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Saturday, 3 December 2016

New Statesman Feels the Heat as Hundreds Protest The Censorship of Palestinian Article - Zionist UK Media Watch Denies Its Role

New Statesman Editor Jason Cowley Personally Rings Up Long Time Subscriber to Find Out Why He Cancelled 
Editor Simon Cowley - feeling the heat
The New Statesman Editorial Collective is feeling the heat over their decision to comply with the demands of UK Media Watch to remove an article.

I received this message today from a long-time subscriber.

----- Forwarded Message -----

Sent: Thursday, 1 December 2016, 20:17
Subject: Re: Sign the Petition to Boycott the New Statesman

For what it's worth, I cancelled my decade long subscription to New Statesman today, and to my great surprise promptly received a phone call from editor Jason Cowley.

First up he proffered an alternative explanation to the censorship story, claiming that the article in question had been a paid commercial piece inconsistent with the eligibility criteria. He denied all knowledge of outside intervention and insisted that PSC were acting in bad faith.

But more interestingly from my point of view, I had the opportunity to air long felt grievances about NS positioning on the Israel-Palestine issue more generally.

He didn't attempt directly to contradict my assertion that the magazine is liberal Zionist in its editorial and selection of content. He merely stated support for "the Jewish State" and a two state solution.

He did seem to take on my gravely articulated suggestion that Israel is becoming ever more extreme in its behaviour and that sooner or later, a publication that defines itself by left progressive values may have to reassess its position. I was surprised by his, almost humble, acknowledgment of this, but I'm sure this conciliatory stance is primarily a damage limitation exercise. Who knows how many other long term subscribers like me are pulling the plug!
Keeping quiet - Clinton supporter Laurie 'ex-red' Penney
It is clear that the campaign against the New Statesman's censorship is having an effect if the editor rings up someone who has cancelled their subscription.  I have also heard from other sources that there are ructions within the editorial board of the New Statesman as a result of what has happened. In particular some of its more left-wing contributors (no not Owen Jones!) are also unhappy about the heavy handed censorship of Cowley and Helen Lewis.

The attempt to suggest that the article was an 'advertorial' is merely smoke and mirrors.  The article that was pulled clearly said 'Presented by Palestine Solidarity Campaign' - there was a partnership between PSC and the New Statesman.  The nature of that partnership is irrelevant.  This was an article by Salah Ajarma, a well known Palestinian activist and founder of the Lajee Cultural Centre in Aida refugee camp outside Bethlehem. 

The fact is that an article by a peace activist living under a 50 year old military occupation by the world's fourth major military power was pulled at the behest of an organisation which is a propaganda and lobby organisation acting on behalf of the same military power.  Imagine in the days of South African Apartheid, an article by an anti-Apartheid activist being pulled at the instigation of John Carlisle MP, a well known Tory MP who supported the South African state or an article on Chile by an opponent of the Pinochet regime being pulled at the behest of the military regime there.

What happened is a disgrace.  Israel operates two legal systems on the West Bank.  One, a military regime and military law for the Palestinians and another is the civil Israeli legal system for Jewish settlers.  In military courts there is a 99.7% conviction rate.  Palestinians have no right to a lawyer, cannot see a lawyer for weeks on end, are subject to torture as a matter of course and are convicted in a language that they don't even understand.  This is the system that the New Statesman, in bowing to the demands of an quasi-Israeli government organisation has upheld.

The strangulation of Bethlehem, the birthplace of the Christian religion, by Israel and its Apartheid Wall, an ugly structure over twice as high as the Berlin Wall, is a matter of fact.  The commercial life of Bethlehem is slowly being squeezed out of it by Israel's occupation.  In its place we see settlements like Gilo, which UK Media describes as a 'neighbourhood of southern Jerusalem.'  The New Statesman took silenced the voice of the oppressed living in a refugee camp created by Israel's ethnic cleansing, at the behest of an Israeli funded McCarthyist organisation.  Next time the New Statesman and its writers discusses identity politics and cultural racism it can reflect on its own practices.  Or maybe not.

The article that was pulled at the behest of Israeli funded McCarthyist organisation UK Media Watch
UK Media Watch used to be called CIF Watch after the Guardian's Comment is Free.  UKMW boasts about the fact that it helped neutralise CIF's original balanced coverage of Palestine ['Indeed, our transition to UKMW was prompted by the general consensus that, partly due to our efforts, the Guardian’s malign obsession with Israel had somewhat abated, and their legitimization of antisemitic tropes (above and below the line) had at least diminished].  UKMW is now trying to repeat the same trick with other media outlets and it is clear that it has gained a scalp with the pusillanimous Jason Cowley and Helen Lewis of the New Statesman.

In its first tweet UKMW address Deputy Editor Helen Lewis thus:

Lewis jumped as UKMW barked.  In its next tweek UKMW boasted that 'Following a @UKMediaWatch post & @CAMERAorg campaign, @NewStatesman removed an article published in collaboration w/ anti-Israel group PSC!'

