Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Unholy Alliance
with Israeli Mouthpiece and UK Zionist Website
By Lauren Booth
CCUN, November 28, 2011
Lauren Booth looks at how the Palestine Solidarity Campaign,
in particular its national director Sarah Colborne, appear to have put
appeasement of some of the UK’s vilest Zionist bodies, such as the Jewish
Chronicle weekly and the website Harry’s Place, ahead of genuine opposition
to Israeli racism and solidarity with the Palestinian people.
This week, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) revealed itself to be
ethically compromised at the highest level.
In recent months it has
become clear that the central office of the PSC is increasingly pandering to
the whims of Israeli hasbara – or propaganda – activists, joining
with the likes of the rabid Zionist site Harry’s Place in efforts
to silence some of this movement’s most outspoken and popular thinkers.
Sarah Colborne dives into the Zionist sewer
Sarah Colborne, the director of PSC, was quoted in the pro Israeli paper,
the Jewish Chronicle, as supporting a boycott of the highly
renowned musician and writer Gilad Atzmon.
Atzmon was booked to
perform in his professional capacity as a saxophonist at an event
celebrating political song in Bradford, called “Raise your Banners”. The
musician/author has recently published a best selling treatise on Jewish
cultural identity called
The Wandering Who? Unlike Sarah Colborne, I have actually read
this book and can highly recommend it as it pulls no punches when asking to
what degree the racist ideology – Zionism – when mixed with the Jewish sense
of “Chosenness”, is to blame for the existence of todays apartheid Israel.
It has been endorsed by some of the finest thinkers and writers on
Israel/Palestine of our age.
But the subject matter alone predictably
proved more than enough to have Atzmon once again falsely branded as an
anti-Semite by sections of the Jewish diaspora that are committed to
stopping debate into their awkward yet staunch
support for Israeli war crimes.
The Jewish Chronicle has
spearheaded the campaign to put pressure on the organizers of the Bradford
event to drop Gilad Atzmon from the bill.
Now, Atzmon is well liked
in the PSC branches nationwide, both as a radical and brilliant speech maker
and as a musician and fundraiser for Palestinian causes.
Yet, this is
what Sarah Colborne of the PSC had to say when asked about Atzmon by the
I am very concerned at what
appears to be an attempt by “Raise Your Banners” to misrepresent the
Palestine Solidarity Campaign. PSC has made clear to “Raise Your
Banners” that we have no links with Gilad Atzmon, and that Palestine
Solidarity Campaign does not work with him. When a representative from
“Raise Your Banners” contacted the PSC office some months ago, they were
urged to take seriously the concerns of those who had raised this issue.
What PSC activists must ask Sarah Colborne
raise several questions that need to be addressed by the PSC at both
national and regional levels. Foremost of these is whether members of the
PSC had been asked if they support Colborne in what amounts to a cultural
boycott of any staunchly anti Zionist campaigners.
Let's take a
closer look at her last sentence.
Colborne says: “When a
representative from “Raise Your Banners” contacted the PSC office some
months ago, they were urged to take seriously the concerns of those who had
raised this issue.”
Colborne reveals that she is apparently supported
by other PSC officials in this effort to ostracize Atzmon.
another question. Hasn’t Colborne overstepped her official remit as Director
of the PSC? After all, this is a body whose name (if little else at national
level) suggests an inclusive movement, one that is open to all voices that
actively speak out against Israeli apartheid with the aim of supporting the
Palestinian right to a free state.
She has certainly set a very
foolish precedent by bending over to hasbara activists.
Bending over to Israeli propagandists
The problem for
Sarah Colborne is that this is not the first but the most recent in a
shameful spate of expulsions and harassment of pro-Palestinian activists by
the national office of the PSC.
“The fact that Palestinians involved in an anti-Zionist
campaign are being kicked out of their committees and local
groups proves they [the Palestine Solidarity Campaign] have
no right to represent the Palestinian cause.”
Sami Ibrahim, Palestinian activist
Last month, I interviewed Sami Ibrahim. A Palestinian, Ibrahim was
chairman of a regional PSC group in 2010. After six months in the post, he
was ignominiously removed following a campaign of harassment and innuendo
from inside the PSC. The pressure on Sami began when a man named Anthony
Cooper noted that he runs a website called
Shoah – the
And who is Anthony Cooper, this informer on ethics to the PSC?
