Israel/Palestine,  UK Politics

A nasty piece of work

Guest post by Hadar Sela

Harry’s Place readers need no introduction to MEMO; the organisation’s activities have been the subject of many a post from its Director’s signing of the Istanbul Declaration and leading of the MCB boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day to its promotion of Raed Salah and collaboration with Amnesty International UK.

The latest screed from MEMO’s Press Officer Dr. Hanan Chehata will therefore probably come as no surprise either, despite its outlandish claims of ‘ethnic cleansing by four wheel drive’.

[T]here is some sort of sick trend spreading throughout the settler colonies whereby it has become fashionable or somehow commendable to target and run over Palestinian civilians. The reality is worse than simply suggesting that settlers do not value Palestinian lives, that goes without saying or the settlers would not be volunteering to be a part of the Israeli occupation machinery in the first place, but it seems to be more ominous than that. It seems that some Israeli citizens are actively taking it upon themselves to enact the Israeli government’s policy of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people by taking part in a concerted campaign to wipe them out themselves, picking them off one at a time. [emphasis added]

The sort of mentality one needs to have in order to become a settler is a clear lack of human empathy, a sense of moral superiority over all others; a willingness to steal the home and property of another family and to show, not only no remorse, but palpable arrogant glee over your ill-gotten acquisition. And now, it seems, the most recent trait you acquire as a settler is an uncanny ability to knock down Palestinians who are on their way to school or work – presumably accumulating points and kudos among other settlers as you do it.

Like anywhere else in the world, Israel has its fair share of road accidents, but to interpret that unexceptional fact as a deliberate attempt to ‘wipe out’ the Palestinians as part of an official policy of ethnic cleansing requires seriously malicious intent, fueled by unsubstantiated reports from such dubious sources as Sameh Habeeb’s Palestine Telegraph. Interestingly, the picture used to illustrate Chehata’s article is of a well-known 2010 incident in Shiloach/Silwan – later shown to be a photo-op set-up gone wrong.

Obviously blessed with a very fertile imagination, employee of Hamas- and Hizbollah-supporting MEMO and former ‘Viva Palestina’ convoy participant Chehata does, however, seem to lack a sense of irony as she states that:

If this racist phenomenon was to happen in any other part of the world, especially in an area with such heightened racial tensions as the OPTs, whereby one group of people were seen to be actively targeting another by virtue of their race or religion, there would be an international outcry.

Naturally, Chehata’s narrative does not include incidents such as this, this or this.

There is, of course, every reason to denounce Chehata’s demonization of an entire group of people based purely upon a figment of her imagination mixed with obviously deeply held racist stereotypes and some dodgy political views, but there is also reason to do more.

Some weeks ago John Mann MP wrote an excellent post on these pages concerning the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism in which he stated that the group’s work had:

… secured a culture in Parliament whereby intra-party conversations were had and action taken in the event that an MP stepped out of line.

Unfortunately, two of MEMO’s ‘honorary advisors’ sit in the House of Lords – Lord Nazir Ahmed and Baroness Jenny Tonge. They, as representatives of Britain’s highest institution, must surely be held to account for their involvement with an organization which knowingly fosters racial hatred and demonization based on fictions of its employees’ imagination.

MEMO does not promote measured discussion or criticism of Israeli policies; it engages in defamation, demonization and witch-hunting. The fact that it (and too many similar organisations) is graced by the patronage and support of a number of British lawmakers is not lost upon those of us observing the United Kingdom from afar.

In a speech in part aimed at drumming up business (including lucrative foreign students) for the UK economy, Middle East Minister Alistair Burt last week attempted to persuade students at Bar Ilan University that “negative reports about the UK’s attitude towards Israel” are unjust, claiming that such impressions are based on the actions of “a small, marginal and yes very noisy group”.

The sad reality of members of the House of Lords (hardly what one would describe as a ‘marginal group’) being involved with terrorist and racial-hatred promoting organisations such as MEMO, the PSC and the ECESG indicates that Burt is at best in denial regarding the extent of the cult-like hostility towards Israel even under his own nose. His sweeping under the carpet of such a serious issue does nothing to advance his country’s image as a place to study, visit or do business.