CAMERA is a US based McCarthyite organisation, one of a stable of organisations whose sole purpose is to close down Palestinian voices.   That the New Statesman jumped to the UKMW/Camera bark is in itself a betrayal of the values it purports to espouse.

First they boast of their success at another media scalp with REMOVED across the erased article
However, following the campaign of this Blog, PSC and Electronic Intifada, UKMW began to deny its role.  When you stand up to these organisations they back off.  Unfortunately magazines like the NS lack the requisite backbone to stand up for free speech, which is why it takes blogs like t his one to do so on their behalf.  Now the story is that apparently the decision of the New Statesman to censor  Salah Ajarma's article had nothing to do with their campaign or lobby - it was coincidental!  Such are the lies of the Zionist lobby.

Now UKMW pretends that it didn't LOBBY the NS.  It took its own decision without any pressure at all!

We should not however let up because the NS occupies a pivotal position in the Labour Party and Trade Union spectrum. It not only has writers like Laura Penny and Owen Jones who purport to be on the Left but it is very much part of Labour's Fabian tradition (don't forget Tony Benn was also a Fabian). For it to actually pull an article which it has already put up, at the behest of a settler colonial regime and its propaganda outlets is a first.

Over 400 people have signed the petition so far but we need at least a thousand if not more. If you haven't signed please do so now.

Also please share it on FB, Twitter etc.  What we are defending is the right to speak out on Palestine, a right which is under attack, not only by UK Media Watch, CAMERA and other Zionist lobby groups like Conservative/Labour Friends of Israel and people like Eric Pickles/Tom Watson MP, but by the cowardly behaviour of so-called friends of the free press like the New Statesman.

We not only expect this article to be reinstated but for the New Statesman to print an apology.  The best form of apology would be for Cowley and Lewis to depart.

Tony Greenstein


If you want to write to the editor and assistants at the NS then their email addresses are:

Jason Cowley
Deputy Editor
Helen Lewis
Features editor
Xan Rice
Political Editor
George Eaton
Culture Editor
Tom Gatti
Arts Editor
Kate Mossman
Assistant Editor
Michael Prodger
Assistant Editor
Caroline Crampton
Creative Editor
Gerry Brakus
Editorial Assistant
India Bourke
Chief Sub-Editor
Nana Yaa Mensah
Thomas Calvocoressi
Yo Zushi
Dan Murrell
Digital Editor
Serena Kutchinsky
Deputy Web Editor
Anoosh Chakelian
Special Correspondent
Stephen Bush
Staggers Editor
Julia Rampen
Online Writer (pop culture)
Anna Leszkiewicz
Online Writer (tech and digital culture)
Amelia Tait

Jonn Elledge

If Jews in Britain were treated as Israeli Palestinians then they could cry 'anti-Semitism'

It's Fun Being an Arab in Israel

There are very few good columnists on Israeli newspapers, i.e. one’s who are not racists and who empathise with Israel’s Palestinian population.  Ha’aretz, Israel’s sole liberal daily has two such journalists – Gideon Levy and Amira Hass.
Israeli Palestinians can still vote for their representatives in Israel (though nearly 50% of Israeli Jews want to strip them of this right) but once elected they are physically attacked by other members, treated with disdain, suspended from speaking and violently removed from the rostrum
Read this excellent article which gives you an insight into how Israel’s Arab population might feel as a population which is treated like unwanted guests in the Jewish state.  85% of Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in 1948, the remaining 50,000 or so were put under military rule until 1966, by the Israeli Labour Party government. 

Israel’s Arab population has always been seen as a potential fifth column, traitors within.  In 1956 nearly 50 villagers in Kfar Kassem, a village in The Triangle in the Galilee, returning from work in the fields, were mowed down by the military.  A curfew had been imposed and they were unwittingly breaking it.  No Israeli soldier ever saw the inside of a gaol.  That is how it has always been.  Killing an Arab is no big deal.  
This is how Israeli hasbarah (propaganda) would like you to see it - Arabs exercising their democratic rights
Today the Israeli of the year for Israel Hayom, the largest circulation paper in Israel is Elor Azaria, a soldier who deliberately shot in the head a Palestinian in Hebron, while he was lying on the ground gravely injured.  It is standard practice in the Israeli army to 'check the kill' as it is called, to ensure that those wounded don't survive.  Unfortunately what happened was caught on camera by a Palestinian.  The army was forced to put him on trial but the charge was soon reduced to manslaughter and the murderer, an out and out Kach racist, is now a hero.  This is Israel 2016.

Tony Greenstein  
Jamal Zahalka - leader of the 3 strong Balad nationalist party in the Knesset - all of whose members have been suspended at least once in this parliamentary session

Arabs in Israel demonstrate amazing restraint and loyalty, but are the victims of appalling treatment by the state and other Israelis. One day, this is all going to explode.