Well, he introduces himself in online debates as follows:
I am a Jewish supporter of
Israel. Whilst surrounded by enemies bent on her destruction she has
gathered and absorbed people from different parts of the world with
different cultures and in so doing developed one of her own. Her people
are resourceful and resilient. She has problems but her achievements are
remarkable and perhaps unparalleled.
Cooper claims he has been “researching” the background of many local PSC
groups. He has pointed out numerous websites which he considers (as a
“Jewish supporter of Israel”) to contain “Holocaust denial” material. Some
of these have been “linked to” PSC members’ own websites.
Let us note
the words “linked to” here. Not even written. But merely “linked to”. Links
which, after pressure from PSC, its members (those who still care about
remaining members) have had to remove.
Ibrahim does indeed write for
the website Shoah – the Palestinian Holocaust. It carries strongly
worded material and stories from Palestinian sources on Israeli racism and,
significantly, makes no concessions to Jewish sensibilities.
writing for such a website a problem for a Palestinian member of the PSC?
Ibrahim told me: “Somebody in the Birmingham PSC with
links to the Zionist movement began to take action against me. They asked me
to be investigated about my links to Shoah.org.”
Ibrahim disputed the
propriety of an investigation, one that he suspected was being set in motion
by the very Zionists who occupy his people’s land, the very people that the
PSC is supposed to be in “solidarity” with!
He continued: “I refused
to attend the meeting and be questioned by a bunch of thugs. So, I was
removed by vote as the chairman there and then.”
Nothing official was
processed or put to the national membership of the PSC, many of whom
doubtless would have opposed the intimidation and harassment of a
“I feel they [the PSC] have no right to represent
the Palestinians,” he said, adding:
Their policies are pro the
“two-state” solution. But such a decision is up to the Palestinians to
decide, not a foreign campaign group. The fact that Palestinians
involved in an anti-Zionist campaign are being kicked out of their
committees and local groups proves they [PSC] have no right to represent
the Palestinian cause.
“Today the PSC is attempting to perform a trick that is
both impossible and, let's be frank, pointless. They are
attempting to create a pro-Palestinian organization that
does not hurt Zionist sensibilities.”
Mr Ibrahim’s experience with the PSC reveals a weakness at the organizations
Today the PSC is attempting to perform a trick that is both
impossible and, let's be frank, pointless. They are attempting to create a
pro-Palestinian organization that does not hurt Zionist sensibilities.
In bed with the Islamophobic Zionist Harry’s Place
And what of the
PSC’s rather too cosy relationship with the Zionist blog Harry’s Place?
Ibrahim’s woes with the PSC did not stop when he was vaulted from the
local chairmanship. The harassment continued in other arenas. Following a
campaign by the Zionists of the website Harry’s Place, he was
suspended from the weekly radio show, “Face the Nation”, broadcast in
Birmingham on Unity FM, because of his links with the website Shoah –
the Palestinian Holocaust and for broadcasting an interview with Gilad
Ibrahim said: “The letter that was used to accuse me of
anti-Semitism came from Harry’s Place. But it included an email
from the recent chair of the Birmingham PSC, Naim Malik. It seems to me that
Birmingham PSC has links to Harry’s Place somehow.”
“A Palestine Solidarity Campaign should be working to END
Zionism. Not ease it a little or work alongside it. To be in
solidarity with the people of Palestine means fighting
This is disturbing. For it appears that it’s not only the London office
of the PSC that is taking tacit (or explicit) guidance from the enemies of
our movement, but some of its regional offices as well.
Leftists who increasingly see their remit as not offending Zionists are
heading the British “solidarity” work for Palestine. Have they not learnt
from the lesson of the Palestine Liberation Organization/Fatah/the
Palestinian Authority? Namely, that appeasement of the Israeli lobby can
never, ever, co-exist with a determined campaign to end Israel's bloody and
illegal occupation of Palestine. And let us be clear. A Palestine Solidarity
Campaign should be working to END Zionism. Not ease it a little or work
alongside it. To be in solidarity with the people of Palestine means
fighting Zionism. Period.
