic settlement for refugees.”

In October, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported the start of a year-long campaign to commemorate 100 years since the “crime” of the Balfour Declaration.

Calling the declaration a “colonialist project,” Taysir Khalid, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said the new Palestinian effort was intended “to remind the world and particularly Britain that they should face their historic responsibility and to atone for the big crime Britain had committed against the Palestinian people.”

Addressing the United Nations in September, Netanyahu attacked the PA over the plan, characterizing it as another example of Palestinians refusing to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

The first in a series of events to mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration was held in the British Houses of Parliament in November and was attended by a number of British lawmakers, Israeli Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev and former Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, in a September greeting ahead of the Jewish New Year, hailed the Balfour Declaration as an expression of the “UK’s support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people.”

US, Britain, France hold Assad regime responsible for Syria gas attack

The White House on Tuesday confirmed a “reprehensible” and “intolerable” chemical attack had taken place in Syria and pinned the blame squarely on Bashar Assad’s regime.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said US President Donald Trump had been briefed extensively on the attack, and suggested it was in the “best interest” of the Syrians for Assad not to lead the country.

“Today’s chemical attack in Syria against innocent people, including women and children, is reprehensible,” Spicer said, saying the administration was “confident” in its assessment that Assad was to blame.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the attack “bears all the hallmarks” of the Syrian government.

Johnson said in a statement Tuesday that he was “horrified” at the reports of the attack and said Assad’s government has repeatedly used chemical weapons in the past.

His comments followed reports from the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which put the death toll from the attack at 58.

Johnson said his government “will continue to lead international efforts to hold perpetrators to account.”

French President Francois Hollande also blamed Syrian leader Assad for what he termed a “massacre.”

“Once again the Syrian regime will deny the evidence of its responsibility for this massacre,” Hollande said in a statement.

“Those who support this regime can once again reflect on the enormity of their political, strategic and moral responsibility,” Hollande added.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrives for a Foreign Affairs meeting in Luxembourg, April 3 2017. (AFP/JOHN THYS)

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrives for a Foreign Affairs meeting in Luxembourg, April 3 2017. (AFP/JOHN THYS)

Despite the accusations, the Syrian military vehemently denied it was behind the strike.

“The army command categorically denies using any chemical or toxic substance in Khan Sheikhun today,” said a statement carried by the state news agency SANA.
“It stresses that it has never used them, any time, anywhere, and will not do so in the future,” it added.

The attack in the town of Khan Sheikhun left dozens struggling to breathe and displaying symptoms such as foaming at the mouth and vomiting and fainting, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

A hospital in the town where doctors were treating victims of the attack was also bombarded, an AFP correspondent said.

France called earlier Tuesday for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council over the attack.

United Nations Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura also called for the perpetrators to be held accountable for the “horrific” attack.

De Mistura urged “clear identification of responsibilities and accountability.”

Speaking on the eve of a conference on Syria’s future, he said “every time we have a moment in which the international community is capable of being together — 70 countries tomorrow — there is someone, somehow, that tries to undermine that feeling of hope by producing a feeling of horror and outrage.”

But, he added, “we are not going to give up.”

The UN’s Commission of Inquiry for Syria said that it had begun investigating the incident.

“Reports suggesting that this was a chemical weapons attack are extremely concerning. The commission is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding this attack including the alleged use of chemical weapons,” said a statement from the UN experts who are probing potential war crimes committed during Syria’s civil war.

The condemnations followed those of others in the international community.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a phone call that the chemical weapons attack was “inhuman” and could endanger peace talks based in the Kazakh capital.

“President Erdogan said that this kind of inhuman attack was unacceptable and warned it risked wasting all the efforts within the framework of the Astana process” to bring peace to Syria, presidential sources said.

The sources did not indicate who was to blame for the attack, describing it as a “chemical weapons attack directed at civilians.”