Gideon Levy Nov 27, 2016 1:35 AM

It’s fun being an Arab in Israel. If you’re a pharmacist at a high-street drugstore, you can wake up to discover that you’re a potential arsonist. A nursery-school teacher in Shfaram gets up and finds she’s a member of the Islamic State group. Every construction worker from Taibeh is part of a fifth column, and every nurse at the Hadassah hospitals in Jerusalem is a demographic threat. That hummus vendor may just be a hummus vendor, but he could be spreading poison, too; that dishwasher could come out of the kitchen with a knife. And you can’t even count on an Arab doctor, which is reason enough to ask for a Jewish one.
An Arab teenager being arrested in the north of Israel
Whether they’re an educator, insurance broker, banker or technician, every Arab citizen on the street is considered an object of suspicion. Better that they not speak their language – and anyway, the day is fast approaching when it will be made illegal to speak it in public. It unnerves the Jews and scares them. Some are even disgusted by it. And then there’s that proposed bill to silence the Muslim call to prayer from mosque loudspeakers.

It’s fun being an Arab in Israel, a state the Arab citizens are a lot more loyal to than it is to them. Your country is abusing members of your people. It’s fun to be an Arab in Israel, because you can’t even define your identity as you would wish. You’re an “Israeli Arab,” and there’s no argument about it. Palestinian? That’s only if you live in the occupied territories. Even if he’s your first cousin, he’s not the same.
Umm el-Fahm in the Triangle - in any peace settlement the Israelis propose to transfer this city into any proposed bantustan 
You can and must be an American Jew and work on Israel’s behalf. But you are not allowed to be an Israeli Arab and work on behalf of the Palestinians. You’re not a member of the same people. Just dare to think otherwise.

Also, you are not allowed to remember what you’re not allowed to remember: the past. Israeli Independence Day is a national holiday! Anyone who wants to observe the Nakba (or “catastrophe,” the Palestinian term for the establishment of Israel), should go to Gaza – or to jail. Anyway, if you don’t like it here, you can always move to Gaza. And just look what’s happening in Syria.

It’s fun being an Arab in Israel. Try flying on an Israeli airline – Arkia or El Al – and you’ll understand why. Try that encounter with the security guard who’s checking your accent at the entrance to Ben-Gurion airport. “Profiling,” as it’s called in security parlance. Try renting an apartment in Safed, or even Ramat Aviv. Try finding work. Send your résumé and wait for an answer.

It’s fun being an Arab in Israel. You can see other Arabs on television – after every domestic “honor killing,” but only then. No television repairman will come to your house, because “it’s dangerous.” And the television ratings bureau won’t include your viewing habits, because it focuses only on “Jewish households.”

It’s fun being an Arab in Israel and hearing about the demographic danger presented by the Arab womb. There’s a danger that the Galilee “could be lost,” and we need to “Judaize” the Negev before it’s too late. That’s totally acceptable talk in Israel. Europe has a problem with foreigners, and so do we: the Arabs are our foreigners. People from Burma who are descendants of the Tribe of Benjamin get automatic citizenship. But your brothers, natives of the country who were expelled or fled in 1948, can’t even come for a visit.

It’s fun being an Arab in Israel because you’ll be able to see how your representatives in the Knesset are humiliated and excluded.

It’s fun being an Arab in Israel, because no Jew could imagine what you experience on a daily basis. Masses of people for whom leaving their ghetto means constant humiliation and suspicion, moments of hostility and insults both big and small. Think about the experience of a young Arab woman leaving Jaffa with her head covered, or that young Arab man going to the movies.

With the growing incitement by the prime minister and his cabinet colleagues, every Arab is now considered a potential terrorist, arsonist, murderer or rapist – unless proven otherwise. They are also voting in their droves.

And after the current wave of fires, their situation has gotten even worse: after all, they’ve already caught one Arab with toilet paper in his pocket. Rabin assassin Yigal Amir might not represent every Yemenite Jew, but every Israeli Arab going to fight in Syria represents all Arabs. This segment of the population, which demonstrates amazing restraint and loyalty and a desire to integrate, is absorbing blow after blow. This is all going to explode some day.

On Friday in Haifa’s Romema neighborhood, where a large number of homes sustained fire damage, the predominantly Arab sanitation collectors were collecting the trash. I tried to imagine what was going through their minds.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

New Statesman Bows to Zionist Censorship as they Delete Article on Israel’s Occupation

If the New Statesman boycotts the Palestinians we should boycott the New Statesman

Salah Ajarma on conditions under occupation

Salah Ajarma on the Right of Return

Founded in 1913, the New Statesman has long been identified with the Fabian Right of the Labour Party.  In the 1930’s under the influence of the Webbs, it became an uncritical supporter of Stalinist Russia, which it saw as socialist.  Censorship and the New Statesman have long gone together.   Wikipedia describes how, in 1938 under its longest serving editor, Kingsley Martin, it refused to publish George Orwell's dispatches from Barcelona during the Spanish civil war because they criticised the communists for suppressing the anarchists and the left-wing Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM).  These later became famous in Orwell’s book Homage to Catalonia.
'It is an unfortunate fact,' Martin wrote to Orwell, 'that any hostile criticism of the present Russian regime is liable to be taken as propaganda against socialism'.  Martin also refused to allow any of the magazine's writers to review Leon Trotsky's anti-Stalinist book The Revolution Betrayed.
The view from Aida refugee camp, the Apartheid Wall separates it from Gilo settlement on the hill above

Israeli forces raid Aida refugee camp Sep. 9. (Photos: Muhammad al-Azzeh)
Despite this record the New Statesman, with the endearing modesty for which it is famous, proclaims that it is ‘celebrated for its progressive politics, scepticism, free thinking and the intelligence, range and quality of its writing.’

