Gordon Brown MP is Patron of an openly racist organisation, worked to criminalise free speech for supporters of Palestine
As Scottish civil society declares increasingly in favour of Palestinian rights, Gordon Brown remains a Patron of the racist JNF (Jewish National Fund) and a signatory of a Declaration to criminalise free speech on Israel and Palestine. The London Declaration on Combatting Anti-semitism was the work of now-disgraced ex-MP Denis MacShane who resigned from Parliament over issues of personal corruption and mis-use of public funds.
Edinburgh 21 May 2013
A Patron of the JNF
In a recent letter (15.05.13), the UK Charity Commission committed to investigate the discrimination openly practised by the JNF (although it is still refusing to remove JNF charities from the register of charities). Gordon Brown and Tony Blair remain Patrons of this racist organization, even after David Cameron, sensing the indefensible and toxic nature of the JNF's activities, has resigned from that position and Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have declined the invitation to become JNF Patrons. 70 MPs have called for an investigation into the activities of the JNF and the Stop the JNF Campaign has been endorsed by the Scottish TUC, and the Iona Community among others.
The Church of Scotland is due to debate on Thursday a recommendation from its Church and Society Council to oppose Israeli occupation, dispossession and "apartheid", and to support the right in law of Palestinian refugees to return to areas from which they were driven.
Gordon Brown, on the other hand, talks of the Zionist ethnic cleansing that started in 1948 and goes on till the present in Israel as an "extraordinary struggle...of people to create this magnificent homeland." Like Tony Blair, Brown claims his Christian principles lead him to support the activities of the State of Israel that dispossess Palestinian Christians[R1] and Muslims to expand a "Jewish State".
Shortly after becoming Prime Minister, Gordon Brown became an Honorary Patron of the JNF UK, the UK wing of an Israeli para-statal body, i.e. an organisation that acts on behalf of the Israeli Government to keep land in inalienable Jewish ownership within Israel, for the exclusive benefit of Jews. The JNF openly discriminates against the one million Arab citizens of Israel, effectively excluding Muslim and Christian inhabitants from living in all but 7% of the land surface of Israel. The JNF plants forests to obliterate all signs of Palestinian villages that have ethnically cleansed and razed in 1948 and after. Its sham "ecological" credentials have led to the Scottish and UK Green Parties and Friends of the Earth adding their endorsements to the Stop the JNF call.
The JNF is involved in land projects and settlements [R2] in the West Bank territories illegally occupied by Israel since 1967, making Gordon Brown further complicit in war crimes.
Imagine if Christians or Muslims could not buy or rent houses in most of Kirkcaldy or most other Scottish cities, towns and villages! That is the actual situation in Israel today where the JNF enforces a policy of land for exclusively Jewish settlement and prevents Muslims, Christians or other non-Jews from leasing or renting. Will he resign as a Patron of the JNF? Will he issue a statement condemning any of the above?
Opposition to free speech
The London Declaration on Combatting Anti-Semitism was issued on 19 February 2009 and urged that "calls for boycotts" of Israel be made "illegal". This would make the 600,000 strong STUC guilty, the UK and Scottish Green Parties, and the Church of Scotland's Church and Society Council.
The Declaration called for UK media to oppose anyone who concluded "that the...State of Israel is a racist endeavor" or any "comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis". The first effort comes up against the hard fact that belief that Israel is a racist project is widespread and for many it is an inevitable conclusion from a starting point of democratic values.
As for "comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis", Auschwitz survivor Hajo Meyer spoke at meetings across Scotland flagging up the similarities between the de-humanisation he and other Jews suffered in Nazi Germany in the years prior to World War II and the intense racism and structural apartheid many commentators observe in Israel today.
The London Declaration in fact extended state protection to Zionist political ideas and strove to criminalise democratic critiques of Zionism, for example, the proposition that Israel should become a state of all its citizens, rather than one which privileges Jews around the world over native Palestinians.
The Declaration called for pro-Zionist political positions to be "a basis for training material for use by Criminal Justice Agencies". On 25th February, less than a week after this sinister Declaration was adopted, Gordon Brown signed on behalf of the British Government and called for other heads of government to follow his lead. On March 2nd, five days after Brown signed and made this exhortation, the Edinburgh PF lodged charges of "racially aggravated conduct" against five members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign who had protested against Israeli Army-sponsored musicians more than six months earlier in Edinburgh's Queens Hall.
The truly sinister, although also absurd, implications of this Declaration and the Edinburgh PF's charges of "racially aggravated conduct" against life-long opponents of racism became apparent when the claim was made in April 2010 in open court in Edinburgh that the mere uttering of the words, "End the siege of Gaza" or "Genocide in Gaza" should be "racist", i.e. a criminal offence. The clear implications of the PF's efforts to convict on this basis would have been to make all Palestine solidarity illegal. Luckily, Sheriff Scott gave short shrift to this attack on free speech, dismissing all charges as ridiculous. He also understood the abyss separating support for human rights and racism, something the PF had worked hard to conflate. "The procurator fiscal's attempts to squeeze malice and ill will out of the agreed facts were rather strained", he said.
On March 25th of this year an Employment Tribunal reasserted this distinction, robustly dismissing a claim by the Director of Academic Friends of Israel that a union member had been a victim of anti-semitism following the adoption by the 120,000 University and College Union of policies in support of Palestinian human rights. The ruling by Judge A. M. Snelson, Mr. A. M. Grand and Lady Sedley noted that underlying the claim of anti-semitism lay "a worrying disregard for pluralism, tolerance and freedom of expression, principles which the courts and tribunals are, and must be, vigilant to protect". And so must we. Gordon Brown should be held to account by his constituents, for absolutely no-one else can do this. The sinister document he signed and urged other heads of government to sign was a crass attempt to criminalise all effective solidarity with the Palestinian people.
- Does Gordon Brown MP still think that calls for boycott should be criminalised?
- Does he think the Church of Scotland will be anti-semitic [R3] if it adopts a boycott position?
- Does he think Israel should be a state of all its citizens, or a state for Jewish non-citizens in Kirkcaldy and around the world?
- Does he think citizens of the UK should be free to live anywhere, regardless of ethnicity or religion?
- Does he still stand by the entirety of the London declaration on Combatting Antisemitism he signed.
Gordon Brown's speech to the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) on 21 July 2008
This effusive and repulsive speech is worth listening to in full. You will hear no reference to Israeli crimes against the Palestinians. In the speech, he addresses "the people of Israel" (who does he mean by this phrase?) as "men and women of idealism and bravery" on "the stories my father would tell" about "the achievement of 1948". He assures his audience that "history sides with those who fight for liberty". "To honour our truest ideals" he finds inspiration from Winston Churchill, Menachem Begin who organised the atrocious massacre of civilians in Deir Yassin, and Tommy Lapid, Deputy PM to the butcher Ariel Sharon.
He praises Israel's 'world famous hospitals' with no mention of Israeli bombing of hospitals in Gaza.
See here: part 1, part 2, part 3
On Gordon Brown, see also http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk/index.php/solidarity/boycott/jnf-kkl/192-uk/679-12-oct-07-spsc-challenges-gordon-browns-support-for-jnf-a-israeli-apartheid