And guess what? That just is not going to
get you good headlines in the Jewish Chronicle, Harry's Place
or for that matter Fox News or the
Real leaders of this movement say to that: so
The rejection of Gilad Atzmon's voice by the PSC is more
significant than it may at first appear. For it cuts to the very heart of
where the movement to end Zionism (not merely to oppose it, but to end it)
should be heading from now.
It is their mistake not to engage with
Gilad Atzmon’s writing. His
Zionism-related issues is even more popular than that of the
Intifada (presumably by dint of its name far too radical for PSC
“The Jewish state’s sayanim target those they
see as effective, painting us all as radicals and
extremists, in the hope that the media, our places of work
and even the pro-Palestinian movement itself will shun us.”
For which of us who speaks against Israeli war crimes has NOT been
branded a terrorist sympathizer or an anti-Semite on more than one occasion?
These overused, misused terms are part of the
(Israeli Mossad activists) armoury, as has been repeatedly revealed in the
past. Branding an anti-Zionist as anti-Semitic” is a well-worn ploy, an
effort to intimidate activists or to delay real progress in the global fight
against Israeli apartheid. The Jewish state’s sayanim target those
they see as effective, painting us all as radicals and extremists, in the
hope that the media, our places of work and even the pro-Palestinian
movement itself will shun us. Until now, this last has been laughably
ineffective. But the friends of Zionism seem to be making some headway. With
the likes of Colborne and the National body of the PSC their willing
At this crucial time for Palestinian activism, Sarah Colborne and others
have chosen to align with those whose interests lie in silencing debate on
the precise nature of apartheid Israel and its root causes.
Kafesh, until recently the popular secretary of the Camden branch of the
PSC, was “asked to resign by a small group, who made the decision at a
special meeting” this autumn. On Harry’s Place, Kafesh is listed as
(guess what?) “a supporter of Holocaust denial”. She denies the slur.
However, Kafesh has openly asked the following prescient question: “How
long do you think it will be until the Jewish Chronicle demands
that PSC unreservedly condemns Hamas? And how long before PSC complies?
After all, Hamas is obviously anti-Semitic – most of the people it attacks
The point she is making is important. For it is not for
the main office of PSC to decide who is “right” on such questions as a
one-state or two-state solution. It is for the campaign to listen to all
sides of the Palestinian debate and to reflect these all views in its work.
“...it is not for the main office of PSC to decide who is
“right” on such questions as a one-state or two-state
solution. It is for the campaign to listen to all sides of
the Palestinian debate and to reflect these all views in its
A leaf should be taken out of the the
Movement’s book. This is a movement whose impetus always comes
from within Palestine and for whose members the word “solidarity” still
retains its meaning.
In September, the Jewish Chronicle
reported gleefully on PSC’s amended mission statement. This had the
Any expression of racism or
intolerance, or attempts to deny or minimize the Holocaust, have no
place in our movement. Such statements are abhorrent in their own right
and can only detract from the building of a strong movement in support
of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people. We welcome all
those who share our aims to join PSC.
Meanwhile, Francis Clark-Lowes, who has been chairman of the national PSC
and Brighton PSC, was also “kicked out” this summer, also for being (guess
what?) an alleged “Holocaust denier”.
Clark-Lowes said: “Although I
didn’t actually hear about it until 21 June. I have appealed against the
expulsion from national PSC, and this will be heard at the AGM [Annual
General Meeting] in January, though it is quite unclear what the procedure
Whose interests do these expulsions serve? The Palestinian
cause? Britain is witnessing the rise of a new wave of pro-Palestinian
activists. They need an organization that is fit for purpose, one that does
not pander to the emotional whims of the Jewish, Zionist lobby.
Meanwhile, the Jewish Chronicle, Harry's Place and the PSC
central office, should take note of the following news. Last night’s “Raise
Your Banner” event in Bradford, in which Gilad Atzmon performed, was sold
out. Not a single ticket remained. And no protest against the artist and
author took place.
When Atzmon asked the audience if they thought
that the Board of Deputies of British Jews had a right to control artistic
freedom in Britain, the crowd of some hundreds yelled a hearty “No!”
They would answer the same to Sarah Colborne.
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