Unfortunately its progressive politics, free thinking and humbug have not prevented it from taking down from its web site a moving account of life in Aida refugee camp, which is just outside Bethlehem.  Aida is surrounded by Israel’s Apartheid Wall, which has resulted in the confiscation of  much of its best land.  The Wall is a hideous and ugly structure that is taller than the Berlin Wall which the New Statesman regularly assailed.

The New Statesman was the traditional voice of the ‘enlightened’ wing of British imperialism and it is no accident that Sydney Webb, one of its founders, later became Colonial Secretary as Lord Passfield in the 1929-31 Ramsey MacDonald government.  Whereas the Tories were open about the British Empire being the basis of British power in the world, Labour’s imperialists spoke the language of trusteeship, bringing civilisation to the backwards people, holding the land in trust for them.  Unlike the Labour Left, the New Statesman steered clear of any whiff of anti-colonialism.
A child is arrested and detained by Israeli occupation forces in Aida camp
It is, therefore, unsurprising that the New Statesman was for most of its history the strongest supporter of the Israeli state.  Israel could do no wrong under a succession of fiercely pro-Zionist editors.  Only in 1982 under Bruce Page and his successor, in the wake of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, did the New Statesman wake up to the existence of the Palestinians and the transformation of Israel from an oasis of socialism in the Middle East to a war-mongering and expansionist state that was the close ally of US imperialism.
The article the New Statesman editors removed was by Salah Ajarma, a well known Palestinian activist and founder of the Lajee Cultural Centre.   The article is a factual account of conditions in the refugee camp and the difficulty Palestinian youth face growing up in such an environment.  Of course it is understandable that the Zionist lobby would take exception to such an article since they deny that there is any occupation.  Although I haven’t read the Zionist objections to the article, I suspect it revolves around ‘anti-Semitism’ which these days is another name for the truth.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the Lajee Center inaugurated the first ever child-friendly spaces – a football pitch and a playground – in Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. Photo: UNRWA/Alaa Ghosheh
As I wrote in an earlier post, The New Statesman & the Perpetuation of the Myth of Labour ‘anti-Semitism’ Carrying on a tradition – The New Statesman, Zionism and Imperialism the New Statesman has given full support to the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign in the Labour Party.   
According to Zionist mythology, Israel is merely reclaiming the lands it lost 2,000 years ago from the indigenous population!  The Palestinians, like all native peoples, are invisible except when they engage in resistance, which the Zionists term ‘terrorism’.  The traditional Zionist attitude was summed up in the slogan ‘A Land Without a People for a People Without a Land.’
As the Palestine Solidarity Campaign statement below states, having commissioned and put Salah Ajarma’s article up on its web site, as part of a partnership agreement between the New Statesman and PSC, the NS then took the article down again after objections by two Zionist blogs.  What is particularly damning is that instead of explaining their reasons, the New Statesman has refused to even communicate with PSC or Salah.
Aida refugee camp with the Wall ahead
The behaviour of the New Statesman is not an isolated example of political cowardice and concessions to Zionist settler colonialism.  In recent years the Guardian has undergone exactly the same metamorphosis such that it has been the leading campaigner in support of the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign.  The liberal left is reverting to type as the Western ruling classes firm up their support for Israel.  The election of Donald Trump has been greeted with utter delight by Israel’s far-Right.  See for example Israeli Right hails Trump: 'The era of a Palestinian state is over' .
Our response to the New Statesman should be unequivocal.  We should support a boycott of this miserable paper that claims the affections of the Left.

Statement from Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Dear friend,

Palestinian voices are being censored and silenced. We cannot let this happen.
Earlier this month PSC commissioned an article from Salah Ajarma, the co-founder and Director of the Lajee Cultural Centre in Aida Refugee camp. The New Statesman published the piece as part of a two year partnership between the PSC and the New Statesman. Two pro-Israel blogs attacked the New Statesman for publishing the piece, shortly afterwards, the New Statesman deleted it without speaking to Salah or to PSC. They have since refused to offer any explanation or justification for the removal of the article.

This is a disgraceful attack on freedom of expression, a clear case of censorship, and a deliberate attempt to silence Palestinian voices. By doing this, the New Statesman have politically censored a human rights campaigner, who is living under very harsh conditions of military occupation in a refugee camp. We cannot stand by and let this happen. We cannot be silenced.

