On Monday 20th March, two LDFP members attended the launch of his book called Palestine’s Horizon, towards a Just Peace at the London School of Economics, and witnessed the meeting descend into pandemonium. The main problem was the thuggish behaviour of the pro-Israel protestor Jonathan Hoffman and two accomplices, who repeatedly yelled and held up placards calling Falk, who is Jewish, an anti-Semite. The meeting was further disturbed by a row between Gilad Atzmon, a well-known musician and polemicist of Israeli origin, who incensed some Jewish students present by a remark related to the Holocaust. At the end of the meeting the Chairperson, Mary Kaldor, said that the fracas proved a point made by Falk, that Israel supporters now attacked the messenger (instead of dealing with substantive argument).
Falk’s grief did not stop there. Middlesex and East London Universities both cancelled talks he was scheduled to give, citing safety concerns and procedural issues. However, the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) issued a statement making it clear it had a key role in this. In an interview with the Middle East Eye, Falk said that:
the cancellations of the university events showed the “intensification” of a trend limiting academic freedom on university campuses and that by preventing students from being exposed to controversial issues, it would limit their training in becoming engaged citizens. He went on to say: It’s been used against a variety of other people – playing the anti-Semitic card rather than dealing with the substance of Palestinian grievances or Israeli violations of international law, in which case Israel’s supporters would be on weak grounds.
In a related case, the Chair of Hampstead and Kilburn Constituency Labour Party used his position to block discussion of a motion on the scandal disclosed by the Al Jazeera series “The Lobby”, at their monthly meeting on 15 March and using the highly questionable IHRA definition to back his ruling – see here for further information.
The UK Government showed its increasing pro-Israeli alignment after the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) passed four resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on 19th March, including one urging states and businesses to cut off ties to Israeli settlements. Following the vote, the U.K. issued a harsh statement criticising the UNHCR for flagrant bias against Israel and for the fact that none of the resolutions condemned Palestinian terrorism and incitement. It moreover threatened that if the UNHCR’s attitude towards Israel remained unchanged it would in the future vote against all resolutions concerning Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Syrian and Palestinian Territories – see Haaretz article for more information.
We find the British position unacceptable, as it presents a false equivalence between Israel’s and Palestinians’ role in the conflict, as if it were a matter of six-of-one-and-half-a-dozen-of-the-other. There has certainly been incitement and terror on both sides, but Israel is the prime mover on account of its inexorable seizure of Palestinian land and resources.