Syrian mourners pray next to bodies lying in the back of a pick up truck outside a makeshift morgue following reported air strikes by government forces in the rebel-held town of Douma, on the eastern outskirts of Damascus, on April 3, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Abd Doumany)

Syrian mourners pray next to bodies lying in the back of a pick up truck outside a makeshift morgue following reported air strikes by government forces in the rebel-held town of Douma, on the eastern outskirts of Damascus, on April 3, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Abd Doumany)

Turkey has been a major foe of the Assad regime in Syria throughout the Syrian civil war, repeatedly accusing Damascus of war crimes. Russia has helped Assad by providing military and diplomatic support, including air strikes and ground forces.

But in the last months Ankara has deepened ties with Assad’s ally Russia, co-brokering a ceasefire that until now had drastically reduced the levels of violence.

Russia’s military said its planes did not carry out any strikes near Khan Sheikhun.

“Planes of the Russian air force have not carried out any strikes near Khan Sheikhun of Idlib province,” said a statement by the Russian defense ministry.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault described the attack as “monstrous” and added: “I have called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.”

Ayrault said “chemical weapons” had been used in the attack and that it was “more proof of the savagery that the Syrian people have been subjected to for so many years.”

UK’s Labour suspends Livingstone for year over Hitler-Zionism comments

LONDON — The UK Labour Party on Tuesday suspended former London mayor and senior party official Ken Livingstone for one year for comments about Hitler supporting Zionism that a disciplinary committee found “grossly detrimental” to the party.

Jewish groups, who had been calling for Livingston to be expelled, called the move “deeply disappointing” and said it would erode the fractured trust between the party and its Jewish members.

“Given that Ken Livingstone has been found guilty, we are deeply disappointed at the decision not to expel him from the Labour Party. A temporary suspension is no more than a slap on the wrist,” the Jewish Leadership Council said in a statement.

“Livingstone’s antagonistic attitude towards the Jewish community has been longstanding and has had a huge impact on Jewish people,” the group said. “This decision makes us question if the Labour Party wanted to repair its historic and long-standing relationship with the Jewish community.”

Those sentiments were echoed by the Board of Deputies of British Jews. “Relations between the Labour Party and the Jewish community have reached a new all-time low,” said President Jonathan Arkush.

The Labour Party panel that decided Livingstone’s fate technically leveled him with a two-year suspension, one year of which has already been served, according to the Guardian.

He was charged with “engaging in conduct that in the opinion of the National Executive Committee was prejudicial and/or grossly detrimental to the Labour Party.”

A year ago, as the Labour Party was grappling with a series of gaffes deemed anti-Zionist and even anti-Semitic, veteran leftist Livingstone, a member of Labour’s National Executive, claimed that Adolf Hitler was initially a supporter of Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews.”

Livingstone also charged that for decades in the UK there had been a “well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticizes Israel policy as anti-Semitic.”

London's mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone during a visit to Hamley's toy shop. (photo credit: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Ken Livingstone (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Last week, he caused fresh uproar by claiming that German Zionists received assistance from the SS and were close collaborators of the Nazi regime.

Livingstone’s case was heard by three members of an 11-member Constitutional Committee. Two lawyers, one retained by him and one by the Labour Party, cross-examined him and a number of witnesses: Jeremy Newmark, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, the only Jewish affiliate to the Labour Party, and five members of the activist group Jews for Justice for the Palestinians (JfJfP), described by Livingstone as “leading Jewish members of the Labour Party.”

This was slammed by the mainstream Jewish community who have said that JfJfP is not representative of Anglo-Jewry. However, lawyer Michael Mansfield, representing Livingstone, tried to persuade the panel that the views of “Livingstone’s Jews”, who included a 93-year-old Berlin-born Holocaust survivor, Walter Wolfgang, were as equally representative of Jewish feelings as those of the Board of Deputies or the Jewish Labour Movement.

Livingstone, who had expected to be expelled from the party and had planned to fight expulsion through a judicial review, seemed pleased with the verdict, calling it “pretty fair,” the Guardian newspaper reported.

“Have I said anything that wasn’t true? All the Jewish activists who spoke on my behalf yesterday, all actually confirmed what I said was true.”