The red sloping roofs and lack of black water tanks identify the hilltop town as an Israeli settlement. It overlooks the Aida Refugee Camp, separated from it by the Wall.
It would appear the New Statesman have caved into political pressure to remove the article, and do not believe they owe Salah or PSC the courtesy even of a conversation: the editorial team won’t even take our phone calls. In an email to the PSC, the New Statesman stated that the article had been removed as a result of ‘reader complaints’, refusing any further elaboration and any editorial contact.

Salah's article describes the experiences of young Palestinian refugees in Aida camp and talks about how settlements impact his life and the lives of people in his community. New Statesman editors approved and published the article.

The New Statesman's actions are political censorship of a Palestinian human rights campaigner. We cannot stand by and let this happen.

This action does not align with the stated goals of the New Statesman to “hold our leaders to account and tell the stories that the world needs to hear”.
What is happening in Palestine is a story that the world needs to hear, and the account of a Palestinian should not be censored. The lack of explanation and refusal to speak to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign or Salah goes against all good journalistic standards and common courtesy
A giant key (said to be the world's largest) sits atop the entrance to the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, reminding residents to insist on their "right of return."

We did not want to make this public, we attempted to resolve the problem directly with the New Statesman, giving them the benefit of the doubt and attempting to speak to editors countless times.

However, we have now been told that the editors will not speak to us and that the decision to remove the article would not be explained or reversed.

We have a duty to stand up for justice, honesty, and integrity and so we must raise our voices about this.

Please join us to demand that the New Statesman
  • Republish the article
  • Offer an apology to Salah Ajarma for removing it without good cuase
  • Make a clear public statement as to your commitment to upholding the principle of freedom of expression
Please write to the editors of the New Statesman now – and show them that we will not be silenced and will not allow Palestinians to be censored.

In solidarity,
The team at PSC
Below is the article that the New Statesman has censored
The Frontline of Israel’s Settlement Regime by Salah Ajarma
Posted on November 18, 2016
Lajee Cultural Centre
By Salah Ajarma, the cofounder and director of Lajee Cultural Centre in Aida Refugee camp.

Aida refugee camp, in which I live and work, is on the edge of the famous town of Bethlehem. Our families established the camp in 1950 after being forcibly expelled from their homes by Zionist militias in 1948. Palestinians from our camp originate from villages in the Jerusalem and Hebron districts, just a few miles down the road. Those born since, still live in the refugee camp, and continue to struggle for the right to return to our homes.
In April 2000, me and a number of friends established the Lajee Centre, a community-based cultural centre for young refugees living in the camp. Through it we have sought to provide opportunities for the cultural, educational and social development of our young people, despite the violent military occupation under which we live. As an occupied refugee people, we are aware of the duty to educate our youth about their history and their rights. Only in this way will our struggle for freedom be carried to the next generation.

In 2002, Israel’s government began the construction of its illegal wall.[1] Its consequences are now perhaps well known – land confiscation, ghettoization, and an accelerated ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. In Aida the wall has been particularly obtrusive with its towering concrete blocks built directly opposite the Centre. The young people I work with have only ever known a life surrounded by this wall and under the constant surveillance of its ominous watchtowers. Before its construction, families and children would spend time in nature, in the olive groves that neighboured the camp. As one of the few green spaces available to us, I would often go there for picnics with my family when the weather was warm. This has now been shut off from us, creating a menacing, stifling atmosphere that we cannot escape. On the hill opposite, Israel’s illegal settlement of Gilo continues expanding onto land confiscated by the wall.

In October 2015, Aida Camp buried one of its sons, Abd al-Rahman Ubeidallah, who was shot in the chest by an Israeli sniper. He was 13 years old and killed on his way home from school. His peers, almost without exception, have all been arrested, beaten or fired upon. The head of Lajee’s film unit, Mohammad, was shot in the eye with a rubber-coated steel bullet whilst filming Israeli violations in the camp in 2013. We are routinely broken into by Israeli soldiers and border police who invade the camp, firing teargas indiscriminately and threatening our families over loudspeakers.
Mural in Aida depicting the Palestinian villages and towns from which the camp's residents were forcibly displaced after the Nakba in 1948
These intolerable conditions are particularly difficult for our young people who, in the midst of such cruelty, maintain an extraordinary optimism. It is difficult to understand how children raised in such an awful situation can remain so full of gentleness and hope. Lajee is always alive with laughter, dancing and singing and our youth have transformed this dreadful situation into a boundless love for our people and an insistent demand for freedom. Their resilience never ceases to inspire me, and it is for their future, and the future of my two young daughters, that I continue my work. These young people deserve to live with dignity and peace.

Our work in Lajee has found support from around the world. From the UK there has been a steady stream of delegations – teachers, trade unionists, students, doctors, politicians and academics – who have visited our Centre. Early this year I came to the UK with our dabke troupe, performing traditional Palestinian dance to packed out venues up and down the country. When Celtic supporters raised funds for Palestine in anticipation of a UEFA fine, it was to our football club that they donated over £79,000. Our experience of the generosity of the British people has left us in little doubt as to their values and their willingness to stand in solidarity with our just case.

