April 16, 2012

More from the Pallywood director's couch

Excellent letter from Ruth Leveson to actress Emma Thompson ...

3 April 2012
Emma Thompson
Hamilton Hodell
5th Floor 

66-68 Margaret Street
London W1W 8SR

Dear Ms Thompson

I was deeply saddened to see you as a signatory to the letter in the Guardian urging a boycott of the Habimah theatre.  Saddened because not only do I admire you as an actor and for the humanitarian work that you do but also because I would have expected someone with your intelligence not to have jumped on the trendy BDS anti-Israel bandwagon.  I have a few comments to make and I hope that you will take the time and trouble to read them and reply to me.

Firstly, you presumably have no problem with the Palestinian theatre group taking part.  This despite the fact that their president, Mahmoud Abbas,  has openly pronounced that no Jew will live in a Palestinian state.  Why do you not question this but by your silence, tacitly accept this ethnic cleansing of Jews as normal and justified?   

You support the Palestinian theatre group despite their government's penchant for glorifying suicide bombers who slay Israeli children.  You support the Palestinian theatre group despite their government's coalition with Hamas, a group that has avowed mass murder of Jews and who deliberately fire rockets into Israeli civilian areas, both of which should surely be against your humanitarian principles but for some reason are not.  Why? 
If human rights violations against Jews are unimportant to you, what about the numerous human rights violations Hamas perpetrate against their own people?

You say in your letter, 'human rights violations, illegal colonization of occupied land'.  Can we please look more closely at that statement.  Instead of trotting out this trendy phrase, please give me specific, independently corroborated (not unsubstantiated pronouncements and doctored photographs aka the famous 'Pallywood' school of film and propaganda) examples of human rights violations by Israel .  Stopping and checking people at check points is not a human rights violation unless you consider it a human rights violation to ensure that people who wish to blow up Israeli citizens are stopped from doing so.  Personally, I do not. 

The Arabs living in the West Bank have access to higher standards of health and education and are economically more prosperous than most of their counterparts in other Muslim countries. Do you know that the biggest health problem in Gaza is obesity?  In case you haven't noticed, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza so any human rights violations there (of which there are many) are down to the Hamas government not Israel

Did you know that there is a fuel crisis in Gaza because Hamas refuses to allow fuel from Israel to be imported into the territory and insists on the fuel from Egypt being imported through a particular crossing so that they can levy taxes on it?  This is how much Hamas cares for its own people.
Let us take the second part of your erroneous statement.  I really feel it would be useful for you to learn some historical context and as you seem so woefully ignorant of it, I will spell it out for you.  Right from the start it is important to stress that there is not nor has there ever been, a sovereign independent Muslim state of Palestine .  (Interestingly, the Arabs themselves did not start to refer to that area as Palestine until after 1967, pre-1948 Palestinians referred to the Jews living there). 

The disputed area of the West Bank was land that was mandated to Israel under    the 1947 UN Partition Plan.  Jordan unilaterally annexed it in 1948 together with the Old City of Jerusalem which had been declared an international city.  All the Jewish residents that had not been massacred were expelled from those areas, Jewish holy places were desecrated or destroyed and no Jew was allowed into those areas for over 19 years.  A wall was built by the Jordanians dividing the city of Jerusalem .  You are unaware of this?   Why am I not surprised, you only accept one side of the narrative and do not wish to accept that there could be another side to that narrative. 

In 1967 Israel faced the very real threat of extermination by the combined forces of Egypt , Syria and Jordan .  In fact they begged Jordan not to enter the war but King Hussein was convinced by Nasser's lies that Tel Aviv was on fire (remember this was in the days before instant news coverage) and to his subsequent great misfortune joined forces with Nasser.  That was when the West Bank and Jerusalem came under Israeli jurisdiction.  Under the terms of international law, lands captured in a defensive war belong to the victor. So Israel does not occupy any sovereign state of 'Palestine' nor is there anything illegal about towns built on land legally and legitimately purchased from the owners of the title of that land. 

I am sure you will be surprised when I tell you the amount of land you believe has been 'colonized' by Israel ?   It is 0.1% of land in the West Bank and is on land that under any future deal will come under Israeli jurisdiction. 

There is another aspect to your downright nasty and disingenuous call for a boycott.  As Jews we remember another boycott started in 1933 in another country, when ugly mobs stood outside Jewish shops and Jewish performers were barred from performing.  We all know how that ended.  Tell me what is the difference between you and those previous groups calling for expulsion of Jewish performers?  From where I am standing as an English Jew, they are one and the same.  In fact so poisonous  has the atmosphere become in this country for Jews who support Israel that I, who am a descendant of Spanish Jews who fled persecution and found a safe haven in the United Kingdom, now feel uneasy at the long term future for Jews here.  Does that concern you?  If not, it should.  

Remember the persecution of the Jews in Germany was incremental and took place over a number of years; however, within eight years of the Nazis coming to power such was the ferocity of their campaign that they were able to convince themselves and others that it was perfectly acceptable to go from demonisation and exclusion to murdering Jews.  The most frightening development of that persecution was how the intelligentsia, the academics, the legal circles etc brought into that campaign in much the same way as you and your cronies are buying into the current ferocious BDS (blame, distortion and slander) campaign that demonises and delegitimises Israel and questions her very right to exist.  

I cannot understand how someone who professes to stand up for human rights can align themselves with a campaign of annihilation of a nation state which is precisely what you are doing by supporting the BDS.  So intense is this anti-Israel demonisation that when a gunman executes three Jewish children in cold blood, his rationalisation that he is avenging the deaths of Palestinian children is given legitimacy in the main stream media and among 'enlightened' thinkers.

I will not at this stage list the incredible humanitarian work that Israel does in the world arena, it would be far too exhaustive, but as someone who is involved with refugee projects, you might be interested to know that Muslims fleeing genocide in Sudan and Darfur risk everything to get to Israel where they know they will be safer than in any of the other surrounding Muslim countries.  The Egyptians shoot them, Israel provides them with a haven, currently they are building a purpose built facility for them. 

I would urge you in the name of British fair play, to gain a deeper knowledge of the conflict and understand just how misguided and deeply offensive you are being in calling for this boycott. 

I look forward to your comments.

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