Jeremy Newmark, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement (YouTube screenshot)

Jeremy Newmark, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement (YouTube screenshot)

While the suspension is seen as a blow to the man who been a member of Labour for half a century, the Jewish Labour Movement reacted to the verdict with dismay, saying it was “a betrayal of our Party’s values,” and allowed for “a revolving door for repeat offenders.”

“It simply can’t be acceptable that there can be some kind of revolving door policy, that you can revise the history of the Holocaust, duck out of the party for a year — and then come back,” said Newmark, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement. He described the suspension as “a betrayal of our party’s values” and called on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to make a hard and fast ruling of “zero tolerance” on anti-Semitism.

Paul Charney, chairman of Britain’s Zionist Federation, said: “The fact that Ken Livingstone remains a suspended member of the Labour Party and was not expelled at today’s hearing serves only to drive a larger and more robust wedge between our Jewish community and the Labour Party. The comments made by Mr Livingstone regarding Hitler and Zionism bear no resemblance to the truth and are a disgrace to the values he and his party apparently hold.”

Added Charney, “Where Labour had an opportunity to make clear that antisemitic slurs made by Livingstone have no place within our society, they instead showed that when it comes to Jews, liberal standards are readily set aside.”

UK withholding diplomatic visa from incoming Palestinian envoy — Abbas

Britain has so far refused to grant a diplomatic visa to the newly appointed Palestinian Authority representative to the United Kingdom, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday.

In an interview with the Pan-Arab daily al-Quds al-Arabi, Abbas admitted the UK had thus far held off on granting Maen Areikat, the former Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) representative in Washington, the same status as his predecessor in London Manuel Hassassian, in what appears to be a sign of ambivalence over Areikat’s diplomatic status.

“We asked the British government to treat the new envoy as it had treated the previous ambassador. It should not change its treatment as that would mean bad will and misconduct from Britain, and we will have a position and reaction to that,” Abbas said, after being asked if it was true that Areikat had not been given the sought-after documentation.

When asked if he knew the British were attempting to reduce the diplomatic standing of the PA’s envoy to London, Abbas responded: “The British are trying to scale back and are trying to put restrictions and obstacles. But we told them that we want to be treated like before, to deal with the new ambassador just like the former ambassador.”

Former head of the Palestinian delegation to Washington, Maen Areikat. (screen capture: YouTube/CNN)

The Palestinian office in London was upgraded into a diplomatic mission in 2011.

“The consultations are not over yet. I do not think it is a big problem,” Abbas added.

However, when asked if the PA would act in kind against Britain, Abbas responded: “All possible options will be open to us.”

Abbas did not explain why the British were withholding a diplomatic visa for Areikat.

The British consulate in Jerusalem did not respond to an inquiry on the matter.

The diplomatic dust-up comes as Palestinians have threatened legal action against the British government if it does not retract its intention to celebrate the centennial of the Balfour Declaration.

The Balfour Declaration, a document signed on November 2, 1917, by foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour, announced his government’s intention to facilitate “a national home for the Jewish people” in the Land of Israel.

Abbas said during the interview with Al Quds al Arabi that the PA was continuing with its plans to sue over the declaration.

Palestinian officials have long branded the Balfour Declaration a “crime,” and last July officials in Ramallah announced plans to sue the British government over the document, viewed in Israel as an important step toward the country’s creation.

Lord Arthur Balfour and the Balfour Declaration (Wikimedia commons)

Abbas has spoken out against the centennial celebration of the document at nearly all of his recent major international speeches, including most recently at the Arab Summit in Jordan last Wednesday.

He has also called on the UK to apologize for the declaration and do so by recognizing the state of Palestine.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with his British counterpart, Theresa May, in London on Monday, February 6, 2017 (Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during an official visit to the UK in February that an invitation he received from British Prime Minister Theresa May to attend November’s centenary celebrations of the Balfour Declaration in London “speaks volumes” about Jerusalem’s relationship with Downing Street.

“While the Palestinians want to sue Britain for the Balfour Declaration, the British prime minister is inviting the Israeli prime minister to an event to mark the 100th anniversary of the declaration. That speaks volumes,” Netanyahu said.

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