The same cannot be said of the UK Government. As Palestinians, we know all too well the dishonourable history of Britain in our region, a legacy that has yet to be resolved. The UK Government, like many others, continues to support the discredited ‘peace process’ whilst taking very little meaningful action. Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of Israel’s continued construction of colonial settlements. The UK regards settlements as illegal and a barrier to peace, whilst nevertheless continuing to trade with them.[2] The contradiction between their stated aims, on the one hand, and the on-going financial relationship between UK-based companies and charities, on the other, has led to the longstanding perception amongst Palestinians that the UK Government is not serious about its desire for peace. What other explanation could there be for this inconsistency?
For us, talk of peace is contradicted by our daily experience of an oppression that receives significant material and financial support from the ‘international community’. That the collective efforts of the EU, the US and the UN have failed to even freeze the construction of settlements, never mind begin to dismantle them, feels indicative to Palestinians of the regard with which our rights are held. Settlement construction has become a touchstone issue because it reflects the reluctance of the international community to take even the most minimal action to check the relentless march of Israeli colonisation.

We need a different strategy, one in which the international community takes measures to pressure Israel into meeting its obligations under international law. Ending settlement trade is the place to start as there is already broad international agreement on their illegality. This international consensus needs to be actualised by halting the building of settlements and dismantling those already constructed. This would lay the foundation for a just peace in which the rights of the Palestinian people to national self-determination and to return to their homes can be realised.

For us in Aida, on the frontline of Israel’s settlement regime, the situation is urgent. Ending trade with settlements would deny Israel the means of maintaining their occupation and give us some relief from its immediate, choking effects. This would provide our children and us with the first glimmer of hope for a future of justice, dignity and peace.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Victory as Keith Henderson Defence Fund Reaches Its Target - Tim Roache, GMB Gen. Secretary Tried to Bankrupt Union Member

The Fight for Democracy in the GMB Union 

Experts in attacking socialists and socialism

Some 6 weeks ago I posted an appeal on this blog for people to contribute to the Defence Fund of Keith Henderson, who had been an official of the right-wing GMB union.

I am pleased to say that the costs of £12,000 have now been met and that Keith Henderson won’t be rendered homeless by Tim Roache, the unelected or barely elected General Secretary of the GMB.
Keith Henderson - Victimised GMB Member
Below is a statement by Keith Henderson on some of the corrupt practices that took place around the election of Tim Roache for General Secretary.  An election in which only 4.4% of the membership took part.  An election in which determined efforts were made to keep Keith off the ballot paper.

Over the summer I exchanged tweets with Tim Roache over the ‘ballot’ of GMB members which decided to support Owen Smith against Jeremy Corbyn.  Barely anyone in the GMB voted for Smith, most of the ballot papers never reached the members but the result that Tim Roache wanted, support for New Labour’s candidate was obtained.

Read what Keith has to say about what was tantamount to ballot rigging in the GMB’s election.

Tony Greenstein
Tim Roache - did his best to prevent a socialist opposing him in General Secretary elections
Statement By Keith Henderson 

All legal costs have now been paid in full. I would like to take this time to thank everyone who donated to the appeal fund and give special thanks to John McDonnell and the LRC for all their support over the last five years. 

Everyone who donated will be aware that in September 2013 the Watford Employment Tribunal made a Judgment that I had suffered unlawful direct discrimination by my employer, the GMB trade union, on the basis of my left wing democratic socialist beliefs. The GMB has successfully appealed against this decision, right up to the Court of Appeal, which meant I had to pay the GMB costs of £12,000.

The Court of Appeal was of the opinion that the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) Judge could make a substitute finding of fact without hearing any further evidence or referring the case back to the Watford Employment Tribunal to seek clarification on their Judgment. 

My lawyer’s still believe this is wrong and the case should be referred back to the original Employment Tribunal Panel for clarification, but, it will cost too much money to pursue the case any further so I have had to accepted this decision.

Looking on the bright side Socialism is now a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 as a result of this case. This is a permanent gain for the labour movement that has been won.

This case will go down in the history books as having made the law to show discrimination against someone on grounds of left wing socialist beliefs is a breach of the equalities legislation and is therefore unlawful, that in itself is very important.

Paragraph 62 of the EAT judgment, which still stands, states

” At paragraph 48 it concluded that I am a ‘left-wing democratic socialist’ and held the beliefs identified. Moreover it found that “there were clear outward signs of those beliefs being manifested… particularly clear from the picketing incident…” The Tribunal concluded that left-wing democratic socialism is a protected belief for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 and this conclusion is not challenged on this appeal.”

Socialism is now a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

It was outrageous that the GMB's right wing bureaucracy argued in court that there should be less protection in the law for a philosophical belief in democratic socialism as opposed to a religious belief. The GMB was arguing for less protection for socialists in the workplace. Thankfully they were unsuccessful. 

Despite this in a statement published by the GMB on 11 October 2016, the current barely elected GMB General Secretary, Tim Roache said “This is complete vindication for GMB. Mr Henderson has wasted time and money that belongs to our members by continuously pursuing a case which everyone knew had no merit. GMB will never allow anyone to drag our name through the mud, which is exactly what Mr Henderson tried – and comprehensively failed – to do."

This is a somewhat disingenuous statement from the current General secretary of the GMB to make. It was the GMB bureaucracy at each and every stage of the legal proceedings, time and time again, that spent union members money by having two barristers and two solicitors at each appeal hearing when I just had one junior barrister on a pro bono (free of charge) basis.

If it had really been the GMB's intention to avoid costs and save administrative time and tribunal time, involved in remitting the case back to the employment tribunal, as they claimed, this could have been achieved by asking the tribunal to reconsider the various matters that it relied on in respect of the appeal, (a process that used to be called a review), instead of which a disproportionate appeal was launched by the GMB effectively trying to buy themselves justice with union members money.

The GMB could have avoided paying out any money in legal costs when John McDonnell MP tried to secure a resolution to this dispute by agreement, but, Mr Roache rejected this after initially agreeing to it. Under Mr Roache's leadership of the union it was decided to spend nearly £30,000 in additional legal costs by going through with the appeal when the most they could get back from myself was £12,000.

This was not the first time that the unelected leadership of the GMB had an opportunity to settle the case. Over the course of the employment tribunal itself there were several attempts by myself, my lawyer and John McDonnell MP to broker a settlement.
Instead Sir Paul Kenny (the General Secretary at the time) refused all attempts at conciliation. Preferring instead to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of GMB members money on legal costs in an attempt to crush me.

It appears that the manifestation of my democratic socialist principles in acting on a members decision to place a picket on parliament, (on the day of action in the course of the public sector pensions dispute in 2011), had so offended the principles that drive and motivate the unelected bureaucracy of the GMB that a vendetta was launched against me.

It might have been this or the fact that my close comrades had administered a website pointing out that Sir Paul Kenny had never won a general secretary election in the GMB (losing the only one he had ever stood in back in 2003), yet he had been the general secretary for almost a decade (at the time). Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly as we were later to find out, nobody had ever secured enough nominations to get onto to the ballot paper to force Sir Paul Kenny to face another election.

Perhaps it was the fact I had co authored a draft manifesto arguing that the GMB should be democratised that had upset the unelected incumbents at national and regional level. Arguments that power finance and other resources should be devolved to a workplace and a branch level didn't play well with those whose employment depends on power, finance and resources remaining at a national and a regional level.

Perhaps it was the allegations of nepotism that upset the unelected bureaucracy of the GMB. It is a well known fact in the union that Warren Kenny, the son of Paul Kenny is now employed as the unelected London Regional Secretary.

It could have been any of these reasons or a combination of some or all of them that drove the leadership of the union to spend huge quantities of the members money on legal fees in an attempt to discredit me.

In addition it is the case that if it wasn't for the efforts of all of you comrades in coming to my assistance in helping to raise the £12,000 necessary myself and my family would have been made homeless as a result of the relentless drive with no expense spared to discredit me.

Once again many thanks to all of the comrades who helped out.

We still achieved a historical victory in making socialism a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 and that is what we should take from this legal battle. Every shop steward who is victimised in the workplace for representing their members should bear this in mind.Now moving onto the up coming appeal being heard by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) regarding the GMB General Secretary election 2015.

The GMB General Secretary election 2015 in my opinion was a bureaucratic stitch-up of monumental proportions. 

The report Electoral Reform Services on the election for the General Secretary of the GMB, issued on 
12 November 2015, declared: 

Number of voting papers despatched: 610,023, Number of voting papers returned to the scrutineer: 26,658, Turnout: 4.4%, Number of votes found to be spoiled or otherwise invalid: 170, Total number of valid votes to be counted: 26,488. Tim Roache was declared the winner with 15,034 votes (56.7%) and Paul McCarthy got 11,454 (43.3%).

Tim Roache had been elected to the highest office in the third biggest union in the country, a union that wields massive influence in the Labour party, on the votes of 2.4% of the membership. The bureaucratic centralism of the GMB leaders, and particularly under the most recent leadership of Sir Paul Kenny, had led to a mass alienation of almost the entire membership.

I attempted to stand in the election on the basis of a socialist Manifesto (already referred to), which outlines the mechanics of reintroducing democracy, accountability and devolution of power in the GMB. Having contacted my branch to ask if the members of the branch could be informed of my intention to stand and to obtain their permission to do so and the branch nomination, in the first instance, moves were made by the unelected bureaucracy of the union to prevent my candidature.

Having made repeated requests my branch secretary and branch president were finally informed that the election had been called and what the timetable was. This was three weeks into the nomination period with the regional office claiming that the official notification to the branch had been sent to the wrong address.

Never the less a branch meeting was hastily organised and members were informed that I was seeking their nomination. The secretary and president were ordered by the unelected regional secretary to withdraw the notification claiming that it was in breach of the by-laws governing the election.

This they refused to do and both were suspended and subsequently disciplined. (Barred from holding office in the union for two and three years respectively) for breaching the rules that governed the election and for failing to comply with an instruction from the unelected regional secretary.

The by-law that the secretary and the president were said to have breached was by-law 13 that said that candidates could not communicate in writing or by electronic mail to promote their candidature.

As I was not a candidate and was seeking enough nominations (you required 30 branch nominations) to become a candidate it appeared to me that there was a grotesque manipulation of the rules and guidelines going on to prevent me or any other rank and file member from seeking nominations to stand in the election.

I sought to make my case within the union structures but to no avail.

Reluctantly I was forced to go to the Certification Officer because all my avenues of appeal were exhausted within the GMB. 

Once again the unelected/ barely elected bureaucracy in the GMB used members money to hire a Queens Council (QC) to defend their case while I had to rely on a junior barrister working on a pro bono (free) basis.

The GMB had reversed it's decision to discipline the secretary and the president of my branch, clearly on the advice of their QC. They won their internal appeal within the GMB. The original defence that the GMB had put to the certification officer in response to my complaint was then altered.

We were not allowed to alter our complaint as the certification officer deemed that our barrister submitted it to late.
Given that the certification officer must have been aware that my barrister was working on a pro bono (free) basis, would have had no solicitor support, unlike the GMB's QC and would have had other paid work to attend to, to deny me the opportunity to amend my case after allowing the GMB the right to amend theirs was most unfair

Since then a discrimination expert, barrister Nick De Marco, from the Blackstone chambers has come forward and offered to represent me on a pro bono basis at the appeal against the certification officer's decision that has been lodged at the EAT.

The facts of the case are as follows.

The Certification Officer made a decision on my case in March 2016 and decided to reject my complaints. My lawyer’s believe the reasons for rejecting my complaint are inadequate and perverse. 

This is some background to the case.

1) I wished to stand for the position of General Secretary in the 2015 election. On 
6 June 2015, the GMB published a number of by-laws governing the election, one of which prohibited candidates from certain communications in relation to the election (by-law 13).

2) I believed that this by-law was unlawful in that it prohibited lay members such as himself from contacting other branches to seek nomination. I made a complaint to this effect and was assured by the GMB that the by-laws were legal. I sought nomination from my own branch (only), during which process the GMB suspended and later removed two officers of my branch for breaching by-law 13, by circulating a newsletter advertising my intention to stand. The election concluded on 
12 November 2015

3) During the election period, I believed that - and the GMB acted as though - by-law 13 applied not only to candidates but also to persons in my position i.e. potential nominees. The GMB's initial formal response to the Certification Officer reflected this. The GMB applied by letter on 
5 February 2016 to amend its case to state that by-law 13 applied to candidates only and not to me. I only learnt of this amendment on 11 February and sought at the hearing on 01/03/2016 to amend my complaint accordingly. Permission was refused.

My grounds of appeal are:

(1) Unlawful failure to exercise discretion. The Certification Officer misdirected himself in law by failing to exercise his discretion, in the interests of justice and a fair hearing, to grant permission for amendment, further or alternatively;

(2) Procedural unfairness in breach of natural justice. The same failure to grant permission to amend was in the circumstances unfair, further or alternatively;

(3) Perversity. The decision was in the circumstances one which no reasonable Certification Officer properly directing himself could have reached.

In the opinion of my lawyer these are some of the reasons below we have a chance of this appeal being successful.

1) The Certification Officer considered my actions before by-law 13 was introduced, which cannot be relevant to his or the GMB's understanding or application of it.

2) The Certification Officer determined that I made no attempt to contact other branches “regardless” of the correct interpretation of by-law 13, which contention is illogical where by-law 13 evidently and necessarily operated on the GMB's understanding and the GMB's behaviour.

3) The Certification Officer failed to engage with the effect of the removal of the branch officers on my understanding of by-law 13 as applied by the GMB; and noted but did not answer my reasonable explanation for my failure to approach other branches, i.e. that I was waiting for the outcome of an official complaint which I had made to the GMB's Central Executive Council (CEC) seeking deletion of by-law 13.

At a recent rule 3 (10) hearing before the EAT that took place on 28th October 2016, an EAT Judge ruled that my appeal did have merit and should be immediately laid down for a full appeal hearing. Therefore, we have a real chance of getting an enforcement order that GMB General Secretary election has to be rerun, this could happen as early as next year in the summer.

I believe that this is why the current general secretary, Tim Roache, the man with a two point four per cent mandate,  has continued with the slur and smear campaign initiated by his predecessor Sir Paul Kenny, the man with no mandate whatsoever. Mr Roache has issued a statement attacking me in a further attempt to try and discredit my name as he knows that I could be a challenger for his position. If the turnout and the vote matched the last election (and it is my intention if the election is rerun that is not the case), the successful candidate would only need 2.5 per cent to storm to power with an increased mandate. 

Therefore it comes as no surprise that Mr Roache is very concerned about a potential challenge to his position. 

There can be no doubt that because of this the smears and distortions will continue.